This is the second part about the Apocrypha. Despite notions to the contrary, this information has been verified to me be historical sources as well as Catholic ones. Read it for yourself.
Feelings that King James was a Catholic seem groundless based on the views of his own subjects and the early colonists of America in Virginia. Men honored James for his desire to advance the Christian faith.
Gustavus Paine, author of The Men Behind the King James Version”, points out the varied backgrounds of the translators, partly to insure that their work appealed to as many people as possible. But among their differences, there were no Roman Catholics. They were male Protestants.
This fact disproves the notion that the KJV translators produced a Catholic Bible!
What about the Preface?
The preface to the Apocrypha in Coverdale’s Bible helps explain these issues. (15)
“These books (good reader) which be called Apocrypha, are not judged among the doctors to be of like reputation with the other scripture, as thou mayest perceive by S. Jerome in epistola ad Paulinum. And the chief cause thereof is this: there be many places in them that seem to be repugnant unto the open and manifest truth in the other books of the bible. Nevertheless, I have not gathered together to the intent that I would have them despised or lightly set by, or that I should think them false, for I am not able to prove it: Yea I doubt not verily if they were equally conferred with the other open scripture (time, place, and circumstance in all things considered) they should seem contrary not be untruly and perusely aledged. Truth it is: a man’s face can not be seen so well in a water as in a fair glass: neither can it be showed so clearly in a water that is stirred or moved, as in a still water. These and many other dark places of scripture have been sore stirred and mixed with blind and covetous opinions of men, which have cast such a mist afore the eyes of the simple, that as long as they be not conferred with the other places of scripture, they shall not seem otherwise to be understood, then as covetousness expoundeth them. But whosoever thou be that readest scripture, let the Holy Ghost be thy teacher, and let one text expound another unto thee: as for such dreams, visions an dark sentences as lie hid from thy understanding, commit them unto God, and make no articles of them: But let the plain text be thy guide, and the spirit of God (which is the author thereof) shall lead thee in all truth. As for the prayer of Saloman (which thou findest not herein) the prayer of Azarias, and the sweet song that he and his two fellows sang in the fire: the first (namely of the prayer of Saloman) readest thou in the eighth chapter of the third book of the kings, so that it appeareth not to be Apocryphum: The other prayer and song (namely of the three children) have I not found among any of the interpreters, but only in the old Latin text which reporteth it to be of Theodotios transaction. Nevertheless, both because of those that be weak and scrupulous, and for their sake also that love such sweet songs of thanksgiving: I have not left them out: to the intent that the one should have no cause to complain, and that the other also might have the more occasion to give thanks unto God in adversity, as the three children did in the fire. Grace be with thee. Amen.”
The Geneva Bible’s preface to the Apocrypha, says the following:
“These books that follow in order after the Prophets unto the New Testament, are called Apocrypha, that is, books, which were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the church, neither yet served to prove any point of Christian religion save in as much as they had the consent of the other scriptures called canonical to confirm the same or rather whereon they were grounded: but as books proceeding from godly men, were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of the history, and for the instruction of godly manners: which books declare that at all times God had an especial care of his Church, and left them not utterly destitute of teachers and means to confirm them in the hope of the promised Messiah, and also witness that those calamities that God sent to his Church, were according to his providence, who had both threatened by his Prophets, and so brought it to pass for the destruction of their enemies, and for the trial of his children.”
The 1571 edition of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, contained a statement that said, “….The church doth reade them for example of life and instruction of manners: but yet doth it not applie them to establish any doctrene [sic].” (11)
The Bishop’s Bible of 1578 says this at the end of the Book of Malachi: “The end of the prophecy of Malachias and consequently of all the Prophets."
The Sam Clark edition of the KJV worded it this way:
“Apocrypha is a title given to certain writings, which have, for some ages, (though not from the first), slipped into use amongst Christians, but are not allowed to be of divine original or authority. Why this title, which is derived from a Greek word which signifies to hide or conceal was given to them, is not certain: Some think it was because the writers of them were unknown, and also the time when they were written, and on what authority, and that their authenticity of relation and doctrine was dubious, and to be suspected. Others think they were so called, because they were at first concealed and not read commonly, or in public. And some again think, that they were thus called from some Greek words which signify without the chest, because they were never contained in the chest in which the Jews kept the sacred writings. It is not pretended that these books were ever received by the Jews, or so much as known by them. We find no citation from them, or mention made of them, in the New Testament, by either Christ or any of his apostles, though they have cited from and made mention of most of the canonical books; and Josephus, the famous Jewish hisitorian who particularly enumerates all the writings that were esteemed by his nation as sacred, and of indubitable authenticity, makes no mention of any of these; nor does it appear that any of them were published in Hebrew, in which all the canonical books (except a few passages) were written. The Christian church was, for some ages, an utter stranger to these books; and hath always (except only the Romish church) separated them from the canon of scripture, or those writings allowed to be of divine authority; though it has allowed of the reading of them, for instruction of manners.
“But there is much stronger evidence against the greatest part of them than either who has received, or who hath rejected them; viz. their style, matter and doctrine, which are undeniable testimonies that they did not proceed from the same Spirit as the canonical scriptures; because there is visibly a very essential difference between them; and there are many things in most of the apocryphal writings repugnant and contrary to what is related and the truths which are taught in the canonical books: but truth is always like to itself, and a divine Spirit cannot possibly dictate contradictions, or things repugnant to each other; and accordingly we find, that through all the sacred writings there are no repugnances, but one and the same Spirit plainly appears throughout the whole, and the same truths are constantly and uniformly taught in them—However, it must be allowed, that, in some of the apocryphal writings, there is very profitable instruction, though none of them are to be used to establish any doctrine.”
In an Oxford edition of the KJV printed in 1682, the apocryphal books are listed but none of them appears in print.
The John Baskerville edition of the Authorized Version, printed in 1769, contained a footnote at the beginning of the Apocrypha.
“The church has ever distinguished between books canonical and apocryphal. Under the first name are contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, because they were all authenticated in the catalog of Ezra, who had gathered and registered them, or by St. John. Under the name of apocryphal books are included those that were not within Ezra’s catalog, or St. John’s register and authentication. They were not received by general context, nor read and expounded publicly in the Church, nor admitted to prove any point of doctrine, except where they are conformable to the other scriptures. They are called apocryphal, hidden, probably because the authors of these books are generally unknown and their credit and authority doubtful.”
Martin Luther said something about these spurious books in his own work.
“Apocrypha—that is, books which are not regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read.” (12)
From a historical standpoint, those that study Bible history see Josephus as a good source, but many scholars trusted the Apocryphal books more than they trusted Josephus.
Was it too “expensive”?
Questions from Protestant reformers focused themselves not on whether these books belonged in the Bible but whether they stood as good tests for sound Bible doctrine. While men in this group saw the Apocrypha as a helpful guide for faith and morals, they also rejected it as a guide for sound doctrine.
Some religious leaders stuck with their deep-seated feelings the books had no place in God’s Word! Puritans and Presbyterians lobbied for their complete removal and in 1825, the British and Foreign Bible Society agreed. Since then, with the exception of Catholic bibles and some pulpit bibles, the Apocryphal books rarely appear in print.
Did you know the British Crown still owns the copyright to the KJV? This made it impossible for American printers to print this Bible before the Revolutionary War. English bibles containing the Apocrypha came from England. Once the war ended, Americans no longer recognized the copyright of the Crown.
Some scholars say American printers were the first to publish the Bible without these hidden books for two reasons.
They could print the Bible without it at a lower cost, sell it for the same price and make more profit.
Many of their customers saw the Apocrypha as a poison thanks to the countless debates that raged about its contents.
What began as a printing/marketing gimmick in the United States after the Revolution left many Christians in America with bibles minus the apocrypha. Not so in Europe, though, where the Crown still owns the copyright and bibles also contain the Apocrypha. (13)
What use is it?
Perhaps it acts as a bridge between the testaments for shedding light on the customs of the time or the thinking of men in those days. Whatever its use, it remains outside the inspired Word of God—where it belongs.
Looking back on these issues also requires a backward glance at history. It seems, based on the evidence, that during the time of King James little doubt remained about the apocrypha and its uses. Protestants were more outspoken in the 1600’s and stood their ground more firmly than they do today. In those days they went to great efforts to insure their break from the Romish church but today they find themselves going home to the Mother Church.
The use of the Apocrypha was no mystery to those outside the Catholic Church. No doubt, some things went without saying because they were common knowledge just as some things miss the printed page today for the same reason. That may prove the reason why the King James translators put no note in the first edition of their new Bible about the Apocrypha or its uses but put it in a place of its own. Perhaps, in that sense, it was an oversight.
Whatever its use, King James made his feelings clear when he said, “As to the Apocriphe bookes, I OMIT THEM because I am no Papist (as I said before)…”14 The King said those words in 1599, twelve years before the King James Bible was published!
James recognized those books for their background value and moral insight but not for their doctrine. They were penned by “godly” men who were not among the holy men of old moved by the Holy Spirit in their writings. He told the translators to put the Apocrypha in its own place in the Bible for that reason and only for that use. The record of history proves the king’s intentions.
This material is copyright 2000 by Terry Carter
None of it may be reproduced without the written permission of the author!
1 “Final Authority”, page 104
2 C. E. Stowe, “Origin and History of the Books of the Bible Both Canonical and the Apocryphal”, pages 541-583
3 Robert J. Sargent, “Canonization: The Apocrypha”, page 4 of 6
4 Dr. Samuel C. Gipp, “The Answer Book”, page 1 of 2
5 F. H. A. Scrivener, “The Authorized Edition of the English Bible (1611)—Its Subsequent Reprints and Modern Representatives”, page 19
6 Stephen A. Coston, “King James the VI of Scotland and the I of England Unjustly Accused?”, page 2
7 Ibid., page 16
9 Ibid., page 40
10 Gustavus S. Paine, “The Men Behind the King James Version”, page 87
11 Author Unknown, “Why the Apocrypha Isn’t In the Bible”, page 3 of 6
13 Ken Collins (personal e-mail)
14 “Why the Apocrypha Isn’t in the Bible”, page 3 of 6. F. .Moulton, “The History of the English Bible”, pages 113-115
Author Unknown, “Why the Apocrypha Isn’t in the Bible”, website: http://www.holylife.com/Jesus_is_lord/apocryph.htm
Bishop’s Bible of 1578
Collins, Ken, “The Apocrypha and the Old Testament”, website: http://www.kencollins.com/Bible-htm
Coston, Stephen A., “King James the VI of Scotland and the I of England Unjustly Accused?”, St. Petersburg,Florida: KonigsWort, 1996
Gipp, Dr.Samuel,“TheAnswerBook”, website: www.chick.com/reading/books/158/158_34.asp
Grady, William P., “Final Authority—A Christian’s Guide to the King James Bible”, Schererville, Indiana:Grady Publications, 1993
Guthrie, Donald, “New Testament Theology”, Inter-Varsity Press, 1973
John Baskerville Edition of the King James Version, printed in 1769
Don't just take my word for it! Feel free to check out this information for yourself. It is historically accurate. Next week, I'll not only give you the rest of the story but I will also provide you with my sources. Due to the amount of work put into this project, it is copyrighted. Let me know if you would like a copy of the entire book. There is a possibility I may turn it into an e-book.
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