Just for Catholics

The Apocrypha Contradicts Scripture

Question: In one of your articles you claim that the apocrypha contradict the Scripture. I do not see any contradictions.

Answer: Please take a second look and judge for yourself. Let's take some examples, starting with the book of Sirach which teaches that almsgiving makes atonement for sin. “Whoso honoureth his father maketh an atonement for his sins...Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sin” (Sirach 3:3, 30).

Now it is the constant teaching of the Law that atonement is made by a blood sacrifice. For example Leviticus 17:11 states: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

But Sirach teaches that honouring parents and giving alms atones for sin. Sirach teaches that a person can be justified by another method apart from substitutionary sacrifice.

Sirach teaches justification by the works of the law (honouring parents, etc.) which is directly refuted by the Bible: “A man is not justified by the works of the law” (Galatians 2:16). In fact, the apostle Paul goes as far as saying that “if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (verse 21). If we could obtain righteousness by such things as obeying the commandment and doing charity, there would have been no need for Christ dying on the cross.

Similarly Tobit 12:9 states that “alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin.” But the Bible states that “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Being assured by the Word of God that Christ’s blood really cleanses from all sin, we cannot accept that alms-giving is an a different way of purging sin. In fact the Bible makes it clear that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Hebrews 9:14). Tobit proposes an alternative way for purging sin apart from the shedding of blood.

Wisdom 8:19,20 is another contradiction between the apocrypha and Scripture. “For I was a witty child, and had a good spirit. Yea rather, being good, I came into a body undefiled.” However, the Bible teaches that all are born with original sin. "Through one man’s offense judgment came to all men... by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners" (Romans 5:18, 19). “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). The author of Wisdom believes he was an exception.

Sirach 12:4-7 advices, “Give to the godly man, and help not a sinner. Do well unto him that is lowly, but give not to the ungodly; hold back thy bread, and give it not unto him... give unto the good, and help not the sinner.” This sound more like pagan philosophy rather than the teaching of God, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you... Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back” (Luke 6:27,30). “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink;” (Romans 12:20, Proverbs 25:21).

There are also historical errors in the apocrypha. For example, Tobit claims to have been alive when Jeroboam revolted (931 B.C.) and when Assyria conquered Israel (722 B.C.). These two events were separated by over 200 years and yet the total lifespan of Tobit was 158 years (Tobit 1:3-5; 14:11)! Judith mistakenly identifies Nebuchadnezzar as king of the Assyrians (1:1, 7) when in fact he was the king of Babylon (2 Kings 24:1).

Surely the doctrinal and historical errors in the apocrypha are clear evidence against the divine inspiration of these books. 

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A