The Church Fathers’ REAL Opinions on the Apocrypha

I’ve mentioned in a couple posts now how Protestant apologists often claim that most of the early Church Fathers explicitly rejected the Apocrypha (also known as the Deuterocanon) – usually naming names such as Origen – when in fact most of them (such as the ones Protestants name) explicitly accepted them as Scripture.  But I haven’t actually provided examples (excluding the link in The Canon of Scripture, Part 1: The Apocrypha).

(Note: since I’m not going to list the books of the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon here for those who don’t know what they are, I’d suggest taking a quick look at the list at the top of the above link.)

FIRST OFF, here are some direct quotes from anti-Apocrypha apologists making this claim, so you can see I’m not taking them out of context:

Contrary to the popular proclamations made by Roman Catholic apologists, the most primitive Christians were far from unanimous regarding whether the Apocrypha should be included in the canon of Scripture. Members of the church throughout history such as Julius Africanus, Melito of Sardis, Origen, Jerome, Athanasius, Ruffinus, John of Damascus, Epiphanius, and Cardinal Cajetan rejected the deuterocanonical books as being inspired. A number of the aforementioned men rejected the inspiration of at least portions of the Apocrypha. Pope Gregory the Great, speaking of the Maccabees, said, “…we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forth testimony” (Commentary on Job, 19, 34). “Theologians of the Eastern Church, such as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Amphilochius drew up formal lists of the Old Testament in which the Apocrypha do not appear.” (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 179)

They were not allowed a place among the sacred books during the first four centuries of the Christian Church.
Many church Fathers rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture, and many just used them for devotional purposes. For example, Jerome, the great Biblical scholar and translator of the Latin Vulgate, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture though, supposedly under pressure, he did make a hurried translation of it. In fact, most of the church fathers in the first four centuries of the Church rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture. Along with Jerome, names include Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius.
In addition, “Early church fathers like Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, and the great Roman Catholic translator Jerome spoke out against the Apocrypha.”
The fathers agree that the apocrypha is non-canonical and should not be included in the canon. Melito of Sardis, (Eusebius – Lib. IV. Cap. 26.) testifies he knew the OT canon. He took great pains in research, as we are told by Eusebius, and comes to the exact number of books as the protestants and Jews do. Origen (Eus. Lib. VI c. 25) acknowledges the same books as the protestants as canonical., and says that the number of them are two and twenty according to the Hebrew alphabet. (Remembering the combination of 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, etc.) Athanasius says “Our whole scripture is divinely inspired and hath books not infinite in number, but finite and comprehended in a certain canon.” There was, therefore a certain canon by the late 300’s. He then enumerates this, “The canonical books of the OT are two and twenty. Equal to the number as the Hebrew alphabet.” Then he says, “But besides these, there are also other non canonical books of the OT which are only read to the catechumens.” Then he lists the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, the fragments of Esther, Judith, Tobit and the like. “These” he says “are the non-canonical books of the OT.” (Athanas. Opp. Ii. 126. sqq. Ed. Bened.) Hilary, bishop of Poitiers, says, “The law of the OT is considered as divided into twenty-two books, so as to correspond to the number of letters.” Nazianzen fixes the same number. Cyril of Jerusalem, in his 4th catechetical discourse says much, “Do thou learn carefully from the church what are the books of the OT, Read the divine Scriptures, the two and twenty books. (Cyril. Hiersol. Catech. IV. 33. p. 67. ed Tuttei.) Epiphanius counts twenty seven, or by the Hebrew doubling, twenty two, “delivered by God to the Jews.” And he says of the apocryphal books, “They are indeed useful books, but are not included in the canon, and were not deposited in the ark of the covenant.” Ruffinus, in his exposition of the Apostle’s Creed, says “But I should be known that there are other books also, which were called by the ancients not canonical but ecclesiastical, the Wisdom of Solomon and of Sirach, the book of Tobit, Judith, Macabees. These they would have to be read in the churches, but that nothing should be advanced from them for the confirming the authority of faith.” (Symb. Apost. In Appendix ad Cyprian. Ed. Fell. P. 26). (As with any good book.) Jerome plainly rejects all the apocryphal books from the canon. In his Prologus Galeatus he says “As there are twenty and two letters, so there are counted twenty and two books. Therefore the Wisdom of Solomon, and Jesus, and Judith, and Tobit, are not in the canon.” (See the introduction to the Vulgate in his own hand.) Gregory the Great, in his commentaries on Job, (Lib. XIX. Cap. 16.) expressly writes that the books of Macabees is not canonical, as well as the rest. Josephus also agrees. In his first book against Apion the grammaritan “We have not innumerable books, inconsistent and conflicting with each other, but two and twenty books alone, containing the series of our whole history, and justly deemed worthy of our highest credit.” (Contra Apion. L. I. C. 8.)
(That one above is particularly clever; however, the quotes are at best taken out of context.)

After the time of the apostles, in the second and third century A.D., canonical lists of the Old Testament Scripture were beginning to be drawn up. During this period of time, the church was largely made up of Gentiles. Their language was not Hebrew, rather it was Greek. Thus, for the most part, they knew the Scriptures in the Greek Old Testament or from translations made from the Greek Old Testament. Though their main language was Greek, we find that the first canonical lists matched up with the Hebrew canon of Scripture. From these first two centuries after the time of Christ, we can note the following evidence.


Eusebius tells us that Origen said there were twenty-two books in the Old Testament. He listed each of the books in Greek characters and in Hebrew. Though Origen said there were twenty-two books in the Hebrew canon, his list only has twenty-one. The Minor Prophets are omitted. However, this had to have been an oversight since Origen elsewhere cites the Minor Prophets as Scripture. Apart from this omission, the writings correspond exactly to the traditional Hebrew books, as well as to the two previous lists we have just considered.


In fact, he says the books of the Maccabees are outside of the canon.

OK, now that we’ve got the lies out of the way, here is what they ACTUALLY said.


We’ll begin with the guy who is most commonly cited (along with Jerome) as rejecting the Apocrypha.  He writes:

” ‘It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two; corresponding with the number of their letters.’ Farther on he says: ‘The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following: That which is called by us Genesis, but by the Hebrews, from the beginning of the book, Bresith, which means, ‘In the beginning’; Exodus, Welesmoth, that is, ‘These are the names’; Leviticus, Wikra, ‘And he called’; Numbers, Ammesphekodeim; Deuteronomy, Eleaddebareim, ‘ These are the words’; Jesus, the son of Nave, Josoue ben Noun; Judges and Ruth, among them in one book, Saphateim; the First and Second of Kings, among them one, Samouel, that is, ‘The called of God’; the Third and Fourth of Kings in one, Wammelch David, that is, ‘The kingdom of David’; of the Chronicles, the First and Second in one, Dabreiamein, that is, ‘Records of days’; Esdras, First and Second in one, Ezra, that is, ‘An assistant’; the book of Psalms, Spharthelleim; the Proverbs of Solomon, Me-loth; Ecclesiastes, Koelth; the Song of Songs (not, as some suppose, Songs of Songs), Sir Hassirim; Isaiah, Jessia; Jeremiah, with Lamentations and the epistle in one, Jeremia[Baruch 6]; Daniel, Daniel; Ezekiel, Jezekiel; Job, Job; Esther, Esther. And besides these there are the Maccabees, which are entitled Sarbeth Sabanaiel.” Origen, Canon of the Hebrews, Fragment in Eusebius’ Church History,6:25[A.D. 244],in NPNF2,I:272

Yes, the guy frequently cited as rejecting the Deuterocanonicals directly lists 1 Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah & 1 & 2 Maccabees not only a Scripture, but as Scripture accepted by the Jews of his day!  (Which helps refute another lie – that the Jews never accepted them.)


2. You begin by saying, that when, in my discussion with our friend Bassus,I used the Scripture which contains the prophecy of Daniel when yet a young man in the affair of Susanna, I did this as if it had escaped me that this part of the book was spurious. You say that you praise this passage as elegantly written, but find fault with it as a more modern composition, and a forgery; and you add that the forger has had recourse to something which not even Philistion the play-writer would have used in his puns between prinos and prisein, schinos and schisis, which words as they sound in Greek can be used in this way, but not in Hebrew. In answer to this, I have to tell you what it behoves us to do in the cases not only of the History of Susanna, which is found in every Church of Christ in that Greek copy which the Greeks use, but is not in the Hebrew, or of the two other passages you mention at the end of the book containing the history of Bel and the Dragon, which likewise are not in the Hebrew copy of Daniel; but of thousands of other passages also which I found in many places when with my little strength I was collating the Hebrew copies with ours. For in Daniel itself I found the word “bound” followed in our versions by very many verses which are not in the Hebrew at all, beginning (according to one of the copies which circulate in the Churches) thus: “Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael prayed and sang unto God,” down to “O, all ye that worship the Lord, bless ye the God of gods. Praise Him, and say that His mercy endureth for ever and ever. And it came to pass, when the king heard them singing, and saw them that they were alive.” Or, as in another copy, from “And they walked in the midst of the fire, praising God and blessing the Lord,” down to “O, all ye that worship the Lord, bless ye the God of gods. Praise Him, and say that His mercy endureth to all generations.” [The Song of the Three Children, found in Daniel 3 of the Catholic Bible] But in the Hebrew copies the words, “And these three men, Sedrach, Misach, and Abednego fell down bound into the midst of the fire,” are immediately followed by the verse, “Nabouchodonosor the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors.” For so Aquila, following the Hebrew reading, gives it, who has obtained the credit among the Jews of having interpreted the Scriptures with no ordinary care, and whose version is most commonly used by those who do not know Hebrew, as the one which has been most successful. Of the copies in my possession whose readings I gave, one follows the Seventy, and the other Theodotion; and just as the History of Susanna which you call a forgery is found in both, together with the passages at the end of Daniel, so they give also these passages, amounting, to make a rough guess, to more than two hundred verses. Origen,To Africanus, 5 (ante A.D. 254), in ANF,IV:386

And there he goes again – he calls Susanna, Prayer of Azariah and Bel and the Dragon inspired Scripture!  (They were originally part of the Book of Daniel.)


Let us see now if in these cases we are not forced to the conclusion, that while the Saviour gives a true account of them, none of the Scriptures which could prove what He tells are to be found. For they who build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, condemning the crimes their fathers committed against the righteous and the prophets, say, “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”[2] In the blood of what prophets, can any one tell me? For where do we find anything like this written of Esaias, or Jeremias, or any of the twelve, or Daniel? Then about Zacharias the son of Barachias, who was slain between the temple and the altar, we learn from Jesus only, not knowing it otherwise from any Scripture. Wherefore I think no other supposition is possible, than that they who had the reputation of wisdom, and the rulers and elders, took away from the people every passage which might bring them into discredit among the people. We need not wonder, then, if this history of the evil device of the licentious elders against Susanna is true, but was concealed and removed from the Scriptures by men themselves not very far removed from the counsel of these elders. Origen,To Africanus,9(ante A.D. 254),in ANF,IV:389


Now he says that Susanna was removed from the Jewish canon – along with several other books – to keep the Jews in the dark about YEHOSHUA HA’MASHIACH (Jesus the Messiah/Christ).


“But he ought to know that those who wish to live according to the teaching of Sacred Scripture understand the saying, ‘The knowledge of the unwise is as talk without sense,’ [Sirach 21:18] and have learnt ‘to be ready always to give an answer to everyone that asketh us a reason for the hope that is in us.’ [1 Pt 3:15] ” Origen, Against Celsus, 7:12 (A.D. 248),in ANF, IV:615


Now THIS is interesting!  Although he didn’t list Sirach among the Scriptural books in the earlier quote (ALTHOUGH he was listing the JEWISH canon, which he himself openly attacked as abridged), he directly quotes it as Sacred Scripture – another proof that those who claim Origen rejected the Apocrypha are either ignorant or lying.


[A]s is written in the book of Tobit: ‘It is good to keep close the secret of a king, but honourable to reveal the works of God,’ [Tobit 12:7]–in a way consistent with truth and God’s glory, and so as to be to the advantage of the multitude.” Origen, Against Celsus, 5:19(A.D. 248),in ANF,IV:551.


He similarly seems to have held Tobit in high regard.


Tobias (as also Judith), we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew Apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves.” However, since the Churches use Tobias, you must know that even in the captivity some of the captives were rich and well to do. Tobias himself says, “Because I remembered God with all my heart; and the Most High gave me grace and beauty in the eyes of Nemessarus, and I was his purveyor; and I went into Media, and left in trust with Gabael, the brother of Gabrias, at Ragi, a city of Media, ten talents of silver”(Tobias, 1:12-14). Origen, To Africanus, 13 (ante A.D. 254), in ANF, IV:391.


Is any commentary needed?


But that we may believe on the authority of holy Scripture that such is the case, hear how in the book of Maccabees, where the mother of seven martyrs exhorts her son to endure torture, this truth is confirmed; for she says, ‘ ask of thee, my son, to look at the heaven and the earth, and at all things which are in them, and beholding these, to know that God made all these things when they did not exist.’ [2 Maccabees 7:28]” Origen, Fundamental Principles, 2:2 (A.D. 230),in ANF, IV:270


[T]he Wisdom of Solomon, a work which is certainly not esteemed authoritative by all. In that book, however, we find written as follows: “For thy almighty hand, that made the world out of shapeless matter, wanted not means to send among them a multitude of bears and fierce lions.’ [Wisdom 11:17] Origen, Fundamental Principles, 2:2 (A.D. 230), in ANF, IV:270.


And that which is written about wisdom, you may apply also to faith, and to the virtues specifically, so as to make a precept of this kind, “If any one be perfect in wisdom among the sons of men, and the power that comes from Thee be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing ” or “If any one be perfect in self-control, so far as is possible for the sons of men, and the control that is from Thee be wanting, he will be reckoned as nothing; (Wisdom 9:6) Origen, Commentary on Matthew, 4 (ante A.D. 254), in ANF, IX:427.


And as a general principle observe the expression “behind”; because it is a good thing when any one goes behind the Lord God and is behind the Christ; but it is the opposite when any one casts the words of God behind him, or when he transgresses the commandment which says “Do not walk behind thy lusts.”(Sirach 18:30) And Elijah also in the third Book of Kings, says to the people “How long halt ye on both your knees? If God is the Lord, go behind Him, but if Baal is the Lord, go behind him.” (1 Kings 18:21) Origen, Commentary on Matthew 23 Origen, 22, in ANF, IX:463 AD 254


Is it really possible to actually read Origen and conclude he agreed with the Protestants on the Canon?,%20[185-253/254%20A.D]


At first glance, he SEEMS to reject the Apocrypha (as well as Esther):

But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read… Athanasius the Great: Part of Festal Letter 39 (c. 367 A.D.)[2]

However, Athanasius – and several other Fathers – seem to have a different definition of “canon” to us; for he also writes:


“[T]he sacred writers to whom the Son has revealed Him, have given us a certain image from things visible, saying, ‘Who is the brightness of His glory, and the Expression of His Person;’ [Heb 1:3] and again, ‘For with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see lights;’ [Ps 36:9] and when the Word chides Israel, He says, ‘Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom;’ [Baruch 3:12] and this Fountain it is which says, ‘They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters’ [Jer 2:13]” [3] Athanasius the Great: Defense of the Nicene Faith,2 (A.D. 351), in NPNF2, IV:158.



“And where the sacred writers say, Who exists before the ages,’ and ‘By whom He made the ages,’ [Heb 1:2] they thereby as clearly preach the eternal and everlasting being of the Son, even while they are designating God Himself. Thus, if Isaiah says, ‘The Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth;’ [Is 40:28] and Susanna said,‘O Everlasting God;’ [Daniel 13:42-Susanna] and Baruch wrote, ‘I will cry unto the Everlasting in my days,’ and shortly after, ‘My hope is in the Everlasting, that He will save you, and joy is come unto me from the Holy One;’[Baruch 4:20,22]” Athanasius the Great: Discourses Against the Arians, 1:4 (A.D. 362), in NPNF2, IV:313


[I]t is written that ‘all things were made through the Word,’ and ‘without Him was not made one thing,’ [John 1:3] and again, ‘One Lord Jesus, through whom are all things,’ [1 Cor 8:9] and in Him all things consist,’ [Col 1:17] it is very plain that the Son cannot be a work, but He is the Hand of God and the Wisdom. This knowing, the martyrs in Babylon, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, arraign the Arian irreligion. For when they say, ‘O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord,’, they recount things I heaven, things on earth, and the whole creation, as works; but the Son they name not. For thy say not, ‘Bless, O Word, and praise O Wisdom; to shew that all other things are both praising and are works’; but the Word is not a work nor of those that braise but is praised with the Father and worshipped and confessed as God.’[Daniel 3:57-Three Youths] Athanasius the Great: Discourses Against the Arians, 2:71 (A.D. 362), in NPNF2, IV:387.



Daniel said to Astyages,‘I do not worship idols made with hands, but the Living God, who hath created the heaven and the earth, and hath sovereignty over all flesh;’[Daniel 14:5-Bel & the Dragon]” Athanasius the Great: Discourses Against the Arians, 3:30 (A.D. 362),in NPNF2, IV:410.


“But if this too fails to persuade them, let them tell us themselves, whether there is any wisdom in the creatures or not? If not how is it that the Apostle complains, ‘For after that in the Wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God?’ [1 Cor 1:21] or how is it if there is no wisdom, that a ‘multitude of wise men’ [Wisdom 6:24] are found in Scripture? for ‘a wise man feareth and departeth from evil;’ [Prov 14:16] and ‘through wisdom is a house builded;’ [Prov 24] and the Preacher says, ‘A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine;’ and he blames those who are headstrong thus, ‘Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire in wisdom concerning this.’ [Eccl 8:1,7:10] But if, as the Son of Sirach says,‘He poured her out upon all His works; she is with all flesh according to His gift, and He hath given her to them that love Him,’[Sirach 1:8,9]” [7] Athanasius the Great: Discourses Against the Arians, 2:79 (A.D. 362), in NPNF2, IV:391


Since, however, after all his severe sufferings, after his retirement into Gaul, after his sojourn in a foreign and far distant country in the place of his own, after his narrow escape from death through their calumnies, but thanks to the clemency of the Emperor,- -distress which would have satisfied even the most cruel enemy,– they are still insensible to shame, are again acting insolently against the Church and Athanasius; and from indignation at his deliverance venture on still more atrocious schemes against him, and are ready with an accusation, fearless of the words in holy Scripture, ‘A false witness shall not be unpunished;’ [Proverbs 19:5] and, ‘The mouth that belieth slayeth the soul;’ (Wisdom 1:11) we therefore are unable longer to hold our peace, being amazed at their wickedness and at the insatiable love of contention displayed in their intrigues. [Athanasius the Great: Defence Against the Arians, 3 (A.D. 362), in NPNF2, IV:101


Let us not fulfill these days like those that mourn but, by enjoying spiritual food, let us seek to silence our fleshly lusts(Ex. 15:1). For by these means we shall have strength to overcome our adversaries, like blessed Judith(Judith 13:8), when having first exercised herself in fastings and prayers, she overcame the enemies, and killed Olophernes. And blessed Esther, when destruction was about to come on all her race, and the nation of Israel was ready to perish, defeated the fury of the tyrant by no other means than by fasting and prayer to God, and changed the ruin of her people into safety (Esther 4:16) [Athanasius the Great: Letter 4, 2 (A.D. 333), in NPNF2, IV:516.


The Spirit also, who is in him, commands, saying,‘Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay to the Lord thy vows. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord(Sir. 18:17).‘) [Athanasius the Great: Letter 19, 5 (A.D. 333), in NPNF2, IV:546


But this wearied them, for they were not anxious to understand, ‘for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory(1 Cor. 2:8).’ And what their end is, the prophet foretold, crying, ‘Woe unto their soul, for they have devised an evil thought, saying, let us bind the just man, because he is not pleasing to us’(Wis. 2:12). The end of such abandonment as this can be nothing but error, as the Lord, when reproving them, saith, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures(Mt. 22:29).’ [Athanasius the Great: Letter 19:5 (A.D. 347), in NPNF2, IV:546


According as the wisdom of God testifies beforehand when it says, “The devising of idols was the beginning of fornication.” (Wis. 14:12)Against the Heathen, 9 (A.D. 347), in NPNF2, IV:9.[295-373%20A.D.]

I find it quite intriguing how the early Christians had a different understanding of the word Canon to us; for us, it means ALL of Scripture.  But if Athanasius is to be believed, for them, it meant only a portion of Scripture.

WHICH IS THE KEY TO HOW PROTESTANT APOLOGISTS ARE SO BLATANTLY WRONG ABOUT WHAT THE FATHERS SAID ABOUT THE APOCRYPHA.  Ignoring those that are blatant liars (EVERY SINGLE ONE who claims that Origen rejected them, for example), they focus on Canon lists (like Athanasius’), and ignore those same authors’ quotations of the Apocryphal books as “Scripture”.

Cyril of Jerusalem


35. Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench[6] thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave[7], and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings[8] are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle[9]; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 7, Lecture 4:35, p. 25.

Apart from those two, he initially seems to reject the other Deuterocanonical books.  However…


For thou knowest that the words which come next in the Creed teach thee to believe in Him “Who ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY, AND ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, AND SAT DOWN ON THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER.” I suppose then certainly that thou rememberest the exposition; yet I will now again cursorily put thee in mind of what was then said. Remember what is distinctly written in the Psalms, God is gone up with a shouts; remember that the divine powers also said to one another, Lift up your gates, ye Princes(Ps. xxiv. 7), and the rest; remember also the Psalm which says, He ascended on high, tie led captivity captive(Ps. lxviii. 18); remember the Prophet who said, Who buildeth His ascension unto heaven(Amos ix. 6); and all the other particulars mentioned yesterday because of the gainsaying of the Jews. 25. For when they speak against the ascension of the Saviour, as being impossible, remember the account of the carrying away of Habakkuk: for if Habakkuk was transported by an Angel, being carried by the hair of his head (Bel and the Dragon, 36, or Daniel 14:36), much rather was the Lord of both Prophets and Angels, able by His own power to make His ascent into the Heavens on a cloud from the Mount of Olives. Wonders like this thou mayest call to mind, but reserve the preeminence for the Lord, the Worker of wonders; for the others were borne up, but He bears up all things. Remember that Enoch was translated (Heb. 11:5); but Jesus ascended: remember what was said yesterday concerning Elias, that Elias was taken up in a chariot of fire (2 Kings ii:11); but that the chariots of Christ are ten thousand-fold even thousands upon thousands (Ps. ixviii. 17. ): and that Elias was taken up, towards the east of Jordan; but that Christ ascended at the east of the brook Cedron: and that Elias went as into heaven (1 Mac. 2:58); but Jesus, into heaven: and that Elias said that a double portion in the Holy Spirit should be given to his holy disciple; but that Christ granted to His own disciples so great enjoyment of the grace of the Holy Ghost, as not only to have It in themselves, but also, by the laying on of their hands, to impart the fellowship of It to them who believed. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 7, Lecture 14:24-25 p. 101


Here he quotes Bel and the Dragon and 1 Maccabees authoritatively, to prove a doctrine.


30. And again in Ezekiel, And he brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldaea, to them of the captivity (Ezek. 11:24). and other texts thou heardest before, in what was said about baptism; Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you (Ezek. 36:25), and the rest; a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you (Ezek. 36:26); and then immediately, And I will put My Spirit within you (Ezek. 36:27). And again. The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord (Ezek. 37:1). 31. He endued with wisdom the soul of Daniel, that young as he was he should become a judge of Elders. The chaste Susanna was condemned as a wanton; (Daniel 13:34-41, or Susanna 41-45); there was none to plead her cause; for who was to deliver her from the rulers? She was led away to death, she was now in the hands of the executioners. But her Helper was at hand, the Comforter, the Spirit who sanctifies every rational nature. Come hither to me, He says to Daniel; young though thou be, convict old men infected with the sins of youth; for it is written,God raised up the Holy Spirit upon a young stripling (Daniel 13:45, or Susanna 45); and nevertheless, (to pass on quickly,) by the sentence of Daniel that chaste lady was saved. We bring this forward as a testimony; for this is not the season for expounding. Nebuchadnezzar also knew that the Holy Spirit was in Daniel; for he says to him, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, of whom I know, that the Holy Spirit of God is in thee Daniel 4:9). One thing he said truly, and one falsely; for that he had the Holy Spirit was true, but he was not the master of the magicians, for he was no magician, but was wise through the Holy Ghost. And before this also, he interpreted to him the vision of the Image, which he who had seen it himself knew not; for he says, Tell me the vision, which I who saw it know not (Dan. 2:26, 31). Thou seest the power of the Holy Ghost; that which they who saw it, know not, they who saw it not, know and interpret. 32. And indeed it were easy to collect very many texts out of the Old Testament, and to discourse more largely concerning the Holy Ghost. But the time is short; and we must be careful of the proper length of the lecture. Wherefore, being for the present content awhile with passages from the Old Testament, we will, if it be God’s pleasure, proceed in the next Lecture to the remaining texts out of the New Testament. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Lecture XVI:30-31 Volume 7, p. 123.


2. The Divine Nature then it is impossible to see with eyes of flesh: but from the works, which are Divine, it is possible to attain to some conception of His power, according to Solomon, who says, “For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionally the Maker of them is seen” (Wis 13:5). He said not that from the creatures the Maker is seen, but added proportionably. For God appears the greater to every man in proportion as he has grasped a larger survey of the creatures: and when his heart is uplifted by that larger survey, he gains withal a greater conception of God. 3. Wouldest thou learn that to comprehend the nature of God is impossible? The Three Children in the furnace of fire, as they hymn the praises of God, say “Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the Cherubim” (Song of the Three Children, 32, or in Daniel 3, between verses 23 and 24, there are 68 verses, of which this is verse 32. This is part of the Deuterocanonical portion). Tell me what is the nature of the Cherubim, and then look upon Him who sitteth upon them. And yet Ezekiel the Prophet even made a description of them, as far as was possible, saying that every one has four faces, one of a man, another of a lion, another of an eagle, and another of a calf; and that each one had six wings (Ezek. 1:6-11), and they had eyes on all sides; and that under each one was a wheel of four sides. Nevertheless though the Prophet makes the explanation, we cannot yet understand it even as we read. But if we cannot understand the throne, which he has described, how shall we be able to comprehend Him who sitteth thereon, the Invisible and Ineffable God? To scrutinize then the nature of God is impossible: but it is in our power to send up praises of His glory for His works that are seen. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, NPNF2, Lecture IX:2-3, Volume 7, p. 51.


Learn then thine own weakness; learn from this instance the mightiness of God: for He hath numbered the drops of rain [Job 36:27], which have been poured down on all the earth, not only now but in all time. The sun is a work of God, which, great though it be, is but a spot in comparison with the whole heaven; first gaze steadfastly upon the sun, and then curiously scan the Lord of the sun. Seek not the things that are too deep for thee, neither search out the things that are above thy strength: what is commanded thee, think thereupon [Sir. 3:21-22]. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Lecture VI:4, Volume 7, p. 34.

Hear the Prophet saying, ‘This is our God, none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him. He hath found out every way of knowledge, and given it to Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterwards He[she] was seen on earth, and conversed among men’ [Baruch 3:35-37]. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 9:15(A.D. 350),in NPNF2, VII:68,%20[315-386%20A.D.]

Hilary of Poiters

He included a handful of the Deuterocanon in his official Canon List:

[T]he Old Testament is reckoned as consisting of twenty-two books…so that of Moses there be five books…with the Lamentations and the Letter [Baruch 6-Epistle of Jeremiah], and Daniel…bringing the number of the books to twenty-two. It is to be noted also that by adding to these Tobias and Judith, there are twenty-four books, corresponding to the number of letters used by the Greeks.” Hilary of Poitiers, Prologue to the Psalms,15 (A.D. 365), in JUR, 1:383

His own use of the books speaks for itself:


They say that the Father has prescience of all things, as the blessed Susanna says, ‘O eternal God, that knowest secrets, and knowest all things before they be’ [Daniel 13:42-Susanna]” Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 4:8 (A.D. 359), in NPNF2, IX:73.


As you have listened already to Moses and Isaiah, so listen now to Jeremiah inculcating the same truth as they:–‘This is our God, and there shall be none other likened unto Him, Who hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth and dwelt among men.’ [Baruch 3:36-38] Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 4:42 (A.D. 359), in NPNF2, IX:84


Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of ScriptureFor all things,as the Prophet says[ref 2 Maccabees 7:28], were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of the non-existent.” Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 4:16 (A.D. 359), in NPNF2, IX:76


Then, while the devout soul was baffled and astray through its own feebleness, it caught from the prophet’s voice this scale of comparison for God, admirably expressed, ‘By the greatness of His works and the beauty of the things that He hath made the Creator of worlds is rightly discerned’ [Wisdom 13:5].” Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 1:7 (A.D. 359), in NPNF2, IX:42


It’s pretty clear, and beyond dispute: he accepted the Apocrypha as Scripture.,%20[315-367/368%20A.D.]

Gregory Nazianzen

At a glance, he would seem to have entirely rejected the Deuterocanon:

These are all twelve of the historical books. Of the most ancient Hebrew wisdom: First there is Genesis, then Exodus, Leviticus too. Then Numbers, and the Second Law. Then Josue and Judges. Ruth is eight. Ninth and Tenth the Acts of Kings and Paralipomenon. Last you have Esdras. The poetic books are five: Job being first, Then David, and three of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Canticle and Proverbs. And five prophetic, likewise inspired. There are the twelve written in one book: Osee and Amos, and Micheas the third; Then Joel, and Jonas, Abdias. And Nahum, and Habacuc, and Sophonias, Aggeus, and Zacharias, Malachias. All these are one. The second is Isaias. Then the book called Jeremias, of the New-born Babe. Then Ezechiel, and Daniel’s gift. I reckon, therefore, twenty-two old books, Corresponding to the number of the Hebrew letters. St. Gregory of Nazianzen, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1979, Poems, Book 1, Section 1, 12, Vol. 2, p. 42.

But then that whole Canon-meant-something-different-back-then thing rears its head, because…


Here am I, my pastors and fellow-pastors, here am I, thou holy flock, worthy of Christ, the Chief Shepherd,(1 Pet 5:4) here am I, my father, utterly vanquished, and your subject according to the laws of Christ rather than according to those of the land: here is my obedience, reward it with your blessing. Lead me with your prayers, guide me with your words, establish me with your spirit. “The blessing of the father establisheth the houses of children,” (Sirach 3:9) and would that both I and this spiritual house may be established, the house which I have longed for, which I pray may be my rest for ever, (Psalm 132:13,14) when I have been passed on from the church here to the church yonder, the general assembly of the firstborn, who are written in heaven (Heb. 12:23). St. Gregory Nazianzen: In Defense of His Flight to Pontus, VIII, NPNF2, Vol. 7, p. 227.

God doth not so; but saith Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee; and He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. Similarly He gave honour to good and punishment to evil. And, “The blessing of a father strengtheneth the houses of children”(Sirach 3:9), but “the curse of a mother uprooteth the foundations.” (Sirach 3:1), See the equality of the legislation. There is one Maker of man and woman; one debt is owed by children to both their parents. St. Gregory Nazianzen, The Fifth Theological Oration , VI, NPNF2, Vol. 7, p. 340.


And how shall we preserve the truth that God pervades all things and fills all, as it is written “Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord (Jer. 23:24)” and“The Spirit of the Lord filleth the world”(Wisdom 1:7) if God partly contains and partly is contained. For either He will occupy an empty Universe, and so all things will have vanished for us, with this result, that we shall have insulted God by making Him a body…. St. Gregory Nazianzen: The Second Theological Oration, VIII, NPNF2, Vol 7, p. 291.


Then the last and gravest plague upon the persecutors, truly worthy of the night; and Egypt mourns the firstborn of her own reasonings and actions which are also called in the Scripture the “Seed of the Chaldeans”(Judith 5:6) removed, and the children of Babylon dashed against the rocks and destroyed; (Psalm 138:9). and the whole air is full of the cry and clamour of the Egyptians. St. Gregory Nazianzen: The Second Oration on Easter, XV, NPNF2, p. 428.


How did God sustain her? Not by raining down manna, as for Israel of old (Ex. 16:14), or opening the rock, in order to sustain to give drink to His thirsting people (Ex. 18:6) or feasting her by means of ravens, as Elijah 1 King 17:6), or feeding her by a prophet carried through the air, as He did to Daniel when a-hungered in the den (Daniel 14:33(Bel and the Dragon, V:33). St. Gregory Nazianzen: On the Death of the Father, 30, NPNF2, Vol. 7, p. 265.


And, I will give the kingdom to one who is good above Thee.(1 Sam. 15:28) … Words of God, speaking to Saul about David. Or again,Do good, O Lord, unto the good(Psalm 125:4) … and all other like expressions concerning those of us who are praised, upon whom it is a kind of effluence from the Supreme Good, and has come to them in a secondary degree. It will be best of all if we can persuade you of this. But if not, what will you say to the suggestion on the other side, that on your hypothesis the Son has been called the only God. In what passage? Why, in this:This is your God; no other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him, and a little further on, after this did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men.(Baruch 3:35,37) St. Gregory Nazianzen: The Fourth Theological Oration, XIII, NPNF2, p. 314.


He accepted them as Scripture, and to include him on lists of Fathers who rejected the Apocrypha is deceptive.  Then again, if one was to compile a FACTUAL list of Church Fathers who completely rejected all the books of the Apocrypha, it would be an EXTREMELY short list (and I do mean EXTREMELY SHORT).  It simply wouldn’t look good for the apologists.

(You know, when the facts don’t match your beliefs, it’s usually meant to be your beliefs that change – not the facts.),%20[330-389%20A.D.]


If one only skimmed his work for something anti-Apocryphal, you’d come across this:


“And therefore it seems proper in this place to enumerate, as we have learnt from the tradition of the Fathers, the books of the New and of the Old Testament, which according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have handed down to the churches of Christ. Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of all there have been handed down five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then Jesus Nave, (Joshua the son of Nun), the Book of Judges together with Ruth; then four books of Kings (Reigns), which the Hebrews reckon two; the book of Omissions, which is entitled the Book of Days (Chronicles), and two books of Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah), which the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the twelve minor Prophets, one book; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book. Solomon gave three books to the Churches, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles. These comprise the books of the Old Testament….. But it should be known that there are also other books which our fathers call not ‘Canonical’ but ‘Ecclesiastical:’ that is to say, Wisdom, called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas (and that) which is called the Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, but not appealed to for the confirmation of doctrine. The other writings they have named ‘Apocrypha.’ These they would not have read in the Churches. These are the traditions which the Fathers have handed down to us, which, as I said, I have thought it opportune to set forth in this place, for the instruction of those who are being taught the first elements of the Church and of the Faith, that they may know from what fountains of the Word of God their draughts must be taken” (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, NPNF2, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), Rufinus, Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed 36, p. 557.

But dig a little deeper…


That Book of Wisdom also which is read to us as the work of Solomon says: “Into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in the body that is subject to sin.(Wisdom 1:4-5) For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit and remove from thoughts which are without understanding.

For it is evident that the Son, not the Father, became incarnate and was born in the flesh, and that from that nativity in the flesh the Son became “visible and passible.” Yet so far as regards that immortal substance of the Godhead, which He possesses, and which is one and the same with that of the Father, we must believe that neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Ghost is “visible or passible.” But the Son, in that He condescended to assume flesh, was both seen and also suffered in the flesh. Which also the Prophet foretold when he said, ‘This is our God: no other shall be accounted of in comparison of Him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. Afterward He shewed Himself upon the earth, and conversed with men.’ [Baruch 3:36-38]” Rufinus of Aquileia, The Apostles Creed, 37-38 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, III:545,%20[345-410%20A.D.]

Pope St Gregory the Great

The pontiff, like the other quoted earlier, calls them non-canonical:

With reference to which particular we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not Canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forward testimony. Thus Eleazar in the battle smote and brought down an elephant, but fell under the very beast that he killed” (1 Macc. 6.46). (Joseph Gildea, Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1991, Part 1, Book 3, p. 126.)

And then uses them as inspired Scripture:


Pride is of course the root of all evil, of which it is said, as Scripture bears witness: Pride is the beginning of all sin. (Sirach 10:26) Moreover; proliferating from this poisonous root as its first offspring are seven capital sins: vainglory, envy, anger malancholy, avarice, gluttony, lust. For because he grieved that we were held in bondage by these seven derivatives of pride, on that account our Redeemer, full of the spirit of sevenfold grace, joined spiritual battle for our liberation. St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Part 1, Book 3, p. 85.


The former, it is said by Holy Scripture: Do not become like the horse and the mule which have no understanding (Psalm 31:9). The proud effort of the latter is blamed when it is said:Seek not the things that are too high for thee, and search not into things above thy ability (Sirach 3:22). To the former it is said: Mortify your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, lust, eveil consupiscence (Col. 3:5), to the latter it is said: Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy and vain deceipt (Col. 2:8) St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Book 1, Part 3, 21, p. 116


Hence it is that with difficulty is eternal rest attained by the powerful who are surrounded by numberless hosts of lieges and bound with the tight coils of a great variety of concerns. In this regard Scripture saysA most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule. (Wisdom 12:6) Hence Truth says in the Gospel: Unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required (Luke 12:48). It rarely happens that those who possess gold strive for eternal rest, inasmuch as Truth himself says: How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God (Mt. 19:25). St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Part 1, Book 4, 3, p. 133.


He is king over all the children of pride (Job 41:25). It is written: Pride is the beginning of all sin ( Sirach 10:15). St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Part 1, Book 3, 2, P. 87.


In this regard it is written:By the envy of the devil, death came into the world (Wisdom 2:24). For when the decay of envy has corrupted the vanquished heart, exterior indications show how greatly mad impulses provoked the mind. St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job Part 1, Book 3, 7, p. 96.


Anger indeed killeth the foolish : and envy slayeth the little one (Job 5:2 ). Since it is written:But thou, Lord, judgest with tranquility (Wisdom 12:18), we must particularly take note that as often as we restrain our turbulent emotions by the virtue of mildness, we are trying to return to the likeness of our Creator. St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job Part 1, Book 3, 9, p. 98.


By anger life is lost although wisdom may seem to be retained, as it is written:anger destroyeth even the wise (Sirach 32:26), for indeed the confused mind is not effective even if it is able to judge anything wisely. By anger righteousness is abandoned, as it is written: The anger of man worketh not the justice of God (Jer. 9:14). St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job Part 1, Book 3, 9, p. 98.


For hence it is said by Solomon: If a man live many years , and have rejoiced in them all, he must remmeber the darksome time, and the many days: which, when they shall come, the things past shall be accused of vanity (Eccl. 11:8). Hence again it is written: In all thy works, remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin (Sirach 7:40). St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Part 1, Book 2, 32, p. 82.


For now any sinner casts away the fear of God and yet lives, blasphemes and yet prospers, because the merciful Creator in seeing does not wish to punish the one whom he wishes to correct by waiting of him as it is written: Thou overlookest the sins of men for the sake of repentance (Wisdom 11:24). But when the sinner is looked upon hereafter, he shall be no more, because when the strict judge precisely examines his deserts, the guilty one is not equal to the torments. St. Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Part 2, Book 1, 11, p. 204.


Observe how through his angels he comes down to establish misdeeds and immediately strikes the evildoers. And he who is patient, who is mild, of whom it is written: But thou, Lord, judgest with tranquility, of whom (Wisdom 12:18) it again is written:The Lord is a patient rewarder (Sirach 5:4), Gregory the Great, A Synthesis of Moralia in Job, Part 2, Book 4, 15, p. 289


But, if your Holiness knew both what I referred to in my letter and what had been done, whether against John the presbyter or against Athanasius, monk of Isauria and presbyter, and wrote to me, I know not; what can I reply to this, since the Truth says through His Scripture,“The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul”(Wisd. i. 11) St. Gregory the Great, Book III, Epistle 13, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 136.


Lest they should give nothing at all to those on whom they ought to bestow something, let them hear what is written, Give to every man that asketh of thee (Luke vi. 30). Lest they should give something, however little to those on whom they ought to bestow nothing at all, let them hear what is written.“Give to the good man, and receive not a sinner: do well to him that is lowly, and give not to the ungodly”(Sir.. xii. 4). And again, “Set out thy bread and wine on the burial of the just, but eat and drink not thereof with sinners(Tobit iv. 17). St. Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, Chapter XX, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 45.


But the Lord shews with what strong censure he disowns them, saying through a certain wise man, “Whoso offereth a sacrifice of the substance of the poor doeth as one that killeth the son before the father’s eyes”(Sir. xxxiv. 20). St. Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, Chapter XXI, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 48.


For hence it is written, The dog is returned to his own vomit again, and the saw that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet. ii. 22). For the dog, when he vomits, certainly casts forth the food which weighed upon his stomach; … Hence again it is written, “Repeat not a word in thy prayer”(Sir. vii. 14). For to repeat a word in prayer is, after bewailing, to commit what again requires bewailing. St. Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, Chapter XXX, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 62


As to what you say you desire to be done for you near the most sacred body of the holy apostle Peter, be assured that, though your tongue were silent, your charity bids the doing of it. Would indeed that we were worthy to pray for you: but that I am not worthy I have no doubt. Still, however, there are here many worthy folk, who are being redeemed from the enemy by your offering, and serve our Creator faithfully, with regard to whom you have done what is written; “Lay up alms in the bosom of the poor, and it shall pray for thee”(Sir. xxix. 15). Epistles of St. Gregory the Great, Epistle XXXII, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 156


Yet surely this is a promise of the life to come, seeing that it is said, “The righteous shall shine forth as the sun” (Matth. xiii. 43; Wisd. iii. 7). For, in whatsoever virtue any one may excel, how can he shine forth as the sun while still in the present life, wherein “The corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things” (Wisd. ix. 15); wherein We see another law in our members warring against the law of our mind, and bringing us into captivity by the law of sin which is in our members (Rom. vii. 23); wherein Even in ourselves we have the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves (2 Cor. i. 9); wherein also the Prophet cries aloud, Fear and trembling are canto upon me, and darkness hath covered me (Ps. liv. 6)? For it is written also, “A wise man abideth as the sun; a fool changeth as the moan” (Sir. xxvii. 12); where the comparison of the sun is not applied to the splendour of his brightness, but to perseverance in well-doing. Epistles of St. Gregory the Great, Epistle VII, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 214.


It was that you would not speak by letters to a man, having by a good deed made your address to Almighty God. For this same deed of yours has a voice of its own, which calls to the secret ears of God, as it is written,Hide thy alms in the bosom of the poor, and it shall entreat for thee”(Sir. xxix. 15). And indeed to me, I confess, it is sad to expend what is not my own, and to add to the accounts which I keep of the substance of the Church those also of the property of my most sweet son the lord Theodore. And yet I rejoice with your benignity that you carefully attend to and observe what the Truth says; Give alms, and behold, all things are clean unto you (Luke xi 41); and this which is written,Even as water quencheth fire, so alms quench sin”(Sir. iii. 33). Paul the apostle also says, Let your abundance supply their want, that their abundance also may be a supply to your want (2 Cor. viii. 14). Tobias admonishes his son, saying,If thou hast much, give abundantly; but if thou hast little, of that little impart willingly”(Tob. iv. 9) Epistles of St. Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle XXVIII, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 222.


To such, under the guise of a learner, it is well said in Solomon,“My son, do nothing without counsel, and after it is done thou shalt not repent(Sir. 32:24).” And again, Let thine eyelids go before thy steps (Prov. iv. 25). St. Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, Chapter XX, NPNF2, vol. 12, p. 39.,%20Pope,%20[590-604,%20A.D.]

John of Damascus

His oft-quoted statement on the Canon (it’s notable that his New Testament includes “the Canons of the holy apostles, by Clement”):

“Observe, further, that there are two and twenty books of the Old Testament, one for each letter of the Hebrew tongue. For there are twenty-two letters of which five are double, and so they come to be twenty-seven. For the letters Caph, Mere, Nun, Pe, Sade are double. And thus the number of the books in this way is twenty-two, but is found to be twenty-seven because of the double character of five. For Ruth is joined on to Judges, and the Hebrews count them one book: the first and second books of Kings are counted one: and so are the third and fourth books of Kings: and also the first and second of Paraleipomena: and the first and second of Esdra. In this way, then, the books are collected together in four Pentateuchs and two others remain over, to form thus the canonical books. Five of them are of the Law, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. This which is the code of the Law, constitutes the first Pentateuch. Then comes another Pentateuch, the so-called Grapheia, or as they are called by some, the Hagiographa, which are the following: Jesus the Son of Nave, Judges along with Ruth, first and second Kings, which are one book, third and fourth Kings, which are one book, and the two books of the Paraleipomena which are one book. This is the second Pentateuch. The third Pentateuch is the books in verse, viz. Job, Psalms, Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of Solomon and the Song of Songs of Solomon. The fourth Pentateuch is the Prophetical books, viz the twelve prophets constituting one book, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then come the two books of Esdra made into one, and Esther. There are also the Panaretus, that is the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Jesus, which was published in Hebrew by the father of Sirach, and afterwards translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus, the Son of Sirach. These are virtuous and noble, but are not counted nor were they placed in the ark. The New Testament contains four gospels, that according to Matthew, that according to Mark, that according to Luke, that according to John: the Acts of the Holy Apostles by Luke the Evangelist: seven catholic epistles, viz. one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude: fourteen letters of the Apostle Paul: the Revelation of John the Evangelist: the Canons of the holy apostles, by Clement.” St. John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter XVII, NPNF, p. 89

Compared to his statments on Scripture:


And hence it is that in the Old Testament the use of images was not common. But after God (Jn 1:14, Tit. 3:4) in His bowels of pity became in truth man for our salvation, not as He was seen by Abraham in the semblance of a man, nor as He was seen by the prophets, but in being truly man, and “after He lived upon the earth and dwelt among men, (Bar. 3:37) worked miracles, suffered, was crucified, rose again and was taken back to Heaven, since all these things actually took place and were seen by men, they were written for the remembrance and instruction of us who were not alive at that time in order that though we saw not, we may still, hearing and believing, obtain the blessing of the Lord. St. John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter XVI, NPNF2, p. 88


Some, again, have a prophetic sense, and of these some are in the future tense: for instance, He shall come openly, (Psalm 50:3) and this from Zechariah, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, (Zech. 9:9) and this from Micah, (Mic. 1:3) Behold, the Lord cometh out of His place and will came down and tread upon the high places of the earth. But others, though future, are put in the past tense, as, for instance, This is our God: “Therefore He was seen upon the earth and dwell among men,” (Baruch 3:37) and The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways for His works (Prov. 8:22), and Wherefore God, thy God, anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows, and such like. (Psalm 14:7) St. John of Damascus, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter XVII, NPNF, p. 90


The divine Scripture likewise saith that ‘the souls of the just are in God’s hand’ [Wisdom 3:1] and death cannot lay hold of them.” John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 4:15 (A.D. 743), in NPNF2, IX:87


But others, though future, are put in the past tense, as, for instance, This is our God: ‘Therefore He[she] was seen upon the earth and dwell among men’[Baruch 3:38]. John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 4:18 (A.D. 743), in NPNF2, IX:90


It appears then that the most proper of all the names given to God is “He that is,” as He Himself said in answer to Moses on the mountain, Say to the sons of Israel, He that is hath sent Me (Ex. 3:14). For He keeps all being in His own embrace, like a sea of essence infinite and unseen. Or as the holy Dionysius says, “He that is good.” For one cannot say of God that He has being in the first place and goodness in the second. The second name of God is o qeos, derived from qeein, to run, because He courses through all things, or from aiqein, to burn: For God is a fire consuming all evils (Deut. 4:24): or from qeasqai, because He is all-seeing (2 Macc. 9:5): for nothing can escape Him, and over all He keepeth watch. For He saw all things before they were, holding them timelessly in His thoughts; and each one conformably to His voluntary anti timeless thought, which constitutes predetermination and image and pattern, comes into existence at the predetermined time.,%20[645-749%20A.D.]

Yeah, I think John’s Bible was larger than the current Protestant one.


Ah, THE favourite church father to list as openly opposing the Apocrypha’s canonicity (although, remember: being Scripture didn’t automatically make a book Canon, according to the them).  He does at first glance appear to be the most hostile:

These instances have been just touched upon by me (the limits of a letter forbid a more discursive treatment of them) to convince you that in the holy scriptures you can make no progress unless you have a guide to shew you the way…Genesis … Exodus … Leviticus … Numbers … Deuteronomy … Job … Jesus the son of Nave … Judges … Ruth … Samuel … The third and fourth books of Kings … The twelve prophets whose writings are compressed within the narrow limits of a single volume: Hosea … Joel … Amos … Obadiah … Jonah … Micah … Nahum … Habakkuk … Zephaniah … Haggai … Zechariah … Malachi … Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel … Jeremiah also goes four times through the alphabet in different metres (Lamentations)… David…sings of Christ to his lyre; and on a psaltry with ten strings (Psalms) … Solomon, a lover of peace and of the Lord, corrects morals, teaches nature (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes), unites Christ and the church, and sings a sweet marriage song to celebrate that holy bridal (Song of Songs) … Esther … Ezra and Nehemiah. (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953, Volume VI, St. Jerome, Letter LIII.6-8, pp. 98-101). As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church…I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon… (Ibid., Volume VI, Jerome, Prefaces to Jerome’s Works, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs; Daniel, pp. 492-493).

Seems pretty straightforward, right?  Well…


Does not the SCRIPTURE say: ‘Burden not thyself above thy power’[SIRACH 13:2] Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207


Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: “wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’[Wisdom 4:9]” Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion (Num. 11:16)? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age (Daniel 13:55-59, or Story of Susannah 55-59, only found in the Catholic Bibles) Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119


“I would cite the words of the psalmist: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel ‘I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] AND THOSE OF BARUCH,‘Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’[Baruch 5:5] AND MANY OTHER PROCLAMATIONS MADE BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE PROPHETS.” Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159


still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground. Your presents, indeed, remind me of the sacred volume, for in it Ezekiel decks Jerusalem with bracelets, (Eze. 16:11) Baruch receives letters from Jeremiah,(Jer. 36, Bar. 6) and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ.(Mt. 3:16) Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 31:2 (A.D. 384), in NPNF2, VI:45


As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession. For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. [Sir. 27:5] “Potters’ vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation.” And in another place it is written: [Sir. 2:1] “My son, when thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation.” Again, the same James says: [James 3:22]”Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism. Jerome, Against Jovinianus,, Book 2, 3 NPNF2, VI:390


“Yet the Holy Spirit in the thirty-ninth(9) psalm, while lamenting that all men walk in a vain show, and that they are subject to sins, speaks thus: “For all that every man walketh in the image.”(Psalm 39:6) Also after David’s time, in the reign of Solomon his son, we read a somewhat similar reference to the divine likeness. For in the book of Wisdom, which is inscribed with his name, Solomon says: “God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.”(Wisdom 2:23) And again, about eleven hundred and eleven years afterwards, we read in the New Testament that men have not lost the image of God. For James, an apostle and brother of the Lord, whom I have mentioned above–that we may not be entangled in the snares of Origen–teaches us that man does possess God’s image and likeness. For, after a somewhat discursive account of the human tongue, he has gone on to say of it: “It is an unruly evil … therewith bless we God, even the Father and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”(James 3:8-9) Paul, too, the “chosen vessel,”(Acts 9:15) who in his preaching has fully maintained the doctrine of the gospel, instructs us that man is made in the image and after the likeness of God. “A man,” he says, “ought not to wear long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God.”(1 Cor. 11:7) He speaks of “the image” simply, but explains the nature of the likeness by the word “glory.” 7. Instead of THE THREE PROOFS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE which you said would satisfy you if I could produce them, BEHOLD I HAVE GIVEN YOU SEVEN”— Jerome, Letter 51, 6, 7, NPNF2, VI:87-8


A. “Your argument is ingenious, but you do not see THAT IT GOES AGAINST HOLY SCRIPTURE, which declares that even ignorance is not without sin. Hence it was that Job offered sacrifices for his sons, test, perchance, they had unwittingly sinned in thought. And if, when one is cutting wood, the axe-head flies from the handle and kills a man, the owner is[Num. 35:8] commanded to go to one of the cities of refuge and stay there until the high priest dies; that is to say, until he is redeemed by the Saviour’s blood, either in the baptistery, or in penitence which is a copy of the grace of baptism, through the ineffable mercy of the Saviour, who[Ezek. 18:23] would not have any one perish, nor delights in the death of sinners, but would rather that they should be converted and live. C. It is surely strange justice to hold me guilty of a sin of error of which my conscience does not accuse itself. I am not aware that I have sinned, and am I to pay the penalty for an offence of which I am ignorant? What more can I do, if I sin voluntarily? A. DO YOU EXPECT ME TO EXPLAIN THE PURPOSES AND PLANS OF GOD? THE BOOK OF WISDOM GIVES AN ANSWER TO YOUR FOOLISH QUESTION: [Sir 3:21]“LOOK NOT INTO THINGS ABOVE THEE, AND SEARCH NOT THINGS TOO MIGHTY FOR THEE.” AND ELSEWHERE,[5] “Make not thyself overwise, and argue not more than is fitting.” And in the same place, “In wisdom and simplicity of heart seek God.”You will perhaps deny the authority of this book;” “Jerome, “Against the Pelagians, NPNF2, VI:464-5”


“And in the proverbs Solomon tells us that as “the north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.(Prov. 25:23)” It sometimes happens that an arrow when it is aimed at a hard object rebounds upon the bowman, wounding the would-bewounder, and thus, the words are fulfilled, “they were turned aside like a deceitful bow,” (Psalm 128:57) and in another passage: “whoso casteth a stone on high casteth it on his own head.” (Sir. 27:25) Jerome, To Rusticus, Epistle 125, 19 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:251


9. Let me call to my aid the example of the three children, (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3) who, amid the cool, encircling fire, sang hymns,(Song of Three Holy Children, found only in Deuterocanonical portion of Daniel 3) instead of weeping, and around whose turbans and holy hair the flames played harmlessly. Let me recall, too, the story of the blessed Daniel, in whose presence, though he was their natural prey, the lions crouched, with fawning tails and frightened mouths.(Daniel 6) Let Susannah also rise in the nobility of her faith before the thoughts of all; who, after she had been condemned by an unjust sentence, was saved through a youth inspired by the Holy Ghost (Susanna 45, or Daniel 13:45). In both cases the Lord’s mercy was alike shewn; for while Susannah was set free by the judge, so as not to die by the sword, this woman, though condemned by the judge, was acquitted by the sword. Jerome, Letter 1:9, NPNF2, VI:2, 370 AD


6. I salute your mother and mine with the respect which, as you know, I feel towards her. Associated with you as she is in a holy life, she has the start of you, her holy children, in that she is your mother. Her womb may thus be truly called golden. With her I salute your sisters, who ought all to be welcomed wherever they go, for they have triumphed over their sex and the world, and await the Bridegroom’s coming, (Mt. 25:4) their lamps replenished with oil. O happy the house which is a home of a widowed Anna, of virgins that are prophetesses, and of twin Samuels bred in the Temple! (Luke 2:36, Acts 21:9, 1 Sam. 2:18) Fortunate the roof which shelters the martyr-mother of the Maccabees, with her sons around her, each and all wearing the martyr’s crown! (2 Macc. 7) For although you confess Christ every day by keeping His commandments, yet to this private glory you have added the public one of an open confession; for it was through you that the poison of the Arian heresy was formerly banished from your city. Jerome, to Chromatius, Jovinus, and Eusebius, Letter 7:6, NPNF2, 374 AD, VI:10


But now that a virgin has conceived (Isa. 7:14) in the womb and has borne to us a child of which the prophet says that “Government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called the mighty God, the everlasting Father,” (Isa. 9:6) now the chain of the curse is broken. Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. And thus the gift of virginity has been bestowed most richly upon women, seeing that it has had its beginning from a woman. As soon as the Son of God set foot upon the earth, He formed for Himself a new household there; that, as He was adored by angels in heaven, angels might serve Him also on earth. Then chaste Judith once more cut off the head of Holofernes (Jud. 13).Then Haman–whose name means iniquity–was once more burned in fire of his own kindling (Est. 7:10) Then James and John forsook father and net and ship and followed the Saviour: neither kinship nor the world’s ties, nor the care of their home could hold them back. Then were the words heard: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) For no soldier goes with a wife to battle. Even when a disciple would have buried his father, the Lord forbade him, and said: “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.” (Mt. 8:20-22) So you must not complain if you have but scanty house-room. In the same strain, the apostle writes: “He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she that is married careth for the things of the world how she may please her husband.” (1 Cor. 7:34-36). Jerome, to Eustochium, Letter 22:21, 384 AD, NPNF2, VI:30


For it is not ecclesiastical rank that makes a man a Christian. The centurion Cornelius was still a heathen when he was cleansed by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Daniel was but a child when he judged the elders.( Dan. 13:55-63, or Susanna 55-63) Amos was stripping mulberry bushes when, in a moment, he was made a prophet (Amos 7:14) David was only a shepherd when he was chosen to be king.(2 Sam. 16:11-13) And the least of His disciples was the one whom Jesus loved the most. My brother, sit down in the lower room, that when one less honorable comes you may be bidden to go up higher (Luke 14:10). Jerome, to Heliodorus, Letter 14:9, 374 AD, NPNF2, VI:17.


These things, dearest daughter in Christ, I impress upon you and frequently repeat, that you may forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto those things which are before (Phil. 3:12). You have widows like yourself worthy to be your models, Judith renowned in Hebrew story(Jud. 13) and Anna the daughter of Phanuel (Lk 2) famous in the gospel. Both these lived day and night in the temple and preserved the treasure of their chastity by prayer and by fasting. One was a type of the Church which cuts off the head of the devil (Jud. 13:8) and the other first received in her arms the Saviour of the world and had revealed to her the holy mysteries which were to come (Lk 2:36-38). Jerome, to Salvina, Letter 79:10, 400 AD, NPNF2, VI:168.


Jerome accepted the Apocrypha as Scripture.  End of story.,%20[347-419/420%20A.D]


Protestantism’s misguided rejection of the Deuterocanonical books derives primarily from Martin Luther (who also rejected several of the NT books, such as James and Revelation; sounds like SUCH a great source to base the canon on [obvious sarcasm]).

However, despite his perceived hostility… Luther actually partially accepted them as Scripture (albeit not on the same level as the others).

We can see with our own eyes that the physicians are lords; experience teaches clearly that we cannot do without them.  It is not the practice of medicine alone, however, but Scripture too that shows it to be a useful, comforting, and salutary estate, as well as a service acceptable to God, made and founded by him.  In Ecclesiasticus 38 [:1-8] almost an entire chapter is devoted to praise of the physicians …

That’s a pretty damning quote!  Same with this one:

… Holy Scripture is divine wisdom, not the wisdom of men….  For it is a well of such a kind that the more one draws and drinks from it [Holy Scripture], the more one thirsts for it, as Ecclesiasticus says (24:21): “Those who eat me will hunger for more, and those who drink me will thirst for more….” [Luther’s Works, Volume 4, pg. 319]

He goes on:

Nothing is more important than making sure your heart is free and cheerful when you pray.  As Sirach says, “Prepare your heart for prayer, and do not put the Lord to the test” [Sirach 18:23, based on Luther’s Die Bibel].

The Fifth Commandment: “Do not kill.”  God requires me to love my neighbor so that I should do him no harm concerning his body, either with words or with deeds … In this commandment, God commands me to protect my neighbor’s body and also commands my neighbor to protect my own.  As Sirach says, “He has committed to each of us his neighbor” [Sirach 9:14, Die Bibel].

For [our] affairs are in the hands of him who dares to say most audaciously, “No one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).  I do not want them to be in our hands, and it would not be well advised, either.  I had so many things in my hands and have lost everything; I have not retained one thing.  Yet what I have been able to throw out of my hands onto him, this I have retained safe and sound to this day.  For it is true, “God is our refuge and strength” (Psalm 46:1) and “Who was ever put to shame who put his hope in the Lord?” (Sirach 2:10).

Very, very interesting.

Given how many of the arguments used to oppose the Apocrypha are lies, and given the weight of evidence for its inspiration partly covered in my post The Canon of Scripture, Part 1: The Apocrypha, it begs the question: Why do YOU continue to reject these books as Scripture?  What makes you so sure that your denomination got it right in endorsing its canon?

(Obviously, that question is addressed to readers who DON’T accept the Apocrypha/Deuterocanon; if you do accept them, thumbs up!)

15 thoughts on “The Church Fathers’ REAL Opinions on the Apocrypha

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