Note" You can also listen to our Youtube video teaching on the subject of the Apocrypha and the King James Bible here -
Why did the 1611 King James Bible include the Apocrypha?
Early editions of the King James Bible, as well as many other English-language Bibles of the past, including the Wycliffe Bible (1382), the Coverdale Bible (1535), the Great Bible (1539), the Geneva Bible (1560), the Bishop's Bible (1568), the Douay-Rheims Bible (1609), and the Authorized Version (1611), the Zurich Bible 1530, the French Olivetan 1535, the Spanish Reina Bible of 1569, the Reina Valera of 1602, and the German Luther (1545), all contained the Apocrypha, but these books were included for historical reference only, not as additions to the canon of Scripture. The Reformation bibles included the books known as the Apocrypha. In 1666 they began to print King James Bibles without the Apocryphal books, and eventually they stopped including them altogether.
The Geneva Bible also had several Apocryphal references in it's footnotes, "In the 1560 edition, the Geneva listed Psalm 22 and Wisdom 2:18 as a cross reference for Matthew 27:43. The Geneva Bible cross references James 3:2 with the book of Sirach 14:1, 19:16, and 25:11. It cross references Hebrews 1:3 with Wisdom 7:26.
If you look at a copy of the original 1611 King James Bible, the book of Malachi ends with these words: "The end of the Prophets". Then the whole Apocrypha, which itself means "unknown, or spurious" is clearly marked off from the rest of the Scriptures by the words "Apocrypha" twice at the top of every page throughout. It then ends with these words: "The end of Apocrypha". Then on the next page is an elaborate woodcutting and it says: "The Newe Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." All King James Bible contained the Apocrypha in the inter-testamental section until 1666. Then it began to be omitted in subsequent printings.
A brother at another Christian club pointed out the following points regarding the KJB and the Apocrypha issue: "A few observations concerning the Apocrypha in the King James Bible: (1) The KJB 1611 printing had a fancy title page that says "The Holy Bible Containing the Old Testament, and the New". There is no mention of the Apocrypha here. So what was considered "The Holy Bible" comprised the Old and New Testaments. (2) The New Testament also had a fancy title page which says, "The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ". Note again there is no mention of the Apocrypha. (3) The Apocrypha was placed by itself in between the two testaments. (4) The Apocrypha had no fancy title page preceding it, only the title "Apocrypha". (5) The word "apocrypha" is defined in a number of ways including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity". Is it not true that the Protestants used the word Apocrypha to mean that these writings were spurious and of questionable authenticity? If this is how the word apocrypha was used then simply labeling the section "Apocrypha" indicated that they did not esteem these writings as part of the canonical Scriptures."
It is ironic and somewhat hypocritical of those who criticize the KJB for including the Apocrypha in its earlier printings, when they usually favor the modern English versions like the NASB, RSV, NRSV, ESV, and the NIV. These versions are based primarily on Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts, which actually contain the Apocrypha books and then some others as well mixed up within and scattered throughout the rest of the Old Testament Scriptures with no separation indicating that they are less than inspired and authoritative. It is also hypocritical because one of the biggest promoters of the ever changing Critical Text is the Dallas Theological Seminary internet site of Daniel Wallace and company, called the NET version, and they clearly include the Apocrypha in their "bible". You can see it here: http://bible.org/netbible/
Here is a Catholic book store site where you can buy the ESV with the Apocryphal books included. This version has the full backing of the Catholic church, but you will not find the King James Bible being sold here -
You can also get The Revised English Bible with the Apocrypha of 1989, which is another Nestle-Aland Critical Greek Text edition. This is a recent revision of The New English Bible that came out in 1970. I have a copy of it right here in my study.
Alexander McClure, a biographer of the KJV translators, says: "...the Apocryphal books in those times were more read and accounted of than now, though by no means placed on a level with the canonical books of Scripture" (McClure, Translators Revived, p. 185). He then lists seven reasons assigned by the KJV translators for rejecting the Apocrypha as canonical.
The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England clearly states that the Apocrypha have no scriptural authority. "...[the Church of England] doth not apply to them to establish any doctrine."
Most of the KJB translators were from the Anglican church, which at that time was far more Orthodox in their beliefs that is the present day Apostate Anglican church.
They all held to the believes of the document called The 39 Articles. The Puritans, who also took part in the translation of the King James Bible, were in agreement.
You can see The 39 Articles here -
The 39 Articles form the basic summary of belief of the Church of England. They were drawn up by the Church in convocation in 1563 on the basis of the 42 Articles of 1553. Clergymen were ordered to subscribe to the 39 Articles by Act of Parliament in 1571.
Article VI: Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books
The First Book of Samuel
The Second Book of Samuel
The First Book of Kings
The Second Book of Kings The First Book of Chronicles
The Second Book of Chronicles
The First Book of Esdras
The Second Book of Esdras
The Book of Esther
The Book of Job
Ecclesiastes or Preacher
Cantica, or Songs of Solomon
Four Prophets the greater
Twelve Prophets the less
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:
The Third Book of Esdras
The Fourth Book of Esdras
The Book of Tobias
The Book of Judith
The rest of the Book of Esther
The Book of Wisdom
Jesus the Son of Sirach Baruch the Prophet
The Song of the Three Children
The Story of Susanna
Of Bel and the Dragon
The Prayer of Manasses
The First Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical. (End of Article 6 on the Canon of Scripture)
The Westminster Confession, which was written in England between 1643-48, only a few years after the publication of the King James Bible, says, "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings."
Martin Luther, whose German Bible version also included the Apocrypha between the Testaments, just like the King James Bible, said in a note on the Apocrypha: "These are books not to be held in equal esteem with those of Holy Scripture..."
It is also important to understand that in the early King James Bibles, the Apocryphal books were placed between the Old and New Testaments rather than intermingled within the O.T. itself as is done in Catholic Bibles. In the Jerusalem Bible (a Catholic Bible), for example, Tobit, Judith, and the Maccabees follow Nehemiah; the Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus follow Ecclesiastes; Baruch follows Lamentations; etc.
The Apocrypha was never considered canonical by the Church of England or the KJV translators. It was only included in the Reformation Bibles (and not only in the KJV) for historical reference, much as notes, etc. are included in modern study Bibles.
Final Authority, p. 166-167, W. P. Grady, “Now of the many issues raised against the King James Bible, none is so hypocritical as that of the Apocrypha question. A typical example of Nicolaitan desperation is the sarcastic barb of Robert L. Sumner who wrote: “It is also interesting-and perhaps you are not aware of it-that the early editions of the Authorized Version contained the Apocrypha. Horrors!”
Although it is technically correct that the first editions of the King James Bible contained the Apocrypha, the complete picture is rarely given. What Dr. Sumner conveniently failed to mention is that the translators were careful to set these spurious books apart from the inspired text by inserting them between the Testaments. And to insure that there was no misunderstanding, they listed seven reasons why the apocryphal books were to be categorically rejected as part of the inspired canon.”
The Answer Book, p. 99-100, S. C. Gipp, “Question #34: QUESTION: Didn't the King James Bible when first printed contain the Apocrypha? ANSWER: Yes. EXPLANATION: Many critics of the perfect Bible like to point out that the original King James had the Apocrypha in it as though that fact compromises its integrity. But several things must be examined to get the factual picture.
First, in the days in which our Bible was translated, the Apocrypha was accepted reading based on its historical value, though not accepted as Scripture by anyone outside of the Catholic church. The King James translators therefore placed it between the Old and New Testaments for its historical benefit to its readers. They did not integrate it into the Old Testament text as do the corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts. That they rejected the Apocrypha as divine is very obvious by the seven reasons which they gave for not incorporating it into the text. They are as follows:
1. Not one of them is in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament.
2. Not one of the writers lays any claim to inspiration.
3. These books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, and therefore were never sanctioned by our Lord.
4. They were not allowed a place among the sacred books, during the first four centuries of the Christian Church.
5. They contain fabulous statements, and statements which contradict not only the canonical Scriptures, but themselves; as when, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in as many different places.
6. It inculcates doctrines at variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead and sinless perfection.
7. It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation.
If having the Apocrypha between the Testaments disqualifies it as authoritative, then the corrupt Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts from Alexandria, Egypt must be totally worthless since their authors obviously didn't have the conviction of the King James translators and incorporated its books into the text of the Old Testament thus giving it authority with Scripture.”
Two of the most important Greek manuscripts for modern textual criticism are Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Vaticanus contains all of the Apocrypha with the exception of 1 and 2 Maccabees and the Prayer of Manasses. Sinaiticus contains all of the Old Testament Apocrypha books as well as the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas in the New Testament. (see A General Introduction To The Bible, by Geisler and Nix, Moody Press, pp.271-274; or The Text Of The New Testament, by Aland, Eerdmans Press, pp.107-109.)
QUESTION: Since the Greek texts of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus contain the Apocrypha as part of its text, and these two manuscripts are used for the basis of most modern Greek texts and English translations, is not your question a little misleading? Why would you reject the original KJV for having the Apocrypha between the Testaments while accepting ancient uncial manuscripts which contained the Apocrypha as part of the text?
The books of the Apocrypha were included in the King James Version from the first as a matter of course, as they had been in all versions of the English Bible from the time of Wycliffe (c. 1384), including Miles Coverdale 1535, Matthew's Bible 1537, Taverner's Bible 1539, the Great Bible, Bishops' Bible 1568 and the Geneva Bible of 1560.
Although the Apocrypha was found in Reformation Bibles (including the Geneva) since Wycliffe, it is clear that all of the Reformers opposed the Roman Catholic Church, and by the same token, rejected the Apocrypha as spurious. The feelings of the KJV translators, some of whom were Puritans, must necessarily be the same as those who produced the Westminster Confession of Faith (1645). In no uncertain terms, the Westminster divines wrote,
The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings (WCF 1:3).
Even today the same "Evangelical" Publishing Houses who print the NIV, NASB, ESV continue to publish Bible versions that contain the Apocryphal books. Zondervan publishers, who put out the NIV, also publish a combined New American Standard Bible - The Message edition that includes the Apocrypha. The New Living Translation (based on the same Westcott-Hort N.T. texts as the NASB, NIV, ESV) from Tyndale Press also contains the Apocryphal books. Zondervan also publishes the New Revised Standard Version, the RSV, and the New American Bible, all three of which contain the Apocrypha. You can even get a Today's English Version Catholic edition 1992 put out by the same American Bible Society, and it contains the whole of the Apocryphal books in its pages.
It is more than a little hypocritical of those who promote the modern versions like the NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, ESV, Holman Standard etc. to condemn the King James Bible of having at one time placed the Apocryphal books BETWEEN the two Testaments, when the very texts used as the basis for these modern translations contained the same Apocryphal books MIXED AND MINGLED among the other O.T. Scriptures themselves, and most "evangelical publishers" continue to this day to publish Catholic and Protestant editions that still contain these books.
Additional Notes from the Internet Clubs -
At one of the internet Christian clubs a fellow kept harping on the issue of the Apocryphal books being included in the early printings of the King James Bible. Here is his post and my reply to him. The spelling mistakes are his ;-)
Brian BurkhartCostello - " i refuse to let this die. so again i ask you if the KJV1611 is the inspired inerant word of God why do you not consider the APOCRYPHA scripture, is it not inspired, is it not inearant. so again i say you accept the apocrypha as scripture, becasue it is either scripture or the 1611 is not the perfect translation?"
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More Notes from the Internet
At our Facebook King James Bible Debate forum a pastor from Ireland posted a video he had made showing where the KJB had cross referenced in the margin a couple of passages from the Apocryphal books. His point was to try to prove that the KJB is not the infallible words of God because they did this. Here is a link to his video of about 6 minutes and then a very good response from another brother Paul.
Paul T. responds: Cross references do not an inspired scripture prove. I watched your video and remain firmly unconvinced. It has been stated before that the translators thought the books to be of historical value, thus their inclusion but only between the testaments and not interspersed in the old testament. References to the Apocryphal books serve to expand knowledge and show a possible or exact link between the two passages. As a source of intertestamental history the Apocryphal books do have value and probably do contain words of God, but wouldn't and haven't been considered *the* word of God by any protestants I've come across in research.