Apocrypha Question--Help Needed

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by CalvinG, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. CalvinG

    CalvinG
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    I am a relatively educated professional who is not a minister and who has gotten perhaps over my head in a theological discussion with a Catholic.

    I would like to pose a question to my Protestant brethren (assuming my registration is actually working). I am in an ongoing debate with a Catholic regarding the canonical quality or lack thereof of the Apocrypha. She has shown me writings indicating that these books of the Septuagint were included in the "canon" prior to 400 A.D., which is over a mellinium before the Protestant Reformation. And these appear to have been accepted as canon by the same council setting out what is our present New Testament.

    Given that these books appear in the Gutenburg (?sp) Bible and that the Septuagint appears to have been in general use by the Greek-speaking community of Jews, especially in Egypt, and given its early inclusion in the canon by the RCC circa 400 A.D. (even if this adoption was not authoritative at the time), I am in need of a good, cogent response to her. Rest assured that anything I say will have its source checked (since I have copied and sent false materials from some of the more anti-Catholic Protestant websites, without checking my sources, to my regret). As with almost everything that is church doctrine, the Catholic sources make it look as if this is the way the canon was from the inception of the early church, recognize tradition as authority, and say that the time something is declared may be much later than the time it was generally recognized.

    What would be particularly appreciated would be:

    1. Sources prior to the Council of Trent which question the authority of the Apocrypha with clear dates and and sources. Statements of "Bishops" of recognized Catholic theologians (who, it would seem, could disagree with and debate their authoritativeness prior to the "infallible" declaration of the pope in/after the Council of Trent) even more greatly appreciated.

    2. The specific reasons why these books are not considered part of the canon. Why and when were they "removed?" It seems that the Protestants just went back to the Hebrew Bible, an original source, in order to be more accurate. But I wager consideration was given to the inclusion of these books and that their inclusion was specifically rejected. The reason for rejection cannot be merely that they do not point to Christ because other OT books (e.g. Esther) at least at first glance do not appear to clearly point to Christ either.

    3. Also, specific, verifiable historical inaccuracies (rather than vague generalizations I have seen on some other sources) if such exist would be wonderful. The Word of God cannot be false, and proof that it is false should to me end the debate as to whether it is the inspired Word of God.

    4. What books were considered canonical by the church in Jerusalem. I would imagine that these Christians used the Hebrew Bible and that there would hopefully be some historical evidence of this.

    5. Any evidence of disagreement within the church as to the authoritative OT canon prior to circa 380 A.D.

    6. Any good documentary evidence that Greek was not used in common parlance by the Rabbis of Jesus' time discussing spiritual matters. This seems very intuitive to me. But what I get from Catholic sources is that Hebrew was "a dying language" at the time of Christ and that therefore authoritative scriptures of that time could be in Greek and not in Hebrew.

    7. The Protestant perspective on whether the Apostles and other authors of NT books quoted the Septaguint rather than the Hebrew Bible in certain instances. (Catholic sources state that roughly 300 of the 350 citations of Scripture in the New Testament writings cite to the Septuagint rather than to the Hebrew Bible. If true, this may have been done simply because the person was writing that particular letter in Greek and a Greek translation of the authoritative books was readily available. One need not reinvent the wheel.) And whether the Apostles' use of the Septuagint (if they did this) indicates adoption of the whole by use even of parts.

    Even partial responses would be great appreciated as I have obviously asked for more information than anyone, even a Doctor of Theology, can easily provide in one setting unless he or she did a thesis on the subject.

    I know that many of you have active ministries, and please do not feel that you need to help me if you, your congregation, or your family has other needs.

    CalvinG
     
  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    CalvinG, as I understand it, the following happened:-

    1.The LXX did indeed contain the Apocrypha. The older, Hebrew OT did not. There was always some controversy within Jewish circles,prior to, during and after the time of Jesus,as to whether these books were canonical or not.

    2. By Jesus' time, Hebrew had been relegated to a scholarly or liturgical language only; Aramaic, a Persian language, had replaced it as the vernacular in the region. Jesus and His disciples would have used Hebrew liturgically, but would have been aware of and used the LXX.

    3. The early church, both apostolic and sub-apostolic (and beyond) used the LXX pretty much exclusively; Greek was after all the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean.

    4. This offended the Jews, ho wanted to distiguish themselves from these minim , or Nazorean heretics as they saw them. There was a revival of old-fashioned Judaism, complete with revived Hebrew Scriptures (ie: sans Apocrypha); there was a council at Jamneh/Javnia in 80 AD which resulted in the Jews adopting the traditional Hebrew OT as canonical, in contadistinction to the Christians who continued to use the Apocrypha-containing LXX.

    5. This continued, with the Church then getting importantly diverted away from the question of "What is the OT?" to the more-pressing question of "What is the NT?" The lattr question was finally settled at the Council of Carthage in 397. The issue of the Apocrypha did come up then, with a degree of controversy; but Carthage was really about the NT, not the OT, so the Apocrypha question wasn't properly dealt with - so much so that when Jerome was putting together the Vulgate a generation later, he wasn't sure whether to put it in. It did however make its way into most Bibles subsequently. The pre-Reformation argument for its inclusion therefore is largely based on established and long use by the Church, rather than any particular Council.

    6. The Reformers (and I wouldn't pay too much attention to Luther specifically here as he was in favour of ditching James and Revelation)decided to have another look at the issue. Your Catholic friend will no doubt insist that the reason they excluded the Apocrypha was because it contains much to back up RC practices - prayers for the dead, intercession of the saints etc; doubtless there was that elementin the Reformers' thinking - the rejection of 'inconvenient' scriptures - but the main reason went like this:"the OT was originally Jewish scripture, therefore only the Jews are quailified to comment, therefore we will look at the Jewish Council on the subject, namely Jamnia - they rejected the Apocrypha, therefore so will we". Factor into that the equivocation of Carthage and Jerome on the subject, and that's how they arrived at their conclusion

    Hope that helps!

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  3. CalvinG

    CalvinG
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    Matt Black,

    That was indeed very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I see that you are a fellow lawyer. I don't meet that many other lawyers in the Baptist church. So it's really good to meet you.

    I agree with your point about the Old Testament's being Jewish Scripture. I think someone once posted on here OT verses which made the Levites the keepers of Scripture. I found that in the archives but haven't looked them up yet. (I'm going to.)

    CalvinG

    I would like to invite further comment and additional answers to these questions.
     
  4. CalvinG

    CalvinG
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    I seem to have lost (and can't refind) that old post with numerous OT citations of the authority of the Jews/Levites to keep Scripture and of the closure of the OT canon. Does anyone here know these off the top of his or her head?
     
  5. In God We Trust

    In God We Trust
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    I don’t know if this will help you, but it does give the Septaugint families, which may give you areas to look.

    http://www.google.com/custom?cof=L%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.newadvent.org%2Fimages%2Flogo.gif%3BAH%3Acenter%3BS%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.newadvent.org%3BAWFID%3Aba70ececdfd47fd1%3B&domains=new advent.org&sitesearch=newadvent.org&sa=Search&q=Apocrypha.&search=all

    This comes from a Catholic Encyclopedia at (OT);

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09627a.htm

    (2) Old Testament manuscripts
    (a) Septuagint (LXX)
    There are three families of Septuagint manuscripts -- the Hexaplaric, Hesychian, and Lucianic. Manuscripts of Origen's Hexapla (q.v.) and Tetrapla were preserved at Cæsarea by his disciple Pamphilus. Some extant manuscripts (v.g. aleph and Q) refer in scholia to these gigantic works of Origen. In the fourth century, Pamphilus and his disciple Eusebius of Cæsarea reproduced the fifth column of the Hexapla, i.e. Origen's Hexaplaric Septuagint text, with all his critical signs. This copy is the source of the Hexaplaric family of Septuagint manuscripts. In course of time, scribes omitted the critical signs in part or entirely. Passages wanting in the Septuagint, but present in the Hebrew, and consequently supplied by Origen from either Aquila or Tehodotion, were hopelessly commingled with passages of the then extant Septuagint. Almost at the same time two other editions of the Septuagint were published -- those of Hesychius at Alexandria and of Lucian at Antioch. From these three editions the extant manuscripts of the Septuagint have descended, but by ways that have not yet been accurately traced. Very few manuscripts can be assigned with more than probability to one of the three families. The Hexaplaric, Hesychian, and Lucianic manuscripts acted one upon the other. Most extant manuscripts of the Septuagint contain, as a result, readings of each and of none of the great families. The tracing of the influence of these three great manuscripts is a work yet to be done by the text-critics.
    • Papyrus. -- About sixteen fragments on papyrus are extant. Of these, the most important are:
    o Oxyrhyncus Pap. 656 (early third cent.), containing parts of Gen., xiv-xxvii, wherein most of the great vellum manuscripts are wanting.
    o British Museum Pap. 37, at times called U (seventh cent.), containing part of Psalms (Hebrew) x-xxxiii.
    o A Leipzig Pap. (fourth cent.) containing Psalms xxix-liv. These two Psalters give us the text of Upper Egypt.
    o A Heidelberg Pap. (seventh cent.) containing Azch., iv, 6-Mal., iv, 5.
    o A Berlin Pap. (fourth or fifth cent.) containing about thirty chapters of Genesis.
    • Vellum Uncial. -- Parsons collated 13 uncial and 298 minuscule manuscripts of the Septuagint; the former he designated with Roman numerals, I-XIII, the latter with Arabic numbers, 14-311 (cf., "V.T. Græcum cum Variis Lectionibus", Oxford, 1798). Legarde designated the uncials by Roman and Greek capitals. This designation is now generally accepted (cf. Swete, "Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek", Cambridge, 1902, 148).
    o aleph -- S, Cod. Sinaiticus (q.v.) (fourth century; 43 leaves at Leipzig, 156 together with N.T. at St. Petersburg) contains fragments of Gen. and Num.; I Par., ix, 27-xix, 17; Esd. ix, 9-end; Esth.; Tob.; Judith; I and IV Mach.; Isa.; Jer.; Lam., i, 1-ii, 20; Joel; Ab.-Mal.; the Poetical Books; the entire New Testament; the Epistle of Barnabas and part of the "Shepherd" of Hermas. The text is mixed. In Tobias it differs much from A and B. Its origin is doubtful. Two correctors (Ca and Cb) are of the seventh century. Ca tells us at the end of Esth. that he compared this manuscript with a very early copy, which Pamphilus testified had been taken from and corrected according to the Hexapla or Origen.
    o A, or Cod. Alexandrinus (fifth century; in British Museum) contains complete Bible (excepting Ps. 1-20-lxxx, 11, and smaller lacunæ) and includes deuterocanonical books and fragments, the apocryphal III and IV Mach., also I and II Clem. Its origin is Egyptian and may be Hesychian. It differs much from B, especially in Judges. Two scribes wrote the manuscript. The corrector belonged to about the same time.
    o B, or Cod. Vaticanus (q.v.) (fourth century; in the Vatican) contains complete Bible. The Old Testament lacks Gen., i, 1-xivi, 28; I and II Mach.; portions of II Kings, ii; and Psalms, cv- cxxxvii. The New Testament wants Heb., ix, 14; I and II Tim.; Titus.; Apoc. Its origin is Lower Egyptian. Hort thinks it akin to the text used by Origen in his Hexapla.
    o C, or Cod. Ephræmi Rescriptus (q.v.) (fifth century palimpsest, in National Library, Paris) contains 64 leaves of Old Testament; most of Eccl.; parts of Ecclus.; Wisd.; Prov. and Cant.; 145 out of 238 leaves of New Testament.
    o D, or The Cotton Genesis (fifth century; in British Museum) contains fragments of Gen.; was almost destroyed by fire in 1731, but had been previously studies.
    o E, or Cod. Bodleianus (ninth or tenth century; in Bodl. Libr., Oxford) contains Heptateuch, fragments.
    o F, or Cod. Ambrosianus (fifth century; at Milan) contains Heptateuch, fragments.
    o G, or Cod. Sarravianus (fifth century; 130 leaves at Leyden; 22 in Paris, one in St. Petersburg) contains the Hexaplaric Octateuch (fragments) with some of the asterisks and obeli of Origen.
    o H, or Cod. Petropolitanus (sixth century; in Imperial Libr., St. Petersburg) contains portions of Numbers.
    o I, or Cod. Bodleianus (ninth century; in Bodl. Libr., Oxford) contains the Psalms.
    o K, or Cod. Lipsiensis (seventh century; in Univ. of Leipzig) contains fragments of Heptateuch.
    o L, or The Vienna Genesis (sixth century; in Imperial Libr., Vienna) contains incomplete Genesis, written with silver letters on purple vellum.
    o M, or Cod. Coislinianus (seventh century; in National Library, Paris) contains Heptateuch and Kings.
    o N-V, or Cod. Basiliano-Venetus (eighth or ninth century; partly in Venice and partly in Vatican) contains complete Gen., Ex., and part of Lev., and was used with B in the critical edition of the Septuagint (Rome, 1587).
    o O, or Cod. Dublinensis (sixth century; in Trinity College, Dublin) contains fragments of Isaias.
    o Q, or Cod. Marchalianus (sixth century, in Vatican) contains Prophets, complete; is very important, and originated in Egypt. The text is probably Hesychian. In the margins are many readings from the Hexapla; it also gives many Hexaplaric signs.
    o R, or Cod. Veronensis (sixth century; at Verona) contains Gr. and Lat. Psalter and Canticles.
    o T, or Cod. Zuricensis, the Zürich Psalter (seventh century) shows, with R, the Western text; silver letters, gold initials, on purple vellum.
    o W, or Cod. Parisiensis (ninth century; in National Library, Paris) contains fragments of Psalms.
    o X, or Cod. Vaticanus (ninth century; in Vatican) contains the Book of Job.
    o Y, or Cod. Tauriensis (ninth century; in National Library, Turin) contains Lesser Prophets.
    o Z, or Cod. Tischendorf (ninth century) contains fragments of Kings; published by Tischendorf.
    o Gamma, or Cod. Cryptoferrantensis (eighth or ninth century; at Grottaferrata) contains fragments of Prophets.
    o Delta, or Cod. Bodleianus (fourth or fifth century; Oxford, in Bodl. Libr.) contains a fragment of Daniel.
    o Theta, or Cod. Washington (fifth or sixth century, to be in Smithsonian Institution), contains Deut.-Jos., found in Egypt, one of the Freer manuscripts. There are likewise seven uncial Psalters (two complete) of the ninth or tenth century and eighteen rather unimportant fragments listed by Swete (op. cit., p. 140).
    • Vellum Minuscule More than 300 are known but unclassified. The Cambridge Septuagint purposes to collate the chief of these minuscules and to group them with a view to discriminating the various recensions of the Septagint. More than half of these manuscripts are Psalters and few of them give the entire Old Testament. In editing his Alcalá Polyglot, Cardinal Ximenes used minuscules 108 and 248 of the Vatican.
     
  6. In God We Trust

    In God We Trust
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    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01601a.htm#IV

    From this web site from a Catholic encyclopedia; Under the portion of;
    IV. The Apocrypha and the Church;

    I found this statement very interesting;

    “In 447 Pope Leo the Great wrote pointedly against the pseudo-apostolic writings, "which contained the germ of so many errors . . . they should not only be forbidden but completely suppressed and burned" (Epist. xv, 15). The so-called Decretum de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris" is attributed to Pope Gelasius (495), but in reality is a compilation dating from the beginning of the sixth century, and containing collections made earlier than Gelasius. It is an official document, the first of the kind we possess, and contained a list of 39 works besides those ascribed to Leucius, "disciple of the devil", all of which it condemns as apocryphal. From this catalogue it is evident that in the Latin Church by this time, apocrypha in general, including those of Catholic origin, had fallen under the ecclesiastical ban, always, however, with a preoccupation against the danger of heterodoxy. The Synod of Braga, in Spain, held in the year 563, anathematizes any one "who reads, approves, or defends the injurious fictions set in circulation by heretics". Although in the Middle Ages these condemnations were forgotten and many of the pseudographic writings enjoyed a high degree of favour among both clerics and the laity, still we find superior minds, such as Alcuin, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, pointing out their want of authority. An echo of the ancient condemnations occurs in the work De Festis B.M.V. of Benedict XIV, declaring certain popular apocrypha to be impure sources of tradition. (See CANON OF SACRED SCRIPTURE.)”
     

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