An Argument Against the Apocryphal Books Being Canonical

I have wondered about the timing of the writing of the Apocryphal books for a while now. They were written before the New Testament church came into existence. The New Testament church were not the people of God at the time the Apocryphal books were being written. The people of God at the time of the writing of the Apocryphal books were the Jews. Does that not mean that the New Testament church cannot be God’s instrument by which the canonical status of the Apocryphal books is decided? Does that not mean that the Jews must be God’s instrument by which their status is decided? The Jews have always rejected those books. So also did many of the church fathers, most notably Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate! Many of them agreed with the Jews that the Apocryphal books were not canonical. We get off on the wrong foot from the beginning, however, if we say that the church has the authority to decide on the Apocryphal books. The New Testament church cannot decide on the canonicity of books written before the New Testament church even existed. The people of God in existence at the time of the writing of a book receives or rejects the canonical status of a book.

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127 Comments

  1. Richard said,

    November 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    What is the historical evidence that Jews have always rejected those books?

  2. Bryan Cross said,

    November 16, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Lane,

    The New Testament church cannot decide on the canonicity of books written before the New Testament church even existed.

    Of course nothing that does not yet exist can do anything while it does not yet exist. But when the NT Church exists, it can decide the canonicity of books written before the NT Church existed. If you are merely stipulating that even when the NT Church exists, it cannot decide the canonicity of books that were written before the NT Church came into existence, then on what basis or authority are you making this stipulation? I’m guessing you’re not presupposing the infallibility of the OT people of God with regarding to judgments of canonicity.

    In the peace of Christ,

    - Bryan

  3. greenbaggins said,

    November 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Richard, the Jews never included it in their canon, or in their manuscripts of the Scriptures. The Council of Jamnia formally stated what they had always held: that the Apocryphal books were not canonical.

    Bryan, on what authority does the NT Church decide on books written before the NT Church existed? That is the question i am asking. Of course I do not presuppose anyone’s infallibility except God’s. I am making an historical argument: on what basis can the authority of the NT church be retroactive? By its own fiat?

  4. Cris Dickason said,

    November 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I think the gist of the argument is thus. The covenant community, the people of God, are called to recognize and receive (and submit to) the word of the Lord. The people of God are also called to reject the word presumptuously or falsely spoken in the Lord’s name, and to reject any word spoken in the name of another God (Deut 18:15ff).

    The Church of Christ, the New Covenant community, is the successor, the fulfillment and completion of Israel. The Church thus inherits, receives and starts from or with the Scriptures that were recognized by Israel (mainstream 2nd Temple Judaism) at the Church’s inception. The Church starts with the Scriptures of the fathers (Hebrews 1:1). The Church thus receives the list of rejected writings from the fathers of Israel.

    The Church of Christ starts with the received writings of the Tanak, the 39 as we count them in protestant Bibles. And the Church should not presume to accept what was already rejected as not the prophetic word of the Lord, what was already rejected as not Scripture.

    Bumper sticker version: The Church does not reinvent the OT Canonical wheel.

    -=Cris=-

  5. Bob S said,

    November 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I’m guessing you’re not presupposing the infallibility of the OT people of God with regarding to judgments of canonicity.

    I’m guessing the fact that Christ didn’t fault the Jews on adding to the canon is not infallible enough, no?

  6. CD-Host said,

    November 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    The Jews have always rejected those books.

    @ Richard and Lane.

    The Jews have not always rejected those books. Which is why the LXX included them. Its also why the NT quotes them so heavily.

    The Jewish communities from which Christianity formed, included Greek works.
    The Jewish communities that became the dominant form of Judaism after 134 CE rejected Greek works.

    I don’t see any particular reason Christians should draw their canon from forms of Judaism that rejected Greek speaking forms of Judaism given that the New Testament itself is written in Greek.

    In terms of the dating component, Jews did not have the modern list of books in the Tanakh (Jewish bible) agreed to until the 3rd century. We have list from authors 200 BCE on, on what they considered canonical and they don’t agree with the modern list. As for the “council of Jamnia” there is no historical record for the canon having been finalized this early.

    Further, Jews then and today today don’t even mean the same thing Protestants do when they talk of “canon”. The Jewish canon in the inerrantist Christian sense are the first five books of the bible, full stop. Everything else is of much less importance.

  7. TurretinFan said,

    November 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean by “decide on the canonicity.” The question of canonicity is one of objective fact. If something is inspired, it was inspired when it was written, totally independent of recognition of inspiration by anyone but God.

    If by “decide on the canonicity,” you simply mean “recognize that the book was inspired,” then of course all Christians and all churches should do so with all the books of both testaments.

    Even Rome’s own teachings admit that Rome did not have the authority to accept or reject the books of the canon. Rather all Rome could do was to recognize the canonical books for what they already were.

    But it would be bizarre to argue that the Torah only became Scripture after Christ’s ascension, since Christ called it Scripture before then. In other words, it seems your basic point must be right – if the Apocrypha are canonical, they must have been canonical in Christ’s time, but that’s before the apostles did anything authoritative.

    -TurretinFan

  8. Nick said,

    November 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I’m confused as to what the thesis of this post is.

    Are you simply asking if the Jews living at the time Wisdom/Maccabees/etc were written considered these books to be Scripture?

    If so, I think that’s a great question. I think the answer to that would be strongly in the affirmative, especially considering the LXX.

  9. brigand said,

    November 16, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    What’s interesting, if you follow Jerome’s arguments fully and not piecemeal citations from A. Rufinius, he reasons historically and linguistically that it’s impossible for the Apocrypha to be canonical. You can only claim their authenticity by fiat — because no one has actually produced the evidence Jerome suggested. His judgments in translation are more consistent with his view in that regard than others are likely to admit.

  10. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Lane – It’s definitely an interesting issue – who during these inter-testamental times would have rendered judgement upon a text claiming to be of divine origin? Even the Apocrypha itself raises this issue. Several times in the Maccabees there is a reference to the fact that there were no prophets in the land during this time (see I Mac. 9:27 as a for instance). So if there were no prophets who was writing the Word of God during this time and who was assessing it to be the Word of God?

    This haziness around the writings that the Catholics know as the Deuterocanonicals and we know as the Apocrypha (utilizing Athanasius and Jerome’s terminology here) is I think reflected in the lack of certitude on the canonical status of the Deuteros/Apocrypha throughout the Middle Ages. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia says of the Medieval scholars that there were “few” who unequivocally acknowledged the canonicity of these texts. Even up until Trent there was debate within Roman Catholic circles as to whether these books should be considered as Scripture. The one other interesting comment that the Catholic Encyclopedia makes about the Apocrypha is that when Trent judged them to be canonical they left us with very few clues as to the historical basis upon which they made this judgment.

    I don’t think you can make this case for their canonicity from the fact that these texts were packaged with the Jewish Scriptures ending at Malachi. If there is an argument to be made from the inclusion in the LXX then why was this argument was lost on so many of the Jews of this period? , I would also point out that in the every Protestant version of the Bible through the initial versions of the King James also included the a copy of the Apocrypha. But of course we should not conclude from their inclusion that early Protestants considered the Apocrypha to be canonical.

  11. November 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    There is really only one relevant question: what did Jesus’ Jewish audience understand to be “the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms”? Our Lord must have used this sort of terminology in reference to a generally-accepted referent (even granting a less-than-unanimous understanding).

    Everything else is a secondary point- by miles.

  12. Bob S said,

    November 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    6 Its also why the NT quotes them so heavily.

    Au contraire.
    1.The apocrypha are not written in Hebrew.
    2. The NT does not quote from them like it does the other OT books.
    3. Yes, the NT does quote the OT books using the Greek Septuagint translation, but that is not the same thing as quoting the Apocrypha of the Greek Septuagint.

  13. CD-Host said,

    November 17, 2012 at 12:17 am

    @Bob S –

    The NT does not quote from them like it does the other OT books

    What specifically is different about how the NT quotes the Apocrypha from how it quotes the OT?

    The apocrypha are not written in Hebrew.

    The fact that the NT sides with the Greek over the Hebrew when it quotes the OT most of the time is why many of the church fathers believed that the Greek and not the Hebrew should be the source for the translation of Christian scripture. Quite of a few of the messianic prophecies in the NT depend crucially on the LXX translation not the Hebrew, they just don’t make sense if we assume the NT authors were working from the Hebrew. The handling of these verses is arguably one of the key dividing lines between liberal and conservative bibles; with liberal bibles being faithful to the Hebrew and thus often translating in a way that precludes the messianic interpretation of the NT while conservative bibles “translate” in line with the Greek so as to preserve the messianic interpretation present in the NT.

    Of course even liberal bibles are fundamentally Christian. If you want to get a real handle on how much Christian bibles, even liberal Christian bibles are siding with the Greek read a Jewish translation. But yes the Aramaic speaking Jewish community that went on to become the modern Jewish community and was the existent Jewish community in both Jerome and Luther’s time rejected works that were solely available in Greek.

  14. Bob S said,

    November 17, 2012 at 12:44 am

    13 What specifically is different about how the NT quotes the Apocrypha from how it quotes the OT?

    It doesn’t quote them.

    But yes the Aramaic speaking Jewish community that went on to become the modern Jewish community and was the existent Jewish community in both Jerome and Luther’s time rejected works that were solely available in Greek.

    Bingo.

  15. CD-Host said,

    November 17, 2012 at 7:30 am

    @Bob S

    It doesn’t quote them

    Of course it does. http://scripturecatholic.com/deuterocanon.html

    The LXX which included the Apocrypha was the bible of the NT authors. I think the evidence is pretty clear their notion of scripture often went beyond the LXX, but the idea that they rejected the Apocrypha is flatly contradicted by the evidence.

    But beyond simple quotes the much more important problem is the development of Judaism represented by the Apocryphal books. If you date the OT to approx 600 BCE (and I’d assume most people on here would date most of it even earlier) by the “time of Jesus” you have hundreds of years of theological development. 600 years took just as long back then as it does today. If one of the proto-Protestants from the 15th century say a Beguine, a Renaissance Humanist or a Lollardy were to come on Green Baggins or a Pentecostal board they wouldn’t even have the categories to debate the issues.

    In the same way, the NT’s use of the OT seems like an abuse of the text without the historical background that creates the continuity. Even Jesus himself is a problem. In the OT there are a few isolated references to personified Wisdom (Sophia), there are messianic prophecies, there is some notion of a suffering servant. None of that is tied together or developed very much. So if you honestly read the OT what you get is that Jesus does not fulfill the messianic prophecies of importance and the “messianic prophecies” he does fulfill are mostly not messianic prophecies at all.

    By using the Apocrypha you cut that down to 200 years and provide some of the context for the NT authors. For example if Protestants on this board read the Apocrypha they wouldn’t be using the word “Jews” to represent a single religion since the Apocrypha contains the debates which led to the main divisions in Judaism that existed in Jesus’ day. And while it doesn’t close the gap in time to show how these different sects evolved including those that evolved into Christianity, it does explain the origins of the theological forks.

    Absolutely there were debates in the middle ages till today on their status. The LXXs have different lists of books so even the specifics of which books to include are vague. And their Orthodox groups today that have a more inclusive set of pre-NT than Catholics. So there is no question there were problems that led to the debate. But claims like Jews never accepted them or that the NT never quotes them are just false.

  16. Richard said,

    November 17, 2012 at 11:56 am

    @Lane: re. # 3 - the Jews never included it in their canon, or in their manuscripts of the Scriptures. The Council of Jamnia formally stated what they had always held: that the Apocryphal books were not canonical.

    Does this not beg the question ‘Who were the Jews?’ From my limited understanding of the situation in first-century Palestine there was a number of Judaisms and into the mix we must add the Jewish groups of the Diaspora. That is to suggest there may easily have been different Jewish communities who held widely diverging scriptures as authoritative.

    It also begs the question ‘What do we mean by canon?’ Moreover, did the Jewish groups of the fist century possess this same understanding, from my reading on the issue the canon was open during the period of Second Temple Judaism.

    It also begs the question ‘What exactly was the Council of Jamnia?’ Did it speak for all of the various Jewish groups, or was it that following the fall of the temple in 70 CE the group that was to dominate was the pharisaic Judaism that was proto-rabbinic and this was the strand represented in Jamnia? From memory, there was still debate in 132 CE over whether Songs of Songs defiled the hands, implying that the proto-rabbinic groups was still unsure of the extent of the Writings.

  17. Bob S said,

    November 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    15 CD
    Most if not all, are previous quotes or references to the Hebrew books.

  18. Bob S said,

    November 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Nobody denies that the Greek apocrypha are not interesting or helpful to read, but they are not inspired as the Hebrew texts were. WCF 1:8

  19. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    The problem with the link in comment 15 is that most of the entries commit a major fallacy of presumption: i.e., assuming that “similar to X” = “proves X is canonical.” But that’s a totally gratuitous and specious assumption. If the NT is similar to something in Plato, that doesn’t mean Plato is canonical. If an English speaker says “Do unto others,” it doesn’t demonstrate that they actually consider the NT to be inspired. All it shows is that that turn of phrase is well known in a culture. There’s no way you can conclude canonicity from similarity.

  20. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    November 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Sorry, I meant the entries specifically from the NT.

  21. November 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I don’t think it has been mentioned that one of the most useful of the apocryphal books, I Maccabees, states at 14:41 that Simon Maccabeus was to be their ruler and high priest until a faithful prophet should arise.
    In other words there were no faithful prophets in the period from which most of the apocryphal books come.

  22. Andrew McCallum said,

    November 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Rowland,

    In comment #10 I mentioned there are several passages in the Maccabees that point to the fact that there were no prophets in the land. I specifically referenced I Mac.9:7. You pick up on another good one. It’s a good point for the Catholic to wrestle with – The godly Jews of this time knew there was no prophetic witness during this inter-testamental time.

    Joshua (re: 19) – I would add that just about any writings of this time by the Jews will pick up on many themes of both the OT and NT. If we are to allow the kind of evidence that CD-Host uses to demonstrate the canonicity of the Apocrypha then the canon will need to get quite a bit larger….

  23. CD-Host said,

    November 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    @Joshua (19) —

    The question comment 15 was responding to was whether the NT quotes the Apocrypha or not. The claim had been that they were not quoted. There is no fallacy of presumption because there was no presumption. Certainly the NT quotes things that one may choose to exclude from the canon. But that’s different than claiming they aren’t be quoted.

  24. Bob S said,

    November 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    23 CD
    IOW that the NT quotes the apocrypha quoting the OT proves that the apocrypha were inspired.
    While we know the OT is inspired . . . . we also know that special pleading is special pleading.
    The apocrypha is written in greek and is not quoted or appealed to per se in the NT. End of story.

  25. Bob S said,

    November 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Further, as Rowland and Andrew mention, the apocrypha in so many words, denies that it is inspired.
    What’s not to like?

  26. Don said,

    November 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Actually it would be interesting if the link in #15 actually addressed the question of whether the NT quotes the apocrypha. But there’s so much fluff (“Such and such NT verse says something vaguely similar to this verse in the apocrypha” or “Look! this NT verse and this apocrypha verse have two words which are the same, and almost in order”) that the list is absolutely useless.

  27. Dennis said,

    November 17, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    IMO, the question of canon is easy. Do the books point to Christ? I read for example 2 Maccabees talking about Resurrection and martyrdom and think that absolutely they point to Christ.

    The only reason this is up for debate is because Luther pulled them out. If he didn’t, Protestants wouldn’t argue it.

  28. CD-Host said,

    November 18, 2012 at 2:40 am

    @Don –

    What do you think the list of NT quotes of the OT would look like if you wrote them out that way? If you have a good cross reference bible the OT quotes often look like that. References to an idea, or a few words are generally how the NT quotes the OT.

    The list many translators pull from for NT quotes of the OT is the NA27 list. Here is the list from the NA27 list for NT quotes of the Apocrypha.
    http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/deutero3.htm

    You’ll see this list is even longer. The list from #15 I gave are ones where it is harder to come up with an alternative explanation. In particular places where both the Apocrypha and the NT are quoting from a common OT source were excluded. There are plenty of examples on that list which are rather definitive: statements like Hebrews 11:35 just don’t make any sense at all if you exclude the context of 2 Maccabees 7:1-42.

    What is your standard for considering something in the NT a biblical reference to the OT? Go through some examples pick a reasonable criteria for what you consider a quote. You strict criteria, then apply that criteria to the Apocrypha. You’ll get a list and there will be stuff on it.

    I’m having trouble believing this is even controversial. The 1560 Geneva bible had Apocryphal cross references. For example on
    Matthew 27:43 it lists Psalm 22:9 and Wisdom 2:18; James 3:2 to Sirach 14:1, 19:16, and 25:11; Hebrews 1:3 to Wisdom 7:26; etc…

    If you want to pretend obvious truths aren’t, then fine. But in my book you are entitled to your own beliefs, you aren’t entitled to your own facts.

  29. Don said,

    November 18, 2012 at 4:05 am

    CD-Host #28,
    The issue is quoting the apocrypha, not having similar ideas or being cross-reference-able. Hebrews 11:35 does indeed make some sense on its own; 2 Macc certainly helps to provide context, but is not essential to understanding that these actions were acts of faith.

    What would I say that a NT quote of the OT looks like? Randomly opening my kid’s Bible to a bookmark, there is John 12:38, 12:40, and 13:18. It’d be pretty gutsy to argue that no other verse on these two pages has nothing to do with the OT, or is not influenced by the OT, or has no parallels in the OT. But that’s not what the question is.

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with your last paragraph. I’m not saying there aren’t any apocrypha quotes in the NT, I’m asking what they are. The increasingly “obvious truth” is that there aren’t many, so the author of the list linked in #15 felt compelled to kitchen-sink every reference, parallel, and vague similarity that could be found.

    I should point out, in fairness, that the list itself does not claim that it lists any quotes.

  30. CD-Host said,

    November 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

    @Don –

    Hebrews 11:35 does indeed make some sense on its own…but is not essential to understanding that these actions were acts of faith.

    Not really. You can read the OT from front to back and you won’t find one example of someone being tortured and refusing to accept release for the sake of a better resurrection. You could just drop the whole OT from the canon if we don’t care about the context for the NT. Romans 1:19-32 and Wisdom 13 I think are a good example of the same sort of contextual use.

    If you are asking for word for word quotes they are rare. AFAIK we have word for word references that don’t share a theme and theme references like the Hebrews 11:35 which aren’t word for word but I don’t believe there are any verses where you get both at the same time.

    If you want to stretch:
    2 Esdras 2:42 I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs.

    Rev 7:9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

    There are tons of pairs like:

    Sirach 28:18 and Luke 21:24 “fall by the edge of the sword”
    2 Esdras 1:30 and Matt 23:37 “gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.”

    But I consider the word for word thing rather weak since stuff like, “chicks under her wings” are the sort of expressions I could see two people coming up with independently. I think you could possibly argue from the number of common expressions shared that the NT authors read the LXX and used the language of the LXX including the language of the apocrypha. That certainly disproves the theory that these books were rejected.

    If you were limiting quotes to word for word quotes that will blow you away, there aren’t any. But on the other hand there are about a dozen books in the Protestant OT that have 0 quotes in the NT as well.

  31. Richard said,

    November 18, 2012 at 7:35 am

    @Dennis: re # 27 - Fwiw I am a Protestant who accepts the apocrypha as canonical, the biggest problem in this whole debate is that the lines on this historical question are being drawn along confessional boundaries.

  32. Dennis said,

    November 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Richard,

    IMO, the biggest problem is that there is no authority on the Protestant side to tell them what the Canon is. For a Catholic, it’s a non-issue as the canon has been set.

    Honestly, I’m not wholly familiar with all the arguments because it’s not something that’s necessarily studied from the Catholic side.

  33. Don said,

    November 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    CD-Host,
    I did not say that you had to find an OT source, rather than 2 Macc, for Hebrews 11:35 to make sense. The context of Hebrews 11 makes it very clear that these are acts of faith. Without 2 Macc, it’s not especially clear what those acts exactly are, but such acts of faith are still impressive. Anyway, adding clarity to one verse of Hebrews does not qualify 2 Macc for canon.

    The biggest question from Hebrews 11 is from verse 32–how in any way is Samson an positive example of faith?

    But back to the main point: In #15 you claimed that “of course” the NT quotes the apocrypha. In #30 you basically admit that you can’t identify any actual quotes. Does that settle it?

  34. Bob S said,

    November 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    30 CD,
    If repetition is the mother of comprehension, the argument again is threefold contra the debating trick of hammering on one point and ignoring the others.

    The OT canon:
    1. Is written in Hebrew.
    2. Is quoted in the NT.
    3. Acknowledges its inspiration.

    The first is insurmountable, whatever you are trying to prove regarding the second.

    32 Dennis,

    The biggest problem is that you have no authority on your side to tell us what Rome teaches. And as above, for a Reformed Catholic, it’s a non-issue as the canon has been set by Christ when he appealed to the law, the prophets and the psalms without in any way faulting the Jews for adding to or taking away from Scripture. IOW so much for the Roman lipservice about honoring what points to Christ.

    I know, the standard argument is “He who hears you, hears me”, much more the Roman gloss that the apostles, if not pre-eminently the “Vicar of Christ”, the bishop of Rome, has the authority of Christ to substantively add to the words of Christ. That, instead of faithfully relaying, expounding and implementing Christ’s words.

    But since what is added to Christ’s word is contra Scripture, reason and history, Reformed Catholics cannot but help to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the same. Likewise your arguments.

  35. Cris Dickason said,

    November 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Concerning the list of Alleged Quotations of Apocryphal Writings in the NT – #15. The claim that this is a list of NT citations and reliance upon apocryphal writings as equal to the Hebrew Canon is so overly optimistic it amounts to partisan propaganda.

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

    Sorry, Wisdom 11 is a rehearsal of Israels history, in particular their sufferings in Egypt and the exodus. The “infants” of Wis 11:7 are the babies of Israel that were to be cast into the Nile. It’s nothing to do with Herod and the birth of the Lord.

    Claim: Jesus on storing treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19) “follows” Sirach 29:11

    NAB Sirach 29:11 Dispose of your treasure as the Most High commands, for that will profit you more than the gold.

    NRS Sirach 29:11 Lay up your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and it will profit you more than gold.

    NRS Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;

    Similar thought, but not a quote. Surely the OT is common background and so produces some similar applications of that material. Not a direct quote: the Greek texts make that even more clear than the English above. Similar ideas, but direct use, or a connection is impossible to prove.

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

    Buzzz! Wrong! The Gospels record that the Sadducees bring up a story about seven brothers. And in fact, the Sadducees, noted for accommodations to Hellenism, did not believe in a resurrection. IF they are referring to Tobit, it is not appealed to as Scripture. They deny the doctrine with which they seek to trap or embarrass Jesus, so if they believe Tobit has some special status, it’s the pseudo-authority with respect to Scripture of the religious liberal.

    Recall that Paul appealed to this Sadducee denial in his defense in Acts 23:6-8

    But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees: touching the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. (ESV)

    Even if there are some occasions where it could be shown that Jesus or Evangelists or Apostles clearly use the exact language of an apocryphal text, absent an introductory formula that labels the use as citation of Scripture, it’s nothing more than citation of a text common to speaker/writer and audience.

    As for the claim that the Septuagint, with it’s extra content, is the real canon of Jesus, apostles or Jewish contemporaries… That would need to be authenticated by a direct discussion (anytime from 200BC to AD75) that sets the Greek translation of Hebrew Scriptures as more authoritative than the base texts in Hebrew. Pretty sure that kind of discussion never occurred

    -=Cris=-.

  36. Dennis said,

    November 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Bob,

    it’s a non-issue as the canon has been set by Christ when he appealed to the law, the prophets and the psalms without in any way faulting the Jews for adding to or taking away from Scripture.

    That argument is weak at best. First off, which Scripture as there were multiple Jews. Would He side with the Pharisees who used all of our OT or the Sadduccees who used just the Pentateuch?

    Also, if that were true, there wouldn’t be arguments now among Protestants.

    The biggest problem is that you have no authority on your side to tell us what Rome teaches.

    I know by now that no matter what I would say, you would disagree. Not because I have no authority (which I don’t) but because of your obvious hatred for anything Catholic.

    But since what is added to Christ’s word is contra Scripture, reason and history, Reformed Catholics cannot but help to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the same. Likewise your arguments.

    No, that’s obviously not true. You’re so blinded to the truth that you wouldn’t be able to recognize Christ. Your heart is so darkened that it’s filled with hatred. Doesn’t the hatred get tiring?

  37. CD-Host said,

    November 18, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    @Don

    The canon question is a political question. Obviously religions are free to choose a criteria and thereby choose a canon. The PCA bible is whatever the PCA says their bible is. That’s not a winnable debate. So I’m not going to try and address the issue of canon. I’m going to debate historical facts like what their status was. I can address the justifications but there is no way to in an opposition sense address the central question of canon.

    There are claims that the choice of the current canon is in some sense natural, and that was what I was disputing in #5. Having the author of Hebrews freely intermix a reference from 2 Maccabees in with a bunch of old testament references presents some evidence, I agree not definitive evidence but just some that he/she thinks of it like scripture.

    Another author who refers to 2Maccabees is John in 10:22 without Maccabees what is the Feast of the Dedication (i.e. what we today call Hanukkah). What’s interesting though if you look at the context 10:22-36 is that Jesus himself is drawing an analogy to the consecration of the Maccabees. John and John’s Jesus here seem to be treating the 2Macc like scripture.

    How many of these does it take before you are comfortable saying the NT treats the Maccabees as scripture? If the answer is 175, good ones like that, then we won’t get there. If it is 5 then you will.

    I think an even better answer is to just admit that the NT authors aren’t Protestant, don’t have a Protestant conception of canon at all, and thus you can never ask what the canon was during the 1st century because canon in the modern sense just didn’t exist until the debates starting in the 16th century. There are certainly collections of books of scripture that are older and the overwhelming majority of them that include most of what is in today’s OT include the deuterocanon.

    As for quote. there is kind of 3 meanings of the word “quote” when we talk about the bible:
    1) A comma, quotation marks offset block of text followed by a detailed reference — our modern standard. The NT has 0 of those for either the OT or the Apocrypha.

    2) A reference to scripture with heavy rewording. The way Matt 8:17 refers to Isaiah 53:4. There are similar types of references for the Apocrypha and that’s what I meant by “quote”.

    3) would be an assumption that one has read the story and accepted it. Romans 9:12 to Gen 25:23. And again there are plenty of those for the Apocrypha.

    If your point is that (2) or (3) shouldn’t be called a quote, I’m OK with that. I’m just saying we should apply the same standard to the Apocrypha as is applied to OT references. So if you want to reject (2) and (3) as “quotes” then the NT doesn’t quote the OT either.

  38. CD-Host said,

    November 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Bob S –

    Assume one were to use your 3 part standard which makes Hebrew an absolute must. Then why are Ezra 4:8-6:18, 7:12-26, Daniel 2:4-7:28 part of your canon?

  39. CD-Host said,

    November 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    @Cris –

    That would need to be authenticated by a direct discussion (anytime from 200BC to AD75) that sets the Greek translation of Hebrew Scriptures as more authoritative than the base texts in Hebrew. Pretty sure that kind of discussion never occurred

    What would the Greek speaking Jewish community mean by authoritative? They aren’t Protestants, they don’t have a concept of sola scriptura. For them, books (outside the Pentateuch) aren’t authoritative Rabbinic tradition and law is. I might learn a lot about the US from the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers but the authority is the human government not those accessory books. And that is precisely the way they would think about the question of authority. Asking what bible they consider authoritative is just as meaning as asking what the PCA’s position is on whether Brahmin generates Vishnu or Vishnu generates Brahmin.

    If you want to ask what bible they used, the overwhelming number of quotes and references from all sorts of Greek Jewish cults and sects show it was the LXX. The NT writings being comfortable among those that generally prefer the LXX over the Hebrew when they disagree.

    In any case if you want a good translation of the dispute when the church shifted back to the Hebrew: http://www.bible-researcher.com/vulgate2.html

  40. Don said,

    November 19, 2012 at 1:04 am

    CD-Host #37,
    Your abilities for eisegesis are stunning. It’s fair to say that Jesus seemed to accept the Feast of Dedication as legitimate, and that 2 Macc thus recorded historical events. But I have no idea how you jump from there to “treating the 2Macc like scripture” unless you willingly read that into the text.

    And if you’re wondering what I mean for “quote,” why not just read what I wrote in #29? If you want another example, stay in John 10 and look at verse 34. You can fit these into whichever of your three categories. Perhaps you understand by now that I do not consider a reference to a recording of a historical event, to be a quote. For example, Luke 3:38b obviously draws from, BUT IS NOT A QUOTE OF, Genesis 2:7.

    But you still seem to claim that there are “plenty of those” instances wherein the NT quotes the apocrypha, perhaps as directly as Romans 9:12 quotes Genesis 25:23. I would still welcome a list if you can provide it.

  41. CD-Host said,

    November 19, 2012 at 8:15 am

    @Don –

    But I have no idea how you jump from there to “treating the 2Macc like scripture” unless you willingly read that into the text

    What I said the consecration of the Maccabees is the analogy he draws. He’s not just attending the feast he is making reference to a historical / religious event and arguing he is the fulfillment of it. Jesus as the fulfillment of OT typology is one of the major Christian claims about Jesus and one of if not the primary reason Christians have the OT at all as holy books.

    Well I’ve posted two lists here. Everyone’s criteria is fairly idiosyncratic as I mentioned above. To use your counter example Luke in 3:38 is accepting the Genesis story of creation. If Luke 3:38 read something like Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was born of desire and spirit who was created by Brahma. then you would have a different theology and clearly Luke would be accepting some sort of Jewish / Hindu hybrid.

    So I think the criteria is a bit odd, but I agree everyone’s criteria is personal. If you are looking for doctrinal borrowing that is purely ahistorical: Romans 1:19-25 and Wisdom 12,13. Here you see clear cut borrowing of the entire “natural law” theme and phrasal borrowing like Wisdom 13:1 and Rom 1:21 with the notion that ignoring God’s law makes one “foolish”, not just disobedient or wicked as per the OT.

    If you want one that’s pithy, Jesus’ frequent use of the you can tell a tree by its fruits which is quoting Sirach 27:6.

  42. greenbaggins said,

    November 19, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Dennis, the short answer is that Scripture itself attests to its own authority, and we merely recognize that voice. So, the authority of determining the canon is in the canon itself. The reason this is not circular argumentation, of course, is that God’s voice of authority is in the Scripture. the authority originates outside the canon, and is “injected” into the canon by the authoritative voice of God. So, say, in a more informal way, we can always recognize the voice of authority when we hear it. “DUCK!” someone says. Even if we cannot see the speaker, we know that we need to duck to avoid something painful. The authority is there in the tone of expression and the command with which it is issued. The words of Scripture carry that kind of authority. You probably think that this is inadequate as an explanation of Scriptural authority, but it is quite adequate for Protestants. In our opinion, the authority of God needs no additional confirmation from humanity. For the church to think that it has that kind of authority is arrogant. I hear the Roman Catholic responding, “Yes, but God’s authority _has been_ delegated to the church.” This kind of claim is based on faulty readings of Scripture. We could go into those passages in great depth, and probably will in the future, but suffice it to say right now that Protestants do not believe that Roman Catholic exegesis of these passages is correct, and still less do we believe that it is what has always and everywhere been taught.

  43. CD-Host said,

    November 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Lane @42 –

    Lets say I were to grab 100 random members from your church.

    I give each of them 40 passages that are no less than 10 verses long:
    10 are from the Old Testament
    10 are from Babylonian writings
    both are translated the same way. So for example either tiamat (Gen 1:2) is translated as a goddess “Tiamat” or as a thing “watery deep” consistently for both texts.

    10 are from the New Testament
    10 are from Gnostic non biblical texts about Jesus
    both are translated the same way. So for example “pleroma” (a favorite of Paul’s) is translated consistently as “fullness” for both or as a Jewish / Christian Gnostic entity “Pleroma”.

    I don’t give them a bible and ask them individually to sort which 20 are from the bible from which 20 are not. Honestly, what percentage do you think would successfully sort? It wouldn’t shock me if the answer were 0%, it would shock me if even 5% got it right. I’ve seen a huge number of Christian ministers, even those with some biblical Greek, when confronted with a Pagels / Pearson translation of books like John or Paul into Gnostic language argue initially quite emphatically this isn’t the bible. The reason scripture seems self authenticating while non scripture does not is because of other cultural clues, like a KJV translation style, verse numbers…. Remove those and most ministers much less most general members can’t identify scripture.

    I don’t see how you could substantiate a claim of self authenticating if Reformed Christians from your very church can’t even do a basic identification exercise like this much less the much harder exercise of determining which books are “from God” and which are spurious. The history of the debate about the new testament canon shows that there were complex debates with smart people on both sides of specific questions and then over decades hard won compromises. This process of gradual inclusion/exclusion happened rather than a quick easy choice, because scripture is not self authenticating. The Catholics are right on this one.

  44. Bob S said,

    November 19, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    36 Dennis,
    In that you have repeatedly said your criteria for the truth is whatever points to Christ, fair enough. But then the question becomes whether or not all that was “written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning” Christ, which he explicitly appealed to in Lk.24:44, is contained in the Sadducee canon of the Pentateuch.

    As far as hate goes, you can’t quote my conclusion without dealing with the substance of the objections against Romanism and expect your charge to stand. Rather it reflects on your comprehension of the argument and competence to refute it.

    38 CD
    In that the Chaldean portions are embedded in the Hebrew OT text, the church has had no problem accepting the exception to the rule, much more the context dictates it. (After all we know atheism is true, because the Bible itself says “There is no God Ps.14:1″. )

    So we are still left with the little Greek problem of the Apocrypha and the NT quotes of the Apocrypha quotes of the OT.

    43 As for self authenticating, as far as I can tell, you deny historic orthodox Christianity in favor of gnosticism. So ultimately you’re not going to get it or find it persuasive.
    Which is the whole point of 1 Cor. 2:14:

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    That’s the real issue.

  45. Dennis said,

    November 19, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Lane,

    From what you’re saying, I don’t know how you can see lines like, When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of mortals with the hope that God will restore me to life; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”” (2 Maccabees 7: 14) and not think “DUCK” as this is clearly a type of Christ’s death and resurrection.

    The Church didn’t just choose books at random for Scripture and it didn’t use the method that you’re suggesting.

    Rather, they approached Scripture with the Mind of Christ. They who lived and ate with Jesus Christ, who knew all of His teachings. They knew His mindset. According to John 21:25, all the books in the world could not contain the teachings of Christ therefore, only SOME of Christ’s teachings made it into Scripture. So, for example, with the mind of Christ, they can read Paul’s third epistle to the Corinthians and reject it as it doesn’t fully fit into Christ’s teachings.

    http://www.interfaith.org/christianity/apocrypha-iii-corinthians/

    How would you be able to determine that Paul’s Third Epistle to the Corinthians is non-canonical? The only way you could is if you had the mindset of Christ. If you were taught by those who lived and worked closely with Him.

    So, the deuterocanon fully conforms to Christ’s mindset which is why the Church can read it and accept it as canonical. They don’t care if an alleged council in Jamnia accepted or rejected it as it doesn’t matter. They know because it fully conforms to Christ’s teachings.

    Paul’s third epistle to the Corinthians does not.

  46. CD-Host said,

    November 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    In that the Chaldean portions are embedded in the Hebrew OT text, the church has had no problem accepting the exception to the rule, much more the context dictates it.

    So then it isn’t a hard a fast rule. So besides being entirely arbitrary, why Hebrew over say Spanish the doctrine of inclusion applies. But of course the whole argument for the deuterocanonicals was inclusion, their inclusion in the LXX. So if the rule is “Hebrew unless included” then they meet that criteria.

    As for the quotes of the OT… I dealt with that above. But your own quote here of 1Cor2:14 BTW is a quote from the book of Wisdom. The OT doesn’t have the notion that disobedience to God makes one “foolish”, they may be wicked or otherwise disobedient but ignoring God making one “foolish” comes from the Apocrypha. So while you meant it as name calling, I’m going to enjoy the irony.

  47. Bob S said,

    November 20, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    46 CD
    Inclusion of the Greek apocrypha in the Greek translation of the OT is not the same as Chaldean quotes in specific books from the Hebrew OT. IOW if you want to compare apples to pineapples, go ahead, but you lost your audience and any claim to rational discourse.

    Irony?

    Wisdom 9:13 reads:

    For what man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is?

    1 Cor. 2:14 reads:

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Wait, this just in. The Book of Mormon belongs in the canon. Look, see, it quotes the Bible. It sounds holy and I just know it’s true.

    You’re in the wrong church, CD and you need to get baptized for all your dead relatives, pronto. Just make sure you don’t inhale when they dunk you.

  48. Bob S said,

    November 20, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Wait, this just in. No, really, the Book of Proverbs is apocryphal.

    Prov. 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    Oh, wait. “Fools” is not the same as “foolish”.
    Huh?

    Man, for a minute I was beginning to second guess myself. But Bryan Cross says it’s the word/concept fallacy, so that’s fine by me. Good thing I got enough fingers and toes to keep track of all this.

    IOW CD go back to your blog and keep dissing church discipline. There was no reason in the world why you would come under the same. Just keep repeating that to yourself and you will do fine in the alt world you live in.

    It’sallgood, it’sallgood, it’sallgoo. . . .

  49. CD-Host said,

    November 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Bob S –

    Your analogy would work if the bible made reference to the Book of Mormon.

    1Cor 2:16a τίς(who) γὰρ(for) ἔγνω (knew) νοῦν ([the] mind) κυρίου (of [the] lord),

    Isaiah 40:13a (from LXX) τίς (who) ἔγνω (knew) νοῦν (the mind) κυρίου (of [the] lord),

    The quote is Isaiah 40:13. But Paul’s reversing the meaning from Isaiah.

    40:13 Who comprehends the mind of the Lord,
    or gives him instruction as his counselor?
    40:14 From whom does he receive directions?
    Who teaches him the correct way to do things,
    or imparts knowledge to him,
    or instructs him in skillful design?

    It is the tie to wisdom that one does not know the plan unless you (God) has given wisdom and sent your holy spirt which is Wisdom 9
    (9:17 — Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom
    and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?)

    just like
    1Cor2:16c ἡμεῖς (we) δὲ (but) νοῦν([the] mind) Χριστοῦ (of Christ) ἐχομεν (have).

    That’s what the list meant by that reference to Wisdom 9.I meant Wisdom 13, the play on foolishness I addressed in the last comment.

  50. Don said,

    November 21, 2012 at 12:07 am

    CD-Host #41,

    First of all, I have no idea what point you think you’re making by bringing up “Brahma.” The only thing that’s idiosyncratic is your apparent refusal to understand the normal definition of “quote.”

    Romans 1 and Wisdom 13: Similar? yes. Quotation? no. Borrowed? who knows? The “natural law” theme wasn’t invented in Wisdom. The similar themes don’t extend long enough to establish any real case for direct influence (unlike, say, the second half of Wisdom 13 coming from Isaiah 44).

    And finally, yet sadly unpithily,

    Sirach 27:6 – “A tree’s fruit reveals how well it has been cultivated.
    In the same way, reasoning makes plain a person’s thoughts.”

    Luke 6:43-45 – ““A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, nor does a bad tree produce good fruit. Each tree is known by its own fruit. People don’t gather figs from thorny plants, nor do they pick grapes from prickly bushes. A good person produces good from the good treasury of the inner self, while an evil person produces evil from the evil treasury of the inner self. The inner self overflows with words that are spoken.”

    Did you even read these for yourself? THIS IS NOT A QUOTE. The point of the two analogies is basically distinct, unless you equate “a person’s thoughts” with whether they are a “good person” or “evil person,” which seems to be a stretch. Even the basic imagery, of the quality of the tree, is not presented the same way: Sirach deals with the way the tree was cultivated, Luke with whether the tree itself is inherently good or bad.

  51. CD-Host said,

    November 21, 2012 at 7:49 am

    @Don 50

    The only thing that’s idiosyncratic is your apparent refusal to understand the normal definition of “quote.”

    I think I have. The definition right out of the dictionary, “to repeat a passage from especially in substantiation or illustration”.

    First of all, I have no idea what point you think you’re making by bringing up “Brahma.”

    The one I made in context. you used Luke 3:38 as an example. I changed the list to point that the list in Genesis is being repeated.

    The “natural law” theme wasn’t invented in Wisdom.

    OK that’s a strong claim. Where do you see it being invented?

    CD: If you are looking for doctrinal borrowing that is purely ahistorical… Jesus’ frequent use of the you can tell a tree by its fruits which is quoting Sirach 27:6.

    Don: Did you even read these for yourself? THIS IS NOT A QUOTE. The point of the two analogies is basically distinct,

    I said it was doctrinal borrowing that was ahistorical. You were objecting to any sort of doctrinal borrowing which were “historical” (in particular the Maccabees references) and that’s what I was responding to. Showing examples of a doctrine from Jesus that was from Apocrypha. Nor did I say the analogies made the same point. I said the idea that you knew the nature of a tree by its fruits and in the same way you knew the nature of a person by his characteristics is from Sirach. That’s a rather extensive borrowed metaphor with doctrinal content.

    I don’t disagree with you that Jesus is using it to make a different point than Sirach does. Jesus could have used any number of analogies to make that comparison with people and their characteristics: a wheel and its tracks, a grape and its wine, a sword and the blood it draws, an outhouse and its smell but he picked a fruit and its tree.

    “all the world’s a computer chip and the people in it merely electrons” and “people are actors in a giant performance, they play different parts come on and come off” are both quotes of Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage..”. Though in both examples I’m making substantial changes. In the first I’m changing all the nouns but leaving the structure intact. In the second I’m changing all the words and leaving the theme intact.

    Note that in context I was contrasting this passage where there word for word borrowings like “edge of the sword” but lacking thematic borrowing.

    _____

    Don I’m using the same standard for “quote” that Christians use with respect to the old testament. Why don’t you give a definition of quote that allows:

    Matth 2:15 to be a quote of Hosea 11:1
    Matth 2:18 to be a quote of Jeremiah 31:15
    Matthew 4:6 and Psalms 91:11,12

    in each of those cases you have word substitutions, tense changes in verbs, word order changes, context changes… You want to say none of those are quotes, but rather paraphrases then fine, but that’s an unusual strict definition in a Christian context. In a 21st copyright case, absolutely you would be that strict but modern standards are based on a written culture and ancient standards on an oral and they were different. I’m using the standard Christians commonly use when they talk about “quoting” which is loose. There’s not much I can say if you want to demand written standards other than it throws out most of the places where Matthew, Paul, Peter, Luke claim to be quoting.

  52. Bob S said,

    November 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    49 CD
    The analogy to the Book of Mormon is if you can cobble together any kind of argument so can anybody else.

    But wait, Wisdom 9:13 is a quote of Is. 44:13.
    So what?
    Your argument at best is that the Apocrypha quotes the Hebrew OT as does the NT, if not that it is incoherent.
    (But wait, the Book of Mormon quotes the Bible . . .)

    Isaiah 40:13,14 Who comprehends the mind of the Lord,
    or gives him instruction as his counselor?
    From whom does he receive directions? Who teaches him the correct way to do things, or imparts knowledge to him, or instructs him in skillful design?

    Wisdom 9:17 — Who has learned thy counsel, unless thou hast given wisdom and sent thy holy Spirit from on high?

    1 Cor. 2:16  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

    Again 1 Cor. 2:14, not 2:16: 

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Guess who?

    WCF I:VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical [Matt. 5:18];

    Authentical. Not apocryphal, of which WCF I:III says:

    The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings [Lk.24:27,Rom . 3:2, 2 Pet.1:21]

    cheers

  53. andrew said,

    November 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    CD Host -

    i) Do you know of any links explaining the Maccabean context of John 10 (or Maccabean background in general? I am not seeing it, but that is probably my dimness. I would be happy, for example, to see a parallel between the temple cleansing(s) and Hanukah, and Judas Macc. is a hero of mine.

    ii) Would you argue that such parallels go beyond acknowledging that the Maccabean time was an important time in Isreal’s history, perhaps even with redemptive signifigance? They would hardly imply inspiration of certain texts recording those episodes

    iii) If I understand others here aright, the issue is not the ‘looseness’ of the quotation, but showing that a quotation is intended – i.e prefaced by ‘as it is written’, ‘have ye not read’

  54. andrew said,

    November 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Assorted Protestants -

    I was singing Ps 74 in church the other night, and wondered what we are to make of it. Two points stood out:

    i) The psalm seems to describe a time when the temple is defiled, and (v.9) when there is no prophet. This does not sit easily with the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians, since the place was coming down with prophets then. Could it refer to Maccabean times?

    ii) Lets assume the psalm is from canonical times, how do we maintain the inspiration of this psalm and the absense of any prophet at the time of its writting (v9)?

    Perhaps we can draw a distinction between prophecy and inspired writing of praise or history. Unfortunately that appears to scupper appealing to Maccabees’ references to a lack of a prophet to disprove their inspiration (see comments 10, 21,22).

  55. Don said,

    November 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    CD-Host #51,

    “to repeat a passage from especially in substantiation or illustration”.

    I don’t see anything about “sound sort of like” or “possibly allude to” or “use similar imagery as” in this definition. If you could actually stick to your own definition we wouldn’t need this argument.

    Your “all the world’s a computer chip, and the people in it merely electrons” is not even a quote of Shakespeare. It obviously draws from it (or alludes to it, if you prefer), but is not a quote. Properly, I think it should be called satire or parody. If I were to say, “The whole world’s a computer chip, because everything is programmed and no one has free will,” then would you call that a quote? It uses a few of the same words and makes more or less the same point, but a quote? How could you ever tell?

    Your Matthew examples, let’s see what they say. “This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet;” “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah;” “for it is written.” Why do I think these are quotes? Because they say they are! The New Testament nowhere says that it is quoting anything from the Apocrypha! If there are allusions or shared imagery or references to events recorded in the Apocrypha, it is because this is the religious and cultural environment in which the NT was written (and of course both draw upon the OT), not because the Apocrypha deserve canonical status. And it’s not like the NT is afraid that quoting would give the Apocrypha too much clout; in several locations Paul explicitly (and positively) quotes pagan writers.

    I’ll yet refrain from saying that the NT never quotes the Apocrypha, since someone might still come up with some examples thereof. But it is clear that the NT never explicitly references the Apocrypha in any manner, let alone approaches it as it approaches the authority of the OT (“it is written…”). And it is clear that your original claim that “the NT quotes them so heavily” (#6) is completely unsubstantiated.

  56. CD-Host said,

    November 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Hi Don –

    Let’s start with an area of agreement before I jump into the many areas of disagreement.

    If there are allusions or shared imagery or references to events recorded in the Apocrypha, it is because this is the religious and cultural environment in which the NT was written

    Yes exactly! Apocrypha / deuterocanonical are a collection of religious writings from Hellenized Judaism from at or a little after 200 BCE. In other words they document the culture / religion that in another generation would become Hellenistic Judaism. Hellenistic Judaism is really important because this is the group that Christianity evolved out of.

    So, yes, yes. Absolutely. That’s what is important that these books represent an early phase of the religious and cultural environment for the writers of the New Testament. If you read the original post what I was arguing against was that these were rejected books, the way modern Protestant might think of the Book of Mormon. Rather they are on more on par with how modern Protestants might think of Luther’s Bondage of the Will or Calvin’s Institutes. They are for the New Testament authors part of their religious heritage.

    not because the Apocrypha deserve canonical status

    Which is part of the problem here. There are 3 very different topics being discussed.

    a) Are the Deuterocanonicals referenced / quoted in the New Testament? Which is a question of literary analysis.

    b) What was the religious status of the Deuterocanonicals? Which is a question of secular history.

    c) Should modern day Protestants include the Deuterocanonicals in their canon? Which is mainly a political question.

    There are certain factual issues we are debating about (a) and (b) which have some bearing on (c). But ultimately it is my belief that even if I 100% converted you to my way of thinking on (a) and (b) you wouldn’t necessarily answer (c) with “yes the deuterocanonicals should be part of my canon”. You might very well decided they shouldn’t be. I happen to think the entire canon question is a really hard one if it is approached in a fair way. What I don’t think can be maintained are positions like:

    i) That the NT doesn’t make frequent reference / allusion / quote of them.

    ii) That primitive Christians did not use the LXX as their bible, and that this bible did not include the deuterocanonicals. Note that I’m not saying that primitive Christians had the same view of modern Christians (particularly Protestants) when it came to scripture. I suspect they almost all had a Jewish attitude and conflating the Jewish concept of canon with the Protestant theology of the canon is a major hinderance here.

    iii) That these books were rejected by the group of Jews Christians should be interested in, the Hellenistic Jews.

    Just as the OT represents proto-Christianity at 600 BCE, the Deuterocanonicals represent proto-Christianity at 200 BCE. And there is real and substantial development there. Whether you want to make that part of your canon, that’s a bit up in the air. Clearly Protestant sects that have rejected the deuterocanonicals have been rather successful and seem to be well on their way to overtaking Catholicism as the dominant form of Christianity on this planet.

    What I think is really key here is to understand is that the deuterocanonicals don’t represent is proto-Judaism at 200 BCE because that branch of Judaism that embraced the deuterocanonicals is not the one that became modern day Judaism. Hellenistic Judaism, dies off. It has successful children that go onto thrive but by 134 CE, Hellenistic Judaism as a Judaism is at a dead end.

    So I’m going to respond in the next thread to the areas of disagreement, but to be honest this agreement I see as a major step forward. Because once you are willing to start asking the much more, to my mind, serious question: how did Hellenistic Jews view the deuterocanonicals? Then we can start talking in Jewish categories and not Christian categories and the whole thing becomes clearer.

  57. CD-Host said,

    November 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Andrew @53

    i) Do you know of any links explaining the Maccabean context of John 10 (or Maccabean background in general? I am not seeing it, but that is probably my dimness. I would be happy, for example, to see a parallel between the temple cleansing(s) and Hanukah, and Judas Macc. is a hero of mine.

    There’s not all that much to see beyond the surface stuff. Any long biblical commentary from a community that uses the deuterocanonicals like Gill has it. I’d say Raymond Brown’s from the Anchor bible commentary has the best treatment.

    Here is the idea briefly.

    1 Maccabees 4:59 Then Judas, with his brothers and all the assembly of Israel, laid down a law that every year at that season the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and happiness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of Kislev.
    (Similarly 2Macc 10).

    That’s the feast the of dedication that Jesus is at (John 10:22). The feats of renewal. τὰ ἐγκαίνια . Now the one place in the book of John that Jesus is ever asked directly if he is the messiah the one to renew Israel is John 10:24, during the very festival initiated by the last set of great Jewish kings who had renewed the temple that is to say consecrated it. If you look at verse John 10:36 you can see that Jesus then uses the idea of consecration about himself, that is identifying himself as the agent of renewal. This is typical of the way John multilayers the symbolism for Jesus throughout the gospel.

    ii) Would you argue that such parallels go beyond acknowledging that the Maccabean time was an important time in Isreal’s history, perhaps even with redemptive signifigance? They would hardly imply inspiration of certain texts recording those episodes.

    I’m not sure how you would determine if a text is “inspired”? I think it is fair to say that the attitude towards the LXX by the NT authors was probably almost uniform, excluding the pentateuch. The pentateuch is at the very heart of Judaism, it sits at an entirely different level than the rest of the OT for NT authors.

    Certainly a book like Wisdom was less universally accepted than a book like Joel and the NT authors would be aware of that. In much the same way that if I were to quote Wesley you would feel free to reject it, if I were to quote Calvin you would be less free, if I were to quote WCF less free and if I were to quote Paul you wouldn’t feel free at all.

    But by the same token even though you consider Institutes to be an incredibly important work and might freely quote from it here on GreenBaggins if you were say talking to me when I was an Arminian Baptist you wouldn’t be shocked that I didn’t recognize it as authoritative at all, even while I was perfectly willing to consider it extremely historically important. You have to remember there is roughly as much chronological distance between Paul and the later books of the OT as between you and Calvin and between Paul and Wisdom more like the distance between you and Charles Hodge. I can bike from my house and see artifacts from the American revolution; in the same way the Maccabees are politicians who helped form the society Paul lives in not simply religious for him.

    iii) If I understand others here aright, the issue is not the ‘looseness’ of the quotation, but showing that a quotation is intended – i.e prefaced by ‘as it is written’, ‘have ye not read’

    That’s a good point! And looking back on it you may be clarifying a crucial point here. For example I use the word “zany” in a sentence I’m not intending to quote Shakespeare even though I am. Shakespeare invented 1700 commonly used words in English, there is probably no book written on any subject in the English language in the last 300 years that doesn’t include a Shakespeare quote. Just as to write in English is to write in a way influenced by Shakespeare, to write about a Jewish topic in Greek during the 1st century CE is to write in a way influenced by by the deuterocanonicals and to quote them, it is unavoidable.

    That’s why I don’t consider the point that the NT quotes the deuterocanonicals to even be much of a contestable fact. An American Presbyterian writing a book on religion is going to unavoidably quote Shakespeare, that doesn’t mean he considers Shakespeare to be part of the canon.

  58. Don said,

    November 22, 2012 at 2:18 am

    CD-Host #56-57,
    I thought we were finally getting somewhere? In 56 generally, and 57 specifically about Hanukkah, you provide some useful background about the environment in which the Apocrypha developed. I’m not entirely sure why you sound surprised early in 56, since no one here is claiming they didn’t exist or had no influence in first century CE Judaism. … Oh, unless you think that “rejected” in the original post means “didn’t accept as truth or never ever read” rather than “rejected from the canon,” which is pretty clearly from context the correct reading.

    Anyway, it’s interesting and historically important to learn the Jewish attitudes at this time toward the Apocrypha. Well, the Sadducees rejected everything but the Torah, so we know that at least.

    Aaaaand then we’re off the rails again. Suddenly, late in 57, you define quote as “coincidentally use the same words as.” Really? Really? You’re obviously not so dull as to not understand what what “quote” means, especially since you have supplied a number of proposed definitions. If you’re trying to make a joke, or be zany even (see what I did?), then the humor is pretty concealed. All I can figure is that you’re inventing definitions in a desperate attempt to create any support for your contention that the NT ever quotes the Apocrypha. I don’t know if you’re consciously shifting the goalposts, but the fact that you’re doing so is pretty transparent. At this rate, your next definition of quote will be “write in a language with approximately the same number of letters in its alphabet.”

  59. CD-Host said,

    November 22, 2012 at 8:44 am

    @ Don –

    OK I think we definitely are just disagreeing on what quote means, in English. So I comfortably count say Paul’s armor allusion Eph 6:10-7 to count for Wisdom 5:16-9 and you don’t. But you would if Paul changed nothing about his language, but had made it more explicit he was intending to quote, I’m assuming based on the Matthew dialogue.

    Well then let me propose a compromise:

    The New Testament is loaded with allusions to the deuterocanonical they litter the text. There are even a few word for word snippets. But there are 0 places where a large body of text is grabbed and explicitly referenced as a quote from scripture.

    I can live with that.

    Oh, unless you think that “rejected” in the original post means “didn’t accept as truth or never ever read” rather than “rejected from the canon,” which is pretty clearly from context the correct reading.

    Take a look at Bob’s post. Yes he was arguing they were rejected as true.

    As for “rejected from the canon”. I don’t think that is true. First off there was no Jewish canon. Jews even today don’t have the same concept of canon as Protestants do. If my canon Jews meant the same thing Protestants do, the binding collection of authoritative works from which the rest of the religion is derived they would include the Mishnah in the canon. Pentateuch, Mishnah, Gemara are the closest equivalents in modern Judaism to the Protestant concept of canon. The Tanakh (old testament) does not play that role.

    But if we ask what was the first century canon things get murky. The first question is we have writings from non-Christian Hellenistic Jews that had influence on Christianity (like Philo) that are explicit on this issue.

    Let me give you an analogy. The PCA / Greenbaggins group has a testy relationship with mainstream Evangelicals. You are freely critical of their theological errors, their worship patterns, their religious literature their ministers. Similarly they often view you all as being mean, impractical, closed off. But neither you nor the evangelicals want to sever the relationship, and consider one another to be alien sects. No one likes the tension, but no one wants to get divorced to resolve the tension.

    That’s the relationship between the Pharisaic faction and Hellenistic Judaism. Pharisees were willing to accept the deuterocanonicals along with dozens more books of Greek Jewish literature as valid religious books, but ultimately they did not consider Hellenistic Judaism to be a proper form of Judaism. Hellenistic Jews might rail against Pharisees (Aramaic speaking) but they were not willing to take strong action that would make themselves a different religion. And unlike say Mormons, they understand that unilaterally introducing holy books is a major step in that direction.

    So the Hellenistic Jewish community, which was the largest community of Jews, had an effective canon which was the LXX but they did not have a formal canon. The Pharisees didn’t have a canon (Jewish sense) at all, but mostly were in agreement with the LXX canons (there was more than one LXX list of books) and if they had had one this was pretty close to what they would have had. There were disagreements on the more modern works. Both sides this was a touchy issue that could split the religion, i.e. not be a fight but a divorce and neither wanted a divorce.

    So for example Philo writes whole books based on Wisdom, clearly treating it as scripture but never ever ever goes that last step and explicitly calls Wisdom scripture. The same way modern Presbyterians might write whole books based on Calvin but never ever ever quotes Calvin as scripture.

    This BTW is the Catholic position on the matter. Catholics freely acknowledge that the Alexandrian canon (the LXX canon) during the 1st century had lesser status to what would become the Hebrew canon and the Hebrew canon had lesser status than the Pentateuch. There wasn’t a black and white canon / non-canon when Christianity formed. The later canon of the Tenakh that forms after Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd century that Protestants adopted was created in a world in which Hellenistic Judaism mostly didn’t exist.

    So no they were not “rejected”. Had they been rejected Hellenistic Judaism would most likely have broken away from Pharisaic Judaism entirely. And in point of fact the rejection of Greek religious literature by Pharisaic Jews in the 2nd and 3rd century was both a cause and an effect of Christianity ceasing to be a form of Judaism and becoming a fully separate religion.

    In short a lot less black and white, and a lot more grey.

  60. Bob S said,

    November 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    56
    Which is part of the problem here. There are 3 very different topics being discussed.

    a) Are the Deuterocanonicals referenced / quoted in the New Testament? Which is a question of literary analysis.

    b) What was the religious status of the Deuterocanonicals? Which is a question of secular history.

    c) Should modern day Protestants include the Deuterocanonicals in their canon? Which is mainly a political question.

    Just like that with the wave of a wand dictate to the P&R what they are to believe and how to arbitrarily frame the question. Nice gig if you can get it.

    Rather the question is whether or not the Greek apocrypha is inspired.
    No doubt, other factors enter in, but it is at bottom a theological, if not spiritual question.

    And in all the latest blather, CD only comes down on both sides of the fence. Slick.

    Regardless, the original post was all about the fact that the Jews of the day when the apocrypha was written did not recognize it as belonging to the Hebrew Scriptures – regardless of whether or not they were later included in the Greek translation of those Hebrew Scriptures or whether they are helpful in understanding the period between the testaments.

    And no amount of special pleading is going to change that, which is what this has been all about ever since CD first started spamming the combox.

    cheers,

  61. Don said,

    November 23, 2012 at 4:06 am

    CD-Host #59,
    Now you’re just making stuff up.

    Take a look at Bob’s post. Yes he was arguing they were rejected as true.

    Do you mean #18, where he says “Nobody denies that the Greek apocrypha are not interesting or helpful to read, but they are not inspired as the Hebrew texts were. WCF 1:8″?

    So I comfortably count say Paul’s armor allusion Eph 6:10-7 to count for Wisdom 5:16-9 and you don’t. But you would if Paul changed nothing about his language, but had made it more explicit he was intending to quote

    I’d be comfortable with this if the meanings of the various pieces of armor were not all entirely different between Wisdom and Ephesians, with the sole exception of “breastplate of righteousness” which is a quote of Isaiah 59, and if there were more than 50% overlap between the two lists. If you want to think that Paul picked up the idea for the armor illustration from Wisdom, then you’re entitled, but you really don’t have anything more to go on than a guess.

    As for “rejected from the canon”. I don’t think that is true. First off there was no Jewish canon.

    Technically, this may be accurate, as “canon” is a Christian concept, but you’re obscuring the truth that the Jews did definitely make a distinction between sacred and nonsacred texts. The Pharisees and Sadducees expended tremendous efforts arguing over them. Furthermore, your allegation that the Pharisees accepted the LXX with the Apocrypha is contradicted by Josephus.

    I won’t even blockquote your severely confused analogy of Philo, Calvin, et al. If Philo quoted Wisdom just like modern Presbyterians quote Calvin, then your point should be that Philo did NOT consider Wisdom to be scriptural.

    The New Testament is loaded with allusions to the deuterocanonical they litter the text. There are even a few word for word snippets. But there are 0 places where a large body of text is grabbed and explicitly referenced as a quote from scripture.

    I’d agree with this if you changed “loaded with” to “contains numerous,” drop the “litter the text” nonsense and also change “a large body of” to “any.” Also the “from scripture” is unnecessary.

    The fact is that the NT does a better job of quoting texts that nobody ever thought was canonical (Assumption of Moses, Epimenides, etc.) than it does of quoting the Apocrypha.

  62. CD-Host said,

    November 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Hi Don hoped you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

    Technically, this may be accurate, as “canon” is a Christian concept, but you’re obscuring the truth that the Jews did definitely make a distinction between sacred and nonsacred texts.

    Again you are confusing Protestant notions with Jewish notions. A torah written in book form by Jewish Publican Society, in Hebrew is not a sacred text. A torah scroll carefully constructed following detailed rules is a sacred text, even though it is the exact same words as the one published by the JPS. Haftorah (the non torah parts of the OT read in Jewish synagogues) are tossed in a book by a publishing house quite often using gentiles to run the press. You accidentally drop a haftorah or a printed torah, no big deal. You accidentally drop a torah, you do acts of contrition and penance. You deliberately drop a torah you are excommunicated. I’d have to check but I’m not even sure that a text in and of itself can be sacred.

    There are no Protestants in the 1st century. 0 people shared your notion of canon. Freely intermixing the notion of sacred and questions about canon status is Protestantism not Judaism.

    The current Jewish canon in order of importance is: Torah, Mishnah, Talmud, Aggadah. Note that all OT books except the pentateuch don’t even make the list. So if we are going to talk in Jewish terms the OT is called the Tanakh. The word Tanakh is an abbreviation for:
    Torah (pentateuch, first 5 books of Christian bible)
    Nevi’im (prophetic writings)
    Katuvim (later writings)

    That is it is simple nothing more than a short hand for 3 classes of works that are published together that ALONG WITH THE MISHNAH represent the earliest jewish writings.

    So Bob in particular: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HEBREW CANON. IT DOESN’T EXIST. THESE WERE 3 SEPARATE CLASSES OF WORKS. THEY WERE ALWAYS TREATED AS 3 SEPARATE CLASSES OF WORKS, AND THEY STILL ARE TREATED AS 3 SEPARATE CLASSES OF WORKS BY JEWS. THE PEOPLE WHO LATER CAME TO THINK OF THEM AS ONE CLASS OF WORKS WERE THE CHRISTIANS AND THOSE CHRISTIANS USED THE LXX AND SO INCLUDED A FOURTH CLASS.

    The debate Hellenistic Jews and Pharisaic Jews were having was
    on two issues:

    a) whether the LXX was Mikra, that is whether the LXX could be legitimately read in synagogues or not. The Pharisaic group felt you could not change prayers the Hellenists felt that more contemporary writings that were understandable in languages people spoke would be better (and yes this is perfectly analogous to the missional debates today). Other groups of Jews who spoke Aramaic but didn’t know Hebrew were similarly experimenting and that’s where the Targums came from.

    And BTW what can be read, what is legitimate for prayer in synagogue and what is authoritative are not the same things. Mishnah is unquestionably authoritative, the structure of synagogue worship is in the Mishnah, but the Mishnah itself is not read as part of a synagogue service. The idea of unifying these categories is Protestantism not Judaism. Neither the Hellenistic nor the Palestinian Jews thought in these terms.

    b) whether the later books in the LXX could be considered Katuvim or whether they constituted a 4th class all by themselves. Palestinian Jews then and the Jews running around today who are descended from them, don’t reject these books. They reject that they should be conjoined with the Katuvim.

    c) Whether it was acceptable to read the Tanakh primarily in Greek translation.

    In the Gemara written hundreds of years after there were no more Hellenistic Jews we see references to the Greek Book of Ezra, Book of Baruch, Prayer of Manasses as Jewish works. Those additional books in the LXX are today seen rather fondly as a gift and a guide to Hellenistic Judaism. While they are not by any stretch of the imagination core to Judaism today they are still considered part of the Jewish literary heritage, and are still referenced if no better references exist. In exactly the same way that Kabbalah, which are in fashion since Madonna got into them, are considered a class of work and are referenced on their areas.

    Accusing me of making stuff up when you are fabricating an entire history of a bunch of 1st century Protestant running around thinking in Protestant categories a theology that never existed is a bit much.

  63. CD-Host said,

    November 23, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Don @61 (con) –

    won’t even blockquote your severely confused analogy of Philo, Calvin, et al. If Philo quoted Wisdom just like modern Presbyterians quote Calvin, then your point should be that Philo did NOT consider Wisdom to be scriptural.

    You should have. Because the nice thing about Philo is we know for sure what he thought because we have his writings. And we have responses to his writings. So lets cut to the chase with Philo:

    Holy Scriptures — translation from Hebrew. Paul uses this term in places like Romans 1:2. Philo uses this for teaching that are explicated in writing. So it would include all of the LXX. He contrasts this with Oral Teaching which are what is not written but passed down from teacher to pupil.

    closer to what you probably mean are
    τὰ βιβλία (Holy Books) — which he included Tobit explicitly. The term itself comes from Sirach’s καὶ τὰ λΟιπὰ τῶν βιβλίων and καὶ τῶν ἄλλων πατρίων βιβλίων.

    closer to what you want him to mean is
    Baraita which Aramaic for outside-Mishnah. This is everything but the standard list.

    “Those books that render the hands unclean” — We don’t know what this means. It had something to do with the priests and what they weren’t allowed to do. It is a positive term even though it doesn’t sound like it in English. This does not include the deuterocanonicals

    “”that which is read” (still used today) which means scripture as it used. That would include the deuterocanonicals.

    Inspired works / profane works — Inspired here would include the deuterocanonicals. Inspired works same term as 2Tim 3:16.

    He also uses the term Books from (Dan 9:2) Which is the closest thing to “sacred writings”. These lists we have from many Jews and they are huge and they vary. So they would include the deuterocanonicals.

    Quoting as scripture the deuterocanonicals — never. He did not want Hellenistic Judaism to take unilateral actions like that.

    ____

    And I think you might want to reread the analogy. Because the message of all this is that Philo, Hellenistic Jews, and the authors of the NT did not share your affinity for sharp lines between scriptural and non scriptural. I understand how vital sharp lines are when you have a doctrine of sola scriptura; but none of those groups had that position. So they could be fuzzy the same way, Jews, Catholics, the Orthodox, Mormons… can be today. By trying to impose a Protestant way of thinking on Jewish debates you distort history.

    Finally on canon (since I looked all this other stuff up):

    Philo never uses κανών (canon= straight rod ).
    We have later Jews who are followers of Philo who use the term γραΦαὶ κανονικαί (canonical writings) and some of them both do include and exclude deuterocanonicals along with other books. Those groups are often referring to this in relations to Christians, and Judaism today considers γραΦαὶ κανονικαί to be a term borrowed from Christianity.

    So as far as I can tell, there is no debate among Jews that any notion of canon was one they got from Christians. Debates about the canon were debates about what books should be in various 2nd century version of LXX along with how to translate various ideas. So in other words as far as early 2nd century Judaism is concerned “canon” seems to mean: books in a translation and how to to translate. Which is not what Christians will mean by this term in the later 2nd century.

    By the later 2nd century though Hellenistic Judaism is rapidly dying and Rabbinic Judaism has taken over, the greek writings are relegated to a lesser class and the LXX survives as an exclusively Christian book.

  64. Don said,

    November 24, 2012 at 12:59 am

    CD-Host 62 said,

    Freely intermixing the notion of sacred and questions about canon status is Protestantism not Judaism

    …which is in contrast to the Jewish Encyclopedia:

    The Greek word κανών, meaning primarily a straight rod, and derivatively a norm or law, was first applied by the church fathers (not earlier than 360) to the collection of Holy Scriptures, and primarily to those of the so-called Old Testament. But although the older Jewish literature has no such designation for the Biblical books, and it is doubtful whether the word was ever included in the rabbinical vocabulary, it is quite certain that the idea expressed by the designation “canonical writings” (γραΦαὶ κανονικαί), both as including and as excluding certain books, is of Jewish origin.

    So as I said, “canon” is, strictly, a Christian term, so the question of the original post doesn’t quite line up to the question that Second Temple Judaism would ask. Nevertheless, there was a well-developed concept and, importantly, and on-going question of which books were “in” or “out”–effectively a question of canon tho it was not phrased as such.

    You’ve written a lot about the history of the issue, and how various Jewish sects disagreed, etc., and I thank you for those efforts. But all of this leads me to conclude that the early church grew mainly out of the faction of Judaism which would be most sympathetic to the Apocrypha. Meaning that the lack of attention paid to the Apocrypha by the NT authors was not for lack of opportunity.

    Miscellanea:

    Accusing me of making stuff up when you are fabricating an entire history of a bunch of 1st century Protestant running around thinking in Protestant categories a theology that never existed is a bit much.

    If you want, you can show me where I’m “fabricating” any history. But in 59 you said

    Take a look at Bob’s post. Yes he was arguing they were rejected as true.

    If you want to provide a number for the alleged post where Bob says anything like this, then I’ll be quick to apologize and glad to retract what I said. But Bob said nothing like this, and basically the opposite in #18.

    And I think you might want to reread the analogy. Because the message of all this is that Philo, Hellenistic Jews, and the authors of the NT did not share your affinity for sharp lines between scriptural and non scriptural.

    Here’s your analogy, prefaced by “Philo…clearly treat[ed] Wisdom as scripture.”
    Philo:Wisdom::Modern Presbyterians:Calvin
    So first you say that Philo treated Wisdom as scripture, then he didn’t since Presbys don’t treat Calvin as scripture, then he didn’t make such sharp distinctions. Well, which is it?
    If you’ve had conversations with the NT authors on their view of the canon, then don’t hold back, let us know! Otherwise, you can explain why two of them quoted Jesus saying, in effect, that the Scriptures ended at II Chronicles.

  65. CD-Host said,

    November 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    @Don 64

    So as I said, “canon” is, strictly, a Christian term, so the question of the original post doesn’t quite line up to the question that Second Temple Judaism would ask. Nevertheless, there was a well-developed concept and, importantly, and on-going question of which books were “in” or “out”–effectively a question of canon tho it was not phrased as such.

    I understand the claim. I’m disagreeing that you can map the Protestant concept of canon to the Jewish canons. The Christian concept is as you put it “in or out” while the Jewish concept is “in or out for purpose X” which is very very different. More or point for this debate it is much more nuanced.

    . But all of this leads me to conclude that the early church grew mainly out of the faction of Judaism which would be most sympathetic to the Apocrypha.

    Absolutely. If you read my original post #6 on this thread that was position I was taking.

    I think that’s a fair way to put it, “that Christianity arose out the Jewish faction that is most sympathetic.” Agree completely.

    Now let me build on that:
    b) Throughout the first few centuries of Christianity it made use of the LXX which included the deuterocanonical (modulo the small differences in book lists between the various LXXs).

    c) As soon as they started translating they translated the deutercanicals. For example Mss 195-218 from some of the oldest Vetus Latina (“Old Latin” pre Jerome Vulgate) are Maccabees 1-2. The books of the deuterocanonicals are intermixed with the Hebrew books. So a typical 3rd century Latin Old Testament would break the chapters something like:

    1 Church prolog:
    2 Genesis
    3 Exodus, Leviticus
    4 Numeri, Deuteronomium, Josue, Judicum, Ruth
    5 1-4 Regum
    6 1-2 Paralipomenon, Esdras, Nehemias, 3-4 Esdras
    7 Tobit, Judith, Hester
    8 Job
    9 Psalmi
    10 Proverbia, Ecclesiastes, Canticum Canticorum
    11 Sapientia, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
    12 Esaias
    13 Jeremias (Lamentationes, Baruch)
    14 Daniel, XII Prophetae
    15 I-II Macchabaeorum

    d) When the church finally publishes a standard translation into Latin i.e. does something other than just inherit the LXX from the Jews in an official way they include the deuterocanonicals

    e) Various church committees publish more or less the same list and various bibles contain more or less the same list. (3 books appear in bibles rather consistently but not in the official canon all through the middle ages).

    A Christian reconstructionist can throw this all out. But I have a hard time seeing how a Calvinist can. It is not just the Hellenistic Jews but everyone from 200 BCE to Luther’s translation who was sympathetic to the deuterocanonicals.

    Meaning that the lack of attention paid to the Apocrypha by the NT authors was not for lack of opportunity

    My feeling on the matter is you are applying a different standard. The NT seems far more contiguous with the deuterocanonicals than with the OT. A good example is the armor analogy. I see the far more similarity between Paul’s armor metaphor and the one in the book of Wisdom than I do between most of the OT quotes about Jesus as the messiah which seem bitterly out of context, and completely contrary to the meaning. That being said we’ve gone back and forth on this enough. You think I’m stretching the point and I think you aren’t using a consistent standard. You find it unconvincing and other than retreading the same ground I’m not sure where to go from here.

    So noting I’m disputing this and moving on.

    So first you say that Philo treated Wisdom as scripture, then he didn’t since Presbys don’t treat Calvin as scripture, then he didn’t make such sharp distinctions. Well, which is it?

    Good question. And one that illuminates my point above. I think Presbys do treat Institutes as scripture in the Jewish sense but don’t treat it as scripture in the Christian sense.

    Take a look at Bob S #52 post to me. He’s quoting the WCF as authoritative. The WCF doesn’t prove anything it merely repeats his assertions, but the usage clearly implies that I’m supposed to treat the WCF’s assertions with deference even though I’d openly indicated those assertions contradict the evidence. And the reason he can do that is because in his religious community, the WCF has the authority to command the individual conscience. Now that doesn’t mean the Bob S consider the WCF to be infallible. It does mean however he gives it tremendous authority an authority he wouldn’t grant to my equally Refomed Berkhof’s Systematic Theology.

    Jews do not consider the Nevi’im and the Ketuvim to be infallible but they do consider them very high quality sources. The Torah they do consider infallible to a degree greater than Reformed Christians do, so for example they are comfortable drawing negative as well as positive inferences. The thing in Judaism that mostly corresponds to what Conservative Protestant think of as the bible is the Torah / Pentateuch. Jews do not have a binary scripture / non scripture it is much more grey. I think if we are interested in attitudes then you to Calvin and Philo to Wisdom is a good analogy. It is when you try and force a Protestant framework on Philo that things fall apart.

    So yes he thought of it as scripture, yes he thought of it as lower than Nevi’im and the Ketuvim, and yes he didn’t make such sharp distinctions. All 3.

  66. CD-Host said,

    November 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    @Don

    If you want to provide a number for the alleged post where Bob says anything like this [they were rejected as true], then I’ll be quick to apologize and glad to retract what I said. But Bob said nothing like this, and basically the opposite in #18.

    I wanted to separate this off.

    #5 — I’m guessing the fact that Christ didn’t fault the Jews on adding to the canon is not infallible enough, no? i.e. use of the deuterocanonicals

    #12 .The apocrypha are not written in Hebrew. With the implication that Jews reject non Hebrew books as authoritative despite the fact the Gemara is fully in Aramaic. He repeats this idea that only Hebrew can be authoritative #34, “The first is insurmountable, whatever you are trying to prove regarding the second.

    #24 The apocrypha is written in greek and is not quoted or appealed to per se in the NT. Not appealed to is rather strong. In my book the entire theology of the Theos expressing itself in the material world via. a Logos plays a rather important part in the NT and is very very Greek.

    #47 IOW if you want to compare apples (Aramaic parts of the Protestant OT canon) to pineapples (Greek parts of the Catholic OT canon), go ahead, but you lost your audience and any claim to rational discourse.

    Yes I’d say he’s making a case they were rejected. His theory seems pretty clear that language was an insurmountable barrier to their having even been considered. Which is imaginary history. Barrier yes, insurmountable is contradicted by other non-Hebrew works having taken very high places in Jewish thought: Gemara and Zohar for example. There is middle ages style French that Rashi worked in. Now that Hellenistic Judaism is dead, and Christians don’t consider Philo just short of canonical. His works in Greek are considered by some Aggadah and by others not as all authoritative; ironically Philo is finding himself in the same position the books he wanted to include were in during his life.

  67. Don said,

    November 25, 2012 at 3:05 am

    @CD-Host #66,

    Yes I’d say he’s making a case they were rejected.

    Who’s arguing with you on this? Instead, you claimed in 59 that Bob said they were “rejected as true.” All these quotes you tediously rehash prove is that he claims they were rejected from the canon (regardless, for the moment, of whether “canon” is the most appropriate term). That’s not the same as not being true. Bob clearly allows that they could be true but are not canonical. If you think that’s the same as “rejected as true,” then I can’t help you.

    Bob may have had in mind Josephus saying “We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine.” The twenty-two, as you probably know, refers to the Tanakh, and rather clearly excludes the Apocrypha from being, in Josephus’ words, “divine.” I’m not saying this view was necessarily shared by Hellenistic Jews of his time, but this does sound little canon-ish, doesn’t it?

  68. CD-Host said,

    November 25, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Hi Don –

    Bob may have had in mind Josephus saying “We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine.” The twenty-two, as you probably know, refers to the Tanakh, and rather clearly excludes the Apocrypha from being, in Josephus’ words, “divine.” I’m not saying this view was necessarily shared by Hellenistic Jews of his time, but this does sound little canon-ish, doesn’t it?

    No the 22 don’t refer to the Tanakh, there aren’t nearly enough books. He is excluding the entire Katuvim. Something like Torah+Nevi’im (the count is off by a bit so he is likely excluding some books from the Nevi’im and/or considering some books we consider to be two books as the same), are the ones he considers inspired. Which means he likely considers the Katuvim to be of historical importance only and not inspired. Anyone who considers the Katuvim to be too recent, isn’t going to need to bother to even think about the deuterocanonicals.

    So let me just stop there because your example is an excellent example of the problem with considering the Jews to almost have a canon.
    For Protestants canon is a fixed list.
    For Jews canon (if you want to keep using this concept) is a function, you feed in a property and you get a list. Josephus throughout his life, even after his capture followed Jewish law. So:

    canon(authoritative) would include the Mishnah
    canon(divinely inspired) spits out 22 books and the 6 books of the Mishnah isn’t among them.

  69. Don said,

    November 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    CD-Host #68,
    Nope. You’re completely off. Josephus is referring to the Tanakh, more or less. A couple of books may have been combined or not included. Twenty-four, found in other sources, makes a little more sense. Twenty-two might have been considered a special value, since that’s the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. A reasonable guess for the twenty-two:
    1 Genesis
    2 Exodus
    3 Leviticus
    4 Numbers
    5 Deuteronomy
    6 Joshua
    7 Judges (including Ruth?)
    8 Samuel
    9 Kings
    10 Isaiah
    11 Jeremiah (including Lamentations?)
    12 Ezekiel
    13 Minor Prophets (they were grouped)
    14 Psalms
    15 Proverbs
    16 Job
    17 Song of Songs
    18 Ecclesiastes
    19 Esther
    20 Daniel
    21 Ezra (including Nehemiah?)
    22 Chronicles

  70. CD-Host said,

    November 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    No I don’t think so. He uses the term Torah and Nev’im. He says he has 5 torah, 13 Nev’im and 4 other writings. The Hebrew canon has 5 torah, 8/19 Nev’im (depending if you consider the minor profits on book or 12) and 11 Ketuvim. The lists don’t match at all.

    The separation into 11 books of Ketuvim existed for the Pharisees though the order was different than the current Tanakh: Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.

    i’ve heard that theory of how you get from 39 down to 22 by grouping the minor prophets, etc… but there just is no support for it in evidence. I think it is wishful thinking on the part of Christians who don’t want to accept that the Jewish Tanakh didn’t stabilize until the 3rd century.

    I’ll link off to a good article: http://www.thesacredpage.com/2006/03/loose-canons-development-of-old.html

  71. Bob S said,

    November 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Well Don, you’re doing a pretty good job of keeping up with CD’s propaganda.

    Notice also in all this the similarity in M.O. with the romanists. (That CD previously couldn’t perceive the similarities between arminianism and popery might have been a giveaway.) Volumes of verbiage, even learned, but nothing that speaks to the salient distinctions – which have been repeatedly pointed out from the get go by more than a couple people:

    The Jews are not faulted for their preservation of the holy books, while they were faulted for unbelief and disobedience of the same.
    The Apocrypha was not accepted as inspired when they were written (the original post).
    They are not in Hebrew, as are the books Christ refers to.
    They are not explicitly referenced or quoted in the NT per se.
    They deny that they are inspired, (much more Mal. 4:5, Mtt. 3:3)

    But, but, but . . .

    As for the WCF being inspired? Hardly. It is an authoritative summary of what presbyterians take the Scripture to teach and relevant proofs were cited. Or does CD deny G&N consequence?

    IOW have at it, Don. It’s all yours.

    cheers

  72. Don said,

    November 26, 2012 at 1:16 am

    CD-Host,
    You’re shifting the goalposts again. You’ve shown that “canon” is, strictly, a Christian concept which in those terms did not exist in Second Temple Judaism. That is not to say, however, that the concepts expressed by “canon” did not exist at that time–indeed they did, that some texts were sacred and some weren’t. From there is the question of whether the canon (used anachronistically, but for lack of a better succinct term) was agreed upon at that time. You’ve argued that the answer is no–and I don’t think there’s any disagreement there, since it’s well known that the Sadducees only accepted the Torah and the Pharisees accepted the Tanakh (more or less). But somehow you jump from there to asserting that no concept of a limited list of sacred books existed? Do you understand the difference between “not a settled canon” and “no canon at all”?

    Miscellanea: Above, you made a big deal about how Philo treated Wisdom as scripture. Or implicitly as scripture. Or not as scripture. Anyway, the Michael Barber article you linked to claims “The most famous “Alexandrian Jew” of them all, Philo, never once cites from the apocrypha!” But that article’s a few years old. Are there new Philo sources, your “whole books based on Wisdom,” that make this statement outdated?

  73. CD-Host said,

    November 26, 2012 at 7:22 am

    @Don –

    I’m not moving the goal post. The goal post remains where it has been, is there a concept that plays the role that biblical canon does for conservative Protestants? Nope. Because

    a) It isn’t fixed
    b) It isn’t agreed to among factions
    c) Religiously Judaism doesn’t unify: authoritative, divine inspiration, divine revelation, ancient, globally accepted…. Those would all produce different lists.

    . That is not to say, however, that the concepts expressed by “canon” did not exist at that time–indeed they did, that some texts were sacred and some weren’t

    That’s one of many definitions of canon. Another is authoritative. Another is base writings for commentaries. Another is divinely inspired. And yes I did address that: 62 and 63.
    ____

    But somehow you jump from there to asserting that no concept of a limited list of sacred books existed?

    Sure the list of sacred books is 5, the torah and only when properly scribed. But the Josephus list was not which were sacred but which ones were in his opinion divinely inspired. Different list.

    Miscellanea: Above, you made a big deal about how Philo treated Wisdom as scripture. Or implicitly as scripture. Or not as scripture. Anyway, the Michael Barber article you linked to claims “The most famous “Alexandrian Jew” of them all, Philo, never once cites from the apocrypha!” But that article’s a few years old. Are there new Philo sources, your “whole books based on Wisdom,” that make this statement outdated?

    No there is nothing new from Philo. The Catholics adored Philo and preserved him quite well. What I said in 59 “So for example Philo writes whole books based on Wisdom, clearly treating it as scripture but never ever ever goes that last step and explicitly calls Wisdom scripture..

  74. Stephen said,

    November 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

    If I may offer some thoughts in this discussion that has taken lots of polemical turns…

    (1) It could be helpful to separate one’s estimation of the canonicity of “the Apocrypha” from some of the historical claims made in Lane’s post and throughout this thread.

    For example, in line with how Christians in my church tradition (Presbyterian) have recognized things (I would hope and pray that they did so by the power of the Spirit) for centuries, I do not consider the Apocrypha canonical. That said, as a historian of things like “canon” and sacred books among ancient Christians and Jews (and others in the ancient Mediterranean, for that matter), I also recognize that many of Lane’s and others’ historical claims here are incorrect and/or misleading. NOTE: I’m not saying that people are misleading on purpose, btw.

    My point here: it could help to recognize that one can disagree with various historical claims made here while not disagreeing with the basic theological issue. My instinct is that we already recognize this in many of our theological discussions about other topics and issues.

    (2) Focusing on the historical claims made, again, many of them are inaccurate and/or misleading:

    For example, as folks like Richard have brought up, we do not have evidence that “the Jews have always rejected those books.” We know that a handful of educated elite Jews in late-Antiquity (3rd century CE and later), whose goal was to represent themselves as the guardians of Judaism (i.e., some of the Rabbis responsible for extant Rabbinical writings), rejected those books. As part of this, they made up councils like Jamnia/Yavneh, which either never happened or, if they did, the historical realities were very different than what’s claimed in the MUCH later Rabbinic sources. This doesn’t make these Rabbinic sources that exceptional. We have much evidence of people in the ancient (and modern) world making up stories to authorize the ideas and “sacred books” that they like, and to de-authorize the ideas and books (and other things) that they don’t like. FWIW, this is one of my areas of research, the phenomenon of (as I label it) “mythmaking about sacred books” in the ancient Mediterranean.

    Sticking to this point: we actually have evidence against Lane’s claim that “the Jews have always rejected those books.” This also gets at Richard’s question of what/who do you mean by “the Jews.” It’s worth bearing in mind that we very little access to what most ancient Jews thought about these matters (or if they thought about them at all), since the overwhelming majority of them lacked the requisite skills to write both the kinds of complex literary texts that we are discussing here or the kinds of texts that discuss the issues we are discussing here (the same goes, btw, for early Christians).

    We do have access to the extant literary output (sticking with literary evidence) of that small minority of Jews who did have such levels of literacy skills, and (as Richard points out; C-D too, I think) it seems that plenty of them did consider lots of writings beyond our OT to be inspired, authoritative, scripture, or whatever you want to term it. After all, to start with an obvious point, some of these Jews wrote them with their claims to inspiration and authority. Some others transmitted them, used some of them “like scripture,” and on and on and on. Apparently enough of them were still doing this that Jews who disagreed with them had to explicitly counter their ideas with the kinds of claims seen in the Jewish sources that rejected these other writings. [In fairness, in the above several sentences I have been talking about non-OT Jewish writings that include but also go beyond the Apocrypha].

    So again, the point remains that Lane’s claim is (unintentionally) inaccurate and/or misleading. The Jews responsible for some late-Antique Rabbinical sources rejected these writings. But they don’t authoritatively speak for all Jews or some authoritative section of them, unless you buy into their own ideology – fwiw, I don’t even know how a historian would determine questions like, “who were the ‘real Jews’ who had the authority to relay decisions on these matters?”

    Lane also claims that “many of the church fathers, most notably Jerome…Many of them agreed with the Jews that the Apocryphal books were not canonical.” This also is inaccurate or at least very misleading.

    Which “church fathers”? Jerome is an example from the 4th and 5th centuries, but one of the earlier examples (and in his time, a minority, judging by the extant sources) of such a church father. But we have a couple hundred years of other “church father” writings before him that decidedly treat various writings among the Apocrypha (and other non-OT Jewish writings) as scripture. Unless you want to make Jerome uniquely authoritative on these matters, he’s not some special representative of “the church fathers.” He happens to be one of the earliest who takes a position that’s congenial to our theology – but last I checked, that doesn’t give us the right to re-write history around his views ; ).

    Prior to (and subsequent to) Jerome we have much evidence of Christians using various writings of the Apocrypha (and other non-OT Jewish writings) as scripture, if you will. In line with my first point here, I think we would do well to keep in mind that we don’t have to deny this situation in order to hold, theologically, that the Apocrypha are not canonical. FWIW, it looks like Lane and I are somewhat in agreement about this, since he was trying in this post to offer a theological avenue that doesn’t deny this situation among many early Christian writings but still denies the canonicity of the apocrypha.

    Sorry for the long post.

    Stephen

  75. Bob S said,

    November 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    74 Stephen,
    Maybe I missed it, but are we talking about the Jews before or after Christ, who did or didn’t consider the apocrypha inspired?

  76. Stephen said,

    November 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Bob,

    I talked about both above. I included discussion of certain “Rabbinic” Jews after Christ because Lane brought up that particular example in comment 3.

  77. November 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Gents, I think you are all over-complicating the issue. The question is simple: what books would Jesus’ 1st century audience have understood Him to be referring to when He spoke of “the law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” or, more simply, when He and the Apostles (in their respective epistles) spoke of “Scripture”?

    We can have academic debates about whether the Protestant idea of canon differs from the ancient Jewish conceptions of canon, but regardless of all the intricacies of history, Jesus must have been referring to a commonly-understood corpus of writings, if His words were to have any meaning to His immediate hearers. And the same holds true of the apostolic references to Scripture.

    Whatever Jesus was referring to, that has to be our OT canon as NT believers.

    Incidentally, Beckwith’s book on the subject is back in publication thanks to Wipf and Stock:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1606082493/ref=ox_sc_act_title_3?ie=UTF8&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

  78. Stephen said,

    November 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    David (77),

    With respect, you are over-simplifying the issue.

    As a point of information for you and others here, the position you espouse and the 1985 Roger Beckwith book you reference, which is the best known argument for your position, are highly contested. In fact, it’s a minority position now among scholars of Hellenistic and Roman period Judaism. And much of that minority is comprised of Protestant evangelical scholars who seem to have a vested theological stake in the position.

    Rather than making a long post, I’ll note that Richard and I have gone over these matters at length both on this blog (I’m sure someone could dig up the comments if needed) and elsewhere (e.g., for a discussion of some of the issues, see http://reformedforum.org/podcasts/ctc217/#comment-84469).

    I’m not trying to beat you over the head with this, just contextualizing the point you made and letting folks know that your position (and the Beckwith monograph you reference) is highly contested, and in fact, a minority position among scholars now — many of whom, like me, have no theological dog in this fight about the current canonicity of the Apocrypha (i.e., we don’t use arguments about this to assert that Christians today should accept as Scripture the non-canonical, for us, Jewish writings we’re discussing).

  79. November 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Stephen, your response is vague. How am I over-simplifying the issue? And since I don’t necessarily agree with Beckwith on everything (I am only aware of some of his major theses), what position have I taken that is “highly contested”?

    Did Jesus’ references to Scripture have a coherent, defined referent or not to the ears of His original audience? If yes, then we can zero in on what that audience in that specific time and place would have understood. If no, then you are essentially accusing our Lord of being something between vague, confusing, and incoherent in His speech.

  80. CD-Host said,

    November 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    David –

    I think Stephen’s comment is excellent. As have all his comments. Let me hit this from another angle.

    Jesus must have been referring to a commonly-understood corpus of writings, if His words were to have any meaning to His immediate hearers. And the same holds true of the apostolic references to Scripture.

    A common corpus is desperately needed if hearers make a clear distinction between scripture as it is written and the body surrounding it. It isn’t nearly as needed if no such distinction.

    To this day a Jew could make this sort of claim. Even though different Jewish sects have different ruling authorities and accept different sets of books under different definitions. The same way I about “running a red light” meaningfully to people from all 50 states, even though the specifics of the criminal code dealing with running a red light are different in all 50 states, and may even vary by county.

    In other words he’s not referring to a complete corpus but a hierarchy. There is disagreement as to exactly:

    a) What sets are where in the hierarchy
    b) Exactly what books are in which sets
    c) Which parts of the hierarchy they mean.

    The question of canon is much more vital for Protestants than for Jews (or Catholics) because of the doctrine of sola scriptura. When there is no strong distinction between text and the culture surrounding a text the lines are fuzzy not sharp.

  81. November 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    CD Host said A common corpus is desperately needed if hearers make a clear distinction between scripture as it is written and the body surrounding it. It isn’t nearly as needed if no such distinction.

    What this ignores is the distinction that Christ and the Apostles themselves give to Scripture. They make a clear distinction in what they predicate of Scripture, namely that it “cannot be broken” and “God-breathed”, amongst other things. While some Jews historically may have had a low doctrine of Scripture, whereby there is a fuzzy hierarchy of sacred writings, Jesus nor the Apostles shared this view.

  82. Stephen said,

    November 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    David (79),

    I’m talking about Beckwith’s general position that the OT Canon was settled by the mid 2nd century BCE — which thus allows one to claim that Jesus had a fixed OT canon identical to ours. Apologies if you don’t go with Beckwith on this, but the point would still be wrong if someone made the same claim but moved the clock to the 1st century CE.

    I wouldn’t be shocked if when Jesus talked about the scriptures he had a conception of which writings were included and which were not. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can know (A) what writings specifically he would have had in mind, (B) that other Jews of his context would have known precisely which ones he had in mind, (C) that other Jews would have agreed with him, etc. etc. etc.

    To be clear, I’m aware that many of us will be happy to answer A with precision from a theological standpoint (i.e., “Jesus had our OT in mind, obviously”), but it’s tough to make that argument from a historical standpoint, using evidence and the like.

    Think of it this way, extant Jewish literature from the latter Hellenistic and early Roman Imperial periods seem to attest a general treatment of the books of Moses as sacred (or whatever you want to call it). We also have evidence that some notional collection of writings labeled the prophets were considered thus by most of the authors of these extant sources. Some sources may indicate a 3rd division, but we have no evidence that a 3-fold division was truly widespread or that the contents of it were something agreed by those who held to such a division.

    Thus referring to the sacred writings could generally be expected to be taken to mean (notionally) that collection of notionally ancient/sacred writings, which in the conceptions of most of our extant source’s authors include the books of Moses and the Prophets. Beyond this it’s tough to get more precise with any generalizations.

    Again, sure, some/many Jews likely had more precise and bounded collections in mind, but the evidence is overwhelming that there was no agreement and that MANY writings not included in our OT canon were treated as sacred/scripture/inspired/etc by lots of Jews around this time.

    I don’t see how this is accusing Christ of being “vague, confusing, and incoherent in His speech” in any bad way since it’s actually articulating a way that Christ would have been intelligible to his contemporaries … just as others who talked about the sacred writings would have been.

  83. CD-Host said,

    November 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    David –

    What this ignores is the distinction that Christ and the Apostles themselves give to Scripture. They make a clear distinction in what they predicate of Scripture, namely that it “cannot be broken” and “God-breathed”, amongst other things

    Two responses.

    1) You are switching from a historical to a theological position. “What did Palestinian Jews think was the definition of scripture when Jesus spoke of them” That is “what were Palestinian Jews’ position on scripture in 1st century” this is a historical question. We more or less know the answer from lots of available source materials.

    Your switching the question from that to a theological question about what they must have meant. Once you stop talking about what the people hearing Jesus’ message would have believed and instead what we would want them to believe it ceases to be a question of history at all. It is a question of theology. Alvin may want them to believe one thing, Betsy wants them to believe something else and Chris a third thing. You cannot intermix your distaste for the 1st century Palestinian attitude with the historical reality.

    2) Expressions like “God Breathed” and “cannot be broken” are used by Jews today. I think that presents a clear counter example that one cannot have fuzzy lines and at the same time have a very high view of scripture. I could easily picture a Hasidic Jew consider his sects midrash to be God breathed and unbreakable wisdom while fully understanding it is his sects view and not authoritative beyond that.

    That being said I wouldn’t consider this a low view. I’d argue the Jewish view of Torah is higher than the Conservative Protestant view. For example Presbyterians don’t make negative inferences from scripture. That is, if a statement can be made 22 different ways and the bible chooses one, you don’t get to make an inference about why the other 21 ways were rejected. Jews with Torah do make those sorts of negative inferences, implying that not only is every word inspired but every word is is infinitely informative. As a second example biblical numerology the idea that Torah contains codes which contain spiritual knowledge is a mystical Jewish practice, not a Christian one,

    PCAers view the bible as inerrant but not perfect in the Jewish sense, they do not believe the first 5 books are perfectly constructed.

  84. Don said,

    November 28, 2012 at 12:42 am

    CD-Host #73,
    Well, I guess if we can’t agree on what “quote” means, then I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that we can’t agree on a functional definition of “canon.” But considering your criteria,

    a) It isn’t fixed

    It was to the Sadducees, and it was to Josephus. Which leads to…

    b) It isn’t agreed to among factions

    doesn’t make any sense as a criteria for “canon.” Just because various factions disagreed on a list of authoritative texts, does not mean they had no concept of a list of authoritative texts. That’s like saying that since Protestants, Catholics, and various Orthodox list different books in their canon, that Christianity has no canon at all.

    c) Religiously Judaism doesn’t unify: authoritative, divine inspiration, divine revelation, ancient, globally accepted…. Those would all produce different lists.

    I think you mean Judaism doesn’t unify texts into a single category called “canon”? If so, then I suppose you’d say that GB should have asked where the Apocrypha falls in that spectrum.

    And about Philo, which isn’t the main point but I’m confused about what you’re trying to claim here. You said, originally in 59,

    So for example Philo writes whole books based on Wisdom, clearly treating it as scripture but never ever ever goes that last step and explicitly calls Wisdom scripture.

    But the Barber article (and many other sources) say that Philo never quoted the Apocrypha at all. So are you saying that Philo wrote “whole books” about a text that he never quoted or referred to explicitly? If so, then how do you really know what text he was writing about?

  85. CD-Host said,

    November 28, 2012 at 6:38 am

    That’s like saying that since Protestants, Catholics, and various Orthodox list different books in their canon, that Christianity has no canon at all.

    And I would agree with your analogous statement as well. Christianity doesn’t have a canon, sects within Christianity do. There certainly are common books and the 66 book Protestant canon is mostly a universal subset. So while I’d say there is about 80% agreement that is more or less universal that’s different than the 100% agreement you need for a universal canon.

    And to build on your analogy it wouldn’t be appropriate to say that “Sirach was rejected from the canon by Christians in 2012″ when the majority hold it to be canonical, even though the majority of bibles published don’t include Sirach.

    If so, then I suppose you’d say that GB should have asked where the Apocrypha falls in that spectrum.

    Yes. That’s starting to try and figure out where the Jews stood on the issue rather than trying to superimpose Protestant assumptions about the nature of canon.

    But the Barber article (and many other sources) say that Philo never quoted the Apocrypha at all. So are you saying that Philo wrote “whole books” about a text that he never quoted or referred to explicitly? If so, then how do you really know what text he was writing about?

    If I as an American say something like “we need to build on our Great Society, and the Patient Protection Act is a step in making the quality of our lives match our labor as a nation”. I’m alluding to but not quoting Johnson’s Great Society speech. I clearly demonstrate a knowledge of the text and the use of “Great Society” and the tie between quality of life and labor of the national whole is referencing the ideas from it.

    The Book of Wisdom is a book that makes use of the 4 categories of stoicism to speak about the nature of Sophia (Greek of Wisdom) as essentially a semi-personified Jewish lesser Goddess. Philo takes this idea of a Stoic Jewish hybrid further beyond just Wisdom to address the nature of the relationship between God and creation, a Greek obsession and comes up with the idea of an intermediate entity the Logos. So the Theos is unchangeable and perfect while the Logos is the image of God but engages in action and response.

    Further the Logos is the ideal form of humanity, so the Logos is in some sense incarnate in higher realms. This also explains how other aspects of God, like divine wisdom can be both a transcendent ideal and a personification without violating monotheism.

    I didn’t say he never referenced Wisdom, I said he never quoted it as scripture. What he did instead was built on a rather primitive form of the ideas of the Book of Wisdom and developed them. The deuterocanonicals represent the the earliest phases of Jewish Hellenism where Hellenic ideas are being recast in a Jewish mode where they fit and Judaism is spoken about in Hellenic terms where it fits. Philo represent a middle phase when the contradictions between the two systems are being worked through.

    The similarity was so great that it wasn’t uncommon until a few hundred years ago to consider Wisdom to be one of Philo’s early works. Jerome, Cassiodorus and Isidore of Seville were all of that opinion, though the dates don’t make it possible.

  86. Don said,

    November 29, 2012 at 3:20 am

    CD-Host 85,

    I didn’t say he never referenced Wisdom, I said he never quoted it as scripture.

    Right, but he never explicitly quoted it at all. Thus I still don’t understand your claim that he “clearly treat[ed] it as scripture.” It may be that Wisdom influenced him, he alluded to it sometimes, he discussed similar topics and developed them much further. But if you compare this to how he treated the Torah, I don’t see how you can claim he considered Wisdom to be scripture.

  87. CD-Host said,

    November 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    But if you compare this to how he treated the Torah, I don’t see how you can claim he considered Wisdom to be scripture.

    I think it is on par mostly with how he treated books like Job or Ecclesiastes not how he treated Torah. I’d say that treating a book as a key source on the nature of God, that has unique insights that Philo expanded upon is treating it like scripture.

    If the cutoff is going to be how he treated Torah than 100% of the Jewish community had a 5 book canon.

  88. December 6, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I think David Gadbois has it right in comments 11 and 77. Once we get into defining Canon as something flowing from Ecclesiastical action we get into trouble. Canon is not defined by the Church per se. That’s the ‘formalization’ of canon in terms of creed. The ‘functional’ canon existed long before any formal arrangement. The entirety of the issue revolves around the person of Christ. We accept the OT based off his validation. The salient question is….does Christ validate the inter-testamental Apocrypha? The NT is validated via apostolicity by his commission of the Apostles and the promise that the Spirit would help them to bring all things into remembrance.
    This is not an oversimplification. It is casting the issue of Canon in Christocentric terms and centers the issue on faith in the Person and work of Christ. This is both theological and historical. Employing these criteria leads us to reject not only the ‘Apocrypha’ but other apocryphal books (like Enoch) as well. If we open the door to the Apocrypha as Rome defines it, then it really becomes an issue of Rome’s authority, not an issue of canon. The Abyssinian Church accepts Enoch as canonical… why shouldn’t we accept it? The issue rests on Rome’s claim v. that of the Ethiopian Patriarch.
    I don’t think anyone is saying these issues aren’t of interest, but I respectfully think much of this discussion is missing the point.

  89. CD-Host said,

    December 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

    proto@88

    We accept the OT based off [Jesus'] validation.

    The problem with that is that Jesus never states what the OT canon is. It is very unclear. Moreover most of his quotes of the OT in translation are from the LXX. Which creates a problem since if he is accepting the LXX then he doesn’t have the same OT canon you do. Jesus also never indicates whether one should have a Conservative Protestant view of scripture (inerrant / human) or a Jewish view (hierarchy of more to less good); that is whether there should be a canon problem in exactly the same way.

    The NT is validated via apostolicity by his commission of the Apostles and the promise that the Spirit would help them to bring all things into remembrance.

    Well in that case you almost definitely have the wrong canon. AFAIK no one is trying to argue that the LXX was not the bible of the early church from the 2nd century forward. So for your theory to hold up here would be the order of events:

    a) The apostles pick the Jewish Hebrew canon about 2 centuries before that canon stabilizes, and about 1 century before we have anyone citing that exact canon.

    b) They proceed to write a bunch of books where they quote the LXX, in particular places where the LXX disagrees with the MT, all the while having openly taught the authority of the Hebrew.

    c) By the 2nd century, only a generation or two after the apostles, where we have a wealth of Christian literature the aposte’s opinion on this is totally forgotten and everyone is using the LXX in a completely untroubled way believing this to have always been the bible of Christianity.

    d) No one rediscovers the apostle’s canon until 16th century Protestants who on the surface seem mainly motivated by hating the doctrine of purgatory because of its tie to indulgences.

    Does that strike you as actually more plausible than: the church always used the LXX? The first time the modern Protestant canon was accepted in an untroubled way seems to be the early 19th century.

    The Abyssinian Church accepts Enoch as canonical… why shouldn’t we accept it?

    A very good question. Why shouldn’t Christians openly address the canon issue? Look directly at the canon, both OT and NT, and realize it is mainly a series of historical accidents and start to apply a much more deliberate process to it.

  90. December 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    The LXX is not a separate canon, it’s a translation. Admittedly it goes beyond the canon of the OT. However its use in no way implies a granting of validity to the full corpus of LXX translations. The Apostolic use of the LXX simply implies they accepted the principles of translation and the use of translation v. the necessity of employing the original tongue. It could even be argued they deemed the LXX a more ‘appropriate’ source for the audience they were addressing. Not easy questions. It could also be argued that perhaps their view of verbal accuracy was a bit more fluid than some of us would be comfortable with?…but that doesn’t touch the issue of canon itself.
    Just because the Apostles used the LXX doesn’t mean they fully endorsed it in every way. That kind of reasoning would argue that Enoch and perhaps even Seneca should be included as well? You seem open to the notion. I was being completely facetious. While I wouldn’t wish to simplify some of the tough issues regarding Apostolic quotations of the OT….I think your contrast of the LXX and the MT is an exaggeration.
    Do you have a basis to argue that Protestant textual selection was motivated by a bias against indulgences and purgatory? I think the argument for excluding what Protestants call the Apocrypha is textual and historic. There are also theological considerations in terms of overall coherence and arguments of analogy but I think those should be secondary.
    If we were take your view and completely reconstruct the canon, I think I would have to argue that in principle would basically jettison the idea of canon. Canon is of course ultimately rooted in faith and promise centered on the Person and work of Christ. If the Church has not had a canon or the right canon for all these centuries… then the idea itself must be invalid. We would have to say God abandoned His people, or the whole issue of authority would have to be re-worked….which you obviously would be most keen to do. However I must confess if the concept of canon collapsed and I was only left with a Charismatic Magisterium…that would tie my faith to the history of the ‘church’ meaning the history and deeds of that particular body. I think my faith would probably fail altogether. But even then did the Magisterium which you would perhaps wish to uphold view itself in that role from antiquity? I think not.

  91. CD-Host said,

    December 7, 2012 at 7:15 am

    @proto 90

    The LXX is not a separate canon, it’s a translation.

    No, it is a separate canon. It includes some greek works it makes choices about Hebrew works that weren’t universal. It reorganizes canon in a way different than the Hebrew. For example 3Reigns and 4Reigns which were books common in LXXs of those eras contains whole chapters and stories / material not founds in 1Samuel or 2Samuel. Breaking Samuel into 4 books with different materials is not just translating.

    And as a translation it is often quite dynamic, emphasizing some aspects of the Hebrew, creating its own wordplays in Greek, diminishing other aspects. Again the analogy would be something like the NLT not the ESV. What’s important here is that the NT makes use of the Greek wordplay in its analysis of the theology of the OT.

    Their theology seems if anything much closer to the Baptist theology that God raises up the scriptures for each community of Christians. That the KJV is not just a translation but is itself inspired. Or the Catholic theology that these works demonstrated theological development.

    The Apostolic use of the LXX simply implies they accepted the principles of translation and the use of translation v. the necessity of employing the original tongue…. …but that doesn’t touch the issue of canon itself.

    Of course it touches the issue of canon. If they were rejectionists of the deuterocanonicals in the way you are they would have excluded them from the LXXs they were using. At the very least it implies they did not have the sort of strong anti opinions you did. But more importantly when you combine that they used the LXX and promoted all the OT books to being coequal to one another rather than in a hierarchy, that’s important evidence.

    Do you have a basis to argue that Protestant textual selection was motivated by a bias against indulgences and purgatory?

    AFAIK this opinion isn’t controversial. The first time we have any record of Luther attacking the Catholic canon is during his disputation with Dr. Johann Maier von Eck where Eck proves that that Luther is preaching the views of Hus, that Hus’s views on purgatory are contrary to scripture (2 Maccabees). At that point Luther makes the claim about the Hebrew canon. Luther says similar things at other times in his life where he attacks the deuterocanonicals on their basis of their doctrines taught not simply the fact that until recently none of them were available in Hebrew / Aramaic and most never originated in Hebrew / Aramaic.

    But even then did the Magisterium which you would perhaps wish to uphold view itself in that role from antiquity? I think not.

    You mean did the Catholic church see itself as having to pick between works or having to choose an old testament. I’d argue that for the OT, the deuterocanonicals included the church just sort of slipped into that canon. There was never much argument about the LXX at all. Where there was some argument was between different regional variations and those seem to have been mostly resolved by the time of the Old Latin Vulgate. So I’d say there was no argument about the OT canon in a passionate divisive sense until the proto-Reformation (Christian humanist focus on Hebrew, Hus…). And the kind of untroubled rejectionism you have I don’t see existing until the late 18th to early 19th century in Protestantism. So the early Magisterium didn’t have this problem with the OT canon they choose.

    On the other hand on the NT they had this problem essentially immediately. In the late 1st or early 2nd century Marcion decides that Christianity needs a New Testament and publishes his Apostolicon. They are immediately confronted with the status of Paul. The Petrine Corpus that is discovered includes: Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, 1Peter, 2Peter, 3Peter, 4Peter. 2 made it in your bible, 5 didn’t. Yes they saw themselves as making choices.

    By the time we have something I’d call the Catholic church, late 2nd century, it sees itself as empowered to choose a canon.

    Moreover, they did however have to decide about the works of Judaism that clearly influenced the NT writers but were too late to have been included in the LXX, like Enoch. And they mostly decided against them in the West during the late 4th century.

  92. CD-Host said,

    December 7, 2012 at 8:29 am

    @ proto (90)

    If the Church has not had a canon or the right canon for all these centuries… then the idea itself must be invalid.

    Just to add one thing to my response. There is no question that some churches must have had the wrong canon for centuries. During the last 5 centuries your group of Protestants has had one canon while Catholics another. And even before that you have problems:

    Should 3Maccabees be in the canon? Arminian Orthodox says yes, Roman Catholic no. Should 4Ezra be in the canon? Roman Catholic yes, Greek Orthodox no. The Prayer of Manasseh was widely included in bibles and at the time of Trent when the Catholics tried to pull it, there was widespread rebellion and rejection. They tried again in 1979 and no one cared.

    The one thing we can know for sure is that there has never been a consistent canon among the churches. Someone if not everyone has been wrong for centuries.

  93. December 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I don’t agree with how you’re using canon. You’re suggesting that any grouping of writings or translations by virtue of its grouping is somehow defined as canon. Canon is a covenantal concept and category. Again just because someone quotes from a popular translation which may have employed more dynamic translational principles or even reorganization of contents does not mean that body of work (which happens to include a great deal of Scripture) is somehow now sanctioned as canonical.
    You cite various ecclesiastical bodies and argue there are numerous canons to consider. Many of these bodies are not churches. Again, this is a theological question and not always an easy one to answer because sometimes the very identification of these bodies is difficult when read through the filter of history. When did the Catholic Church become the Roman Catholic church? etc…
    The idea of canon being tied to separate covenant communities is hardly a Baptist notion. The cultic KJV only folks hardly represent a mainstream view, and in their case it’s not due to covenant or due to a perceived Redemptive-Historical shift in the 17th century. It has much more to do with a historical meta-narrative regarding White Anglo-Saxon Protestantism (or in some cases Landmark-ism) and a very perverted view of American history.
    Just because Luther and Hus didn’t believe in Purgatory it doesn’t mean that they sat down and worked out an anti- deutero-canonical argument specifically because they rejected a doctrine. Did he reject them because of the doctrines they contain, or did the doctrines they contain give additional weight to the fact they should be rejected? By no means would I for a moment defend Luther’s reasoning on much of anything. Yet, I wonder if you’ve perhaps ‘read into’ his thinking something that isn’t there? It very well may be that his understanding of Sola Fide led him to reject the Apocrypha if he believed it somehow validated Purgatory. Obviously he was pretty weak on the book of James and could probably be accused of more….
    You are correct to observe that history has often driven these issues. The Renaissance was hardly all bad contrary to the arguments of some. An Ad Fontes mindset led many to revisit these issues and undoubtedly Marcion’s faction forced the early Church to wrestle with the Apostolicity of a few unresolved texts. I would not say there was a Magisterium at that point and even the degree of Catholicity could be questioned. And whatever Catholicity there was in the 2nd or 3rd century didn’t last long.
    I’ll say it once again….Canon is ultimately an issue of faith established by a set of criteria centered on the Person and work of Christ. The issues and arguments are inter-related. While ecclesiastical structures and history cannot be ignored, they in the end do not establish canon.
    Your view seems to suggest the Church has either been groping in the dark or you would wish to suggest the foundation of authority lies in a Charismatic Magisterium. I don’t see any other alternatives. For most on this forum the issue is ultimately resolved by Confessionalism. I would not be a member of that camp either.

  94. CD-Host said,

    December 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Hello Proto. There are a lot of different topics here.

    You’re suggesting that any grouping of writings or translations by virtue of its grouping is somehow defined as canon.

    In post 92? In 92 my definition for canon is pretty simple: if X is a religion and X claims to have a canon of Y then X’s canon is Y.

    In post 91 we are dealing with with Judaisms. Canon as far as you mean it is a Protestant concept. In so far as we can map this concept onto Judaism we try and determine what the canon was behaviorally. Make the counter case a little more clear. In your theory Jesus does not consider Wisdom to be scripture but does consider Job to be scripture

    1) What evidence do you have for this
    2) In your theory the apostles share this view. When was this theory lost?
    3) Why would the apostles have utilized the LXX and not a subset of the LXX so as to clearly indicate the different status between Job and Wisdom if they shared your theology?

    If the early church is acting in a way indistinguishable from a church that accepted Wisdom as scripture; and we know historically that they defended Wisdom as being scripture then that’s pretty strong evidence.

    .Canon is ultimately an issue of faith established by a set of criteria centered on the Person and work of Christ… While ecclesiastical structures and history cannot be ignored, they in the end do not establish canon.

    Nope. Canon is an arbitrary set of books a religion picks. “Correct canon” or some other such term might apply to the work of Christ. Mormons have a canon, you just don’t think it is the right one. So ye, ecclesiastical structures have 100% authority on the issue of canon. They might have 0% authority on the “right canon” but whatever they declare to be canonical for their sect is the canon for their sect.

    You cite various ecclesiastical bodies and argue there are numerous canons to consider. Many of these bodies are not churches.

    In @92? Which ones are not churches? More importantly which ones don’t self identify as churches?

    And whatever Catholicity there was in the 2nd or 3rd century didn’t last long.

    There I don’t think I agree with you. While I might deny the existence of the Catholic church in 101 CE I certainly wouldn’t be 199 CE. The church that existed then is contiguous with the Catholic church we have today. Certainly by 299 CE the continuity is much stronger. You are talking a dozen years before the Edict of Milan by the end of the 3rd century.

  95. December 9, 2012 at 2:27 am

    We’re talking apples and oranges. I’m specifically talking about Churches defined Biblically and canon as a Biblical concept. Sure other groups have canons, that’s not what I’m talking about. But then canon is a Protestant concept? The Jewish canon did not accept the books you seem to be arguing for. The fact that the NT writers utilized portions of a Greek translation in no way sanction the entire corpus as canonical either for the Jews or for the Church. Jesus did not question the Pharisaic canon which did not include Wisdom but did include Job.
    Why did the Apostles selectively quote other sources like the LXX or Enoch? I have no idea but whatever portions they quoted became canon the minute they quoted it…in the NT context, not in the original textual context they quoted. The quotes from Enoch are canonical….Enoch itself is not . The issue is apostolic authority.
    When was the theory lost? The Church was apostatizing early on. The Church of 299 looked very different from that of 199. And the Church of 399 would have been barely recognizable to the Church of 199. Syncretistic impulses, Judaizing and Paganizing greatly transformed the Church of the post-Decian and post-Constantinian eras.
    I’m not certain what we call the Apocrypha was universally accepted as Scripture throughout much of the Middle Ages. It’s interesting that groups like the Waldensians completely rejected Purgatory. They had translations of the fathers, Augustine, the Apocryphal texts but seemed to treat them as supplemental…which may have been fairly common in some areas. So while they weren’t adverse to reading Maccabees, they didn’t seem to garner from it the popular teaching. Of course neither the Waldensians nor the Catholic church were monolithic.
    Canon is not an arbitrary set of books….at least not as a Christian would define that term. Again, it’s a matter of faith in Christ.
    The Roman Catholic entity is not a Church in terms of Biblical definitions. When did the old Catholic Church become Roman? That’s a bit harder. Constantine? Leo? Gregory? Hildebrand? Certainly long before Trent. Constantinople is not a Church either. As far as self-identification…that hardly matters. Their claims fly in the face of the Biblical doctrine and ecclesiology. I take the gravest possible exception to the notion that the Church of 199 has any commonality with the Roman Catholic body today. Different to the point of being different religions.
    We don’t share the same criteria. We should actually be having a much different discussion. It’s helpful though to see how these issues and so many others, whether we’re talking about science, culture, history, whatever. Ultimately for Christians the issue centers around Christ and the inescapable claims He makes. If you’re a sceptic… then the problem isn’t defining the parameters of canon. Other problems need to be resolved before this issue can be addressed. I’m not sure where you’re at. Your link is pretty cryptic. There’s some interesting stuff there to be sure but right away I was finding a lot to indicate we’re not even on the same planet when it comes to the issue of theological authority.

  96. CD-Host said,

    December 9, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Hi Proto –

    I agree we do seem to be talking past one another. I’ll make a few comments.

    1) The bible can’t determine the canon. You can create a subcanon which defines the rest of the canon, but the bible is the very thing in question. So you can’t talk about a “biblical canon”.

    2) There was no “Pharisaic canon” in the time of Jesus. The first time the Protestant list of bible books is mentioned as the Tanakh is the mid 2nd century and it is not accepted until the mid 3rd century. Further any Pharisee by definition would have considered Mishnah vastly more important than a book like Job. This was discussed at length earlier in this thread.

    3) You may take exception to the fact that the church of 199 CE is contiguous to the current Roman church, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have a wide body of literature from the church of 199 CE. That 199 CE church has:
    Mary as the new Eve
    Trinity as a term
    Veneration of saints and relics
    A Catholic style mass
    Primacy of the Bishop of Rome

    In other words something that looks far more like the Catholic church than today’s bible churches.

    You want a fall (and I’d agree with you there) you are going to need to make it be pretty much over, not starring by the mid 2nd century. Otherwise the historical record is just too thick. I’m very sympathetic to the view of the church falling into apostasy, it was how I was raised. I was raised that by 313 CE the church had sold itself to Satan (i.e the church answered “yes” to the temptation in Matt 4:8-10) and by 536 CE the Catholic church was the enemy of God persecuting almost out of existing “biblical Christianity”. So I understand where you are coming from. The problem with this theology is that historically it just doesn’t line up with the evidence. Either the lights went out early, or not at all. Or to put this another way, when 1John talks about the antichrist cults that are emerging to challenge the true faith, either proto-Catholicism is among them or the Catholic story of the foundation of the church is true.

    4) Yes I’m a skeptic. But that’s irrelevant, what books were in use by what groups at what time is a question of history not of faith nor theology.

  97. December 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

    The case for Biblical canon is centered on the Person of Christ. Who was/is Jesus Christ? What do you do with this man from Nazareth? The leap so to speak is believing the testimony of the Gospels. I believe it is reasonable to suppose that if the Apostles had lied and made everything up about Jesus subsequent to his death there would be historical evidences to demonstrate this. I believe for a host of reasons He was who He said He was and based off that it allows me to accept what became the New Testament and the OT He sanctioned.

    Josephus would disagree with you about the Jewish Canon. I realize there wasn’t specifically a ‘Pharisaic’ canon, but I’m referring to the canon being used by the Jews that Christ interacted with. The Sadducees who held a different view…were rebuked.
    Jesus ignored the Pharisees traditions and argued Scripture with them.
    There are undoubtedly some continuities between the error, already prevalent in 199 and the Roman Catholic body today. But that in no way validates what was happening in 199, nor does it in any way validate what the RC’s are doing today. There were also voices of protest then and throughout history and once the false church of RC-ism was no longer able to execute dissenters (largely due to politics and numbers)…. various other options became manifest. That doesn’t mean the protest movements are all correct either.
    While I agree many of today’s ‘Bible’ churches are also disconnected from history, once their 19th and 20th century additions are stripped away many do look more like the NT Church. Though sadly most of them are credo-baptist which I believe is a deviation from what the Bible teaches. I think it would be equally proper (if not more) to point out how different the Church looked in 199 in comparison with the New Testament, Pliny’s letter, the testimonies of Justin, or the Didache.
    I believe the fall was progressive. I think there were bad things going on followed by titanic shifts in the 4th, 9th, and 11th centuries. Constantine, Charlemagne, and Hildebrand.
    Also my ecclesiology being Congregational allows me to view the Church, and the Church in history in a very different way. I don’t have to think in terms of large blocs or institutional bodies. I have been doing so with regard to certain bodies like the RCC or the Orthodox Churches. While the Orthodox churches are pretty monolithic, the RCC obviously is anything but. However, the RCC is pretty monolithic in terms of being outside the boundaries of anything remotely resembling Biblical Christianity. In the Middle Ages, this was not the case. There were wide divergences in practice and belief that did not start to gain a real institutional coherence until the Cluniac and Gregorian reforms.
    I think those that try to put a cut and dry transition at 313, or 1517, or the Council of Trent for that matter are viewing history too simplistically.
    Actually your scepticism is important to me. How would you go about resolving this question then? Again to me the criteria for Biblical canon are theological and it has theological implications. If it’s merely a historical question…sure things are a mess. No argument from me. I don’t believe there’s a historical solution or a quasi-scientific resolution. Ultimately this is a faith question… or kind of a waste of time, that is unless you’re just trying to plant seeds of doubt and attempt to deconstruct Christianity.

  98. CD-Host said,

    December 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Josephus would disagree with you about the Jewish Canon. I realize there wasn’t specifically a ‘Pharisaic’ canon, but I’m referring to the canon being used by the Jews that Christ interacted with.

    I understood what you meant and I meant what I said no such canon existed them. Josephus doesn’t help your case, he hurts it, he doesn’t have the same OT canon you do. There are a bunch of posts on Josephus starting around post 61. The Josephus canon disagrees with the Protestant OT canon, (from post 71) “He uses the term Torah and Nev’im. He says he has 5 torah, 13 Nev’im and 4 other writings. The Hebrew canon has 5 torah, 8/19 Nev’im (depending if you consider the minor profits one book or 12) and 11 Ketuvim. The lists don’t match at all.”

    I think it would be equally proper (if not more) to point out how different the Church looked in 199 in comparison with the New Testament, Pliny’s letter, the testimonies of Justin, or the Didache.

    I agree, though Justin works as a pretty good record of the process of Catholization. Justin’s early works, particularly when he talks about his own conversion in Dialogue with Trypho he is describing something very much unlike today’s Christianity. His works become more Catholic through his life.

    ___

    As for the rest in terms of change. What I want to see when I look for a change in doctrine is

    a) An initial state. Lots of quotes and support for the doctrine
    b) A transitional state. A clear indication there is a divergence or a debate.
    c) A new state. Lots of quotes supporting the alternative doctrine.

    So for example of what a canon changes looks like when we move away from the LXX canon to the Protestant canon:

    A) We have both Vulgates with a 78 book canon and church councils with a 75 book canon for centuries.

    B) We then have debates by some reformers starting in the 14th century, Luther pushing this apocrypha to the rear of his bible, creeds explicitly giving the books sub scriptural status…

    C) After the early 19th century British Bible Society, we an untroubled rejection by many Protestant groups while Anglican based groups maintain it. There is no longer controversy.

    You want to prove that the LXX was not always the Christian canon show me someone Christian rejecting those books from the early centuries. Show me some evidence of a debate and a massive shift. Real books, real authors, real dates. Handwaving about the names of reforms doesn’t prove that specific reforms occurred at some dates.

    ___________

    As for the RCC church of today diverging from the middle ages church. I’d say read the literature of the middle ages church. If anything they are close to Protestantism today than they were 1000 years ago. 1000 years saints played a much more important role. Mary is more of less a full fledged demi-god in the middle ages with titles like “sum of divine wisdom”.

    ___________

    How would you go about resolving this question then?

    Resolving which question?

    Q1: What was the Christian canon in the early world?

    A1: I don’t think this is a hard question. The LXX was always the Christian bible among those people in the empire who could speak Greek. While the LXXs did not have a fully consistent canon, the Vulgate canon is probably rather close to averaging between them. As knowledge of Greek declined the Wulfila Bible and Jerome’s Vulgate became the official bible with their discrepant canons. The Vulgate was the more important of the two so if there has to be one canon I’d side with that. I don’t agree with the churches move in 1979 to drop the 3 books. So I’d side more or less with the Catholic traditional 78 book canon.

    Q2: What should the canon for Christians be?

    A2: I’d setup something like the Ethiopian church’s canon. Something like Romans, Hebrews, Matthew, John, Revelations, Luke/Acts in the center. From there most of the rest of the NT plus OT books that are heavily alluded to like Psalms and Genesis. I’d also include great works the Catholics excluded from non-Catholic Christianity like Gospel of Thomas and Apocryphon of John. I’d include Greek literature from the Ethiopian canon that is key to understanding Jude and Paul like Enoch, Assumption of Moses. From there tertiary literature which would be very wide. I’d included all the rest of the OT, the Mishnah, Josephus, and Philo Bibles would mostly have the first 2 tiers though cross reference the wider canon.

    So a canon that is more explicitly unequal but gives a broader view of early Christianity. But that’s just me. Ultimately there is no right answer.

  99. December 10, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Stephen (in #82) said:

    I wouldn’t be shocked if when Jesus talked about the scriptures he had a conception of which writings were included and which were not. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can know (A) what writings specifically he would have had in mind, (B) that other Jews of his context would have known precisely which ones he had in mind, (C) that other Jews would have agreed with him, etc. etc. etc.

    (C) is not particularly relevant. But as for (B), again the issue of intelligibility comes up. When Jesus said “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”, this presupposes a concrete referent. For Jesus to invoke Scripture functioning as divine prophecy, it would have to have fixed content in order to underwrite His claims as the Messiah. If the reference could be pointing to a body of 30 or 40 books just as easily as it could be 22/24 books, how can Scripture fulfill this function that Christ ascribes to it?

    There could be some “fuzziness” to the reference, say, a disputed book or two, but at some point if the reference is too fuzzy then it becomes useless to function in this capacity. It would be difficult to believe that the fuzziness could extend so far as to either include or exclude the whole of the Apocrypha.

    In saying this, it doesn’t mean that there would be unanimous agreement amongst the Jews on the extent of the canon, but there would be a general understanding of what He meant (even if, like the Sadducees, there were particular sects that disagreed on the subject but would have known what He was referring to).

    Some sources may indicate a 3rd division, but we have no evidence that a 3-fold division was truly widespread or that the contents of it were something agreed by those who held to such a division.

    I’m sure Jesus’ way of speaking was not to make hard divisions of the canon between the Law, prophets, and Psalms. It probably is just a way of saying “the whole of Scripture.”

    Again, sure, some/many Jews likely had more precise and bounded collections in mind, but the evidence is overwhelming that there was no agreement

    The evidence you present only proves that there was no *unanimous* agreement. The existence of a diversity of opinion and practice does not undermine the existence of a general consensus or at least general understanding. Indeed, the New Testament must be allowed to function as a witness of such general consensus in 1st century Palestine. One can argue about whether we know that consensus or not in detail, but my point is that it existed and is knowABLE.

    and that MANY writings not included in our OT canon were treated as sacred/scripture/inspired/etc by lots of Jews around this time.

    Simply pointing this out is not sufficient to prove that there wasn’t enough consensus amongst “orthodox” Jews of this time for the body of Scripture that Jesus and the Apostles referenced to have fixed content. I realize that by invoking the existence of an orthodoxy that this opens a can of worms, for our purposes here I am only meaning to exclude the views of various outliers, like the Sadducees or sectarians like the Essenes or Samaritans. My question is, what was the typical Jew experience growing up in the synagogue worship, in their catechitical training, or in temple worship? What are the “sacred writings” and “Scripture” that, say, a person like Timothy would have known from childhood (II Tim 3:15,16)?

  100. December 10, 2012 at 2:46 am

    CD Host said 1) You are switching from a historical to a theological position. “What did Palestinian Jews think was the definition of scripture when Jesus spoke of them”

    Both questions are relevant to exegeting the various NT references that Jesus and the Apostles make to “Scripture”. Part of that involves knowing what the general understanding of Jesus’ hearers, a lexical or semantic stock. The other part involves Jesus’ own doctrine of Scripture, a teaching which may very well have corrected the divergent beliefs of some in his audience at various points.

    Expressions like “God Breathed” and “cannot be broken” are used by Jews today. I think that presents a clear counter example that one cannot have fuzzy lines and at the same time have a very high view of scripture.

    The mere existence of this counter-example doesn’t mean it makes a lick of sense. Either a body of work is the Word of God in the words of men (2 authors, one of whom is Deity), or else it is merely the word of men (1 human author). It is rather binary on the basic level of authorship (and thus authority), so it is not fuzzy at all.

  101. Stephen said,

    December 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

    David,

    What positive evidence do you have that some kind of “consensus” existed amongst “orthodox Jews” around the time of Jesus and that we can now know what it was? This is the very point I (and others) are disputing. Simply referencing Josephus or 4 Ezra doesn’t do the trick, especially since (1) neither of them identify which which writings they have in mind, (2) as scholars such as Steve Mason have pointed out, more is going on in the Josephus passage than that standard uses of it allow for, (3) do you have any evidence that Josephus and 4 Ezra spoke for the “consensus” you have in mind or for this category of “orthodox Jews” you bring up?, (4) 4 Ezra really doesn’t help since it mentions an additional 70 books of what you may want to call “inspired” status, and many many other considerations. For that matter, I’d love to know how you identify who was and wasn’t an “orthodox Jew” at that time. How do you theorize that category?

    Relatedly, why is it the case that “the New Testament must be allowed to function as a witness of such general consensus in 1st century Palestine”? What evidence and arguments do you have for this other than your (seeming) theological need for some such “general consensus” to have existed and for it to coincide with our Bible (or what you think you can show “the NT” to have considered scripture)?

  102. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Does that not mean that the Jews must be God’s instrument by which their status is decided? The Jews have always rejected those books.

    Hi Lane,

    I’m not following this discussion very closely so I’m not sure whether the following point has been made. That point being – we must be careful on determining what should be regarded as worthy to be received based upon how God’s people at the time respond. After all, Jesus “came to his own and his own received him not.” Certainly we did not receive the Christ based upon the Jews having received him; yet they were the people of God at the time. I would think that another variable that must be pumped into the equation is whether God had the intention of his people receiving what is under evaluation, whether it be Scripture or the Chirst of Scripture. God’s design was that the OT church reject the Truth, but that was not his design regarding Scripture, which carries into the new as well.

    As I see it, the argument should proceed as follows… Jesus promised to build his church. (Matt. 16:18) Jesus also told his apostles that those who received them received Him. (Matt. 10:40) The implication is that the building project of the Lord was to be founded upon the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone. (Eph. 2:20) Consequently, the words of the apostles and Christ had to be received without error because Jesus promised to build his church upon them, which is now a matter of history given the passing of the apostles.

    Therefore, the canon is closed, lest the church has no foundation. The apostolic tradition was both oral and written (II Thess. 2:15) but only the written apostolic tradition has been providentially preserved. Accordingly, Scripture alone is what the church is built upon, which must have been God’s intention since Scripture alone is all he left us in keeping with Christ Jesus’ promise to build his church.

    Back to my hole…

  103. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    A point of clarification so to avoid misunderstanding… Given the divine intent of building the church upon the received word, the closed canon for the NT church is that which was received by the OT people of God plus the preserved writings of the NT writers, which as a whole form the foundation upon which God intended to build.

    My single point in my previous post is that what is received (or rejected) by the people of God is not sufficient to determine what is to be regarded as Scripture. The divine intent plays a large part in the evaluation of how much weight we may put on the people of God with respect to what they received or rejected. Given the divine intent, we must conclude that what was received by the OT people of God and the early church is precisely what we are to regard as Scripture.

  104. December 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Stephen said What positive evidence do you have that some kind of “consensus” existed amongst “orthodox Jews” around the time of Jesus and that we can now know what it was?

    Why isn’t the NT “positive evidence” for a 1st century consensus? I spent most of #99 explaining how Jesus and the Apostles are witnesses to this. My argument, in sum, is that their references to Scripture presuppose a general understanding of what Scripture is.

    My point was that if we establish that a consensus existed, then the content of that consensus is knowABLE, that is, it is a theoretically knowable fact through historical inquiry.

    Simply referencing Josephus or 4 Ezra doesn’t do the trick….

    Instead of spending so much time arguing against things I haven’t raised, why don’t you respond to my actual arguments?

    For that matter, I’d love to know how you identify who was and wasn’t an “orthodox Jew” at that time. How do you theorize that category?

    Clearly, the Sadducees were excluded both doctrinally (e.g. resurrection of the dead) and canonically (rejecting the prophets) by Jesus, to address one of the examples I gave.

    I don’t mean anything rigorous by the category of “orthodox”, only that it is broadly what Jesus and the Apostles would have identified as true worship of Yahweh by the Jewish remnant in the context of early 1st century Palestine. This would exclude various sects that affirmed only the Torah while rejecting the prophets, or sects that rejected synagogue and Temple worship.

    Relatedly, why is it the case that “the New Testament must be allowed to function as a witness of such general consensus in 1st century Palestine”?

    It must be allowed because the NT is historically accurate.

    What evidence and arguments do you have for this other than your (seeming) theological need for some such “general consensus” to have existed

    This is a lazy canard. It is hardly a personal theological need, I pointed out that a canonical consensus is a direct implication of both reasonable exegesis of various NT texts, as well as the NT’s doctrine of Scripture taken as a whole.

  105. JeffB said,

    December 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Ron #103,
    You wrote:

    “what was received by the OT people of God and the early church is precisely what we are to regard as Scripture”

    What the early church received was the Apocrypha included in the LXX and even a bit more. It was amazing to me the first time I read the ECF (including the direct disciples of the apostles) to find the extent to which they not only quote the Apocryphal books but refer to them as scripture and inspired and from the Holy Spirit in the same way they do the usual 39 Protestant OT canon books.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  106. CD-Host said,

    December 10, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    @David 100

    I think Stephen handled most of what I wanted to say. But I do want to hit on one point he touched on briefly.

    The mere existence of this counter-example doesn’t mean it makes a lick of sense. Either a body of work is the Word of God in the words of men (2 authors, one of whom is Deity), or else it is merely the word of men (1 human author). It is rather binary on the basic level of authorship (and thus authority), so it is not fuzzy at all.

    That may be binary in Protestantism it is not in Judaism, or for that matter Catholicism. Getting to Jews since that’s the thrust here, all people contain a divine spark that expresses itself in every action of every individual all the time. There is no such thing in Judaism as action totally devoid of divine authorship. Every document ever written from (with the possible exception of the pentateuch) falls into the 2 authors class, from your manual to your car to the book of Judges. So for Jews it is not a question of whether, but rather to what extent is the book of divine authorship. And the highest extent excluding torah / pentateuch would be mishnah not any of the other Tanakh books.

    Again this area where you are seeing totally illogic comes from trying to impose Protestant theology on Judaism. If you want to talk about what Jews thought you need to think in Jewish terms, not Protestant terms.

    Now as for Jesus. I think you may have lost track of the argument.

    CD: Jews then did not have a Protestant concept of canon. In so far as they have a view at all of what Protestants mean by canon it is much fuzzier.

    Dave: They can’t be true because there are terms in the New Testament like “God Breathed” which couldn’t apply to a fuzzy canon.

    CD: Jews today have that flexible view and Jews today use those sorts of expressions.

    Dave: Well that doesn’t make sense.

    And what I would say it doesn’t make sense from a Protestant perspective, it does make sense from a Jewish one. So the counter example really does disprove your point. The NT authors could very well have been using those expressions and had a fuzzy concept in mind.

  107. Stephen said,

    December 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    David (104),

    Why would the NT be positive evidence for a 1st century consensus about the canon among Jews in Palestine? The fact that some NT writings represent Jesus or their authors as talking about some collection of sacred writings doesn’t imply that some consensus existed. Let’s at least start with something demonstrable: this “proves” that those writings talk about some collection and that the authors in question may have had a fixed collection in mind. In other words, there you have evidence for the ideas of a few literate Jews, who, btw, you cannot prove agreed with each other. Do you have any useable evidence that the author of 2 Timothy had the same collection of sacred books in mind as the author of Luke?

    As I and others have pointed out, such authors can refer to some collection, and perhaps in their minds have an idea of what precisely is in it, without their audiences having to agree or also share the precise boundaries of that collection. The category or idea of Judean sacred books was something that all manner of ancient Mediterranean people could have found intelligible, even if they didn’t know the precise contents of that collection (some would have a clearer idea and/or position about the contents, other would just know that the reference was to the sacred books of the Judeans).

    I mentioned Josephus and 4 Ezra books because you brought up the 22/24 books number, which come from, respectively, Josephus and 4 Ezra.

    I brought up the “theological need” issue because almost all your points presume a specific theological take on the NT for these matters. You, for example, presume that “the NT is historically accurate” and, beyond that, accurate in identifying your category of “orthodox Jews,” i.e., (in your words), “what Jesus and the Apostles would have identified as true worship of Yahweh by the Jewish remnant in the context of early 1st century Palestine.” These are not historical and theological assessments (your delineation of the category “orthodox” here is inherently theological-historical) that would be agreed to by folks who don’t share your specific theological views about the NT.

    When you claim that your position “is a direct implication of both reasonable exegesis of various NT texts, as well as the NT’s doctrine of Scripture taken as a whole,” how is that not also completely binding up your positions with your theological views of the NT? Again, your claim about the NT’s historical accuracy and even your implied positions about its authorship by Palestinian Jews are not ideas that would be shared by people who don’t share your specific theological assessment of the NT as inerrant and so on. Even your “reasonable exegesis” proceeds with a serious modification (distortion) of anything resembling historical methodology: you presume that readings of the NT texts that keep those texts accurate and inerrant are inherently better interpretive options. Last I checked that’s not really a way to ensure accurate readings of texts, but instead a way to ensure that only readings that uphold a text’s accuracy are legitimate…there’s a big difference between those two options…and, in this case, the difference comes down precisely to your theological convictions.

  108. December 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    CD Host said That may be binary in Protestantism it is not in Judaism, or for that matter Catholicism. Getting to Jews since that’s the thrust here, all people contain a divine spark that expresses itself….

    It is interesting that you and Stephen are taking such pains to point out a diversity of beliefs in 2nd Temple Judaism and then revert to such a generalization about Judaism.

    And what I would say it doesn’t make sense from a Protestant perspective, it does make sense from a Jewish one.

    That is an oversimplification, inasmuch as we are arguing that the Protestant “perspective” (theology and doctrine of Scripture) is that of the New Testament, and the authors of the NT were Jewish.

    We accept that there were differing views of Scripture within 2nd Temple Judaism, some “higher” and some “lower.” You are the one trying to paint Judaism with a broad brush. My argument is that Jesus and the Apostles were part of the tradition within Judaism that held to a high doctrine of Scripture.

  109. Stephen said,

    December 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    David (108),

    I’m unclear on where I specifically made the generalizations you have in mind.

    BTW, if your “argument” is that “Jesus and the apostles were part of the tradition within Judaism that held to a high doctrine of Scripture,” can you adduce evidence that points us to that “tradition within Judaism”? I’m not denying that certain Jewish sources make claims about Jewish sacred writings that you would identify as “high doctrine of Scripture.” I’m just curious if you could point to such evidence, explain it, explain how it constitutes “the tradition” you indicate, and then discuss in detail how certain NT claims relate to “the tradition” you have in mind.

  110. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    JeffB,

    If we use the Septuagint as you have, then 3 and 4 Maccabees is canonical, which you would deny as being such. Consequently, your argument is disqualified. Moreover, as Andrew argued how reliable it to base canonicity on such strictures as inclusion in the LXX when Protestant bibles have included books that Protestants never deemed canonical. (Some of my Bibles even have study notes.) And as David noted, Jesus’ categories either implied something clear or not. If not, then all reduces to skepticism. But if we can take Jesus at is word, which I realize Roman Catholics don’t like to do, we may then safely say his audience was not confused over the matter. We have no reason to think he hadn’t communicated something intelligible to his hearers – something they would have understood.

  111. CD-Host said,

    December 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    @David 108

    It is interesting that you and Stephen are taking such pains to point out a diversity of beliefs in 2nd Temple Judaism and then revert to such a generalization about Judaism.

    This is an area where there was more or less uniformity. Hellenists, Pharisees, Gnostic Jews, Essenes… all agreed on this point. For that matter as I mentioned so did Catholics. You won’t like hearing it put this way, but I don’t see any evidence for your theology of scripture in Christianity or mainstream Hellenistic Judaism till something like the 14th century. The argument here is that there was some sort of mainstream Jewish canon, in something like a Protestant sense in effect in the 1st century. While the sects (at least all the large ones) do differ none of them share that set of beliefs.

    My argument is that Jesus and the Apostles were part of the tradition within Judaism that held to a high doctrine of Scripture.

    “High” and “Low” don’t apply here. The question is rigid uniform doctrine of inspiration with sharp boundaries vs. a hierarchy of inspiration with layered boundaries. As I’ve mentioned Jews today arguably have a higher view of inspiration of the Pentateuch than Conservative Protestants, while at the same time holding a flexible view of outer boundaries. Your theology doesn’t allow for that, which is fine but when we are discussing history, your theology didn’t exist yet and wouldn’t for many centuries. If you want to what to talk in terms of what a contemporaneous audience would have understood these terms to mean, you need to talk historically not in terms of later theology.

    And as for the rest Stephen again has beaten me to the punch with an excellent post.

  112. JeffB said,

    December 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Ron #110,
    I was not asserting the simple formula “if in LXX, therefore in church canon.” My point was that the early church fathers used and quoted a wider range of books in the LXX as inspired Scripture than the current Protestant canon.

    There are a lot of complex arguments going on here but it seems fairly certain that there were Jews who accepted apocryphal books and at least they were utilized regularly even when not accepted. Couple that with the early church utilizing these books as Scripture because they were in accord with apostolic teaching and the case for them becomes quite strong.

    I find it compelling that there is continuity of recognition and usage from the earliest church writings (in my view, including in the NT) right up to the present in both the Catholic and Orthodox worlds. That continuity grows out of Jewish usage rather than being an addition to or rejection of Jewish usage.

    Peace,
    Jeff

  113. December 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    Stephen said As I and others have pointed out, such authors can refer to some collection, and perhaps in their minds have an idea of what precisely is in it, without their audiences having to agree or also share the precise boundaries of that collection. The category or idea of Judean sacred books was something that all manner of ancient Mediterranean people could have found intelligible, even if they didn’t know the precise contents of that collection (some would have a clearer idea and/or position about the contents, other would just know that the reference was to the sacred books of the Judeans).

    Fair enough, the reference would be intelligible in a basic sort of way. I can understand what, say, the “works of Homer” or “the works of Shakespeare” refers to, even if I don’t know which books or works, precisely, they wrote.

    The problem is that Jesus is presupposing more than just basic intelligibility of the reference to his audience- he is counting on a thorough enough understanding of the contents of Scripture to underwrite His Messianic status. Also, Jesus repeatedly appeals to Scripture as a rule of faith in doctrinal and ethical debates with his adversaries. This just can’t happen if the canon is undefined.

    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Notice that it is ALL the prophets, and ALL the Scriptures, again this must assume a delineation in the minds of the two Apostles.

    Sure, there is room for some “fuzziness”, a disputed book or two, but still close agreement would be required.

    These are not historical and theological assessments (your delineation of the category “orthodox” here is inherently theological-historical) that would be agreed to by folks who don’t share your specific theological views about the NT.

    If the folks who don’t share my specific theological views about the NT are wrong, what does it matter? I’m not being glib. I wouldn’t expect methods premised on theologically defective grounds to yield sound historical conclusions. You are trying to posit a theologically-neutral way of answering questions regarding the canon, but that simply isn’t possible. Nor would it be intellectually or morally desirable, even if it were possible. You are arguing like an unbeliever.

    I’m not really here to deal with the arguments of unbelievers, at least not primarily. That requires a totally different set of apologetic arguments. Lane’s original post addresses an intramural debate that at least presupposes some basic orthodoxy, not unbelieving skepticism. I’m responding in that context.

    When you claim that your position “is a direct implication of both reasonable exegesis of various NT texts, as well as the NT’s doctrine of Scripture taken as a whole,” how is that not also completely binding up your positions with your theological views of the NT?

    One could very well REJECT the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, yet still identify those teachings accurately. Indeed, isn’t one *required* to understand a writer or speaker’s broader teaching when interpreting specific texts and issues as an honest historical inquirer? There really is no getting around this step when attempting to establish an author’s intent.

  114. Stephen said,

    December 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    David (113),

    Thanks for your continued engagement here. Some further thoughts from me:

    I urge caution in so quickly identifying people who don’t affirm the inerrancy of the Bible with “unbelievers,” “arguing like an unbeliever,” “unbelieving skepticism,” and so on — as well as so rapidly associating the approaches of such people with standard evangelical-Reformed apologetics tropes of such folks trying to have “neutrality.” Sure, some people and their arguments deserved to be categorized thus, but I hope we can all recognize the problem of too quickly resorting to such categorizations since they make it very easy simply to dismiss the arguments of someone who doesn’t agree with you. Please understand, I’m not claiming that this is all you’re doing here.

    I’m not “trying to posit a theologically-neutral way of answering questions regarding the canon.” If you’ll note from my comment above (74), I’m not trying to question our Protestant identifications of the canon. I’m questioning the often associated (supposedly) historical arguments that evangelicals try to make about the state of “the OT canon” around the time of Jesus.

    I’m also pointing out that once you start using your theologically determined view of the NT’s historical and theological value on these matters to answer this supposedly historical question of the state of the OT canon among Jews in the 1st century, you are no longer doing history — but a form of “history” whose interpretive methodology is refracted through your theological commitments. I guess that’s ok in some fields of discourse and social formations, but it’s not a recipe for accurately approaching historical data.

    Whose account of the Civil War would you rather read? One by a “historian” who commits ahead of time to the total accuracy (historically, morally, and theologically) of a particular participant’s memoirs, or one by a historian who refuses to thus commit to any single account and, instead, tries to weigh every piece of evidence as carefully as possible? Picking up on your claims about me trying to have some “theologically neutral” approach: would you be impressed by a skinhead “Holocaust Denier” claiming that you only reject his “arguments” because you’re trying to operate with an illegitimate “theologically neutral” (or “theologically incorrect”) approach to the historical data that doesn’t take into account the theological truths of ________________ (fill in with what we all identify as Nazi propaganda about their “master race” and the moral inferiority and culpability of Jews)? I bring this up not to say that evangelical-Reformed canon apologists are basically skinheads, but to illustrate the point at issue by recourse to an example that I suspect will be obvious to all of us.

    In all arenas of inquiry we tend to recognize the importance of approaches to the data, issues, and questions that precisely do not commit to privileging the claims of any one source/person at the outset in a way that puts that source/person’s claims beyond analysis and scrutiny. Evangelicals, however, suspend such standard operating procedure when it comes to the Bible – but rather than acknowledging that they’re decidedly modifying standard operating procedure they try to claim that they’re actually operating with the most epistemologically, psychologically, methodologically, etc., “responsible” approach. Why not just admit at the outset that you are completely committed to privileging the Bible’s claims and will refract all related historical, scientific, and theological discussion through that commitment?

    As you can probably guess, I am not convinced by standard evangelical and/or Van Tilian apologetics tropes about the impossibility of “theologically neutral” approaches to such historical issues and thus that simply presuming the correctness of their own theological positions and reading them into the historical data is the most epistemologically, methodologically, or even theologically responsible way to roll.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that people can approach things in purely “neutral” or “objective” ways, separated from their various social, institutional, cultural, theological, etc., circumstances. I am, however, denying that one can use that incredibly basic point about people (a point that everyone with a university humanities education should already know) as some “argument” for reifying one’s own theological positions and creating the methodological rule that interpretations of the data that bring it into line with one’s own theology are to be inherently preferred and that such a “rule” is in fact the most accurate and sophisticated philosophical, epistemological, and methodological way to operate. That kind of “rule,” btw, is what most of such evangelical and/or Van Tilian apologetics claims boil down to when it comes to dealing with the data…and, when it’s put that way, it should be easy for anyone to notice how arbitrary and self-authorizing that approach is: they only accept interpretations of the data that accord with their own views, and they consider all interpretations that would counter their views as in-principle illegitimate.

    I get that this discussion was meant to be an intramural discussion. But Lane, you, and others have represented your positions as claims that hold water when scrutinized historically. You have made claims that are, in your own presentations of them, supported by data and thus able to be checked against data — and you use such notional historical-academic characteristics of your claims as support in your apologetics. As such, I find it entirely appropriate to interrogate the historical claims in question and to point out when theologically-dictated considerations are being smuggled into purportedly historical methodology in order to establish those claims.

    Sure, you can say that only your theologically dictated “history” is legitimate. But when you do that you should also be willing to admit that the purportedly historical aspect of your canon argument here is, in actuality, a theologically-circular argument that ultimately depends upon accepting all your theological premises at the outset. In other words, it’s an “I’m right because I’m right” circular argument; it’s an “argument” that depends upon granting you all your theological positions at the outset.

    Apologies for this long and critical comment. Though we obviously disagree with each other, I hope my criticisms come across as they are intended…as friendly disagreement that outlines my positions on relevant matters here. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  115. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Jeff,

    That “there were Jews who accepted apocryphal books” is not an argument for your position, nor a refutation of the Protestant position.

    That “the early church [utilized] these books as Scripture” is a dubious claim given that any use was spotty at best and, therefore, not catholic. Accordingly, the church did not receive the hidden books. The official pronouncement of the books at Trent undermines the church having received the Word as its foundation, Christ’s intention.

    This leads us back to Lane’s original point. The question is whether the books were received as canonical by the OT church, which Jesus’ remarks prespuppose that they weren’t.

  116. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Brothers and RC’s, let’s keep in mind that the non-reception of the apocryphal books by the NT church is part-and-parcel with the non-reception of them by the OT saints that transitioned from old to new, like the apostles. So, to argue pertaining to the three-fold category (Moses, Prophets and Psalms) is to argue not just that the Jews did not accept these books but that NT church did not as well. :-)

  117. December 11, 2012 at 1:35 am

    Stephen said I’m also pointing out that once you start using your theologically determined view of the NT’s historical and theological value on these matters to answer this supposedly historical question of the state of the OT canon among Jews in the 1st century, you are no longer doing history — but a form of “history” whose interpretive methodology is refracted through your theological commitments. I guess that’s ok in some fields of discourse and social formations, but it’s not a recipe for accurately approaching historical data.

    You say this as if it were self-evidently true, but it is the very matter at issue. When we make historical conclusions, we evaluate witnesses to that history, and this necessarily involves making various value judgments about these witnesses and sources. The accuracy of these judgements will feed into the quality of our historical conclusions. If Jesus is God and the NT is the Word of God, then we have a reliable witness to the nature of the historical phenomena it speaks to. Sure, non-Christian historians will not accept the premise, but again, if the premise is nevertheless true, why should we care? The premise/judgment might be “theological” in nature, but if it is relevant to history, then…it is relevant.

    Whose account of the Civil War would you rather read? One by a “historian” who commits ahead of time to the total accuracy (historically, morally, and theologically) of a particular participant’s memoirs, or one by a historian who refuses to thus commit to any single account and, instead, tries to weigh every piece of evidence as carefully as possible?

    This is a parallel minus the parallel. Sure, in the normal course of historical study we treat fallible human witnesses with a level of suspicion, and weigh their testimony accordingly. In the case of certain witnesses we might judge them to be impeccably trustworthy, and would weigh their testimony heavily. But as Christians we are confronted with the special case, in the case of the biblical authors, they are not just impeccably trustworthy, but perfectly trustworthy, being inspired by God. So in all cases we give credence to a given testimony in proportion to the trustworthiness due the witness.

    In any case, even an unbeliever may regard the NT as generally historically reliable, and thus the NT would function as *a* witness of the status of Scripture in 1st Century Palestine. It would at least be one data point amongst many.

    Picking up on your claims about me trying to have some “theologically neutral” approach: would you be impressed by a skinhead “Holocaust Denier” claiming that you only reject his “arguments” because you’re trying to operate with an illegitimate “theologically neutral” (or “theologically incorrect”) approach to the historical data that doesn’t take into account the theological truths of ________________ (fill in with what we all identify as Nazi propaganda about their “master race” and the moral inferiority and culpability of Jews)? I bring this up not to say that evangelical-Reformed canon apologists are basically skinheads, but to illustrate the point at issue by recourse to an example that I suspect will be obvious to all of us.

    It is hard to discern your exact point here. Of course we would not be “impressed” by such assertions from skinheads, but the question is why. Yes, the accusation of theological neutrality to deflect legitimate historical challenges to a belief system is a cop-out. But how is it that I am engaging in that? I have held that the NT testimony regarding the 1st century Jewish view of Scripture is harmonious with the extra-biblical historical sources and, indeed, adds to them.

    And your example, in fact, demonstrates that you are confusing apologetics (you are trying to apply an “outsider” test of a given belief system) with systematic theology. In addressing the issue of canon, I am not attempting to defend the Christian faith as a belief system, I am applying the Christian faith to questions regarding the nature and extent of Scripture. Sure, systematic theology requires the trenchwork of exegesis and extra-biblical historical data to address the issues within its purview. But this is an entirely different task from showing that a given theology or belief system is in accord with reasonable historic inquiry.

    In all arenas of inquiry we tend to recognize the importance of approaches to the data, issues, and questions that precisely do not commit to privileging the claims of any one source/person at the outset

    This is obviously false if you consider theology an “arena of inquiry”. Christianity is a revealed religion, so in Christian theology we privilege the revelation of God.

    And who said anything about privileging anything “at the outset”? We already have separate reasons and arguments for the basics of the Christian faith that are logically prior to this. Again, you are confusing this with apologetic issues.

    in a way that puts that source/person’s claims beyond analysis and scrutiny.

    This is a canard. One is free to analyze and scrutinize Jesus, the Apostles, and the NT record. It is just that we have already done so, we have come to a conclusion, and realized that there are logical implications of this conclusion. It won’t do to now treat the individual teachings of Christ and the Apostles skeptically until we can establish extra-biblical confirmation. God first gives us sufficient evidence for His Word in various ways, and then we trust in it and walk by faith. Again, this is the difference between apologetics and applying our faith (systematic theology) respectively.

    As you can probably guess, I am not convinced by standard evangelical and/or Van Tilian apologetics tropes about the impossibility of “theologically neutral” approaches to such historical issues and thus that simply presuming the correctness of their own theological positions and reading them into the historical data is the most epistemologically, methodologically, or even theologically responsible way to roll.

    Rejecting theological neutrality does not leave us with “presuming the correctness of our own theological positions and reading them into the historical data” as the alternative. This is, at best, a criticism of a hyper-presuppositionalism that few would support, and, at worst, a simple straw-man. And, again, this shows that you are stuck on apologetic issues, but this is a domain confusion.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that people can approach things in purely “neutral” or “objective” ways, separated from their various social, institutional, cultural, theological, etc., circumstances. I am, however, denying that one can use that incredibly basic point about people (a point that everyone with a university humanities education should already know) as some “argument” for reifying one’s own theological positions and creating the methodological rule that interpretations of the data that bring it into line with one’s own theology are to be inherently preferred and that such a “rule” is in fact the most accurate and sophisticated philosophical, epistemological, and methodological way to operate. That kind of “rule,” btw, is what most of such evangelical and/or Van Tilian apologetics claims boil down to when it comes to dealing with the data…and, when it’s put that way, it should be easy for anyone to notice how arbitrary and self-authorizing that approach is: they only accept interpretations of the data that accord with their own views, and they consider all interpretations that would counter their views as in-principle illegitimate.

    You might fancy yourself a proficient historian, but you are a poor student of presuppositionalism. All of these accusations (many of which are simply straw-men) have been dealt with repeatedly in the published literature. Many, such as John Frame, have repeatedly addressed the issue of circularity, for starters. It is not my job to rehearse these arguments, as the issue of inter-faith apologetics is off-topic to Lane’s post.

    I get that this discussion was meant to be an intramural discussion. But Lane, you, and others have represented your positions as claims that hold water when scrutinized historically. You have made claims that are, in your own presentations of them, supported by data and thus able to be checked against data — and you use such notional historical-academic characteristics of your claims as support in your apologetics. As such, I find it entirely appropriate to interrogate the historical claims in question and to point out when theologically-dictated considerations are being smuggled into purportedly historical methodology in order to establish those claims.

    Again, you have not established the supposition that our inquiry ought to be purely “historical” without reference to relevant theological considerations. We hold that *for the believer* our historical method is different because of this, and IT OUGHT TO BE.

    Sure, you can say that only your theologically dictated “history” is legitimate. But when you do that you should also be willing to admit that the purportedly historical aspect of your canon argument here is, in actuality, a theologically-circular argument that ultimately depends upon accepting all your theological premises at the outset.

    As a matter of fact, that’s not what our view entails. It only entails the premises of a rather basic orthodoxy – that Jesus is Lord, that the Gospels record his teaching, and that we ought to believe in the body of work He referred to as “Scripture”.

    In other words, it’s an “I’m right because I’m right” circular argument; it’s an “argument” that depends upon granting you all your theological positions at the outset.

    This ignores the fact that, in the context of this issue as an intramural debate, many of the theological positions between us are agreed upon. We believe Jesus’ teaching in the NT is divine teaching. It is only prudent to build upon this common ground. You are just interjecting your own hang-ups into this debate. Again, google “presuppositionalism” and “circularity”. Not all circularity or presuppositional reasoning is vicious circularity.

  118. CD-Host said,

    December 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Davi @117 –

    I have to tell you I find the intellectual nihilism that is becoming fashionable in Reformed circles under the idea of “presuppositional” to be rather unbecoming. I see no reason Stephen should be on the defensive here. Are we discussing the history of earth as it exists, or the history of some imaginary Narnia like place? Because on earth, the question of what various groups that have left us a wide range range of literature and artifacts believe is determined by reading that literature and looking at those artifacts. On attack on that sort of basic question about the nature of history, is an attack on the very possibility of human knowledge of the past in any sense.

    Systematic theology is fine. Systematic theology gets to make statements about the nature of the God, the faith or the church. It does not get to make statements about the opinions of well documented historical groups of people. If one feels free to just make history up because it is in better conformity with your theology then claims that Christianity is a historical religion cease to be true in anything like a meaningful sense.

    Secondly, there are no clear statements in the 66 book canon which indicate this is the right canon nor what the right canon should be. You aren’t asking that scripture be taken as infallible but that theories you are making based on vague allusions to a fixed body of literature be considered infallible. Even if one were to assume that you were right that Jesus must have presupposed a fixed body of Old Testament literature, there is no reason to believe that this fixed body would be a canon which is not even first mentioned anywhere in the historical record until 100 years after his earthly ministry ends. The NT’s statements on the contents of the OT canon are so vague that one would still be confronted with huge problems of canon, precisely the problems that on earth the Jews did debate after 134 CE in trying to close down some of the more speculative parts of Judaism.

    Finally, there is no intramural debate. Things like the WCF solve the problem intramurally. Both the original post and in comments like #3 Lane indicates pretty clearly this is not meant to be an intramural debate, but rather addressed towards the Catholics and other pro-deutocanonical Protestants.

  119. CD-Host said,

    December 11, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Ron @115

    That “the early church [utilized] these books as Scripture” is a dubious claim given that any use was spotty at best and, therefore, not catholic.

    Since this was spotty. Can you name one Christian sect, in the ancient world that used the Protestant Old Testament canon? Can you even name one author who makes a clear definitive comment that this is the canon in use by his community? Can you name one author who when criticizing another Christian community (or attacking Gnostics) attacks their choice of OT canon?

    In other words can you provide any evidence at all that the use of the LXX was spotty at all, much less “spotty at best”?

  120. Ron said,

    December 11, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Since this was spotty. Can you name one Christian sect, in the ancient world that used the Protestant Old Testament canon? Can you even name one author who makes a clear definitive comment that this is the canon in use by his community? Can you name one author who when criticizing another Christian community (or attacking Gnostics) attacks their choice of OT canon.

    In other words can you provide any evidence at all that the use of the LXX was spotty at all, much less “spotty at best”?

    CD-Host,

    It’s striking to me that you think you’ve asked the same question in paragraph two as in paragraph one. Your “in other words” makes this clear, that you think the queries are the same or least stand and fall together.

    First off, my statement pertained to the use of the Apocrypha whereas your second paragraph asked me to provide evidence about the LXX. I never commented on the LXX, maybe because the Fathers’ use of the LXX is irrelevant to the question of whether the early church received the Apocrypha as Scripture. Even if you meant the Apocrypha, your question is still wrongheaded. How would one go about persuading you that the use of the Apocrypha was spotty – by producing its non-usage? What if I were to produce positive references by the Fathers to non-apocryphal canonical books? Of course that wouldn’t suffice either for the Roman communion accepts those books.

    Let’s review bidding… I stated that the use of apocryphal books as Scripture by the early church was spotty. The evidence, or lack thereof, for the employment of the Protestant OT canon (your paragraph 1) doesn’t impact the question of whether the use of the Apocrypha was spotty (your paragraph 2). Logically speaking it need not be shown that the use of the Protestant canon was abundant in order to conclude that the use of the Apocrypha as Scripture was spotty. The two premises aren’t mutually exclusive hence your false disjunction. One way of fleshing out this fallacy is by imagining that the evidence for either claim is spotty. And if I were to produce abundant references to non-apocryphal canonical books you would be underwhelmed for Rome also receives them. Accordingly, you’ve set yourself up to be beyond persuasion because of a lack of appreciation for what constitutes burden of proof at it pertains to evidence from silence. It’s not that I am trying to avoid proving something. Nobody here is. I’m merely pointing out that only proof available, which has been provided to you by David et al., would be to begin with OT precedence and proceed from there.

    By way of review, Jesus’s 3-fold distinction establishes for us the OT saints’ understanding of the canon. The apostles and all the other disciples transitioned from the OT into the New Testament church; so we can be confident about what they would have received as Scripture. There is no evidence the NT authors regarded the Apocrypha as Scripture – so the extension of God’s providence with respect to the church getting the canon right goes even further into the NT church, as we would expect. Now then, when do we find the reception of the Apocrypha in the early catholic church? I don’t see it, which is why I call it spotty at best. Prove me wrong. Assume the burden of proof that is rightly yours and show that the church indeed did receive the books that were not received by Christ and his early followers.

    David and the rest, you’ve all done a fine job IMHO. I don’t know what more I can add, not that I added anything that wasn’t argued already. In any case, he’s all yours!

    Ron

  121. CD-Host said,

    December 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    @Ron 120

    Yes I do think the questions are related. If someone is running around with a book of Vedas, the Gita and the Śruti then that says something different about their likely view of what is scriptural. And something quite different than if they are running around with a Qu’ran or the ESV-Study bible. Choice of scripture is rather strong evidence about choice of canon.

    . How would one go about persuading you that the use of the Apocrypha was spotty

    Showing me church fathers explicitly rejecting it. Irenaeus treatment of the Gospel of Truth, or Tertullian with Acts of Paul and Thecla. Statements about a text being discovered like Peter’s Epistles, indicate they weren’t heavily used prior to their “discovery”.

    The evidence, or lack thereof, for the employment of the Protestant OT canon (your paragraph 1) doesn’t impact the question of whether the use of the Apocrypha was spotty (your paragraph 2).

    I agree with you. Which is why I also agree with you that showing use of the Protestant canon is not going to be evidence of much of anything.
    This is a pretty clear situation. You have a bunch of early Christians running around, almost exclusively with OT that look very much look like the Vulgate’s 51 book canon. We have records of church fathers quoting rather freely from the 51 book canon. There is 0 documentary evidence of any of them ever using the Protestant 39 book canon. That’s on top of there being 0 documentary evidence of a single Jew prior to the mid 2nd century ever having listing the Protestant 39 book canon and 0 evidence of it being widely accepted among them till 100 years after that.

    Of course that impacts the question!

    I’m merely pointing out that only proof available, which has been provided to you by David et al., would be to begin with OT precedence and proceed from there.

    The argument about the OT tends to be question begging. It assumes the Protestant canon is the OT canon and from that proves that OT canon is the right one.

    But that is not the only proof available of what Christians used. What we do have that is real proof is artifacts from early Christians. For example of the 425 (approx) Vetus Latina (old Latin translation) 28 are from first and second Maccabees. That is evidence for rather heavy use of Maccabees in the 2nd and 3rd century Christian community. Hundreds of examples like that move from evidence to proof.

    The apostles and all the other disciples transitioned from the OT into the New Testament church;

    What does that even mean? There is no “old testament church”. Jews don’t have churches anymore than they have mosques.

    In the real world: there is some sort of Jewish sacrificial cult until about 332 BCE where Judaism starts to fragment into divergent sects. By the mid 2nd century BCE the sect that picked the bible you like was distinct from the ones that became the Christians. The Hasmoneans became the Pharisees and then the Rabbinic Jews, and it is the Rabbinic Jews that picked the Protestant canon. Conversely the Hellenizing Jews are the opponents of the Hasmonians theologically. and they are the group from which Christianity grows. If you mean in Palestine, the most likely proto-Christian sects are the Tzadok baptizing sects come out of the Sadducees and so wouldn’t accept the Protestant canon either.

    There is no unified canonical concept nor theological unity. And if you are going to pick a canon based on one of these sects, you are picking a sect that is not from the same part of the tree.

  122. John W said,

    December 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    The RC’s better start praying to the patron saint of lost causes. Who is that St. Jude? CD-H is way over his head here and it shows!

  123. December 14, 2012 at 1:38 am

    CD-H,

    Pardon the delay. Rough week at work.

    Sorry I can’t agree with you regarding Josephus and not a few scholars would echo my sentiment. I’m sceptical of your methods and your reading of history. We could argue the early Church and Middle Ages for ad nauseam. But we’re well beyond arguing over any of these points.
    Speaking of scepticism, you said that your own was irrelevant. Actually it is your scepticism which is paramount here. Canon as I keep insisting…okay let me clarify, ‘Christian Canon’ is a theological category rooted in the claims of Christ.
    It is also rooted in a faith that the Holy Spirit will not only inspire the canonical writings but will preserve them, and help the Church to ascertain which books are indeed inspired and thus to be recognized. Historical and ecclesiastical considerations certainly play a part, but we’re not talking about a set of criteria akin to figuring out which letters Napoleon actually wrote or whether or not the CIA was actually involved in assassinating Diem. Divine Inspiration can’t be dissected in a forensic laboratory. You’re trying to catch the Wind in a bottle.
    Obviously your view which seeks to somehow (and how baffling it is) determine via historical/scientific method which books are ‘in’ completely discounts this. At that point, why would you believe any of the Scripture? It would seem you don’t. You certainly can’t believe in inspiration, let alone inerrancy. Why would you bother with the question of canon if you don’t believe in Providential preservation? They would be just dead letters and of little or no value.
    At the end of the day, the problem is a deficiency of faith. You don’t believe any of it and thus from my standpoint (and Paul’s) you are not qualified to make any of these determinations. It is foolishness to you. The second chapter of 1 Corinthians comes to mind.
    Sure you can critique the historical record and there’s plenty of errors, oddities, and inconsistencies throughout history to muddy the waters. Even Dan Brown doesn’t get absolutely everything wrong. But in the end he gets it wrong. And if you think you can build, you’re mistaken. In the end all you can do is destroy. Perhaps that’s your intention.

  124. Bob S said,

    December 14, 2012 at 2:10 am

    122 Perhaps that’s your intention.

    Bingo. Mr. CD is a positivist/empiricist skeptic and is zealously evangelizing for his beliefs. He considers the LXX a canon of sorts only in order to destroy belief in the Hebrew canon. Like the New Perspective on Paul, the testimony of Scripture is ignored in order to privilege the replacement of it with extra biblical texts albeit 2nd Temple Judaism or the apocrypha.

    But among other things, just for one, if we can’t be sure of the biblical text, neither can we be certain of the Greek apocrypha or just when in history they became attached to the LXX. Skepticism cuts both ways as the Enlightenment philosphes found out, if they were even aware of it.

  125. December 14, 2012 at 3:36 am

    CD Host said I have to tell you I find the intellectual nihilism that is becoming fashionable in Reformed circles under the idea of “presuppositional” to be rather unbecoming.

    I believe that VanTil and the various pressup expositors have given us key insights into the nature of knowledge and historical inquiry. Most likely, VanTil would frown on my “two tier” conception of apologetics as belonging to evidentialism. I don’t mean to say that I’m smart enough to have stumbled upon a nuanced and clever “third way”, but I am happy to appropriate and synthesize the insights of both camps as appropriate.

    Because on earth, the question of what various groups that have left us a wide range range of literature and artifacts believe is determined by reading that literature and looking at those artifacts. On attack on that sort of basic question about the nature of history, is an attack on the very possibility of human knowledge of the past in any sense.

    On a basic level of historical honesty, it will not do to exempt the various NT witnesses as being valid witnesses to at least a cross-section of 2nd Temple Judaism. You point out that there was a great deal of diversity on canonical views amongst 2nd Temple Judaism based on a wide cross-section of literature, sources, and witnesses. Sure. But this does not logically preclude that there was a dominant or “typical” view amongst Jesus’ immediate audience. A general consensus can exist even if there are contemporaneous parties that hold to divergent views.

    You would have to have fairly exhaustive knowledge of early 1st century Palestine to preclude this possibility. But, sorry, Pew and Rasmussen weren’t around to take scientific polls of such scope.

    Secondly, there are no clear statements in the 66 book canon which indicate this is the right canon nor what the right canon should be.

    I never said nor implied otherwise.

    You aren’t asking that scripture be taken as infallible but that theories you are making based on vague allusions to a fixed body of literature be considered infallible.

    I never asserted that a specific list of canonical books is proven directly by the NT references. I asserted that the NT testifies of a fixed OT canon that most of the original audience would at least understand (even if not all parties would agree). Whether our list is the same as theirs is a different question, one I haven’t addressed at this juncture. That is because one must first answer correctly the first question, whether or not Jesus and the apostles referred to a fixed and closed OT canon.

    The NT’s statements on the contents of the OT canon are so vague that one would still be confronted with huge problems of canon, precisely the problems that on earth the Jews did debate after 134 CE in trying to close down some of the more speculative parts of Judaism.

    The question is not whether the problems are huge, but whether they are insuperable. In theory they are not – if there was a canonical consensus then it is knowable, in theory. Perhaps this would require archeological breakthroughs for a high level of confidence on the specific content of that canonical consensus. But for the time being we are satisfied to make the best reconstruction based on inference and what we do know from the available historical data, and based on supplementary theological considerations.

    Finally, there is no intramural debate. Things like the WCF solve the problem intramurally. Both the original post and in comments like #3 Lane indicates pretty clearly this is not meant to be an intramural debate, but rather addressed towards the Catholics and other pro-deutocanonical Protestants.

    In this context, that is an intramural debate, because there is a “basic” orthodoxy present amongst the named parties. We all hold to basic theological premises, namely that Jesus is Lord, the Apostles have the right to speak for Him, and the NT is a reliable record of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.

  126. CD-Host said,

    December 14, 2012 at 8:13 am

    @proto

    There are two arguments:

    i) What are the facts of history being used to support the canon debate.
    ii) What is the correct canon.

    I’ve mainly tried to stay to (i). I’ve been focusing on false historical claims like the Jews used the 39 book canon in Jesus’ time. It is entirely possible that the Protestant canon is right even if the apologetics being offered for it are wrong. Those really are two separate questions.

    It is also rooted in a faith that the Holy Spirit will not only inspire the canonical writings but will preserve them, and help the Church to ascertain which books are indeed inspired and thus to be recognized.

    You are somewhat contradicting the originalist claim. If the claim is to the church, then I’d agree the question of history of how Judaism morphed into Christianity becomes irrelevant. But what becomes very relevant is the long list of very ancient churches that have different canons. That was post #92.

    The Protestant canon as a Christian canon is modern. Once canons settled down, we know what they were and none used the Protestant canon until the Reformation.

    You seem to be to be trying to have this all ways theologically. Whether I believe your theology is irrelevant to whether it contradicts itself. There are 3 options:

    a) God preserves a fixed canon and helps the church correctly identify it, in which case the canon that was identified (at least for the Western church) by the church is the Vulgate’s 78 book canon.

    b) God raises up a bible for his people in different civilizations. In which case the various canons are the correct canon for them but the correct canon is specific. The the Protestants can be correct in their 66 book canon, while the Catholics are correct in their 75 book canon, and the Ethiopian church with their 81 book canon.

    c) On the other hand if God doesn’t help the churches identify the canon enough to have a consistent canon then your theology of canon is false.

  127. CD-Host said,

    December 14, 2012 at 8:29 am

    @David –

    On a basic level of historical honesty, it will not do to exempt the various NT witnesses as being valid witnesses to at least a cross-section of 2nd Temple Judaism. You point out that there was a great deal of diversity on canonical views amongst 2nd Temple Judaism based on a wide cross-section of literature, sources, and witnesses. Sure. But this does not logically preclude that there was a dominant or “typical” view amongst Jesus’ immediate audience. A general consensus can exist even if there are contemporaneous parties that hold to divergent views.

    I agree this is possible. The claims before were about Jews in general, a historical people that left behind a historical record. Let’s assume for a moment that the Palestinian movement, Jesus’s followers, the disciples did have their own unique OT canon in mind and that it was fixed. We’ll call it the Jcanon.

    OK 33 CE Jesus dies. Walk we through what happens next to the Jcanon. Who knows about? Who uses it? Where does it get written down? Who keeps track of it? How is that knowledge of it appears entirely lost by the 2nd century writings but then it is rediscovered by _______ (Hus, Luther, Calvin?…)?

    Because you see under that version you have the Jesus sect having a Christian teaching not present in the NT but that is preserved or rediscovered. That seems to make (whoever goes in the blank) into a real genuine prophet having prophetic revelation about an ancient teaching. That’s generally a direction most conservative Protestants don’t want to go.

    namely that Jesus is Lord, the Apostles have the right to speak for Him, and the NT is a reliable record of the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.

    For the purpose of this canon debate I’m perfectly willing to grant those assumptions. Look back, nothing I’ve said in this thread contradicts any of those assumptions.


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