[Part 1], [Part 2], [Part 3], [Part 4], [Part 5], [Part 6], [Part 7], [Part 8], [Part 9], [Appendix]

Rebuttal to Johnny Bravo's Article

"Christian Scholars refuting the status of the NT as an inspired scripture"

(Part 7)


We continue our examination of the OT canon by turning to the testimony of two first-century Jews, Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC-AD 50) and Flavius Josephus. Their testimony regarding the canon is foundational since the OT version that they used was the Septuagint (LXX). It is often claimed that the LXX included the Apocrypha. This is sometimes referred to as the Alexandrian Canon. However, if we can show that the LXX in use at the time did not include the Apocrypha as part of the inspired canon, then the claim that the Alexandrian canon was somehow different from the one held by Palestinian Jewry lacks any real historical weight.

Philo wrote:

In each house there is a consecrated room which is called a sanctuary or closet and closeted in this day in this they are initiated into the mysteries of the sacred life. They take nothing into it, either drink or food or any other of the things necessary for the needs of the body, but LAWS and ORACLES DELIVERED THROUGH THE MOUTH OF PROPHETS, and PSALMS and anything else which fosters and perfects knowledge and piety. (On the Contemporary Life 25)

F.F. Bruce writes:

"Philo of Alexandria (c 20 BC-AD 50) evidently knew the scriptures in the Greek version only. He was an illustrious representative of Alexandrian Judaism, and if Alexandrian Judaism did indeed recognize a more comprehensive canon than Palestinian Judaism, one might have expected to find some trace of this in Philo's voluminous writings. But, in fact, while Philo has not given us a formal statement on the limits of the canon such as we have in Josephus, the books which he acknowledged as holy scripture were quite certainly books included in the traditional Hebrew Bible ... he shows no sign of accepting the authority of any of the books which we know as the Apocrypha." (Bruce, The Canon of the Scripture, pp. 29-30; bold emphasis ours)

Roger Beckwith states:

"The De Vita Contemplativa gives a significant account of things which each of the Therepeutae takes with him into his oratory. He takes none of the common things of life, but ‘(the) Laws, and (the) Oracles given by inspiration through (the) Prophets, and (the) Psalms (hymnous), and the other books whereby knowledge and piety are increased and completed ...’ (De Vit. Cont. 25).

The first three groups of books here listed (without the article, as is common in titles) seem to correspond closely to those referred to by the grandson of Ben Sira and especially by Jesus, in Luke 24. {Hymnoi as Conybeare remarks, is Philo's regular name for the Psalms; and that here again it refers not simply to the Psalter but to the Hagiographa in general is suggested by Philo's appeals to Job and Proverbs as Scripture, and by the Qumran community's appeals to Proverbs and Daniel as Scripture ... The Therapeutae, with their monasticism, their calendrical peculiarities and their sectarian books and hymns, were clearly akin to the Qumran community, and Philo's statement may indicate that not only he, with his Pharisaic leanings, but also the Therapeutae, with their Essene leanings, were accustomed to divide the canon into three sections. The only problem is what is meant by ‘the other books (or things) whereby knowledge and piety are increased and completed.’ These are also evidently books, both because of the context and that they ‘increase knowledge.’ The most likely explanation is that they are books outside the canon to which the Therapeutae ascribed almost equal authority. Philo does not necessarily share their view himself, any more than on some other points on which he records the Therapeutae's distinctive views." (Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon, p. 117; bold emphasis ours)

Herbert Edward Ryle observes:

"The writings of Philo, who died about 50 A.D., do not throw very much positive light upon the history of the Canon. To him, as to other Alexandrine Jews, the Law alone was in the highest sense the Canon of Scripture, and alone partook of divine inspiration in the most absolute degree. Philo's writings, however, show that he was well acquainted with many other books of the Old Testament besides the Pentateuch. He quotes from Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Minor Prophets, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Ezra. According to some scholars he is said to show acquaintance with books of the Apocrypha. But this is very doubtful; and, even if it be granted, he certainly never appeals to them in support of his teaching in the way that he does to books included in the Hebrew Canon, and never applies to them the formulae of citation which he employs, when referring to the acknowledged books of the Jewish Scriptures. By comparison with his quotations from the Pentateuch, his quotations from the other sacred writings are very scanty; but it is observable that even in these few extracts he ascribes an inspired origin to Joshua, Samuel, Kings, Ezra, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and Zechariah. The negative value of his testimony IS STRONG, though not conclusive, against the canonicity of any book of the Apocrypha, or of any work not eventually included in the Hebrew Canon." (Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament [MacMillan: London, 1904], pp. 159-160; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Josephus, writing in the 90s AD., states:

We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, ARE BUT TWO AND TWENTY, AND CONTAIN THE RECORD OF ALL TIME.

Of these, FIVE ARE THE BOOKS OF MOSES, comprising the laws and the traditional history from the birth of man down to the death of the lawgiver. This period falls only a little short of three thousand years. From the death of Moses until Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as king of Persia, THE PROPHETS subsequent to Moses wrote the history of the events of their own times IN THIRTEEN BOOKS. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life.


We have given practical proof of our reverence FOR OUR OWN SCRIPTURES. For, although such long ages have now passed, NO ONE HAS VENTURED EITHER TO ADD, OR TO REMOVE, OR TO ALTER A SYLLABLE; AND IT IS AN INSTINCT WITH EVERY JEW, from the day of his birth, TO REGARD THEM AS THE DECREES OF GOD, to abide by them, and, if need be, CHEERFULLY TO DIE FOR THEM. (Against Apion 1.37-42 and The Jewish War 10.35)

Josephus’ statement is so foundational to our understanding to the OT canon that Ryle states:

"We must remember that Josephus writes as the spokesman of his people, in order to defend the accuracy and sufficiency of their Scriptures, as compared with the recent and contradictory histories by Greek writers ... In this controversy he defends the judgment of his people. He does not merely express a personal opinion, he claims to represent his countrymen ... How then does he describe the Sacred Books? He mentions their number; he speaks of them as consisting of ‘twenty-two books’. He regards them as a well-defined national collection. That is to say, Josephus and his countrymen, at the beginning of the second cent. A.D., recognised a collection of what he, at least, calls twenty-two books, and no more, as the Canon of Holy Scripture. This Canon it was profanation to think of enlarging, diminishing, or altering in any way." (Ibid., pp. 173-174; bold emphasis ours)

John Wenham adds:

"Josephus, born about AD 37, was perhaps the most distinguished and most learned Jew of his day. His father was a priest and his mother was descended from the Maccabean kings. Given the best possible education, he proved to be something of a prodigy ... What is particularly interesting about the statement of Josephus is the clear distinction between the canonical books which were completed in the time of Artaxerxes, and those written later which were not considered worthy of like credit ‘because the exact succession of the prophets ceased’. The idea evidently is that the canonical books were either written (or accredited) by the prophets, but that when the prophetical era was over, no more books suitable for the Canon were written ... Josephus commits himself to a fairly precise date for the closing of the Canon. Artaxerxes Longimanus reigned for forty years, 465 to 425 BC. Ezra came to Jerusalem in the seventh, and Nehemiah in the twentieth, year of his reign (Ez. 7:1,8; Ne. 2:1). In addition to Josephus there are several other witnesses who point to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, with occasionally a reference to the ministries of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, as the time of the collection, completion and recognition of the Old Testament Canon." (Wenham, Christ & the Bible [Baker: Grand Rapids, MI, 1994], pp. 134-136; bold emphasis ours)

To summarize the data from both the Palestinian and Alexandrian quarters of Judaism, the Apocrypha were not recognized as part of the inspired revelation.


We next turn our attention to the writings of the early Church fathers, as well as to some of the medieval theologians. It should be pointed that certain Fathers, perhaps even many, believed that certain Apocryphal books were in fact inspired. Yet, there were many other Fathers who rejected the Apocrypha and accepted the OT canon held by the Jews. As noted Church historian, J.N.D. Kelly, writes:

... Towards the close of the second century, when as a result of controversy with the Jews it became known that they were now united in repudiating the deutero-canonical books, hesitations began to creep in; Melito of Sardes (fl. 170), for example, satisfied himself, after a visit to Palestine, that the Hebrew canon was the authoritative one. Origen, it is true, made extensive use of the Apocrypha (as indeed of other truly apocryphal works), but his familiarity as a scholar with the Hebrew Bible made him conscious that there was a problem to be faced. A suggestion he advanced was that, when disputing with Jews, Christians should confine themselves to such books as they recognized; but he added with caution that the further extension of such a self-denying ordinance would necessitate the destruction of the copies of the Scriptures currently read in the churches.

It was in the fourth century, particularly where the scholarly standards of Alexandrian Christianity were influential, that these doubts began to make their mark officially. The view which now commend itself fairly generally in the Eastern church, as represented by Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus and Epiphanius, was that the deutero-canonical books should be relegated to a subordinate position outside the canon proper. Cyril was quite uncompromising; books not in the public canon were not to be studied even in private. Athanasius displayed greater flexibility, ruling that they might be used by catechumens for the purpose of instruction. Yet it should be noted (a) that no such scruples seem to have troubled adherents of the Antiochene School, such as John Chrysostom and Theodoret; and (b) that even those Eastern writers who took the strict line with the canon when it was formally under discussion were profuse in their citations from the Apocrypha on other occasions. This official reserve, however, persisted for long in the East. As late as the eighth century we find John Damascene maintaining the Hebrew canon of twenty-two books and excluding Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, although he was ready to acknowledge their admirable qualities.

The West, as a whole, was inclined to form a much more favourable estimate of the Apocrypha. Churchmen with Eastern contacts, as was to be expected, might be disposed to push them into the background. Thus Hilary, though in fact citing all of them as inspired, preferred to identify the Old Testament proper with the twenty-two books (as he reckoned them) extant in the Hebrew; while Rufinus described Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith and 1 and 2 Maccabees as ‘not canonical, but ecclesiastical’, i.e. to be read by Christians but not added as authoritative for doctrine. Jerome, conscious of the difficulty of arguing with Jews on the basis of books they spurned and anyhow regarding the Hebrew original as authoritative, was adamant that anything not found in it was ‘to be classed among the apocrypha’, not in the canon; later he grudgingly conceded that the Church read some of these books for edification, but not to support doctrine. For the great majority, however, the deutero-canonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense ... (Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, revised edition [HarperSan Francisco, 1978], pp. 54-55; bold emphasis ours)

Pay careful attention how the preceding Fathers recognized the authority of the Jews in establishing the OT canon.

There are other writers who would even dare to say that the majority of the Church Fathers rejected the Apocrypha. Therefore, in this section, we will only focus on those Fathers who accepted the Jewish canon in order to offset the claims of some that the majority of the early Church Fathers upheld the Apocrypha as inspired revelation, or that the Church unanimously accepted the Apocryphal books as part of the canon. All bold and capital emphasis ours.


Melito, to his brother Onesimus, greeting: Since thou hast often, in thy zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour, and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavored to perform the task, knowing thy zeal for the faith, and thy desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou in thy yearning after God, esteemeth these things above all else, struggling to attain salvation. Accordingly when I came to East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I LEARNED ACCURATELY THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. (Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Peabody: Hendrikson, 1995), Volume II [NPNF2], Eusebius, Church History, IV.26.13-14)

Melito mentions all the books with the exception of Esther. F.F. Bruce comments on Melito’s reference to "Wisdom":

None of the writings of the ‘Septuagint plus’ is listed: the ‘Wisdom’ included is not the Greek book of Wisdom but an alternative name for proverbs. According to Eusebius, Hegessipus and Irenaeus and many other writers of their day called the Proverbs of Solomon ‘the all-virtuous Wisdom.’ (Bruce, The Canon, p. 71)


The Law of the Old Testament is reckoned IN TWENTY-TWO BOOKS, that they might fit the number of Hebrew letters. They are counted according TO THE TRADITION OF THE ANCIENT FATHERS. (Commentary on the Psalms, Prologue, Dr. Michael Woodward, Translator)


Now these the divinely-inspired Scriptures of both the Old and New Testament teach us ... Read the Divine Scriptures, THE TWENTY-TWO BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT, THESE THAT HAVE BEEN TRANSLATED BY THE SEVENTY-TWO INTERPRETERS. (Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers 2, Vol. 7, Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures IV.33-36)


There are, then, of the Old Testament, TWENTY-TWO BOOKS IN NUMBER; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; in their respective order and names being as follows ... (NPNF2, Vol. 4, Athanasius Letter 39.2-7)

We should point out that Athanasius omitted Esther from his canon, while including Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah as additions to canonical Jeremiah. Some feel that he would have most likely included the additions to the book of Daniel as well. Yet, despite these additions to the canonical works, Athanasius believed that these 22 books alone were the divinely inspired OT Scriptures from which the Church was to draw her doctrine of salvation. He even said that no man was to add to these books. Athanasius clearly distinguished between the truly authoritative and canonical writings from those that he considered were simply useful reading. He listed a number of Apocryphal books and Esther in this latter category.


There are twenty-seven books given the Jews by God. They are counted AS TWENTY-TWO, however, like the letters of their Hebrew alphabet, because ten books which the Jews reckon as five are double. (The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Nag Hammadi Studies, edited by Martin Krause, James Robinson, Frederik Wisse (Leiden; Brill), 187)


Receive the number and names of the holy books ... These TWENTY-TWO books of the Old Testament are counted according to the twenty-two letters of the Jews. (Dogmatica Carmina, Book I, Section I, Carmen XII, PG 37:471-474)


Why 22 divinely inspired books? I respond that in place of numbers ... For it should not be ignored that the 22 books of the Jews handed down, which correspond to the number of Hebrew letters, are not without reason 22. Just as the 22 letters are the introduction to wisdom, etc. so too the 22 books of Scripture are the foundation and introduction to the wisdom of God and the knowledge of things. (Philocalia, c. 3, edition of Paris 1618, p. 63)


Although Origen felt that a number of the Apocryphal books were part of the revelation given by God, he does recognize that the Jews held to a different canon:

It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, ARE TWENTY-TWO ... THE TWENTY-TWO BOOKS OF THE HEBREWS are the following: Genesis... Exodus... Leviticus... Numbers... Deuteronomy... Jesus, the son of Nave... Judges and Ruth... the first and second of Kings... the third and fourth of Kings... the Chronicles, the First and Second in one... Esdras, First and Second in one... the book of Psalms... the Proverbs of Solomon... Ecclesiastes... the Song of Songs... Isaiah... Jeremiah, with Lamentations and the epistle in one... Daniel... Ezekiel... Job... Esther... And BESIDES THESE there are the Maccabees... (NPNF2, Vol. 1, Eusebius, Church History, VI.25.1-2)

F.F. Bruce commented on Origen's list of canonical books:

Origen lists the books according to their Greek and Hebrew names. He excludes from his total of twenty-two the books of Maccabees (how many they are, he does not say). But (apart from Maccabees) he has listed only twenty-one books: one, namely the book of the Twelve Prophets, has accidentally dropped out in the course of transmission. His twenty-two books (when the book of the Twelve is restored to the list) correspond to the twenty-four of the Hebrew Bible, except that he includes the Letter of Jeremiah (an item in the 'Septuagintal plus') along with Lamentations as part of Jeremiah.

In this same commentary on Psalm 1, Origen enlarges on the appropriateness of the number twenty-two. 'For,' he says, 'as the twenty-two letters appear to form an introduction to the wisdom and the divine teachings which are written down for men and women in these characters, so the twenty-two divinely-inspired books form an ABC into the wisdom of God and an introduction to the knowledge of all that is.'

Origen's care to confine the books listed to those found in the Hebrew Bible (apart from his inclusion, by an oversight, of the 'Letter of Jeremiah') is the more noteworthy because the evidence suggests that the church of Alexandria, in which he was brought up, did not draw the boundaries of holy scriptures very sharply. When Origen moved to Caesarea he not only found himself among Christians with a different tradition from that of Alexandria but also had opportunity of contact and discussion with Palestinian Jews. From there he acquired some knowledge of the Hebrew language and Hebrew scriptures - enough to enable him to complete his Hexapla project - and it was plain to him that, when dealing with Jews, he could appeal to no authoritative scriptures but those which they acknowledged as canonical. (Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, pp. 74-75)

Thus, it seems almost certain that Origen held to the Hebrew canon of the Scriptures. But Bruce does note that Origen was inconsistent throughout his life since he seemed to change his position regarding the canonical status of certain Apocryphal books such as the History of Susannah:

Even so, Origen made free use of the 'Septuagintal plus' and did not hesitate to refer to other works not even included in the Septuagint, without implying that they were among the books which are indisputably recognized as divinely inspired. His attitude to some books changed over the years. At one time, like Clement, he was happy to quote 1 Enoch as the work of the antediluvian patriarch, but later doubted its authority. One might get the impression that, where the relation of the Hebrew Bible to the Septuagint is concerned, Origen is anxious to eat his cake and have it. He is certainly unwilling to deviate from the regular practice of the church. (Bruce, pp. 75, 77)

One thing is for certain; Origen provides evidence for the Jewish canon being identical to the Protestant OT canon.


36. ... This then is the Holy Ghost, who in the Old Testament inspired the Law and the Prophets, in the New the Gospels and the Epistles. Whence also the Apostle says, "All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for instruction." And therefore it seems proper in this place to enumerate, AS WE HAVE LEARNT FROM THE TRADITION OF THE FATHERS, the books of the New and of the Old Testament, which, according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have been handed down to the Churches of Christ.

37. Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of all there have been handed down five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Then Jesus Nave, (Joshua the son of Nun), The Book of Judges together with Ruth; then fourbooks of Kings (Reigns), which the Hebrews reckon two; the Book of Omissions, which is entitled the Book of Days (Chronicles), and two books of Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah), which the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the twelve (minor) Prophets, one hook; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book. Solomon gave three books to the Churches, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles. These comprise the books of the Old Testament.

38. But it should be known that there are also other books WHICH OUR FATHERS CALL NOT "CANONICAL" but "Ecclesiastical:" that is to say, Wisdom, called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas, [and that] which is called The Two Ways,150 or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, BUT NOT APPEALED TO FOR THE CONFIRMATION OF DOCTRINE. The other writings they have named "Apocrypha." These they would not have read in the Churches. THESE ARE THE TRADITIONS WHICH THE FATHERS HAVE HANDED DOWN TO US, which, as I said, I have thought it opportune to set forth in this place, for the instruction of those who are being taught the first elements of the Church and of the Faith, that they may know from what fountains of the Word of God their draughts must be taken. (Early Church Fathers Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Volume III: Rufinus, Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, 36-38; online edition)


And so there are also TWENTY-TWO BOOKS of the Old Testament; that is, five of Moses, eight of the prophets, nine of the Hagiographa, though some include Ruth and Kinoth (Lamentations) amongst the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be reckoned separately; we should thus have TWENTY-FOUR BOOK OF THE OLD LAW. (NPFN2, Vol. 6., St. Jerome, Preface to the Vulgate Version of Samuel and Kings, Prologus Galeetus)

Jerome writes in regard to the Apocrypha:

As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, BUT DOES NOT ADMIT THEM AMONG THE CANONICAL SCRIPTURES, so let it also read these two Volumes [Sam- Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus] for the edification of the people, NOT TO GIVE AUTHORITY TO DOCTRINES OF THE CHURCH. (NPNF2, Vol. 6, St. Jerome, Prefaces to Jerome’s Works, Proverbs Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs; Daniel)


Gregory the Great was bishop of Rome from A.D. 590-604. Writing in his commentary on the book of Job, Gregory rejected the book of 1 Maccabees as canonical:

With reference to which particular we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not Canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forward testimony. Thus Eleazar in the battle smote and brought down an elephant, but fell under the very beast that he killed (1 Macc. 6.46). (Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church [Oxford: Parker, 1845], Gregory the Great, ‘Morals on the Book of Job’, Volume II, Parts III and IV, Book XIX. 34, p. 424)

Evangelical author William Webster notes:

This is significant, coming as it does from a bishop of Rome, who denied canonical status to 1 Maccabees long after the Councils of Hippo and Carthage. But he taught that the book was useful for the purpose of edification, the same sentiment expressed by Jerome. This is in direct contradiction to what the earlier Roman Church decreed under Innocent I, who confirmed the books sanctioned as canonical by Augustine and the Councils of Hippo and Carthage. Gregory's comments on I Maccabees are from his Morals on Job. There are some who suggest that this was simply Gregory's opinion as a private theologian and that he did not write his commentary while bishop of Rome. The truth is, however, that he wrote part of his commentary prior to his position as Roman bishop while he was in Constantinople, and part while he was the pope of Rome. Roman Catholic patristics scholar, William Jurgens, gives the following background on Gregory's commentary:

When Gregory, while Apocrisarius in Constantinople, met Bishop Leander of Seville about the year 578, Leander asked him to write a commentary on the Book of Job. Gregory's response was his Moralia or Moralium libri or Expositio in librum Iob, at which he worked intermittently for many years, finally completing the work in thirty-five books about the year 595 A.D. The Moral Teachings is devoted mostly to discussions of questions in moral theology and of practical applications of Gregory's solutions. In a sense it may be regarded as the first manual of moral and ascetic theology.[132]

Note that Jurgens affirms that Gregory did write his commentary while he was pope. Additionally, in asserting that I Maccabees was not canonical, Gregory was not sharing his personal opinion as a private theologian, but stating the position of the Church of his day. Gregory would never have purposefully taught a view contrary to what he knew had been authoritatively established by the Church. Clearly, when the Church received the Apocryphal books as canonical it defined the term in the sense expressed by Cardinal Cajetan above. The term had both a broad and a narrow meaning. Broadly, it included all the books that were acceptable for reading in the Churches, which included the Apocrypha. But, in its narrower meaning, only the books of the Hebrew Canon were sanctioned as truly canonical for the purposes of establishing doctrine.

Furthermore, the assertion that Gregory's Morals on Job was not an official Church document is erroneous. In the later Middle Ages, his Morals was the standard commentary for the entire Western Church on Job. That this commentary was written while he was pope and was used as an official commentary for the entire Western Church is proof enough that this work was an official Church document. Moreover, Gregory never retracted what he wrote about the Apocrypha. Thus, we have the official and authoritative perspective of a bishop of Rome in the late sixth and early seventh centuries regarding the canonical status of the Apocrypha. (Source)

We end this section with the comments of two Catholic cardinals, the first being Cardinal Cajetan (1469-1534 AD.). During the time of the Reformation, he staunchly opposed Martin Luther. The Catholic Encyclopedia highlights some of his many outstanding achievements and his great importance:

"Dominican cardinal, philosopher, theologian, and exegete; born 20 February, 1469 at Gaeta, Italy; died 9 August, 1534 at Rome ... In 1501 he was made procurator general of his order and appointed to the chairs of philosophy and exegesis at the Sapienza. On the death of the master general, John Clérée, 1507, Cajetan was named vicar-general of the order, and the next year he was elected to the generalship. With foresight and ability, he devoted his energies to the promotion of religious discipline, emphasizing the study of sacred science as the chief means of attaining the end of the order. ... About the fourth year of his generalship, Cajetan rendered important service to the Holy See by appearing before the Pseudo-Council of Pisa (1511), where he denounced the disobedience of the participating cardinals and bishops and overwhelmed them with his arguments. This was the occasion of his defence of the power and monarchical supremacy of the pope... On 1 July, 1517, Cajetan was created cardinal by Pope Leo X ... He was later made Bishop of Gaeta ... In theology Cajetan is justly ranked as one of the foremost defenders and exponents of the Thomistic school ... To Clement VII he was the "lamp of the Church", and everywhere in his career, as the theological light of Italy, he was heard with respect and pleasure by cardinals, universities, the clergy, nobility, and people." (Source)

William Webster writes:

Cajetan wrote a commentary on all the canonical books of the Old Testament which he dedicated to the pope. He stated that the books of the Apocrypha were not canonical in the strict sense, explaining that there were two concepts of the term ‘canonical’ as it applied to the Old Testament. He gave the following counsel on how to properly interpret the decrees of the Councils of Hippo and Carthage under Augustine:

Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the Bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.[129] (Source)

Next come the statements of Cardinal Ximenes. In the early sixteenth century, just prior to the Reformation, being Archbishop of Toledo, he produced, in collaboration with the leading theologians of his day, an edition of the Bible called the Biblia Complutensia. In the Preface, he states in regard to the Apocrypha, that the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the Maccabees, the additions to Esther and Daniel, are not canonical Scripture and were therefore not used by the Church for confirming the authority of any fundamental points of doctrine. He does say that the Church allowed them to be read for purposes of edification. Both the Bible and its Preface had the official consent and authority of Pope Leo X, to whom the whole work was dedicated. The New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges:

"The first Bible which may be considered a Polyglot is that edited at Alcala (in Latin Complutum, hence the name Complutensian Bible), Spain, in 1517, under the supervision and at the expense of Cardinal Ximenes, by scholars of the university founded in that city by the same great Cardinal. It was published in 1520, with the sanction of Leo X. Ximenes wished, he writes, ‘to revive the languishing study of the Sacred Scriptures’; and to achieve this object he undertook to furnish students with accurate printed texts of the Old Testament in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, and of the New Testament in the Greek and Latin. His Bible contains also the Chaldaic Targum of the Pentateuch and an interlinear Latin translation of the Greek Old Testament. The work is in six large volumes, the last of which is made up of a Hebrew and Chaldaic dictionary, a Hebrew grammar, and Greek dictionary. It is said that only six hundred copies were issued; but they found their way into the principal libraries of Europe and had considerable influence on subsequent editions of the Bible." (New Catholic Encyclopedia [McGraw Hill: New York, 1967), The Polyglot Bibles; bold emphasis ours)

The late NT textual critic, B.F. Westcott wrote:

"At the dawn of the Reformation the great Romanist scholars remained faithful to the judgment of the Canon which Jerome had followed in his translation. And Cardinal Ximenes in the preface to his magnificent Polyglott Biblia Complutensia - the lasting monument of the University which he founded at Complutum or Alcala, and the great glory of the Spanish press - separates the Apocrypha from the Canonical books. The books, he writes, which are without the Canon, which the Church receives rather for the edification of the people than for the establishment of doctrine, are given only in Greek, but with a double translation." (Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (MacMillan: Cambridge, 1889), pp. 470-471; bold emphasis ours)

Bruce M. Metzger, a favorite of Bravo, describes the historical situation for the Western Church just prior to the Reformation:

"Subsequent to Jerome's time and down to the period of the reformation a continuous succession of the more learned Fathers and theologians in the West maintained the distinctive and unique authority of the books of the Hebrew canon. Such a judgment, for example, was reiterated on the very eve of the Reformation by Cardinal Ximenes in the preface of the magnificent Complutensian Polyglot edition of the Bible which he edited (1514-17) ... Even Cardinal Cajetan, Luther's opponent at Augsburg in 1518, gave an unhesitating approval to the Hebrew canon in his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament, which he dedicated in 1532 to pope Clement VII. He expressly called attention to Jerome's separation of the canonical from the uncanonical books, and maintained that the latter must not be relied upon to establish points of faith, but used only for the edification of the faithful." (Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha [Oxford: New York, 1957], p. 180; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, even up to the time of the Council of Trent in 1546, where Rome officially canonized the Apocrypha as part if its OT canon, there were both Popes and cardinals that outright rejected the Apocryphal writings as sacred scripture. Westcott makes these comments regarding the decree of Trent:

This fatal decree, in which the Council ... gave a new aspect to the whole question of the Canon, was ratified by fifty-three prelates, among whom there was not one German, not one scholar distinguished for historical learning, not one who was fitted by special study for the examination of a subject in which the truth could only be determined by the voice of antiquity. How completely the decision was opposed to the spirit and letter of the original judgments of the Greek and Latin Churches, how far in the doctrinal equalization of the disputed and acknowledged books of the Old Testament it was at variance with the traditional opinion of the West, how absolutely unprecedented was the conversion of an ecclesiastical usage into an article of belief, will be seen from the evidence which has already been adduced. (Ibid., p. 478; bold emphasis ours)

Before we conclude, we would like to highlight some more of Bravo’s gross misunderstandings of the sources he cites. In his article, Bravo claims:

The Old Testament also has similar problems:-

"At its inception Christianity inherited from Judaism a rich trove of scripture, including the Law of Moses, the prophetic books, and a great variety of other writings that were authoritative for various groups of Jews, but it did not inherit a canon, for Judaism had not in the 1st century made a list or collection setting limits to its scripture. Christianity, in turn, produced a large body of its own literature (letters, gospels, narratives of apostolic acts, apocalypses, church orders, etc.), much of which became authoritative for various Christian groups, and so came to be regarded as scripture alongside Jewish scripture. But Christianity did not for a long time attempt to create a canon. Not until the end of the 2d century did Christians begin to take an interest in defining the scope of authoritative Jewish writings (Melito, in Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 4.26.13-14) and thus begin to think in terms of an "Old Testament" canon, an issue that continued to be debated into the 5th century. And not until the 4th century did Christians begin to draw up lists of authoritative Christian writings and thus attempt to form a "New Testament" canon, the extent of which was not fully agreed even in the 5th century. Hence during most of its first four centuries, the church had scripture, but no set canon."
[David Noel Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1997, New York: Doubleday, (Under Canon, New Testament).]

Thus the OT canon was debated well into the 5th century amongst Jewish Rabis.

We highlight the relevant parts of Bravo’s quote to see how he has both misapplied and misunderstood it:

... for Judaism had not IN THE 1ST CENTURY made a list or collection setting limits to its scripture… But CHRISTIANITY did not for a long time attempt to create a canon. Not until the end of the 2d century did Christians begin to take an interest in defining the scope of authoritative Jewish writings (Melito, in Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 4.26.13-14) and thus begin to think in terms of an "Old Testament" canon, AN ISSUE THAT CONTINUED TO BE DEBATED INTO THE 5TH CENTURY. And not until the 4th century DID CHRISTIANS BEGIN to draw up lists of authoritative Christian writings and thus attempt to form a "New Testament" canon, the extent of which was not fully agreed even IN THE FITFH CENTURY. Hence during most of its first four centuries, the church had scripture, but no set canon.

Bravo claims that the Jewish Rabbis debated the issue of the canon well into the 5th century. And yet his source WASN’T EVEN REFERRING TO JEWISH RABBIS, BUT TO THE CHRISTIANS! In other words, it was Christianity that continued to debate the issue of both the Old and New Testament canons well into the fifth century, NOT THE JEWISH RABBIS! This only serves to confirm our accusation that Bravo both misquotes and fails to properly understand what he is reading. We would again like to advise Bravo that before he decides to present quotations which he thinks support his case, he should first try to carefully read and think through the meaning of these sources since it will prevent him from producing articles which offer little substance. Not only would this save us from wasting a lot of time, this process would also save him from being embarrassed and exposed for his gross misreading of his select sources.


The data which we have gathered demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the Apocrypha should not be reckoned as part of God’s inspired OT canon. Both the Palestinian and Alexandrian Jews show no acceptance of the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha themselves provide evidence against its inclusion within the OT canon. The Lord Jesus and the inspired NT writers never quote the Apocrypha as inspired scripture. Many, if not the majority, of the Church Fathers flatly rejected the Apocrypha from their canon of the OT. Finally, even up to the time of the Reformation there were cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church who rejected the Apocrypha as sacred scriptures, even having the very approval of the Pope himself!

This means that it isn’t the Protestant OT which is to be viewed as being later in time, but rather the Roman Catholic OT which is much later, finding little support from the Jews of antiquity as well as from the Lord Jesus who confirmed the Jewish canon!

As far as Bravo is concerned, he needs to accept the testimony of his own "revealed" book and side with both the Jews and Protestants in rejecting the Apocrypha as a man-made addition to God’s inspired OT revelation.

Recommended Reading

We highly recommend the following books and articles for those interested in doing further research into the issue of the OT canon:

1. Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., December 1986, ISBN 0802836178.

2. Norman Geisler & William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody Press, August 1986, ISBN 0802429165.

3. The Origin of the Bible, Philip Wesley Comfort ed., Tyndale House Publishers, February 1992, ISBN 0842347356.

4. William Webster, The Old Testament Canon and the Apocrypha - A Survey of the History of the Apocrypha from the Jewish Age to the Reformation, Christian Resources Inc., February, 2002, ISBN 1893531066.

5. David T. King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume I: A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura, Christian Resources, Inc., October 2001, ISBN 1893531023.

6. William Webster, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume II: An Historical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura, Christian Resources, Inc., October 2001, ISBN 1893531031.

7. William Webster, David T. King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume III: The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura, Christian Resources, Inc., October 2001, ISBN 1893531058.

Books 4-7 can be ordered here: http://christiantruth.com/books.html
We also recommend the online articles by William Webster: http://christiantruth.com/apocryphaintroduction.html.

The following articles are also worth reading:


Sam Shamoun

Responses to Islamic Awareness
Responses to Answering Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page