21 THE APOCRYPHA (Bashir Ahmad Orchard) The Apocrypha is the name given to a particular collection of Biblical books which were accepted as part of Holy Scripture by the early Church only to be later rejected by the Protestants but retained by Roman Catholics. They are to be found in the Greek version of the Old testament but not in the Hebrew text. They comprise: 1 Esdras. Tobit. Judith. The Rest of Esther. The Wisdom of Solomon. Ecclesiasticus. Baruch with Epistle of Jeremony. The Song of the Three Holy Children The History of Susanna. • . Bel and the Dragon. The Prayer of Manasses. 1&2 Maccabees. It is thought that these books were written between 300 B.C. – A.D. 100. The Church accepted all these books as Holy Scripture and an intregal part of the Bible down to the 4th century by which time differences of opinion began to arise whether these books, or some of them, were divinely inspired or not. During the Reformation in the sixteenth century Protestant leaders refused to accept them. Although they are included in some Protestant Bibles they are placed in a section of their own being regarded good and useful to read but not inspired scripture. They have been discarded altogether frommost Protestant Bibles. It was declared at the Westminister Conference (1646 – 47) that the Apocrypha were not to be approved or made use of other than human writings. On the other hand the Roman Catholic Church has always maintained, and still does, that they are a part of Holy Inspired Scripture – the Word of God. For more than fifteen hundred years the books of the Apocrypha formed part of the Bible claimed by Christians all alike to be the Word of God only to be suddenly expunged by Protestants and no longer accepted as inspired scripture. Since then further deletions have been made from the text of the Bible. Several dozen verses of the New Testament have been discarded in the Revised Version of the Bible. When our Christian friends refer to the Bible one may well ask which Bible? 22 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS There is no doubt that the Bible is a book about God but in no way is it the Word of God. Throughout the ages this claim has been, proclaimed by Christians. If it be true then on what authority have they to extract portions of it from time to time and who has the authority to change and mutilate the Word of God? The Holy Quran claims over and over again to be the revealed Word of God. No Muslim would ever think of interfering with its holy text. The H6ly Quran is the only revealed scripture the text of which has been preserved in its original and pristine purity in accordance with a prophecy in the Holy Book: “Verily it is We who have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We are its Guardian.” (15:10) This has been confirmed by Prof. Noldeke, the distinguished German Orientalist: “Efforts of European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolations in the Quran have failed.” (Enc. Brit.) It is a fact that the Bible has been written by human writers most of whom are unknown, and none of whom claimed that they were writing under divine inspiration from God. Furthermore, the text has been tampered with to such an extent that much of it discredits the work of a reliable historian let alone the Word of God . Our intention is not to ridicule or condemn the Bible as an unworthy book. It contains many truths and excellent teachings. It has been a source of comfort and beneficence to many”, as have been the scriptures of other religions to their followers. The point of emphasis is that the Bible has been subjected to grievous interpolations such as the removal of the books of Apocrypha and passages from the New Testament. One may justifiably wonder what further parts of the Bible will be axed in the future and how it can be believed that such a book merits to be called the Word of God.