Defense of the Protestant position of the Apocrypha

Some said to me that none of the Church Fathers Deny the Apocrypha as Scripture. I would like to Respond to that statement here.

Here is a quote from Jerome:
“What the Savior declares was written down was certainly written down. Where is it written down? The Septuagint does not have it, and the Church does not recognize the Apocrypha. Therefore we must go back to the book of the Hebrews, which is the source of the statements quoted by the Lord, as well as the examples cited by the disciples…But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Song of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant…The apostolic men use the Hebrew Scripture. It is clear that the apostles themselves and the evangelists did likewise. The Lord and Savior, whenever He refers to ancient Scripture, quotes examples from the Hebrew volumes…We do not say this because we wish to rebuke the Septuagint translators, but because the authority of the apostles and of Christ is greater…”

This is an interesting comment in light of this argument that I wrote on my earlier blog: Jesus references the first and last prophets to die when, and only when, read according to the Hebrew Canon! That is not silence nor speculation. Jesus’ reference of Abel to Zechariah suggests that the canon Jesus was familiar with was the Jewish OT canon that includes the books we have today. The Apocryphal works were known in Jesus’ day, and Jesus did not recognize any of the ones who died outside of the Hebrew Canon as prophets, nor did he ever quote them as scripture. Not only this, but chronologically, Zechariah wasn’t the last prophet to die as I stated earlier. Jesus’ reference to Zechariah is a clear indicator of his idea of what was included in the Scriptures he used. Again this is not silence, nor speculation.

Notice Jerome’s words: “Therefore we must go back to the book of the Hebrews, which is the source of the statements quoted by the Lord, as well as the examples cited by the disciples”

In fact all of these reject the apocryphal books as equal to authoritative scripture: Origen, Melito of Sardis, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers, Epiphanius, Basil the Great, Jerome, Rufinus and a host of others.

Here is one of the greatest Catholic theologians, Cajetan!

“Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.” 129 Cardinal Caietan (Jacob Thomas de Vio), Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Tesdtament, In ult. Cap., Esther. Taken from A Disputation on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker (Cambridge: University, 1849), p. 48. See also B.F. Westcott’s A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge: MacMillan, 1889), p. 475.

Just to clarify, this is what the Catholics say about this man:

“Dominican cardinal, philosopher, theologian, and exegete; born 20 February, 1469 at Gaeta, Italy; died 9 August, 1534 at Rome… In 1501 he was made procurator general of his order and appointed to the chairs of philosophy and exegesis at the Sapienza. On the death of the master general, John Clérée, 1507, Cajetan was named vicar-general of the order, and the next year he was elected to the generalship. With foresight and ability, he devoted his energies to the promotion of religious discipline, emphasizing the study of sacred science as the chief means of attaining the end of the order…. About the fourth year of his generalship, Cajetan rendered important service to the Holy See by appearing before the Pseudo-Council of Pisa (1511), where he denounced the disobedience of the participating cardinals and bishops and overwhelmed them with his arguments. This was the occasion of his defence of the power and monarchical supremacy of the pope…On 1 July, 1517, Cajetan was created cardinal by Pope Leo X…He was later made Bishop of Gaeta…In theology Cajetan is justly ranked as one of the foremost defenders and exponents of the Thomistic school…To Clement VII he was the “lamp of the Church”, and everywhere in his career, as the theological light of Italy, he was heard with respect and pleasure by cardinals, universities, the clergy, nobility, and people.128″

“These statements by Catejan are a fair summary of the overall view of the Church in both the East and West from the time of Athanasius and Jerome up through the 16th Century. Jerome’s opinion completely dominated that of the ensuing centuries in the Western Church as is seen in the testimony of Cajetan.”

“A second major point that proves the Roman Catholic claims to be spurious is the fact that the universal practice of the Church as a whole up to the time of the Reformation was to follow the judgment of Jerome who rejected the Old Testament Apocrypha on the grounds that these books were never part of the Jewish canon. Those books were permissable to be read in the Church for the purposes of edification but were never considered authoritative for the establishing of doctrine. This is why I believe that the term canonical in the early Church had 2 meanings, one broad in the sense that it encompassed all the books which were permissable to be read in the Church and another narrow which included only those books which were authoritative for the establishment of doctrine.”

Plenty of other people down through the ages rejected the Apocrypha as divinely authorized for doctrine, which is exactly how the Roman Church takes it today. Many who rejected them were still considered faithful Catholics, and that is because the position of Jerome was espoused in which people recognized some books as permissible and the others as authoritatively doctrinal. Now Rome accepts them all as infallibly and authoritatively doctrinal.

I also think this sheds light on Jerome and his supposed “change of mind.” I personally think it has been terribly misinterpreted by the modern Catholic apologists.

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44 Comments

  1. Did St. Jerome reject the Deuterocanon?

    “What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the Story of Susanna, the Song of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us.” (Against Rufinus, 11:33 [AD 402]).

    Reply
  2. Yes he did reject it as equally authoritative. Here are Jerome’s and Rufinus’s position:

    Jerome’s views are as follows:
    These instances have been just touched upon by me (the limits of a letter forbid a more discursive treatment of them) to convince you that in the holy scriptures you can make no progress unless you have a guide to shew you the way…Genesis … Exodus … Leviticus … Numbers … Deuteronomy … Job … Jesus the son of Nave … Judges … Ruth … Samuel … The third and fourth books of Kings … The twelve prophets whose writings are compressed within the narrow limits of a single volume: Hosea … Joel … Amos … Obadiah … Jonah … Micah … Nahum … Habakkuk … Zephaniah … Haggai … Zechariah … Malachi … Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel … Jeremiah also goes four times through the alphabet in different metres (Lamentations)… David…sings of Christ to his lyre; and on a psaltry with ten strings (Psalms) … Solomon, a lover of peace and of the Lord, corrects morals, teaches nature (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes), unites Christ and the church, and sings a sweet marriage song to celebrate that holy bridal (Song of Songs) … Esther … Ezra and Nehemiah.
    You see how, carried away by my love of the scriptures, I have exceeded the limits of a letter…The New Testament I will briefly deal with. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John … The apostle Paul writes to seven churches (for the eighth epistle – that to the Hebrews – is not generally counted in with the others) … The Acts of the Apostles … The apostles James, Peter, John and Jude have published seven epistles … The apocalypse of John …I beg of you, my dear brother, to live among these books, to meditate upon them, to know nothing else, to seek nothing else (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953, Volume VI, St. Jerome, Letter LIII.6-10).
    As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Eccesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church…I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon…(Ibid., Volume VI, Jerome, Prefaces to Jerome’s Works, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs; Daniel, pp. 492-493).
    Let her treasures be not silks or gems but manuscripts of the holy scriptures…Let her begin by learning the psalter, and then let her gather rules of life out of the proverbs of Solomon…Let her follow the example set in Job of virtue and patience. Then let her pass on to the gospels…the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles…let her commit to memory the prophets, the heptateuch, the books of Kings and of Chronicles, the rolls also of Ezra and Esther. When she has done all these she may safely read the Song of Songs…Let her avoid all apocryphal writings, and if she is led to read such not by the truth of the doctrines which they contain but out of respect for the miracles contained in them; let her understand that they are not really written by those to whom they are ascribed, that many faulty elements have been introduced into them, and that it requires infinite discretion to look for gold in the midst of dirt (Ibid., Letter CVII.12).
    What the Savior declares was written down was certainly written down. Where is it written down? The Septuagint does not have it, and the Church does not recognize the Apocrypha. Therefore we must go back to the book of the Hebrews, which is the source of the statements quoted by the Lord, as well as the examples cited by the disciples…But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Song of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant…The apostolic men use the Hebrew Scripture. It is clear that the apostles themselves and the evangelists did likewise. The Lord and Savior, whenever He refers to ancient Scripture, quotes examples from the Hebrew volumes…We do not say this because we wish to rebuke the Septuagint translators, but because the authority of the apostles and of Christ is greater…”(The Fathers of the Church (Washington: Catholic University, 1965), Volume 53, Saint Jerome, Against Rufinus, Book II.27, 33, pp. 151, 158-160).

    Rufinus who was a contemporary of Jerome’s, a fellow student with him at Rome. He dies shortly after 410 A.D. He writes these comments on the Canon AFTER the Councils of Hippo and Carthage:
    “And therefore it seems proper in this place to enumerate, as we have learnt from the tradition of the Fathers, the books of the New and of the Old Testament, which according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have handed down to the churches of Christ. Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of all there have been handed down five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then Jesus Nave, (Joshua the son of Nun), the Book of Judges together with Ruth; then four books of Kings (Reigns), which the Hebrews reckon two; the book of Omissions, which is entitled the Book of Days (Chronicles), and two books of Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah), which the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the twelve minor Prophets, one book; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book. Solomon gave three books to the Churches, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles. These comprise the books of the Old Testament.
    Of the New there are four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; the Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke; fourteen Epistles of the apostle Paul, two of the Apostle Peter, one of James, brother of the Lord and Apostle, one of Jude, three of John, the Revelation of John. These are the books which the Fathers have comprised within the Canon, and from which they would have us deduce the proofs of our faith.
    But it should be known that there are also other books which our fathers call not ‘Canonical’ but ‘Ecclesiastical:’ that is to say, Wisdom, called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas (and that) which is called the Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, but not appealed to for the confirmation of doctrine. The other writings they have named ‘Apocrypha.’ These they would not have read in the Churches. These are the traditions which the Fathers have handed down to us, which, as I said, I have thought it opportune to set forth in this place, for the instruction of those who are being taught the first elements of the Church and of the Faith, that they may know from what fountains of the Word of God their draughts must be taken” (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), Rufinus, Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed 36, p. 557-558.).

    Add to that the quote in my post from Cajetan who quoted Jerome. Note also that Cajetan was praised as a Catholic. He appeals to Jerome and he does not see this appeal as an act of anarchy against Carthage or Hippo. With regard to the Apocrypha, I think Jerome is ours.

    Josh

    Reply
    • Here’s proof that Saint Jerome submitted to the decree of Rome of Pope St Damasus. The following quote is taken from a letter written by Saint Jerome in A.D. 404.
      Does not the Scripture say: ‘Burden not thyself above thy power’?
      – Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2, VI:207)
      Here Saint Jerome quotes Sirach 13:2 (‘Burden not thyself above thy power’) as “Scripture”.

      In Saint Jerome’s prologue on the book of Judith, he recongizes that the First Council of Nicea (AD 325 – the council defended the Trinity and deity of Christ against Arians) recognized the book of Judith as “canonical”.

      Reply
      • That is an interesting quote and I do not intend to discount it. It is noted. However, Is it possible to say that by “Scripture” he meant beneficial ecclesiastical books? I believe that Jerome owned, read, and regarded the Apocryphal works as valuable. Just not as equal to the NT and OT books. At this point in history, the word “Scripture” in the mouths of the Fathers is a bit ambiguous.

        Check this quote:
        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 situation remained unclear in the ensuing centuries…For example, John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado continued to doubt the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Chruch at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Canon)

        It seems my position on Jerome is more in line with your own history books and better explains Cajetan’s quoting Jerome to reinforce his own position.

        Josh

  3. Why don’t we think of this as “our history”, since Protestantism as such did not exist at this time? Also, would you agree that St Jerome would submit to the Magisterium of the Church? In other words, wouldn’t St. Jerome and Cajetan submit their opinions to the mind of the Church?

    Given how reasonable you think their opinion is regarding your perception of their view on Scripture, why not try to understand the reason they employed when submitting to the Church?

    Reply
  4. Question: what OT was read in the liturgy during the alleged time of uncertainty or ambiguity from the 5th to 15-16th centuries?

    Reply
  5. xpusostomos

     /  July 12, 2012

    “These statements by Catejan are a fair summary of the overall view of the Church in both the East and West from the time of Athanasius and Jerome up through the 16th Century. Jerome’s”.

    Prove it. If it was true, Trent would have likely have taken that position, and the east would have likely ended up with that position. Neither is the case.

    “I would cite the words of the psalmist: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel ‘I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] AND THOSE OF BARUCH,’Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] AND MANY OTHER PROCLAMATIONS MADE BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE PROPHETS.” Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159

    “And in the proverbs Solomon tells us that as “the north wind driveth away rain, so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.(Prov. 25:23)” It sometimes happens that an arrow when it is aimed at a hard object rebounds upon the bowman, wounding the would-bewounder, and thus, the words are fulfilled, “they were turned aside like a deceitful bow,” (Psalm 128:57) and in another passage: “whoso casteth a stone on high casteth it on his own head.” (Sir. 27:25) Jerome, To Rusticus, Epistle 125, 19 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:251

    Reply
    • While there were some who followed Augustine and the Councils of Hippo and Carthage in accepting the Apocryphal books, the vast majority of theologians, bishops and cardinals throughout the Middle Ages followed Jerome. This is seen in three major historical examples: the express statements of the Glossa ordinaria-the official Biblical commentary used during the Middle Ages, the teaching of major theologians who cited Jerome as the authority for determining the authoritative canon of the Old Testament, and Bible translations and commentaries produced just prior to the Reformation.
      The Ordinary Gloss, known as the Glossa ordinaria, is an important witness to the position of the Western Church on the status of the Apocrypha because it was the standard authoritative biblical commentary for the whole Western Church. It carried immense authority and was used in all the schools for the training of theologians. The New Catholic Encyclopedia describes its importance:
      A designation given during the Middle Ages to certain compilations of ‘glosses’ on the text of a given MS. The earliest Glossa ordinaria is that made of the Bible, probably made in the 12th century…Although glosses originally consisted of a few words only, they grew in length as glossators enlarged them with their own comments and quotations from the Fathers. Thus the tiny gloss evolved into a running commentary of an entire book. The best-known commentary of this type is the vast Glossa ordinaria of the 12th and 13th centuries…So great was the influence of the Glossa ordinaria on Biblical and philosophical studies in the Middle Ages that it was called ‘the tongue of Scripture’ and ‘the bible of scholasticism’.
      Karlfried Froehlich summarizes the importance, authority and influence of the Glossa ordinaria on the Middle Ages:
      For medieval Christians this tool was supremely necessary, indispensable for the reading of the sacred book which could not be understood without it. In their preface of 1617, taking up Peter Lombard’s remark about the Gloss as the ‘tongue’ of Scripture, the Douai theologians gave voice to this sentiment. Many generations, they suggested, ‘thought of this collection of scriptural interpretation so highly that they called it the “normal tongue” (glossa ordinaria), the very language (lingua) of Scripture, as it were. When Scripture speaks with it, we understand. But when we read the sacred words without it, we think we hear a language which we do not know.’120
      Alister McGrath adds these comments:
      …the Glossa Ordinaria may be regarded as a composite running commentary upon the text of the bible, characterized by its brevity, clarity and authoritativeness, drawing upon the chief sources of the patristic period…So influential did this commentary become that, by the end of the twelfth century, much biblical commentary and exegesis was reduced to restating the comments of the gloss.
      The original Glossa ordinaria began as a marginal gloss on the Bible and was attributed to Walafrid Strabo in the tenth century. Over time the interlinear gloss was added which most likely originated in the twelfth century with Anselm of Laon. Margaret Gibson confirms this:
      To this extent the old heresy is not without foundation: that Walafrid Strabo (a Carolingian) wrote the marginal gloss, whereas Anselm of Laon (the early scholastic) wrote the interlinear. The dating is sound enough.
      The work consisted of standard commentaries on the books of the Bible by major Church fathers and theologians from the Carolingian period. The principal Church fathers and theologians who provided authoritative commentary in the Gloss are described by Margaret Gibson:
      Ultimately the principal contributor to the Gloss-the giant who bears it on his shoulders-is Jerome. He was responsible for the text of the Bible, for many of the explanatory prefaces to individual books, and for the learned and comprehensive exegesis of most of the Old Testament and part of the New. Behind Jerome stands Origen, whose work was known directly to Jerome but to later scholars indirectly (and partially) in Rufinus’ translation. Augustine contributed to Genesis and Ambrose to Luke; Cassiodorus to the Psalms, and Gregory the Great at least to Job and perhaps to Ezekiel and the Gospels. The next great figure is Bede. He is the leading player in Ezra-Nehemiah, Mark, the Acts of the Apostles and the Canonical Epistles. The basic material from Jerome to Bede, was edited in the ninth century by Rabanus Maurus, who commented the entire Old Testament (except Baruch) and much of the New. Paschasius Radbertus supplied a commentary on Lamentations and revised Jerome’s commentary on Matthew.
      The importance of the Glossa ordinaria relative to the issue of the Apocrypha is seen from the statements in the Preface to the overall work. It repeats the judgment of Jerome that the Church permits the reading of the Apocryphal books only for devotion and instruction in manners, but that they have no authority for concluding controversies in matters of faith. It states that there are twenty-two books of the Old Testament, citing the testimonies of Origen, Jerome and Rufinus as support. When commenting on the Apocryphal books, it prefixes an introduction to them saying: ‘Here begins the book of Tobit which is not in the canon; here begins the book of Judith which is not in the canon’ and so forth for Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, and Maccabees etc. These prologues to the Old Testament and Apocryphal books repeated the words of Jerome. For example, the following is an excerpt from the Prologue to the Glossa ordinaria written in AD 1498, also found in a work attributed to Walafrid Strabo in the tenth century, under the title of canonical and non-canonical books. It begins by explaining the distinctions that should be maintained between the canonical and non-canonical or Apocryphal books:
      Many people, who do not give much attention to the holy scriptures, think that all the books contained in the Bible should be honored and adored with equal veneration, not knowing how to distinguish among the canonical and non-canonical books, the latter of which the Jews number among the apocrypha. Therefore they often appear ridiculous before the learned; and they are disturbed and scandalized when they hear that someone does not honor something read in the Bible with equal veneration as all the rest. Here, then, we distinguish and number distinctly first the canonical books and then the non-canonical, among which we further distinguish between the certain and the doubtful.
      The canonical books have been brought about through the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is not known, however, at which time or by which authors the non-canonical or apocryphal books were produced. Since, nevertheless, they are very good and useful, and nothing is found in them which contradicts the canonical books, the church reads them and permits them to be read by the faithful for devotion and edification. Their authority, however, is not considered adequate for proving those things which come into doubt or contention, or for confirming the authority of ecclesiastical dogma, as blessed Jerome states in his prologue to Judith and to the books of Solomon. But the canonical books are of such authority that whatever is contained therein is held to be true firmly and indisputably, and likewise that which is clearly demonstrated from them. For just as in philosophy a truth is known through reduction to self-evident first principles, so too, in the writings handed down from holy teachers, the truth is known, as far as those things that must be held by faith, through reduction to the canonical scriptures that have been produced by divine revelation, which can contain nothing false. Hence, concerning them Augustine says to Jerome: To those writers alone who are called canonical I have learned to offer this reverence and honor: I hold most firmly that none of them has made an error in writing. Thus if I encounter something in them which seems contrary to the truth, I simply think that the manuscript is incorrect, or I wonder whether the translator has discovered what the word means, or whether I have understood it at all. But I read other writers in this way: however much they abound in sanctity or teaching, I do not consider what they say true because they have judged it so, but rather because they have been able to convince me from those canonical authors, or from probable arguments, that it agrees with the truth. (Biblia cum glosa ordinaria et expositione Lyre litterali et morali (Basel: Petri & Froben, 1498), British Museum IB.37895, Vol. 1, On the canonical and non-canonical books of the Bible. Translation by Dr. Michael Woodward).

      This is sufficient for me. I’m not trying to get you to believe it, just to demonstrate that my view is logical, tenable, and reasonable.

      Thanks
      Josh

      Reply
      • xpusostomos

         /  July 13, 2012

        The Glossia Ordinaria was written in the 12 century (assembled by one man apparently) and forgotten by the 14th century. The most optimistic interpretation of this is that it was influential for a couple of centuries, in the western church only. Obviously it wasn’t influential enough to have made Trent go that direction. So exactly how influential it was on this topic is questionable. As to the origin of these opinions, they came from Jerome, not necessarily from general consensus either. It’s a data point for you, but hardly a very conclusive one.

      • You ask me to prove it with evidence, and I quote a little and you say “not hardly conclusive.”

        It is good, but inconclusive evidence. In the future I will post some more, but I really must move on from this specific topic.

  6. Pio

     /  July 13, 2012

    I would encourage you to read 2 Maccabees again, I am not aware of many Protestants who wouldn’t acknowledge Hebrews is alluding to that passage.

    Yes, some disupted the deuterocanonicals in church history, that doesn’t prove anything because many New Testament books were disputed and some protocanonical books were disputed. I also think you are reading too much into Christ’s words on Abel and Zechariah since you have to prove which books were included in the canon he refered to and which books were excluded. You have not proven which books were in this canon but have assumed your canon is identical to the canon he quoted. Is it possible the deutercanonicals were included in the canon somewhere between Genesis and 2 Chronicles? If not, why not? Also, Jesus’s intentions were not to establish the canon in that passage any more than when he restricted his arguments to the Penteteuch alone in order to correct the Sadducees. So even if there was a canon in Palestine that did not include the deuterocanonicals, it doesn’t mean Jesus believed their canon was the final say in the matter any more than He believed the Sadducees view that the Penteteuch alone was canonical was the final say on the matter. At most it just proves he met people where they were at and used their own views against them.

    Here are some additional quotes to consider from the Fathers and from councils, notices how the Council in Rome, Hippo and Carthage refer to the deuterocanonicals as “Scripture” and not just edifying books. Church history doesn’t prove the canon either way but there were many who believed they were more than edifying books.

    The Didache
    “You shall not waver with regard to your decisions [Sir. 1:28]. Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving [Sir. 4:31]” (Didache 4:5 [A.D. 70]).

    The Letter of Barnabas
    “Since, therefore, [Christ] was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, his suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against evil, ‘Woe to their soul, because they have counseled an evil counsel against themselves’ [Is. 3:9], saying, ‘Let us bind the righteous man because he is displeasing to us’ [Wis. 2:12.]” (Letter of Barnabas 6:7 [A.D. 74]).

    Clement of Rome
    “By the word of his might [God] established all things, and by his word he can overthrow them. ‘Who shall say to him, “What have you done?” or who shall resist the power of his strength?’ [Wis. 12:12]” (Letter to the Corinthians 27:5 [ca. A.D. 80]).

    Polycarp of Smyrna
    “Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood [1 Pet. 2:17].
    . . . When you can do good, defer it not, because ‘alms delivers from death’ [Tob. 4:10, 12:9]. Be all of you subject to one another [1 Pet. 5:5], having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles [1 Pet. 2:12], and the Lord may not be b.asphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is b.asphemed [Is. 52:5]!” (Letter to the Philadelphians 10 [A.D. 135]).

    Irenaeus
    “Those . . . who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts and do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt toward others and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat [Matt. 23:6] and work evil deeds in secret, saying ‘No man sees us,’ shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance, nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart; and they shall hear those words to be found in Daniel the prophet: ‘O you seed of Canaan and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you and lust perverted your heart’ [Dan. 13:56]. You that have grown old in wicked days, now your sins which you have committed before have come to light, for you have pronounced false judgments and have been accustomed to condemn the innocent and to let the guilty go free, although the Lord says, ‘You shall not slay the innocent and the righteous’ [Dan. 13:52, citing Ex. 23:7]” (Against Heresies 4:26:3 [A.D. 189]; Daniel 13 is not in the Protestant Bible).

    “Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left on the earth, should both be under the rule of the saints and to minister to this [new] Jerusalem and that [his] kingdom shall be in it, saying, ‘Look around Jerusalem toward the east and behold the joy which comes to you from God himself. Behold, your sons whom you have sent forth shall come: They shall come in a band from the east to the west. . . . God shall go before with you in the light of his splendor, with the mercy and righteousness which proceed from him’ [Bar. 4:36—5:9]” (ibid., 5:35:1; Baruch was often considered part of Jeremiah, as it is here).

    Hippolytus
    “What is narrated here [in the story of Susannah] happened at a later time, although it is placed at the front of the book [of Daniel], for it was a custom with the writers to narrate many things in an inverted order in their writings. . . . [W]e ought to give heed, beloved, fearing lest anyone be overtaken in any transgression and risk the loss of his soul, knowing as we do that God is the judge of all and the Word himself is the eye which nothing that is done in the world escapes. Therefore, always watchful in heart and pure in life, let us imitate Susannah” (Commentary on Daniel [A.D. 204]; the story of Susannah [Dan. 13] is not in the Protestant Bible).

    Cyprian of Carthage
    “In Genesis [it says], ‘And God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the high land and offer him there as a burnt offering . . .”’ [Gen. 22:1–2]. . . . Of this same thing in the Wisdom of Solomon [it says], ‘Although in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality . . .’ [Wis. 3:4]. Of this same thing in the Maccabees [it says], ‘Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness’ [1 Macc. 2:52; see Jas. 2:21–23]” (Treatises 7:3:15 [A.D. 248]).

    “So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honor of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, ‘I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth’ [Dan. 14:5]” (Letters 55:5 [A.D. 253]; Daniel 14 is not in the Protestant Bible).

    Council of Rome
    “Now indeed we must treat of the divine scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun. The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book; Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Joshua [Son of] Nave, one book; Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; Kings, four books [that is, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings]; Paralipomenon [Chronicles], two books; Psalms, one book; Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book, Ecclesiastes, one book, [and] Canticle of Canticles [Song of Songs], one book; likewise Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus [Sirach], one book . . . . Likewise the order of the historical [books]: Job, one book; Tobit, one book; Esdras, two books [Ezra and Nehemiah]; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; Maccabees, two books” (Decree of Pope Damasus [A.D. 382]).

    Council of Hippo
    “[It has been decided] that besides the canonical scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. But the canonical scriptures are as follows: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the Son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the Kings, four books, the Chronicles, two books, Job, the Psalter, the five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and a portion of the Psalms], the twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, two books, Maccabees, two books . . .” (Canon 36 [A.D. 393]).

    Council of Carthage III
    “[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine scriptures. But the canonical scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon, two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon, twelve books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees . . .” (Canon 47 [A.D. 397]).

    Augustine
    “The whole canon of the scriptures, however, in which we say that consideration is to be applied, is contained in these books: the five of Moses . . . and one book of Joshua [Son of] Nave, one of Judges; one little book which is called Ruth . . . then the four of Kingdoms, and the two of Paralipomenon . . . . [T]here are also others too, of a different order . . . such as Job and Tobit and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Esdras . . . . Then there are the prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David, and three of Solomon. . . . But as to those two books, one of which is entitled Wisdom and the other of which is entitled Ecclesiasticus and which are called ‘of Solomon’ because of a certain similarity to his books, it is held most certainly that they were written by Jesus Sirach. They must, however, be accounted among the prophetic books, because of the authority which is deservedly accredited to them” (Christian Instruction 2:8:13 [A.D. 397]).

    “We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place” (The Care to be Had for the Dead 1:3 [A.D. 421]).

    The Apostolic Constitutions
    “Now women also prophesied. Of old, Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron [Ex. 15:20], and after her, Deborah [Judges. 4:4], and after these Huldah [2 Kgs. 22:14] and Judith [Judith 8], the former under Josiah and the latter under Darius” (Apostolic Constitutions 8:2 [A.D. 400]).

    Pope Innocent I
    “A brief addition shows what books really are received in the canon. These are the things of which you desired to be informed verbally: of Moses, five books, that is, of Genesis, of Exodus, of Leviticus, of Numbers, of Deuteronomy, and Joshua, of Judges, one book, of Kings, four books, and also Ruth, of the prophets, sixteen books, of Solomon, five books, the Psalms. Likewise of the histories, Job, one book, of Tobit, one book, Esther, one, Judith, one, of the Maccabees, two, of Esdras, two, Paralipomenon, two books . . .” (Letters 7 [A.D. 408]).

    The Didache
    “You shall not waver with regard to your decisions [Sir. 1:28]. Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving [Sir. 4:31]” (Didache 4:5 [A.D. 70]).

    Reply
    • In Hebrews it says some were tortured refusing to accept release. This is a historical reference to men who were faithful to God. The point is irrevelant to the discussion. I never said that the close of the OT Canon meant the end of people living faithful lives to God.

      Jesus simply recognized 2 Chronicles as the last book in the Hebrew Canon. What evidence is there that any of the Apocryphal books were contained in the Hebrew Canon? None. My point is that Jesus recognized a collection of books that never contained the Apocrypha in antiquity.

      This is point is attested to. Obviously I get more out of it than you do.

      The fathers you quote only show the possible discrepancies among them. Another reason I say we look outside of the fathers to determine the Apocrypha, and outside of the authority of the magesterium as well.

      Thanks for your comments, Pio

      p.s. Maccabees 7 was a great non-inspired read 🙂

      Reply
      • xpusostomos

         /  July 13, 2012

        “Jesus simply recognized 2 Chronicles as the last book in the Hebrew Canon.”

        Prove that 2 Chronicals being “last” thereby excludes… Oh say the book of Wisdom.

        ” What evidence is there that any of the Apocryphal books were contained in the Hebrew Canon? None.”

        Let’s just do a controlled test to see if that challenge is meritorious. What evidence is there that Esther was contained in the Hebrew canon? After we see what you come up with, we’ll know what he requisite standard of evidence is.

        “You ask me to prove it with evidence, and I quote a little and you say “not hardly conclusive.” It is good, but inconclusive evidence”

        It’s not good evidence. I mean for a start it doesn’t even begin to address the eastern churches, and since you specifically chose to include them, you should be able to throw us _something_.

      • Some of the strongest evidence we have of Esther is its recognition by the Jewish community as canonical after Christ. There was not a sense in which the Hebrews thought of themselves as breaking with what had already been accepted as scripture.

        I have some quotes from Kruger that communicate what my goal in this post was: “This volume (Canon Revisited) is concerned with the narrow question of whether Christians have a rational basis (i.e., intellectually sufficient grounds) for affirming that only these twenty-seven books rightfully belong in the New Testament canon. Or, put differently, is the Christian belief in the canon justified (or warranted)? There are two objections to a view of the canon: For instance, one might offer what is called a de facto objection. This objection argues that the Christian belief in the canon is intellectually unacceptable on the grounds that it is a false belief. In contrast, this book is addressing what might be called the de jure objection to the Christian belief in the canon. This objection has similarities to the de facto objection but is different in some important ways. The de jure objection argues not so much that Christian belief in the canon is false, but that Christians have no rational basis for thinking they could ever know such a thing in the first place. Thus, on the de jure objection, the problem with the Christian belief in canon is something other than its truth or falsehood, but has to do with whether Christians have adequate grounds for holding such a belief.” Michael J. Kruger (2012-04-05). Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Kindle Locations 378-380). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

        My point is this: my goal was not to disprove the Catholic position in this post, or even prove the Protestant position. My goal was to show that the Protestant position is warranted and justified. The other post, “a few reasons to reject the Apocrypha”, my goal was to offensively identify historical weaknesses in the Catholic position.

        The belief of the Eastern Churches is irrelevant I think. Their arguments are very similar to the Catholic’s, as is their canon. Here is an excerpt from Bahnsen on the Eastern Church as compared to the Roman Church and the Protestant position:

        Of course in saying that, it seemed to me that he was really demonstrating why it is Protestants have to hold out for sola Scriptura, because when he pits the ‘paper’ pope of the Bible against the ‘living’ pope who sits in Rome, what he is telling us is that finally that person who sits on the papal chair in Rome is more authoritative than the Bible itself! And that’s exactly what Luther was concerned about. That’s what the Protestant Reformers were concerned about. Because we have in our day and age something of a mini-movement (it’s not big enough to be considered even a trickle), but a mini-movement of former Protestants going into the Roman Catholic communion. And they are being convinced that it’s an appropriate thing for them to do, and they are being told that the doctrine of sola Scriptura (the formative principle of theology presented in the Reformation, namely that the Bible alone is sufficient) is not itself authoritative, and in fact is not even itself taught in the Bible! “If sola Scriptura is so important,” they tell us, “then why isn’t it taught in the Bible alone? Why do Presbyterians prove their doctrine of sola Scriptura by going to the Westminster Confession of Faith, rather than to the Bible?” And so with rhetoric like this, they convince the minds (I think) of weak and unstable people that really Roman Catholicism is not that big a threat. After all, everybody has their traditions; we have to live with traditions as well as Scripture!

        Well, there was a humorous P.S. (it seems to me) to all of this in that a number of other people who had formerly been in the Reformed Churches (not a whole lot of people, but some… some with reputations, and therefore a great deal of media attention is given to them), they have left the Protestant fold and have gone into the Eastern Orthodox Church. And one of these people that I’ve had some contact with has written a paper on sola Scriptura in which he lays out all the reasons why sola Scriptura is not an acceptable principle of theology, and it’s illogical and unhistorical and on and on and on. And throughout the paper he uses exactly the same rhetoric, exactly the same polemic as do Roman Catholics against Protestants with respect to Sola Scriptura, and throughout the paper promotes the idea of Scripture plus holy tradition.

        Well, as I started reading his paper, I started laughing out loud, not in disrespect of the person himself, but in what I saw as the irony of the situation! Roman Catholics present these very same arguments to argue in favor of Roman tradition, papal tradition! And then you turn around and find out that Eastern Orthodox polemicists use exactly the same arguments in favor of what they call their ‘Holy Tradition’ which is contrary to papal tradition. And so here you have two august Christian bodies (professedly Christian bodies) claiming the authority of tradition, and yet their authorities conflict with each other; their traditions conflict with each other. And yet, they laugh at Protestants for their ‘paper’ pope.

      • xpusostomos

         /  July 15, 2012

        Well, you present no evidence for this “Jewish acceptance”, so might we then infer that the standard of evidence is none at all?

        I mean, Melito reported that the Jewish canon in Palestine omitted Esther. And Origen reported that the Hebrew canon included Baruch. So your “evidence” seems hardly to be an evidence for your canon. It could be evidence for any number of canons.

        Furthermore, your assumption seems to be that the “Jews” are some monolithic group in this respect. I don’t think any scholars think such a thing.

        For you to claim that the Protestant position is “adequate and justified” you would have to show that the basis for your canon is substantially stronger than other possible canons. I mean, I could argue that if I throw a dice it will come up 6, and I’d be justified in thinking that, because it has happened before. But for that prediction to be interesting, I’d have to give basis for why it is more likely to be 6 than a number of other possibilities.

        I’m not sure of the point of your observations about Orthodox vs Catholic tradition. I mean, Protestants disagree about interpretation of the bible, but I take it that you don’t think that impinges upon the argument about whether the bible is true or not? The irony here is that when I asked for the evidence for your canon, what did you point us to? Tradition! However, not tradition of the people of God, but rather from Jews who didn’t believe in the messiah. So you rested your argument on tradition like us, but you backed the wrong horse.

  7. Pio

     /  July 13, 2012

    One of the links Garrison pointed you to containes good arguments and evidence that disprove your use of Jerome. Here is the link http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/deut.html#St. Jerome, [347-419/420 A.D]

    Reply
  8. Garrison

     /  July 15, 2012

    The beliefs of the East are not irrelevant, I think. The fact that the eastern Churches (Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Church of the East) that separated early on maintain that the deuterocanon is Scripture attests to the fact that the Church has consistently supported the use of these books as such. You still have yet to respond to the links I gave showing how the Fathers felt about them (that they’re Scripture).

    In response to Bahnsen, I can indeed laugh at the Protestant position as being internally inconsistent and, ultimately, antinomian; there is no judge higher than the individual. All of the Churches I have listed are very close to us doctrinally because all reject the Protestant principle, but each one teaches it is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; one is right on this issue, and the others are wrong. The point of this is, each claims to have the Holy Spirit guiding and protecting them as the early Church did in the Council of Jerusalem. No Protestant church or the whole of Protestantism claim to be able to bind the entire Church doctrinally because they can’t. The Church does not act in such a manner as that. The Church acts in visible concert and communion. Individuals not in communion with Rome may be part of the Church only inasmuch as they are in accord with the teaching of the Church throughout the ages. This is why Protestantism is outside the Church: the Reformers rejected the Church’s correction in addition to the mechanism by which the Church corrected them, thereby introducing numerous theological nova in addition to that which crowns them all: sola scriptura. Luther was wrong; Protestantism stands and falls by sola scriptura.

    Reply
    • I’m aware of how many of the Fathers felt about them. I have also given an exceptional amount of information to demonstrate that there have been many orthodox and Catholic people who denied them as equal to the others.

      Sola Scriptura is the foundation of Sola Fide. The formal debate was Sola Fide, but behind that, you are right, it was where the authority ultimately lies that led to the break.

      The Council of Jerusalem was establishing the “once for all deposit” that you yourself agree has already been delivered; which you agree for good reason because of Jude. Now, the council at Jerusalem, since it was foundational, was guided by the Holy Spirit in a special way. There is, in my opinion, a failure to appreciate the significance of historia salutis (salvation history) on your part; the cruxifixion, the ascension, and Pentecost are unrepeatable events. (Much could be said here) The deposit of faith invested to the Church by the apostles is unrepeatable. The infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit to establish this deposit of faith is unrepeatable. What we, as the church, are left with is an infallible deposit of faith that has been interpreted by a fallible group of people who are in a constant state of “being reformed.”

      Reply
      • xpusostomos

         /  July 15, 2012

        Well… Scriptura says that there was a council in Jerusalem. Scriptura says that the _elders_ gathered together to resolve some stuff. I think we are all agreed that we all still have elders. Therefore, it is incumbent on you to prove beyond doubt that this kind of event is “unrepeatable”. Perhaps if you cite chapter and verse on that it might help. Certainly the church throughout all ages held councils to resolve stuff.

        Yes, a lot of fathers didn’t include the deuteros, and a lot did include them. Then there is an impasse without some definitive resolving principle, … Right? Now, what could that principle be I wonder. Maybe Acts 15 might shed light? Or is there no resolving principle, and God is happy for us to have infallible revelation, but without means of knowing where it is?

      • The history of redemption is the history of what God has done in history to accomplish our redemption. The narrative portions of Scripture are primarily just that, narrative portions of scripture. Here is a quote from John Stott, “the revelation of the purpose of God in Scripture, should be sought primarily in its didactic parts rather than the descriptive parts…and what is descriptive is valuable only in as far as it is interpreted by what is didactic.”

        So take the case with Ananias and Saphira, and it teaches about lying. It does teach that 1. God killed them for lying to the Holy Ghost, 2. that lying is bad, 3. that we should not lie. However, it does not teach that all liars will drop down dead under the new covenant.

        The purpose of Acts, primarily, is to describe the history of redemption at a specific point in human history; namely, the history of the inauguration of the church. The purpose of Acts is not, primarily, about establishing the norm of the Church, but about giving an account of the early stages of the birth of the church and its early development.

        The account of Pentecost is not, primarily, about establishing a norm for the church to expect as an ongoing experience as much as it was an account of the birth of the church. The unique, unrepeatable birth of the Church. The succession of an apostate apostle is not about an ongoing norm of the church, but about the unique foundational period of the unrepeatable beginning of the church. Expecting apostles to continue, if they are in fact the unique bearers of doctrine who cannot have any successors, is synonymous to expecting Christ to be crucified, buried, and raised again.

        Acts 15 is infallible because of its place in the history of redemption as establishing the doctrine of the Gentiles is interpreted in the didactic portion of Galatians. Acts 15 is not primarily, or maybe even at all, about establishing a norm that will continue for the rest of church history. The same could be pointed out with the account of the people “selling many of their possessions to give to any that had need.” This is a description of “what happened.” It is not teaching that Christian property, as a continued norm of the church, is abolished or to be avoided; which can be seen in the didactic portion of 1 Tim. 6:17.

        On your last question, I am about to post an original thread to address that question. Feel free to leave your comments on that thread.

  9. Garrison

     /  July 15, 2012

    Whatever “not equal to the others”, it doesn’t matter because these Fathers taught from them as Scripture and the Church (East and West) has consistently ruled them as such. I don’t buy your argument that Scripture is a somewhat nebulous phrase at this period. These people knew what “Scripture” meant if your argument about the canon is to be believed.

    As xpusostomos points out, you have to do more than assert that the Council was special or “once and for all”. If that is so, it’s news to those who were there. They make no indication these actions were unrepeatable. Where does anyone before the Reformation suggest that what the Church did at the Council of Jerusalem was a unique event? Where does the Bible suggest such a thing?

    I don’t know why you bring up the Crucifixion, the Ascension, and Pentecost as I nowhere claimed those will ever happen again. I have an appreciation of the history of the Church; it’s why I’m Catholic and no longer Protestant.

    Reply
    • I quoted this in an earlier post from 7/13/12 on this thread.

      “The canonical books have been brought about through the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is not known, however, at which time or by which authors the non-canonical or apocryphal books were produced. Since, nevertheless, they are very good and useful, and nothing is found in them which contradicts the canonical books, the church reads them and permits them to be read by the faithful for devotion and edification. Their authority, however, is not considered adequate for proving those things which come into doubt or contention, or for confirming the authority of ecclesiastical dogma, as blessed Jerome states in his prologue to Judith and to the books of Solomon. But the canonical books are of such authority that whatever is contained therein is held to be true firmly and indisputably, and likewise that which is clearly demonstrated from them.” (British Museum IB.37895, Vol. 1, On the canonical and non-canonical books of the Bible. Translation by Dr. Michael Woodward).

      No doubt, there was an understanding of scripture in the early church, even as we refer to it today, but there was the use of the word “scripture” to refer to two different classes of literature. What were they to call the Apocrypha, if they wanted to regard it with respect but simultaneously as inferior to scripture. If something of this nature was the case and was historically true, what evidence would you expect to find? I say you would expect confusion and a difference of opinion over the matter due to its inclusion into the informal “canon” of Carthage. many would see them as equal while others, and perhaps in many cases the more academic group (Like Jerome and Cajetan) would know to differentiate them. Even faithful Catholics rejected them after they were accepted into the “canon.” Their inclusion must not have been as equal for two reasons: 1. People like Cajetan couldn’t have been both faithful to the church councils and reject them; and 2. Trent’s declaration of them would have been a stutter. Trent affirmed something that Carthage didn’t concerning the Apocrypha, that much is clear.

      Since the formal position on the extent of the authority of the Apocryphal books was not established until Trent in the 16th century after the Reformed Tradition rejected their equal status, then the problem is this: that they were viewed by many people has beneficial “scriptures” that were no good for authoritatively determining doctrine before that point. Seeing as I obviously disagree with Trent, you can see how your argument is reduced to that council in many ways. So, there was an awareness of their inferiority as to authoritatively determining doctrine, but also an awareness of their value as good writings that depicted God’s involvement with his people. Their unique status is what made their identity hard to define and in the end caused confusion as to the term Scripture. All in all, the NT (our only infallible source) never quotes them as scripture, for if they did the case would have been settled long ago.

      An issue with words from Carson: The word “Lord” can extend beyond Jesus, “elders” and “deacons” can extend beyond ecclesiatical office/functions, and so forth. The primary reason is obvious: nascent Christianity had to use the vocabulary into which it was born, and its own specialized use of certain terms did not immediately displace the larger semantic range of the terms employed. Carson, D. A. (1996-08-01). Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14 (p. 89). Baker Book Group – A. Kindle Edition.

      Reply
      • xpusostomos

         /  July 16, 2012

        You continue to assume, with no known basis, that you can consider those books you call “apocrypha” as one block. For example, you say that the NT never quotes “them” as scripture, as if that is some kind of argument. Well, there is only a small handful of books that the NT certainly quotes “as scripture”. And there’s a whole lot of books in the proto canon that the NT doesn’t quote at all, regardless of discussions of whether they are quoted “as scripture”.

        Once we recognize that there is no logical basis for treating this set of books as a block, then all these arguments evaporate like the mist.

        Another issue is that the west is distinctively influenced by the Masorites who came hundreds of years later and made their own decisions based on their own peculiar concerns. Their decisions are not distinctively the prior Jewish positions as we an see from various witnesses to the Jewish practice prior to them coming on the scene. But since they were the ones who preserved the Hebrew text, Jerome was unduly influenced by what text he had available for his new translation. The East had no such late-to-the-game influence from the Masorites, but their traditions grew organically from the original Jewish roots, which admittedly were not monolithicly in favor of these books, but neither were they monolithicly against them, nor monolithicly in favor of all the books the Masorites settled on.

        Or to put it another way, in the East there was no hard and fast decison between proto and deutero canons.. Manuscripts all differed as to which books were included (although all seemed to have proto and deutero books), and church fathers differed as to their list of what was in the canon – both the fathers influenced by local Jews and the ones not so influenced. In the west this situation changed with Jerome. Now there were two distinctive camps and two distinctive lists – the big list and the little list. In the East, no such thing occurred. Rather the one list converged around a particular set of books. Some books which had often been included in manuscripts we’re turfed out. Others whose status had been disputed solidified their position.

        I find it odd that you would argue against the early church having a firm idea of the concept of scripture and e cocnept of canon, and yet you persist in pushing a very hard and fast definition of canon as that which is infallible in determining doctrine, as opposed to some secondary set of books which is useful but no so infallible. Because this is one delineation which I think you would certainly struggle to establish from the early church. They argued for doctrine just as enthusiastically from the deuteros as from the protos. And indeed, characters like Luther were passionate in arguing about the inferiority of establishing doctrine from books like James, Jude, Hebrews and Revelation.

        Of course this whole problem is absent from the early church and raises is head in Protestantism because of sola scriptura and the need to definitively identify the rule of faith outside of a living church. The early church had no such problem as so had no problem with books being of varying usefulness in the church. Books even within the proto canon were never all considered equally.

        Yes, Acts 15 is narrative. However you can’t dismiss it so easily. The narrative says that a dispute arose in the church, and the elders decided to definitively resolve it in council. It does NOT say that the people decided to resolve everything themselves by reading the scriptures. It does NOT say the apostles rebuked the elders for rising above their station by taking part in this definitive decision making. And in fact, the council came to a decision that apparently is contrary to all scripture existing at that point – I.e. that circumcision is unnecessary.

        So what ought the church do in such disputes? Let every Christian decide on their own conscience and interpretation – something the bible NEVER advocates… Or do what is contained in this narrative?

  10. The narrative advocates submitting to the apostolic authority. The scriptures never taught the abolition of circumcision because these people are in the transition, (the unique, unrepeatable transition) from the Old to the New. The apostolic authority as passed down in the scriptures is what we should appeal to as the ultimate authority, even over the old. In terms of interpreting what the apostolic testimony teaches, I am an advocate of councils, but the councils themselves are to be subject to the governing apostolic witness of the scriptures and open to their further critique. This is the difference. Not whether or not there should be councils, but on who these councils are subordinate to.

    Rom. 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Divide from those who divide the church over matter of ultimate truth. Luther was doing this I think, and I continue to think that I am.

    I have some quotes from Phio and Josephus, and Jesus, and some of the early Jews somewhere; they are about the content of the Hebrew Canon. I will mount up some research to defend this point at a later date.

    Reply
    • xpusostomos

       /  July 16, 2012

      You seem to be saying that the people alive with the apostles couldn’t use scripture as a rule of faith, because “they are in transition”, and the apostles were in the midst of changing the rules without scripture, and yet also, hadn’t finished the job of providing new scriptures.

      Of course this is an admission that the apostles could not have taught sola scriptura, since it is incompatible with the transition period. And if the apostles didn’t teach it, and we have to follow the apostles’ teaching, then we should avoid sola scriptura.

      Protestant theology requires another transition period – one that is not biblically sanctioned. A transition from the non-sola scriptura 1st century church, to a new regime of the sola scriptura church. Unfortunately this transition is not only not taught by the bible ( nor could it be, as you have essentially admitted ), but also the transition didn’t historically ever take place. Which is why the church fathers advocate the authority of all the tradition, and not just the scriptures.

      Reply
      • I receive whatever the apostles taught and what they taught is now, soley, in the form of scripture. Sure, the people didn’t have new scriptures, but they had the apostles themselves who were endorsed by Christ. The apostles taught the people to recieve their words, both written and verbal as authoritative; which words, in both means, were the same words. Now, since the apostles are dead, we only have their words in writing.

        Quote from Bahnsen on Apostolic Tradition and Scripture:

        II. Let’s take our discussion a step further now by talking about the Apostles and the issue of tradition. The reason it’s necessary to do this is that many of the contemporary polemicists for returning to Rome, I think, have confused the people of God by appealing to passages in the New Testament that speak about tradition, and then just letting it be assumed (or wanting people to take for granted) that when the New Testament speaks of tradition, it means tradition in the sense of the Roman Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox, whichever you want to pick) way of understanding tradition. There will be found in your English translations of the New Testament verses that talk about tradition as authoritative. And I’d like to now to take a look at that so you understand it properly, and especially if you see it in light of our first premise that we are not in our Christian faith to follow the dogmas that are rooted in human wisdom. The New Testament approach to tradition is not the approach to tradition of the Roman Catholic Church!

        So where should we begin? How about with Hebrews 1, verses 1-2, for the author of that epistle tells us that in the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways — but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son! The author of Hebrews makes it clear that the epitome of God’s revelation is found in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has spoken to us in these last days by His Son! That is the high point, the apex of all of God’s revelatory manners and means. Jesus Christ is the highest revelation, the clearest revelation of God because obviously Jesus is God Himself. The grandest expression of God’s Word is found in the very person of Jesus, who John the Apostle, in John 1:1 and in Revelation 19 calls “the Word of God.” Jesus is “the Word of God,” he is the highest expression, the clearest, fullest expression of Who God is to us as men!

        And how do we know about Jesus? Jesus isn’t on earth now, revealing Himself to men in the way that He did to Matthew, John, and the others. How do we know about Jesus today? Well, what we know about Christ is dependent upon the written word of the Gospels, the Gospels that were written by men like Matthew and Luke and Mark and John. Jesus commissioned certain men to act as His authorized representatives, i.e., Jesus delegated to certain men the right to speak for Him. They had His ‘power of attorney’ (if I can use the legal expression). In fact, that is very close to what the word ‘apostle’ meant in the days of the New Testament. The apostle of a man was considered the man himself in a court of law. The apostle could speak for that man, and the words spoken by the apostle was legally accounted to be the word of the one that commissioned him!

        Or if you look at Galatians 1:11-12 you will see that Paul himself is jealous for the truth of the gospel and what he has taught precisely because it is not his word, but the Word of Jesus Christ! Galatians 1:11-12, “For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ.” (ASV) Boy, we just see this everywhere in the New Testament, not man but God — not man but God! Paul says this is not a revelation that came to me from man, but it came to me from Jesus Christ Himself.

        See, the truth gets ‘passed down’ to the Church! And because it’s “passed down” or “handed over” — the Greek word paradosis is used which means “to hand over” — it can be translated “the deposit,” “that which is given by hand,” that which is communicated from one person to another. And that is translated into English often as “the tradition,” that which is entrusted, that which is deposited, that which is delivered. Or as I’ve said, handed over or committed to another, the tradition. The Apostles have the truth from God and they hand it over to the Church. They deliver it to the Church. And that comes to be called the ‘tradition’! The ‘tradition’ is just the truth that the Apostles teach as a revelation from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
        Now what does the New Testament tell us about this ‘tradition’? Let’s look at a few verses together here for a few moments. Turn in your Bibles please to II Timothy 1:13 and 14. II Timothy 1:13, Paul says, “Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee guard through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us.” (ASV) Here Paul speaks of the ‘deposit’ — that which has been committed unto him — the ‘deposit’ that he has received, he passes on and he says is to be guarded! The Apostolic ‘deposit’ then is the pattern of sound words for the Church. Notice that? “Hold the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee” — that ‘deposit’, that ‘pattern of sound words’ that is the system of doctrine (‘pattern of sound words’), that system or network of healthy truth and teaching, the ‘pattern of sound words’, is the Apostolic deposit.
        In I Timothy 6:20-21, we learn that this is to be guarded: “O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” (ASV) The pattern of sound words, the deposit of the Apostles, is to be guarded. People put their faith in jeopardy when they do not! Timothy is warned by Paul that some people professing to know the truth have erred concerning the faith because they haven’t guarded the Apostolic deposit.
        Indeed, the Apostolic deposit, “the pattern of sound words,” passed to the Church by the Apostles was the standard for Christian life — look at II Thessalonians 3:6 — “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us.” (ASV) Here the English word ‘tradition’ is used — “that which was delivered from us and you received” — if any brother departs from that, then you’re to withdraw yourselves from him! That is the standard for Christian living: “the pattern of sound words” delivered by the Apostles to the Church and received by the Church.
        Look at II Peter 2:21, “For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” To turn away from that which has been delivered by the Apostles is a horrible thing to do! It’d be better that you never knew the truth than you should reject it after the Apostolic deposit has been received.
        And moreover this ‘pattern of sound words’ which is to be guarded as the standard for Christian living is to be the standard for all future teaching in the Church — II Timothy 2:2, “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The Apostles have a truth (a body of truth, a ‘pattern of sound words’) received from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — they pass it on to the Church. And the Church is to guard that Apostolic pattern of sound words — they are to mark off as heretics those who depart from it! They are to use that as the standard for all future teachers in the Church.
        What is this tradition? Is it the holy tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church? Is it the tradition of the popes in the Roman Catholic Church? No, it is the Apostolic tradition that truth which they have received from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Can you not see that? It should be obvious in the reading of Scripture unless you go to the Bible trying to make it prove some preconceived idea! That tradition, the deposit, that which is handed over or delivered is not Church tradition, papal tradition — it’s rather the pattern of sound words taught by the Apostles. And they teach that on the basis of revelation from God the Father.
        Now, we have to ask the next question. We know what the truth is (it’s the deposit). We know why it’s called tradition (because it’s ‘passed on’ to the Church and through the Church). Now the question is: how was it passed? In what form was it passed to the Church? And to answer that let’s turn in our Bibles to II Thessalonians 2:15. Paul says, “So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.” Paul says, “Stand fast in the traditions,” that is, what the Apostles have delivered, handed over to the Church! Stand fast by that pattern of sound words, the truth, the deposit that they have from God to give to God’s people. Stand fast by it! And how did the Church learn about this deposit? How did the Apostles hand it over or deliver it? Well, Paul tells us right here. They did it not only by word but by epistle, by letter, by writing (if you will). “So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.”
        And so what I want to say is the truth was passed to the Church orally and in writing. In two ways that same deposit (or pattern of sound words) came to the Church. Is there any hint at all in this verse that what Paul means is part of the tradition came orally and part of the tradition came in writing — so make sure you keep the two of them together so you get everything? Is there any hint of that? It’s just the traditions; it’s just the deposit; it’s just the pattern of sound words that is communicated in two different ways! Paul doesn’t suggest that one or the other supplement the opposite. He simply says guard the traditions — and you received them in writing and you received them orally!
        Now why am I stressing this point? Because, you see, Roman Catholics maintain that if you only keep to the Written Apostolic Tradition, you haven’t got the whole Word of God! You’ve got to have the Oral Apostolic Tradition as well. Well, there’s just a huge logical fallacy involved in that thinking! Because Paul doesn’t say, “Make sure you hold on to the oral traditions and to the written traditions,” does he? He says, “Hold fast to the traditions whether you heard them orally or in writing.” Can you see the difference there? Do you have one thing that comes to the Church in two ways? Or do you have two things that come to the Church.
        I don’t have Apostolic authority. Paul, on the other hand, did! John, on the other hand, did! And when they taught orally, that was the truth passed down from God to the Church.
        Now when contemporary Roman Catholic apologists look at II Thessalonians 2:15 and say, “We’re bound to follow the traditions, oral as well as written,” my response to that is not only are oral and written two different ways of saying the same thing; but my response to that is simply, I’m under obligation to listen to the oral teaching of the Apostles; you’re absolutely right, and they’re not around any more! And you know, catch up with what’s happening in the Church, friend — we don’t have Apostles today! Where do you get the idea — even on your misreading of this verse — where do you get the idea that the authority of the Apostles in oral instruction has passed on to other people?
        Well of course, those of you familiar with the Roman Catholic Church know that they have something of an answer to that. However, I’ve never known a Roman Catholic to think that their answer to that question was based on biblical exegesis. They believe that the tradition of the Apostles (or the authority of the Apostles) can be passed through the office, particularly, of the vicar of Christ on earth, the pope, and the pope has been ordained by previous popes ordained by previous popes, the vicar of Christ, the deputy of Christ on earth. The problem is, that’s not biblically founded! And that’s the closest they would to being able to show that the authority of the Apostles continues in the Church.
        But you see, the authority of the Apostles continues in the Church not by their oral instruction — that should be obvious; the Apostles are dead! The authority of the Apostles continues in the Church through their teaching, through the deposit that they have passed to the Church. And the only way in which we now receive that deposit is in writing. The Apostles are dead! They don’t orally instruct us! But what they taught continues in their writings, in the Scriptures, which we take as the standard of our faith.

      • xpusostomos

         /  July 16, 2012

        ” Is there any hint at all in this verse that what Paul means is part of the tradition came orally and part of the tradition came in writing — so make sure you keep the two of them together so you get everything? Is there any hint of that? It’s just the traditions; it’s just the deposit; it’s just the pattern of sound words that is communicated in two different ways”.

        One might retort with the question of whether there is any hint in the passage that everything has certainly been transmitted using both forms simultaneously. Of course there is no hint of that either. In point of fact, the passage is non specific about whether everything is dual transmitted, or whether there is overlap, but non-exclusive overlap, or indeed whether there is no overlap at all.

        Given this non-specificity, what is the responsibility of the reader? Well, surely the responsibility to to hold to the traditions, whether orally or in writing, without prejudging whether there is or is not overlap in their contents.

        However there are abundant reasons to believe that Paul does NOT have in mind that the apostolic writings contain all revelation for the church. For one thing, 2 thessalonians is not the last book written in the new testament. In fact it predates the Gospels. Since it seems reasonable to assume that most of the gospel material circulated in the early church prior to the actual gospels being written (how could there be a church without Christ’s teachings?), then Paul can hardly have in mind some corpus of apostolic writings that say everything that has been taught orally. To suggest such a thing would be gross anachronism. Furthermore, with the very rapidly expanding church, the apostles couldn’t be everywhere at once. Many churches had never had an apostle visit. Others, while they may have had an apostolic visit, had accumulated many more members since that visit who now needed the admonition to hold to the oral traditions, nevermind that they didn’t get them first hand from an apostle. Without that premise, and without the NT scriptures and Gospels which were in the main yet to be written, the church could only function with the authority of oral traditions, even 3rd, or 4th hand. Furthermore, there was likely a substantial gap between say the death of Paul and the writing of the gospels. Even if a church was started by Paul, new members would have to take on faith the 5th or 6th hand oral traditions about Jesus, given that their direct founder was dead, and the Gospels not yet in existence.

        So the church having been founded on this foundation of oral tradition, even many levels removed, the questions is when and by what authority was the church supposed to change its ways? Interpreting 2 Thessalonians with the assistance of gross anachronism, is really not an adequate response.

  11. Garrison

     /  July 17, 2012

    I find it exceedingly funny that you claim both 1. Jesus knew and established a canon that is exactly the same as what you (a Protestant) have now and 2. the canon was murky to the early Church. This cannot be. You have three options: 1. choice #1 is right, 2. choice #2 is right, or 3. neither is right.

    I think you’re misinterpreting the data. Show me where the word “Scriptures” or “it is written” are used in reference to books that are not believed to be inspired by God. I have yet to see any to that effect, but I can show you statements where ecumenical and local councils, Fathers (including those Fathers you claim only saw these books as “worthy of being read but not suitable for establishing doctrine”), etc. declare these books as being inspired, prophetic, etc.

    You also fail to note the controversy over the various books eventually included in the New Testament such as Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, and the Apocalypse of John. Eusebius specifically refers to the Apocalypse of John as being rejected(!) by some. That is strong language not used, as far as I have seen, to refer to any part of the deuterocanon. By what authority do you accept these books but not the deuterocanon? You have none and neither did Luther, et al.

    But yes, Protestantism shows itself to be false even in this regard because they refuse the counsel of even those you say only saw these books as “useful”. These books are not even “worthy of being read” as Jerome says in your churches. You have even deleted them from your Bibles. The true nature of sola scriptura is revealed in this.

    I ask you: by what authority do you condemn Catholics (and the rest of the ancient Churches) for following the practice of the early Church? This was clearly at the very least an acceptable position. Again, I say that you have none. I can appeal to the judgement of the Church. You can only appeal to your own as no one before Luther does what you do.

    Moving on to the Council of Jerusalem, you note that this section of Acts is narrative, not didactic. I say that is irrelevant as I do not appeal to the narrative portion of that scene, but the actual decree of the Council. Regardless, in the narratives we find how the Church acted and thought of herself in the earliest days. Your example is well taken that not every action of the early Church is a mandate to continue that practice. Here’s the problem, however: how do we know what practices are to be continued and which are not necessary? By the practice of the Church throughout history. We know early Christians did not always live in a communal fashion, but we also know that the Church continued to meet in council as the first Christians did.

    Again, we agree the Apostles are dead! What we see is that they appointed successors with the power to teach with the authority and the guarantee of divine protection given to the Apostles. There is no reason for you to say the Council of Jerusalem was unique given this especially since those present did not seem to think it so.

    As a side note, it is exceedingly offensive to term the deuterocanon the apocrypha given its historical usage to indicate books deemed spurious and even dangerous. If you must refer to them as something else than the deuterocanon, please use the term “ecclesiastical” as that is more accurate and not an attempt to besmirch these books. Anything less is an ad hominem against Catholics.

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

    Reply
    • 1. I never said that Jesus established the exact Canon that we have, but that the Hebrew Canon that was accepted in his day is the same OT canon as we Protestants have.

      2. The word Scripture is used by Jerome when referring to an Apocryphal book, the same person who distinguishes between what is truly profitable for Doctrine. I will quote him if I need to yet again. Jerome called it Scripture and then said what he said. Those two things together is the example that you are looking for.

      Cardinal Cajetan also sheds light on the subject, yet again, “Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.” 129 Cardinal Caietan (Jacob Thomas de Vio), Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament)

      Then to throw a little bit of history in there: Against Apocrypha:

      400 BC: End of the “golden age of prophecy” (Old Testament age)

      132 BC: Sirach alludes to an Old Testament canon
      100 BC: The Community Rule/Zadokite Fragments may ascribe inspiration only to Old Testament canon
      AD 40: Philo omits apocryphal books from his writings
      AD 90: 2 Esdras argues for closed Old Testament canon
      AD 95: Josephus argues for closed Old Testament canon in Against Apion
      AD 99: End of the New Testament age with no direct reference to Apocrypha in the New Testament
      AD 160: Melito of Sardis excludes all Apocrypha
      AD 230: Julius Africanus argues apocryphal Susanna is fake
      AD 230: Origen argues against most of the Apocrypha as canonical
      AD 300: Rabbinic consensus against canonization of all Apocrypha (t. Yadayim 2:13B)
      AD 350: Cyril of Jerusalem rejects almost all Apocrypha
      AD 360: Council of Laodicea excludes all Apocrypha
      AD 367: Athanasius writes that Apocrypha is edifying not canonical
      AD 380: Gregory of Nazianzus rejects Apocrypha from canon
      AD 405: Jerome rejects the Apocrypha as canonical
      AD 595: Gregory the Great writes that Apocrypha is edifying not canonical
      AD 740: John of Damascene rejects Apocrypha
      AD 1150: Numbers Rabbah rejects Apocrypha
      AD 1300: First known commentary on an apocryphal book (Wisdom of Solomon)
      AD 1382: John Wycliffe denies canonicity of Apocrypha
      AD 1534: Martin Luther writes Apocrypha is useful not sacred
      AD 1643: John Lightfoot writes of “the wretched Apocrypha”
      AD 1648: Westminster Confession excludes Apocrypha
      AD 1825: British and Foreign Bible Society drop Apocrypha from Bibles

      I appeal to many great theologians, and what appears to have been the the most attested stance within the church for the first couple of centuries. And here again I must get you to admit that the church did not formally and officially declare its stance on the Apocrypha until Trent. Therefore, whatever was declared at Carthage was different than what was declared at Trent, though not necessarily contradictory. They didn’t declare at Carthage what was declared at Trent. That much is certain.

      For obvious reasons, including indulgences, penance, and papal authority (that is evidently fallible) as binding to a person’s conscience.

      The authority of the early church as obviously having a high regard for content of the Jewish Canon, seeing as it is read and quoted so much. Jerome and many others like Josephus and Philo, Cajetan, Hugh of St. Victor, John of Salisbury, Honorius of Autun (Augustodunensis, and many many others.

      To the issue of authority see https://passion2knowgod.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/epistemolgical-problems-with-the-catholic-critiques-of-sola-scriptura/

      This will be where the question of authority is discussed. I will write responses to that post mainly, seeing as every ounce of evidence that I give is ignored since I do not have the authority to judge evidence.

      Reply
      • xpusostomos

         /  July 17, 2012

        I’m not sure of the point of a long list of your supporters in history is. I could formulate a long list of my supporters, and then we are at an impasse without an authority to resolve it, right?

        But some things about your list bear commenting on. You list some Jewish voices who say that prophesy ceased. But you and I as Christians know for sure that they were 100% wrong on that issue. Jews who arrive at a canon based on a certainly false premise do not seem to be a good argument for you. And in any case, any theory about prophesy ceasing would be extra-scriptural, and therefore invalid on your own terms.

        You again make the logical flaw in treating the deuteros as a block when considering whether they are quoted on the NT. Firstly that logic would omit much of the proto canon. Secondly, everyone knows there are numerous allusions in the NT ( just pick up a NA27 Greek text and look in the margins ).

        You continue to make the error that fathers who partly support you are therefore somehow good for your positon. If a father supports say, only two of the deutero canon, why is that good for you? One would expect the slow process of canonization to be still in progress for books written most recently. Do think Isaiah was recognized as canon the day it was penned? No! It probably took centuries for that to play out. Just because it isn’t fully played out in certain fathers, but it is partially played out in their support of some books, how should this make you feel good?

        Regarding your claim that the deuteros are rejected by “the majority in history” that is a pretty bold claim, and ought to be backed up. It’s clear to me that it was accept by the majority. This claim is going to depend all on how you choose to count. I’ll bet one thing though, once you tell us your counting methodology, I’ll be able to use it against you to destroy your own canon.

        One more comment about Jerome’s comment that “the church does not admit them among the canonical scriptures”, of course, Jerome was obviously mistaken about that, even in this own time, as evidenced by councils and fathers contemporary with him. Perhaps he could have said that SOME of the churches do not admit them”. But there is no need to expand the significance of his statement beyond its obvious falsity.

        There is one other issue I’d like to bring up. There are vestigial citings of the deuteros in the Talmud, some of them even seeming to cite them as scripture. We must remember that all Jewish works are preserved to us by the Jews themselves, and it’s been in their own interests to consolidate their own position and paper over the cracks in their own position. It must also be remember that this position of post-temple Judaism was unduly influenced by the theme of expunging the infidel. I,e, Greek and Roman influences, in which works sometimes written, or else preseved in Greek were seen to be. Of course as Christians, we can have no such predudice. So it’s no real wonder that what comes down to us about the Jews relating to the Jewish position, is slanted towards the things that support them. However when you start to actually look carefully, both at post NT works like the Talmud as well as the pre NT works, such few of them that survive, the picture isn’t nearly as neat and tidy. You find references around where Jews seem to cite deuteros as scripture.

        Concerning the theory that “moral corruption” of the Roman church of the middle ages as well as a desire to support doctrines like purgatory and indulgences gave undue pressure to accept the deuteros, that doesn’t really explain the acceptance of them in the eastern churches which didn’t have the same problems, and even if they did, they didn’t have any pressing polemic motive to press the deuteros into service to address that.

        Therefore, using the argument that the deuteros can be rejected because of moral problem in the Roman church of the middle ages, really doesn’t address the issue of the eastern churches. Therefore this escape clause, if it ever had merit, seems to fail.

      • ” You list some Jewish voices who say that prophesy ceased. But you and I as Christians know for sure that they were 100% wrong on that issue.”

        The question is about the Old Testament, not the New. The Apocrypha was written during the phase of the OT. There was no substantial shift with regard to the scriptures during the 1 and 2 century A.D. with regard to the canon.
        The Jewish people that I quoted seemed to think that the majority of the Jewish people (there is always a fringe group) rejected the Apocrypha as a normative position on it. This is strange seeing as how much they venerated the Macabean revolt itself. The fact is that they thought of these great men of God as less than prophets. One can only wonder if Jesus thought that.

        He read these books, as you noted they are alluded to in many instances. They were relevant writings of the day. But they were put aside. This is not definitive, or conclusive evidence; but it is evidence for what the apostles themselves believed. Then Jerome’s quote about the book of the Hebrews shows how he thought of their decisions doesn’t it? “What the Savior declares was written down was certainly written down. Where is it written down? The Septuagint does not have it, and the Church does not recognize the Apocrypha. Therefore we must go back to the book of the Hebrews, which is the source of the statements quoted by the Lord, as well as the examples cited by the disciples…The apostolic men use the Hebrew Scripture. It is clear that the apostles themselves and the evangelists did likewise. The Lord and Savior, whenever He refers to ancient Scripture, quotes examples from the Hebrew volumes…” That is how Jerome interpreted the actions of the Jews.

        Lets move to the authority issue. I know that you have reasons for accepting the DT’s; and I respect that, but I also have reasons for rejecting them. There have been councils called together on the issue and there have been differing conclusions. The question comes down to the magesterial authority, and whether it is infallible authority; and whether or not we can be certain of this very fact.

      • xpusostomos

         /  July 17, 2012

        Either prophesy ceased, or it did not cease. I see no reason to anachronistically import notions of old and new testaments. If we were to do that however, I would note that John the Baptist was an old testament prophet. The unanimous position of the NT as well as the story the NT presents about those events, is that nobody at the time disputed that John was or could be a prophet because prophesy had ceased. Nobody a the time said ” don’t bother going into the desert to see than so-called prophet, since we all know prophesy has ceased”. Clearly the prophesy had ceased opinion was primarily if not exclusively a post 1st century Jewish justification for rejecting the Messiah.

        I might also mention Luke 1:55 which explicitly says that god would speak to Abraham and his offspring “forever”. Not to mention the prophesy of Luke 1:67. The idea that prophesy ceased is diametrically opposed to the Christian position.

        As for Jerome, it’s interesting that he is pretty much the ONLY church father who (sometimes) supports the EXACT Protestant canon. A coincidence? No, Jerome’s influence on the western church is greatly magnified by his work on the vulgate, beyond what it would otherwise have been. And so, nearly every posting of yours has to mention him, because he is your one shining light on this issue. But the western church wasn’t even half the church back then. Perhaps not even a quarter, I’m not sure. The main centre of thought was the east and Greek speakers, none of which ever supported the exact Protestant canon.

  12. Garrison

     /  July 17, 2012

    1. Yes, you did. When you argue that Jesus described the limits of the canon with his “Abel to Zechariah” comment, you are arguing he is setting your canon. It’s how you argue against the deuterocanon.

    2. Again, I reject the term “apocryphal” for these books. Use “ecclesiastical” if you have to. Again, Jerome (nor anyone else!) deny that these books are, in fact, inspired. That statement does not show what you’re saying.

    As for Cajetan, he was obviously wrong and admitted as much when he accepted the Council of Trent. His statement, “For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome,” is most especially wrong in the judgement of the Church. Seriously? Reducing the entire Church’s history to one man’s fallible interpretation? That’s beyond ridiculous. It is a nova due to the influence of the Humanism in vogue at the time (which also influenced the Reformation!).

    I don’t understand what your point about the Jewish Canon is. We have what they Jews regarded as Scripture. Josephus, Philo, anti-Christian Jamnia, and whatever second century Jews in Alexandria think is irrelevant to what we believe as they did not accept Christ. Also, the declarations and actions of Protestants after Trent are irrelevant to the debate.

    A comparison table of how different Fathers actually felt: http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2012/04/which-books-were-in-early-christian.html

    No, you as an individual do not have the authority to declare doctrine nor to anathematize two millenia of Christians on this issue when they were never condemned until the Reformation. You claim that Rome (even the Church!) has no authority to rule definitively on this subject (rather, you reject the ruling the Church did issue because you don’t like it), but then say that Luther et al. have the authority to bind my conscience with their nova while hiding behind “Scripture”. Double standard? Definitely. Again, your position subordinates the Church to the opinions of a few men. This is not how the Church has ever acted.

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

    Reply
    • Garrison

       /  July 17, 2012

      Correction: Again, Jerome (nor anyone else!) does not deny that these books are, in fact, inspired.

      Reply
    • Jesus did not establish the book of Romans which is in my canon. That is what I was denying. And, I argue against the Apocrypha, because it is well attested in history as rejected as inspired scripture from the majority and it is for this reason that I will not consent on it. You know what I mean when I say it.

      Your wrote: “Jerome (nor anyone else!) deny that these books are, in fact, inspired.” Then i quote Cajetan and prove that statement wrong. He is not “noone else.” And I didn’t reduce it to one. I have a list of people, along with a list of historical references.

      Jerome didn’t deny it??? You must be totally ignorant of all of the historical evidences that contradict your belief! I can at least say that there were notable people that believed in the deuterocanon, but my goodness, you say that no one denied it?? I showed you a long list on the last post,and to be frank, it seems that you are just speaking right past the evidence that i put forward as if it means nothing and then say things that clearly demonstrate your total ignorance of the facts that I just posted. Here is another quote from Jerome:

      “Let her treasures be not silks or gems but manuscripts of the holy scriptures…Let her begin by learning the psalter, and then let her gather rules of life out of the proverbs of Solomon…Let her follow the example set in Job of virtue and patience. Then let her pass on to the gospels…the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles…let her commit to memory the prophets, the heptateuch, the books of Kings and of Chronicles, the rolls also of Ezra and Esther. When she has done all these she may safely read the Song of Songs…Let her avoid all apocryphal writings, and if she is led to read such not by the truth of the doctrines which they contain but out of respect for the miracles contained in them; let her understand that they are not really written by those to whom they are ascribed, that many faulty elements have been introduced into them, and that it requires infinite discretion to look for gold in the midst of dirt” (Ibid., Letter CVII.12).

      Jerome again:

      “As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Eccesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church…I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon…(Ibid., Volume VI, Jerome, Prefaces to Jerome’s Works, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs; Daniel, pp. 492-493).”

      If you want to see another review of the history of the Apocryhpa, I recommend some of these works:
      These works testify to the historical majority position on the Apocrypha in the early church pre-Jerome. M. F. Wiles, “Origen as Biblical Scholar,” in The Cambridge History of the Bible: From the Beginnings to Jerome, ed. P. R. Ackroyd and C. F. Evans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 454. In contrast, Sundberg has argued that “the church did not inherit a canon of Scriptures from Judaism. The church was forced to determine her OT for herself” (A. C. Sundberg, “The ‘Old Testament’: A Christian Canon,” CBQ 30 [1968]: 152). Sundberg’s claim has been challenged by Stephen B. Chapman, “The Old Testament Canon and Its Authority for the Christian Church,” Ex auditu 19 (2003): 125–48; Christopher Seitz, The Goodly Fellowship of the Prophets: The Achievement of Association in Canon Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009); Andrew E. Steinmann, The Oracles of God: The Old Testament Canon (St. Louis: Concordia Academic Press, 1999); and R. T. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986).

      Here is a quote from Kruger to end this discussion.

      Protestants have differed over the extent of the Old Testament canon (with the Catholic Church eventually accepting the Apocrypha)? Does this not prove that the church’s consensus is an unreliable indicator of canonicity? Although the story of the Apocrypha is too complex to fully address here, there is no indication that it contradicts our model. Several considerations: (1) It should be kept in mind that the books of the Old Testament canon were, in fact, widely recognized by the Old Testament “church.” There are good reasons to think that the Hebrew canon was established within Judaism prior to the first century. This is confirmed by the writings of the New Testament themselves, which are some of our best first-century sources and regularly cite the Old Testament as Scripture, but give no similar treatment to the books of the Apocrypha. God had entrusted the Old Testament books to the Jews, and they received them by a wide consensus (Rom. 3:2). Thus, the full reception of the Old Testament by the people of God in Israel is a sufficient justification for our belief in them as canonical. (2) It was the church’s duty to receive what had been handed down to the people of God before her. In the first few centuries of the church we have good evidence that the dominant position (though not the only position) was an acceptance of the Jewish Old Testament canon and not the Apocrypha. This would include church fathers like Melito of Sardis, Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius, Hilary of Poitiers, Gregory of Nazianzus, Rufinus, and Jerome. Thus, it appears that both the Jewish “church” and the first centuries of the Christian church widely adopted the Old Testament books and not the Apocrypha (of course there were minority opinions, but this does not contradict the model). (3) If so, then we must explain how the church in the Middle Ages, and ultimately at the Council of Trent, could divert from this clear foundation and affirm additional books that were not canonical. We noted above that there can be, in principle, “a situation where the Spirit’s testimony was so obscured by the church’s sin and rebellion that the church reached consensus on books that are not canonical.” No doubt we have good reasons to think that the extensive moral and doctrinal corruption of the church in the Middle Ages—which stood in opposition to the consensus of the Jewish believers, as well as the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament—would constitute just such a situation. The apocryphal books would have been attractive to the church during this time since they were used to justify doctrines, like purgatory and prayers for the dead, that were at the heart of the ecclesiastical abuse of power. Indeed, so substantial was this corruption, especially in regard to the gospel message, that legitimate questions can be raised about whether the Roman Catholic Church continued to be the true church of Jesus Christ—and therefore a place where the Spirit was actively working (and if, lacking the Spirit, it is not the true church, then its affirmation of the apocryphal books is not relevant). But even if one accepts Roman Catholicism as a true church, the fact remains that we have good grounds for believing that, in this instance, the Spirit’s witness was widely obscured by the church’s sin and rebellion. Of course, at this point one might raise the following objection: If the church was mistaken about the Old Testament books, how can we be sure that it was not mistaken about the New Testament books? But it is here that we must remember our model: we have warrant for thinking that the church’s consensus is a reliable indicator of canonicity, unless we have good reasons to think the contrary. In regard to the very specific situation of the Roman Catholic Church’s acceptance of the Apocrypha at the Council of Trent, wedo have good reasons to think the contrary. But in regard to the New Testament canon, we have no reasons to think that the church was mistaken in this regard. We do not have toprove that the church is not mistaken in order to be rational in our belief that the church is not mistaken. Again, consider the eyesight analogy above. Even if my eyesight were unreliable at some point (perhaps I had a bad reaction to medication and hallucinated), that wouldn’t mean that I must reject the reliability of my eyesight at all other times (like after I stopped taking my medication).
      Michael J. Kruger (2012-04-05). Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books (Kindle Locations 6390-6408). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

      I’m moving to the magesterium now. I thought you said that you were protestant pre-conversion to Catholic. Which, obviously your understanding of the Protestant theology was not well established because your understanding of it is, quite frankly, terrible. Your said: “No, you as an individual do not have the authority to declare doctrine nor to anathematize two millenia of Christians on this issue when they were never condemned until the Reformation.” That is just ridiculous. There is no anathema or any such thing. Y’all didn’t anathema people for not talking correctly about the Trinity before it was decided.

      Your wrote: “You claim that Rome (even the Church!) has no authority to rule definitively on this subject.” Yes, I did because we believe that the Scriptures themselves are the Ultimate authoirty on these issues and not anyone’s interpretation itself. We do not hide behind scripture, we align ourselves with it in submission to it; even if it means that the Roman church will kill us like they did Hus, and as they threatened Luther.

      ” The church is ruled by Opinions of a few Men?” Or “their opinions are totally in line with the teachings of Scripture and are therefore authoritative.”

      In any case, it would be good to move to the heart of issue. I have been on the defensive for a bit too long. Everything is so much easier on the offensive.

      Reply
  13. pio

     /  July 17, 2012

    Josh. I have simply been reading the comments and not responding because I think these conversations are not bearing any fruit right now but I do feel compelled to say you are out of line with your comment on the “Roman church” regarding hus and Luther. I expect more charity from you. Please consider being more charitable in regard to the Catholic church.

    Reply
    • My apologies Pio! I meant no disrespect. Did the Church threaten Luther, though? Or am i missing something? AGain, I will pursue more charity. These back and forths get a little frustrating, and I agree they are not looking fruitful, and is probably best to go to a more beneficial subject.

      As far as the word Apocrypha goes, it is hard to give ground there as you can understand.

      Reply
  14. Garrison

     /  July 17, 2012

    No. Jerome does not deny that they are inspired. You have shown he believed them to be worthy to be read even in Church. Let me ask: what must these books be to be read in the liturgy itself?! I don’t think your explanation that Scripture doesn’t mean what it means to the Fathers holds up. You haven’t dealt with the link I have provided showing these Fathers you claim rejected the deuterocanon who refer to these books repeatedly as prophetic, “it is written”, Sacred Scripture, etc. You also don’t seem to be understanding what I mean by “inspired”. I am asserting that, by referring to these books as prophetic, “it is written”, Sacred Scripture, etc., they regard them as being “inspired”.

    You wrote:
    “Jesus did not establish the book of Romans which is in my canon. That is what I was denying. And, I argue against the Apocrypha, because it is well attested in history as rejected as inspired scripture from the majority and it is for this reason that I will not consent on it. You know what I mean when I say it.”

    I still reject it as a smear against these books given that term’s history. You do argue that Jesus had a canon and referred to one. That is the proposition I cited as contradictory with your other assertion that the canon was not conclusively decided until Trent.

    Your quote from Kruger is, to be honest, a long-winded exercise in futility. He doesn’t even recognize that many, not just a minority, of Fathers thought these books were canonical in addition to inspired. Apparently Augustine, Cyprian, the Fathers of the Councils of Hippo, Carthage, Nicaea I and II, Quinisext, etc. etc. ad nauseum were “obscured by the church’s sin and rebellion”. Yes. These men already were severely corrupted because they regarded books that were clearly not Scripture as being such. *rolls eyes* Remember: Jerome himself still included the deuterocanon in his Vulgate. Also, he and you ignore the fact that the ancient Churches of the East, some of which have been separated from us for over a millenium and a half, have at least the same canon we have. Were they also so steeped in rebellion and sin they could not discern right from wrong? No.

    You wrote:
    “Which, obviously your understanding of the Protestant theology was not well established because your understanding of it is, quite frankly, terrible.”

    Well, given the fact that most Protestant theology is based on terrible exegesis, begging the question, and terrible history, I’m fine with that. Also, your understanding (and Kruger’s and Brahnsen’s) of Catholic theology is lacking… That comment got us nowhere.

    “That is just ridiculous. There is no anathema or any such thing. Y’all didn’t anathema people for not talking correctly about the Trinity before it was decided.”

    When you condemn Catholics and the other ancient Churches as perverting the faith of the early Church on this issue, you are anathematizing us. There wasn’t a controversy over the Trinity causing such a significant problem before Arius, so there was no need to define the dogma in council.

    “Yes, I did because we believe that the Scriptures themselves are the Ultimate authoirty on these issues and not anyone’s interpretation itself.”

    Oh, please. It’s always someone’s interpretation of Scripture, even if it’s only yours. There is no place for the Church in your ecclesiology other than when it agrees with you.

    “We do not hide behind scripture, we align ourselves with it in submission to it; even if it means that the Roman church will kill us like they did Hus, and as they threatened Luther.”

    Oh please. Both these men were heretics. We align ourselves with Scripture and Tradition and the authority of the Church founded by Christ. Are Protestants going to kill us and reduce us to virtual serfdom as Elizabeth and Oliver Cromwell did? Trash. Utter trash.

    “The church is ruled by Opinions of a few Men?” Or “their opinions are totally in line with the teachings of Scripture and are therefore authoritative.”

    *rolls eyes* The question is: who determines such a thing? My opinion is Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, etc. were all heretics as bad as Arius. Who adjudicates such a dispute? A book cannot; we must go to a living body to interpret it and rule.

    IC XC NIKA

    Garrison

    Reply
  15. Pio

     /  July 18, 2012

    Can you show me where and when the “Roman Church” treatened the life of Luther? Here is one example of where this idea may have come from. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes:

    “The papal Brief to Cajetan (23 August), which was handed to Luther at Nuremberg on his way home, in which the pope, contrary to all canonical precedents, demands the most summary action in regard to the uncondemned and unexcommunicated “child of iniquity”, asks the aid of the emperor, in the event of Luther’s refusal to appear in Rome, to place him under forcible arrest, was no doubt written in Germany, and is an evident forgery (Beard, op. cit., 257-258; Ranke, “Deutsche Gesch.” VI, 97-98). Like all forged papal documents, it still shows a surprising vitality, and is found in every biography of Luther.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09438b.htm
    I don’t find arguments like these helpful to the discussion anyway. The fact is it can be demonstrated Luther was a very angry and hateful man and he was a mentally unstable political and Theological rebel who was leading many people away from the Church and very possibly away from eternal life. The fact is some Protestants and some Catholics did some bad things. Lutherans and Reformed both put to death your Theological forbeareres in the faith (the anabaptists), drowning them because they denied infant baptism among other things. Calvin had some questionable dealings with others like Servetus, Bolsec and the way he ran Geneva. Much more mud can be slung against the Protestants but I don’t find these kinds of points helpful to ecumenical dialogue and neither should you find remarks like yours helpful either. Perhaps you in fact did not intend to be uncharitable with your remarks, but I don’t think you would find it charitable if we began to point out all the things Protestants may have done wrong so it would be helpful to avoid such mud slinging in the future.

    Reply
  16. “Perhaps you in fact did not intend to be uncharitable with your remarks, but I don’t think you would find it charitable if we began to point out all the things Protestants may have done wrong so it would be helpful to avoid such mud slinging in the future.”

    Then why did you go out of your way to do exactly what you claim is uncharitable? To call it mud slinging, come down on someone for doing it, then return fire is definitely not charitable. Cant have it both ways. Either way this dialogue is far beyond the topic that started and i would say the thread should be ended.

    Reply
  17. Pio

     /  July 18, 2012

    Hey ryan,

    i said that just to prove the point that it goes both ways. My intention was to demonstrate that there is alot of fault to go around so it isn’t very helpful to discuss these things. So my point is that making such comments when one’s own tradition is not blameless is hypocritical and seems to be uncharitable. However, if in the process of demonstrating that Josh’s comments were uncharitable i was uncharitable then i apologize.

    Reply
  18. Ryan

     /  August 6, 2012

    No worries Pio.

    Reply

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