Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha?

If you take a trip to your local (c)hristian book store, you’ll of course see plenty of Bibles on the shelves. There will be many different Protestant Bibles (including a few very dubious translations) side-by-side with Catholic Bibles. Have you ever wondered what the differences are between Protestant and Catholic Bibles?

Today, I was listening to the 05/19/17 podcast of the Calling All Catholics talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring moderator, Mike Denz, and priest-host, Dave Baker, taking questions from the listening audience.

Towards the end of the show, Denz took a question regarding the Bible:

Mike Denz: We’re going to go to Athena, who emailed us this question: “I am currently converting (to Catholicism) and I just received my Catholic Bible in the mail. I’m wondering if you have advice on how I should approach reading it? I grew up reading the King James Bible and just by skimming through the Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, I notice some pretty major differences already. Should I start by reading straight through first or should I just jump between chapters with focus on certain chapters?”

Denz then immediately commented that the King James Version is not a translation approved by the Catholic church. The church used to forbid its members from reading the KJV or any other Protestant Bible upon pain of “mortal” sin, although the “unchangeable” church seems to have taken a less-militant stand in recent years (see the comments section). Denz also mentioned that Catholic Bibles contain seven Old Testament books that Protestant Bibles do not, as well as four additions to other OT books. This debated material is called the Apocrypha, which was all written in the 400-year period after the last OT book, Malachi, and before the time of Christ. Denz went on to blame Martin Luther for removing the Apocrypha from the Bible but the Jews in 1st-century Palestine didn’t consider this material to be Scriptural. Ancient historians, Philo and Josephus, rejected the Apocrypha. The rabbinical writers of the Talmud from 200 AD to 500 AD excluded the Apocrypha. Jesus and the apostles never quoted the Apocrypha. Even Jerome, the translator of the Septuagint, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.

However, Denz claimed the apocryphal books “were quoted in the New Testament,” followed by priest Baker chiming in, “…by Jesus Himself!” I had never before come across a claim from a Catholic source that Jesus or the apostles had ever quoted from the Apocrypha. I did a little digging and found that objective Catholic sources admit that direct quotes of the Apocrypha cannot be found in the New Testament “and that the (religious) themes (alluded to in the NT as quotes from the Apocrypha by overzealous Catholics like Denz and Baker) are so prevalent in Judaism that our Lord may not have intended these works (i.e., the Apocrypha) specifically.” See here. Thanks for your objectivity, priest John Echert.

For an excellent analysis of the Apocrypha from an evangelical perspective, see the article below:

Is the Apocrypha Scripture?

If you’ve never read the apocryphal material I would advise you not to waste your time. But the Apocrypha is important to Catholic doctrine because in one of the books, II Maccabees 12:38-46, Jews are exhorted to pray for the souls of fallen soldiers who had worn idolatrous amulets under their tunics. Catholics cite this passage as support for the doctrine of purgatory and praying for the dead. But how could that be? These soldiers were blatant idolaters. In Catholic dogma, idolatry is a “mortal sin,” so these fallen soldiers with their idolatrous good luck charms would have been in hell, not in a spurious purgatory.

13 thoughts on “Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha?

    1. Glad you brought this up, Jim. I did a little more research. Catholic teaching when I was young (1960s) was that Catholics could only read Bibles and religious material that has been granted an “imprimatur” (“let it be printed”) from a bishop. In fact, Catholic Bibles used to contain a message in the opening pages which forbade them from reading non-Catholic Bibles. There seems to be some leniency now. The RCC no longer maintains a list of forbidden books like they used to but it still recommends Catholics read approved Bibles. The “unchanging” RCC changed again! So let’s suppose a Catholic in the 1950s read a KJV version, which was a mortal sin at the time, and so they went to hell. Did they receive a get-out-of-hell-free card when the church changed its policy at some unknown, indeterminate date?
      Here’s a 2-minute video clip on the topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you misunderstand “unchanging”. Catholics don’t claim that the Church doesn’t change her disciplines, just that her doctrines on Faith and Morals are unchangeable.
        For example, the practice of women wearing head coverings in church. That’s a discipline, not a dogma of the Faith, and so it can be changed by the Church. If the Church were to declare for example, that there are only 2 persons in the Godhead, or that Mary was not sinless that’d be a change to her dogma, and you’d then be able to point to that as an example of her changing.
        Changing church discipline has happened all throughout history, for one reason or another, and mentioning it in such sarcastic way as an example of the Church not being unchanging, is disingenuous and not charitable.


      2. Yes, I’m quite aware of the RCC’s distinction between disciplines and dogmas, but I believe I make a very valid point by pointing out that, in this case, what the church once categorized as a mortal sin, it no longer does so. Mortal sins are serious matters according to the RCC, so, whether it’s called a dogma or discipline, how could the church change its condemnation for reading a Protestant Bible from one decade to the next? Speaking of dogma, Pope Francis has changed RCC dogma by craftily lifting the ban on administering communion to remarried divorcees via a few footnotes in “Amoris Laetitia” so it’s clear that neither disciplines or dogmas are unchangeable in the RCC.
        RE: sarcastic, disingenuous, not charitable.
        Please. The RCC is leading one-billion souls to hell with its false gospel and it has a long and sordid history of abuse, persecution, and corruption. Why so sensitive?


      1. Ah, OK. I am familiar with him and have listened to some of his talks. I follow him on Twitter, but I seldom use Twitter. Confuses me and there’s too much disrespectful writing being posted.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Tom. Excellent article. I read the Apocrypha about 15 years ago and found in very entertaining, but I also remember saying to myself: “There are people out there who take this as REAL Scripture? Wow.”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s