Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Did The Early Church Reject the Apocrypha?

Many have asked me why the Apocrypha books are not being used by the protestant churches. The Bible says “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”. (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Apocrypha and books like Acts of Paul, Gospel of Barnabas, Apocalypse of Peter, Didache, Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas are all fake and false books. In between the testaments were the Apocryphal books. Their canonicity is rejected because neither Jesus nor the apostles quoted from them to make them authentic and integral. They failed to survive the external evidence test because Josephus (regarded as the epitome of Jewish history) rejected them. More so, they were rejected by the early church. The Protestants also rejected them of having any canonical authority, nor divine inspiration. However, the Roman Catholic Church in the council of Trent, 1546 AD, in order to fight the Protestants movement declared them canonical and included them in the Douay Version (Roman Catholic Bible).

The canonicity of the New Testament did not raise many problems like that of the Old Testament because things had changed during the New Testament era that they were more organized. Five parameters served as the yardstick to the canon of any book. Firstly, the author must be an apostle or walk with one of them. Secondly, the said book must be a lectionary. Thirdly, the universality of the book was considered. Fourthly, the content of the book had to be of such spiritual character and fifthly, it had to give evidence of having been inspired by the Holy Spirit. The following do correlate with these requirements. Hence the following were chosen as canonical – all the 27 books in the New Testament.

There is a funny story in Toby 6:1-8 where Toby is teaching people how to cast out demons. An angel appears and lectures a young man called Azariah that if anyone is demon possessed, you should catch a fish, take the heart, liver and gall and then burn them and let the demoniac inhale the smoke, and he or she will be healed. If you look at the way Toby prescribes to cast out demons, and the way the rest of the Bible does, you will see that Toby is out of place. Toby recommends spiritism and exorcism (practices the Bible is strongly against), but the rest stipulate prayers and fasting (Mk 9:29).

Nowadays, a demon case is sent to the psychiatrists for counseling, rather than the person going to a deliverance session for prayers and fasting. A spiritual problem warrants a spiritual answer. Rather than a Psychiatrist, it needs fasting and prayers to deliver the individual.

Notwithstanding, that does not mean that we cannot read the Apocrypha; it simply means that we do not take them like the word of God. We will read them just like we read Harry Porter or Othello, Macbeth, Pride and Prejudice, The Caretaker, The Crucible or Young Goodman Brown. In short, just the same way we read every other book. It is not certain that every book we read, we read it as if it was the word of God. However, when we read Dr Faustus, Erotica: An Illustrated Anthology of Sexual Art and Literature (Ill), Encyclopedia Britannica, we see very odd things there, but we do not take them as the word of God. So I will encourage Christians to read and quote from it like every other book.

Until then, the Apocrypha are not the word of God but could still be read.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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