Title: I consider the Apocrypha scripture
Tags: canon, Tobit, Sirach, protestant, catholic, orthodox
Blog Entry: I generally identify as a Protestant Evangelical, however, I do not agree with the majority of protestants on the Books that are labelled 'Apocrypha' or '2nd Canon' by Catholics.  In General the Protestant churches reject these books (Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom, Sirach, Letter of Jeremiah, additions to Daniel, 1 Maccabees), whereas the Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches accept them as scriptures. (Note: I do not favor the Book of Enoch as one of these.) There has been debate about these since the dawn of Christianity, in as much as a Septuagint type of text was generally used by the earliest churches.  I honestly feel that the arguments for them outweigh the arguments opposed to them. When doing research a person must not just go to protestant sites on the issue.  They must look at the work of independant scholars as well as honest scholars from both Catholic and Orthodox traditions.  It is also good to watch debates on this subject too.  In short you have to research the issue holistically after praying for insight. In these books, which largely date to the center of both the Intertestimal period and the Second Temple period (515 BC to 70 AD), or around 200 BC, can be found some marvelous things, including prophecy and indicators pointing at Jesus Christ.  I have also discovered that few have any awareness of these things.  Lets now take a brief look at the Book of Tobit. Tobit This book tells the story of Tobit, a righteous Israelite, living in a suburb of Nineveh after Sargon 11 had deported many Israelites to Assyria in 721 BC. The first two and a half chapters are written in the first person. Tobit is blinded by bird droppings falling into his eyes.  Poor Tobit wants his son (Tobias) to go on a trip to Medea to fetch money/silver that was deposited there sometime earlier, but he first wants his son to find a guide to help with the trip.  On the way young Tobias and his new guide (an angel in disguise) catch a fish.  They cook the fish and eat but first the angel instructs the lad to save the heart, liver, and gall, because these have special uses and medicinal possibilities. By and by young Tobias collects the silver and obtains a wife named Sara.  He then heads home and rubs some of the gall/bile into his fathers eyes, which seemingly clears up the elder mans vision.. Now few are aware but the part about the fish possibly points to Jesus and the later fish symbol that early Christians often used.   Tobias and his guide ate the flesh of the fish which reminds one of the words of Jesus in John 6:55. Jesus said you must eat of my flesh thus symbolically pointing at the messiahs sacrifice. The heart of the fish is thought by some to represent the Blood of Christ.  The burning of the heart and liver may represent both prayers going up as well as spirit. Smoke is sometimes presented around the throne of God.  Some say this is magic being taught but actually it is both medicinal (the bile) and symbolic.  Some have suggested that the elder Tobit had a severe form of conjunctivitis with crusting and bile, as stored in the gall, actually does help desolve fats and gunk. Some physicians even into the 1800s still used this method to deal with eye infections.  I have not gone into this exhaustively so much more can be said.  One should not just write this book off with a smile.  Some have also claimed that Tobit  teaches false doctrine such as salvation by works (Tobit 4:6-11) but it seems to teach much the same thing as found in 1 Peter 4:8.  True faith has a flowering of good deeds and helping of others by giving alms, out of faith, is love/charity. As stated, this is brief but enough has been presented here to get others to think.  Lets now take a look at ' The Book of Judith '. Judith There are many opinions on this book but in the story line Judith is presented as a beautiful noble women, recently left a widow.  She resides on the edge of a city called 'Bethulia', which many feel is actually Jerusalem.  Judith becomes alarmed when Assyrian forces are nearby and led by a general named Holofernes.  She admonishes her people to be brave.  Judith devises a plan to get into the camp of the Assyrians and befriend Holofernes.  She does charm him and he gets drunk and sleeps.  She quickly beheads the general and wraps his head up while she and her maid slip away back to Bethulia.  The Assyrian soldiers are later demoralized when they find the lifeless body of their great general.  Judith is deemed a heroine for saving her people and city. I think it likely that this story is a sort of novel with a telescoped history where Judith represents God's people.  Nebachaneser was not king of Assyria but later Babylon and Holofernes may be from the late Persian period, but the writer is using these individuals (or names) as representitives of the Eastern pagans that Israel and Judah delt with down through time.  Judith, herself, might even be styled a female form of Judas Maccabee, who does behead a general named Nicanor, in the 2nd century BC.  The writer was perhaps inspired to write this to encourage the people of God to stand up for justice and not be fearful. And... It has been claimed by some that these books were not quoted by NT writers so therefore they can't be true scriptures, however, not every book in the OT is quoted by the NT, so should they be rejected too? Of course not.  Actually the claim is not really true because it seems that the NT does actually quote and allude to these books anyways.  For example, Jesus, the Lord, seems to give an abridged quote of Sirach 51:23-27, in Matthew 11:28-.  You find a structure with 'Draw near to me' and 'yoke'...and 'rest'....that is clearly related.  This is just one example, but the 'quotation' argument is not of great value anyways because the NT quotes things that no church considers scriptures.  It is just not a good argument one way or the other.  The same can be said of 'councils'.  The council of Jaminia in about 90 AD rejected these books but they were not speaking for all Jews anyways and many councils would disagree with them so it is a flush... There is also the question of prophecy.  Does the 'Apocrypha' give some prophecy about Jesus?  I would say that it does.  If a honest soul reads the second chapter of the book named 'Wisdom of Solomon' he or she could hardly deny that it is pointing to Jesus.  In some ways it echoes Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant.  Sometimes when I pointed this out to brethren they were greatly surprised.  Some even wondered why these things were not pointed out before. pastor Zomok