Just for Catholics is a website where Dr. Mizzi seeks to convince Catholics to leave the Catholic Church. I am reviewing his teachings and comparing them to the Word of God in Tradition, Scripture and Magisterium. We are currently on this article. Today I am going to depart from my usual procedure and blatantly plagiarize another Catholic's work. I'm not a scholar of Bible history and I see no sense in reinventing the wheel. Dr. Mizzi's words in blue.
Apocrypha are Not Canonical
Question: How do you know that the Protestant Bible is the right one, and not the Catholic Bible, which includes more books in the Old Testament?
Answer: The Protestant and Catholic Bible are identical except for a set of books called the apocrypha or deuterocanonicals.
The apocrypha consists of 15 pieces of Jewish literature written around 200 years B.C. They are included with the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures known as the Septuagint. Seven of these books (First and Second Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Baruch and Ecclesiasticus, also known as Sirach) and additions to Esther and Daniel, are considered canonical by the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants do not accept them as part of the Holy Scriptures.
R. K. Harrison explains: "Use of the term apocrypha to mean noncanonical goes back to the fifth century AD, when Jerome urged that the books found in the Septuagint and in the Latin Bibles that did not occur in the canon of the Hebrew Old Testament writings should be treated as apocryphal. They were not to be disregarded entirely, since they were part of the great contemporary outpouring of Jewish national literature. At the same time they should not be used as sources for Christian doctrine, but at best for supplementary reading of an uplifting and inspirational nature" 
Nicholas: This is not quite accurate. The term "apocrypha" was used in two ways, primarily the term "apocrypha" was used in reference to books which were never accepted by any Christians. The term did sometimes mean the Deutero-Cathonical books which Catholics accept, but because the term is used in different ways, it depends on the context.
These books do not make any claim to inspiration. On the contrary, the prologue of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) asks pardon from the readers for all inexactitudes: "I entreat you... pardon us for those things wherein we may seem, while we follow the image of wisdom, to come short in the composition of words." The author of Maccabees concludes by saying, "I also will here make an end of my narration. Which if I have done well, and as it becometh the history, it is what I desired: but if not so perfectly, it must be pardoned me" (2 Maccabees 15:28, 39). That is not the language of divine inspiration!
Nicholas: The charge that they "do not make any claim to inspiration" is a dangerous one. Many non-Biblical books make reference to inspiration, while many books of the Bible don't make any reference to inspiration. As for those two quotes Dr. Mizzi gives, the first quote is ripped out of context:
I entreat you therefore to come with benevolence, and to read with attention, and to pardon us for those things wherein we may seem, while we follow the image of wisdom, to come short in the composition of words; for the Hebrew words have not the same force in them when translated into another tongue. And not only these, but the law also itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language.
The issue here is not about inspiration, but the fact that there is not a perfect carry over from Hebrew to another language. Regarding the 2 Maccabees conclusion, the author is talking not about the truth but about style of writing. It is a display of humility saying he wrote to the best of his gifts, but is not denying there could be a better way of explaining the same account. God includes the author's personality and style when He inspires them to write. Paul makes it clear he is not the best speaker in the world (2 Cor 11:6), but does not disqualify him from getting the truth across. The same could be said about Moses, who was also not good at public speaking. In 1 Cor 1:16, Paul says he "doesn't remember" if he baptized anyone else, certainly this does not mean 1 Corinthians is not inspired!
First Maccabees notes that there were no prophets in Israel at that time (1 Maccabees 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). Since the New Testament frequently refers to the Scriptures as "the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 24:14; 28:23; Romans 3:21), how could a writing that specifically states that there were no prophets at the time when it was written be called Scripture?
Nicholas: This is a misunderstanding. The term "Law and Prophets" is a summary of all the Old Testament, the fact is the historical books like Chronicles did not technically fall into the category of "Prophets" (and certainly not Law). Also, books like Esther and Song of Songs, Job, etc don't fall into the category of "Prophets." Further, nothing demands a prophet must be currently living to be inspired.
What is more serious, the apocrypha teach doctrines that contradicts Scripture (see, for instance, Sirach 3:3,30, in contrast with Galatians 2:16,21; 3:10-14; Tobit 12:9 contradicts 1 John 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22; Wisdom 8:19,20 contradicts Romans 3:10). They encourage practices that do not conform to Scripture (Sirach 12:4-7 disagrees with Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48).
Nicholas: Dr. Mizzi must have misquoted here, Sirach 3:3, 30 is nothing to do with Galatians 2,3. Tobit 12:9 talks about how alms forgive sins, and Dr. Mizzi considers this heretical, yet Prov 16:6; Lk 11:41; 1 Pt 4:8; James 5:20; etc suggest the same thing. Wisdom 8 is poetic and not necessarily literal, kind of like Song of Songs or Ecclesiasties, it does not contradict Rom 3:10 (though I would wonder if Dr. Mizzi thinks Lk 1:5-6 contradicts it). As for Sirach 12 contradicting Mat 5:43, Jesus affirms the OT was not the ideal in that very verse, so Dr. Mizzi should not be making that argument.
Thus far, it should be clear that Dr. Mizzi has less of a case against the Deutero-Canonical Books than he made it appear, in fact he is being more unfair to the D-C Books than he would be of the rest of the OT (and there are various 'difficulties' in the OT).
Recently, someone asked me, "I was on a Catholic website that claimed the book of Judith is a parable. So when it says Nebuchadnezzar is the leader of the Assyrians it's not to be taken literally. What do you think about this?" Well, I think the reason why we are advised that the Book of Judith should not be taken literally is quite simple. The introductory verse of the books states:
"It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. At that time Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana."
But King Nebuchadnezzar was NOT the king of Assyria; he was the king of Babylon! (See, for example, 2 Kings 24:11 - "And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it") So, if we take Judith as a historical book, the evident historical blunder immediately undermines its supposed canonicity and inspiration.
The Catholic solution? Judith is not history - it is a parable! Even so, why should someone include evident historical stupidities in a parable? Imagine beginning a story like this: "When Sir Winston Churchill was President of the United States…" That does not give much credibility to your story, does it?
Nicholas: If it is a parable then it is a parable, end of story. Nebuchadnezzar could be equated to someone like Hitler, when you hear the name you immediately think "very wicked man," so if it is a parable then that could be why such a name was used. Or, it could be that there was more than one Nebuchadnezzar, just like there was more than one Herod in the New Testament, thought that is not explicitly indicated (Mat 2:19 &14:1 cannot be the same Herod).
In the New Testament there are about 260 direct quotations from, and about 370 allusions to the books of the Old Testament. When Jesus and His apostles quote or allude to the Old Testament books, it is clear that they considered them authoritative and canonical. For example in John 10:34,35 the Lord Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, and immediately comments that the scriptures cannot be broken. For the apostle Paul, "It is written" (in the Old Testament books) was the sure ground for his doctrinal teaching. Thus the New Testament testifies to divine authority of the Old Testament. Significantly there are no such quotations to the apocrypha that imply divine inspiration of these books. (See Are the Apocrypha Quoted in the New Testament?)
Nicholas: Dr. Mizzi makes a blunder here basing canonicity upon quotation or allusion to the OT Books, because the fact is not all OT books which Dr. Mizzi accepts are quoted or alluded to in the NT. Further, it cannot be denied that there are some of the most clear allusions to the NT in the Deutero Canonical books, Wisdom 2:12-20 is probably the most explicit prophecy of Jesus in the whole OT.
It must be stressed that these books were not considered canonical by the Jews. These books are written in Greek and are not part of the Massoretic Text, which are copies of the inspired Hebrew text of the Scriptures. The Jewish historian, Josephus, states as a matter of fact that the Jews considered only 22 books of divine origin (equivalent to 39 books in the Protestant Old Testament, since some of them - such as the minor prophets - were counted as one book). To this day, the Jews hold to the same canon held by Evangelicals. The rejection by the Jews of the apocrypha is very significant, because they were the people entrusted with the words of God.
"What advantage then hath the Jew?...Much every way: chiefly, because unto them were committed the oracles (words) of God" (Romans 3:1,2).
The church inherited the canonical books from God's Old Covenant people, the Jews. (God also gave the church additional books, the New Testament, which completes the Holy Bible). It does not make sense to make additions to the books of the Old Testament many centuries after the covenant with the Jewish people had given way to the new. The Church in the New Testament has no business adding to the canon of the Old Covenant Scriptures received by the Jews.
Nicholas: There are serious problems with the above comments. First of all, there was more than one canon for the Jews. The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and it contains the Deutero-Canonical Books. The Septuagint was the most popular translation for Jews, and the New Testament writers quoted the Septuagint for their Old Testament references the great majority of the time. The Deutero-Canonical books were also written by Jews, so Dr. Mizzi's case is very misleading. Further, there was no official fixed canon for the Jews and only after the Apostolic Age, but at that point it doesn't matter because regardless of their canon at that point the Jews also rejected the New Testament writings meaning we don't look to that point in Jewish history for our canonicity. As for Dr. Mizzi's claim of adding new material to the OT many centuries after the New Covenant, that is very historically inaccurate because the Deutero-Canonical books were written centuries before Jesus.
Indeed, many Christian leaders throughout church history taught that the Hebrew Bible consisted of 22 books. These correspond to the 39 books of the Old Testament of the Protestant Bible. (The numbers differ because some books, such as Samuel and Kings, are divided into two books, First and Second Samuel, etc, in the Protestant Bible). 
Nicholas: This is not quite accurate either, the 22 books of the Jewish numbering system did not necessarily correspond to the 39 books of the Protestant Bible. Further, the way the books were numbered as 22 books required many books to be counted as one, thus the Deutero-Canon is not automatically excluded (and in fact sometimes were included, as is shown at the end of this response).
How then did the apocryphal writings find their way in the Catholic Bible? Early in the second century, the first Latin translations of the Bible were done from the Septuagint (which included the apocrypha). There was a conflict between the great Fathers, Augustine and Jerome, regarding the value of the apocrypha. Augustine accepted them because he used the Septuagint which contained these books and which was popular in North Africa. Jerome was one of the few Fathers who knew both Greek and Hebrew, and he rejected the apocrypha because he knew that those books were not accepted by the Jews and were not part of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Nicholas: Look at the argument given above. Dr. Mizzi openly proves that the Catholic Church didn't just add these books out of nowhere. The Septuagint was the most popular translation among Jews at the time of Christ and the favorite translation of the early Christians, and Dr. Mizzi admits the Deutero-Canonical books were included! Also, Dr. Mizzi shows that St Augustine openly accepted the Deutero-Canonical books, and St Augustine is usually a Protestant hero. I guess St Augustine was not guided by the Holy Spirit or something to be able to discern inspiration and canonicity. As for Jerome's objection, he counted the Deutero-Canonical books of a secondary status (but by no means worthless and to be thrown out), but later dropped that objection (especially because the post-Apostolic Jews don't have any say on our canon).
Greatly influenced by Augustine, the provincial councils of Hippo and Carthage in the fourth century included the apocrypha as part of the Old Testament canon. However, we must add that contrary to the impression given by Catholic apologists, the apocrypha were not officially recognized by the Catholic church as canonical at Hippo and Carthage. The apocrypha were finally added to the Old Testament by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Moreover the canon approved by Carthage is different from that approved by Trent. The Council of Trent omits the Septuagint First Esdras which had been included by Carthage; while Second Esdras (Ezra and Nehemiah combined in a single book in the Septuagint) were distinguished as two separate books (First Esdras and Second Esdras, also known as Nehemiah).
Nicholas: Dr. Mizzi admits that there were Christians out there who accepted the Deutero-Canonical books in the early Church, which hurts his claims about genuine Christians having the Holy Spirit touch their heart to tell them what is canonical or not. Second, those local councils were ratified by two Catholic popes, who agreed with the listing and kept this listing all the way up to the Council of Florence (before Luther) and up through Trent. Trent did not "add" the Deutero-Canonical books, rather it infallibly listed the whole canon because, as shown elsewhere, the Protestant Reformation gave way to lay men deciding canonicity for themself. (Luther himself doubted the canonicity of books like Hebrews, 2&3 John, 2 Peter and most of all the Epistle of James). The Catholic Church exercises the power of infallibility whenever it determines an issue needs to be clarified, so up till Trent the tradition was to keep the canon passed on for centuries (which included the Deutero-Canonical books), then when this tradition was challenged by the Protestants threatening to rip apart the canon the Church stepped in at the Council of Trent.
As for the charge that Trent lists different books than Carthage and Hippo, that is unproven. There were often multiple names given to certain books, and sometimes books were combined. Thus if First Esdras and Second Esdras were listed, they could mean a variety of combination ranging from Ezra and Nehemiah as the two Esdras books to Ezra and Nehemiah being combined into one Esdras book while the other Esdras book was a separate book. The Councils of Carthage and Hippo used the name 'two books of Esdras' to refer to what Catholics and Protestants modernly call Ezra and Nehemiah, and this is what was ratified at Trent.
Up to the time of the Reformation, they were not generally regarded as canonical books on the same level as the Old Testament Scripture. "St Jerome distinguished between canonical books and ecclesiastical books. The latter he judged were circulated by the Church as good spiritual reading but were not recognized as authoritative Scripture" (The New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Canon).
Nicholas: Dr. Mizzi gives no evidence "up to the time of the Reformation" the Deutero-Canonical books were not regarded as canonical, and in fact that is false (eg the Council of Florence and the Latin Vulgate listed them).
Pope Gregory the Great says this about the apocrypha: "…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" (Moral Teachings Drawn from Job; 19, 34).
Nicholas: I was unable to find this source online, but as it stands it is only half a sentence and not enough to form a fair conclusion. On top of that, the sheer amount of misquotes and such thus far in Dr. Mizzi's work should not lead to much worry for the Catholic.
After listing the canonical books of the Scriptures, St Athanasius wrote: "There are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however, are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias..." (Thirty-ninth festal letter, 367).
Nicholas: The Deutero-Canonical books are called such because they were not accepted on the same level as the rest of Scripture by all the early Church, though a reasonable number did accept them. Further, it is noteworthy that these books were still considered worthy of Christian reading, contrary to Dr. Mizzi's earlier claims that these books teach heresy. On top of that, in this same Letter St Athanasius includes in his OT canon list Deutero-Canonical books like Baruch.
Cardinal Cajetan, a leading Roman Catholic scholar at the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, clearly states that the apocryphal books are not canonical and cannot be used to confirm matters of faith. (See St Jerome and the Apocrypha). "Even on the eve of the council [of Trent] the Catholic view was not absolutely unified...Catholic editions of the Bible published in Germany and in France in 1527 and 1530 contained only the protocanonical books"  i.e. the list of Old Testament books of these Catholic Bibles was identical to the Hebrew and Protestant Bibles.
Nicholas: Cardinal Cajetan could have held doubts, but his views don't determine Church doctrine. The major Latin translations (the official Church languge) of the Church did contain the Deutero-Canonical books, and that is what Trent mentioned during the sessions regarding the canon.
Following the Lord Jesus, His apostles and the writers of the New Testament, we often refer and quote from the books of the Old Testament to establish our faith, and like them we never use the apocrypha for that purpose.
Nicholas: This line of thinking is erroneous and even problematic for the New Testament does not quote every book of Dr. Mizzi's Protestant canon, so according to that logic he would have to conclude those books don't belong.
 Harrison R. K. Old Testament and New Testament Apocrypha, The Origin of the Bible, ed. Wesley Comfort Philip (Tyndale House Publishers 1992, 2003), p 84. [back]
 The information is taken from http://biblejournal.net/psalm119.htm
Melito (170 A.D.), in agreement with the original Jewish reckoning, gave the number of Old Testament books as 22. (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., 4.26.14).
Nicholas: If you look up this reference, the Deutero-Canonical book of Wisdom is explicitly listed.
Origen (210 A.D.), "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." (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist.)
Nicholas: There is no precise reference to the source given, so it can only be assumed Dr. Mizzi has Book VI:25 in mind. In that section the 22 book numbering system is employed, but there are Deutero-Canonical books explicitly listed in that numbering (eg Baruch, Maccabees).
These two examples are sufficient proof that the 22 book numbering system does not at all mean that the Deutero-Canonical books were excluded, in fact they were sometimes included as the two examples show, so Dr. Mizzi's original point fails.
Given this, there is no need to go through the rest of these references to "twenty-two" books.
Hilary of Poitiers (360 A.D.), "The Law of the Old Testament is considered as divided into twenty-two books, so as to correspond to the number of letters." (Tractate on Psalms, prologue 15)
Athanasius (365 A.D.), "There are then of the Old Testament twenty-two books in number ... this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews." (Letter 39.4)
The Council of Laodicea (343-391 A.D.), Twenty-two books. (Canon 60)
Cyril of Jerusalem (386 A.D.), "Read the divine scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament." (Catechetical Lectures 2, 4.33)
Gregory of Nazianzus (390 A.D.), "I have exhibited twenty-two books, corresponding with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrews." (Carmina, 1.12)
Epiphanius (400 A.D.), Twenty-two books. (De Nensurius et Ponderibus, 4)
Rufinus (410 A.D.): Twenty-two books. (Commentary in Symbols of the Apostles, 37)
Jerome (410 A.D.), "That the Hebrews have twenty-two letters is testified ... as there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew all we say ... so we reckon twenty-two books by which ... a righteous man is instructed." (Preface to the Books of Samuel and Kings)
Synopsis of Sacred Scripture (c. 500 A.D.), "The canonical books of the Old Testament are twenty-two, equal in number to the Hebrew letters; for they have so many original letters."
Isidore of Seville (600 A.D.) said the Old Testament was settled by Ezra the priest into twenty-two books "that the books in the Law might correspond in number with the letters." (Liber de Officiis)
Leontius (610 A.D.), "Of the Old Testament there are twenty-two books." (De Sectis)
John of Damascus (730 A.D.): "Observe further that there are two and twenty books of the Old Testament, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet." (An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4.17)
Nicephorus (9th century A.D.), "There are two and twenty books of the Old Testament." (Stoichiometry)
Jesudad, Bishop of Hadad, Syria (852 A.D.) recognized a canon of twenty-two books. (John E. Steinmueller, A Companion to Scripture Studies, vol.1, p.80)
Hrabanus (9th century A.D.) said the Old Testament was formed by Ezra into twenty-two books "that there might be as many books in the Law as there are letters." (Whitaker, Disputation)
Peter of Cluny (1150 A.D.): Twenty-two books. (Edward Reuss, Canon of the Holy Scriptures, p.257)
John of Salisbury (1180 A.D.): Twenty-two books. (Edward Reuss, Canon of the Holy Scriptures, p.257)
Hugh of St. Victor (12th Century): "As there are twenty-two alphabetic letters, by means of which we write in Hebrew, and speak what we have to say, so twenty-two books are reckoned, by means of which ... the yet tender infancy of our man is instructed, while it yet hath need of milk." (Didascalicae Eruditionis, 4.80)
Richard of St. Victor (13th Century), Twenty-two books. (Tractatus Exceptionum, 2.9)
 Brown R. E. and Collins R. F. Canonicity, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 2000), p 1042. [back]
I don't know you Nicholas, but thanks for your excellent response!