How Much Did Early Christians Refer to the Apocrypha and Other Books?
(November 24, 2020 version)
Nobody considered that the prophecies of the Sibyl / Sybilline Oracles should be in the Old or New Testament. But these sayings, prior to Christ, were often compatible with a Judeo-Christian worldview, and were considered by some Christians as glimpses of truth God revealed to pagans prior to them knowing the scriptures.
Table of Contents
Justin Martyr on the Sole Government of God
"awards vengeance in righteousness to each one, Philemon again shall bear testimony to me:-
"If any one should dream, O Pamphilus,
By sacrifice of bulls or goats-nay, then,
By Jupiter-of any such like things;
Or by presenting gold or purple robes,
Or images of ivory and gems;
If thus he thinks he may propitiate God,
He errs, and shows himself a silly one.
But let him rather useful be, and good,
Committing neither theft nor lustful deeds,
Nor murder foul, for earthly riches' sake.
Let him of no man covet wife or child,
His splendid house, his wide-spread property,
His maiden, or his slave born ill his house,
His horses, or his cattle, or his beeves,
Nay, covet not a pin, O Pamphilus,
For God, close by you, sees whate'er you do.
He ever with the wicked man is wroth,
But in the righteous takes a pleasure still,
Permitting him to reap fruit of his toil,
And to enjoy the bread his sweat has won.
But being righteous, see thou pay thy vows,
And unto God the giver offer gifts.
Place thy adorning not in outward shows,
But in an inward purity of heart;
Hearing the thunder then, thou shall not fear,
Nor shall thou flee, O master, at its voice,
For thou art conscious of no evil deed,
And God, close by you, sees whatever you do."
Again, Plato, in Timaeus
Justin Martyr positively mentions Hystaspes, or of the sibyl, or of the prophets First Apology of Justin ch.44 p.178
Justin Martyr positively mentions (as history) the Acts of Pontius Pilate. First Apology of Justin ch.48 p.179
Theophilus to Autolycus (168-181/188 A.D.) book 2 ch.10 p.97 mentions the Old Testament prophets among the Hebrews and the Sibyl among the Greek.
Clement of Alexandria mentions Tobit, Esdras (Ezra), Macabbees in Stromata book 1 ch.21 p.328
Melito of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) mentions truth in Sibyl about they strayed from the ways of the immortal. Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 p.752
Hippolytus bishop of Portus (222-235/6 A.D.) references the song of Azarias (one of the three holy children) in fragment 9 p.239.
Shepherd of Hermas (c.160 A.D.) book 1 ch.3 p.12 "as it is written in Eldad and Modat, who prophesied to the people in the wilderness."
Mentions the Song of the Three Holy Children in Daniel ch.1 p.43
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes Ecclesiasticus [Sirach] 26:9 as Scripture. "'For the light of the body is the eye,' says Scripture," The Instructor book 3 ch.11 p.288
Clement of Alexandria Stromata book 5
Then proceeding, Plato adds: "For every good man is like every other good man; and so being like to God, he is liked by every good man and by God." At this point I have just recollected the following. In the end of the Timaeus he says: "You must necessarily assimilate that which perceives to that which is perceived, according to its original nature; and it is by so assimilating it that you attain to the end of the highest life proposed by the gods to men, for the present or the future time." For those have equal power with these. He, who seeks, will not stop till he find; and having found, he will wonder; and wondering, he will reign; and reigning, he will rest. And what? Were not also those expressions of Thales derived from these? The fact that God is glorified for ever, and that He is expressly called by us the Searcher of hearts, he interprets. For Thales being asked, What is the divinity? said, What has neither beginning nor end. And on another asking, "If a man could elude the knowledge of the Divine Being while doing aught? "said, "How could he who cannot do so while thinking? "
Further, the Barbarian philosophy recognizes good as alone excellent, and virtue as sufficient for happiness, when it says, "Behold, I have set before your eyes good and evil, life and death that ye may choose life."
Tertullian (c.202 A.D.) "I am aware that the Scripture of Enoch, which has assigned this order (of action) to angels, is not received by some, because it is not admitted into the Jewish canon either. I suppose they did not think that, having been published before the deluge, it could have safely survived that world-wide calamity, the abolisher of all things. If that is the reason (for rejecting it), let them recall to their memory that Noah, the survivor of the deluge, was the great-grandson of Enoch himself; and he, of course, had heard and remembered, from domestic renown and hereditary tradition, concerning his own great-grandfather's "grace in the sight of God," and concerning all his preachings; since Enoch had given no other charge to Methuselah than that he should hand on the knowledge of them to his posterity." On the Apparel of Women book 1 ch.3 p.16
Origen (235-245 A.D.) mentions the book of Judith as Scripture. Homilies on Jeremiah Homily 20 ch.7.3 p.236
Origen (233/234 A.D.) mentions Bel and the Dragon. Origen’s Exhortation to Martyrdom ch.33 p.173
Origen (225-254 A.D) quotes Wisdom 7:16. de Principiis book 1 ch.1.14 p.315
Origen (233/234 A.D.) mentions toe Wisdom of Solomon. Origen on Prayer ch.31.1 p.130
Origen (225-254 A.D.) mentions the Book of Wisdom and quotes Ecclesiasticus 27:11 Origen's Commentary on Matthew book 13 ch.4 p.477
Origen (235-245 A.D.) quotes Sirach 8:6 as "Scripture says". Homilies on Jeremiah Homily 16 ch.6.2 p.175.
Origen (239-242 A.D.) quotes Sirach 10:9 as Scripture. Homilies on Ezekiel Homily 9 ch.2.3 p.120.
Origen (233/234 A.D.) calls Tobit 12:8 scripture. Origen On Prayer ch.11.1 p.43
The divine Plato, many of whose thoughts are worthy of God, and not such as the vulgar hold, in that discussion and treatise entitled the Timaeus, says that the gods and the world are corruptible by nature, and in no wise beyond the reach of death, but that their being is ever maintained"
Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) quotes Ecclesiasticus 32:19 as scripture. Letter to Pamphylia p.236
The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 5 p.523-524 says that all Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and Alexandrinus had an inscription just prior to Psalm 151 saying this was an addition to the 150 canonical psalms. It read, "this psalm is ascribed to David and is outside the number'". After the Psalm Sinaiticus closes with "the 151 Psalms of David", and Alexandrinus closes with "the 150 psalms of David and one ascribed." Psalm 151 was also found in a Dead Sea scroll in cave 11.
Psalm 151 was also found in a Dead Sea scroll in cave 11.
Psalm 154 and 155 exist in Hebrew in the Dead Sea scroll 11QPs
3 Maccabees (Greek and Slavonic Orthodox only)
4 Maccabees (Greek Orthodox only in appendix)
Psalm 151 (Greek Orthodox, and Slavonic Orthodox, and Nestorians)
The Greek Orthodox apocrypha is the same as the Catholic plus Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, 3, 4 Maccabees
The Slavonic Orthodox apocrypha is the same as the Catholic plus Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, and 3 Maccabees. (See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.161)
Athanasius (318 A.D.) quotes from Wisdom of Solomon 6:18 in The Incarnation of the Word ch.4 p.38.
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) alludes to Tobit 11:8-16, mentioning Tobit by name. Dialogue on the True Faith First Part ch.20 p.62
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) alludes to 1 Maccabees. "However, the Maccabees entered fully into martyrdom, with much bloodshed." Dialogue on the True Faith First Part ch.21 p.64
Athanasius (367 A.D.) "There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament." Easter Letter 367 A.D. ch.4 p.552
Athanasius (356-360 A.D.) "And in Daniel, 'Susanna cried out with a loud voice and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be.' Thus it appears that the phrases 'once was not,' and 'before it came to be,' and 'when,' and the like, belong to things originate and creatures, which come out of nothing, but are alien to the Word. But if such terms are used in Scripture of things originate, but 'ever' of the Word, it follows, O ye enemies of God, that the Son did not come out of nothing, nor is in the number of originated things at all, but is the Father's Image and Word eternal, never having not been, but being ever, as the eternal Radiance of a Light which is eternal." Four Discourses Against the Arians Discourse 1 ch.13 p.314
Athanasius (367 A.D.) "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 [Old and New Testament books] are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose' so using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple." Easter Letter 39 ch.7 p.552 (367 A.D.)
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]" Four Discourses Against the Arians (A.D. 356-360) discourse 3 ch.30 p.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]" Four Discourses Against the Arians (356-360 A.D.) discourse 2 ch.79 p.391
Athanasius (357 A.D.) quoted from Tobit 4:18, right after Matthew 6:6 and Isaiah 32:6 in Defense before Constantius ch.17 p.244
Lactantius (c.303-320/325 A.D.) (partial) quotes Baruch 3:35-37 as by Jeremiah. The Divine Institutes book 4 ch.13 p.112
Susanna allusion Vol.14 Commentary on John Homily 42 p.152
Song of the Three Holy Children by name vol.14 Commentary on Hebrews Homily 26 p.485
Baruch 3:35-37 by Baruch Against Man&& and Manichaeans ch.3 p.205
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) refers to Sirach 34:22 as by Solomon. Defense Against the Pelagians p.117
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) has an allusion to Susanna mentioning Susanna. Defense Against the Pelagians ch.8 p.125
X Rufinus (373-406 A.D.) in his Commentary on the Apostle's Creed ch.37-38 p.557-558 lists all the Old Testament and New Testament in the canon. It includes no apocryphal books. Then he says some books are "ecclesiastical" but not "canonical" He lists the Shepherd of Hermas, the Teaching of the Twelve Disciples [Didache] or the Judgment of Peter, and Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, and Maccabees (not specifying how many books of Maccabees. He does not list the book of Baruch there, but in the same work ch.5 p.545 he quotes Baruch and says it is by the prophet. He probably included Baruch in Jeremiah.
Rufinus mentioned Susannah and the Three Holy Children in his Apology book 2 ch.33 p.475. He supports those books by appealing to tradition.
Jerome quotes Wisdom 1:4,5 as the "Wisdom which is read as the work of Solomon" in Jerome's Apology [Against Rufinus] book 1 ch.19 p.492
Didymus the blind (398 A.D.) refers to Judith in the Old Testament. Commentary on Zechariah 8 p.164
Didymus the blind (398 A.D.) alludes to Judith 8:29 (Holofernes) Commentary on Zechariah 12 p.288
Didymus the blind (398 A.D.) quotes Wisdom 1:14 as "Solomon in his book of Wisdom" Commentary on Zechariah 12 p.300
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) references Judith by name in History book 2 ch.12 p.102 and History book 2 ch.14 p.104
Reference by name to Bel and the Dragon in History book 2 ch.8 p.100
Reference to Susannah by name in History book 2 ch.1 p.97
Mentions the Maccabees (without specifying a particular book) in History book 2 ch.20 p.101-102
Allusion to the Three Holy Children in Sulpitius Severus Letter 2 p.20
The Muratorian Canon (190-217 A.D.) p.603-604 mentions the book of Wisdom written by friends of Solomon in his honor.
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) appeals to the authority of the Book of Jubilees 4:9-111. The Panarion section 3 ch.39,6,1 p.259
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) quotes Sirach 13:16 as Scripture. The Panarion section 2 End of the Letter to Flora p.204
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) alludes to the Wisdom of Solomon 14:12. The Panarion section 1 ch.8,2,1 p.23
Theodore of Mopsuestia (392-423.429 A.D.) (partial) alludes to the time of the Maccabees. Commentary on Malachi ch.3 p.417
Wisdom 9:15 as by Solomon First Conference of the Abbot Serenus ch.4 p.363
John Cassian (419-430 A.D.) alludes to Ecclesiasticus 23:29 as scripture Institutes of John Cassian book 10.20 p.273
Ecclesiasticus 1:24 (quote) First Conference of the Abbot Theonas ch.28 p.515
Baruch 3:11 quote by a prophet. First Conference of the Abbot Serenus ch.5 p.364
Susanna 5:45 as by Susanna in Catechetical Lectures Lecture 16.30 p.123
Bel and the Dragon 5:33 allusion Catechetical Lectures Lecture 14.25 p.101
Augustine refers Tobit 12.2 by name in City of God book 1 ch.13 p.10
Augustine mentions the foolishness of reinstating secular games on the authority of the Sibylline Books. City of God book 3 ch.18 p.55
John of Damascus (706-749 A.D.) "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, Mem, 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 fo 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 [1, 2, Samuel]: and so are the third and fourth books of Kings: and also the first and second of Paraleipomena [Chronicles]: and the first and second of Esdra [Ezra and Nehemiah]. 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 [Writings], or as the are called by some, the Hagiographa, which are the following: Jesus the Son of Nava [Joshua], Judges along with Ruth, first and second Kings, which are one book, third and fourth Kings, which are one book, and then the two books of 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 [Ezra, Nehemiah] 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." Exposition of the Orthodox Faith ch.17 p.89-90
Hill, Robert C. Didymus the Blind : Commentary on Zechariah. Catholic University of America Press. 2006
Vaggione, Richard Paul. Eunomius The Extant Works. Oxford University Press 1987.
Williams, Frank (translator). The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis book 1 (sections 1-46) E.J. Brill 1987 (352 pages)
by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.