by John Hellmann

This article has the following sections and includes quotations from the sources listed below.  Click on the underlined section to immediately jump to that section.

1.  Deuterocanonical books - what they are 
2.  Saint Jerome  updated !
3.  Jews 
4.  Encyclopaedia Britannica 
5.  Origen 
6.  Justin the Martyr 
7.  New Catholic Encyclopedia 
8.  Protestants 
9.  Martin Luther 
10.  Protestant scholars 
11.  Allusions in the New  Testament to the Deuterocanonical   "apocrypha"   books 
12.  True Prophecy in the Deuterocanonical Books




The Deuterocanonical books are the seven books Tobit, Judith, First Maccabees, Second Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch plus the additional texts in Esther and Daniel that are found in the Catholic Old Testament but not in the Hebrew canon.

The Hebrew canon is the list of books that comprise the present day Jewish Bible.  These are called the protocanonical books.  "Proto" means first whereas "deutero" means second. Sixtus of Siena  (152O-1569 AD)  was a Biblical scholar and a Jewish convert to Catholicism.  He was the first to call the seven additional books together with the longer editions of Esther and Daniel that the Christians had in their Old Testament the "Deuterocanonical" books, but when he did this, he did not intend that one list was more certain or more inspired than the other, but merely that there were two lists.  Likewise, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude, and Revelation are the Deuterocanonical books of the New Testament.  Although there canonicity was questioned by some in the early church they are equally inspired. 




Saint Jerome originally considered these Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament as uninspired, however he later changed his mind.  He was commissioned by the Pope to put all the books of the Bible into one collected work during the fourth century.  His work is called the "Vulgate" which means vernacular. Latin was the common language of that time in the Roman Empire

Initially Jerome was against including the Deuterocanonical Books as seen in in his Preface to Kings. However, he changed his mind as witnessed by the fact that he worked on translating the Deuterocanonicals and included them in his work, the Vulgate.  This is further verfied by his explicit testimony in the Prefaces to Tobit and Judith.


Translation of Jerome’s Prologues 
by Kevin P. Edgecomb



… the book of Tobias, which the Hebrews exclude from the catalogue of Divine Scriptures, being mindful of those things which they have titled Hagiographa. I have done enough for your desire, yet not by my study. For the studies of the Hebrews rebuke us and find fault with us, to translate this for the ears of Latins contrary to their canon. But it is better to be judging the opinion of the Pharisees to displease and to be subject to the commands of bishops. …




Among the Hebrews the Book of Judith is found1 among the Hagiographa, the authority of which toward confirming those which have come into contention is judged less appropriate. Yet having been written in Chaldean words, it is counted among the histories. But because this book is found by the Nicene Council2 to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures, I have acquiesced to your request, indeed a demand, and works having been set aside from which I was forcibly curtailed, I have given to this (book) one short night’s work3 translating more sense from sense than word from word. …

Receive the widow Judith, an example of chastity, and declare triumphal honor with perpetual praises for her. For this one has the Rewarder of her chastity given as imitable not only for women but also for men, Who granted her such strength, that she conquered the one unconquered by all men, she surpassed the insurpassable.


1 Or "read" legitur
2 That is, the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325. Unfortunately the Acts for this Council are lost, and we have only the list of canons promulgated by the Council, none of which actually mention the Biblical canon. Obviously, the implication here is that Jerome's interlocutors were aware of a positive evaluation of Judith in this respect which is since lost to us.

See full text 

In the beginning of his translations Jerome included the reason that the Jews rejected these books, however it can be clearly seen that he considered these books to be equally inspired by looking at his letter to Rufinius as well as the fact that he included them in his Bible translation, the Latin Vulgate.

Jerome wrote in  Against Rufinius II:33  [AD 401]

"What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches?  But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:24-90], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant.  I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they are wont to make against us.  If I did not reply to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly the remark, for I said, ‘This is not the time to discuss such matters’"   [Against Rufinius Book 2, Section 33]

JEROME’S  LETTER  TO  POPE   DAMASUS,  THE  BISHOP  OF  ROME   contains the following: (letter #  15 - This letter, written in AD 376 or 377, illustrates Jerome's attitude towards the see of Rome which was held by Pope Damasus at that time.) 

"…As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the church is built !  This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. … He that gathers not with you scatters…"




Some people have reasoned that since the Christians are of the New Testament era that they should determine the canon of the New Testament and since the Jews are of the Old Testament era that they should determine the canon of the Old Testament.  However logical this may sound on the surface there is a problem with this idea.  Namely, that there are two groups of Jews.

One group of Jews rejected Jesus.  The other group accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah and became completed Jews, or in other words Christians.  The Hebrew Canon of the majority of today’s Jews is the canon that was settled upon by a group of Rabbis meeting in Jamnia [Javneh] in 90 AD.  However, these Rabbis were exclusively those who rejected Jesus.  They also rejected all of the New Testament.   At this same meeting they also required all Jews to curse Jesus Christ and all other Jewish people who became Christians.  The other group, the completed Jews, or Christians, accepted the Deuterocanonical books as equally inspired.  This can be seen in their writings where they use and quote from these books and even call them Holy Scripture.  So the pertinent question is, should we look to the Jews, the scribes and Pharisees, who did not recognize the Incarnated Word of God when He walked in their midst to tell us what is the inscripturated Word of God -the Bible- or do we look to the early Christian Church?

The Septuagint, which means seventy, ( LXX ) is the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was completed in Alexandria, Egypt in about 100 BC. It was begun by a group of seventy-two Hebrew scholars from Jerusalem that were sent to Alexandria to provide the Jews of the Dispersion with a copy of the scriptures in their language.  (Since Alexander the Great had conquered the known world of his day, they spoke primarily Greek.)

There are approximately 350 quotations in the New Testament of the Old Testament.  Of these 350 quotations 300 come from the Greek Septuagint.  It was the Old Testament Bible of the first century Christians.  Jesus quoted from it.  The Septuagint included the Deuterocanonical books which Protestants call the "Apocrypha."  The Jews in Ethiopia to this day still follow the same identical canon which is found in the Catholic Old Testament which includes these seven Deuterocanonical books (cf. Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 6, p. 1147).  




The Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its Micropaedia, the article "Septuagint," states "The Septuagint has four (divisions): law, history, poetry, and prophets, with the books of the Apocrypha inserted where appropriate."

The Encyclopaedia Britannica also states, 
    [in its article "Biblical Literature" section "Old Testament Canon, Texts, and Version - The Canon - The Christian Canon" volume 14, page 907, 1994 edition, Macropaedia:]

"The Christian Church received its Bible from Greek-speaking Jews and found the majority of its early converts in the Hellenistic world.  The Greek Bible of Alexandria thus became the official Bible of the Christian community, and the overwhelming number of quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament are derived from it...

"Early councils of the African Church held at Hippo (393) and Carthage (397,419) affirmed the use of the Apocryphal books as Scripture...

"Throughout the Middle Ages, the Apocryphal books were generally regarded as Holy Scripture in the Roman and Greek churches, although theoretical doubts were raised from time to time...The first modern vernacular Bible to segregate the disputed writings was a Dutch version by Jacob van Liesveldt (Antwerp, 1526).  Luther’s German edition of 1534 did the same thing  and  entitled them ‘Apocrypha’ for the first time...

"In response to Protestant views, the Roman Catholic Church made its position clear at the Council of Trent (1546) when it dogmatically affirmed that the entire Latin Vulgate enjoyed equal canonical status.  This doctrine was confirmed by the Vatican Council of 1870...

"Even though the Wycliffite Bible (14th century) included the Apocrypha, its preface made it clear that it accepted Jerome’s judgment"   (?)

"The translation made by  the English bishop Miles Coverdale (1535) was the first English version to segregate these books, but it did place Baruch after Jeremiah... 

"The first Bible in English to exclude the Apocrypha was the Geneva Bible of 1599. 
The King James Version of 1611 placed it between the Old and New Testaments.  In 1615 Archbishop George Abbot forbade the issuance of Bibles without the Apocrypha, but editions of the King James Version from 1630 on often omitted it from the bound copies.  The Geneva Bible edition of 1640 was probably the first to be intentionally printed in England without the Apocrypha, followed in 1642 by the King James Version."

Under the section "New Testament Canon, Texts, and Version" this same article on page 961, the Encyclopaedia Britannica says: 

"The Old Testament in its Greek translation, the Septuagint (LXX), was the Bible of the Earliest Christians...In the last decade of the 1st century, the Synod of Jamnia (Jabneh), in Palestine, fixed the canon of the Bible for Judaism, which, following a long period of flux and fluidity and controversy about certain of its books, Christians came to call the Old Testament.  A possible factor in the timing of this Jewish canon was a situation of crisis: the fall of Jerusalem and reaction to the fact that the Septuagint was used by Christians and to their advantage, as in the translation of the Hebrew word ‘alma’ ( ‘young woman’ ) in chapter 7, verse 14, of Isaiah- ‘Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ - into the Greek term parthenos ( ‘virgin’ )."

"As far as the New Testament is concerned, there could be no Bible without a church that created it..."

Christians understand these men of the Church to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The Church wrote the books as well as determined which ones were really inspired. 




Origen (185-254 AD), in his "Commentaries on the Psalms"  [to Ps. 1: apud Eusebium, Hist. eccl. 6,25], writes "The 22 books according to the Hebrews are these..."  He then goes on to list the Old Testament books but he leaves out the Deuterocanonical books with the exception of the sixth chapter of Baruch which is called the  Letter of Jeremiah, which he includes.   Origen also wrote the "Hexapla" which contained six columns of synopsis of Old Testament versions: the Hebrew text, a transliteration, the Septuagint, and three other Greek translations.  It did not include the Deuterocanonical books, but Origen did indicate where the appropriate Deuterocanonical texts were missing.            A superficial examination of this data has led some people to conclude that Origen did not consider the Deuterocanonical books inspired.

When Origen listed the books "according to the Hebrews" he was listing the books that the Hebrews, that is the Jews of his day, considered inspired.  He was not intending to list the Christian canon.  The fact that Origen considered the Deuterocanonical books inspired by God is evident by his many other writings.

In his letter to Julius Africanus, Origen writes that "History of Susanna" - a portion of the book of Daniel that is found only in the longer Deuterocanonical text - "is found in every Church of Christ."  Origen wrote that the Jews of his day had had an Old Testament that had been altered.  To Africanus, he wrote (section 9 ), "But probably to this you will say, Why then is the "History" not in their Daniel, if, as you say, their wise men hand down by tradition such stories?  The answer is, that they hid from the knowledge of the people as many of the passages which contained any scandal against the elders, rules, and judges..."  In this letter Origen also refers to the books of Tobit and Judith as well as the other Deuterocanonical additions of Daniel and Esther.  He defends his use of these books on the basis that the Church accepts them.

Origen quotes Wisdom and Sirach right along with other Scripture passages ( See his Homily 5 on Leviticus sec.2, para.4 and Comm. on John bk.6, para.183.)  And in his homily #12 on Genesis he writes, "For hear what the Scripture says: ‘Prick the eye and it will bring forth a tear; prick the heart and it brings forth understanding.’"  This is a quotation from the Deuterocanonical book of Sirach, chapter 22, verse 19.  [The word "Scripture" is a reference to the writings of the Bible.  The word "Bible" which means book, did not come mean the Written Word of God until much later.  For example, St. Augustine in his writing Christian Instruction 2,8,13 states, "The whole canon of the Scriptures… is contained in these books…"  He then goes on to list those books of the Bible and only those books.]

Also in his letter to Africanus, Origen states, "And I make it my endeavor not to be ignorant of their various readings, lest in my controversies with the Jews I should quote to them what is not found in their copies..."  This explains why the "Hexapla" did not contain the Deuterocanonical text.  The Encl. Brit. explains that "The purpose of the Hexapla was to provide a secure basis for debate with rabbis to whom the Hebrew alone was authoritative."  It would have been pointless to try to demonstrate the truth of Christianity by quoting books that they no longer accepted




Justin the Martyr in his "Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew," written about 180 AD, writes in chapter 71, 

"But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another.  And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth  expressly as God, and man... but I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are still admitted by you.  For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive,’ and say it ought to read, ‘Behold the young woman shall conceive.’"




Josephus (about 37 AD - 100 AD), who was a Jewish apologist and historian, contended that the Old Testament Canon was closed by Ezra the prophet.  Since Ezra died before the Deuterocanonical books were written that would mean that the Old Testament Canon would be the same as that of the Masoretic Text.  The Masoretic Text was written about 100 AD by a Jewish Scribe and it did not include the Deuterocanonical books.  This theory can not account for the fact that the Jews included the Deuterocanonical books in the Septuagint which was used by Christ and the Apostles.

We read in the New Catholic Encyclopedia 
[volume 2  on pages 389-390, of 1967 edition in the article Bible, part III, (canon) section: 2. History of Old Testament Canon - Canon of the Old Testament among the Jews - Closing of Old Testament Canon] 

"It was believed for a time that the collection of OT books was fixed conclusively by Ezra.  The proponents of this theory relied largely on the apocryphal 4 Ezra 14.19-48, written c. A.D. 90, about 500 years after Ezra lived.  But when carefully examined this passage does little more than ascribe to Ezra some role in the preservation of the OT texts.  It does not unequivocally affirm that he was the final arbiter of the OT cannon."

"At another time it was believed that the OT canon was determined by Ezra together with his associates, ‘the men of the Great Synagogue.’"…

"The very existence of the Great Synagogue, to say nothing of its alleged canonizing function, is open to question.  One grave objection to its existence is the complete silence about it in the OT itself, as well as in Josephus, Philo and the Apocrypha.  The earliest reference to such a group is in the Mishnaic treatise, Pirke Avoth (c,1), which dates only from the 2d or 3d Christian century…"

"All too commonly it is assumed that great differences of opinion divided Palestinian Jews from those of the Dispersion and that the differences sprang from divergent theories of inspiration prevalent in Alexandria and Jerusalem.  This is a purely gratuitous inference   [see Peter Katz, ZNTWiss 47 (1956) 209].  The Hellenistic Jews before the fall of the theocracy in Palestine looked reverently toward Jerusalem and favored religious currents coming from it.  Doubts were referred there for solution (Josephus, Contra Apion 1.30-36).  They turned to Jerusalem for their Scriptures (2 Mc 2.13-15) and for its translation [Est 11.1 (Vulg); 10.31 (LXX)].  If they used the Deuterocanonical books in the Diaspora, it was because they had received them from Palestine… Palestine, then, was the source of the esteem for the Deuterocanonical works.  The OT, as it is found in the LXX, reflects, therefore, a tradition older than the present Hebrew Bible in regard to its list of sacred books…"

"An examination of the NT use of the OT shows that the NT writers had the same broad view of the sacred books as the Hellenist and Qumran Jews had of them.  The NT writers knew and used a fuller collection that included the so-called Deuterocanonical books.  The OT of the early Church was not the Masoretic Text (MT), but the Septuagint (LXX), which contained the Deuterocanonical as well as the protocanonical books.  In the LXX the former were not, as in some later versions, relegated to a limbo of doubt by being grouped together in a place apart.  Rather, they were interspersed throughout the whole OT and assigned to places where they seemed best to fit…"


"Doubts began to develop in the East in the 4th century.  These doubts seem to have emerged as an aftermath of the Christian polemic with the Jews.  Since the Jews from the time of the Synod of Jamnia no longer recognized the Deuterocanonical literature, it would have been futile for Christian apologists to make use of them.  Justin Martyr says this expressly (Dial. Tryphon).  These hesitations gradually evolved into misgivings about the canonicity itself of the books…"

"M. Jugie has shown conclusively that from the earliest times through the Middle Ages there was general agreement in the Byzantine Church that the disputed books were canonical." 

The Council of Trent, in 1546 AD, emphatically stated that the Deuterocanonical as well as the protocanonical books were all equally inspired.  However, it was only confirming the traditional canon of the Church.  The same Canon had been formally stated at the Ecumenical Council of Florence on Feb. 4, 1442 (EnchBibl 47), and it had been implicitly approved of at the Seventh Ecumenical Council, II Nicaea 787  AD when it approved the Sixth Council of Carthage 419 AD, which explicitly stated this canon. This is the same canon that was approved by Pope Innocent I in 405 AD, and the same canon that was stated in the Third Council of Carthage in 397 AD, as well as the Council of Hippo in 393 AD, and the Council of Rome in 382 AD under the authority of Pope Damasus I.

End  part I 



Many people have proposed various subjective standards for determining which books are to be considered as the Inspired, Written Word of God.    But, unless they can show that they received these standards from God they must accept that they are relying on purely human reasoning.  For example some people attend "Jesus Seminars" and they vote on various Scripture passages in the New Testament with different colored balls.  One color indicates that they believe that Jesus really said the given quote, and another color expresses their doubt that He said it, and a third indicates that they are sure that He didn’t say it.

Some people, in an attempted defense of their rejection of the Deuterocanonical books, have insisted that only the books of the Old Testament that are quoted in the New Testament should be accepted as canonical.  However, they are quick to abandon "their standard" when they are faced with the reality that "their standard" would also cause them to reject Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Obadiah, and Nahum, since these are not quoted in the New Testament. 




Martin Luther had developed his theory that only those books that taught his Dogma of Justification by Faith Alone should be accepted as part of the canon.  However, he didn’t work out this theory until after he had lost a debate with a Catholic (either Cardinal Cajetan in 1518 or Johann Eck of Ingolstadt in 1519 AD), when 2 Maccabees 12:43-45 was quoted to refute Martin Luther’s "Faith Alone."  His subjective standards were also the given for his reason for claiming that Hebrews, James, Jude, and the Book of Revelation were also not to be considered as fully the Inspired Word of God.  (Although, evidently the Lutherans of the 17th century added these NT books back into their canon.)

In Luther’s German translation of the Bible, he took Hebrew, James, Jude and Revelation and placed them at the end of the New Testament.  He categorized them as inferior to the rest of the Bible.  He also had done this with the seven Deuterocanonical Old Testament books.  (Until recently, the Deuterocanonical books called "apocrypha," were still in many Protestant Bibles, but in a separate section at the end.)

The book of James contradicts Luther’s principle of Justification by Faith Alone.  James 2:24 says "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."  Rather than change his theology, Luther just denied that, James the Apostle, was the author of James and removed it from his canon.

In his preface to James he claimed, 

"But this James does nothing more than drive to the Law and to its works.  Besides, he throws things together so chaotically that it seems to me he must have been some good, pious man, who took a few sayings from the disciples of the Apostles and thus tossed them off on paper…In a word he wanted to guard against those who relied on faith without works, but was unequal to the task."

In his preface to Hebrews, Luther said, 

"We should not be deterred if wood, straw, or hay are perhaps mixed with them [precious notions], but accept this fine teaching with all honor."    ( Luther’s works.  Volume 35 Word and Sacrament I, pages 395-397 ed. E.T. Buchman [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1960.])

In Luther’s commentary on Revelation he wrote,  "Everyone may make up his own mind as regards this book.  As for me, I have a personal aversion to it and that is enough."

In another translation of Martin Luther’s writings, "Martin Luther: Selections from his Writings" Dillenberger, page 35, we read in the Prefaces to Luther’s German Translation of the New Testament in 1522 in regard to the epistle of St. James: 

"Firstly, because in direct opposition to St. Paul and all the rest of the bible, it ascribes justification to works, and declares that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered up his son.  St. Paul, on the contrary, in Romans 4:3, teaches that Abraham was justified without works, by his faith alone, the proof being in Gen. 15:6 which was before he sacrificed his son.  Although it would be possible to save the epistle by a gloss giving a correct explanation of justification here ascribed to works, it is impossible 
to deny that it does refer Moses’s word in Gen. 15 (which speaks not of Abraham’s works but of his faith, just as Paul makes plain in Romans 4) to Abraham’s works.  This defect proves that the epistle is not of Apostolic provenance." 
     Martin Luther, "Martin Luther: Selections from his Writings" Dillenberger, page 35

Here Luther denies that the epistle is inspired because he considers it contradictory to the Word of God claiming it is in direct opposition to Paul.  Also he mentions the epistle's "defect."   So much for biblical inerrancy.  But his dislike of this God inspired epistle becomes much clearer in the next quote.  Writing once again of James: 

"In sum he wished to guard against those who depended on faith without going to works, but he had neither the spirit nor the thought nor the eloquence equal to the task. He does violence to scripture and so contradicts Paul and all of scripture. He tries to accomplish by emphasizing law what the Apostles bring about by attracting men to love. I therefore refuse him a place among the writers of the true canon of my Bible." 
M. Luther, same book mentioned above, page 36

Luther challenged an Apostle in such a crude way and said such insulting things about James’s ability to write (which was guided by the Holy Spirit.)    Consider the question, that if even Luther couldn't recognize the contents of the Bible, then how could Sola Scriptura be considered a valid and workable theory ?

Catholics used human reasoning in determining the canon, but Catholic theology allows for and believes that the Holy Spirit guided them with grace in their infallible pronouncements in this all important matter.  Protestant theology disallows such infallible guidance for Catholics as well as for themselves.  Without the aid of God's infallible grace it would be impossible to judge supernatural things, that is, that this is the written Word of God, with just natural means.




The Protestant scholar J. Kelly writes: 

"It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive than the [Protestant Old Testament] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or Deutero-canonical books. The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was . . . the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. . . . most of the Scriptural quotations found in the New Testament are based upon it rather than the Hebrew.. . . In the first two centuries . . . the Church seems to have accept all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture. Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement and Barnabas. . . Polycarp cites Tobit, and the Didache [cites] Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon [i.e., the Deuterocanonical portions of Daniel], and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary" (Early Christian Doctrines, 53-54).

Protestant Scripture scholar F. F. Bruce in his book, THE CANON ON SCRIPTURE,  on page 97 states, 

"In 405 Pope Innocent I embodied a list of canonical books in a letter addressed to Exsuperius, bishop of Toulouse; it too included the Apocrypha.72  The Sixth Council of Carthage (419) Re-enacted the ruling of the Third Council, again with the inclusion of the apocryphal books…

"The Sixth Council of Carthage (419) repromulgated in Canon 24 the resolution of the Third Council regarding the canon of scripture, and added a note directing that the resolution be sent to the bishop of Rome (Boniface I) and other bishops:  ‘Let this be made known also to our brother and fellow-priest Boniface, or to other bishops of those parts, for the purpose of confirming that Canon [Canon 47 of the Third Council], because we have received from our fathers that these are the books which are to be read in church.’"