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The New Testament and the Deuterocanonicals (2/4)

The New Testament and the Deuterocanonicals: Romans-2 Corinthians

It is often claimed by Roman Catholic apologists that the New Testament is full of quotations, citations, or allusions to the deuterocanonical or apocryphal writings, which is supposed to prove that Christ and the apostles considered these books canonical.

This is the second article (of four), examining some 78 alleged uses of the deuterocanonicals or apocryphal writings in the New Testament.

Rom 1:18-25 – Paul’s teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.

Here are the two passages, with the similar words and phrases highlighted:

Wisdom 13:
1 Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know him that is: neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the workmaster;
2 But deemed either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven, to be the gods which govern the world.
3 With whose beauty if they being delighted took them to be gods; let them know how much better the Lord of them is: for the first author of beauty hath created them.
4 But if they were astonished at their power and virtue, let them understand by them, how much mightier he is that made them.
5 For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the maker of them is seen.
6 But yet for this they are the less to be blamed: for they peradventure err, seeking God, and desirous to find him.
7 For being conversant in his works they search him diligently, and believe their sight: because the things are beautiful that are seen.
8 Howbeit neither are they to be pardoned.
9 For if they were able to know so much, that they could aim at the world; how did they not sooner find out the Lord thereof?
10 But miserable are they, and in dead things is their hope, who call them gods, which are the works of men’s hands, gold and silver, to shew art in, and resemblances of beasts, or a stone good for nothing, the work of an ancient hand.

Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,
19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.
22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Similar thoughts are being expressed here, but the language is quite different and so are the arguments being made. In fact even the words and phrases highlighted are far from identical, though they are loosely similar.

Aside from this, the two passages are making opposite arguments. Wisdom says that men looked at the creation and failed to see God, whereas Paul says that not only is God visible from the creation, but men saw Him in the creation:

Wisdom 13:
1 Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know him that is: neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the workmaster;
2 But deemed either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven, to be the gods which govern the world.

Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,
19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.

Wisdom excuses the ignorance of those who worship idols, the stars, and animals, because they were seeking God on the basis of what they could see in the creation. However, Paul says they are without excuse because they were not seeking God – they knew of Him and rejected Him for a lie:

Wisdom 13
6 But yet for this they are the less to be blamed: for they peradventure err, seeking God, and desirous to find him.
7 For being conversant in his works they search him diligently, and believe their sight: because the things are beautiful that are seen.

Romans 1:
20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

In any case, Wisdomis speaking only of those who had no knowledge of God other than what they saw in the creation, whereas Paul is speaking of those who not only recognised the presence of God in the creation, but who were also exposed to the truth of God’s message:

Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,

32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

Finally, it is evident that if Paul is drawing his comments from another source, it is far more likely to be the following passages from the Psalms:

Psalm 106:
19 They made an image of a calf at Horeb, and worshiped a metal idol.
20 They traded their majestic God [Hebrew ‘the glory of God’] for the image of an ox that eats grass.

Romans 1:
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

Psalm 81:
12 I gave them over to their stubborn desires; they did what seemed right to them.

Romans 1:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.

Rom. 1:20 – specifically, God’s existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.

Although both Wisdom 13:1 and Romans 1:20 speak of God’s existence being evident in creation, they do not use the same language:

Wisdom 13:
1 Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know him that is: neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the workmaster;

Romans 1:
20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

In any case, this is a teaching already expressed very clearly in the Old Testament:

Psalm 19:
1 The heavens declare God’s glory; the sky displays his handiwork.
2 Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness.
3 There is no actual speech or word, nor is its voice literally heard.
4 Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth; it words carry to the distant horizon. In the sky he has pitched a tent for the sun.

There is nothing in Paul’s words in Romans 1:20 to suggest a dependence on Wisdom 13:1.

Rom. 1:23 – the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.

We have already seen that Paul is here quoting from a Psalm:

Romans 1:
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

Psalm 106:
19 They made an image of a calf at Horeb, and worshiped a metal idol.
20 They traded their majestic God [Hebrew ‘the glory of God’] for the image of an ox that eats grass.

Rom. 1:24-27 – this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.

Here are the passages from Wisdom, compared with the passage from Romans:

Wisdom 14:
12 For the devising of idols was the beginning of spiritual fornication, and the invention of them the corruption of life.

24 They kept neither lives nor marriages any longer undefiled: but either one slew another traiterously, or grieved him by adultery.
25 So that there reigned in all men without exception blood, manslaughter, theft, and dissimulation, corruption, unfaithfulness, tumults, perjury,
26 Disquieting of good men, forgetfulness of good turns, defiling of souls, changing of kind, disorder in marriages, adultery, and shameless uncleanness.
27 For the worshipping of idols not to be named is the beginning, the cause, and the end, of all evil.

Romans 1:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones,
27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

We note first that the list of sins in Wisdom 14:24-7 is not the same as the list in Romans 1:25-7. The list in Wisdom is far longer, but actually omits the specific sexual sins which Paul describes. The two lists therefore are not even the same. We note also, that Paul is borrowing some of his words here from the book of Psalms, certainly not from Wisdom:

Romans 1:
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

Psalm 81:
12 I gave them over to their stubborn desires; they did what seemed right to them.

Romans 1:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.

Rom. 4:17 – Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.

Here are the two passages:

Sirach 44:
19 Abraham was a great father of many people: in glory was there none like unto him;

Romans 4:
17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”).

Paul cannot be quoting Sirach 44:19, since the phrase he writes (‘I have made you the father of many nations’), does not appear there. Instead, Paul is quoting from Genesis:

Genesis 17:
5 No longer will your name be Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham because I will make you [Hebrew ‘I have made you’] the father of a multitude of nations.

Rom. 5:12 – description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.

Are these passages really ‘similar’?

Wisdom 2:
24 Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.

Romans 5:
12 So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned—

In Wisdom, death enters the world through ‘envy of the devil’, whereas in Romans ‘sin entered the world through one man, and death by sin’. These two passages are completely different. The passage in Wisdom does not even refer to the entry of sin into the world, and ascribes the entry of death to ‘envy of the devil’, which contradicts the passage in Romans (in which Paul shows that death came as a consequence of sin, and that sin was introduced by man).

Rom. 9:21 – usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.

Here are the two passages together, in context:

Wisdom 15:
7 For the potter, tempering soft earth, fashioneth every vessel with much labour for our service: yea, of the same clay he maketh both the vessels that serve for clean uses, and likewise also all such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of either sort, the potter himself is the judge.
8 And employing his labours lewdly, he maketh a vain god of the same clay, even he which a little before was made of earth himself, and within a little while after returneth to the same, out when his life which was lent him shall be demanded.
9 Notwithstanding his care is, not that he shall have much labour, nor that his life is short: but striveth to excel goldsmiths and silversmiths, and endeavoureth to do like the workers in brass, and counteth it his glory to make counterfeit things.

Romans 9:
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?”
20 But who indeed are you—a mere human being—to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?

Similar language is used, but the context and arguments are completely different. Wisdom is speaking of an unGodly man making an idol out of clay, whereas Paul is using the analogy of a potter to speak of God’s use of men and women for His purpose. There is no connection here, and Paul cannot possibly be quoting Wisdom (he is obviously not saying that God makes idols out of clay).

1 Cor. 2:16 – Paul’s question, “who has known the mind of the Lord?” references Wisdom 9:13.

Here are the two passages:

Wisdom 9:
13 For what man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is?

1 Corinthians 2:
16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

There is a slight similarity between the two, but there is a greater similarity between 1 Corinthians 12:16 and the following passage from Isaiah:

Isaiah 40:
13 Who comprehends the mind of the Lord, or gives him instruction as his counselor?

This is certainly the source of Paul’s quote, which makes direct reference to the mind of God (which the passage in Wisdom does not), and poes the question of who can advise Him (which the passage in Wisdom does not), both of which are found in 1 Corinthians 2:16. It is likely that this passage in Isaiah is the source of the passage in Wisdom.

1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 – warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.

Here are the passages from Sirach:

Sirach 36:
18 The stomach will take any food, yet one food is better than another.

Sirach 37:
28 For not everything is good for every one, and not every person enjoys everything.
29 Do not have an insatiable appetite for any luxury, and do not give yourself up to food;
30 for overeating brings sickness, and gluttony leads to nausea.

Here are the passages from 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:
12 “All things are lawful for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me”—but I will not be controlled by anything.
13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

1 Corinthians 10:
23 “Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds others up.
24 Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person.
25 Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience,
26 for the earth and its abundance are the Lord’s.

There is no correspondence between Sirach and 1 Corinthians. Paul does not refer to gluttony as Sirach does, and makes no distinction between one food and another (Sirach says ‘one food is better than another’). These passages don’t even share any common phrases.

1 Cor. 8:5-6 – Paul acknowledging many “gods” but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.

Here are the two passages:

Wisdom 13:
3 With whose beauty if they being delighted took them to be gods; let them know how much better the Lord of them is: for the first author of beauty hath created them.

1 Corinthians 8:
5 If after all there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live.

Both passages say that some people believe in many gods, but that there is really only one true God. They share no common phrases, and this theme (men worship many gods but there is only one true God), is so frequently repeated throughout the entire Bible that it is absurd to say that Paul is quoting from Wisdom.

1 Cor. 10:1 – Paul’s description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.

Here are the two passages:

Wisdom 19:
7 As namely, a cloud shadowing the camp; and where water stood before, dry land appeared; and out of the Red sea a way without impediment; and out of the violent stream a green field:

1 Corinthians 10:
1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea,

Once again we see that the two passages share no common phrases, and that the orthodox Old Testament already described Israel as being covered by a cloud when they passed through the Red Sea:

Psalm 105:
39 He spread out a cloud for a cover, and provided a fire to light up the night.

There is no evidence here that Paul derived his thoughts from Wisdom 19:7.
1 Cor. 10:20 – what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.

Here are the two passages:

Baruch 4:
7 For ye provoked him that made you by sacrificing unto devils, and not to God.

1 Corinthians 10:
20 No, I mean that what the pagans sacrifice is to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons.

These two passages certainly share a common thought, and almost identical language. But Baruch is speaking of the idolatrous Israelites, and Paul is speaking of the idolatrous pagans. In any case, both of them are referring to the following passage in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 32:
17 They sacrificed to demons, not God,to gods they had not known; to new ones who had recently come along, ones your ancestors had not known about.

1 Cor. 15:29 – if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.

Here is the passage in 2 Maccabees:

2 Maccabees 12:
3 And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
44 For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
45 And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.

There is absolutely no reference here to anyone being baptized on behalf of the dead, so there is no need even to look at the reference in 1 Corinthians 15:29. Instead we have people praying for others so that they will be delivered in the day of judgment at the resurrection.

Part three.

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