Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


The Apocrypha and You

posted by xscot mcknight

Here’s some simple questions: Is the Apocrypha in the Bible you carry to church? Something your pastor or preachers or teachers use or refer to in sermons? Something you personally read? Do you think it is inspired? Vote on which applies most to you.
1. Never read it.
2. Sometimes hear about it.
3. Sometimes read it.
4. Integral to my Bible reading.
5. Should be in Bible.
HT: Ted Gossard



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Scott L

posted March 1, 2006 at 8:48 am


Scot, I’ve been doing some research about Catholicism recently and came across something that shocked me. They say that in the LXX, the Greek OT that Jesus and the early Church used, contained the Apocrypha – also that there are references to the Apocrypha in the NT. I had never heard this before. Is this true? And if so, what do you make of it?



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Kyle Essary

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:07 am


I know my Greek NT mentions possible allusions to the Apocrypha, but never really quotes it directly from my understanding. I read it sometimes, enjoy reading it, still I guess the Protestant in me feels awkward doing it. To be honest though, it wouldn’t be in any of my Bibles if it weren’t in the New Oxford Annotated Bible that my college professors required us to buy when I was doing my undergrad.



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Ben

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:28 am


Your view on the Apocrypha often follows your belief in the innerency of scripture. If you believe scripture is divinely-written/inspired then you probably will not use the Apocrypha anymore than you will use the Talmud. If you believe the Bible is nothing more than a bunch of stories with a good moral behind them then you probably use the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha in my view is non-biblical but useful in understanding inter-testament philosophy and culture.



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rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 10:04 am


2 Timothy 3: 16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
How many times you heard that quoted? Was the writer of 2 Timothy inspired? If so,the writer was propbably referring to the Septuagint which included the Apocryphal books, which would make them inpsired. Which raises an interesting point about the “Word” of God for the protestant church.



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Matt

posted March 1, 2006 at 10:58 am


I bought a nice NRSV Catholic edition at a thrift store, so I have the Apocrypha in my Bible. Although I hardly ever read it, I might yet.
I’ve read through some of 1 Maccabees – we looked at it in an NT course I took to give background to Jesus’ cultural context.
And this is interesting: I’m finding that the page pops open to Maccabees pretty often when I first open it.



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Ted Gossard

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:06 am


I have been in traditions that never use or carry the apocryphal books. From what I’ve read there probably has to be more nuancing going on in arriving to a conclusion that will sit well with me. I’m open.



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Ted Gossard

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:07 am


I’m open…I THINK.



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B-W

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:21 am


How many times you heard that quoted? Was the writer of 2 Timothy inspired? If so,the writer was propbably referring to the Septuagint which included the Apocryphal books, which would make them inpsired. Which raises an interesting point about the “Word” of God for the protestant church.
It’s worth noting that this would also raise an interestng pont about the meaning of “inspired” for the church (probably not just Protestant).



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Pete Williamson

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:33 am


I’ve used portions from 1 & 2 Maccabees before in sermons and bible studies. I do so because I find it useful in helping my people get a better sense of the historical context of Jesus’ life and ministry – both the longing for the Messiah and the Kingdom of God to come as well as the fierceness of the religious leaders to defend the same traditions that people were dying for under Antiochus Epiphanes. I also had to read a bit of 4 Esdras when I was studying Revelation under Gordon Fee.



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Mike

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:42 am


I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but had never read anything from the Apocrypha. Actually, I never knew they existed. This year I was required to buy a Catholic Bible for one of my courses. But before I could read from it, we had a guest lecturer, and he read from Sirach. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. Part of it was the content, but part was because I had never heard it before!
For the first time in my life I had some sense of what it must be like to read Scripture for the first time.



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Mike

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:46 am


PS. The canon was closed loooong before there were Catholics and Protestants. (We were all Catholic at one point…)
In order to fairly consider the Apocrypha we need to get past our biases, and ignore the use of it since the canon was closed.



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Christian

posted March 1, 2006 at 12:16 pm


Catholics and Protestants do not mean the same thing by the term Apocrypha. For the Catholic understanding, which is interesting even you don’t agree with it, see:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01601a.htm



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jason_73

posted March 1, 2006 at 1:02 pm


My answer is 2. I heard a rumour that the Apocrypha says that the earth is 75% land and the rest water. That was when I as 15 so I never looked into it anymore. Haha.



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Ochuk

posted March 1, 2006 at 1:54 pm


I’m not open to it, but I don’t know why (typical evangelical).



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anonymous-julie

posted March 1, 2006 at 2:17 pm


I read extrabiblical holy books alongside other spiritual writers; when something rings true then it rings true, when it is senseless I don’t let that bother me, when it seems important but cryptic I will consider and return and hope to understand better. Probably because of my Catholic background I give weight across-the-board to the Bible.
Interesting thoughts to consider, thanks…



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B-W

posted March 1, 2006 at 2:34 pm


PS. The canon was closed loooong before there were Catholics and Protestants. (We were all Catholic at one point…)
In order to fairly consider the Apocrypha we need to get past our biases, and ignore the use of it since the canon was closed.

This statement depends on how we define the “closing” of the canon, which is actually not a universally agreed time.
The Council of Trent (1546) is often used as the defining moment of the “closing” of the canon, and it’s a pretty good estimate. But did date is after the dawn of the Reformation (usually dated to Luther’s posting of the 95 theses on October 31, 1517). In some Protestant circles, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) is considered more binding.
The Greek Orthodox canon, which has a few significant differences from Protestant and Roman Catholic canons, wasn’t set until the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672.
It’s certainly true that there was general agreement among Christians about the canon earlier than these dates, but they weren’t formalized as “closed canon” until comparatively recently. In fact, quite a lot of the “canons” developed before the Reformation excluded Revelation, which is now accepted by practically everyone as part of the canon.



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Jim

posted March 1, 2006 at 2:56 pm


Was told to buy the New Oxford NRSV for seminary with the aprocypha, but then was never required to read anything from it. It just made for a bigger bible to have to lug around…



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eric

posted March 1, 2006 at 2:57 pm


I haven’t read the Apocrypha. I need to, though. I am realizing more and more how much of Jesus’ teaching (and that of the Paul) that I don’t understand as fully as I should because I haven’t read the Apocrypha or the Talmud.
Both Jesus and Paul were Jewish. Jesus a Jewish Rabbi and Paul a Pharisee. They used and the stories and writings of their time. I think the church is missin so much because they have not read these documents and they don’t understand Jewish history and first century Jewish culture.



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impleri

posted March 1, 2006 at 3:35 pm


Well, if i understand history correctly, the Apocrypha were part of the canon until Luther cut it out based on his reading of Jerome. The Easter Orthodox, Catholic, some Jewish, and some Protestant sects maintain that the Apocrypha are part of their canon. It is primarily evangelical Protestants that deny it as being canonical following Luther’s opinion.



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B-W

posted March 1, 2006 at 3:39 pm


If Luther had his way, he’d have left out a number of other books, too….



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kerry doyal

posted March 1, 2006 at 5:18 pm


count me a # 3
I refer to it on occasion in ministry (Hannakuh – sp?).



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Michael Barber

posted March 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm


As a Catholic I have always held to the “apocrypha”. It is true that we find them in the LXX, however, we simply do not know when they were eventually included. We do find references in the Mishna to Sirach, for example, dating to 200 A.D., but what signifance should that have in the debate is, well, debatable. The matter is actually quite complicated. In sum, I think the case against it has been grossly overstated – and so do a growing number of non-Catholic biblical scholars. For a serious treatment of the LXX and the Apocrypha I highly recommend Martin Hengel’s book “The Septuagint As Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon” (2002). Also see, Albert Sunberg, Jr., “The Protestant Old Testament Canon: Should It Be Re-examined?” CBQ 28 (2001):194-203.



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Daniel Greeson

posted March 1, 2006 at 6:10 pm


I definitely see the Apocrypha as integral to my understanding of the Second Temple time period. N.T. Wright makes a huge case of his understanding of the context of the 1st century by understanding the Judaism(s) of the time period.. which to know that is to study the apocrypha and pseudopigrapha..It is also definitely refered to in Jude, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter.
What that does to “inspiration” of scriptures I havent begun to adress.
shalom
daniel



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John Frye

posted March 1, 2006 at 7:46 pm


I once asked a Catholic scholar/priest about the “Apocrypha” and he was insulted. He told me what I considered “Apocrypha,” he considered the Word of God. He brought my trite, self-assured Protestant view up short (in terms of ‘attitude’).
I’ve read the Apocrypha several times, believing however that it does not match up to Protestant canonical standards in many ways regarding “Introduction” issues: authorship, historicity, doctrinal clarity, etc.
What’s even more intriguing is the New Testament pseudopigrapha–Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of James, etc.



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Daniel

posted March 1, 2006 at 8:53 pm


This has really peaked my curiosity.
Why was the apocrypha excluded from what we see today as the Bible?



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Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:23 pm


The short answer is that the Reformation went back to “originals” and this led to Hebrew and this led away from the use of the Septuagint’s Apocrypha.
The Eastern Church has always seen the Septuagint as the Christian form of the OT.
The fact is that the LXX and certain portions of the Apocrypha were part of the Bible of the Christians of the first three centuries, but they did not have a “list” and did not have “bound Bibles” so we have to leave a measure of ambiguity about these issues.



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Daniel

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:28 pm


When I have asked pastors in the past why the apocrypha is not included in the Bibles that we read, the short answer is that it was not Gods will.
So, should we read these books as the “word of God”?



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Rich

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:31 pm


I’m Lutheran and my Bible has the Apocrypha in it. Good reading but not the inspired, authoratative Word of God.



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Rich

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:32 pm


I’m Lutheran and my Bible has the Apocrypha in it. Good reading but not the inspired, author0tative Word of God.



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Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:54 pm


Daniel,
Good question. Why are the books we read the books in the Bible?
Standard answer: Because they are inspired.
How do we know they are inspired?
Standard answer: Because they were self-attesting to the earliest churches.
This last answer is not that simple.
The best answer for all this is that the books in the Bible are there because the Church, universal, agreed that these books are the “official” story of Jesus and the Church. Some of these books were disputed (e.g., Hebrews, Revelation). By and large, the Church agreed that these books were the right ones. And, along side this decision was the decision that the Nicene Creed was how the books were best explained (in light of current debates).
Leading to this: we accept these books in the Bible because this is the universal testimony of the Church.



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Justin D

posted March 1, 2006 at 9:55 pm


“ambiguity” is one of my favorite words…



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Dana Ames

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:06 pm


Scot,
Do you know where one can obtain an interlinear Greek/English LXX? Does such a critter exist? I would be extremely happy to have one, if it does.
Dana



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rick

posted March 1, 2006 at 11:24 pm


Scot,
I mentioned the 2 Tim. verse earlier.( #4) Wouldn’t the author be referring to the Septuigant?
Thanks



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Ted Gossard

posted March 2, 2006 at 7:12 am


Scot, on #26, Are you saying that there has to be a measure of ambiguity as to whether or not we should have the apocryphal books in the Bibles we use today?
Interesting how the RCC and the Gk Orthod differ on exactly which books.



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Scot McKnight

posted March 2, 2006 at 8:06 am


Dana,
Great bottle of wine; I’ll write you an e-mail.
Zondervan used to publish an interlinear Septuagint.
Ted,
Yes, there is measure of ambiguity met by trust that God can be trusted to use the Church to make the right decision.



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Ted Gossard

posted March 2, 2006 at 9:14 am


A further question and reflection. First, thanks for the answer, Scot. Helpful.
I’m wondering if a “purple theology” wouldn’t do well
to include such books. Probably too strong a move for
a translation like the NIV to make?
That was a question in my e-mail to you. I would ask now: doesn’t it seem viable that God would lead the entire Church (evang, rcc, orthod) into a general agreement, while not agreeing on all specifics. But what I’m especially getting at here: Wouldn’t it be likely that God would not lead all the communions to do exactly the same? I mean some would include apocryha, others not- in their Bibles. Even though over time they may arrive to more and more of a consensus.
God doesn’t take the ground out from under his people (normally) in moving them a certain direction. He prepares them over time, I would think -in my viewing the story in Scripture.
Therefore, I would think God might be working to bring more and more of a consensus that these books more or less have value. But communions would not be moved to change without sufficient preparation, to be sure. Nor necessarily ever come to full agreement in this present existence/age.
Something like that?



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Ted Gossard

posted March 2, 2006 at 9:28 am


I forgot to include mainline protestants, and etc, in what I say Church, in a certain sense, is.



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GJ

posted March 2, 2006 at 9:29 am


Dana: Is this what you are looking for?
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0913573442/103-0706858-7419046?v=glance&n=283155
As for the Apocrypha …
For one, these books do not make any claim to inspiration. In fact, the author of of Sirach even says: “I entreat you… pardon us for those things wherein we may seem, while we follow the image of wisdom, to come short in the composition of words.” The author of Maccabees concludes by saying, “I also will here make an end of my narration. Which if I have done well, and as it becometh the history, it is what I desired: but if not so perfectly, it must be pardoned me” (2 Maccabees 15:28, 39). Definately not a comforting thing…
Take a look at First maccabees. It notes that there weren’t any prophets at that time (1 Maccabees 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). Jews agree that the Holy Spirit had ceased moving.
Also, the Apocrypha cantains errors. One example is the reference of King Nebuchadnezzar as a “King of the Assyrians” in the book of Judith.
I think the biggest defense against including the Apocrypha is that the Jews themselves didn’t consider them inspired. The Apocrypha books are written in Greek and are not part of the Massoretic Text (copies of the inspired Hebrew). Josephus even tells us that the Jews considered only 22 books of divine origin (equivalent to 39 books in the Protestant Old Testament).
By the way, this is my first time commenting…I usually just enjoy reading but felt a call to comment on this. Scot, I’ve enjoyed your blog and look forward to hearing you speak in person sometime.
Peace,
GJ



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Ben

posted March 2, 2006 at 11:56 am


Great Post GJ. I agree with your assesment of the Apocrypha. It is important to point out that these books make no claim to divine inspiration unlike the canonical books.



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Ted Gossard

posted March 2, 2006 at 12:26 pm


GJ and Ben, I have read in them, but intend to read all of them now. I’m picking up from you and what I’ve read that they seem to have varying value.
I will say that not all the canonical books make claim to divine inspiration, though none of them cast doubt on it.



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Scot McKnight

posted March 2, 2006 at 2:23 pm


Ted,
I’m not making that suggestion, but I see no reason we can’t bring the Apocryphal books into the discussion more directly.
On those saying the Apocrypha doesn’t claim to be inspired — which books in the NT do that? What about Paul’s comments in 1 Cor 7 — are they not on the order of your comment? The comment about the cessation of the Spirit had to do with the gift of prophecy (but see Rebecca Gray’s fine piece on this).



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Ted Gossard

posted March 2, 2006 at 2:34 pm


Thanks Scot. I look forward to grappling with this issue more. (Any more posts on this?) And I do look forward to profiting from what I’ve been missing in having not read through them in the past.
I’ll check out Gray’s article.



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GJ

posted March 2, 2006 at 5:02 pm


As for the NT books being inspired and considered “Scripture” we have Peter in 2 Peter 3:15-16 commenting that Paul’s letters are equivalent to Scripture.
“and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
Also, 1 Timothy 5:17-18 has Paul quoting both an OT passage, Deut 25:4, and also Luke 10:7. He calls both “Scripture.”
“18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
Also, Paul speaks inspired by God. He writes to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 2:13) says, “We also thank God because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” Here we see that what he preaches is the word of God.
As for Paul in 1 Cor. 7:12,14 we see him distinguishing from his word from God’s. He actually does this again in 7:40 where he says, “According to my judgement…” When Paul writes he is careful to distinguish if something is his opinion or the word of the Lord. Kind of strange? I think it’s to establish a clear distinction between the teachings of the Lord and his personal opinion. Does his opinion count for anything? Guess that’s the next question. Which leads me to….
…another reason why our NT is deemed “inspired” is because it was written by “apostles.” Behind that term is the concept of authority. Apostles were given authority as Christ’s representatives. What they wrote would have been deemed authoritative. I’m reminded of John 14-16 (currently a passage I’m meditating on for Seminary, very good stuff), where Christ is speaking to them saying that the Spirit will bring to remembrance all that he had said and taught. We see this concept of apostolic authority very early on, especially in people like Clement.
But back to the Apocrypha though. 1 Macc. 4:45-46 also points out that they didn’t think prophets existed at that time to speak God’s word. Joseph points this out in Against Apion 1.41 when he says, “From Artexerxes to our own times a complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.” This was written in first century A.D. and shows that he knew of the writings considered “Apocrypha.” He didn’t consider them worthy of equal credit. Rabbinic literature also reflects this view.
Later, Jerome who had included the Apocrypha in the Vulgate, said they were not “books of the canon” but “books of the church.” This is important because later when the Catholic church canonized the Apocrypha, the Vulgate was used to support it.
Wow, I think I’m rambling now. Sorry folks :) Good stuff to think through and reason together. Hope everyone has had a blessed day. Peace!
-GJ



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GJ

posted March 2, 2006 at 5:04 pm


BTW, Just wanted to say, that the Apocrypha is valuable in that it gives us a glimpse at the time period historicaly. I’m not a hater, I promise! :P
Peace,
GJ



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Dana Ames

posted March 2, 2006 at 7:44 pm


GJ, I don’t know what I’m looking for! But I appreciate the link- It’s a good start. Thanks.
Dana



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Scot McKnight

posted March 2, 2006 at 9:11 pm


GJ,
What I’m saying is that Gospels don’t say they are inspired; Paul doesn’t say his own letters are inspired. So, it is not really an issue of the self-claim of the book but the judgment of the Church in these matters. I don’t think we can get away from “canon” being “Church decision.” Inspiration is a decision about the divine-origin of a book. That, so it seems to me, is a spiritual judgment and a theological one.
The question we’ve always been asked is this one: GJ, if you found a letter today, and could prove it was from Paul, would you say it was inspired (using your apostolicity canon)?



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 2, 2006 at 9:33 pm


There seems to be a lot of misinformation going on here. The LXX as we have it in canon form is not compiled until we have the 4th-5th Cent codices. And these are not included because the Fathers think that they are canon. The Fathers think that they are good to read, but vary on what books they think might be part of the Scripture. The Apocryphal books that the Fathers think are OK to use throughout the 1st-3rd Cent before this do not include most of what we now consider to be the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals. Really the most commonly used are what are considered the additions to Daniel and the additions to Jeremiah because, in Greek, they didn’t see much of a distinction between Daniel and its additions, etc. A few other books may have been reverenced in like manner like the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas (they were included in codices too because often the Scriptorium would copy, not just the Scripture, but also would be hired to copy what was considered edifying Christian literature). But they seemed rather explicit in stating that, although good to read, most of what we consider the Apocrypha are not to be used from the pulpit as Scripture in the assembly. Jerome did not believe they were Scripture either and he cited the fact that they were not Hebrew and rejected by the Jews. But the Bishop of Rome and Augustine (who only believed a couple of the books to be Scripture) wanted it in, so he obliged.
That was the situation up until the Reformation. There were both Prots and Catholics who argued against its inclusion into the canon. But in the end, it was made official because a few statements in them supported the RCC’s views on a few issues like praying for the dead, purgatory, man able to do meritorious work before God, etc.
I think everyone from the Early Church on has used them for background info and maybe even quoted them (I quote the DSS in sermons too, but don’t think they’re Scripture).



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 2, 2006 at 9:35 pm


Oh BTW I’ve had to read them numerous times and summarize each book for a 2d Temple Interpretation Class once. They are fascinating to read, but do contain numerous historical errors (or interesting mythology) in some of the books.



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Scot McKnight

posted March 2, 2006 at 10:22 pm


Bryan,
And what of Irenaeus, Adv Haer 3.21.2? It seems there is evidence of knowledge of the LXX as the inspired translation of the Bible before your date, and there is good reason to think this means the whole OT as we now know it (or an approximation). Do you agree here? I’m not sure our data is so firm to exclude the inspiration extending to these other texts.
Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus: we find here Jdth, Tob, Sir, Wisd, with what you mention above.
Alexandrinus has very close to what we have in standard LXX editions today, which seems to be what you are saying here.
With Athanasius and Jerome, though, we find the distinction we would make between Bible and Apocrypha. Is this your understanding, too?



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Joel Richardson

posted March 2, 2006 at 11:13 pm


Someone asked about the Septuigent earlier. For anyone still interested. Put them in a folder in your favorites.
http://students.cua.edu/16kalvesmaki/lxx/
http://septuagint.org/LXX/



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 2, 2006 at 11:24 pm


Scot, are you talking about Irenaeus’ allusion to the Epistle of Aristeas (this originally only refers to the Pentateuch, but we could extend it to the OG as well)? I think everyone would agree that the LXX was THE Bible of the Early Church. What I was saying is that we don’t have a codified copy of a LXX until the 4th-5th Cent. What we have in that is not necessarily what the LXX always was. The Apocryphal books were loosely used of course in both the Jewish and Christian communities, but one would have to prove that the Apocrypha was included into a Greek canon we now call the LXX for the first three centuries before. The Churches definitely use the books you described (as well as the ones I did), but I don’t know of anyone who believed that the Maccabean books were Scripture. They quote from it as history, but they use a lot of different books no one wouldn’t consider Scripture for that. Origen mentions the Greek churches “utilizing” Tobit and Susanna. For what may be debated, but it seems that they may have been used in the assembly (although he seems to be trying to prove an historical fact to Africanus with these, so it is debatable). Africanus of course does not believe that they are Scripture and calls them spurious (4.35; 5.101-4).
So what I am saying is simply that we have to go back and look at what books are said to be Scripture and are in use as Scripture in the Church, not simply say that a Greek codex contains these books and therefore they are Scripture (otherwise Hermas and Barnabas need to be incorporated—and I believe Vaticanus doesn’t contain Revelation either). I don’t think Biblical Christianity will fall by the wayside since in my reading I’ve found nothing really that can’t compliment what we already have (although it’s hard enough to get people to read the Bible as is). :)
I think you hit on the importance of Athanasius and Jerome in that that is really where the canon is being brought together as copies are ordered and translations into a single canon are made. I would view these two men as the more weighty when it comes to the issue. He only includes Baruch because he does not distinguish it from Jeremiah and the epistle with Lamentations because he sees them as one. Other than that, he states that “thus far constitutes the Old Testament” (39th Festal Letter, 4).
So yes, Scot, it is my understanding that Athanasius is however commenting on the tradition of the Church concerning “how” these books are used: i.e., one group as Scripture from which we draw salvation and life and the other as good literature to read that is edifying, but not Scripture (Jerome comments on how they are used as well in the same manner).
So Athanasius states:
“But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these [the OT and NT canonical books he just mentioned] and not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former [the Canon he named in OT and NT], my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.”



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John Byron

posted March 3, 2006 at 9:09 am


Ok, I may be a bit late in commenting, but I have enjoyed watching the discussion unfold. I have a few points.
1. When we talk about canon we can not merely start with the second century as if this was a special time when all cannons were codified. Even after the codification at Jamnia (circa 79 CE) there were still a number of “canons” in use, if such an evaluation can really be made.
2. As far as far as the so-called apocryphal books, we have evidence that books like Ben-Sirah were considered to be as important as the Law and Prophets. To this we simply have to look towards Qumran and other places. At Masada, for instance, a copy of Ben-Sirah was found along with a number of what is now considered “canonical” books. Thus to say that Jews did not consider it “inspired” really depends upon which Jew you were talking to. This leads me to my third point
3. While there is much value in this discussion, it centers on a view of canon that is solely western and Protestant. In order to talk about “canon” we MUST include the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. While the protestant canon is the same as the Catholic, the Ethiopian and Syrian Churches each have canons that are both expanded and truncated in comparison to the Protestant collection. The question then, why do we think we are right? Do we need to decide who is right? Perhaps the Christian tradition is much more flexible and resilient than we are sometimes willing to acknowledge.
4. It is my understanding that the apocrypha was included in all KJV bibles until the beginning of the 19th century. I do not know how accurate of a claim that is, but it does cause one to pause and wonder why the ‘reformationists’ took 200 years to drop it.
I would suggest that if anyone is interested in an introduction to the Apocrypha by an evangelical try the book by my colleague, David deSilva.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801031036/qid=1141394899/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-4593766-9712906?s=books&v=glance&n=283155



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impleri

posted March 3, 2006 at 11:52 am


Hmm…i’d suggest that since Christianity became it’s own, and we have NT Christian “canonical” books (e.g. Jude) quoting things not in the Jewish “canon” (which didn’t come about until after Christianity emerged), i don’t think what the Jews consider “canon” is really worth enough salt when discussing Christianity as most (if not all) Jews would consider the entire NT non-“canonical” and even “heretical”. It’s nice that they think of the Torah as being inspired, but that shouldn’t be why Christians do or do not include it. As Scot said, we can’t get away from thinking of the “canon” as being dependent on the opinion of some Christian group.
Also, the fact that a book has historical errors is irrelevant as none of the texts really claim to conform to 21st century historical documentation. We have historical “discrepancies” (as no good Christian would call them errors!) in some OT texts. Why make such a big fuss over that same issue when it comes to “apocrypha”?



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 3, 2006 at 3:00 pm


Impleri and JohnB:
The reason why it is important that we consider what the Jews consider as Scripture is because they are the community of God that produces and canonizes the OT text. The Church therefore is only the recipient of this legacy, not the decision makers in it. We take a non-deistic view of God and the canon when it comes to community. The Jewish community was the community of God in which canon was decided (so the Ethiopic Church is on the same level as any Christian community when it comes to the canon—the Samaritans have a smaller canon, just including the Pentateuch in variation, but they are not considered the recipients of the Scripture as Jesus points out in John 4). The Qumran community has numerous texts that it believes as accurate teaching and midrash from the Bible, but not the Bible/Scripture itself (what about the threefold division in the DSS of the Law, Prophets and Writings?). Jude quotes from the Ascension of Moses and 1 Enoch, but the NT also alludes to teachings found in the Qumran texts, Pseudepigrapha, and secular Greek writings. Allusions and citations don’t necessarily imply an assumption of divine inspiration. I would like to see a non-canonical book (one not considered by the Jewish community as canon as we see from Jamnia) with an “It is written,” or “The Scripture says.” We have a foundation in the Jewish community for believing that the Scriptures we consider canon were assumed to be so by Christ and the disciples, but the pseudepigrahical docs need support as would any Greek poems being considered canon because truth within them is cited with authority.
The Church’s job, as the community of God, was really to make decisions on the NT canon, not the OT. It’s use of the OT canon and the non-canonical books is consistent with the community which came before them. Hence, the argument that the Jews rejected the Apocrypha holds weight to those who think God uses His people to not only create Scripture, but also to collect and preserve it. I understand from a naturalistic worldview, this argument wouldn’t have any credence, but we’re not supposed to be naturalists.



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Scott L

posted March 3, 2006 at 10:01 pm


Bryan, am I mistaken in believing that the Hellinistic Jews did not reject the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books until about A.D. 90? By this time the Church and its view of the OT Scriptures would have, perhaps, already been established to a large degree.



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 3, 2006 at 11:26 pm


Hi Scott, the theory of a wider Alexandrian text (which is what people mean by Hellnistic Judaism) is based on a theory as to why Jamnia met. There really is no support of a wider canon (once again, everyone uses apocryphal and pseudepigraphical books for history, midrash, etc., but not as Scripture itself). Philo’s writings indicate that the “Alexandrian” canon is identical to the Palestinian one. Josephus accepts only what we now have in the Hebrew Bible as canon. So I’m not sure where else one would go in order to negate this. These are our main Hellenistic Jewish witnesses. So in short, Scott, yes it would be a mistake to say such a thing.



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Ted Gossard,

posted March 4, 2006 at 11:38 am


It is interesting that my NIV Study Bible (first edition, but later edition is word for word here, I believe) reflects the view (not surprisingly) that the apocrypha is not to be included as a part of the Bible:
“The Apocryphal books have retained their place primarily through the weight of ecclesiastical authority, without which they would not commend themselves as canonical literature. There is no clear evidence that Jesus or the apostles ever quoted any Apocryphal works as Scripture (but see note on Jude 14). The Jewish community that produced them repudiated them, and the historical surveys in the apostolic sermons recorded in Acts completely ignore the period they cover. Even the sober, historical account of 1 Maccabees is tarnished by numerous errors and anachronisms.
“There is nothing of theological value in the Apocryphal books that cannot be duplicated in canonical Scripture, and they contain much that runs counter to its teachings. Nonetheless, this body of literature does provide a valuable source of information for the study of the intertestamental period.” (NIV Sudy Bible)
So, the standard evangelical position, evidently.



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Ted Gossard,

posted March 4, 2006 at 11:52 am


Also I noticed this week at a bookstore (I go by memory here) that the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible, chief editors including Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson- using the NRSV, includes all (I believe) of the Apocryphal books. Their use is somewhat explained. And also qualified by saying something like: They do not wish to convey that these books are on an equal par with the other “canonical” (as in Protestant, evangelical- 66 books) books.



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impleri

posted March 4, 2006 at 6:46 pm


Ted, i have that Bible. It explains which apocryphal books are considered “canon” by which segments of Christianity.
Bryan, wasn’t the Jewish OT not “canonized” until well after Christianity was established? Yes, it can be argued that the Jews had a definite set of texts from which they publicly read (i.e. the Tanakh), but the “apocrypha” were, as the name implies, used by “scholars” for exegesis. Also, since Christianity is not Judaism, there is no argument that the former must agree with the latter. After all, if we follow that argument fully, we should be rejecting Jesus as the Messiah because the Jews–as the “community of God”–did. Or, we should start practicing the Law again, and we know what Paul says about that.



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 4, 2006 at 8:03 pm


Impleri, there are probably a lot of ways to go to contradict the idea that we shouldn’t listen to Judaism’s canon, but I think I’ll just say that Christianity is based on the OT and therefore it is imperative that God had set the OT in place (which He did long before the Christian era as evidenced by the amount of agreeance concerning what is and what is not the Scripture. I’ve already commented that everyone uses all sorts of documents for historical info and midrash, but because I may use some of the books this way, does not mean that I believe they are divinely inspired. I see the same distinction by explicit statements in both Judaism and the Church. So since the Church said the same thing about the OT that the Jews said about it, then I don’t see such a dichotomy between the two communities when it comes to canon. Our disagreeance is in the theology gained from that canon, not which canon we use. They used rabbinic traditions to interpret it. We use the NT to interpret it. Our grids of interpretation are different, not that which we are interpreting. Therefore, it is important to know what the NT is and God works through the Early Church to accomplish that.
Ted, just to make a distinction, Jude uses two Pseudepigraphical texts, not Apocryphal ones. They are considered two separate groups of texts.



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Michael Barber

posted March 5, 2006 at 3:37 am


I’ve been following this thread for sometime now. There’s a lot of good stuff here. But I also feel like there are a few unhistorical assumptions being made here. I started a comment dealing with them all, but it just got too long. To deal with these issues I am posting an extensive essay on my site that will draw from the latest in canon scholarship (www.singinginthereign.blogspot.com). It deals with everything from the term “canon” (not all fathers used the term in the same way!), to the development of the LXX, as well as variant textual traditions,and much, much more.



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Ted Gossard,

posted March 5, 2006 at 7:00 am


Bryan, yes. I was looking at Jude this morning and thought neither book seemed to be of the list of “deuterocanonical” books. Thanks.
Impleri, yes. I noticed that too the other day. Thanks.



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John

posted March 5, 2006 at 1:50 pm


A few quotations concerning the deutero-canonical books.
The Protestant church historian J. N. D. Kelly, author of Early Christian Doctrines and Early Christian Creeds, speaking of the early Church wrote:
It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha, or deutero-canonical books . . .
In the first two centuries at any rate the Church seems to have accepted all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture.
(Early Christian Doctrines, San Francisco: Harper, revised edition of 1978, 53-54)
“For the great majority [of early fathers]…the deuterocanonical writings [the apocrypha] ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense.”
ibid
“the church of the first centuries made no essential difference between the writings of the Hebrew canon and the so-called Apocrypha.” [footnote 2: The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. 1, p. 214].
Down to the 4th century, the Church generally accepted all the books of the Septuagint as canonical. Greek and Latin writers alike (e.g., Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian) cite both classes of Books without distinction…. [footnote 1: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 70.]



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 5, 2006 at 5:06 pm


John, that’s why primary documents are more valuable. The fact is that the Early Church did make a distinction between the books. They cite Cicero alot too, but citation doesn’t mean attribution of inspiration/divine authority.
Kelly is a bit outdated on this info. I like him, but there is better scholarship on the subject. I would see Beckwith even though I know he’s not in the more “cool” school of the academy, but what he says is good.
I wouldn’t really hold the NSHERK as an authority on the subject.
The ODCC is a good work, but I think they confuse the issue of citation and what exactly constitutes the Greek OT in the first three centuries.
In any case, I would look at the explicit statements by the Fathers so that we don’t simply speculate on what they believed about the books. (Especially since they themselves comment that they do make a distinction for their use.)



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impleri

posted March 5, 2006 at 7:08 pm


Bryan, my argument is that we should abandon the OT, only that the Jewish formation of a “canon” came after Christianity emerged. Before then, Jews had a couple of sets of “authoritative religious texts.” The Jews did not close the collection of these sets (i.e. create a “canon”) until after Christianity. i’m not advocating a Marcion outlook.



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 5, 2006 at 7:55 pm


I realize, impleri, that you were not discounting the OT. I was simply saying that our acceptance or rejection of the OT depends upon what is considered OT by the Jewish community first. The Jewish formation of the canon was not accomplished after Christianity emerged. I’m not sure why you would say that given the amount of evidence we have to the contrary. Because some Jewish texts argue against the Pseudepigrapha into the second cent. AD, doesn’t mean that the canon was not settled. We have an established canon and yet we’re still arguing about it to this day. Why? Because there will always be those who do not accept the canon as is for whatever reasons, so there must be councils held, arguments given, etc. But from the evidence we have, it seems to point in one direction on this. Esdras, the DSS, Josephus, Philo, the NT adoption of these, and the way the Early Church makes a distintion between what is useful to read and what is Scripture all support the view that the canon is in place. But if you want to accept the Apocrypha and Pseudepigraphical books, I don’t mind. Having read most of the OT Pseudepigraphical books, I think they’re fanciful fiction, but not a danger to Christian theology (unless you’re driving for the adoption of something Gnostic like the NT Pseudepigrapha is, like Thomas or something). I just don’t think the evidence points this way, nor does the Spirit lead His Church to adopt the Pseudepigraphical writings (which are more in use in Judaism and the Early Church writings than the Apocrypha are). So I am just not compelled against the evidence. Do you have evidence that would show otherwise? I’m open to see it if you do.



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John

posted March 5, 2006 at 8:08 pm


I would like to recommend Michael Barber’s recent blog entry on this subject. It can be found at:
Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament(Part 1)
http://singinginthereign.blogspot.com/
It is well worth the read.



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impleri

posted March 5, 2006 at 9:17 pm


John, you beat me to it.
Bryan, the post linked in John’s comment seems to be a good argument that the Jewish “canon” wasn’t as “closed” as early as you propose.



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John

posted March 5, 2006 at 10:34 pm


Hello Bryan,
You wrote:
John, that’s why primary documents are more valuable. The fact is that the Early Church did make a distinction between the books. They cite Cicero alot too, but citation doesn’t mean attribution of inspiration/divine authority.
I can only concluded that you didn’t really read the quotations I posted. So I will expand on some and add some more.
“It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive than the [Protestant Old Testament] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deutero-canonical books. The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was . . . the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. . . . most of the Scriptural quotations found in the New Testament are based upon it rather than the Hebrew.. . . In the first two centuries . . . the Church seems to have accept all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture. Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement and Barnabas. . . Polycarp cites Tobit, and the Didache [cites] Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon [i.e., the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel], and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary” (J.N.D Kelly: Early Christian Doctrines, 53-54).
“For the great majority, however, the deutero-canonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense. Augustine, for example, whose influence in the West was decisive, made no distinction between them and the rest of the Old Testament . . . The same inclusive attitude to the Apocrypha was authoritatively displayed at the synods of Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397 respectively, and also in the famous letter which Pope Innocent I dispatched to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, in 405″ (J.N.D Kelly: Early Christian Doctrines, 55-56).
I might add that this exact same canon was implicitly affirmed at the seventh ecumenical council, II Nicaea (787), which approved the results of the 419 Council of Carthage.
While it is true that Jerome — who in my opinion was overly influenced by Jewish opinion — initially had his doubts about the deuterocanonical books. He eventually changed his mind.
He later wrote:
“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 Son 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 [A.D. 402]).
While the above may have been a little self-serving on Jerome’s part. He obviously came to realize that only the Church has authority to set the Biblical canon. Not the Council of Javneh, whose members had already rejected Christ and were probably influenced in their rejection of the Septuagint,by the Christian use of that text.
I think it’s fair to say, that not only did the early Church consider the deuterocanonical books to be scripture. The vast majority of Christians still do.
Pax



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 6, 2006 at 12:10 am


John,
1. I know what the secondary sources you cited say. I said that primary sources are more valuable. As one who reads them, it is clear that A) a distinction is made in their use; B) that citation of a document does not display attribution of divine authority and inspiration; and C) the LXX as we now know it does not necessarily include the apocryphal books simply because the books (along with others) are copied along with it for the churches use (once again, for what use are they produced?). Neither the article by Michael nor what you said (or your secondary info) delt with these objections. I find Sanders compilation to blow over these and just assume that since their are documents present in a community and used by the community that somehow this means that the community attributes divine inspiration to these documents as Scripture.
BTW, an adoption of Michael’s argument must also lead us to see various Qumran sectarian documents, Jubilees, 1 Enoch, and a host of other documents as Scripture too, since they are all used by Judaism, the NT, and the Fathers. You can’t just make this argument and then limit it to the apocryphal books. You have to go all the way with your argument and include the rest of the books that are used as well.
Even the Church today considers these “Deuterocanonicals”– “secondary canon”-showing that it is not on par with the rest of Scripture and displays the use of the books by the early church–just for reading).
Note also that 1) the council of Carthage still thought the larger church needed to confirm what they said and 2) the acts of the martyrs are also to be read in church on the anniversary of their deaths and yet these are not Scripture.
“Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the Church across the sea needs to be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.”
The Council of Carthage is nothing more than what Augustine thought about the canon. His influence is the key factor there and therefore we must see if he is in sync with the rest of the early church or not, and not just simply say that a council was held and that’s it. What do you do with the list of the canonical books included with the statements of the Ecumenical Council of Nicea? They have quite a different list under the influence of Athanasius. Therefore, the council of Carthage is only one voice in a host of voices in the Early Church, and they must all be considered together.
Secondly, the council is put in context when we realize for what purpose these are used/read. For this we look to the Church’s statements before it. There is consensus concerning their use. I am not arguing that the Church has not always used them or that they should not be used now. I am arguing that the community of God (whether Jewish or Christian) uses them for secondary purposes of reading, midrash, historical info, not on par with the larger Scripture. So I’m fine with all the councils in the world saying that these are the writings we use to read in the church. I just don’t see the Early Church in consensus attributing divine inspiration and authority to them. I didn’t see anyone deal with Athanasius and the Earlier Fathers either (remember quotation does not prove the point, so it doesn’t matter that Clement quotes an Apocryphal book—Paul quotes Greek philosophers too. Are their writings Scripture too? Is Cicero Scripture because he is quoted so much by the Fathers? An argument from citation cannot be used).
I also don’t believe that Scripture contains what I would consider historical errors, so the fact that some of the Apocryphal books do also carries weight with me. But if I were to see a consensus from the Early Church that they are not just for reading, but also Scripture in the same sense as the Pentateuch or NT, then I might defer. However, I see the exact opposite.
But the assumptions that seem to be going unquestioned are substantial and without establishing them, the arguments given with regard to citation, presence of documents in a community, what the Greek canon (what we are calling here the LXX) contains as Scripture and not just Christian literature including Scripture placed in a codex, etc., are of little weight.



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 6, 2006 at 12:34 am


As for Jerome “repenting,” it’s clear that that is not what your quote meant. Here is his comment upon Susanna and Bel and the Dragon additions to Daniel years after he completed the Vulgate in 404 (i.e., quite a few years after the quote you cited).
In his preface to his commentary on Daniel, he states:
“But among other things we should recognize that Porphyry makes this objection to us concerning the Book of Daniel, that it is clearly a forgery not to be considered as belonging to the Hebrew Scriptures but an invention composed in Greek. This he deduces from the fact that in the story of Susanna, where Daniel is speaking to the elders, we find the expressions, “To split from the mastic tree” (apo tou skhinou skhisai) and to saw from the evergreen oak (kai apo tou prinou prisai),2 (D) a wordplay |17 appropriate to Greek rather than to Hebrew. But both Eusebius and Apollinarius have answered him after the same tenor, that the stories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are not contained in the Hebrew, but rather they constitute a part of the prophecy of Habakkuk, the son of Jesus of the tribe of Levi. Just as we find in the title of that same story of Bel, according to the Sep-tuagint, “There was a certain priest named Daniel, the son of Abda, an intimate of the King of Babylon.” And yet Holy Scripture testifies that Daniel and the three Hebrew children were of the tribe (p. 493) of Judah. For this same reason when I was translating Daniel many years ago, I noted these visions with a critical symbol, showing that they were not included in the Hebrew. And in this connection I am surprised to be told that certain fault-finders complain that I have on my own initiative truncated the book. After all, both Origen, Eusebius and Apollinarius, and other outstanding churchmen and teachers of Greece acknowledge that, as I have said, these visions are not found amongst the Hebrews, and that therefore THEY ARE NOT OBLIGED TO ANSWER TO PORPHYRY FOR THESE PORTIONS WHICH EXIBIT NO AUTHORITY AS HOLY SCRIPTURE.



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impleri

posted March 6, 2006 at 1:03 pm


Bryan, Michael’s article was not to define what is the “true” canon, but rather that your argument for using some Jewish “canon” isn’t very strong. Additionally, i’d accept a couple of scholars’ opinions in pretty major works as to who thought/believed what in early Christianity than my own reading of it.



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Michael Barber

posted March 6, 2006 at 3:27 pm


Part 2 of my essay on the development of the Old Testament canon is finally up. Here I deal with the questions regarding the usage of the apocrypha in the New Testament and early church.
Thanks to all those who read Part 1 and a special thanks to those who recommended it. I hope this will continue to contribute in a positive way to the discussion.



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John Byron

posted March 6, 2006 at 4:27 pm


Michael,
Both parts of your essay were outstanding. Thanks for taking the time to set the record straight. I believe that much can be gained by looking at canon in this way.



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Bryan Hodge

posted March 6, 2006 at 5:26 pm


Impleri, maybe if you’re a layman, you need to defer to other scholars who hold your opinion already, but since my education is in this area, I think I will stick to looking at primary sources and question the presupps and motives of groups that WANT a larger canon in order to support either the RCC position or a pluralistic view of Christianity that wants to undermine the canon that we have as the normative authority for Christianity (in an effort to reach a more ecumenical position—as is Sanders’ goal). The article by Michael simply restated the case of that position and ignored the objections leveled against it.
My argument for the Jewish canon is the same. Whether it be the Qumran texts, Josephus, Philo, the Palestinian or “Alexandrian” communities, the NT or the Early Church Fathers. Everyone uses and cites all sorts of things. But the distinction between those things and Scripture is made clear.
I found it interesting that Michael’s method of “evaluating” what is said explicitly about the canon is to basically say that these words don’t really mean what they mean. That is an absurd way to argue. You might be able to sidestep a couple of comments, but after a while it just shows your bias to not want the texts to say what they really do say because of an already held presupp (and since he’s RC he has a position to establish, not a seeking for a position). I’ve made it clear that I don’t care if the Deuterocanonicals or even the Pseudepigrapha are included, but the evidence just does not go this way.
So my argument is concerning the community of God is strong since I stated before that his argument that primarily deals with an argument from presence in the community and citation is of no weight. Furthermore, the argument that declares the larger acceptance of the LXX is weak because it assumes that the LXX we have today (like Rhalfs based primarily on Vaticanus) is what has always been in the LXX and that the early Church actually saw every book in the codex as Scripture as opposed to Christian literature that includes in the main Scripture. As I stated before, none of these arguments were dealt with. Instead, I just got an appeal to special authority (i.e., “the scholars who agree with me know best” type argument) and begging of the question(s).
I don’t suppose that this will ever be settled here, or anywhere for that matter. In the end, those who want the evidence to point one way will always see it pointed that way, so (since I see this debate as a more minor importance–with exception of those who are trying to get to a theological agenda through it) I will bow out of the argument and let those who are reading it decide for themselves.
Thank you for taking the time and brainpower, Gentlemen.



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impleri

posted March 6, 2006 at 6:07 pm


Bryan, no matter what your area of education is, you are more than likely not an expert who has written multiple books on the subject. i’d consider myself knowledgable in postmodern philosophy, but i’ll still defer to those who are actually in it (e.g. John Caputo, Carl Raschke, Slavoj Zizek, Stan Grenz, Gianni Vattimo, etc). You seem to be simply waving off alternatives without really addressing their concerns, then promoting your own theory. What you are saying is that the people who have authored multiple books on the subject (and possibly read a few more of the “primary sources” than you) are wrong because they disagree with you. i haven’t stated that i completely agree with any of the authors mentioned. The thing is, though, is that there are scholars who disagree with you. And, for me, when it comes to choosing to side with you or with someone who has done strong scholarly research in the area, i’ll go with the “expert” unless a claim can be substantiated against that view. Furthmore, i have argued against your claim here:
“The reason why it is important that we consider what the Jews consider as Scripture is because they are the community of God that produces and canonizes the OT text”
The reason being that there is enough evidence to suggest that the Jews did not canonize the OT until after Christianity emerged. It is my claim that once Christianity emerged, the “community of God” was no longer the Jews, but the Christians. Prior to that, the Jews had a few collections of books used frequently, but this doesn’t make a canon any more than the early Christians quoting Cicero (as you have said).



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john

posted March 7, 2006 at 8:35 am


Just a few quick comments and then I think I’ll let Michael Barber — who’s doing a much better job than I can — deal with this subject. Again, I highly recommend his latest installment:
Loose Canons: The Development of the Old Testament. (Part 2)
http://singinginthereign.blogspot.com/
Be sure to check out the footnotes. I’ve already been tipped off to what looks like a great book — The Canon Debate — by doing so.
Bryan Hodge wrote:
“The Council of Carthage is nothing more than what Augustine thought about the canon. His influence is the key factor there and therefore we must see if he is in sync with the rest of the early church or not, and not just simply say that a council was held and that’s it.”
Just for the record; St. Augustine did not convene a Council only attended by himself. He was one of many Bishops who attended the Council of Carthage (397 AD) and all of them confirmed the deutero-canonical books as scripture. I might also add, that the Council in 397 AD was not the only one that spoke to this issue.
(see: Hippo 393 AD, Carthage 419 and the Seventh Ecumenical Council, II Nicaea (787), which approved the results of the 419 Council of Carthage.)
We’re talking about hundreds of Bishops here, not just St. Augustine.
Bryan Hodge wrote:
“Note also that 1) the council of Carthage still thought the larger church needed to confirm what they said and 2) the acts of the martyrs are also to be read in church on the anniversary of their deaths and yet these are not Scripture.”
“Concerning the confirmation of this canon, the Church across the sea needs to be consulted. On the anniversaries of martyrs, their acts shall also be read.”
The Church across the sea, refers to the Church of Rome and the confirmation they are seeking is that of the Pope.
Below is the text of Canon XXIV from the Council of Carthage in 419 AD, which was attended by 217 Bishops. (note the language: Canonical Scripture, Divine Scripture)
CANON XXIV. (Greek xxvii.) That nothing be read in church besides the
Canonical Scripture.
ITEM, 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. The Judges. Ruth. The Kings, iv. books. The Chronicles, ij. books.
Job. The Psalter. The Five books of Solomon. The Twelve Books of the
Prophets. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Ezechiel. Daniel. Tobit. Judith. Esther. Ezra,
ij. books. Macchabees, ij. books.
Anyway, that’s it for me.
Pax, John



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Joshua

posted March 27, 2006 at 2:27 am


Need I remind everyone that IF indeed the 7 books in question were in the septuagent, then we are indeed in trouble for mutilating the word of God. The majority of old testement quotes made by Christ and the apostles, were from the greek. Although there are not as many evidences for the books being included in the greek and no actual quotes from the books made by Christ, they are mentioned in word choices and stories. Among them a feast that Jesus himself celebrates that was established in the book of maccabees. And tobit being cited against the saducees. If we are to discredit books of the canon due simply to the fact that they were argued about by the early church and not quoted in the new testiment, Amen I say to you…..we would have no song of songs or Esther.
PEACE!
Your Joshua



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