In Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger provides the following argument against including the Apocrypha in the Bible.
- They resort to literary types and display an artificiality of subject matter and styling out of keeping with inspired Scripture.[i]
This is a curious statement, given that the bulk of the New Testament consists of letters, Gospels, an apocalypse (Revelation), and a theological treatise (Hebrews), literature not found in the Old Testament Scriptures. The only historical book is Acts; the only wisdom literature is the book of James. The Old Testament does not contain an apocalypse, a style of writing that was in fashion from the time of the Maccabees until the destruction of Jerusalem, but absent from the Old Testament.[ii] So basically, nearly all of the New Testament is made up of “literary types” and contains “subject matter and styling out of keeping with inspired Scripture” — at least depending on your point of view.
The fact is that the literary types found in the Apocrypha line up well with the Old Testament documents. There is not a single literary type found in the Apocrypha which does not have a counterpart in the literary types of the Hebrew Scriptures, something that cannot be said of the Christian New Testament.
|Literary Types||Hebrew Scriptures||Apocrypha|
|Historical accounts||Judges, Ruth, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther||Tobit, Judith, I, II, & II Maccabees,|
|Wisdom Literature||Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon||Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach (a.k.a. Sirach or Ecclesiasticus)|
|Prophets||Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi||Baruch, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Epistle of Jeremiah|
[i] (Unger 1966, 70)
[ii] Even though the New Testament contains an apocalypse, many in the ancient church rejected the Revelation of St. John precisely because of its mysterious symbolism and apocalyptic character — something the heretics were able to twist to their advantage.