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Nicholas wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it offensive to Catholics to refer to the books that are in the Catholic bible, but not in Protestant bibles, as the "Apocrypha", given the negative connotations of the word?

Nicholas

  { Is it offensive to Catholics to refer to these books as Apocrypha? }

Paul replied:

Hello Nicholas,

I wouldn't call it offensive, but simply false. Catholics believe in the authority of Christ through His Church which decided, guided by the Holy Spirit, the true Canon of the bible. 

The deuterocanonical books, which are the seven books of the bible that Protestants eliminated after the Reformation, are officially declared inspired books of God.

Since "apocrypha" refers to extra or non-biblical books, it would not be right to call them that.

Thanks,

Paul

John replied:

Hi, Nicholas —

It is not accurate more so than offensive. These books are part of the canon, albeit they were generally accepted later. They are therefore called deuterocanonical, meaning books of the second canon, but they are not apocryphal.

Apocryphal means that they are hidden or not in the canon. There are actually apocryphal books for both the New and Old Testament, such as:

  • the Book of Enoch
  • the Testament of the Patriarchs
  • and so forth.

The books our Protestant brothers wrench out of the Old Testament are no part of the Apocrypha. They are part of the Canon so it's not accurate to call them apocryphal.

  • Is it offensive?

I suppose if you really wanted to waste your time being offended over such a thing, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

John

Eric replied:

Nicholas —

It's a difficult situation, and Catholics recognize that. We cannot refer to them as 'apocrypha' without doing violence to our faith, and they cannot refer to them as "deuterocanonical" without betraying their own principles.

As my colleagues have indicated, I wouldn't get up in arms about it, but it might be gracious, when speaking to Catholics, to use a circumlocution such as:

"the books you call deuterocanonical" or "the disputed books".

Eric

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