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The New Testament and the Deuterocanonicals (4/4)

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

1 Peter 1:6-7 – Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.

Here are the passages in question:

Wisdom 3:
5 And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself.
6 As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering.

Sirach 2:
5 For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity.

1 Peter 1:
6 This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials.
7 Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold—gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away—and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

There is certainly a common theme here, that God tries men, and that those who come through the trial will be blessed. This theme is found commonly in the canonical Old Testament, using the imagery of gold and other precious metals tried in the fire:

Job 23:
10 But he knows the pathway that I take; if he tested me, I would come forth like gold.

Psalm 66:
10 For you, O God, tested us; you purified us like refined silver.

Proverbs 17:
3 The crucible is for refining silver and the furnace is for gold, likewise the Lord tests hearts.

Isaiah 48:
10 Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have purified you in the furnace of misery.

Zechariah 13:
9 Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire; I will refine them like silver is refined and will test them like gold is tested. They will call on my name and I will answer; I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

It is far more likely that Wisdom, Sirach, and 1 Peter 1 are all drawing on these passages.

1 Peter 1:17 – God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 – God judges man according to his deeds.

Here are the two passages:

Sirach 16:
12 As his mercy is great, so is his correction also: he judgeth a man according to his works.

1 Peter 1:
17 And if you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, live out the time of your temporary residence here in reverence.

There is definitely a common statement here, that God judges men according to their works. As with the previous passage however, we find that this is a phrase taken directly from the canonical Old Testament:

Psalm 62:
12 and you, O sovereign Master, demonstrate loyal love. For you repay men for what they do. [Hebew ‘for you pay back to a man according to his deed’]

Proverbs 24:
12 If you say, “But we did not know about this,” does not the one who evaluates hearts consider? Does not the one who guards your life know? Will he not repay each person according to his work?

Jeremiah 17:
10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds. I examine people’s hearts. And I deal with each person according to how he has behaved. I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.

Jeremiah 32:
19 You plan great things and you do mighty deeds. You see everything people do. And you reward each of them for the way they live and for the things they do.

Ezekiel 18:
30 “Therefore I will judge each person according to his conduct, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and turn from all your sins; then iniquity will not be a stumbling block for you.

There is nothing here to suggest that Peter is quoting a non-canonical work.

2 Peter 2:7 – God’s rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.

Here are the two passages:

Wisdom 10:
6 When the ungodly perished, she [wisdom personified] delivered the righteous man, who fled from the fire which fell down upon the five cities.
7 Of whose wickedness even to this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness: and a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an unbelieving soul.

2 Peter 2:
7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless men,

In Wisdom, the personification of wisdom is said to have delivered Lot. In 2 Peter 2, God is said to have delivered Lot. There is not a great deal in common here, only a mention of Lot’s deliverance, ascribed to two different sources.

Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 – power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.

Here is the passage from Wisdom, in context:

Wisdom 16:
12 For it was neither herb, nor mollifying plaister, that restored them to health: but thy word, O Lord, which healeth all things.
13 For thou hast power of life and death: thou leadest to the gates of hell, and bringest up again.

Here is the passage in Revelation:

Revelation 1:
18 and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive—forever and ever—and I hold the keys of death and of Hades!

It will be seen immediately that there is no obvious or even implicit connection between these two passages. The only similarity between them is the phrase ‘gates of hell’. The contexts of these two passages are completely different, the ‘keys’ are not referred to in Wisdom, John does not refer to the ‘power of death’, and the phrase ‘gates of hell’ was a commonly used Jewish term for the grave (as used in Talmud Babylon, Tractate Erubin, folio 19.1). In addition, Wisdom is ascribing the power of life and death, and the power to lead to the ‘gates of hell’ (the grave), to God, whereas in Revelation 1:18 Christ claims the keys of death and the grave for himself.

Rev. 2:12 – reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God’s Word in Wisdom 18:16.

Here is the passage in Wisdom:

Wisdom 18:
15 Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction,

There is no description here of God’s Word which is anything like a two-edged sword’. The word ‘sword’ does not even appear in the text. This is completely unlike Revelation 2:12.

Rev. 5:7 – God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.

Here is the passage in Sirach:

Sirach 1:
8 There is one wise and greatly to be feared, the Lord sitting upon his throne.

The only similarity this has with Revelation 5:7 is that it refers to God as sitting on His throne. There are numerous references in the Old Testament to God sitting on His throne, and four of them are far closer to this passage in Revelation than Sirach (2 Chronicles 18:18, Ezekiel 10:1, Isaiah 6:1, Daniel 7:9-14), explicitly sharing the same language as Revelation 5:7.

Rev. 8:7 – raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.

Rev. 9:3 – raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.

Here are the three passages from Wisdom and Sirach:

Wisdom 16:
9 For them the bitings of grasshoppers and flies killed, neither was there found any remedy for their life: for they were worthy to be punished by such.

22 But snow and ice endured the fire, and melted not, that they might know that fire burning in the hail, and sparkling in the rain, did destroy the fruits of the enemies.

Sirach 39:
29 Fire, and hail, and famine, and death, all these were created for vengeance;

In none of these passages is there any reference to ‘raining of locsts on the earth’. There is one reference to ‘fire burning in the hail, and sparkling in the rain’, and a general reference to ‘fire, and hail, and famine, and death’ as Divine judgments, but nothing like the descriptions in Revelation 8:7 or 9:3. The fire and hail passage in Revelation 8:7 is taken almost word for word from Exodus 9:25, and the reference to ‘locusts onto the earth’ in Revelation 9:3 is taken almost word for word from Exodus 10:14.

Rev. 11:19 – the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.

Here is the passage from 2 Maccabees 2, in context:

2 Maccabees 2:
5 And when Jeremy came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.
6 And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it.
7 Which when Jeremy perceived, he blamed them, saying, As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather his people again together, and receive them unto mercy.
8 Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed under Moses, and as when Solomon desired that the place might be honourably sanctified.

As we can see, there is no prophecy here that the ark of the covenant would appear in a cloud of glory, nor is there any allusion to Mary. There is a prophecy (attributed to Jeremiah the prophet), that the place where Jeremiah hid the tabernacle, the ark of the covenant, and the altar of incense would be discovered again, and that the glory of God would appear, together with the cloud. This prophecy has never come to pass.

This is nothing like the passage in Revelation 11, which says this:

Revelation 11:
19 Then the temple of God in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was visible within his temple. And there were flashes of lightning, roaring, crashes of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm.

There is no fulfillment of a prophecy from Maccabees here.

Rev. 17:14 – description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.

Here is the passage from the Maccabees:

2 Maccabees 13:
4 But the King of kings moved Antiochus’ mind against this wicked wretch, and Lysias informed the king that this man was the cause of all mischief, so that the king commanded to bring him unto Berea, and to put him to death, as the manner is in that place.

All this proves is that John was using a title of God which was in common use among the Jews of his time. It is not evidence that John considered the Maccabees to be inspired, and since John’s words in Revelation 9:16 are clearly not quoted from either of these passages, there is no case to make here.

Rev. 19:1 – the cry “Hallelujah” at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.

Here is the passage from Tobit:

Tobit 13
16 For Jerusalem shall be built up with sapphires and emeralds, and precious stone: thy walls and towers and battlements with pure gold.
17 And the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl and carbuncle and stones of Ophir.
18 And all her streets shall say, Alleluia; and they shall praise him, saying, Blessed be God, which hath extolled it for ever.

Here is the passage from Revelation:

Revelation 19:
1 After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

There is only one word in common here the word ‘Hallelujah’. It is announced at the destruction of the harlot, and has nothing to do with the coming of the New Jerusalem.

Rev. 19:11 – the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.

Here are the passages from the Maccabees, in context:

2 Maccabees 3:
24 Now as he was there present himself with his guard about the treasury, the Lord of spirits, and the Prince of all power, caused a great apparition, so that all that presumed to come in with him were astonished at the power of God, and fainted, and were sore afraid.
25 For there appeared unto them an horse with a terrible rider upon him, and adorned with a very fair covering, and he ran fiercely, and smote at Heliodorus with his forefeet, and it seemed that he that sat upon the horse had complete harness of gold.

2 Maccabees 11:
7 Then Maccabeus himself first of all took weapons, exhorting the other that they would jeopard themselves together with him to help their brethren: so they went forth together with a willing mind.
8 And as they were at Jerusalem, there appeared before them on horseback one in white clothing, shaking his armour of gold.
9 Then they praised the merciful God all together, and took heart, insomuch that they were ready not only to fight with men, but with most cruel beasts, and to pierce through walls of iron.

In both these passages we have a man on horseback, who is unidentified. He has ‘a very fair covering’ with ‘complete harness of gold’, in 2 Maccabees 3:25, and ‘white clothing’ with ‘armour of gold’ in 2 Maccabees 11:8. No mention is made of the colour of his horse. The only similarity with the man in Revelation 9:11 (who is described completely differently, with many crowns, a sword emerging from his mouth, a name written on his clothing and thigh, and clothing dipped in blood), is the fact that in all three passages the man is on horseback.

Rev. 19:16 – description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.

Here is the passage from the Maccabees:

2 Maccabees 13:
4 But the King of kings moved Antiochus’ mind against this wicked wretch, and Lysias informed the king that this man was the cause of all mischief, so that the king commanded to bring him unto Berea, and to put him to death, as the manner is in that place.

All this proves is that John was using a title of God which was in common use among the Jews of his time. It is not evidence that John considered the Maccabees to be inspired, and since John’s words in Revelation 9:16 are clearly not quoted from either of these passages, there is no case to make here.

Rev. 21:19 – the description of the new Jerusalem with precious stones is prophesied in Tobit 13:17.

Here is the passage from Tobit, in context:

Tobit 13
16 For Jerusalem shall be built up with sapphires and emeralds, and precious stone: thy walls and towers and battlements with pure gold.
17 And the streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl and carbuncle and stones of Ophir.

Here is the passage in Revelation, in context:

Revelation 19:
19 The foundations of the city’s wall are decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation is jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,
20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

This seems remarkably similar, but it must be realised that the image of rebuilding Jerusalem with precious stones is taken from the canonical book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 54:
11 “O afflicted one, driven away, and unconsoled! Look, I am about to set your stones in antimony and I lay your foundation with lapis-lazuli.
12 I will make your pinnacles out of gems, your gates out of beryl, and your outer wall out of beautiful stones.

Not only that, but the list of stones in Revelation 19:19-20 is far more similar to the list of precious stones in Ezekiel 28:13 (sharing the ruby, topaz, beryl, sapphire, emerald, onyx, and jasper, seven out of nine stones), and almost identical with that of Exodus 28:17-20 (sharing the topaz, beryl, sapphire, emerald, jacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, eleven out of twelve stones). In contrast, the list of stones in Revelation 19:19-20 shares only two stones with Tobit 13:16-17 (emerald and beryl, two out of four). It is clear that the stone lists in Exodus and Ezekiel are being referred to, rather than the list in Tobit.

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