If Everything You Know About the Civil War Era Comes From A Textbook, You Don’t Know Diddly About the South

I’m going to let you all in on a secret. If everything you know about the Civil War Era comes from a textbook, you don’t know diddly squat about the South- and you’re confused about the North as well.

Reading between the lines in our textbooks, after all of us colonists got together and told Mother England where she could stick her taxation without representation and formed a lovely little nation of our own, something odd happened. Apparently, in the years following, us brand new Americans divided ourselves into two factions and split geographically. All of the ignorant, bigoted, white supremacists congregated south of the Mason Dixon Line and the enlightened, equality- minded, civil rights warriors gathered to the north of the line. Then, the loathsome southern crew all planted plantations full of cotton to give all of our legions of slaves something menial to do. Next, they built gigantic plantation houses for the women folk to traipse around in while wearing poofy dresses and sipping mimosas. All the while, the northerners made honest livings in factories waiting for Abraham Lincoln to come along and trounce some morality into that southern rabble.

Not so much. There are two things you need to know:

1. Your history book lied to you about the Civil War.

2. The Mason Dixon Line is a geographical boundary, not a moral one.

Your History Book Lied to You About the Civil War

Lincoln was not a “great emancipator” sending in Union troops to “make men free,” and the South wasn’t fighting primarily to be able to keep slaves. By the way, up to this point in history, slavery was a worldwide societal norm among all cultures. Humanity was finally beginning to “wake up” and slavery was on its way out in multiple civilizations around the globe- none of which resulted in massive Civil Wars. The South, though wrong in their general acceptance of the morality of slavery, was fighting overreaching authority of the federal government.

While slavery did play a part in the Civil War, it was not in the moral capacity that our history books so often paint it. Instead, the disagreement over slavery was an economic and political one. Federal laws leading to the increasing southern unrest date back 30 years prior to the Civil War which was fought from 1861-1865.

In 1828 and 1832, Congress passed tariff legislation which benefited the North’s industrial economy while damaging the South’s agricultural economy. The South produced raw materials and imported manufactured products. The southern economy was built on agriculture and many were dependent on slave labor to run the massive plantations that supplied raw materials to the factories in the north. These tariffs gave northern manufacturers an enormous advantage by decreasing foreign competition. The bulk of the South’s raw materials now went to the North instead of abroad, yet taxes were levied on the North’s finished products which made them, to a large extent, unaffordable in the South. This resulted in the South paying the bulk of federal taxes, while the taxes were spent predominantly in the North. When South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun held a convention to nullify this law, President Andrew Jackson actually threatened to send troops to enforce it, but the Compromise of 1833 resulted in lowering the taxes for a period of four years and an altercation was avoided.

If you think our most recent presidential election was contentious, you’ve never read about Lincoln’s. Lincoln was backed exclusively by big industry in the North. In the 1860 election, he won with only 39% of the popular vote and not a single electoral vote from the South. The first thing Congress did when they met after the election was to pass the Morrill Tariff, which was the highest tariff in US history. The following quote is from the Northern British Review, Edinburgh, 1862, “…All Northern products are now protected: and the Morrill Tariff is a very masterpiece of folly and injustice. No wonder then that the citizens of the seceding States should feel for half a century they have sacrificed to enhance the powers and profits of the North; and should conclude, after much futile remonstrance that only in secession could they hope to find redress.”

Lincoln never saw the Civil War as an opportunity to bring about justice or free slaves. Lincoln’s single, intention throughout the Civil War was to hold the Union together. In his 1862 letter to Horace Greely of the New York Tribune, Lincoln famously wrote, “ My paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all of the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union…” This letter can be viewed in its entirety at abrahamlincolnonline.org.

Now, whether or not you believe that the South had a constitutional right to secede, or if Lincoln was justified in his many questionable tactics to hold the Union together is a whole separate can of worms. But, if you find yourself sympathizing with the modern day “Calexit” movement, the least you can do is avoid being a hypocrite and admit that you actually have more in common with the Confederacy than you thought.

Most important lessons to take away: If you are ignorant of true Civil War history and engage in or applaud the ripping down of confederate monuments in a misguided protest of slavery or racism, expect opposition from individuals who aren’t ignorant of true Civil War history who have respect for these monuments to great men who put their lives on the line to fight federal government overreach. This is no way means they are racist or that they are sympathetic to the institution of slavery- much less fascist.

The Mason Dixon Line Is A Geographical Boundary, Not A Moral One

The South is not now nor has it ever been any more or less “racist” than the North.

Seriously. This old, tired, inaccurate stereotype of the South as a geographical collection of diversity hating, white supremacists doesn’t even have a historical leg to stand on. The North is not immune and has its own historically documented list of embarrassing and abhorrent racist sentiment.

According to the 1860 census, there were 451,021 slaves counted in states and territories that would make up the Union during the Civil War. This was an increase from the 1840 census 20 years earlier. Historian Douglas Harper notes, “The North failed to develop large-scale agrarian slavery, such as later arose in the Deep South, but that had little to do with morality and much to do with climate and economy.”

The North didn’t exactly have an attack of conscience and decide to emancipate all their slaves immediately following the Revolutionary War. The British helped out with that in tactics Lincoln later used on the South. Douglas Harper writes, “Since the North saw much longer, and more extensive, incursions by the British troops, its slave population drained away at a higher rate than the South’s. At the same time, the governments in northern American states began to offer financial incentives to slaveowners who freed their black men, if the emancipated slaves then served in the state regiments fighting the British… When the Northern states gave up the last remnants of legal slavery, in the generation after the Revolution, their motives were a mix of piety, morality, and ethics; fear of a growing black population; practical economics; and the fact that the Revolutionary War had broken the Northern slaveowners’ power and drained off much of the slave population…The business of emancipation in the North amounted to the simple matters of, 1. determining how to compensate slave owners for the few slaves they had left, and, 2. making sure newly freed slaves would be marginalized economically and politically in their home communities, and that nothing in the state’s constitution would encourage fugitive slaves from elsewhere to settle there.”

We’re not done with Lincoln yet. While he opposed slavery, Lincoln did not believe in racial equality in any way, shape, or form. The following quote is from the fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate (the full transcript can be viewed at this National Park Service link.)

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, not qualifying them to hold office, not to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

The most violent race riot in history actually occurred in Manhattan as a protest to the Union’s draft policy. Freed blacks were exempt from the draft, while whites had to pay $300 to buy their way out of it. Poor whites who couldn’t afford to buy their way out of the draft rioted for four days. This horrific riot resulted in the deaths of as many as 120 people, the lynching of at least 11 blacks, and the assault of many more. 4,000 troops from Gettysburg put down the uprising.

The North was full of raced based legislation in the years immediately post Civil War. The North had segregation laws. Free black men were not allowed to vote in all northern states and some states required that a black man own property in order to have the right to vote. In some states, blacks weren’t allowed to hold public office or testify against a white person in court. Many northern states had restrictions on the number of free blacks that could enter the state while some barred them from entering altogether.

Most important lesson to take away: The “racist, white-supremacist, Southerner” is an ignorant stereotype perpetuated by those who wish to divide the country along a racist boundary that never existed.

Racism has never been a geographical phenomenon. During the Civil Rights movements of the 60’s, we all joined together to promote equality and the vast majority of the population has been united in that endeavor ever since.

Today, white or black supremacist groups and terrorist organizations such as the KKK, BLM, Antifa, and the Black Panthers are all fringe groups. These groups are small in number with loud mouths and violent, attention- getting tactics. The mainstream media love to perpetuate the false narrative that large swathes of the United States population sympathizes with one group or another, and this propaganda is not arbitrary. It’s about time we all recognized this divisive propaganda for what it is- an orchestrated effort to divide us.

Step away from the monuments- the ghosts of the Confederacy are not your foes.

Do Vaccines Contain Aborted Fetal Cells?

Do vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?

The short answer is: Yes, some do, but not all. I’ve heard a lot of people actually argue about this. Some people will argue emphatically and call you an idiot if you truly believe the “conspiracy theory” that vaccines contain aborted fetal cells. These people have clearly never bothered to read the list of ingredients printed in the vaccine package inserts. Nor have they visited the CDC website where aborted fetal cells are listed in the ingredients lists of various vaccines.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because they are looking for the words, “aborted fetal cells” which obviously aren’t there. It takes a little reading into the subject to discover that the words you should be looking for are “human diploid fibroblast cell structures” (which come in two strains- WI-38 and MRC-5).

The following vaccines were developed using one of the two aborted fetal strains above and do contain DNA from them:

      • Hepatitis A
      • Rubella (Rubella is a part of the MMR combination vaccine)
      • Varicella (chicken pox)
      • Zoster (shingles)
      • Adenovirus
      • Rabies
      • Polio
      • Enbrel (Rheumatoid Arthritis)

The following vaccines that are in development come from additional aborted fetal strains and contain DNA:

    • Ebola
    • Flu and Avian Flu
    • HIV

Why are aborted babies needed to produce these vaccines?

In order to make a vaccine, scientists must be able to grow the bacteria or virus they wish to create a vaccine for. In order to grow the bacteria or virus, they must have tissue to grow it on. While many vaccines are created using the tissue of various animals (cows, monkeys, chickens to name a few) and animal products (such as eggs), the use of tissue from aborted babies is superior for a number of reasons.

Cowpox found on the udders of infected cows used to manufacture the smallpox vaccine.

*You can thank me later for posting a pic of an artist rendering instead of a photo…

First, vaccines derived from animal sources carry a higher risk of contamination from other bacteria and viruses. For example, the polio vaccines that our parents were vaccinated with in the 50’s and 60’s were later found to be contaminated with a monkey virus referred to as SV40 or Simian Virus 40. (Whoops!) Now, the CDC claims that SV40 didn’t cause any adverse effects. So, it’s very ironic that according to laboratory findings, “ SV40 DNA has been detected in several human tumors, including osteosarcoma, mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Similar tumors are induced by the virus in hamsters.” And no…the individuals whose tumors were found to contain SV40 DNA had no possible exposure to SV40 other than the polio vaccine. It’s not exactly something you come across on regular ole’ day in the US of A.

Rhesus Macaque. Monkey used to develop the polio vaccine used in the 50’s and 60’s. Later found to have been contaminated with Simian 40 virus.

Second, some pathogens just don’t grow as well on animal tissue (like chicken pox) because they don’t infect animals. However, the most important advantage to using tissue from aborted babies is that fetal cells can go through many more divisions than other cells before they die. A biologist named Hayflick determined that normal human cells can only reproduce a finite number of times (usually around 50) before they stop reproducing. Fetal cells, however, are capable of going through many more divisions before dying.

Let’s get acquainted with the two aborted babies that the vaccines we inject our children with are grown on. (I sincerely hope that sentence makes you cringe as much I did when I typed it.)Believe it or not, the background information is actually available. WI-38 is a 3 month old female fetus who belonged to two married parents living in Stockholm, Sweden in 1962. Reportedly, her father was a “drunk” who was “gone a lot.” According to Dr. Rene Leive in her “Brief History of Human Diploid Strains,” her parents “felt they already had too many children”, so they decided to abort her. MRC-5 is a fourteen week old male fetus who was murdered inside his 27 year old mother in 1970 for “psychiatric reasons.”

Before we continue, let’s take a minute to see what a 15 week old baby (the average age of the aborted babies used to create these fetal strains) looks like in utero.

15 week old fetus in utero

And here we come to the next misleading argument that is posited to rationalize or justify the use of aborted babies in the production of vaccines. If you’ll notice in the list of vaccine ingredients above, the vaccines that are currently in use today are all derived from two fetal cell strains: WI-38 and MRC-5. Our vaccines come from “only” two aborted babies. Again, Megan over at Whole Living puts it best with her “This Wasn’t Just a One-Night Stand” analogy, “You might have also heard that only two babies were used and it was a really long time ago, which justifies the continued use of shooting up live babies with dead babies.” Sometimes a little perspective goes a long way…

It may seem like common sense to some to realize that to arrive at WI number 38, numbers 1-37 logically preceded. You would be correct in this logical assumption. Hayflick also references WI-44 in his report, so you can be sure, very many more than one aborted baby has gone into the development of the WI-38 cell line that is still used today. The same holds true for the MRC-5 strain. Hayflick also makes mention of the MRC-9 strain which is derived from a 15 week old female fetus in 1974. Her mother was an unwed 14 year old who aborted her baby for “therapeutic” reasons according to the documentation (taken from the history of diploid strains linked above).

Our Rubella vaccine comes from another cell line, RA 27/3, which was developed by a man named Plotkin. It is derived from a female fetus whose mother contracted Rubella in 1964. She was aborted for this reason (rubella is only harmful to babies in utero and causes some severe birth defects). According to Plotkin’s documentation, over 40 aborted babies were cultured. RA 27/3 was not the first fetus to test positive for Rubella or the last and he doesn’t specify why he continued with the series. Interestingly, Dr. Leive notes, “It is documented that there were other effective virus strains already made at the time which had been obtained from other non-abortion-related methods.”

Can We Use These Same Cell Lines Forever?

No. They aren’t immortal and they’ll eventually die out. Scientists have never stopped developing new strains and new vaccines. In fact, they already have new human diploid cell strains to back up the current strains. IMR-90 is a 16 week old fetus from a 38 year old mother of six who decided the baby she was carrying in 1975 would be too inconvenient. Cell strain 293 is derived from kidney cells from a baby aborted in 1972. The PER C6 line, which is being used right now to develop the new ebola, flu, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV vaccines, is derived from an 18 week old fetus aborted in 1985. The main researcher for the PER C6 line, Van der Eb, stated that, “the woman wanted to get rid of the fetus and the father was unkown.”

In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is “distressed” that Congress is investigating fetal tissue researchers and procurement companies to make sure they aren’t profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted babies (which is illegal.) They released this statement, “Unfortunately, some state and federal politicians are working hard to obstruct- or even criminalize- fetal tissue research, limiting the ability of America’s leading scientists and researchers to develop new vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat disease. The ACOG warns that if this interference continues, “fetal research bans will stymie US based medical progress, leaving us to rely on other countries to develop medicines for our own patients.”

Apparently, without legal abortion to provide the scientific community with an endless supply of murdered babies, medical progress will virtually cease. Eye opening statement to say the least. There are some powerful players backing the pro-choice movement and their motivation has very little to do with a woman’s “right to choose.”

I’ll end with one last quote from Megan at Whole Living, “If science can’t advance without abortions, we need to go back to the drawing board.”

Why Do Catholic Bibles Have More Books Than Protestant Bibles?

Odds are, if you grew up Catholic, you have been told that Protestants removed books from the Bible. Odds are, if you grew up Protestant, you have been told that Catholics added books to the Bible. Odds are, whichever faith you grew up in, that’s about the extent of what you were told. As it turns out, there is a little truth to both statements. And as usual, there is a whole lot more to the story.

Let’s get the basics first.

The Protestant Old Testament consists of 39 books. These books are not placed in chronological order. Instead they are arranged according to literature type. Genesis through Esther are primarily historical, Job through Song of Songs are poetry, and Isaiah through Malachi are prophecy.

The Catholic Old Testament, on the other hand, is comprised of 46 books. So, the Catholic Old Testament canon contains 7 more books than the Protestant Old Testament Canon. The Protestant and Catholic New Testaments are identical.

 

 

Scanning the list above, you’ll notice the Catholic Old Testament contains the books of Tobit, Judith, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach (sometimes called Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch, which are notably absent in the Protestant Old Testament. The Catholic book of Esther contains additional material (Esther 10:4-16:24). The Catholic book of Daniel also contains additional material (the prayer of Azariah- Daniel 3:24-90; Susanna- Daniel chapter 13; and Bel and the Dragon- Daniel chapter 14).

As a Protestant, what you may not be aware of, is that the original 1611 King James Version also included these books. However, they were never considered to be included in the canon of Scripture. Instead, they were included for their historical value and placed in a separate section labeled “The Apocrypha” in between the Old and New Testament. Most Protestant Bibles no longer include this section, which is why most of us have no idea what it is.

This is what I meant when I said that both faiths are correct in their statements. Protestants did indeed remove The Apocrypha from our Bibles. However, up until the 1500’s these books (for the most part) were not considered to be authoritative Scripture, only historically educational. So, in the 1500’s the Catholic church did indeed “add” them to the Catholic canon of Scripture. Of course this is argued extensively, but this is the simplified, fact-based version.

What are these books that make up the difference between the Protestant and Catholic canon?

The difference is the group of books mentioned above that Protestant’s refer to as the Apocrypha. This term comes from the early church father, Jerome, back in the 5th century when he referred to the books not contained in the Hebrew canon as the “Apocrypha,” which means “hidden books.” Catholics do not refer to these books as the Apocrypha. Instead, they are called “Deuterocanonical” or “second canon” books, which means they were added to the canon of Scripture later in history. It is important to note that Catholics do not include all the Apocryphal books in their canon of Scripture.

What Books are included in the Apocrypha?

The Apocrypha is a collection of 12 books that were written between 300 BC and 100 BC. This is the time period between the last chronological book of the Old Testament and the first chronological book of the New Testament- also referred to as the intertestamental period. Combined, they are about the size of the New Testament. The complete Apocrypha is what is called “the Septuagint Plus”. The following are the books contained in the Septuagint Plus:

          1. Tobit
          2. Judith
          3. additions to Esther
          4. The Wisdom of Solomon (or Wisdom)
          5. Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach)
          6. Baruch
          7. The Letter of Jeremiah (this book is sometimes included in the book of Baruch instead of a stand alone, which is why sometimes you’ll see that the Catholic “accepted” Apocrypha is 11 instead of 12 books)
          8. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men (included in the Catholic book of Daniel)
          9. Susanna (included in the Catholic book of Daniel)
          10. Bel and the Dragon (included in the Catholic book of Daniel)
          11. First Maccabees
          12. Second Maccabees
          13. First Esdras (Catholics call this book Third Esdras)
          14. Second Esdras (Catholics call this book Fourth Esdras)
          15. The Prayer of Manasseh

At this point you’re a little confused because the Catholic canon above does not match the list of Apocryphal books. I’m also sure you’ve noticed that there are 15 books listed here and I noted above that the Catholic canon only contains 7 more books than the Protestant canon. This is because the Catholic church does not recognize three of the Apocryphal books as Scripture (1st and 2nd Esdras, and the Prayer of Manasseh), and because the books are named differently in the Catholic canon. As I noted above, #8, #9, and #10 are included as extra material in the book of Daniel.

This whole Esdras deal is extremely confusing. Basically, in the Latin Vulgate (which is the official Catholic Bible), Ezra and Nehemiah were called 1st and 2nd Esdras. Therefore the Apocryphal books that are labeled 1st and 2nd Esdras were referred to in the Vulgate as 3rd and 4th Esdras. 1st and 2nd Esdras are in the Catholic canon (labeled Ezra and Nehemiah). 3rd and 4th Esdras are not in the Catholic canon. The English translation of the Vulgate (which most Catholics use because they don’t speak Latin) is called the Douay-Rheims and, again, it refers to 1st and 2nd Esdras as Ezra and Nehemiah. (These are not the same books as the Apocryphal books labeled 1st and 2nd Esdras above- they are the same as the Protestant Ezra and Nehemiah.)

Where do these Apocryphal books come from?

As I mentioned above, the Apocryphal books come from the period of time between the last book of the Old Testament and the first book of the New Testament. This time period is called the intertestamental period and spans about 400 years. This period has also been referred to as the “400 silent years” because there was no prophetic word from God during this time.

Remember, the Jews had been dispersed from the Promised Land. During the time of Jeremiah, many Jews had gone to Egypt. In 586 BC, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and the remaining Jews were taken into captivity. Many years later, when the Jews were given permission to return to the Promised Land, most decided to remain in Babylon. Some, however, did return to Israel. In 330 BC, after the conquest of Alexander the Great, Greek became the international language. The majority of Jews actually forgot how to speak Hebrew, their native language, and could no longer read the Hebrew Scriptures. So, in about 250 BC the Jews in Alexandria, Egypt started to translate the Old Testament into Greek so that the Jews who no longer spoke Hebrew could understand it. Along with the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, they also translated additional writings from the intertestamental period into Greek. The Aprocrypha is included in these writings.

These Apocryphal books were written during very trying times for the Jews. In Don Stewart’s article What is the History of the Old Testament Apocrypha, he writes, “Much of their literature that was written during this period reflected their struggle. With evil all around them there were hopes for better days when the Messiah would come and bring them into a new golden age of peace. The writings of the Apocrypha reflect this hope.”

Why is there debate as to whether the Apocryphal books should be considered authoritative Scripture?

Some people may be surprised to hear this, but Jesus didn’t leave an explicit list of books to be included in the Old Testament. The books that should be included in the canon of Old Testament Scripture has been debated to one degree or another since the time of the early church fathers. We do know that Jesus and His disciples primarily used the Septuagint as their Old Testament. For starters, most of the time when Jesus and His disciples quote the Old Testament, their quotes align perfectly with the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew. This also makes sense logically based on what we’ve just discussed, which is that most Jews at the time spoke Greek instead of Hebrew.  Catholics cite this as one of many reasons to accept the Apocrypha as Scripture. However, while the Septuagint that exists today does include the Apocrypha, there is no evidence that the Septuagint that existed in the time of Christ did as well. As Don Stewart points out, “The fourth or fifth century Greek manuscripts, in which the Apocrypha appears, have no consistency with the number of books or their order.”

Even though Jesus doesn’t leave an explicit list of the canon of the Old Testament, He does seem to set parameters as to the extent of the time period the Old Testament canon encompasses in Matthew 23:34-36.

Don Stewart explains the significance of these passages, “He mentions Abel and Zechariah as the first and last murder messengers of God that were murdered. Abel’s murder is mentioned in Genesis while Zechariah’s was in 2 Chronicles- the last Old Testament book in the Hebrew canonical order. The fact that these two are specifically mentioned is particularly significant. This strongly suggests He did not consider the books of the Apocrypha as part of the Old Testament Scripture as with the books from Genesis to 2 Chronicles.”

Catholics maintain that the early church fathers were in unanimous agreement that the Apocrypha belonged in the canon of Scripture, but this was not the case. There was always disagreement.

Many early church fathers and theologians rejected the Apocrypha as authoritative Scripture.  Opponents include:  Origen, Hilary of Poitiers, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, Rufinus, Appolonarius, and most notably the early church father Jerome. Jerome is of particular note, because he is the translator of the Latin Vulgate, which is the official Bible translation of the Catholic church. Yet, he explicitly denied that the Apocrypha belonged in the canon of Scripture.

Some church fathers cited the Apocryphal books that even the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize as canonical. Clement of Alexandria included 2nd Esdras (which Catholic’s refer to as 4th Esdras). Well respected authors such as Justin Maryr and Tertullian accepted 1st Esdras (which Catholics refer to as 3rd Esdras) and even the book of Enoch, which isn’t even a part of the Apocrypha. The book of Enoch is part of a collection called Pseudepigrapha, or forgeries.

Catholics correctly maintain that the Apocryphal books were included in Bibles prior to the Council of Trent, but when this assertion is used as an argument to claim that the Apocryphal books were considered equal in authority to the rest of Scripture, the claim is misleading. Instead of being interspersed throughout the Old Testament as they are in the Catholic Bibles today, these Apocryphal books were placed together in a separate section (much like the placement in the Protestant 1611 King James Version). Catholics claim that the Apocryphal books were declared authoritative prior the Council of Trent, in both the Councils of Hippo and Carthage. However, this is also misleading. Both of these councils were under the influence of Augustine of Hippo, who believed the Apocrypha was inspired. Augustine’s contemporary, Jerome, vehemently disagreed. Also of importance, there was no qualified Hebrew scholar in attendance at either council. Furthermore, the acceptance of the Apocrypha by these councils merely reflects the Church’s position at that time, not over all history. The earliest existing list of the Old Testament canon comes from the bishop of Sardis around AD 170, named Melito. Melito’s list does not include any of the Apocryphal books. The book of Esther is also not included in Melito’s list.

The truth is there wasn’t even unanimous acceptance of the Apocryphal books in the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation. Cardinal Cajetan, who opposed Martin Luther, did not include the Apocrypha in his “A Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament” published in 1518. Likewise, Cardinal Ximenes noted the difference in authority between the Apocrypha and the Old Testament in his “Complutensian Plolygot”.

What Catholic teachings come from the Apocrypha?

One of the many reasons that Protestants reject the Apocrypha is that it contains doctrines and teachings that are not consistent with the rest of Scripture.

  1. The Catholic doctrine of justification by works instead of faith alone is heavily supported by the Apocryphal books.
  2. The Catholic doctrine of forgiveness of sins by almsgiving (sins forgiven based on giving to the poor) is found exclusively in the Aprocrypha (book of Tobit).
  3. The Catholic practice of offering money for the sins of the dead is exclusive to 2nd Maccabees.
  4. The Catholic doctrine of purgatory is found exclusively in 2nd Maccabees. In the Catholic faith, purgatory is a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating (or atoning for) their sins before going to heaven.
  5. The Catholic belief that God hears the prayers of the dead is exclusive to the Apocrypha (the book of Baruch).
  6. The Apocrypha teaches the pre-existence of souls in the book of Wisdom(the belief that souls exist prior to being united with a body).

What does the Protestant Reformation have to do with the Catholic Church’s official declaration that the Apocryphal books are authoritative Scripture?

Only everything.

The best definition I found of the Protestant Reformation is from gotquestions.org and reads, “The Protestant Reformation was a widespread theological revolt in Europe against the abuses and totalitarian control of the Roman Catholic Church. Reformers such as Martin Luther in Germany, Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland, and John Calvin in France protested various unbiblical practices of the Catholic Church and promoted a return to sound biblical doctrine. The precipitating event of the Protestant Reformation is generally considered to be Luther’s posting of his Ninety-five Theses on the door of Wittenberg Chruch on October 31, 1517.”

Many of these unbiblical practices, were rooted in Apocryphal teachings such as the ones I listed above. This led Martin Luther to argue that we should go back to the original source of Scripture- the Hebrew Old Testament. So, Luther rejected the Vulgate, the Septuagint, and the Apocrypha. He still included thes Apocryphal books in his 1534 German translation, but he placed them at the end noting that they did not belong in the canon of Scripture.

Luther meant well, but his rejection of the Septuagint based on the fact that it was a Greek translation was, in my opinion, erroneous. While it is logical to assume that a Hebrew translation should be closer to the original autograph of the Hebrew Bible than a Greek translation, it overlooks the fact that the Septuagint is actually translated from an older copy of the Hebrew than the Hebrew Masoretic text is translated from- hence the variation in quotes when Jesus and His disciples quote the Old Testament per the Greek Septuagint compared to the corresponding Old Testament verses per the Hebrew Masoretic. Both translations have value, and the best understanding can be gleaned from comparing the two. If you pay attention to the footnotes in your Bibles, many versions note the differences between the language used in the Septuagint, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and some recent versions even contain comparisons to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Roman Catholic Church responded by convening the Council of Trent from 1545 to 1563. This council affirmed all but three of the Apocryphal books and proclaimed that they were authoritative Scripture for the Roman Catholic Church.

Protestants went their way, Catholics went theirs, and the rest is history.

Why didn’t the Council of Trent affirm all of the Apocryphal Books contained in the Septuagint Plus?

If you recall, the Catholic Church does not recognize 1st and 2nd Esdras (which they call 3rd and 4th Esdras) or The Prayer of Manasseh. Don Stewart notes that not only does 2nd Esdras contain “ a strong objection against prayers for the dead- one of the important doctrines practiced by the Roman Catholic Church at that time,” it also, “limits the Old Testament canon to twenty-four books. This of course, would exclude the Apocrypha.”

A couple common arguments for the acceptance of the Apocrypha refuted:

  1. The New Testament Alludes to the Apocrypha.
      • An allusion to an extra-biblical book in the Bible is not an indication that said book is divinely inspired. The Bible alludes to and actually cites a number of sources that are not divinely inspired. Examples of these are the Book of Enoch (possibly referred to in Jude). The Catholics do not consider the book of Enoch to be divinely inspired. Paul mentions the names of the magicians that Moses and Aaron dealt with in Egypt (Jannes and Jambres). These names are not found in the Old Testament, but they are found in the Jewish Talmud (a collection of Jewish laws and legends). Again, the Talmud is not divinely inspired. The Book of Jasher is explicitly cited in the Old Testament: Joshua 10:13, and 2 Samuel 1:18. However, scholars agree that the Book of Jasher that exists today, is not the same Book of Jasher cited in the Bible. It is not divinely inspired, and should not be accepted in the canon of Scripture.

2. Some of the Apocryphal books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

      • Three of the Apocryphal books were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and two (Tobit and Wisdom) were even written in Hebrew instead of Greek. However, this means nothing regarding whether or not they belong in the canon of Scripture. Many non-canonical books have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The collection found is part of a library containing many works, not exclusively Scripture.

Should you read the Apocrypha?

That’s completely up to you! The historical content certainly has value, even though it isn’t completely accurate. It isn’t divinely inspired, so it can’t provide guidance on doctrinal issues. As long as it is read with the thorough understanding that it does not have the authority of Scripture, and that historical claims should be compared to other sources before accepted as accurate, the Apocrypha can provide interesting historical insight into the “400 years of silence” between testaments.

 

Sources:

https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_393.cfm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_391.cfm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_394.cfm

https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_395.cfm

https://www.gotquestions.org/Protestant-Reformation.html