The King James Bible Contained the Apocrypha? DO TELL!

Much to the chagrin of King James Only advocates, it isn’t just Catholic and Orthodox Bibles that include the Apocrypha. The early editions of the King James Bible, including the revered 1611 KJV, also contained the Apocrypha. It is a part of our history, and despite claims to the contrary, it was often quoted by the Church Fathers. It was retained in the minds of the New Testament authors with allusions to its wording in several places, as noted in the figure adjacent.

Author Gary Michuta indicates that there were 11 cross-references in the New Testament and 102 Old Testament references to the Apocrypha. [1] The table adjacent supplies ten New Testament cross-references included in the “inspired” King James Bible by the 47 scholars. And note these references are only the ones listed in the KJV.

Hence, this begs the question, “Why was the Apocrypha no longer published alongside the first order of biblical books, what we call the canon?”  It turns out there are several explanations. A concise summary is presented by Gary Michuta below. He points out that one factor was hatred for Catholics, another was the reduced cost of printing by excluding the Apocrypha – neither being particularly ethical reasons:

Those who viewed the “Apocrypha” as somehow being the last vestige of “popery” pressed for the Apocrypha appendix and its cross-references to be removed altogether from the Bible. In 1615, the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbott went so far as to employ the power of law to censure any publisher who did not produce the Bible in its entirety (i.e., including the “Apocrypha”) as prescribed by the Thirty-nine Articles. However, anti-Catholic hatred and the obvious financial advantages of printing smaller Protestant Bibles began to win out against the traditionalists who wanted the Bible in the form that was given in all previous Protestant translations up until that point (in the form of Luther’s Bible – with the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments). The “Apocrypha” remained in the King James Bible through the 1626, 1629, 1630, and the 1633 editions. By 1632, public opinion began to decidedly turn against the “bigger” Protestant Bibles. Of the 227 printings of the Bible between 1632 and 1826, about 40% of Protestant Bibles contained the “Apocrypha.” The Apocrypha Controversy of the early 1800s enabled English Bible Societies to flood the bible-buying market with Apocrypha-less Protestant Bibles and in 1885 the “Apocrypha” was officially removed with the advent of the Revised Standard Version, which replaced the King James Version.

It seems that Protestants had three reasons to abandon the Apocrypha: Cost, convenience, and Catholics. The bitter disputes in England and elsewhere between Protestants and Catholics ignited this hatred for anything that smacked of Catholicism. This was undoubtedly true in England with the wars between the “Popists” and the Anglicans. The English Bible Society finally elected to eliminate the Apocrypha in 1885, and the Revised Standard Version, so hated by the KJV-only sect, was the final nail in its coffin. From my vantage point, this was a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. In so doing, Protestants had just eradicated a portion of what had always been a sizeable portion of their Bible. It was a rejection of a validated portion of its tradition and treasure.

Perhaps the fault lay with Martin Luther. In his revolutionary German Bible, he pulled out the Apocrypha and made it an appendix, placing it between the Testaments. Once partitioned off, it was easier to eliminate. But to his credit, he did not throw out the books of the Apocrypha – he just made sure everyone understood it did not have equal inspiration as the other books deemed canonical and of the first order by the earlier Church Fathers (as we saw in the writings of Jerome in the previous article posted here).

An Anglican scholar, William H. Daubney, made this comment in regard to the exclusion of the Apocrypha from our Bibles, noting the King James scholars cross-referenced the Apocrypha in a multitude of places, and those citations were lost:

The King James Bible of 1613

These objectionable omissions [of the cross-reference] were made after the custom arose of publishing Bibles without the Apocrypha. These apparently profess to be what they are not, entire copies of the Authorized Version. Plainly, the reference to the Apocrypha told a disturbing tale of the use which the Church intended should be made of it; so, either from dissenting influences without or from prejudice within the Church, these references disappeared from the margin. [2]

Perhaps another Protestant author, E.G. Goodspeed, said it best when he asserted, “Whatever may be our personal opinions of the Apocrypha, it is a historical fact that they (its books) formed an integral part of the King James Version, and any Bible claiming to represent that version should either include the Apocrypha, or state that it is omitting them.  Otherwise, a false impression is created.” [3]

Many advocates of the King James Bible contend that it is an averred truth of God because it omits the Apocrypha. Indeed, criticisms are flung at the Septuagint because it dares to include these books within the pages of its testimony.  This is another place where King-James-Bible-only proponents get it wrong because they are ignorant of history. [4] Flaws in the Apocrypha, including mention of practices that are not scriptural, do not merit the banishment of the books with these elements. They deserve the traditional label that these books are NOT inspired in the usual sense – and, therefore, must be read with discernment to apply what is valuable and discard what is not.

But Where Are Those Other Books We Like So Much?

Today, there are many other books looked to by conservative Christians for spiritual truth outside both the canon and the deuterocanonical books. These other books have recently become popular among many Evangelical groups, particularly those interested in the so-called fringe topics such as the Nephilim (the offspring of human women and angels – Genesis 6:4) and the supernatural. (By fringe, I am not attempting to call them into question – just describing those Christians like myself who find these other books worth noting even though they are often deemed “out there” or “over the top”).  These books are grouped together in what is called pseudepigrapha. The name conveys that the writings declare themselves to have been written by a famous author, generally a biblical character. However, the evidence that the author named had anything to do with writing the book is slim to none. [5] This is not forgery in the sense we know it today – for using another’s name was an acceptable mode of writing in ancient times, according to most scholars.

The most frequently discussed pseudepigrapha is The Book of Enoch, The Book of Jubilee, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Book of Adam and Eve. Another book I would put into this category is the Book of Jasher.  (While popular, there are many reasons to challenge it, which I discuss in detail in Rebooting the Bible, Part 2). Each has its own story and requires explanation. That won’t be offered here, except to point out that both Jubilees (aka “Little Genesis”) and the Letter of Aristeas were written in the second century B.C.  Aristeas promotes the sanctity of the Old Greek Septuagint, asserting that 72 scholars from Jerusalem did the translation in Alexandria (hence the name Septuagint). Lastly, the Book of Adam and Eve seeks to explain Genesis’ first few chapters that were allegedly “left out” of the canonical version. It’s great storytelling but dramatically different in tone and style than the Book of Genesis.

And there are several apocalyptic books, most notably 1 Enoch, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Assumption of Moses, The Secrets of Enoch (2 Enoch), and the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch).  Of these, only 1 Enoch has gained a popular following. Many wonder why it was not included in the New Testament since it appears to be cited by Jude and Peter. Additionally, many books have been written about Enoch’s visions, with emphasis on the single verse in Genesis that mentions “the sons of God coming into the daughters of men” (Genesis 6:4). This passage has given rise to the interpretation that giants plagued the people of God up to the time of David when he kills Goliath. It appears the Philistine champion may have been one of the last living titans from this lineage. Theologian and friend the late Michael Heiser has written extensively on this topic. His books are at the top of my recommended list, especially The Unseen World and Reversing Hermon. Heiser points out that these are a score of references to Enoch in the New Testament, generally overlooked.

Lastly, there is another set of pseudepigraphal books that deserve a hearing, sometimes known as “Adamic Literature.” This final group merits consideration as it may have been influential in creating the mysterious prophecy we alluded to earlier. This little-known tradition appears to have been the cause for the rabbis to alter the chronology of the Old Testament. Specifically, this is the “prophecy of the five and one-half days” (5 ½ days). According to my research and confirmed by several other researchers and authors, [6] there was a belief among Jewish leaders leading up to the time of Christ, echoed in the writings of the Church Fathers, that the Messiah would come 5,500 years after Adam (which I discuss elsewhere in more detail within Biography of the Christian Bible).

Ancient Book of Enoch – Jr Church and Gary Stearman DVD Series

As the reader may know, given that I have spoken about it in several places, the Septuagint’s chronology covers roughly 5,500 years from Adam to Christ. The rabbis altered the Genesis chrono-genealogy by 1,386 years (in chapters 5 and 11) through complex editing of the ages at which the Genesis Patriarchs “brought forth” their respective child of promise (being the ancestors of Jesus of Nazareth). Additionally, Daniel’s 70 Weeks play a part. (This period started with an edict to rebuild the Second Temple up to the time of Messiah the Prince.)  Also, the rabbis deleted several kings from the Persian line of succession, reducing the duration from the conquering of Babylon (539 B.C.) to the time of Simon bar Kochba (which transpired in the early second century A.D.) by approximately 165 years (some say 195 years). This was done in concert with the wishes of Rabbi Akiba to exalt bar Kochba as the expected Messiah instead of Jesus the Nazarene. (Akiba and bar Kochba would both be executed by the Romans after the uprising in A.D. 135).

Although repetitive, for those reading only this article, allow me to state that this corruption of biblical history was a significant aspect of the Seder Olam Rabbah created in mid-second-century A.D. (aka the Jewish Calendar) [7]. Combined with the alterations made to Genesis, today’s Jewish calendar supposes the current year to be 5783 A.M, commensurate with our Gregorian date of 2023. However, if I may be so bold, the correct time for the Jewish calendar would be approximately 7638 A.M. (5616 actual years from Genesis’ date of creation to Jesus in my calculation, plus 2023 years, minus 1 for the period from 1 B.C. to 1 A.D.)  The Jewish calendar is dated anno mundi (A.M), or from the creation of the world, whereas the calendar followed in today’s world employs the abbreviation C.E. (It comprises yet another means to cut out the Lord Jesus Christ from history. C.E. stands for the “common era.” I refuse to use it, sticking instead to the conventional B.C., before Christ, and A.D., anno domini, “in the year of our Lord.” I subscribe to the idea that history is His Story.) [8]


[1] Gary Michuta, “’ The Inconvenient Tale’ of the Original King James Bible.” Retrieved June 21, 2019, from This is an important article with additional detail.  I recommend reading it.

[2] William H. Daubney, The Use of the Apocrypha in the Christian Church. London: C.J. Clay and Sons, 1900, p. 17.

[3] E.G., Goodspeed, Story of the Apocrypha. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939, p. 7.

[4] A well-written article, which this author disagrees with, was written by Ryan Turner, presenting ten reasons why the Apocrypha should be rejected.  I encourage the reader to consider his viewpoint and then return to reread my material. Ryan Turner, “Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible.” (10/13/2009). Retrieved June 22, 2019, from Despite strongly disagreeing with Turner on the Apocrypha, my assessment of the CARM organization is that it is intelligent and constructively conservative. It is not “King James Only,” neither is it “Young Earth Creationism” or belief in the “flat-earth.” See If the reader wishes NOT to see the Apocrypha in the Protestant Bible, I won’t “go to the mat” over it.

[5] This standard means of writing literature “in the spirit of ‘so and so’” was common in ancient times. It is important to note that the Gospels do NOT follow this pattern.  They are all anonymous, almost as if the names were intentionally left off so that there would be no confusion with the convention in ancient times of putting a name of someone on the manuscript that had nothing to do with it, attempting to imbue it with authority.  Absent a name, and quite nonintuitively, it may have enhanced the truthfulness ascribed to the Gospels. The Epistles, absent in the Book of Hebrews, all have author names associated with them.

[6] See W. Kent Smith, Tales of Forever: The Unfolding Drama of God’s Hidden Hand in History, Lodestar Cinema Publications, 2016. Kent has done extensive research on the subject.  He and I have appeared on Internet radio twice during the summer of 2019 to discuss the 5,500-year prophecy.  Please search for the 5,500-year prophecy to locate it. Then you can listen to the archived YouTube show hosted by Zen Garcia.

[7] A disciple of Rabbi Akiba, Yose ben Halafta, is credited with its creation in 160 A.D.

[8] The dating schema has been in effect for over a thousand years.  It was established in 525 by Dionysius Exiguous. An interesting note confirming the existence of the 5,500-year prophecy is found within this explanation in Wikipedia:

It has also been speculated by Georges Declercq [see below] that Dionysius’ desire to replace Diocletian years with a calendar based on the incarnation of Christ was intended to prevent people from believing the imminent end of the world. At the time, it was believed by some that the resurrection of the dead and the end of the world would occur 500 years after the birth of Jesus. The old Anno Mundi calendar theoretically commenced with the creation of the world based on information in the Old Testament. It was believed that, based on the Anno Mundi calendar, Jesus was born in the year 5500 (or 5500 years after the world was created), with the year 6000 of the Anno Mundi calendar marking the end of the world.  Anno Mundi 6000 (approximately AD 500) was thus equated with the resurrection and the end of the world, but this date had already passed in the time of Dionysius. [Hence, the deadline had come and gone!]

Thus, the BC and AD prefixes or suffixes were instituted to inform Christians that Christ was NOT returning in the sixth century. AD 500-530 was considered the end date of the world—500 years after Christ. Date-setting existed then too! And the wise did not rush to the mountains to await the coming of the LORD.

See, Declercq, Georges: Anno Domini. The Origins of the Christian Era. Turnhout Belgium. 2000.

Lastly, apologies to those questioning whether A.D. precedes the year or after. Technically it should precede. I don’t follow that standard in all my writing. I prefer to be oblivious to the practice.

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