Josephus and Jerome on the Canon

Whitaker adduces the evidence of Josephus (as evidence for the Jewish church before Christ, even though he lived after Christ), and Jerome, as another church father after Christ, who both rejected all the deutero-canonical books (pp. 60-61 of Whitaker). Jerome, as is well-known, denied the canonicity of the deutero-canonical books. By the way, Jerome is listed not only as a saint of the Roman Catholic church, but also as one of its doctors. Apparently, one of the doctors of the church denies that the church should receive Maccabees, Baruch, Sirach, etc. These are his actual words:

As, then, there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew all we say, and the human voice is comprehended within their limits, so we reckon twenty-two books, by which, as by the alphabet of the doctrine of God, a righteous man is instructed in tender infancy, and, as it were, while still at the breast.

The translation is from this website, and the words come from his preface to the book of Samuel in the Vulgate (in the now-standard Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft edition, the words occur on p. 364). Lest anyone doubt his meaning, he goes on to list with exactitude the books of the canon, and he explicitly says that Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, and Shepherd are not canonical (non sunt in canone, see p. 365). Although stating that 1 Maccabees can be found in Hebrew, he does not translate it, and his mention of it occurs in the paragraph discussing books that are not in the canon.

So, once again, we have the problem of which tradition to believe. Even the fountain of the Vulgate, Jerome himself, did not believe that the deutero-canonical books were canonical. So why would it be heretical to believe Jerome today?

Josephus is a strong testimony to the Jewish church’s rejection of the deutero-canonical books. In his Against Apion, book 1, chapter 8, he says this (quoting from the Loeb translation, p. 179):

We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty, and contain the record of all time. Of these, five are the books of Moses, comprising the laws and the traditional history from the birth of man down to the death of the lawgiver. This period falls only a little short of three thousand years. From the death of Moses until Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as king of Persia, the prophets subsequent to Moses wrote the history of the events of their own times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life.

Now, why would a Jew’s testimony be helpful here? Because, and simply, if the Jews rejected the deutero-canonical books, then the Roman Catholic church does not have fundamental continuity with the Old Testament church on the matter of canon, whereas the Protestant position most certainly does. The Protestants are the traditional church here!

About these ads

37 Comments

  1. Richard said,

    June 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Though there are a few problems with using Josephus, how representative was he. That is to say, did he represent the voice of Judaism or was he a advocating the party line of a specific branch of Judaism (i.e. the branch that would become Rabbinic Judaism)? Steve Mason has discussed this and related questions in his “Josephus and his Twenty-Two Book Canon” in The Canon Debate.

  2. Richard said,

    June 16, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Moreover, we also know that the catholic Church (incl. Augustine and some early Councils) affirmed the canonicity of the deutero-canonicals. You are correct, “if the Jews rejected the deutero-canonical books…” but that’s part of the problem, there was no settled canon during the second Temple period, some Jewish groups used the deutero-canonicals and some didn’t.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    June 16, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Richard, not all in the early church affirmed the deutero-canonical books. You seem to have completely ignored the testimony of Jerome which I have just posted. Furthermore, Pope Gregory the Great, in his commentaries on Job, explicitly denies that Maccabees is canonical. Cyril of Jerusalem says that there are only 22 books in the OT canon (Jerusalem Catechism 4.33). While it is true that he argued that Baruch was part of Jeremiah, he still rejected all the others. Epiphanius calls many of those books “doubtful” or “apocryphal” (Contra Epicurus, heresy 8). Rufinus argues that the deutero-canonical books may be read in the churches, but they are NOT canonical (Exposition of the Apostles Creed). So, you are shoving rather a lot of evidence under the carpet in order to make your claim that the church affirmed these books. There was considerable diversity of views in the early church on the OT canon.

  4. Richard said,

    June 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Lane, I agree completely that there was considerable diversity of views in the early church on the OT canon (cf. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines). What I was trying to do was to point out that the canon question cannot be settled by appealing to Jerome or Josephus precisely because there was more than one position, hence to claim that the Protestants are the traditional church deals only with one part of the tradition. Just look at the diversity within the Protestant churches themselves, the Presbyterians have a very negative attitute towards the deuteros whilst we Anglicans are far more positive (e.g. sentences from Tobit are read during Holy Communion services at the offeratory). But let me pose the question; say we now accept that the deutero-canonical writings are canon, what difference would that really make to our faith, to your faith?

  5. TurretinFan said,

    June 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Richard:

    Cardinal Cajetan said we can and should resolve the canon question by appealing to Jerome.

    See a more complete discussion here:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/11/cajetan-on-canon.html

    -TurretinFan

  6. Richard said,

    June 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    TF: Thanks for the headsup, good to know. I suppose I’d want to pose the question and ask if we could travel back to 1200AD would the church have been using the deutero-canonicals? What about in 1300AD? 1400AD? From what I can gather, there was never an official declaration by the church about what is canonical, until Trent (RCC) or the various Reformed confessions &c.

    Lane: What I am trying to get at is whether there are any real problems with adopting the Apocrypha or whether there are differing views over the interpretation of the so-called problem verses, e.g. verses supposedly justifying prayers for the dead, purgatory etc.

  7. greenbaggins said,

    June 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Richard, my point is not that the Roman Catholic position on the canon cannot be found in any of the literature of the early church (arguably, it can be), although I would argue that the evidence is a bit more ambiguous than the Roman Catholic church says it is. My point is that the Protestant position CAN be found in the early church, which gives the lie to the common Roman Catholic claim that Protestants ignore the tradition, and are not in the early church tradition at all. In other words, when the Roman Catholic church cut off the Protestant position, they were cutting off something very much in the tradition of the early church. That’s my point.

    As to your second query, I would say that the fundamental issue is not over particular doctrinal matters that arise OUT OF the DC books. The problem lies entirely in the realm of authority. Does the church arise from the Bible, or does the church determine Scripture? The Apocryphal/DC books constitute one of the major battle grounds for this controversy.

  8. TurretinFan said,

    June 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Richard:

    Cajetan, of course, is 16th century, just prior to Trent. His views about the canon were the same as 16th century cardinal Ximinez, who printed the legendary Complutensian Polyglot (beating Erasmus’ Greek New Testament to the press, though not to the release).

    I’m not sure if you read my linked post. Cajetan acknowledged that the books were used. His point was simply that there are two lists: one list is a list of the books used in the church, the other list is the list of the books that are inspired. The deutero-canonical works are on the first list, not the second.

    Some churches did approve a canon. For example, “Pope” Athanasius (the famous champion of Nicene orthodoxy against the Arians and semi-Arians) identified for the church of Alexandria a canon of the Scripture in his 39th festal letter. His “official word” on the matter would be one example of an ecclesiastically authorized list. Of course, in North Africa, several councils took up the matter about 30 years after Athanasius, although a question has been raised about whether they were trying to identify the first or second category of canon.

    The Council of Florence (17th Ecumenical Council, according to Rome) provided a list of books. However, no dogmatic weight was attached to that list.

    The story of how Trent, after the death of Luther, went about dogmatically erring with respect to the canon is an interesting one. You’ll notice, for example, that their list not only provides a 72 book canon, but specifically attributes Pauline authorship to Hebrews.

    But perhaps I digress to far. I hope I’ve answered your question: different churches at various times would doubtless have used different books in different ways.

    – TurretinFan

  9. John said,

    June 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Several problems here. Firstly, having one single witness (Josephus) to the Jewish beliefs about the canon is hardly a statistically significant sample. I could more easily point to the most widespread version of the Jewish scriptures (LXX) that the Church inherited as evidence that most Jews thought differently. Many have argued the Saducees had a shorter canon. But I don’t see protestants arguing for that.

    Secondly, its not so obvious that Jerome rejects the deuteros, or at least he changed his mind to conform to the church about this matter. There’s quite a few places where he seems to quote the deuteros as scripture. Just one example:

    Does not the SCRIPTURE say: ‘Burden not thyself above thy power’ [SIRACH 13:2] Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207

    Why is it heretical to believe Jerome today? Well using heresy in its old meaning of being sectarian, and choosing, it would be choosing contrary to the church.

  10. Richard said,

    June 17, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Hi Lane,

    With regards to your first point I agree completely. As to the second query, I think it is both, the church is created by the Word (cf. Horton) and the church recognises the word of God and exercises its ministerial authority to draw up a list of recognised Scripture. What is perplexing is that some in the church have recognised the DCs as scripture and others haven’t. Obviously the issue is more than just a Reformed-Catholic debate as there are also the various Orthodox canons.

  11. dozie said,

    June 17, 2011 at 6:45 am

    “…if the Jews rejected the deutero-canonical books, then the Roman Catholic church does not have fundamental continuity with the Old Testament church on the matter of canon”.

    Are you going to also argue that because the Jews rejected Christ, Christ and Christians do not have “fundamental continuity with the Old Testament church?

  12. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2011 at 9:42 am

    John, I don’t think you read the post carefully enough. I was hardly claiming that Josephus spoke for all Judaism. I was claiming that he spoke for a slice of Judaism. The Council at Jamnia definitely went the way of Josephus, not for other ideas. As to Jerome, he plainly regarded all the deutero-canonical books as suitable for reading in the church, but NOT as canonical. This would be quite consistent with saying “the scripture says” and then quoting a DC book. But he VERY PLAINLY did not put them on the same level as the rest of the canonical books, unless plain language doesn’t mean anything any more.

    As to the question of “choosing,” didn’t Trent choose one opinion over another opinion that was very much present in the early church? They made a choice. It was the wrong one. The church can most certainly err.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Dozie, that is a complete, utter red herring. My argument is simply that the NT church is fundamentally in continuity with the OT church. This is certainly true with regard to the canon. After Christ, the OT church that wanted to stay the OT church and ignore Christ was in error. This doesn’t mean, however, that we cannot cite post-Christ Jewish witnesses as evidence for what the pre-Christ OT church believed. We can do so. The Jews’ rejection of Jesus is a distinct issue from the canonical issue, in any case.

  14. TurretinFan said,

    June 17, 2011 at 11:08 am

    “I could more easily point to the most widespread version of the Jewish scriptures (LXX) that the Church inherited as evidence that most Jews thought differently.”

    There are a number of problems with this claim.

    1) One problem is the issue of establishing any standardized canon of the LXX around the 1st century A.D. (or earlier). What 1st century writer tells us what the books of the LXX were?

    2) The LXX includes more than just the 39 canonical books, but it also includes books beyond those accepted as canonical by Rome or the Eastern Orthodox. I’m not sure if perhaps the Ethiopian Orthodox may actually accept all the LXX books, but if they do, they’d be the only church I know that does.

    3) Another problem is the apparent assumption that most of the 1st century Jews were the Hellenized diaspora – the Greek-speaking folks scattered about the Roman empire. Is there any evidence that the Judean Jews weren’t the bulk of the Jewish people?

    “Many have argued the Saducees had a shorter canon.”

    1) Others have pointed out that this claim is probably the result of someone confusing the Saducees and the Samaritans. The Samaritans did have a shorter canon – apparently much shorter.

    2) Paul quite willingly associates himself with the Pharisees. To the extent that we have to pick a sect of the Jews that had the right knowledge, we would better to pick the sect of the Pharisees over that of the Saducees.

    Moreover, when Jesus talks to the Pharisees in the New Testament, he tells them “Search the Scriptures” and they don’t reply “we’d love to, but no one has defined the canon yet.” They knew what Jesus meant when he spoke about the “Law and the Prophets” – they know what he meant when he said “the Scriptures.”

    And Josephus provides us evidence that confirms the testimony of the later Jews who told the church fathers that asked them about their 22 book canon (they counted some of the books differently than we do – for example, all 12 minor prophets were one book).

    The historical evidence is pretty strong for the canon reflected in Josephus’ writings and preserved through the medieval period by the Masoretic Jews.

    -TurretinFan

  15. TurretinFan said,

    June 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

    “Are you going to also argue that because the Jews rejected Christ, Christ and Christians do not have “fundamental continuity with the Old Testament church?”

    Actually, of course, the Old Testament church did not reject Christ. Read Hebrew 11. And while many of the Jews rejected Christ, a remnant believed.

    The mount of transfiguration shows, among other things, the continuity between the Old and the New.

    -TurretinFan

  16. dozie said,

    June 17, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    “Actually, of course, the Old Testament church did not reject Christ. Read Hebrew 11. And while many of the Jews rejected Christ, a remnant believed.”

    So, what is the argument? It has already been shown that the Jews disagreed on what the canon was. Contrary to the notion that “Jews’ rejection of Jesus is a distinct issue from the canonical issue”, one finds a necessary link between canon and theology. If then your canon is argued solely on its Jewish likeness, perhaps your theology is more “Jewish” than it is Christian. In fact, the Protestant canon is just that – Protestant; neither Christian nor Catholic.

  17. greenbaggins said,

    June 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    One of my friends helped me out with a quotation from J.N.D. Kelly, since he has been adduced on this thread. Kelly does interpret Jerome along the lines I have delineated here.

    After enumerating the ‘twenty-two’ (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned ‘apocryphal’: ‘They are not in the canon.’ Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely ‘for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical’. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life—in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), pp. 160-161.

  18. John said,

    June 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    “The Council at Jamnia definitely went the way of Josephus, not for other ideas.”

    There was no council of Jamnia, and nobody knows what their canon was, because they didn’t enumerate it.

    “As to Jerome, he plainly regarded all the deutero-canonical books as suitable for reading in the church, but NOT as canonical. This would be quite consistent with saying “the scripture says” and then quoting a DC book.”

    Really? You’re going to have to explain that one. Sounds to me like no matter what the evidence is, you’re going to explain it away because your own view is your starting point.

    “But he VERY PLAINLY did not put them on the same level as the rest of the canonical books, unless plain language doesn’t mean anything any more.”

    What has that got to do with anything? Many Protestants put Paul above James, and the NT above the OT. Many people and church fathers throughout history have had levels within the canon, often putting the Gospels above the other books. But how is this relevant at all?

    “As to the question of “choosing,” didn’t Trent choose one opinion over another opinion that was very much present in the early church?”

    Yeah sure. There was an opinion in the early church that 1 and 2 Peter, James, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation do not belong in the canon. Are you going to allow people to spout that in your church? Yes or no?????

  19. John said,

    June 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “One problem is the issue of establishing any standardized canon of the LXX around the 1st century A.D. (or earlier). What 1st century writer tells us what the books of the LXX were?”

    So what? For those people who propose a shorter canon, nobody can demonstrate any consistency in the lists from the early years for those with a shortish canon. So why do those who propose a longer canon have to do so?

    “The LXX includes more than just the 39 canonical books, but it also includes books beyond those accepted as canonical by Rome or the Eastern Orthodox.”

    Again, so what? Many early proponents of a shorter canon include books that Protestants don’t. So how does this help you?

    “Another problem is the apparent assumption that most of the 1st century Jews were the Hellenized diaspora – the Greek-speaking folks scattered about the Roman empire. Is there any evidence that the Judean Jews weren’t the bulk of the Jewish people?”

    I think if you do your research you’ll find that the Jews of Israel had more affinity with Greek than ancient Hebrew. As an example, 70% of the funerary inscriptions in Palestine between 300BC and 500AD are in Greek and only 18% in either Hebrew or Aramaic. And many of the ancient manuscripts found in the area are LXX.

    “Others have pointed out that this claim is probably the result of someone confusing the Saducees and the Samaritans. The Samaritans did have a shorter canon – apparently much shorter.”

    Some have suggested this, but they are yet to convince most of us. The Church fathers spoke of the Saducees having a shorter canon, and the Saducees didn’t believe in an after life. This is clearly taught outside the Pentatuch in such books as Isaiah, and Jesus could have more easily refuted them by quoting this book.

    “Paul quite willingly associates himself with the Pharisees. To the extent that we have to pick a sect of the Jews that had the right knowledge, we would better to pick the sect of the Pharisees over that of the Saducees.”

    But the point is there were sects with different beliefs. Since you don’t know the canon of the Pharisees, this doesn’t help you.

    “Moreover, when Jesus talks to the Pharisees in the New Testament, he tells them “Search the Scriptures” and they don’t reply “we’d love to, but no one has defined the canon yet.” They knew what Jesus meant when he spoke about the “Law and the Prophets” – they know what he meant when he said “the Scriptures.””

    What they may or may not have known does not help you.

    “And Josephus provides us evidence that confirms the testimony of the later Jews who told the church fathers that asked them about their 22 book canon ”

    Uh, no. Later church fathers, even the ones who speak of shorter canons, all have different lists to Josephus, with the possible exception of Jerome.

  20. TurretinFan said,

    June 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    “So, what is the argument?”

    See the post for the argument.

    “It has already been shown that the Jews disagreed on what the canon was.”

    I don’t know what makes you think that.

    “Contrary to the notion that “Jews’ rejection of Jesus is a distinct issue from the canonical issue”, one finds a necessary link between canon and theology.”

    One finds nothing of the sort. The canonical books provide much stronger attestations of Christ than the deutero-canonical books. It is the canonical books to which Jesus appeals for authority and which he and the apostles quote against the Jews. It is from the canonical works as well that Justin argues with his Jewish antagonist.

    There may be links between canon and theology, but not ones that are relevant to the question of whether Christ is the Messiah.

    “If then your canon is argued solely on its Jewish likeness, perhaps your theology is more “Jewish” than it is Christian.”

    The Christian Scriptures declare of the Jews:

    Romans 3:1-2
    What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

    The Old Testament Scriptures were the main advantage of the Jews.

    “In fact, the Protestant canon is just that – Protestant; neither Christian nor Catholic.”

    You have a big mouth when it comes to “Protestants.” But accuse the fathers of what you accuse us, if you dare.

    -TurretinFan

  21. TurretinFan said,

    June 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    John:

    I wrote: “One problem is the issue of establishing any standardized canon of the LXX around the 1st century A.D. (or earlier). What 1st century writer tells us what the books of the LXX were?”

    You replied: “So what? For those people who propose a shorter canon, nobody can demonstrate any consistency in the lists from the early years for those with a shortish canon. So why do those who propose a longer canon have to do so?”

    You made a claim about the LXX. You’re welcome to withdraw your claim. We back up our claim in a variety of ways, such as by citing Josephus. As it stands, the score is “Josephus vs. Nothing.” Thanks for playing.

    I wrote: “The LXX includes more than just the 39 canonical books, but it also includes books beyond those accepted as canonical by Rome or the Eastern Orthodox.”

    You replied: “Again, so what? Many early proponents of a shorter canon include books that Protestants don’t. So how does this help you?”

    Again, you made the claim about the LXX. If you want to withdraw your claim, feel free. But since you can’t establish what the 1st century LXX canon was, and since the (later) LXX canon is obviously (to nearly everyone) too inclusive, it’s hardly evidence against our position.

    I wrote: “Another problem is the apparent assumption that most of the 1st century Jews were the Hellenized diaspora – the Greek-speaking folks scattered about the Roman empire. Is there any evidence that the Judean Jews weren’t the bulk of the Jewish people?”

    You wrote: I think if you do your research you’ll find that the Jews of Israel had more affinity with Greek than ancient Hebrew. As an example, 70% of the funerary inscriptions in Palestine between 300BC and 500AD are in Greek and only 18% in either Hebrew or Aramaic. And many of the ancient manuscripts found in the area are LXX.”

    And, of course, that doesn’t establish anything about a dominant counter-culture outside Judea.. So, our point about the evidence of Josephus stands.

    I wrote: “Others have pointed out that this claim is probably the result of someone confusing the Saducees and the Samaritans. The Samaritans did have a shorter canon – apparently much shorter.”

    You wrote: “Some have suggested this, but they are yet to convince most of us. The Church fathers spoke of the Saducees having a shorter canon, and the Saducees didn’t believe in an after life. This is clearly taught outside the Pentatuch in such books as Isaiah, and Jesus could have more easily refuted them by quoting this book.”

    There’s abundant evidence for the existence of a Samaritan Pentateuch – no evidence for a “Sadducean Pentateuch,” but folks who selectively invest the fathers with infallibility will not accept the evidence.

    The argument you present about Jesus being able to argue the matter more easily from Isaiah amounts to an argument from silence.

    I wrote: “Paul quite willingly associates himself with the Pharisees. To the extent that we have to pick a sect of the Jews that had the right knowledge, we would better to pick the sect of the Pharisees over that of the Saducees.”

    You replied: “But the point is there were sects with different beliefs. Since you don’t know the canon of the Pharisees, this doesn’t help you.”

    a) But I do know the canon of the Pharisees.
    b) You haven’t established that the difference sects had different beliefs.
    c) Why on earth would we care if some wacky group that didn’t believe in angels or the resurrection rejected the prophets that Christ clearly accepted?

    I wrote: “Moreover, when Jesus talks to the Pharisees in the New Testament, he tells them “Search the Scriptures” and they don’t reply “we’d love to, but no one has defined the canon yet.” They knew what Jesus meant when he spoke about the “Law and the Prophets” – they know what he meant when he said “the Scriptures.””

    You wrote: “What they may or may not have known does not help you.”

    Actually, it does. Perhaps you simply haven’t grasped why. It means that the idea of the canon of Scripture was a concrete idea in their minds. It wasn’t something still floating around waiting for Rome to come along and decide which books are in or out.

    I wrote: “And Josephus provides us evidence that confirms the testimony of the later Jews who told the church fathers that asked them about their 22 book canon ”

    You replied: “Uh, no. Later church fathers, even the ones who speak of shorter canons, all have different lists to Josephus, with the possible exception of Jerome.”

    I can document the “22 book” canon from numerous fathers. But perhaps I should just quote one who says he got the 22 book canon of the Old Testament from the Septuagint version:

    Cyril of Jerusalem:

    Be eager to learn, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, what of the New; and I pray you, read none of the apocryphal books. For why should you when you do not know the books acknowledged by all, trouble yourself needlessly with those whose authenticity is disputed? Read the divine Scriptures, these twenty-two books of the Old Testament translated by the seventy-two interpreters.

    Fathers of the Church, Vol. 61, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV.33 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of American Press, Inc., 1969), p. 135.

    -TurretinFan

  22. John said,

    June 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    “Again, you made the claim about the LXX. If you want to withdraw your claim, feel free. But since you can’t establish what the 1st century LXX canon was, and since the (later) LXX canon is obviously (to nearly everyone) too inclusive, it’s hardly evidence against our position.”

    Ahem, you are seemingly making a claim about the 1st century Jewish canon. Since early Jewish sources are in conflict, do I now ask you to withdraw your claim, since you can’t ‘establish what the 1st C Jewish canon is’? And earlier as well as later proponents of a shorter canon disagree on what it is. Depending on how you define ‘later’. Do I get to count 10th C LXX manuscripts as ‘later’?

    “And, of course, that doesn’t establish anything about a dominant counter-culture outside Judea.. So, our point about the evidence of Josephus stands.”

    I never suggested some difference between inside and outside Judea. That’s the theory you threw in the ring and now must make hay of.

    “There’s abundant evidence for the existence of a Samaritan Pentateuch – no evidence for a “Sadducean Pentateuch,””

    Yah, because the Samaritan Pentatuch is a different textual family. So unless the Samaritans had a different text, or their cult had survived long enough to identify a textual family with them, we’re not going to know are we?

    “The argument you present about Jesus being able to argue the matter more easily from Isaiah amounts to an argument from silence.”

    Nonsense. We expect debaters to put their best argument forward. Therefore we can deduce something from what he did in fact say.

    “a) But I do know the canon of the Pharisees.”

    No you don’t.

    “b) You haven’t established that the difference sects had different beliefs.”

    If the Saducees, Samaritans, LXX, Qumran, various Talmud options etc etc isn’t enough for you, you’ve got your head in the sand.

    “c) Why on earth would we care if some wacky group that didn’t believe in angels or the resurrection rejected the prophets that Christ clearly accepted?”

    The Pharasees didn’t as a group accept Christ, and the resurrection That’s not unique to one group.

    “It means that the idea of the canon of Scripture was a concrete idea in their minds. It wasn’t something still floating around waiting for Rome to come along and decide which books are in or out.”

    (a) that still doesn’t help you if you cant show what the canon was and (b) people from all centuries have talked about a concept of a canon of scripture, even when it clearly wasn’t settled, so it still doesn’t help you. (c) they’re not even talking about a canon if scripture!!

    “I can document the “22 book” canon from numerous fathers. But perhaps I should just quote one who says he got the 22 book canon of the Old Testament from the Septuagint version:”

    Everyone who mentions a 22 book canon has a different list!! So prove Cyril’s list is your 39 books, then you might have advanced your argument an inch.

  23. Richard said,

    June 18, 2011 at 6:47 am

    TF: You mention St. Cyril of Jerusalem, it is well known that the Greek East generally went with the shorter canon, whilst the Latin West went with the larger canon, interestingly on the NT canon he doesn’t recognise the Book of Revelation as scripture.

  24. TurretinFan said,

    June 18, 2011 at 8:17 am

    “Ahem, you are seemingly making a claim about the 1st century Jewish canon.”

    Seemingly? Let me remove all doubt. I’m making a claim about the 1st century Jewish canon. I’m backing up my claim with evidence.

    “Since early Jewish sources are in conflict, do I now ask you to withdraw your claim, since you can’t ‘establish what the 1st C Jewish canon is’?”

    First, you need to back up your claim that “early Jewish sources are in conflict.” Then, we can investigate that conflict to see whether it is significant or not. Finally, if it is significant, we can resolve it by examination of the evidence on each side.

    “And earlier as well as later proponents of a shorter canon disagree on what it is.”

    I’m not sure what you think the significance of this is.

    “Depending on how you define ‘later’. Do I get to count 10th C LXX manuscripts as ‘later’?”

    I was thinking about 4th century A.D. as “Later.” But, you can whatever evidence you think is in your favor, and we can evaluate what the weight of that evidence is. Something like a 10th century LXX codex wouldn’t have a great deal of weight when trying to determine what the LXX canon was in 1st century Judea.

    “I never suggested some difference between inside and outside Judea. That’s the theory you threw in the ring and now must make hay of.”

    I could have sworn you wrote: “I could more easily point to the most widespread version of the Jewish scriptures (LXX) that the Church inherited as evidence that most Jews thought differently.”

    But, of course, if you are arguing that Judean Jews like Josephus also had and used the LXX, then the evidence is even more strongly against you, since he testifies to a short canon.

    I wrote: “There’s abundant evidence for the existence of a Samaritan Pentateuch – no evidence for a “Sadducean Pentateuch,””

    You replied: “Yah, because the Samaritan Pentatuch is a different textual family. So unless the Samaritans had a different text, or their cult had survived long enough to identify a textual family with them, we’re not going to know are we?”

    I suppose you meant to type “Sadducees” for “Samaritans,” but – in any event – the absence of evidence of evidence for your theory continues. The easiest explanation for the absence of evidence is that there never was a “Sadducean Pentateuch.”

    I wrote: “The argument you present about Jesus being able to argue the matter more easily from Isaiah amounts to an argument from silence.”

    You replied: “Nonsense. We expect debaters to put their best argument forward. Therefore we can deduce something from what he did in fact say.”

    a) Your argument is something like this:

    P1) Jesus used the best argument available.
    P2) An argument from Isaiah is better than the argument Jesus used.
    C) Therefore, an argument from Isaiah was not available.

    b) Of course, you seem to be aware that there’s no rule that says that Jesus always has to use the best argument available. But let’s grant that premise for the sake of the argument.

    c) You haven’t shown that an argument from Isaiah would have been better than the argument Jesus used. I’m not inclined to ask you to blaspheme by telling us what better argument you think Jesus could have made. Nevertheless, you’d have to show us that better argument, before you would have established your point.

    d) You also haven’t shown that all of Jesus’ arguments are provided to us. Not everything that Jesus said and did is recorded (John 21:25). This is where your argument is an argument from silence. This argument about God being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the only argument recorded, but not necessarily the only argument used.

    I wrote: “a) But I do know the canon of the Pharisees.”
    You replied: “No you don’t.”
    I’ve shown evidence that I do. But you say “no.” It’s your word against the evidence. I should point out that Josephus identifies himself as a Pharisee, and there is evidence to support his claim.

    I wrote: “b) You haven’t established that the difference sects had different beliefs.”
    You replied: “If the Saducees, Samaritans, LXX, Qumran, various Talmud options etc etc isn’t enough for you, you’ve got your head in the sand.”
    a) The Samaritans weren’t a sect of the Jews (Matthew 10:5-6). Moreover, the Samaritan rejection of the prophets is clearly wrong. We can show from the New Testament that the prophets are also inspired Scripture.
    b) The Qumran caves don’t tell us of a different canon for the sect that stored manuscripts there.
    c) The “LXX” is not a sect of the Jews.
    d) I’ve addressed your claim about the Sadducees above.
    e) You’re welcome to set forth the “Talmud options” that you think identify some other sect having some other canon. You haven’t done so here.

    I wrote: “c) Why on earth would we care if some wacky group that didn’t believe in angels or the resurrection rejected the prophets that Christ clearly accepted?”
    You replied: “The Pharasees didn’t as a group accept Christ, and the resurrection That’s not unique to one group.”
    a) That doesn’t answer my question.
    b) Enough of the Pharisees followed Christ that they formed a sect of the Church at Jerusalem (see Acts 15).
    c) Belief in the resurrection was a doctrinal difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees (Acts 23:6).
    d) And, to reiterate my point, if the Sadduccees rejected the books of the Old Testament referred to as “the Prophets,” why would this matter to us? Clearly, Jesus accepted the Prophets as Scripture, and clearly he quoted it to the Jews (in general) as Scripture.

    I wrote: “It means that the idea of the canon of Scripture was a concrete idea in their minds. It wasn’t something still floating around waiting for Rome to come along and decide which books are in or out.”

    You replied: “(a) that still doesn’t help you if you cant show what the canon was and (b) people from all centuries have talked about a concept of a canon of scripture, even when it clearly wasn’t settled, so it still doesn’t help you. (c) they’re not even talking about a canon if scripture!!”

    As to (a) — But I can show what the canon was. Josephus is one way I can do that. You just don’t want to accept what he says.

    As to (b) — Actually, the opposite is true. What I mean by the opposite is not that some allegedly infallible body had opined about the canon, but rather that the people of God spoke about the Scriptures with something concrete in mind, even prior to Trent. Different people may have had a different understanding, but the term “the Scriptures” conveyed meaning to people from the 1st century through the 16th century, supporting my point all along the way. There may have been some debate about the exact boundaries of the canon – and there remains debate today (mostly on a sub-book level – such as about individual verses or pericopes). Nevertheless, when Jesus said “the Scriptures” to people in 1st century Judea, they understood (more or less accurately) what he was talking about.

    As to (c), I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. When people talk about “the Scriptures,” they have some body of writings in mind. Whether they bother to enumerate a list, the list they would generate is their canon.

    I wrote: “I can document the “22 book” canon from numerous fathers. But perhaps I should just quote one who says he got the 22 book canon of the Old Testament from the Septuagint version:”

    You replied: “Everyone who mentions a 22 book canon has a different list!! So prove Cyril’s list is your 39 books, then you might have advanced your argument an inch.”

    Let’s see:
    Josephus identifies 22 books, and we can identify from his writings that they match the 22 of Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, and Cyril of Jerusalem. Origen’s list of 22 books matches Jerome’s list. Athanasius list of 22 books only differs from Origen’s with respect to Esther. Melito of Sardis likewise omits Esther and is unclear about Nehemiah. Gregory of Nazianzen is similar to Melito.

    So, it’s not true that no two of the lists agree. Indeed, they are all basically the same, with the only real question about a book being the canonicity of Esther and the major “part of book” question being the canonicity of Baruch and “the letter” as allegedly parts of Jeremiah.

    A pretty clear picture of the 22 book canon emerges from those accounts, even if they do not all exactly agree with one another in respect to every last detail.

    – TurretinFan

  25. TurretinFan said,

    June 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Sorry for the bad formatting in my comment above. There should have been an “end of bold” tag after “book”.

    Richard: I’m hesitant to adopt that fully, given Hilary of Poitiers’ affirmation of a shorter OT canon and Gregory the Great’s explicit rejection of Maccabees. The existence of some western bishops (especially the North Africans and at least one Roman, much to Jerome’s chagrin) adopting a longer OT canon is an interesting point. Of course, while Jerome lived in the East (and undoubtedly gained his knowledge of the Hebrew canon there), he self-identified with the West, which is where he was from.

    -TurretinFan

  26. dozie said,

    June 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

    “First, you need to back up your claim that “early Jewish sources are in conflict.” Then, we can investigate that conflict to see whether it is significant or not. Finally, if it is significant, we can resolve it by examination of the evidence on each side.”

    While you wish to remove all doubt, you are not able to take a stand and state categorically whether or not there were conflicting claims regarding the Jewish canon. Why do you create room for the possibility of examining “the evidence on each side” if you are remotely convinced there were no conflicts? Your doubt is firmly established in the wriggle room you have created for yourself. BTW, you are going to have to establish how you are going to judge what would have been significant, not to you, but to the conflicting sides.

  27. TurretinFan said,

    June 18, 2011 at 11:02 am

    “While you wish to remove all doubt, you are not able to take a stand and state categorically whether or not there were conflicting claims regarding the Jewish canon.”

    I would love to remove “all doubt,” but that’s not really possible. There will always be naive folks who think that Trent was blessed with the charism of infallibility. Those naive folks will doubt that the Jewish canon (the canon used by our Jewish Savior and his Jewish apostles) was what the evidence overwhelmingly indicates it was.

    “Why do you create room for the possibility of examining “the evidence on each side” if you are remotely convinced there were no conflicts?”

    I’ve found it is better to hear the evidence before judging it. Your side (in this discussion) hasn’t been bringing evidence, even when given the opportunity to do so.

    “Your doubt is firmly established in the wriggle room you have created for yourself.”

    Your mind-reading attempt has failed.

    “BTW, you are going to have to establish how you are going to judge what would have been significant, not to you, but to the conflicting sides.”

    No. You’ve made my job easy by not presenting evidence in the first place.

    Perhaps you’re having trouble finding the evidence. Why don’t you pray to Anthony, the patron saint of lost items! Or maybe you should just pray to Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, because that’s where you are when you get to the point of trying to read my mind instead of actually dealing with the issues.

    But be sure to pray loudly in case they are sleeping! After all, they’re only human.

    -TurretinFan

  28. June 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Great thread! This is very helpful.

    I am reminded of a debate with a Roman and an Orthodox priest which digressed into canon. After both emphatically declared their confidence in the Deuterocanonical books, I said to both, “Tell me that you’ve ever preached from Tobit or Bel and the Dragon.” They had no response.

    You guys are far above my level here, but in my years as a Romanist, the only use we had for these books, besides supporting Purgatory, was buttressing the claim for the primacy of the Church over Scripture.

  29. xpusostomos said,

    June 19, 2011 at 3:12 am

    “Josephus identifies 22 books, and we can identify from his writings that they match the 22 of Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, and Cyril of Jerusalem. Origen’s list of 22 books matches Jerome’s list. Athanasius list of 22 books only differs from Origen’s with respect to Esther. Melito of Sardis likewise omits Esther and is unclear about Nehemiah. Gregory of Nazianzen is similar to Melito.”

    Err, no they don’t. Cyril says “of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.”

    So Cyril includes some deuteros, as do probably all the fathers, with possible question marks about Jerome. Hilary is ambiguous in that he says “To this some add Tobit and Judith to make twenty-four books”. So you can’t unequivocally claim him.

    Its not true that Origen supports the shorter canon. He does at one point enumerate the canon of Hebrew people he ran into, but that is not the same as it being his canon. But even here he puts Baruch and the books of Maccabees in the Hebrew canon. Athanasius includes Baruch and excludes Esther. Gregory excludes Esther.

    So even from this little straw poll, I have to ask, why do you include Esther and why do you exclude Baruch? You can’t actually answer that can you?

    “First, you need to back up your claim that “early Jewish sources are in conflict.” Then, we can investigate that conflict to see whether it is significant or not. Finally, if it is significant, we can resolve it by examination of the evidence on each side.”

    Significant? Who gets to define what is significant? And who gets to define what is a source? Everybody who comments on the canon, whether a church father or an explicitly Jewish source is inheriting a tradition that ultimately traces its way back to the Jews. Now you can argue back and forth about whose line of transmission is corrupted. I could claim that Carthage’s transmission is spot on, and some other one is corrupt, and you can claim Josephus’ is spot on, but in either case it is pure grandstanding, and not based on some historically defensible basis.

    Anyone can go through the Jewish sources and find evidences that various deuteros used to be considered as scripture. Sirach is quoted three times in the Talmud as scripture. It is twice quoted with the introductory formula, “for so it is written in the Book of Ben Sira.” [ Hagigh 13a; Yebamoth 63b; cf., Erubin 54a ]. Ben Sira is also sometimes quoted as “Writings” when the rabbis were proof-texting, e.g., “This matter is written in the Pentateuch, as written…, repeated in the Prophets, as written…, mentioned a third time in the Hagiographa, as written, (here Sirach 12.15 is quoted), it was learned in the Mishnah,…” [ Baba Kamma 92b ]. Pfeiffer (1941:66) tells us that the Hebrew text of Sirach was still being copied as late as the twelfth century C.E. It is cited by name in Sanhedrin 100b ( Yeb. 63c ), which quotes several verses. According to L. Israel (1905:390) single verses appear in: Yer. Ber. 11b; Yer. Hag. 77c; Yer. Ta’an. 66d; Hag. 13a; Niddah 16b; Gen. R. 8, 10, 73; Lev. R. 33; Tan. Wayishlah 8; Tan., Mikkez. 10; Tan. Hukkat. 1; etc.

    But oh no, you keep going back to Josephus and ignoring the wealth of other evidences. Why? Not because you have carefully evaluated the evidences, not because you trust the church, but because it happens to agree with your narrow tradition.

    “I’m not sure what you think the significance of this is.”

    Really. Well I’m not sure what you think the significance of differing LXX canons is either. Two can play at the game of feigned indifference.

    “I could have sworn you wrote: “I could more easily point to the most widespread version of the Jewish scriptures (LXX) that the Church inherited as evidence that most Jews thought differently.””

    And this has what to do with distinctions of inside and outside Judea?

    “But, of course, if you are arguing that Judean Jews like Josephus also had and used the LXX, then the evidence is even more strongly against you, since he testifies to a short canon.”

    Yet again, Josephus is but one guy, who represents an unknown proportion of Judaism. And yes he used the LXX, but one suspects his sect preferred other versions. Either way, it doesn’t hurt the LXX theory one bit.

    “but – in any event – the absence of evidence of evidence for your theory continues. The easiest explanation for the absence of evidence is that there never was a “Sadducean Pentateuch.””

    There is no “absence of evidence”, just because you threw up an argument from silence about the Saducees not having a distinctive textual family, and not telling us why we must expect such a thing to exist.

    “You haven’t shown that an argument from Isaiah would have been better than the argument Jesus used.”

    Try not to be too obtuse. The Saducees didn’t believe in a resurrection, and Isaiah explicitely mentions a resurrection. Isaiah 26.19 , “Thy dead shall live, their bodies will rise.”

    And you still haven’t explained how we are to believe the Saducees included Isaiah in their canon, when they didn’t believe what that book teaches explicitly.

    “You also haven’t shown that all of Jesus’ arguments are provided to us. ”

    The corollary of Jesus putting his best argument forward, is that the Gospel writers would record his best argument.

    “I should point out that Josephus identifies himself as a Pharisee, and there is evidence to support his claim.”

    So what? Now prove that he represents all Pharasees of half a century earlier, and other early Jewish sources do not, and you might be onto something. You might just as well come up with a quote where Luther identifies himself as catholic, and therefore deduce that he is representative of most people who thus self-identify. It’s not even anywhere close to a statistically significant sample.

    “The Qumran caves don’t tell us of a different canon for the sect that stored manuscripts there.”

    They strongly suggest they had a different set of sacred books.

    “The “LXX” is not a sect of the Jews”

    It was used by a lot of Jews in preference to other versions. The end game is the same.

    ” Enough of the Pharisees followed Christ that they formed a sect of the Church at Jerusalem (see Acts 15).”

    So what? We aren’t told what other sects embraced Christianity and if Pharisees were the largest. And the ones you are appealing to are specifically the ones who did NOT accept Christ. And whenever we hear about the Pharisees in conjunction with the Church, we are specifically told that their beliefs and influences were overall negative and in conflict with the Church’s beliefs.

    “And, to reiterate my point, if the Sadduccees rejected the books of the Old Testament referred to as “the Prophets,” why would this matter to us? ”

    And to reiterate my point, you can’t assume that 1st century Judaism was monolithic in regards to belief about the canon. If it was monolithic, it doesn’t explain why all sources about the canon are not monolithic. You are kicking against the goads.

    “As to (a) — But I can show what the canon was. Josephus is one way I can do that. You just don’t want to accept what he says.”

    Picking one guy who agrees with you, over and against another 99 who disagree hardly allows you to say you can show what the canon was.

    “the people of God spoke about the Scriptures with something concrete in mind, even prior to Trent. ”

    Sure, it had some concreteness to it. It wasn’t completely open ended, nobody is claiming that. The point is, even while talking about “the scriptures” with the concreteness that this implies, they were still all disagreeing about the exact set. Carthage talked about “the scriptures” and Alexandria talked about “the scriptures”, but they didn’t have the same list in mind.

    “Nevertheless, when Jesus said “the Scriptures” to people in 1st century Judea, they understood (more or less accurately) what he was talking about.”

    But it is the “more or less” bit which is at dispute. Sure they understood “more or less” what was the scriptures. But we can’t say that they all knew the exact same list.

    “A pretty clear picture of the 22 book canon emerges from those accounts, even if they do not all exactly agree with one another in respect to every last detail.”

    Firstly, some speak of a 24 book canon, so its hardly an agreed proposition about 22 books. Secondly, just because many speak of 22 doesn’t mean that there aren’t other groups who don’t speak in terms of 22, and may have included the deuteros without the 22 book framework. Thirdly, you can’t even say for sure if the 22 book canon should include all your 39 books (Esther as a case in point) Fourthly, you can’t really prove that the deuteros aren’t supposed to be in a 22 book canon. We’ve already explored in what I’ve just wrote about those proposing a shorter canon also including various combinations of Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and Maccabees, and I’m sure we could get Wisdom in there if we looked at some more sources.

  30. Richard said,

    June 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

    @TF re #25: Indeed, I was talking generally, in that there will be exceptions but in general… In the Early Church and from then on there was a diversity of opinions and no one position triumphed and became dominant. Personally I am left wondering whether it really matters what ‘canon’ one adopts especially when most churches have a functional ‘canon-within-a-canon’. Have you read anything by Hartmut Gesse?

  31. TurretinFan said,

    June 19, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    xpusostomos:

    I pointed out: “Josephus identifies 22 books, and we can identify from his writings that they match the 22 of Jerome, Hilary of Poitiers, and Cyril of Jerusalem. Origen’s list of 22 books matches Jerome’s list. Athanasius list of 22 books only differs from Origen’s with respect to Esther. Melito of Sardis likewise omits Esther and is unclear about Nehemiah. Gregory of Nazianzen is similar to Melito.”

    You replied: “Err, no they don’t. Cyril says “of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.”

    I suppose you think that’s different, because you treat Baruch as a separate book instead of as a part of the book of Jeremiah. Perhaps you should have read all of my comment.

    “So Cyril includes some deuteros, as do probably all the fathers, with possible question marks about Jerome. Hilary is ambiguous in that he says “To this some add Tobit and Judith to make twenty-four books”. So you can’t unequivocally claim him.”

    a) As for Hilary, his comment about some people adding two further books hardly means that he himself does.

    b) As for your conclusion that they accept “some deuteros” that’s because “some deuteros” are inauthentic parts of authentic books.

    “Its not true that Origen supports the shorter canon. He does at one point enumerate the canon of Hebrew people he ran into, but that is not the same as it being his canon.”

    Even assuming he was just reporting and not endorsing, his report is evidence of the state of the Hebrew canon in his day.

    “But even here he puts Baruch and the books of Maccabees in the Hebrew canon.”

    a) As noted above “Baruch” is an inauthentic part of a canonical book.

    b) Origen does identify Maccabees, but not as being canonical Scripture of the Jews.

    “Athanasius includes Baruch and excludes Esther.”

    a) Regarding Baruch, see above.
    b) Regarding Esther, I already pointed that out.

    “Gregory excludes Esther.”

    I hadn’t listed Gregory. He also, quite explicitly, excludes Maccabbees.

    “So even from this little straw poll, I have to ask, why do you include Esther and why do you exclude Baruch? You can’t actually answer that can you?”

    I can answer that question, of course. But whether I can answer it or not is a red herring. My ability to provide reasons for accepting Esther as a canonical book (without the inauthentic additions) and for accepting Jeremiah without the inauthentic addition of Baruch isn’t really relevant to the question of whether there was significant evidence to confirm Josephus canon.

    I wrote: “First, you need to back up your claim that “early Jewish sources are in conflict.” Then, we can investigate that conflict to see whether it is significant or not. Finally, if it is significant, we can resolve it by examination of the evidence on each side.”

    You replied: “Significant? Who gets to define what is significant? And who gets to define what is a source? Everybody who comments on the canon, whether a church father or an explicitly Jewish source is inheriting a tradition that ultimately traces its way back to the Jews. Now you can argue back and forth about whose line of transmission is corrupted. I could claim that Carthage’s transmission is spot on, and some other one is corrupt, and you can claim Josephus’ is spot on, but in either case it is pure grandstanding, and not based on some historically defensible basis.”

    a) Given that you think this is all grandstanding, you shouldn’t participate.
    b) In fact, it’s pretty easy to weigh the relative merits of Carthage’s opinion versus Josephus’ opinion. Josephus is a 1st century Jew. The North African Bishops are 4th century gentiles (at least, we cannot seem to identify any that were Jewish converts).
    c) And further there is a question about whether Carthage aimed to identify the inspired Scripture or merely the ecclesiastical Scripture. If the latter is the case, there is no need for conflict at all.

    “Anyone can go through the Jewish sources and find evidences that various deuteros used to be considered as scripture.”

    That’s an interesting claim. Let’s look at the evidences.

    Since you obviously cut and pasted this from elsewhere, I’ll post it as a block:

    Sirach is quoted three times in the Talmud as scripture. It is twice quoted with the introductory formula, “for so it is written in the Book of Ben Sira.” [ Hagigh 13a; Yebamoth 63b; cf., Erubin 54a ]. Ben Sira is also sometimes quoted as “Writings” when the rabbis were proof-texting, e.g., “This matter is written in the Pentateuch, as written…, repeated in the Prophets, as written…, mentioned a third time in the Hagiographa, as written, (here Sirach 12.15 is quoted), it was learned in the Mishnah,…” [ Baba Kamma 92b ].” Pfeiffer (1941:66) tells us that the Hebrew text of Sirach was still being copied as late as the twelfth century C.E. It is cited by name in Sanhedrin 100b ( Yeb. 63c ), which quotes several verses. According to L. Israel (1905:390) single verses appear in: Yer. Ber. 11b; Yer. Hag. 77c; Yer. Ta’an. 66d; Hag. 13a; Niddah 16b; Gen. R. 8, 10, 73; Lev. R. 33; Tan. Wayishlah 8; Tan., Mikkez. 10; Tan. Hukkat. 1; etc.

    a) First, notice that this appears to be all related only to a single book outside the 22 – the book usually referred to (amongst us) as Sirach.

    b) The evidence isn’t particularly compelling.
    (from Tract Hagiga):

    The one refers to that which is within, the other to that which is without. R. A’ha bar Jacob said: There is again a firmament above the heads of the living creatures, for it is written [Ezek. i. 22]: “And the likeness of a vault was over the head of the living creatures, shining like the glitter of the purest crystal.” So far thou hast permission to speak. Thenceforward thou hast not permission to speak. For thus it is written in the book of Ben Sira: Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, and into the things that are hidden from thee inquire thou not. In what is permitted to thee instruct thyself thou must not discuss secret things.

    We have learned in a Boraitha: Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai said: What answer did the heavenly voice make to that wicked man at the time when he said [Is. xiv. 14], “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be equal to the Most High”? The heavenly voice said to him: Thou wicked man, son of a wicked man, grandson of Nimrod the Wicked, who led all the world to rebel against Him in his kingdom, how many are the years of a man? Seventy years, as it is said [Ps. xc. 10]: “The days of our years in this life are seventy years, and if by uncommon vigor they be eighty . . .” And is not from the earth to the firmament a journey of five hundred years, and so too the interspace of the firmaments?

    The Talmud doesn’t there identify Ben Sira’s writing (i.e. Sirach) as Scripture. Moreover, unlike the references to Scripture, it is not simply “it is written” but “it is written in the book of Ben Sira.”

    From tractate Yebamoth:

    Said Raba to Rabbah b. Mari: It is written, They shall not be gathered, nor be buried, they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth,52 but it is also written,53 And death shall be chosen rather than life!54 — The other replied: ‘Death shall be chosen’ for the wicked, in order that they may not live in this world and thus sin and fall into Gehenna.55

    It is written in the book of Ben Sira: —56

    A good wife is a precious gift;57 she will be put in the bosom of the God-fearing man.58 A bad wife is a plague to her husband. What remedy has he? — Let him give her a letter of divorce and be healed of his plague.

    A beautiful wife is a joy to her husband;59 the number of his days shall be double.60

    Turn away thy eyes from [thy neighbour's] charming wife lest thou be caught in her net. Do not turn in to her husband to mingle with him wine and strong drink; for, through the form of a beautiful woman, many were destroyed and a mighty host are all her slain.61

    Many were the wounds of the spice-peddler,62 which lead him on to lewdness like a spark that lights the coal.63

    As a cage is full of birds so are [the harlots'] houses full of deceit.64

    Do not worry about to-morrow’s trouble, for thou knowest not what the day may beget. To-morrow may come and thou65 wilt be no more and so thou hast worried about a world which is not thine.66

    Keep away many from thy house; and do not bring everyone into thy house.

    Many be they that seek thy welfare; reveal thy secret only to one of a thousand.

    Again, it does not simply state “it is written,” but unlike the Scripture reference, the source of the writing is identified (just as in the first example above).

    You’re left with the item in Baba Kamma (the remaining points about Ben Sirach’s writings being copied may be evidence of their having a Jewish origin and being known to the Jews, but not much more). The item in Baba Kamma quotes a rabbi who quotes from something resembling Sirach 13:15 while calling it Hagiographa.

    Tractate Baba Bathra tells us: “The order of the Hagiographa is Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job, Prophets [sic for Proverbs], Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles.” (Baba Bathra 14b)

    Tractate Berakoth tells us: “There are three larger books of the Hagiographa [which are significant for dreams]. If one sees the Book of Psalms, he may hope for piety; if the Book of Proverbs, he may hope for wisdom; if the Book of Job, let him fear for punishment. There are three smaller books of the Hagiographa [significant for dreams]. If one sees the Songs of Songs in a dream, he may hope for piety;1 if Ecclesiastes, he may hope for wisdom; if Lamentations, let him fear for punishment; and one who sees the Scroll of Esther will have a miracle wrought for him. ” (Berakoth 57b)

    Moreover, Sanhedrin 90a forbids the “reading” of “external books” and the Jerusalem Talmud identifies Ben Sira’s book as an example of the external books.

    Furthermore, Sanhedrin 100b reports: “R. Joseph said: it is also forbidden to read the book of Ben Sira. ”

    So, the Talmudic evidence is pretty strongly against inclusion of Sirach in the canon. The only indication that would seem to suggest its inclusion is a single apparent citation of it as hagiographa, while there are several reasons to suppose that Sirach was not generally considered part of the canon by the Jews involved in assembling the Talmud.

    And, of course, if the supposed alternative canon is Rome’s canon, the Talmud does not bear this out. Judith, Tobit, and the books of the Maccabees, are not even close to being included in the canon.

    “But oh no, you keep going back to Josephus and ignoring the wealth of other evidences.”

    a) It’s a little unfair to say I ignore the wealth of other evidences in the first post in which they are offered.

    b) The evidence you have provided is quite limited.

    “Why? Not because you have carefully evaluated the evidences, not because you trust the church, but because it happens to agree with your narrow tradition.”

    My tradition is narrow, eh? I guess you would have to say the same about Josephus and the various other fathers I identified. I guess you have to say the same about the other parts of the Talmud. I suppose you have to say the same about the Masoretes.

    I wrote: “I’m not sure what you think the significance of this is.”
    You replied: “Really. Well I’m not sure what you think the significance of differing LXX canons is either. Two can play at the game of feigned indifference.”
    a) If you are here to feign things, I wish you’d move on to some other blog. We don’t need insincere folks here.
    b) I’m happy to clarify for you what the significance of differing LXX canons is. Some folks have cited, in effect, “the canon of the LXX.” But that’s rather like citing the “canon of English-language Bibles.” Since there is more than one canon amongst English-language Bibles, one really needs to be more specific. The same for the LXX.

    “Yet again, Josephus is but one guy, who represents an unknown proportion of Judaism. And yes he used the LXX, but one suspects his sect preferred other versions. Either way, it doesn’t hurt the LXX theory one bit.”

    a) If he used the LXX, and we know his canon, then we know the canon of the LXX. In which case “the canon of the LXX” is not an alternative to that of Josephus, but the same as that of Josephus.

    b) Josephus is one man, but he’s the best contemporary evidence, and his account is corroborated by a variety of witnesses that are less contemporary.

    c) If you want to argue that Josephus used a canon-within-the-canon (like some dispensationalists, who seem to have 27 book Bible), you would still need to establish that Cyril was wrong about the 22 book LXX canon, and that a longer canon of inspired Scriptures was held in 1st century Judea.

    I had written: “but – in any event – the absence of evidence of evidence for your theory continues. The easiest explanation for the absence of evidence is that there never was a “Sadducean Pentateuch.””
    You replied: “There is no “absence of evidence”, just because you threw up an argument from silence about the Saducees not having a distinctive textual family, and not telling us why we must expect such a thing to exist.”
    a) My argument is you have no evidence. That’s not an “argument from silence.”
    b) You provided speculation regarding why you can’t find any evidence. That speculation isn’t evidence. Your speculative hypothesis that the Sadducees might not have had a distinctive text for their canon is an attempt to explain your absence of evidence. Whether it is a good hypothesis or not — that’s not really important. The point is you haven’t evidence.

    I wrote: “You haven’t shown that an argument from Isaiah would have been better than the argument Jesus used.”
    You replied: “Try not to be too obtuse. The Saducees didn’t believe in a resurrection, and Isaiah explicitely mentions a resurrection. Isaiah 26.19 , ‘Thy dead shall live, their bodies will rise.'”

    Now you’ve shown a different argument. There are a number of reasons why this argument might not be better. One reason it might not be better is that the Pharisees may have already made this argument to the Sadducees. A new argument no one has heard before is sometimes more useful than an old one that they’ve heard a dozen times.

    Moreover, it may be that this particular prophecy is more easily set aside. After all, the genre is prophetic.

    Finally, that prophesy refers to the life to come. Jesus made a different point: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob though dead are at the same time living. This point strikes at the Sadducean position regarding spirits in a way that Isaiah’s prophecy does not.

    “And you still haven’t explained how we are to believe the Saducees included Isaiah in their canon, when they didn’t believe what that book teaches explicitly.”
    a) I can provide you with some counter-examples here. For example, shall I conclude that you don’t consider 2 Corinthians to be canonical because you reject what is taught in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Of course, I suspect that you’ll deny that you don’t believe what is taught there, but you’ll only be able to hold to what it says by misinterpreting it (like the Sadduccees and Isaiah, if they held to the canonicity of Isaiah).
    b) The Sadduccees didn’t convert upon Jesus quoting the Torah to them. So, apparently, they didn’t believe the Torah either. But does that mean that the Torah wasn’t part of their canon?
    c) In fact, Jesus tells us that those Jews who rejected him did not believe Moses:

    John 5:45-47
    Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

    Yet, nevertheless, in dealing with the Jews, Jesus quotes the Torah as Scripture.

    I wrote: “You also haven’t shown that all of Jesus’ arguments are provided to us.”
    You replied: “The corollary of Jesus putting his best argument forward, is that the Gospel writers would record his best argument.”
    There doesn’t seem to be much justification for this. If the purpose of the gospels were to refute the Sadducees, that would be make sense. But that doesn’t appear to be the purpose of the gospels. It is is sufficient for the purposes of the gospels that Jesus’ argument silenced the Sadducees.

    I wrote: “I should point out that Josephus identifies himself as a Pharisee, and there is evidence to support his claim.”
    You replied: “So what? Now prove that he represents all Pharasees of half a century earlier, and other early Jewish sources do not, and you might be onto something. You might just as well come up with a quote where Luther identifies himself as catholic, and therefore deduce that he is representative of most people who thus self-identify. It’s not even anywhere close to a statistically significant sample.”
    a) He represents the best available evidence. You haven’t challenged that in any meaningful way.
    b) “Proof” is the demon of skeptics. All skeptics try to demand “proof” when faced with evidence. Can we prove that Gamaliel’s canon was the same as Josephus? Well, we can provide evidence, but proof and evidence are two different things.
    c) This “statistically significant sample” item is fallacious. We haven’t asserted that we polled a statistically significant number of people, nor that Josephus (one man, as you’ve said) is such a number of people. Thus, this point of yours is really addressing a straw man. At the same time, your point is a red herring, since historical inquiries about the beliefs of ancient peoples aren’t conducted by taking a statistically significant sample of the people and plotting their beliefs on a chart. That’s not how historical inquiry works, and I would be shocked if you didn’t know that.

    I wrote: “The Qumran caves don’t tell us of a different canon for the sect that stored manuscripts there.”
    You replied: “They strongly suggest they had a different set of sacred books.”
    That’s a sufficiently vague claim that I can accept for the sake of the argument without conceding anything. They were apparently esoteric. They may have had lots of books (including books that none of us think are Scripture) that they considered “sacred” in some sense.

    I wrote: “The “LXX” is not a sect of the Jews”
    You replied: “It was used by a lot of Jews in preference to other versions. The end game is the same.”
    a) Which Jews are you claiming this about?
    b) In preference to what other versions?
    c) What is the evidence for your claims for (a) and (b)?

    I wrote: ” Enough of the Pharisees followed Christ that they formed a sect of the Church at Jerusalem (see Acts 15).”
    You replied: “So what? We aren’t told what other sects embraced Christianity and if Pharisees were the largest. And the ones you are appealing to are specifically the ones who did NOT accept Christ. And whenever we hear about the Pharisees in conjunction with the Church, we are specifically told that their beliefs and influences were overall negative and in conflict with the Church’s beliefs.”
    a) That’s not true. Even after conversion, Paul continued to identify himself as a Pharisee (see Acts 23:6).
    b) But the point is not that the Pharisees were all good, just that they were the religious conservatives. If there was a group that knew what the Scriptures were, they were the group. Of course, they were also (many of them) hypocrites, as we see in the gospels. While they had an outward display of righteousness they were not pure in heart.

    I wrote: “And, to reiterate my point, if the Sadduccees rejected the books of the Old Testament referred to as “the Prophets,” why would this matter to us? ”
    You replied: “And to reiterate my point, you can’t assume that 1st century Judaism was monolithic in regards to belief about the canon. If it was monolithic, it doesn’t explain why all sources about the canon are not monolithic. You are kicking against the goads.”
    a) But our claim does not rely on an assumption that the 1st century Jews were absolutely monolithic about the canon. As I indicated, if the Sadducees (or anyone else) rejected the Law or the Prophets or the Psalms, we would simply know that theirs was not the correct canon.
    b) Moreover, Jesus and the Apostles do treat the canon of Scripture as though it were more or less a known quantity. They don’t say “Seach the Scriptures (X canon)” they just say “Search the Scriptures.” Does that mean that everyone had the list memorized so that they could repeat it by heart? Maybe not. But they seem to have had a pretty good idea of what was meant by the term.
    c) So, following from (b), even if there were some solid evidence that the Jewish canon was not monolithic at that time, we can still infer that it was monolithic enough that the term “the Scriptures” carried a recognized sense.

    I wrote: “As to (a) — But I can show what the canon was. Josephus is one way I can do that. You just don’t want to accept what he says.”
    You wrote: “Picking one guy who agrees with you, over and against another 99 who disagree hardly allows you to say you can show what the canon was.”
    a) If there were 99 Jewish historians from the 1st century that disagreed with Josephus, we would have something like the situation you are describing. But, of course, we don’t.
    b) While Josephus is the best evidence, he’s certainly not the only evidence. I’ve provided you with some of the Talmudic evidence above. There is also the evidence from the various fathers that have been cited to you already. There is further evidence in Justin’s writings, and so forth.

    I wrote: “the people of God spoke about the Scriptures with something concrete in mind, even prior to Trent. ”
    You replied: “Sure, it had some concreteness to it. It wasn’t completely open ended, nobody is claiming that. The point is, even while talking about “the scriptures” with the concreteness that this implies, they were still all disagreeing about the exact set. Carthage talked about “the scriptures” and Alexandria talked about “the scriptures”, but they didn’t have the same list in mind.”
    Ok. But there are good reasons to think that Alexandria’s list is closer to Jesus’ and the apostles’ list than Carthage’s list was (assuming that Carthage meant to indicate the inspired Scriptures – if it did not, then there need not be any conflict).

    I wrote: “Nevertheless, when Jesus said “the Scriptures” to people in 1st century Judea, they understood (more or less accurately) what he was talking about.”
    You replied: “But it is the “more or less” bit which is at dispute. Sure they understood “more or less” what was the scriptures. But we can’t say that they all knew the exact same list.”
    a) We may never be able to prove that everyone held to a 22 book canon (see my comment above about proof versus evidence), but the evidence that we have can certainly suggest that. It might not settle the questions about parts of books (like the Baruch question).
    b) If we accept the account of the books being laid up in the Temple, this would suggest a relatively widespread knowledge of the canon.

    I wrote: “A pretty clear picture of the 22 book canon emerges from those accounts, even if they do not all exactly agree with one another in respect to every last detail.”
    You wrote: “Firstly, some speak of a 24 book canon, so its hardly an agreed proposition about 22 books.”
    Do you mean the anonymous “some” that Hilary refers to? Or do you have some other group in mind?

    You wrote: “Secondly, just because many speak of 22 doesn’t mean that there aren’t other groups who don’t speak in terms of 22, and may have included the deuteros without the 22 book framework.”
    Let’s just deal with the evidence presented, not with evidence that might exist that no one has brought to our attention.

    “Thirdly, you can’t even say for sure if the 22 book canon should include all your 39 books (Esther as a case in point)”
    Saying “for sure” is different from reaching a reasonable conclusion from the available evidence. The skeptic is always asking us to speak “for sure,” when what we are dealing with is an historical inquiry.

    “Fourthly, you can’t really prove that the deuteros aren’t supposed to be in a 22 book canon.”
    a) See my notes above about proof versus evidence. The evidence is that the deuteros aren’t part of the 22 book canon.
    b) There may be some modicum of evidence for some of the apocryphal (aka deuterocanonical) books or parts, considered on an individual basis. However, if we are to pick between the Masoretic canon and the canon of Trent, the historical evidence strongly favors the Masoretic canon.
    c) That’s not to say that we necessarily close the discussion there, but it is important to keep that in perspective.

    You wrote: “We’ve already explored in what I’ve just wrote about those proposing a shorter canon also including various combinations of Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and Maccabees, and I’m sure we could get Wisdom in there if we looked at some more sources.”
    Leaving aside Baruch, the twenty-two book canons don’t include the deuterocanonical books. The reason to leave aside Baruch is that it was treated as a part of a book. Whether it is an authentic part is something we can investigate the way we investigate parts of books in general.
    Origen mentions Maccabees, but not as part of the 22-book canon, and – if I understand your comment correctly – you assert that Hilary claims that some unnamed people hold to a 24-book canon.
    But the weight of the evidence is still pointing at a 22 book canon that matches the Masoretic canon.

    -TurretinFan

  32. xpusostomos said,

    June 20, 2011 at 2:56 am

    “I suppose you think that’s different, because you treat Baruch as a separate book instead of as a part of the book of Jeremiah.”

    You don’t get out of it that easy. The very minute you broached the subject of 22 books, you have to live with the fact that their book divisions differ markedly to your own. You don’t get to gloss over it on that basis.

    “his comment about some people adding two further books hardly means that he himself does.”

    Doesn’t mean that he doesn’t either, and the point is that he is a witness to another view point.

    “As for your conclusion that they accept “some deuteros” that’s because “some deuteros” are inauthentic parts of authentic books.”

    Just an empty assertion.

    “a) As noted above “Baruch” is an inauthentic part of a canonical book.”

    assuming the thing that you have to prove, rather than demonstrating it.

    “Origen does identify Maccabees, but not as being canonical Scripture of the Jews.”

    wrong:

    ‘The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following: That which is called by us Genesis,……………………….; Daniel, Daniel; Ezekiel, Jezekiel; Job, Job; Esther, Esther. And besides these there are the Maccabees, which are entitled Sarbeth Sabanaiel.” Origen, Canon of the Hebrews, Fragment in Eusebius’ Church History,6:25[A.D. 244],in NPNF2,I:272

    “I can answer that question, of course. But whether I can answer it or not is a red herring.”

    LOL! Its a red herring as to whether you can justify your canon! Amazing.

    “My ability to provide reasons for accepting Esther as a canonical book (without the inauthentic additions) and for accepting Jeremiah without the inauthentic addition of Baruch isn’t really relevant to the question of whether there was significant evidence to confirm Josephus canon.”

    No, what we found was that the so-called “Josephus canon”, may well include all the deutero books! Because when we examine the fine details, lots of people from the era think that those 22 book divisions actually encompass the deuteros in one form or another.

    “a) Given that you think this is all grandstanding, you shouldn’t participate”

    Why not? I reserve the right to demonstrate that grand standers are that, when they think they are something else.

    “b) In fact, it’s pretty easy to weigh the relative merits of Carthage’s opinion versus Josephus’ opinion. Josephus is a 1st century Jew. The North African Bishops are 4th century gentiles (at least, we cannot seem to identify any that were Jewish converts).”

    … and your point would be what exactly? The gentile Christians in Carthage are better inheritors of the true tradition of the Jews than some Christ-rejectors in Jerusalem. Here is where your grand standing is put into stark relief.

    “c) And further there is a question about whether Carthage aimed to identify the inspired Scripture or merely the ecclesiastical Scripture. If the latter is the case, there is no need for conflict at all.”

    That doesn’t fly. Carthage: “It was also determined that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in the Church under the title of DIVINE Scriptures. The Canonical Scriptures are these:….”

    “Moreover, unlike the references to Scripture, it is not simply “it is written” but “it is written in the book of Ben Sira.””

    That’s the same formula that they use to quote scripture.

    “The item in Baba Kamma quotes a rabbi who quotes from something resembling Sirach 13:15 while calling it Hagiographa.”

    Resembling Sirach? Everyone acknowledges it as Sirach. Unless you can suggest a location in your canon, you should now admit that the Talmud quotes it as scripture.

    The 1st-century B.C. Jewish group at Masada had a Hebrew copy of the book that had been written stichometrically, i.e., each bicolon (or poetic line) is written on one line, the first colon (half-line) appearing on the righthand side of the column, and the second on the left-hand side (Yadin 1965: pls. 2–4, 6–8). The same style of writing was used in 2Q18, two small 1st-century B.C. Hebrew fragments of the book from Qumran (Baillet, Milik, and de Vaux 1962: pl. 15). This procedure, which was usually reserved for books that were later received into the Jewish canon, is another indication of the reverence the Essenes and others who were Palestinian Jews accorded the book.

    “Moreover, Sanhedrin 90a forbids the “reading” of “external books” and the Jerusalem Talmud identifies Ben Sira’s book as an example of the external books.”

    Err, but the Talmud quotes Sirach something like 80 times, so obviously they were “reading” it, right? That would then logically indicate that Sirach is an “internal” book. So obviously these sources are inconsistent, which is my point all along.

    “Furthermore, Sanhedrin 100b reports: “R. Joseph said: it is also forbidden to read the book of Ben Sira. ””

    Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, one of the greatest Talmudic scholars alive today, concedes the following in his commentary on Sanhedrin:
    “It must be added that even in the Talmud the Book of Ben Sira is quoted as though it were Scripture, and in some places it is hinted that the passages are indeed scriptural.”

    “So, the Talmudic evidence is pretty strongly against inclusion of Sirach in the canon.”

    Wow, so you know better than leading Talmud scholars. Good luck with that.

    “b) The evidence you have provided is quite limited.”

    You quote one Jewish guy, and then accuse *my* evidence of being limited? Amazing.

    “Some folks have cited, in effect, “the canon of the LXX.” But that’s rather like citing the “canon of English-language Bibles.” Since there is more than one canon amongst English-language Bibles, one really needs to be more specific. The same for the LXX.”

    And the same is for all those folks who seem to have the shorter canon. That doesn’t allow you to dismiss the fact that the LXX universally attests to the longer canon, no matter that its exact contents differs, unless you also allow me to dismiss all your sources for a shorter canon.

    “a) If he used the LXX, and we know his canon, then we know the canon of the LXX. In which case “the canon of the LXX” is not an alternative to that of Josephus, but the same as that of Josephus.”

    Just because he used the LXX does not mean he agrees with its canon, especially if his sect prefers a different version. Now if you could prove Pharisees preferred the LXX, then you’d be onto something, oh except… then you’d have to show how LXX versions all over the world suddenly and universally changed from a short canon to a longer canon without any overarching authority organising it. Tough one that.

    “b) Josephus is one man, but he’s the best contemporary evidence, and his account is corroborated by a variety of witnesses that are less contemporary.”

    “Best” is a matter of opinion. And his account isn’t corroborated by anyone, with the possible exception of Jerome, and it is contradicted by many sources already discussed.

    “you would still need to establish that Cyril was wrong about the 22 book LXX canon, and that a longer canon of inspired Scriptures was held in 1st century Judea.”

    How can you be “right” or “wrong” about a 22 book canon, of which nobody can agree what is contained therein? I might just as well say there is one inspired book: the bible, and leave it that.

    “a) My argument is you have no evidence. That’s not an “argument from silence.””

    My evidence was three-fold. Waving arms about no evidence is just grandstanding. The evidence was from the Church Fathers – Jerome. The same guy you have as your poster child for the canon when you think he agrees with you. Secondly, the beliefs of the Saducees being so clearly at variance with the teachings of the wider canon. Thirdly the argument Jesus used against the Saducees. That’s a triple knockout punch in my book, a long way from “no evidence”.

    “One reason it might not be better is that the Pharisees may have already made this argument to the Sadducees. A new argument no one has heard before is sometimes more useful than an old one that they’ve heard a dozen times.”

    So now who’s wildly speculating from silence. We’re supposed to just believe that Saducees did not believe in a bodily resurrection when Isaiah says “their bodies will rise”, on Turretinfan’s say so.

    “Finally, that prophesy refers to the life to come. Jesus made a different point: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob though dead are at the same time living. ”

    But the Gospel writer informs us by way of explanation “Sadducees (who say cthere is no resurrection)”. So you are forced to postulate that the Gospel writer is in error by not informing us of the Saduceean belief that is at dispute in this discourse.

    “You replied: “It was used by a lot of Jews in preference to other versions. The end game is the same.”
    a) Which Jews are you claiming this about?”

    Well, as it happens, the Jews that were the immediate precursors to the Church, since the church universally inherited that version of scripture, and not versions with a shorter canon.

    “a) But our claim does not rely on an assumption that the 1st century Jews were absolutely monolithic about the canon. As I indicated, if the Sadducees (or anyone else) rejected the Law or the Prophets or the Psalms, we would simply know that theirs was not the correct canon.”

    You might know as a Christian that they were wrong to reject books Jesus did not, but having accepted the Jews were not monolithic, you cannot show which group of Jews to follow, or why you should follow any group of Jews in preference to the Church.

    “Moreover, Jesus and the Apostles do treat the canon of Scripture as though it were more or less a known quantity.”

    The “more or less” is the problem.

    “Ok. But there are good reasons to think that Alexandria’s list is closer to Jesus’ and the apostles’ list”.

    And there are “good reasons” to think contrary to your “good reasons”.

    “We may never be able to prove that everyone held to a 22 book canon (see my comment above about proof versus evidence), but the evidence that we have can certainly suggest that.”

    Err, no I’ve already mentioned that quite a few referred to a 24 book canon. Many others didn’t divide things up into 22 or 24. The idea that everyone believed in 22 books is clearly refuted. Even then, those believing in 22 books disagreed wildly in what was contained therein.

    “Do you mean the anonymous “some” that Hilary refers to? Or do you have some other group in mind?”

    There are lots of references to a 24 book canon. I believe 4 Ezra 14:45 and the Gospel of Thomas 52 for example.

    “Saying “for sure” is different from reaching a reasonable conclusion from the available evidence. ”

    You can’t even say with… oh say a 80% certainty, probably not even a 50% certainty that Esther is part of the 1st century Jewish canon, based on the historical evidence. If you can, I’d like to see it.

    “However, if we are to pick between the Masoretic canon and the canon of Trent, the historical evidence strongly favors the Masoretic canon.”

    Apart from the fact this is another grand stand, it assumes you have to choose from these 2 choices only. But that is of course not true. Why someone should accept your particular 39 we are not told.

  33. TurretinFan said,

    June 20, 2011 at 7:04 am

    You wrote: “You don’t get out of it that easy. The very minute you broached the subject of 22 books, you have to live with the fact that their book divisions differ markedly to your own. You don’t get to gloss over it on that basis.”

    Pointing out that these sources that include Baruch treat Baruch as a part of Jeremiah as opposed to a separate book is simply a matter of recognizing what the evidence is.

    I wrote: “his comment about some people adding two further books hardly means that he himself does.”
    You wrote: “Doesn’t mean that he doesn’t either, and the point is that he is a witness to another view point.”
    a) Normally when people give a list and then say “and some people add x, y, and z” they are distinguishing the view of those people. So, it’s certainly suggestive of being a disfavored view.
    b) Yes, he is witness to another view point. But, of course, the 24 book canon isn’t a historical viable alternative.

    I wrote: “As for your conclusion that they accept “some deuteros” that’s because “some deuteros” are inauthentic parts of authentic books.”
    You replied: “Just an empty assertion.”
    I would be happy to explain why we can be confident that Baruch is inauthentic, if you like.

    I wrote: “a) As noted above “Baruch” is an inauthentic part of a canonical book.”
    You replied: “assuming the thing that you have to prove, rather than demonstrating it.”
    a) I would be happy to demonstrate it, as noted above.
    b) Of course, you can’t just assert that it is authentic and demand me to prove it is not. If you are advocating the authenticity of Baruch, the burden is really on you, though – as I noted – I’m happy nevertheless to explain to you why we can know that Baruch is not authentic.

    I wrote: “Origen does identify Maccabees, but not as being canonical Scripture of the Jews.”
    You replied: wrong: ‘The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following: That which is called by us Genesis,……………………….; Daniel, Daniel; Ezekiel, Jezekiel; Job, Job; Esther, Esther. And besides these there are the Maccabees, which are entitled Sarbeth Sabanaiel.” Origen, Canon of the Hebrews, Fragment in Eusebius’ Church History,6:25[A.D. 244],in NPNF2,I:272

    The “besides these” is a reference to the twenty-two books. Origen is saying that the Maccabees are not part of the 22 book canon.

    I wrote: “I can answer that question, of course. But whether I can answer it or not is a red herring.”
    You replied: “LOL! Its a red herring as to whether you can justify your canon! Amazing.”

    Read on.

    I wrote: “My ability to provide reasons for accepting Esther as a canonical book (without the inauthentic additions) and for accepting Jeremiah without the inauthentic addition of Baruch isn’t really relevant to the question of whether there was significant evidence to confirm Josephus canon.”
    You wrote: “No, what we found was that the so-called “Josephus canon”, may well include all the deutero books! Because when we examine the fine details, lots of people from the era think that those 22 book divisions actually encompass the deuteros in one form or another.”

    Your claims haven’t been justified.
    a) There aren’t any 22 book lists that include any of the deuterocanonical books (except that you treat Baruch as a book as opposed to as a part of Jeremiah).
    b) There aren’t “lots of people” from Josephus’ era with a competing description of the canon. In fact, there aren’t even “lots of people” who testify to Baruch’s inclusion.
    c) And the idea that the 22 book canon could include all the deuteros is just laughable. That’s the kind of wishful thinking that makes this debate so easy for us (Reformed) to win. The historical evidence doesn’t support that conclusion at all.

    I wrote: “a) Given that you think this is all grandstanding, you shouldn’t participate”
    You replied: “Why not? I reserve the right to demonstrate that grand standers are that, when they think they are something else.”
    You guys and your failed attempts to read minds. I’m sure I’ll never get over how silly you look when you do that.

    I wrote: “b) In fact, it’s pretty easy to weigh the relative merits of Carthage’s opinion versus Josephus’ opinion. Josephus is a 1st century Jew. The North African Bishops are 4th century gentiles (at least, we cannot seem to identify any that were Jewish converts).”
    You replied: “… and your point would be what exactly? The gentile Christians in Carthage are better inheritors of the true tradition of the Jews than some Christ-rejectors in Jerusalem. Here is where your grand standing is put into stark relief.”
    Actually, in an historical inquiry, we’re less concerned with who is more deserving and more concerned with who is better historical evidence. I might as well say that the Reformers are a better inheritor of the true tradition of the Jews than the Roman persecutors of the Reformers were, but that’s not the way we do history.

    I wrote: “c) And further there is a question about whether Carthage aimed to identify the inspired Scripture or merely the ecclesiastical Scripture. If the latter is the case, there is no need for conflict at all.”
    You wrote: “That doesn’t fly. Carthage: “It was also determined that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in the Church under the title of DIVINE Scriptures. The Canonical Scriptures are these:….”
    Cardinal Cajetan thought it flew as late as the 16th century. In support of his comment is the fact that they say “read in the Church,” and more difficult for his position is the titling comment.

    I wrote: “Moreover, unlike the references to Scripture, it is not simply “it is written” but “it is written in the book of Ben Sira.””
    You wrote: “That’s the same formula that they use to quote scripture.”
    No, it isn’t. For Scripture they simply say “it is written” or “it is said” (As you can see from the quotations I gave you.)

    [to be continued, Lord willing]

  34. xpusostomos said,

    June 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    “Normally when people give a list and then say “and some people add x, y, and z” they are distinguishing the view of those people.”

    Reference for this assertion?

    There is a lot of things I could say about, for example, liturgical practices, saying “and some people add… here”, without making comment on what I do.

    “But, of course, the 24 book canon isn’t a historical viable alternative.”

    Really, and why would that be? The 24 book canon is just as malleable as the 22 book canon.

    “I would be happy to explain why we can be confident that Baruch is inauthentic, if you like.”

    Do you mean, inauthentic as a part of Jeremiah? That’s irrelevant. I might just as say 11 of the 12 minor prophets must be “inauthentic” because the Jews counted them as one book.

    “The “besides these” is a reference to the twenty-two books. Origen is saying that the Maccabees are not part of the 22 book canon.”

    That’s one interpretation, but not one that makes much sense. Since his aim seems to be to enumerate the 22 book canon, to say “oh and by the way there is this other book” without explaining its significance would be a bit of a non-sequitur.

    “a) There aren’t any 22 book lists that include any of the deuterocanonical books (except that you treat Baruch as a book as opposed to as a part of Jeremiah).”

    Even that one exception is a major problem for you.

    The other problem, as I’ve said before, is that only a minority of sources subscribe to the “22 book” theory. Apart from the fact that the 22 books differ in content between witnesses, the division of how you group and divide up the books to arrive at 22 also differs, showing that the number 22 was more of a slogan than something fixed in people’s minds. Not to mention the parallel 24 book theory.

    Here is your back-to-front thinking: there are a whole lot of witnesses to the canon. Some mention 22, some mention 24, some don’t mention any number. You’ve decided to home in on one minority set of witnesses that mention 22, assume that they know more than anyone else, then in that minority, home in one the subset of witnesses within that, that happen to agree with your tradition, and assume they are right.

    “In fact, there aren’t even “lots of people” who testify to Baruch’s inclusion.”

    Herein lies another problem. You have no idea whatsoever what things all these witnesses assume are included in various listings. For all you know, every single witness mentioning Jeremiah may be assuming the inclusion of Baruch. They might be assuming other things as well, like the inclusion of Wisdom in books of Solomon.

    But the problem again is that there reason there can’t be “lots of people” witnessing to anything about the 22 book canon, is there aren’t “lots of people” witnessing to a 22 book canon in the first place! If you count witnesses to a 22 book canon, and count witnesses to Baruch within that set, then the proportion is actually large! Maybe even a majority(?).

    “Actually, in an historical inquiry, we’re less concerned with who is more deserving and more concerned with who is better historical evidence.”

    And you haven’t justified your assumption.

    “Cardinal Cajetan thought it flew as late as the 16th century.”

    And I should care about some 16th century Cardinal, why?

    “No, it isn’t. For Scripture they simply say “it is written” or “it is said” ”

    You yourself provided the contrary quote. Remember.. “This matter is written in the Pentateuch….”?

  35. TurretinFan said,

    June 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I wrote: “The item in Baba Kamma quotes a rabbi who quotes from something resembling Sirach 13:15 while calling it Hagiographa.”
    You replied: “Resembling Sirach? Everyone acknowledges it as Sirach. Unless you can suggest a location in your canon, you should now admit that the Talmud quotes it as scripture.”
    One rabbi quoted in the Talmud does appear to quote Sirach as Hagiographa.

    “The 1st-century B.C. Jewish group at Masada had a Hebrew copy of the book that had been written stichometrically, i.e., each bicolon (or poetic line) is written on one line, the first colon (half-line) appearing on the righthand side of the column, and the second on the left-hand side (Yadin 1965: pls. 2–4, 6–8). The same style of writing was used in 2Q18, two small 1st-century B.C. Hebrew fragments of the book from Qumran (Baillet, Milik, and de Vaux 1962: pl. 15). This procedure, which was usually reserved for books that were later received into the Jewish canon, is another indication of the reverence the Essenes and others who were Palestinian Jews accorded the book.”

    If Sirach were simply a random book discovered for the first time at Qumran, it might be surprising that it got such treatment. However, given that it is significant enough to be explicitly identified as non-canonical by both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud, we shouldn’t be overly surprised that it was viewed with regard by some.

    Let’s count this, along with the single item in the Talmud, as some evidence that perhaps some Jews really thought it was Scripture.

    I wrote: “Moreover, Sanhedrin 90a forbids the “reading” of “external books” and the Jerusalem Talmud identifies Ben Sira’s book as an example of the external books.”
    You replied: “Err, but the Talmud quotes Sirach something like 80 times, so obviously they were “reading” it, right? That would then logically indicate that Sirach is an “internal” book. So obviously these sources are inconsistent, which is my point all along.”
    Or it just means “read in the synagogue” or “read as though it were Scripture.” The point is simply that it is explicitly excluded from the canon of Scripture.

    I wrote: “Furthermore, Sanhedrin 100b reports: “R. Joseph said: it is also forbidden to read the book of Ben Sira. ””
    You replied: “Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, one of the greatest Talmudic scholars alive today, concedes the following in his commentary on Sanhedrin:
    “It must be added that even in the Talmud the Book of Ben Sira is quoted as though it were Scripture, and in some places it is hinted that the passages are indeed scriptural.””

    The same source on the same page admits “the sages refused to include this book in the biblical canon” and then goes on to describe the fact that the LXX translators translated it.

    I wrote: “So, the Talmudic evidence is pretty strongly against inclusion of Sirach in the canon.”
    You replied: “Wow, so you know better than leading Talmud scholars. Good luck with that.”
    a) Don’t try to turn one scholar into more than one.
    b) That scholar doesn’t contradict what I said.
    c) That scholar actually confirms what I said.

    I wrote: “b) The evidence you have provided is quite limited.”
    You replied: “You quote one Jewish guy, and then accuse *my* evidence of being limited? Amazing.”
    If you think I’ve only quoted one Jewish guy, your reading ability must be fairly limited.

    I wrote: “Some folks have cited, in effect, “the canon of the LXX.” But that’s rather like citing the “canon of English-language Bibles.” Since there is more than one canon amongst English-language Bibles, one really needs to be more specific. The same for the LXX.”
    You replied: “And the same is for all those folks who seem to have the shorter canon.”
    *sigh* No, it’s not remotely the same. There’s not a massive fluctuation amongst the 22 book canon as there is with the “English canon” and the “LXX canon.”

    “That doesn’t allow you to dismiss the fact that the LXX universally attests to the longer canon, no matter that its exact contents differs, unless you also allow me to dismiss all your sources for a shorter canon.”
    a) You should read what I quoted from Cyril of Jerusalem above, who identifies the LXX as a witness to the shorter canon.
    b) The LXX does not “universally” attest to a single long canon, but to a variety of canons. Even leaving aside the traditional canon to which Cyril attests, the Septuagint canon reflected in Carthage, for example, is shorter than the canon typically found in the Eastern Orthodox churches. And the Eastern Orthodox churches don’t accept all of the LXX books in the longest LXX canons.

    I wrote: “a) If he used the LXX, and we know his canon, then we know the canon of the LXX. In which case “the canon of the LXX” is not an alternative to that of Josephus, but the same as that of Josephus.”
    You wrote: “Just because he used the LXX does not mean he agrees with its canon, especially if his sect prefers a different version.”
    Right. Anything is possible. But Josephus doesn’t criticize the LXX canon (unless you know something I don’t).

    You wrote: “Now if you could prove Pharisees preferred the LXX, then you’d be onto something, oh except… then you’d have to show how LXX versions all over the world suddenly and universally changed from a short canon to a longer canon without any overarching authority organising it. Tough one that.”
    a) You said he used the LXX. I haven’t adopted that view, except for the sake pointing out that it would only strengthen my case.
    b) Your seeming premise that there was a single long canon of the LXX and your seeming premise that the LXX canon was not influenced by ecclesiastical authority both seem flawed. The former is false, and the latter is questionable.

    I wrote: “b) Josephus is one man, but he’s the best contemporary evidence, and his account is corroborated by a variety of witnesses that are less contemporary.”
    You replied: ““Best” is a matter of opinion. And his account isn’t corroborated by anyone, with the possible exception of Jerome, and it is contradicted by many sources already discussed.”
    I’ve already provided some of the enormous amount of collaboration above. The Talmud itself (a Pharisaic production) provides evidence that collaborates Josephus’ account, for example.

    I wrote: “you would still need to establish that Cyril was wrong about the 22 book LXX canon, and that a longer canon of inspired Scriptures was held in 1st century Judea.”
    You reply: “How can you be “right” or “wrong” about a 22 book canon, of which nobody can agree what is contained therein? I might just as well say there is one inspired book: the bible, and leave it that.”
    You insist that nobody can agree, but that isn’t so, as I’ve pointed out. Moreover, just as we can figure out the text of John from a variety of manuscripts that include variants, we can figure out the content of the 22 book canon from various reports that themselves include some variants.

    I wrote: “a) My argument is you have no evidence. That’s not an “argument from silence.””
    You replied: “My evidence was three-fold. Waving arms about no evidence is just grandstanding. The evidence was from the Church Fathers – Jerome. The same guy you have as your poster child for the canon when you think he agrees with you. Secondly, the beliefs of the Saducees being so clearly at variance with the teachings of the wider canon. Thirdly the argument Jesus used against the Saducees. That’s a triple knockout punch in my book, a long way from “no evidence”.”
    The latter two aren’t really evidence of a different canon. Jerome’s comment lacks corroboration. But, in any event, that is a moot point, since we know that if the Sadducees held to a Torah-only canon, like the Samaritans, they were obviously wrong.

    I had pointed out: “One reason it might not be better is that the Pharisees may have already made this argument to the Sadducees. A new argument no one has heard before is sometimes more useful than an old one that they’ve heard a dozen times.”
    You replied: “So now who’s wildly speculating from silence. We’re supposed to just believe that Saducees did not believe in a bodily resurrection when Isaiah says “their bodies will rise”, on Turretinfan’s say so.”
    No, you should believe that the Sadducees did not believe in the general resurrection, because the Bible indicates that. I’m just showing a reasonable possibility as to why that verse would not have been quoted.

    I wrote: “Finally, that prophesy refers to the life to come. Jesus made a different point: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob though dead are at the same time living. ”
    You replied: “But the Gospel writer informs us by way of explanation “Sadducees (who say cthere is no resurrection)”. So you are forced to postulate that the Gospel writer is in error by not informing us of the Saduceean belief that is at dispute in this discourse.”
    No. I’m not forced to postulate that. Notice that, in fact, I didn’t postulate that.

    You had written: “It was used by a lot of Jews in preference to other versions. The end game is the same.”
    I asked: “Which Jews are you claiming this about?”
    You rplied: “Well, as it happens, the Jews that were the immediate precursors to the Church, since the church universally inherited that version of scripture, and not versions with a shorter canon.”
    Your universality claim is false, and your “used by a lot of Jews” remains undocumented. Which Jews are you claiming this about? Where is the evidence for that claim?

    I wrote: “a) But our claim does not rely on an assumption that the 1st century Jews were absolutely monolithic about the canon. As I indicated, if the Sadducees (or anyone else) rejected the Law or the Prophets or the Psalms, we would simply know that theirs was not the correct canon.”
    You replied: “You might know as a Christian that they were wrong to reject books Jesus did not, but having accepted the Jews were not monolithic, you cannot show which group of Jews to follow, or why you should follow any group of Jews in preference to the Church.”
    Being a disciple of Christ, I follow Christ. His word is good enough for me, even if it would not be for a skeptic.

    I wrote: “Moreover, Jesus and the Apostles do treat the canon of Scripture as though it were more or less a known quantity.”
    You replied: “The “more or less” is the problem.”
    Only for skeptics.

    I wrote: “Ok. But there are good reasons to think that Alexandria’s list is closer to Jesus’ and the apostles’ list”.
    You replied: “And there are “good reasons” to think contrary to your “good reasons”.”
    Not really. There’s an odd mixture of skepticism (about any evidence that favors the canon that Masoretes passed down, that is explicitly taught in the Talmud, that is described by Josephus, and that is confirmed by a number of the fathers) and naivete (about the LXX and its supposedly universal monolithic canon).

    I wrote: “We may never be able to prove that everyone held to a 22 book canon (see my comment above about proof versus evidence), but the evidence that we have can certainly suggest that.”
    You replied: “Err, no I’ve already mentioned that quite a few referred to a 24 book canon. Many others didn’t divide things up into 22 or 24. The idea that everyone believed in 22 books is clearly refuted. Even then, those believing in 22 books disagreed wildly in what was contained therein.”
    a) One problem is that you are, as you admitted, just grandstanding. “Wild” disagreement for you is that a few folks omit Esther from their list, or include Baruch as part of Jeremiah. In fact, just a little above, you were nodding your head about the fact that they more or less agree.
    b) This is, of course, the same thing we see from skeptics like Ehrman about the text of Scripture. Any variety in the evidence, and somehow it becomes impossible to discern the original.
    c) But at least Ehrman is consistent in his skepticism. He doesn’t turn around and make bogus claims about the texts of certain books being perfectly preserved, the way you make these unjustified claims about the LXX.
    d) You mention “quite a few folks” (without identifying them, of course) who number the books at 24. But these are “quite a few folks” who either wholly or mostly confirm that canon of Josephus. It’s not like their two extra books are “Judit-Tobit-Sirach and the bundle of only the first two books of the Maccabees.”

    I wrote: “Do you mean the anonymous “some” that Hilary refers to? Or do you have some other group in mind?”
    You replied: “There are lots of references to a 24 book canon. I believe 4 Ezra 14:45 and the Gospel of Thomas 52 for example.”
    In those two cases, the books of the 24 book canon are not clearly delineated. In fact, they are not delineated at all. Jerome reports to us that the same 22 book canon he identified is sometimes counted as 24. Moreover, the Talmud’s listing of the books sums to 24, which provides a ready explanation for that number.

    I wrote: “Saying “for sure” is different from reaching a reasonable conclusion from the available evidence. ”
    You replied: “You can’t even say with… oh say a 80% certainty, probably not even a 50% certainty that Esther is part of the 1st century Jewish canon, based on the historical evidence. If you can, I’d like to see it.”
    I’ll pass on trying to demonstrate the canonicity of Esther to someone who is admittedly grandstanding. I hope you’ll understand that my time is limited.

    I wrote: “However, if we are to pick between the Masoretic canon and the canon of Trent, the historical evidence strongly favors the Masoretic canon.”
    You replied: “Apart from the fact this is another grand stand, it assumes you have to choose from these 2 choices only. But that is of course not true. Why someone should accept your particular 39 we are not told.”
    a) No, those aren’t the only choices. There are some other choices out there. But the choice with the best evidence in its favor is the canon we have adopted.
    b) We have, of course, told you lots of reasons to accept the canon of Scripture. So, it seems a little disingenuous for you to assert that we aren’t tell you the reasons why you should accept it.

    -TurretinFan

  36. xpusostomos said,

    June 21, 2011 at 2:56 am

    “Let’s count this, along with the single item in the Talmud, as some evidence that perhaps some Jews really thought it was Scripture.”

    Great, so some Jews thought it was scripture. Not just random Jews either, obviously some scholarly types involved in talmud writing and manuscript writing.

    Let’s say then we were to hypothesise that it was a minority of Jews, let’s say even a smallish minority. Let’s say I were to grant you that. I’m not necessarily granting that, but let’s say I did. Who is to say it isn’t the minority who are correct? As I’ve already pointed out, people can talk about “the scriptures” without believing that the canon is finally and precisely settled. You’ll find tons of folks in oh say the 3rd century talking about the scriptures without having in mind Revelation. It would take a lot of time for that to be clearly and finally considered to be in. So even if it was only a minority of Jews in the 1st century, you would have to explain to us why the process of recognising inspired scripture isn’t a work in progress that the Church inherited.

    You’d also have to show why we should adopt some kind of majority type rule approach. For example, the day after Paul sends a letter to the Corinthians, only one guy knows about it, the messenger. Sometime later the Corinthians know, but nobody else. On the other hand, the Colossians know about their books, but not the Corinthian books. The effect is an ever widening awareness of the scriptural nature of the book, and two narrower canons eventually merge into a super-set canon. If only a few Jews knew a book was scripture, and later most of the Church thinks so, you have to show why this must be the wrong approach to understanding revelation. Why adopt some kind of majority rule canon instead of a super-set approach canon? This is where you really fall down, because you can’t really justify any approach. The bible itself doesn’t dictate one or the other, and sola scriptura dictates you can’t have any rule outside thereof. Although one might argue that the way the NT came together actually indicates a super-set approach.

    “The same source on the same page admits “the sages refused to include this book in the biblical canon” ”

    You have access to this work? Then you have me at a disadvantage to knowing what “sages” he is now referring to. Obviously not the same ones who he says implied that Sirach is scripture.

    “There’s not a massive fluctuation amongst the 22 book canon as there is with the “English canon” and the “LXX canon.””

    What is allegedly this “massive fluctuation”? Some copies don’t have Odes, which is of no significance since that is a copy of material from elsewhere. Some copies add Psalms of Solomon. Some omit Maccabees. What massive fluctuation are you referring to?

    “You should read what I quoted from Cyril of Jerusalem above, who identifies the LXX as a witness to the shorter canon.”

    I don’t know what you are referring to. That Cyril identifies a shorter canon does not mean he identifies the LXX as such.

    “Your seeming premise that there was a single long canon of the LXX and your seeming premise that the LXX canon was not influenced by ecclesiastical authority both seem flawed. The former is false, and the latter is questionable.”

    Of course it was “influenced”. Everything is “influenced”. But you are between a rock and a hard place here. If supposed “ecclesiastic authorities” were universally influencing the LXX canon to be long, that would attest to a universal ecclesiastical belief in a long canon. On the other hand if these authorities were influencing the LXX canon to be short, then you can’t explain the remarkable fact that all known LXX copies attest a long canon.

    “a) You said he used the LXX. I haven’t adopted that view, except for the sake pointing out that it would only strengthen my case.”

    I don’t see how it strengthens your case. Everybody except weird cults with an agenda acknowledge the apostles used the LXX too. Nobody argues that this means the LXX used to have a short canon.

    “The Talmud itself (a Pharisaic production) provides evidence that collaborates Josephus’ account, for example.”

    So surviving Hebraic Judaism, after its best and brightest were either lost in the Roman wars, or else lost to the true people of God (church), or else otherwise shut down or wiped out (Qumran) was now a very narrow stream of thought. Doesn’t mean it was the original or correct stream, just because it was narrowed. This is typical behaviour when a formally diverse group is culled of more diverse interests. Its a bit like Rome being left isolated in the middle ages. Just because perhaps the Talmud and Josephus’ Pharasiac judaism represent the last hurrah stream of Judaism, doesn’t mean it represents all the earlier streams, just like 20th century Roman Catholicism doesn’t represent all the streams of 1st and 2nd century Christianity and pseudo-Christianity.

    “Moreover, just as we can figure out the text of John from a variety of manuscripts that include variants, we can figure out the content of the 22 book canon from various reports that themselves include some variants.”

    There is a very big difference between reconstructing John, and reconstructing a 22 book canon. Its a reasonable starting point to assume that John wrote a book, and that we can hope to recover its original form. However there is no such reasonable a-priori assumption that there must be 22 books, or that some authority specified that there should be 22, or that in fact anybody agreed the delineation between books to make them add up to 22. Most scholars acknowledge that 22 was just a convenient way of counting for some folks, not that the number 22 somehow came down from heaven, or was promulgated by some recognised authority.

    “But, in any event, that is a moot point, since we know that if the Sadducees held to a Torah-only canon, like the Samaritans, they were obviously wrong.”

    As soon as your recognise this as a possibility, all your arm waving about Jesus and the apostles talking about “the scriptures”, loses its force.

    “No. I’m not forced to postulate that. Notice that, in fact, I didn’t postulate that.”

    It sounded to me like you postulated that. You postulated that Jesus refuted a Saducean belief different to the one the Gospel writers thought to inform us about.

    “Your universality claim is false”

    and it is refuted by….?

    ” your “used by a lot of Jews” remains undocumented. Which Jews are you claiming this about? Where is the evidence for that claim?”

    You don’t think Jews were using the LXX? Maybe it was the Gauls then? Or Chinese perhaps?

    “Being a disciple of Christ, I follow Christ.”

    Why don’t you then follow the disciples of Christ, instead of the narrow stream of Jews who rejected Christ?

    “There’s an odd mixture of skepticism (about any evidence that favors the canon that Masoretes passed down, that is explicitly taught in the Talmud, that is described by Josephus, and that is confirmed by a number of the fathers)”

    Of course, because there Jewish sources that favour the other books and fathers who favour the other books, and the vast majority of the Church ended up accepting them as scripture. I could say you have an odd mixture of naivete about Josephus and (parts of) the Talmud, whilst having scepticism of fathers who accept the wider canon.

    “This is, of course, the same thing we see from skeptics like Ehrman about the text of Scripture. Any variety in the evidence, and somehow it becomes impossible to discern the original.”

    There is no “original” canon. The canon is a list in flux, growing as prophesy and recognition dictates.

    “But at least Ehrman is consistent in his skepticism. He doesn’t turn around and make bogus claims about the texts of certain books being perfectly preserved, the way you make these unjustified claims about the LXX.”

    Again, I don’t claim the LXX “preserves” anything, because there is no original list to preserve.

  37. July 8, 2011 at 4:38 am

    [...] Josephus and Jerome on the Canon (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 327 other followers

%d bloggers like this: