A Pope Rejects Maccabees

That’s right. You read correctly. A pope once rejected the book of Maccabees. That pope was Gregory the Great. In his commentary on Job, Book 19, chapter 34, he says that it is not irregular to quote for the church’s edification the books of the Apocrypha, as long as it is understood that they are not canonical. He then immediately retells the story from 1 Macc. 6:42-47 concerning the death of Eleazar Savaran, who killed an elephant, though being killed in the process. Gregory’s exact words are these: “De qua re non inordinate agimus, si ex libris, licet non canonicis, tamen ad aedificationem ecclesiae editis, testimonium proferamus” (emphasis added). The translation already linked renders it: “With reference to which particular we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not Canonical, yet brought out for the edifying of the Church, we bring forward testimony.” What immediately follows is from Maccabees. So, if Trent is correct in anathematizing all who reject the Apocrypha, then they have retroactively anathematized one of their own popes: Gregory the Great. Here is one case, at least, where the Protestant can say “I follow the Pope,” and the Roman Catholic cannot.

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