Did the Roman Catholic Church Discern the Canon of Scripture Under The Power of The Holy Spirit?
As shown in part one, the apocrypha / deuterocanonical writings were never mentioned in the New Testament. It is likely this is at least one reason why the apocrypha / deuterocanonical writings were not generally accepted by the early church fathers of the first three centuries of the Church (as shown in part 2). Another reason why they were likely not generally accepted is because they contain so many errors, mistakes, and contradictions, as we will see here in part three.
Inspired Scripture is, among Christians, believed to be infallible and inerrant. First, let's set forth some definitions. Inspired simply means the Bible is “God breathed.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The Greek word translated “inspiration” is theopneustos, and literally means “God-breathed.” It comes from the root words, theos (which is the Greek word for God) and pneō (which is the Greek word for blow). Therefore, the word theopneustos (inspiration) means not just God-breathed, but the breath spoken of is an exhaled breath as when a person speaks a word. Therefore, according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, all Scripture is breathed out by God. This is what is meant by Scripture is inspired.
Biblical infallibility means the Bible makes no false or misleading statements on any matter of faith and practice. The inerrancy of the Bible means that Scripture does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. While inerrancy is believed to extend only to the original manuscripts, it also extends to blatantly obvious errors in the translations we have today. Therefore, if the Bible were to present anything that is obviously contrary to established historical fact, the Bible can then be legitimately called into question. What this means is, if there is a minor scribal error (i.e. a misspelled word, an incorrect contraction, maybe an extra zero added to the end of a number, or something similar) then that does not negatively affect the inerrancy of the Bible. However, if there is a major error, a direct contradiction, an anachronistic entry, etcetera; then the inclusion of such an error – even just one – disqualifies it from any possibility of inspiration. In other words, if Scripture is not inspired, then it is not from God.
The historical reliability of the Scripture in question may very well be outstanding. It may very well be without question. However, if there is a major error within that Scripture, even just one, then it is not inspired of God. It is not from God, plain and simple. If one believes that a Scripture which contains such errors is still inspired, must automatically believe that God Himself is fallible; and, of course, a fallible god is not the God of the Bible.
And that brings us to the issue of errors that appear in the apocrypha. Does the apocrypha contain serious errors? In a word, yes. What follows are a few examples of the numerous errors, contradictions, and false teachings found in the Apocrypha.
The Apocrypha Contradicts Universally Accepted Scripture
The Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 11, verse 18, states, “For thy almighty hand, which made the world of matter without form, was not unable to send upon them a multitude of bears, or fierce lions”(DRA)
The statement that the Lord made the world out of “matter without form” (“formless matter” in the CEB), is a direct contradiction to Genesis 1:1-3; Psalm 33:6-9; and Hebrews 11:3 which tell us that God spoke creation into existence, that He created the earth and the universe ex nihilo, or out of nothing. He did not create the earth and the universe out of any kind of pre-existing matter or energy – formless or otherwise. He created it all out of absolutely nothing.
2. The Soul
The Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 8, verses 19-20 read, “And I was a witty child and had received a good soul. And whereas I was more good, I came to a body undefiled.”(DRA)
This passage in Wisdom teaches the pre-existence of souls. Whether it means reincarnated souls as Hinduism teaches, or souls created as the result of sexual relations between god and his wives as Mormonism teaches, or that God simply creates souls and then waits for babies to be born for Him to assign those souls is unknown, as all three can be reasonably inferred from the Wisdom passage. Regardless, however, the pre-existence of souls is a contradiction of the Bible's teaching that souls are formed within us at the moment of conception, as taught in Psalm 139:13-16 and Zechariah 12:1.
3. Imputed Sin
Again, the Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 8, verses 19-20 read, “And I was a witty child and had received a good soul. And whereas I was more good, I came to a body undefiled.”(DRA)
Note verse 20, “...I came to a body undefiled.” Just as this passage teaches the pre-existence of souls, it also teaches that a soul may enter the body “undefiled.” This is a contradiction of the Bible's teaching that everyone is sinful at the moment of conception (when the soul is actually formed within us), as Scripture teaches in Psalm 51:5, which says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”(NKJV), as well as in Romans chapter 5.
4. Praying and Paying for the Remission of the Sins of the Dead
2 Maccabees 12:42-46 reads, “42 And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. 43 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, 44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) 45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. 46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”(DRA)
Verses 42 and 46 teach the doctrine of praying for the sins of those who have already died, in order to have their sins forgiven so they can enter the presence of the Lord. Verse 43 teaches the doctrine of paying or sacrificing money to the Lord, in order to pay for the sins of those who have already died, again so they may enter the presence of the Lord.
Both of these doctrines (which have been adopted by the Roman Catholic church) find their origins in the pagan practices of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as numerous other ancient pagan societies. These practices continue to this day in the Roman Catholic church, in the form of prayers and mass for the dead, indulgences, and the doctrine of purgatory. They are, however, both contrary to what the Bible teaches. Ezekiel 18:20 tells us, “The soul who sins shall die. … The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”(NKJV) Hebrews 9:27 reads, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment”(NKJV) (cf. Luke 16:20-31; 2 Corinthians 5:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15).
Clearly, the Bible teaches that prayers and/or sacrifices for the sins of the dead have absolutely no bearing on whether or not they will go to heaven. When someone dies they either have salvation or they do not, and if they do not, then they will go before the Lord to be judged for their sins before being cast into the lake of fire. Contrary to 2 Maccabees 12:42-46, there is no second chance. No purgatory, no effectual prayers or sacrifices for the dead. There is death, and then there is judgment. “the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”(Ez.18:20). Praying for the dead, and/or sacrificing for the dead, are pagan practices that are contrary to the Scripture, and are, as are all pagan practices, an abomination to the Lord. Making pagan practices a part of Scripture, and saying they are inspired of God, is blasphemous heresy.
5. Atonement for Sin
Tobit 12:9 reads “For alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.”(DRA); and 2 Maccabees 12:43 reads “And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection”(DRA)
These two apocryphal passages teach that one may atone for his or her own sins by giving alms (charitable donations), or, if the person dies, then someone else can pay for their sins, literally, by making a valuable offering to the Lord (today, this would equate to the Roman Catholic doctrine of indulgences). The problem, however, is that these practices are contrary to the Bible. Scripture teaches, quite clearly, that nothing we can do, no physical act that we can do such as giving alms or offering indulgences, can take away sin. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”(NKJV) Salvation comes only through faith in Christ, and never as the result of any works we may do. And God specifically excludes salvation as the result of any works so as to prevent the possibility of someone claiming or believing that they were able to do something to save either themselves, or another.
Additionally, the Bible tells us that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ – not works – and by publicly confessing Him as Lord, and sincerely believing that God raised Jesus from the dead (John 14:6; Romans 10:9-10; cf. Hebrews 9:11-28). There are, of course, other biblical doctrines that play into this, such as regeneration, predestination, election, etc., however, this is the basic biblical doctrine of salvation, and it nowhere includes works of any kind. Both Tobit and 2 Maccabees are teaching doctrines that are seriously contradictory to Scripture.
Suicide is the equivalent of murder – self-murder. It usurps God's authority and sovereignty because only God has the authority to determine how and when a person should die. “My times are in your hands” Scripture says in Psalms 31:15; and only God has the authority to give or take away life (Job 1:21). No man or woman should presume to take God's authority upon themselves to end their life.
The Apocrypha, however, teaches that contrary to Scripture, suicide can be a noble and manly act. 2 Maccabees 14:41-43 teaches that Razias chose to die “nobly” by committing the “manful” act of suicide in the middle of a crowd: “41 Now as the multitude sought to rush into his house, and to break open the door, and to set fire to it, when he was ready to be taken, he struck himself with his sword: 42 Choosing to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of the wicked, and to suffer abuses unbecoming his noble birth. 43 But whereas through haste he missed of giving himself a sure wound, and the crowd was breaking into the doors, he ran boldly to the wall, and manfully threw himself down to the crowd.”
Once again, the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees is contradicting the Bible.
7. Witchcraft and Sorcery
In Tobit, chapter 6, verses 1-17 we read a very interesting story about a man named Tobias, and angel by the name of Azarias, murdering demons, and occultic practices.
In this story, Tobias goes down to the water to wash his feet, when a giant fish jumps up to devour him. The angel Azarias tells Tobias to grab the fish by the gills and bring it up on shore. Once Tobias has landed the fish, Azarias tells him to remove the fish's entrails, heart, gall bladder and liver as these are “necessary for useful medicines.” Tobias asks the angel what kind of medicines, and the angel then instructs Tobias on how to use the heart of the fish to cast a magical spell that will cast away demons.
Azarias the angel tells Tobias, “If thou put a little piece of its heart upon the coals, the smoke thereof driveth away all kind of devils, either from man or from woman, so that they come no more to them.” The angel then provides Tobias with a bit of folk lore, telling him the gall will cure eye problems.
When Tobias asks Azarias where they are going to stay for the night, the angel tells him of a man named Raguel, who has a daughter named Sara, and that Tobias must marry Sara. Tobias is worried about this as he tells the angel that Sara has been married seven times already, and each time she is married, a demon who is also in love with her kills her husbands when they come in to her on their wedding night. Tobias is worried the same thing will happen to him.
Then the angel Raphael tells Tobias (perhaps Azarias has two names, or changes his name, or Raphael suddenly appears – we aren't told where Raphael comes from) to perform yet another magic spell. He tells Tobias, “when you enter the bridal chamber, you shall take live ashes of incense and lay upon them some of the heart and liver of the fish so as to make a smoke. Then the demon will smell it and flee away, and will never return.” (Tobit 6:1-17 DRA, cf. RSVCE)
The Bible is very clear about the casting of spells and other occultic practices of witchcraft and sorcery as it repeatedly condemns them as sinful acts; and states those who practice these occultic acts will be condemned to hell for all eternity. (Deuteronomy 18:10–16; Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:27; Malachi 3:5; Acts 13:8–10; Revelation 18:23; 21:8; see also Revelation 22:15).
In spite of God's clear and repeated admonitions to stay away from such things, the apocrypha, in Tobit 6:1-17, not only condones occultism; but actually states that it is a heavenly being – and angel (or two angels) – who is teaching man to do them! This is not only a clear contradiction of God's Word, but blasphemous heresy as well!
8. The Men of Shechem
In the book of Judith, chapter 9, verses 2 through 9, we read that God enabled Simeon and his brothers to kill Shechem, his father Hamor, and the Hivite men. In short, this passage in Judith makes it clear that the murders of the Shechem, Hamor and the Hivite men was an act of God, and something to be commended.
In the biblical account, however, as found in Genesis 34, we plainly see God had nothing to do with the murders of the Hivites; and that it was an act of violence born out of anger, and was soundly condemned by God who cursed them for their violent sin (cf. Genesis 49:6-7).
On the one hand is the apocrypha commending this act of violence, and even laying the responsibility for it at the feet of God; and on the other hand is the Bible clearly teaching this same act was condemned by God. The book of Judith is in direct contradiction to the Bible, as well as blaspheming God by saying the act of wanton murder and deceit was by His hand.
9. Lying, Deceiving
In Judith, chapters 8 through 15, we read the story of Judith, who seeks the Lord in prayer and asks Him to help her deceive the Assyrians, in order to allow the Israelites to massacre them. In the apocryphal story, the Lord hears and answers her prayer. She then dresses up, puts on her make up and jewels, and makes herself look absolutely gorgeous. She proceeds to the Assyrian camp, and employing as much guile as she is able, begins her campaign of deceit and lies. The results in her getting the Assyrian king drunk, whereupon she then beheads him with a few well placed swings of a sword.
While this sounds like an exciting story (and it is), it also completely contradictory to Scripture. The Bible makes it clear as early on as Exodus 20, in the Ten Commandments, how God feels about lying: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”(Ex.20:16 NKJV).
In Proverbs 6:16-19, we read of seven things the Lord hates and which are an abomination to Him. The second item on this list is “a lying tongue,” which is followed up on the same list with “A heart that devises wicked plans,” and “a false witness who speaks lies.” Judith qualifies for all three of these. The Bible repeatedly teaches that those who lie are not in league with the Lord, but rather are lawless and counted with those who will be judged in the end (Colossians 3:9; 1 Timothy 1:9-11; Revelation 21:8). Simply put, God never lies, and it is impossible for Him to do so. (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Once again, the apocryphal book of Judith stands in direct contradiction to the Bible.
10. Baruch in Egypt
The Bible tells us, “Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire.” (Jeremiah 52:12-13 – NKJV) We also read that when this happened, the prophet Jeremiah and Baruch were taken into Egypt (Jeremiah 43:6-7). This is the documented fact as presented in the Bible.
The Apocryphal book of Baruch, however, tells a similar but still different story. Baruch 1:1-2 states, “And these are the words of the book, which Baruch the son of Nerias, the son of Maasias, the son of Sedecias, the son of Sedei, the son of Helcias, wrote in Babylonia. In the fifth year, in the seventh day of the month, at the time that the Chaldeans took Jerusalem, and burnt it with fire.” (DRA)
The Bible states Baruch was in Egypt when Jerusalem was burned. The apocryphal book of Baruch states he was in Babylonia when Jerusalem was burned. Two different countries separated by almost nine hundred miles (measured as a straight line between the two). Both of these accounts can be wrong, but they cannot both be correct. Since we know the Book of Jeremiah is inspired by God, and therefore without error (as explained above), it is clear the book of Baruch is very much in error. This is not a mere scribal error, a typographical error, etc. No, it is a very serious error, which demonstrates the apocryphal book of Baruch not only is not inspired Scripture, but cannot be inspired Scripture.
Additional contradictions with universally accepted inspired Scripture:
Sirach 25:24 states sin had its beginning in woman, and because of her we all die.
Romans 5:12 states that sin came through one man, not a woman.
Sirach 25:35-36 states if a woman will not obey you, then divorce her.
Malachi 2:16 states that God hates divorce
Sirach 12:4-7 states we are to ignore sinners and not help them.
Proverbs 25:21 states we are feed our enemy if he is hungry and give him water if he is thirsty.
The Apocrypha Contains Obvious Historical Errors
In addition to containing contradictions to universally accepted inspired Scriptures, the apocrypha also contains obvious and indisputable historical errors. These include:
1. The King of Babylon
The Bible clearly states that Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon (Daniel, chapters 1-4)
The apocryphal book of Judith, however, in chapter 1, verse 5, states Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Assyria, and that he ruled in Nineveh: “Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Ninive the great city, fought against Arphaxad and overcame him” (Judith 1:5 DRA).
There are several serious historical errors contained in this one verse from Judith. First, Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Babylonians, not the king of Assyria. Second, Nebuchadnezzar's capital, from where he reigned, was the city of Babylon, not Nineveh. Third, Nineveh was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar, eight years before Nebuchadnezzar became king of the Babylonians. Fourth, Judith states Nebuchadnezzar's enemy was Arphaxad, the king of the Medes. However, the Medes never had a king by that name. The name Arphaxad appears only once in Scripture, in Genesis 10:22 where he is listed as a son of Shem, the son of Noah. Fifth, the kingdom of the Medes lasted until 550 B.C., long after Nebuchadnezzar's reign, when it was Cyrus, not Nebuchadnezzar, who conquered Astyages, not Arphaxad.
Clearly, the apocryphal book of Judith is rife with error, as well as contradictory to the Bible. Some Roman Catholic apologists attempt to refute this by saying Judith is not a literal history, but is rather “a stylized account of real events,” and the historical inaccuracies are “due to the form of stylization the author employs.” They say it is similar to the book of Job, which they say nobody really accepts as literal truth. Other Roman Catholic apologists have attempted to explain away the historical errors by claiming Judith is really an “extended parable,” an “allegory,” and not actual history. They go on to say the Song of Solomon is not actual history, therefore, “If the Song of Solomon can go into the Bible, so can Judith.” And other Roman Catholic apologists will say Judith is a mix of historical and metaphorical terms (in other words, the parts that are historically accurate are considered history, and the historical inaccuracies are considered metaphors), while others will tell you the book of Judith is actually a metaphorical story about Mary, the mother of Jesus. When all of these arguments are refuted, some will merely dig in their heels and state defiantly that it doesn't matter if there are historical errors in Judith because there are historical errors in Daniel 1:1 (an argument that has been endlessly refuted by biblical scholars).
Clearly, there is no valid argument that can support the existence of such serious historical error as is found in the book of Judith. It is clearly not inspired by God, regardless of how desperately in need the Roman Catholic apologists are for it to be so.
2. The Length of the Babylonian Captivity
The apocryphal book of Baruch, chapter 6, verse 2, states, “And when you are come into Babylon, you shall be there many years, and for a long time, even to seven generations: and after that I will bring you away from thence with peace.”(DRA) This is a reference to the Babylonian captivity which, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, occurred in 597 B.C. The biblical book of Jeremiah also references this same event: “And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:11 NKJV).
The problem is obvious. Baruch states the captivity would last 7 generations, while Jeremiah states it would last 70 years. To resolve this discrepancy we need to figure out what a biblical generation is in terms of length of time. Matthew 1:17 provides an answer, in that there were fourteen generations between the captivity and the birth of Christ in about 2 B.C., which gives us a difference of 595 years. Divide that by the fourteen generations, and we arrive at 42.5 years for a single generation. Multiply by 7, and we discover that according to the book of Baruch, the Babylonian captivity was 297.5 years long. That's an historical error of 227.5 years! Even if we cut that in half we have a 21.25 year generation, and a 148.75 year captivity, an historical error of 78.75 years.
Clearly, the apocryphal book of Baruch contains serious historical error.
Roman Catholic apologists attempt to explain away this historical error by first saying Baruch included all of the exiles the Israelites went through, which is clearly not meant in the text. Then they attempt to explain it away by saying the 7 generation number provided in Baruch is merely a “symbolic number.”
Obviously, the argument made by the Roman Catholic apologists simply has no merit, and they are unable to explain away the fact that the apocryphal book of Baruch contains serious historical error, which removes any possibility of inspiration.
3. Haman and King Ahasuerus
The apocryphal addition to the book of Esther begin at Esther 10:4, and continue to Esther 16:24. What is interesting in the apocryphal addition is, that the apocryphal chapters 14-16, are essentially a retelling of chapters 8-9. The problem with the apocryphal retelling is that it contains historical errors that are contradictory to the inspired chapters 8-9.
The first historical error/contradiction concerns the king of Persia to whom Esther is married. In Esther 8-9 (which are universally accepted Scripture), the author correctly identifies the king of Persia as Ahasuerus (Assuerus in the DRA), who is also known as king Xerxes. Ahasuerus reigned from 486 B.C. until his death in 425 B.C. In the apocryphal addition to Esther, however, the author (who is clearly not the same author who wrote 1:1-10:3) falsely states the king of Persia as king Artaxerxes, who was actually the son of king Ahasuerus. Artaxerxes reigned from 465 B.C. (upon his father's death) until 425 B.C.
The second historical error/contradiction concerns Haman (Aman in the DRA); and it is quite a surprising error for the apocryphal writer to make. One that indicates a poor knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. In chapters 8-9, the author correctly identifies Haman as “...Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them.”(NKJV) In the apocryphal chapters 14-16, however, the writer incorrectly states, “I Aman the son of Amadathi, a Macedonian both in mind and country.”(DRA)
The reason this error is so surprising is that it relates directly to 1 Samuel 15:1-35; where we read about Saul and the Amalekites. Saul is commanded by God (through Samuel) to attack and kill all the Amalekites. Every man, woman, and child as well as all of their livestock. Before Saul attacks, he warns the Kenites (who lived among the Amalekites) and allows them to escape. Saul then compounds his sin of disobedience by sparing not only the choicest livestock, but he also spares the king of the Amalekites, a man named Agag, who was an ancestor of Haman. If Saul had been obedient, Agag would have had no descendants, and Haman would not have tried to kill all the Jews (including Queen Esther) living in Susa. It seems apparent the writer of the apocryphal addition to Esther was not aware of this obvious connection, nor its importance, and thus falsely wrote that Haman was a Macedonian rather than an Agagite. It is also apparent the writer had not read the book of Esther either, since he also wrote the wrong king's name as well.
These obvious historical errors, and contradictions to the inspired book of Esther, disqualify the apocryphal additions from the possibility of divine inspiration.
The Apocrypha Contradicts Itself
Not only do the apocryphal books contradict universally accepted inspired Scriptures, as well as contain serious historical errors, they actually contradict themselves. Contradictions within the apocrypha include:
1. The Age of Tobit
Tobit 1:1-6, reads, “1Tobias of the tribe and city of Nephtali, (which is in the upper parts of Galilee above Naasson, beyond the way that leadeth to the west, having on the right hand the city of Sephet,) 2When he was made captive in the days of Salmanasar king of the Assyrians, even in his captivity, forsook not the way of truth, 3But every day gave all he could get to his brethren his fellow captives, that were of his kindred. 4And when he was younger than any of the tribe of Nephtali, yet did he no childish thing in his work. 5Moreover when all went to the golden calves which Jeroboam king of Israel had made, he alone fled the company of all, 6And went to Jerusalem to the temple of the Lord, and there adored the Lord God of Israel, offering faithfully all his firstfruits, and his tithes,”(DRA)
In this passage we learn two things. First, that Tobias took part in the Assyrian captivity; and second, that during the reign of Jeroboam, when Jeroboam set up the golden calves to be worshiped, he went instead to the temple in Jerusalem to worship the Lord. According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, the Assyrian captivity occurred in 722 B.C. We also know, again according to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, that Jeroboam died in 954 B.C. after a 22-year reign, which would have begun in 976 B.C. Using the dates provided by the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Tobias would have been at least 254 years old when Jeroboam began his reign. Yet Tobit 1:1-6 states that during the reign of Jeroboam, Tobias was “younger than any of the tribe of Nephtali,” and yet “did he no childish thing in his work”, implying that Tobias was still a child when Jeroboam reigned over Israel.
This is a clear error in the apocryphal book of Tobit. And it gets even stranger when we read in Tobit 14, verse 2, “And after he had lived a hundred and two years, he was buried honourably in Ninive.” This passage clearly contradicts Tobit 1:1-6. In just these two passages we see not only serious error, but a painfully clear contradiction as well, with at least a 152 year discrepancy in the age of Tobias!
As with the other books presented here, with the clear errors and contradictions, Tobit cannot possibly be considered to be inspired Scripture.
2. The Death of Antiochus Epiphanes
In 2 Maccabees 1:13-16 we read about Antiochus Epiphanes entering the temple of the goddess Nanaea, in the Persian province of Elymais. The passage reads, “13 For when the leader himself was in Persia, and with him a very great army, he fell in the temple of Nanea, being deceived by the counsel of the priests of Nanea. 14 For Antiochus, with his friends, came to the place as though he would marry her, and that he might receive great sums of money under the title of a dowry. 15 And when the priests of Nanea had set it forth, and he with a small company had entered into the compass of the temple, they shut the temple, 16 When Antiochus was come in: and opening a secret entrance of the temple, they cast stones and slew the leader, and them that were with him, and hewed them in pieces, and cutting off their heads they threw them forth.”(DRA)
As we can see, the temple priests had laid a trap for Antiochus and killed him and those with him by stoning them; after which the priests hacked them into pieces and cut off their heads. However, just eight short chapters later in 2 Maccabees 9:19-29, we read that Antiochus Epiphanes left Persia (which had to be somewhat difficult being dead, hacked to pieces, and beheaded), where he entered a different country and was “taken with a grievous disease” the Douay-Rheims states. The Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition calls is an “annoying illness,” and the Common English Bible refers to it as “falling ill, which created a serious situation.” The result of this illness, whatever it was, is that Antiochus died a lingering miserable death, somewhere in the mountains of this “strange country.”
We know the province of Elymais, and thus the temple of Nanaea, is near the coast of the Persian Gulf, and not in the mountains; plus the second passage tells us that Antiochus had actually left Persia. Therefore, these two accounts cannot be referring to the same place. What we are left with is one person, Antiochus Epiphanes, being stoned to death, then hacked into pieces and beheaded in Persia in one passage; and then dying a second time of a serious illness in a different country.
This is a gross contradiction within the same apocryphal book. Again, this clearly disqualifies the book of 2 Maccabees from any possibility of divine inspiration.
Regarding the numerous errors and contradictions found within the apocryphal / deuterocanonical writings, Roman Catholic apologists are never at a loss to provide an explanation for them. They will tell you the apocryphal writings are actually parables, or allegories, or analogies, and not actual historical records. They will tell you the writers simply took artistic license, which they claim is perfectly acceptable within inspired Scripture. They will tell you historical facts are not important when determining if a book or letter is divinely inspired. And, they will tell you the writers simply didn't know they were writing under the inspiration of God, therefore any errors or contradictions they may make are acceptable and in no way effect their inspiration. This is known as grasping at straws.
The Apocrypha, while useful as history, contains numerous errors and passages that are contrary to established Scripture. This fact alone warrants exclusion from the inspired inerrant and infallible canon of Scripture. Coupled with the lack of substantive historical acceptance within the early church of the apocrypha as inspired; the apocryphal books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, but never as the inspired, inerrant, infallible and authoritative Word of God.
A Note on Canonicity
With regard to the canonicity, or more importantly the divine inspiration of the apocryphal / deuterocanonical writings, there are several historically accepted parameters one must consider when determining whether or not they actually are inspired and worthy of acceptance as divinely inspired Scripture. This points include:
1. The apocryphal writings are never quoted by Jesus, the Apostles, nor any New Testament writer;
2. The apocryphal writings are never mentioned by name in the New Testament;
3. No New Testament writer ever refers to the apocryphal writings as authoritative;
4. The apocryphal writings were never accepted by the Jews as inspired Scripture;
5. The apocryphal writings do not contain any claim to divine inspiration (no “it is written,: or “Thus saith the Lord” in conjunction with a new prophecy, command, or revelation;
6. The apocryphal writings contain demonstrable errors. Errors indicate fallibility, which is antithetical to the character of God;
7. The apocryphal writings contain no objective evidence of Divine authority; i.e. no predictive prophecy, no firsthand accounts of miracles, etc. If God did inspire the apocrypha, then we would expect to see some internal evidence confirming it.
8. None of the apocryphal books or writings claim Divine authority, in fact, two of them, 2 Maccabees and Sirach, tells us they are not inspired Scripture, but rather abridged or abbreviated versions of works written by someone else as in 2 Maccabees, wherein they “did their best.” And asking the reader to be indulgent of the mistakes they made, while admitting they were not accurate as in Sirach. Note here:
2 Maccabees 2:19-28; 15:38-39 (RSVCE)
“19 The story of Judas Maccabe′us and his brothers, and the purification of the great temple, and the dedication of the altar, 20 and further the wars against Anti′ochus Epiph′anes and his son Eu′pator, 21 and the appearances which came from heaven to those who strove zealously on behalf of Judaism, so that though few in number they seized the whole land and pursued the barbarian hordes, 22 and recovered the temple famous throughout the world and freed the city and restored the laws that were about to be abolished, while the Lord with great kindness became gracious to them— 23 all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyre′ne in five volumes, we shall attempt to condense into a single book.
24 For considering the flood of numbers involved and the difficulty there is for those who wish to enter upon the narratives of history because of the mass of material, 25 we have aimed to please those who wish to read, to make it easy for those who are inclined to memorize, and to profit all readers. 26 For us who have undertaken the toil of abbreviating, it is no light matter but calls for sweat and loss of sleep, 27 just as it is not easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks the benefit of others. However, to secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil, 28 leaving the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our effort to arriving at the outlines of the condensation.”
“38 If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. 39 For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one’s enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end.”
Sirach Prologue, Sirach 1 (RSVCE)
“Whereas many great teachings have been given to us through the law and the prophets and the others that followed them, on account of which we should praise Israel for instruction and wisdom; and since it is necessary not only that the readers themselves should acquire understanding but also that those who love learning should be able to help the outsiders by both speaking and writing, my grandfather Jesus, after devoting himself especially to the reading of the law and the prophets and the other books of our fathers, and after acquiring considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, in order that, by becoming conversant with this also, those who love learning should make even greater progress in living according to the law. You are urged therefore to read with good will and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, despite out diligent labor in translating, we may seem to have rendered some phrases imperfectly. For what was originally expressed in Hebrew does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language. Not only this work, but even the law itself, the prophecies, and the rest of the books differ not a little as originally expressed.”
The apocryphal writings are clearly not Divinely inspired Scripture; nor were they ever intended to be. The simple fact that they contain so many errors and contradictions precludes any possibility of Divine inspiration; and if one insists on taking the apocryphal / deuterocanonical writings as Divinely inspired, – errors and contradictions included – then one must also believe that God is not infallible, and capable of making mistakes.
The apocryphal / deuterocanonical writings are historical writings written by fallible humans, and nothing more. They are good to read, they are interesting, and even exciting in some places. But when it comes down to the reality of the matter, they simply are not Divinely inspired Scripture.
As the Westminster Confession states, “The books commonly called the Apocrypha … [are note] to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.” (Westminster Confession 1:3).