Tuesday, May 19, 2015

66 Books or 73 Books within the Cannon?

Response to the arguments for its inclusion:
1. It is disputed whether or not these books were included in the LXX for many reasons:
• The earliest copies of the LXX that we have are Christian in origin and were not copied until the fourth century. It is hard to tell if the original Alexandrian Jews had this widercanon.
• The three extant copies of the LXX do not agree concerning the canon.

Philo, a first century Jewish scholar in Alexandria who used the LXX extensively, did not mention the Apocrypha even though he commented on virtually all the protocanonical books. The same can be said for Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian who used the LXX extensively, who explicitly states that the apocryphal books were never accepted as canonical by the Jews.
2. Many works were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls which are not canonical.
3. Knowledge of a work does not make it authoritative. Many people know of the deuterocanonical books, and may even respect and quote from them with authority, but this does not necessarily mean that they believe them to be inspired.
4. While early Christians did quote from the deuterocanonicals from time to time, the earliestChristians showed no evidence of accepting them as Scripture. It was only when the Christian community began to break ties with the Jews that their inclusion became an issue. The earliest Christian list of books in the Old Testament is that of Melito, bishop of Sardis (A.D. 170), and it contains only the protocanonical works (Protestant canon).
5. Hippo, Rome, and Carthage were all North African or Roman local church councils that did not have the authority to declare the canon. Augustine, the North African bishop of Hippo, accepted the Apocrypha (although slightly different than the Roman Catholic version) and had heavy influence upon these councils. This explains their acceptance.
6. Martin Luther rejected the Apocrypha just as many others throughout church history had done. There was no official “infallible” declaration on the canon by Rome until after Martin Luther rejected them. It was an over-reactive response to Luther’s rejection that caused the Roman Catholic Church to declare them to be Scripture at Trent. Until that time, they were doubted by most and labeled either Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books.
Arguments for their exclusion:
1. The New Testament never directly quotes from any apocryphal book as Scripture with the common designation “it is written”. Often, when people claim that it does, the references are a stretch to get them to match the deuterocanonical books, or they are, at best, mere allusions that evidence knowledge of the deuterocanonical books. If there are genuine allusions to certain deuterocanonical books, this does not mean that the writer believed them to be inspired any more than Paul's quotation of Aratus (ca. 310–245 B.C.) in Acts 17:28 means that he believed Phaenomena was part of the canon. (See also where Jude quotes from the apocryphal book Enoch in Jude 1:9).
2. The Palestinian Jews (those who lived in Israel) never accepted the deuterocanonical books. This was the key argument for the Reformers. The basic idea is that if Christ did not recognize them, they are not canonical. Josephus (born c. 37 A.D.), a primary Jewish historian, plainly writes about the accepted canon of his day which is the same as the current Protestant canon. He makes no mention of the Apocrypha and does not hint at a canon controversy in his day (Against Apion 1.41). The Talmud makes a similar point: “After the latter prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.” Philo, who lived in Alexandria in the first century, did not accept the Apocrypha either.
3. From a Protestant perspective, there are significant theological and historical inaccuracies in the deuterocanonical books (e.g., works-based salvation, Tobit 12:9; cruelty, Sirach 22:3; 42:14, 2; doctrine of purgatory, 2 Maccabees 12:41–45). What is more, these books have historical errors. It is claimed that Tobit was alive when the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 B.C. and also when Jeroboam revolted against Judah in 931 B.C., which would make him at least 209 years old; yet according to the account, he died when he was only 158 years. The Book of Judith speaks of Nebuchadnezzar reigning in Nineveh instead of Babylon.
4. The Apocrypha itself attests to the absence of prophets in its own time.
5. The deuterocanonical books were in dispute for so long and held to secondary status that it would be problematic to say that they contain the voice of God since most people did not recognize them to be His voice. (c.f. John 10:27)

The Theology Program (Bibliology and Hermeneutics workbook.