On whose authority did Luther remove the Apocrypha?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Matt Black, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    A question which is self-evident in meaning - any answers?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. Archeryaddict

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    Statements on the Apocrypha from Reformation Days
    Luther Bible (1534). Title to Apocrypha: "APOCRYPHA, that is, Books which are not to be esteemed like the Holy Scriptures, and yet which are useful and good to read."

    Coverdale Bible (1535). Title to Apocrypha: "APOCRYPHA: The books and treatises which among the Fathers of old are not reckoned to be of like authority with the other books of the Bible, neither are they found in the Canon of Hebrew."

    Geneva Bible (1560). Preface: "The books that follow in order after the Prophets unto the New Testament, are called Apocrypha, that is, books which were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church, neither yet served to prove any point of Christian religion save in so much as they had the consent of the other scriptures called canonical to confirm the same, or rather whereon they were grounded: but as books proceeding from godly men they were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of history and for the instruction of godly manners: which books declare that at all times God had an especial care of His Church, and left them not utterly destitute of teachers and means to confirm them in the hope of the promised Messiah, and also witness that those calamities that God sent to his Church were according to his providence, who had both so threatened by his prophets, and so brought it to pass, for the destruction of their enemies and for the trial of his children."

    Decree of the Council of Trent (1546). "The holy ecumenical and general Council of Trent . . . following the example of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates all the books of the Old and New Testament . . . and also the traditions pertaining to faith and conduct . . . with an equal sense of devotion and reverence . . . If, however, any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have by custom been read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate, and knowingly and deliberately rejects the aforesaid traditions, let him be accursed."

    Articles of Religion of the Church of England (1563). Sixth Article: "In the name of Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church. . . And the other books (as Jerome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners: but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine."

    Westminster Confession (1647). Chapter 1 § 3: "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings."
     
  3. Matt Black

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    All of these postdate Luther's Reformation, they follow rather than support his ruling and do not address my question. I would like to know on what basis and with what authority Luther took it upon himself to delete those books...

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  4. church mouse guy

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    I think that the answer to the problem is that the Jews decided what books were holy to them and what books were not holy to them. I think that the RCC stands alone in trying to add books to the Old Testament--and Jews laugh at them. I think that there is no debate about which books belong in the New Testament.
     
  5. Matt Black

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    Yes, but the Jews decided that AFTER the Church began. If your appeal for the exclusion of the Apocrypha is to the work of the rabbis under Gamaliel II at Jamnia/ Yavneh from c90AD onwards (as I suspect it is) then I think that the point needs to be made that the OT in use by Jesus, His disciples and the Early Church in so far as they understood Greek would almost certainly have been the LXX, which contains the Apocrypha; Jamnia made the decision to revert to the Hebrew text ( sans Apocrypha) as a way of distancing themselves theologically from the Early Church ( and in particular the Jewish-Christian minim or sectaries) and 'go native' by reverting to Hebrew. Thus the rejection of the Apocrypha by the post-Temple Judaism has to be seen as a move by Judaism away from Christianity. Surely that gives strength to the argument that the Apocrypha was used by the Church - and still should....? :eek: It was in the Church Bibles for over 1000 years - the RCC didn't add it in, Luther removed it - should he have done and who was he to have done it?


    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  6. KeithS

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    Matt,

    Found this interesting history of the apocrypha, although I cannot vouch for the accuracy.
    http://www.gnte.org/ecopub/apocrypha.htm

    It never mentions Luther except in a section on music where he is credited with translating an apocryphal book. Also, I think the point of the second post was that Luther included the apocrypha - not that he excluded it as your post implies.

    I'm curious - are you attempting to advance that the apocrypha has equal authority with the canon of Scriptures?
     
  7. Matt Black

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    That's the question I'm asking, yes, I'm trying to establish whether it has or not. That's the point of this thread...

    So who actually did exclude it if not Luther?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  8. Ps104_33

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    Matt, you seem to have an irrational reverence or preoccupation with the Apocryphal books. Look if you really get a blessing from reading them go right ahead but they kind of remind me of the book of mormon. One doesnt have to read very far before you realize that they arent God-Breathed.
     
  9. Johnv

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    Regardless of whether one consideres them to be inspired on a par with the 66-book scriptures, they were considered worthy of study by Martin Luther, as well as the KJV translators, not to mention others.

    It's interesting how many of us will read and study up a copy of the commentary-du-jour that just hit our local Christian bookstore, but few, if any, will take the time to read and study the apocrypha. Are we that Romaphobic? The Apocrypha, regardless of whether they're inspired or not, are worthy of study by the Christian.
     
  10. Ps104_33

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    I dont know if we are that Romaphobic but I know that I am that Romaphobic [​IMG]
     
  11. Ps104_33

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    The fact is it is not as matter of Romaphobia at all. They are not God-Breathed. I dont have a problem with anyone reading them but they are considered inspired by Rome because they support certain doctrines of the Roman Church. What about some of the apocryphal New Testament writings? Why arent they included in the canon?
     
  12. Kiffen

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    The Apocrypha books of 1 and 2 Maccabees gives us great insight on what happened between the OT and NT. Not hardly even close to the book of Mormon. Even the Reformers believed as Johnv
    stated that the Apocrypha is worthy of study by the Christian, they just did not believe it was scripture. That is why the KJV translators included it in a separate section of the 1611 KJV.

    Luther like the KJV translators did include the Apocrypha in his German translation of the Bible but like them considered it not Scripture but ‘useful historical’ writings.

    These websites might give some insight on Luther and the Apocrypha

    Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

    http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2526

    Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

    http://www.wels.net/cgi-bin/site.pl?1518&cuItem_itemID=890&cuTopic_topicID=39
     
  13. rsr

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    Matt:

    I think that to put the entire onus on Luther is going too far. Was, in fact, the OT "canon" was as fixed as has been presumed? I doubt it. In arranging his Bible, Luther was not outside the mainstream of either tradition or current scholarship. Both Jerome and Athanasius, among others, did not put the Apocrpyha on the same level as the rest of the OT. It was a debate that was still continuing in the 16th century, even at the highest levels of the church.


    "Subsequent to Jerome's time and down to the period of the reformation a continuous succession of the more learned Fathers and theologians in the West maintained the distinctive and unique authority of the books of the Hebrew canon. Such a judgment, for example, was reiterated on the very eve of the Reformation by Cardinal Ximenes in the preface of the magnificent Complutensian Polyglot edition of the Bible which he edited (1514-17)... Even Cardinal Cajetan, Luther's opponent at Augsburg in 1518, gave an unhesitating approval to the Hebrew canon in his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament, which he dedicated in 1532 to pope Clement VII. He expressly called attention to Jerome's separation of the canonical from the uncanonical books, and maintained that the latter must not be relied upon to establish points of faith, but used only for the edification of the faithful."

    Bruce Metzger, "An Introduction to the Apocrypha"


    Luther's approach is shown by his inclusion of the books into his Bible, though with a preface that discounted their being scripture. This is a far cry from Marcion, who redacted the canon to his own taste.
     
  14. Ellis Murphree

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    I think you are referring to some of the nearly countless books that are part of the pseudapigrapha rather than the Apocrypha. I don't believe that Rome sees any of the pseudapigrapha is being inspired - but I may be wrong. The Apocryphal books are all O.T. and inter-testamental additions to the canon.
     
  15. Matt Black

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    I don't read them at present and I certainly don't have any 'irrational reverence' with them. My aim is to establish whether they are part of the Canon or not, and that is why I started this thread.

    Are you not falling into the same trap as Luther when you state you aren't 'God-breathed': on whose authority are you saying this?

    RSR - thanks for the input, but I have to confess this makes me none the wiser! My understanding has always been that the books were included in the Vulgate and were there without serious question for over 1000 years prior to the Reformation until the Reformers started questioning them as they contained doctrines with which they disagreed (prayers to and for the dead etc). Well, I guess we'd all like to do a Marcion and remove the bits we don't like; my preference would be to ditch Leviticus and all the genealogies in I Chronicles, because they're rather turgid. But this is sacred Scripture we're talking about and we are not free to pick-and-choose what we say in our infinite wisdom that God inspired - and neither were the Reformers, I submit...

    Ellis, are you referring eg to the Book of Enoch, quoted in Jude ?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  16. Matt Black

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    Sorry for double post, but what do people make of the references to Apocryphal verses in the NT?


    Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.

    Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus' statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.

    Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others.

    Matt. 7:16,20 - Jesus' statement "you will know them by their fruits" follows Sirach 27:6 - the fruit discloses the cultivation.

    Matt. 9:36 - the people were "like sheep without a shepherd" is same as Judith 11:19 - sheep without a shepherd.

    Matt. 11:25 - Jesus' description "Lord of heaven and earth" is the same as Tobit 7:18 - Lord of heaven and earth.

    Matt. 12:42 - Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.

    Matt. 16:18 - Jesus' reference to the "power of death" and "gates of Hades" references Wisdom 16:13.

    Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.

    Matt. 24:15 - the "desolating sacrilege" Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.

    Matt. 24:16 - let those "flee to the mountains" is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.

    Matt. 27:43 - if He is God's Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.

    Mark 4:5,16-17 - Jesus' description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.

    Mark 9:48 - description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.

    Luke 1:42 - Elizabeth's declaration of Mary's blessedness above all women follows Uzziah's declaration in Judith 13:18.

    Luke 1:52 - Mary's magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.

    Luke 2:29 - Simeon's declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.

    Luke 13:29 - the Lord's description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.

    Luke 21:24 - Jesus' usage of "fall by the edge of the sword" follows Sirach 28:18.

    Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 - Luke's description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.

    John 1:3 - all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.

    John 3:13 - who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.

    John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 - Jesus', Luke's and Paul's usage of "signs and wonders" follows Wisdom 8:8.

    John 5:18 - Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.

    John 6:35-59 - Jesus' Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.

    John 10:22 - the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.

    John 15:6 - branches that don't bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.

    Acts 1:15 - Luke's reference to the 120 may be a reference to 1 Macc. 3:55 - leaders of tens / restoration of the twelve.

    Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 - Peter's and Paul's statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12.

    Acts 17:29 - description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.

    Rom 1:18-25 - Paul's teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.

    Rom. 1:20 - specifically, God's existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.

    Rom. 1:23 - the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.

    Rom. 1:24-27 - this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.

    Rom. 4:17 - Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.

    Rom. 5:12 - description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.

    Rom. 9:21 - usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.

    1 Cor. 2:16 - Paul's question, "who has known the mind of the Lord?" references Wisdom 9:13.

    1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 - warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.

    1 Cor. 8:5-6 - Paul acknowledging many "gods" but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.

    1 Cor. 10:1 - Paul's description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.

    1 Cor. 10:20 - what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.

    1 Cor. 15:29 - if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.

    Eph. 1:17 - Paul's prayer for a "spirit of wisdom" follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.

    Eph. 6:14 - Paul describing the breastplate of righteousness is the same as Wis. 5:18. See also Isaiah 59:17 and 1Thess. 5:8.

    Eph. 6:13-17 - in fact, the whole discussion of armor, helmet, breastplate, sword, shield follows Wis. 5:17-20.

    1 Tim. 6:15 - Paul's description of God as Sovereign and King of kings is from 2 Macc. 12:15; 13:4.

    2 Tim. 4:8 - Paul's description of a crown of righteousness is similar to Wisdom 5:16.

    Heb. 4:12 - Paul's description of God's word as a sword is similar to Wisdom 18:15.

    Heb. 11:5 - Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah.

    Heb 11:35 - Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Macc. 6:18, 7:1-42.

    Heb. 12:12 - the description "drooping hands" and "weak knees" comes from Sirach 25:23.

    James 1:19 - let every man be quick to hear and slow to respond follows Sirach 5:11.

    James 2:23 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

    James 3:13 - James' instruction to perform works in meekness follows Sirach 3:17.

    James 5:3 - describing silver which rusts and laying up treasure follows Sirach 29:10-11.

    James 5:6 - condemning and killing the "righteous man" follows Wisdom 2:10-20.

    1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.

    1 Peter 1:17 - God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 - God judges man according to his deeds.

    2 Peter 2:7 - God's rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.

    Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 - power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.

    Rev. 2:12 - reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God's Word in Wisdom 18:16.

    Rev. 5:7 - God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.

    Rev. 8:3-4 - prayers of the saints presented to God by the hand of an angel follows Tobit 12:12,15.

    Rev. 8:7 - raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.

    Rev. 9:3 - raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.

    Rev. 11:19 - the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.

    Rev. 17:14 - description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.

    Rev. 19:1 - the cry "Hallelujah" at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.

    Rev. 19:11 - the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.

    Rev. 19:16 - description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.

    I think a major factor in the dropping of the Apocryphal writings was the recognition by many Reformers that dropping them dealt neatly with the Maccabbean teaching concerning prayers for the departed which has been and is a consistent practice of the Jewish people but which naughty Rome also did ... and, therefore, was out.

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  17. rsr

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    "I think a major factor in the dropping of the Apocryphal writings was the recognition by many Reformers that dropping them dealt neatly with the Maccabbean teaching concerning prayers for the departed which has been and is a consistent practice of the Jewish people but which naughty Rome also did ... and, therefore, was out."

    That's certainly a point, yet it would not have been necessary to drop the entire Apocrypha to eliminate that perceived support of Latin Rite doctrine. Throughout the centuries, individual books had been questioned at the highest level (including the papacy).

    Have you read all the references on your list? Surely not.

    Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.

    (This is a recount of events of the Exodus and has nothing to do with Herod.)

    Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus' statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.

    (An admonition about giving alms. "Place thy treasure in the commandments of the most High, and it shall bring thee more profit than gold. Shut up alms in the heart of the poor, and it shall obtain help for thee against all evil.")

    Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule ...

    (Or maybe it came from Confucius: As Mencius said, "Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." Or from Hillel: ""What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.")

    As far as an endorsement of the Wisdom of Solomon, Matthew 12:42 simply says "The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here." Hardly a reference to a specific book.
     
  18. Matt Black

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    Er...that's why I asked what people make of them; they are often cited by pro-Apocrypha apologists and I threw them out for discussion. Perhaps I should have said "supposed references to the Apocrypha in the NT" - but that would have disclosed a bias

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  19. rsr

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    Anyway, all that begs the question of the canon. If any scripture were written today, it likely would contain idiom from the common culture. That would not mean, for example, that "Read my lips" would be an endorsement of a speech by Bush 41 was inspired.

    But ...

    None of this addresses the question in the OP. The real question, of course, was not whether Luther had the authority to change the canon but rather WHO has the authority to decide what is canonical (the Reformers could say, after all, that in this as in other things they were merely restoring the canon that had been improperly enlarged by Rome).

    The real question is WHO has the authority to determine the canon ... which is where I think the discussion was going to go from the beginning.
     
  20. Matt Black

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    Yes, the question is 'who'. Clearly not Marcion, as the Church very early on decided (Marcion's attempted exclusion of the OT was of course the action that precipitated the whole Church discussion of the Canon in the first place). The precedent of Marcion suggests to me that individuals are not empowered to add or delete entries to the Canon, but rather it should be done by representatives of the whole Church.

    However, the plot thickens: it's not just a question of who is authorised to delete the Apocrypha/ deutero-canonicals (DCs) but who actually did that. My further research suggests that the answer's a little more complex than 'just Luther'. The 1611 KJV included the DCs. The 1629 version did not, but the 1630 did. For some 200 years, many Protestant bibles continued to contain the DCs. In 1825 after lobbying from Presbyterian and other Protestants, the British and Foreign Bible Society eliminated the DCs from KJV printing. It was not until 1880 that the American Bible Society voted remove the DCs from their KJV. The DCs were officially removed by the Anglican Church from their KJV printings by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1885.

    So, there seem to be more individuals and organisations involved than 'just Luther' (which IMO adds some weight to the 'authority' for the deletion) but the Protestant deletion of the DCs seems to have been progressive and in many cases quite recent (which lessens the authoritative weight IMO).

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     

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