lördag 27 maj 2017

Answering a Page about "Apocrypha"

Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : ... on Sufficiency of Scripture and Bible Canon (feat. our very special guest star : J. P. Holding) · Great Bishop of Geneva! : Answering a Page about "Apocrypha"

justforcatholics.org : The Apocrypha are Not Canonical

Athanasius (365 A.D.),
"There are then of the Old Testament twenty-two books in number ... this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews." (Letter 39.4)

BUT : his 22 books differ from the Jewish canon, since he omits Esther:

After listing the canonical books of the Scriptures, St Athanasius wrote: "There are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however, are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias..." (Thirty-ninth festal letter, 367).

[From their own site!]

This means that any Church Father who claims anything about 22 books could be repeating a word he could not verify if counting his canon or could be having a different selection from the Hebrew one, which has Esther.

First Maccabees
notes that there were no prophets in Israel at that time (1 Maccabees 4:46; 9:27; 14:41). Since the New Testament frequently refers to the Scriptures as "the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 5:17; 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 24:14; 28:23; Romans 3:21), how could a writing that specifically states that there were no prophets at the time when it was written be called Scripture?

The Old Testament is in Hebrew referred to Torah ve Nabiim ve Ketubim. Moses and Prophets and Writings. So, like Chronicles, for instance, or like Proverbs, I and II Maccabees could be a writing.

Historicity of Judith
Recently, someone asked me, "I was on a Catholic website that claimed the book of Judith is a parable. So when it says Nebuchadnezzar is the leader of the Assyrians it's not to be taken literally. What do you think about this?" Well, I think the reason why we are advised that the Book of Judith should not be taken literally is quite simple. The introductory verse of the books states:

"It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. At that time Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana."

But King Nebuchadnezzar was NOT the king of Assyria; he was the king of Babylon! (See, for example, 2 Kings 24:11 - "And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it") So, if we take Judith as a historical book, the evident historical blunder immediately undermines its supposed canonicity and inspiration.

The Catholic solution? Judith is not history - it is a parable! Even so, why should someone include evident historical stupidities in a parable? Imagine beginning a story like this: "When Sir Winston Churchill was President of the United States…" That does not give much credibility to your story, does it?

Nebuchadnessar II was in fact king of Assyria too, since its separate existence had ceased before he came to power.

Or one could say that it refers to someone else. Sharing the name or nicknamed so.

In the case of Nebuchadnessar I, while there was a king of Assyria not himself (this would be times of the judges), there was also a good entente between them, and the Assyrian king and he could have agreed to consider each others as kings also over each other's kngdoms.

Or it could be one of the two Nebuchadnessar III or IV, while they rebelled against Darius. In which case Persian goodwill to Jews may have originated in Judith's timely intervention.

Or, I give up my guessing and hand you, here is Bishop Challoner:

"Nabuchodonosor": Not the king of Babylon, who took and destroyed Jerusalem, but another of the same name, who reigned in Ninive: and is called by profane historians Saosduchin. He succeeded Asarhaddan in the kingdom of the Assyrians, and was contemporary with Manasses king of Juda.

In other words, "parable" solution is out. Judith is historical.

Sts Isidore and Hrabanus on Esra
Isidore of Seville (600 A.D.) said the Old Testament was settled by Ezra the priest into twenty-two books "that the books in the Law might correspond in number with the letters." (Liber de Officiis)

Hrabanus (9th century A.D.) said the Old Testament was formed by Ezra into twenty-two books "that there might be as many books in the Law as there are letters." (Whitaker, Disputation)

See below.

The Council of Laodicea (343-391 A.D.),
Twenty-two books. (Canon 60)

Pope Gregory the Great
says this about the apocrypha: "…we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forth testimony" (Moral Teachings Drawn from Job; 19, 34).

Here is book 18:


I could neither find the line in Arabic numerals 34 (§34), nor in Roman numerals xxxiv (chapter xxxiv).

Also, in absence of definition, it could be referring to sth other than what Protestants usually call Apocrypha.

Cardinal Cajetan
a leading Roman Catholic scholar at the time of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, clearly states that the apocryphal books are not canonical and cannot be used to confirm matters of faith. (See St Jerome and the Apocrypha).

St Jerome (see below) was popular. Deservedly so, for other reasons.

Just before Trent
"Even on the eve of the council [of Trent] the Catholic view was not absolutely unified...Catholic editions of the Bible published in Germany and in France in 1527 and 1530 contained only the protocanonical books" [3] i.e. the list of Old Testament books of these Catholic Bibles was identical to the Hebrew and Protestant Bibles.

Right. The Catholic view was not absolutely unified, that is the reason why the majority view which had upper hand in Trent is vilified, while a clearly minoritarian view just before Trent must be the right one, since not Catholic majority and since not reflected in Trent.

As if, instead of the Church having a Divine Charism of truth, it were somehow possessed by devils of untruth and its every word and decision is suspect because of that origin.

But if that is what they believe, they should prove it, not presume it silently while discussing "apocrypha" nor "prove it" from their stance on them.

Carthage I
Greatly influenced by Augustine, the provincial councils of Hippo and Carthage in the fourth century included the apocrypha as part of the Old Testament canon. However, we must add that contrary to the impression given by Catholic apologists, the apocrypha were not officially recognized by the Catholic church as canonical at Hippo and Carthage. The apocrypha were finally added to the Old Testament by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.

Equivocation, since the Catholic Church as such did not have one position or the other officially, up to Trent, obviously excluding local canons like those of Carthage (with Maccabees and with Apocalypse) or Laodicea (without Maccabees, but also without Apocalypse).

Note also, the canon by council of Laodicaea is speaking of books read from. A book could have canonical authority, but not be part of official, local, lectionary.

Carthage II
Moreover the canon approved by Carthage is different from that approved by Trent. The Council of Trent omits the Septuagint First Esdras which had been included by Carthage; while Second Esdras (Ezra and Nehemiah combined in a single book in the Septuagint) were distinguished as two separate books (First Esdras and Second Esdras, also known as Nehemiah).

Both Carthage and Trent list I & II Esra.

In Trent this means: I Esra = "Esra", II Esra = "Nehemia".

That some versions of LXX include a I Esra diverse from that of Trent does not necessarily mean its II Esra is both Trent's I and II Esra.

Russian Bibles have:

I Esra [not in Catholic Bibles]
II Esra = I Esra = "Esra"
III Esra = II Esra = "Nehemia"

Obviously the Vorlage of Vulgate had a diverse LXX from that of the Russian Orthodox Bible.

We cannot now determine which of the two was that of Carthage, and if it had had the Russian I Esra it does not follow it would have combined Esra and Nehemia into one book, I would like to know where exactly this claim is from.

Up to the time of the Reformation,
they were not generally regarded as canonical books on the same level as the Old Testament Scripture. "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 New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Canon).

If you cannot consider Carthage as Catholic Church generally accepting II Maccabees, neither can you accept St Jerome as Catholic Church generally not regarding it as canonic.

You are hovering over "not generally" which is literally true - as long as you don't make it mean "generally not".

There was no literally "general" as in "universal" feeling, but the "most prevalent" both in St Jerome's time (which he bowed down to) and up to Trent was for canonicity of these books.

[Unless one of the councils of Nicaea, I in 325 or II in 787 actually gave a list - if titulus can mean that - of canonic books, as Historia Scholastica suggests. See below.]

Sts Augustine and Jerome
How then did the apocryphal writings find their way in the Catholic Bible? Early in the second century, the first Latin translations of the Bible were done from the Septuagint (which included the apocrypha). There was a conflict between the great Fathers, Augustine and Jerome, regarding the value of the apocrypha. Augustine accepted them because he used the Septuagint which contained these books and which was popular in North Africa. Jerome was one of the few Fathers who knew both Greek and Hebrew, and he rejected the apocrypha because he knew that those books were not accepted by the Jews and were not part of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Yes, that was the difference between the two.

BUT you are forgetting that he was more or less ALONE in not accepting them for this reason.

In the Catholic Church, the measure of information outside Scriptures themselves (and this means the measure of whether a book is canonical or not, since no complete list of canonical books is found in the Bible), is NOT the individual learning of this or that Father, but the consensus of all or if not usually at least most Fathers.

However, some have even attributed to scribal errors St Jerome not considering Judith canonical:

Hanc historiam transtulit Hieronymus ad petitionem Paulae et Eustochii de Chaldaeo in Latinum. Hic liber apud Hebraeos inter historias computatur, et inter agiographa, quod dicit Hieronymus in prologo, qui sic inchoat: Viginti et duas litteras, etc. Si ergo in prologo super Judith, alicubi legitur inter apocrypha, vitium est scriptoris, quod in ipso titulo deprehendi potest, quem synodus Nicaena in numero sanctarum Scripturarum recepit.

This is from Historia Scholastica in the résumé on Judith.

"This history St Jerome translated at request of Paula and Eustochius from Chaldaean to Latin. This book is among Hebrews counted among histories and among hagiographers, which Jerome says in the prologue, which begins thus :Twenty-two letters, etc. If therefore in the prologue over Judith somewhere is read 'among apocrypha' this is a copyists's error, which can be deprehended from the very title [=list?], which the Nicene synod [I 325 or II in 787?] accepted in the number of holy Scriptures." [My translations.]

In other words, not all Catholics would have agreed that St Jerome did count Judith as apocryphal. The Historia Scholastica was very popular and the basis for giving laymen in some counries (notably Rijmbijbel in Flemish) an overview of, not deep doctrine, or hard questions on such matters or prophetic ones, but simple Biblical history.

Taking over from Jews
The church inherited the canonical books from God's Old Covenant people, the Jews. (God also gave the church additional books, the New Testament, which completes the Holy Bible). It does not make sense to make additions to the books of the Old Testament many centuries after the covenant with the Jewish people had given way to the new. The Church in the New Testament has no business adding to the canon of the Old Covenant Scriptures received by the Jews.

Indeed, but you just admitted that LXX was used in 2:nd C. And this means, these books were also used then.

What is more probable?

That the Christians during the very first C. had added books, before even St John had yet died?

Or that for some reason the Jews had chosen a canon with fewer books than the one Christians took over as LXX?

I definitely think the latter.

I also think there are clear references to two sacerdotal canons : Esra's, done in exile, and another one, done under the Maccabees.

We can presume the latter canon included all the books contained in Esra, but it is also likely it could contain material Esra had no opportunity to access.

In the latter case, the Maccabean canon may have been restricted to Sadducees - and to Hellenistic Jews.

It could also be that the books were by some fluke added to the Vorlage of the LXX, and God canonised it during the translation by making their Greek translations agree on these also. A miracle from God being a canonisation even in absence of priestly one.

But more probably, the six Levites from each tribe (Levites were spread out in the territory of the Twelve Tribes) would probably have been translating whatever they translated as in common with the Maccabaean priests in Jerusalem.

Either way, it is very probable they were all held as canonical by Hellenistic Jews even before Christianity, and that is where most Christians got their OT from. During, precisely, 1:st C.

Supposed contradiction in doctrine
"What is more serious, the apocrypha teach doctrines that contradicts Scripture (see, for instance, Sirach 3:3,30, in contrast with Galatians 2:16,21; 3:10-14; Tobit 12:9 contradicts 1 John 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22; Wisdom 8:19,20 contradicts Romans 3:10). They encourage practices that do not conform to Scripture (Sirach 12:4-7 disagrees with Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48)."

I "contradiction"
"Sirach 3:3,30, in contrast with Galatians 2:16,21; 3:10-14"

Sirach 3:[3] For God hath made the father honourable to the children: and seeking the judgment of the mothers, hath confirmed it upon the children. ... [30] The congregation of the proud shall not be healed: for the plant of wickedness shall take root in them, and it shall not be perceived.

Galatians 2:[16] But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. ... [21] I cast not away the grace of God. For if justice be by the law, then Christ died in vain.

Galatians 3:[10] In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him. [11] In whom we also are called by lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will. [12] That we may be unto the praise of his glory, we who before hoped Christ: [13] In whom you also, after you had heard the word of truth, (the gospel of your salvation;) in whom also believing, you were signed with the holy Spirit of promise, [14] Who is the pledge of our inheritance, unto the redemption of acquisition, unto the praise of his glory.

Has their site been hacked? Have their references become garbled? I see neither contradiction in sentence, nor unity of subject.

II "contradiction"
"Tobit 12:9 contradicts 1 John 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22"

Tobit 12:[9] For alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.

1 John 1:[7] But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Hebrews 9:[22] And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Has their site been hacked? Have their references become garbled? I see neither contradiction in sentence, nor unity of subject.

Or, if the sentence is "alms are not the blood of Christ", well, alms are at least a word from Christ:

Gospel According to Saint Matthew : Chapter 25 : [31] And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. [32] And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. [34] Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

[36] Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. [37] Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? [39] Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? [40] And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

[41] Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. [42] For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. [43] I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. [44] Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? [45] Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

[46] And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

And this agrees very well with Tobit 12:9!

III "contradiction"
"Wisdom 8:19,20 contradicts Romans 3:10"

Wisdom 8:[19] And I was a witty child and had received a good soul. [20] And whereas I was more good, I came to a body undefiled.

Romans 3:[10] As it is written: There is not any man just.

Witty child is not necessarily "just". The "good soul" was "received" and Romans 3:10 has this qualification by bishop Challoner:

"There is not any man just": viz. By virtue either of the law of nature, or of the law of Moses; but only by faith and grace.

IV "contradiction"
"Sirach 12:4-7 disagrees with Luke 6:27-38 and Matthew 5:43-48"

Sirach 12: [4] Give to the merciful and uphold not the sinner: God will repay vengeance to the ungodly and to sinners, and keep them against the day of vengeance. [5] Give to the good, and receive not a sinner.

[6] Do good to the humble, and give not to the ungodly: hold back thy bread, and give it not to him, lest thereby he overmaster thee. [7] For thou shalt receive twice as much evil for all the good thou shalt have done to him: for the Highest also hateth sinners, and will repay vengeance to the ungodly.

Luke 6: [27] But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. [28] Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you. [29] And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. [30] Give to every one that asketh thee, and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

[31] And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. [32] And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also love those that love them. [33] And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? for sinners also do this. [34] And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? for sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. [35] But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest; for he is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil.

[36] Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. [37] Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. [38] Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

Matthew 5:[43] You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. [44] But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: [45] That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.

[46] For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? do not even the publicans this? [47] And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? do not also the heathens this? [48] Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.

First of all, a man is not necessarily wicked because he is against you.

This means any injunction not to count offenses against yourself is in no contradiction with Sirach 12, since "your enemy" may be a godly man. He might even be considering you ungodly and obeying Sirach!

Second, Sirach is talking about ungodly as being known such. Either then very obvious cases, or cases which you have judged so.

The "judge not" part means we must not presume to judge. If we think "he could be godly" (as long as this is in any way defensible) we are not in fact reaping the curse in Sirach.

Thus, no contradiction.

Third, if there should be one who does not accept these solutions, one can also say they reflect Old and New covenant as diverse dispensations.

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