Why is the belief in Biblical inerrancy important to people?

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Comments

  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited February 13
    All three of your points apply in one way or another to some canonical books and don't apply to the whole of the deuterocanonical texts. Also you have some gall accusing others of sticking by what their church says when the only reason to reject these texts that are part of the shared tradition of the church is because the bible you've been told is infallible by your church doesn't contain them.

    I "like" how there have been no true believers or scholars among the orthodox and catholic for the last 1500 years or so, and a bare handful before then. You're saying Augustine of Hippo was not a true believer or scholar, neither was Aquinas, or Ignatius of Loyola, or John of the Cross.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Wasn't us. Somebody is wrong. That's you.

    YOUR argument was that the LXX (including the deuts) cannot have been the bible of the chrch because it wasn't quoted in the NT. That argument has now been eviscerated by your own hand

    It is quite a bullying tactic really to enlist the whole of the world and call it ‘us’ when it is really a wee mud puddle of people who know how to google blowing stuff out their ears.

    My argument regarding the citation of the apocrypha by the NT writers is actually pretty well unanswerable. What they cite from the OT is from Torah, prophets and writings..their Bible. The do not cite the apocrypha only the canonical books and they don’t cite all of those which certainly does not negate the point because the canonical books all support one another. However, if any NT writer did rate the the Apocrypha as scripture you’d expect some evidence..some direct confirmation ..’ Out of the mouths of 2 or 3 witnesses let all things be established ‘ and all that.

    There is obviously no point in further discussion so that is me done here.
  • It’s not clear to me here what your view is of the significance of the NT citations. If they are the defining proof of canonicity then there’s the problem of the universally accepted canonical books which are not cited in the NT. If we can count non-NT-cited books as canonical (i.e. NT citation is not the defining proof) then non-citation in the NT can’t in itself be a basis for exclusion, and in principle there may be other books, not cited in the NT which have a legitimate claim to be part of the canon.

    Your argument that the smaller OT canon is
    what true believers and true scholars through the ages have always acknowledged because the Holy Spirit witnessed to it.
    would mean excluding, for example, Augustine of Hippo from the ranks of ‘true believers and true scholars’, which I find wholly implausible.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited February 13
    MPaul

    Please don't invoke the "true Scotsman" argument. "True believers agree with my position. If they don't they can't be true believers". It's just threadbare.

    And here is the quote from the Apochrypa link which I described as deeply flawed.
    Concerning the books of the Apocrypha, they were never accepted by the Jewish community, nor by the Church at large, as being inspired. Only later in history did the Catholic Church make them part of the canon, because it helped support the church's doctrine of purgatory. But it was never part of those Scriptures accepted either by Jews or by the larger believing Church.

    First sentence. The LXX was produced as a translation in the 2nd C BC for Greek-speaking Judaism and so the deuterocanonicals were certainly in the Jewish sacred scriptures before Christ was born. So the first sentence is clearly wrong. What is pretty clear from the Dead Sea scrolls is that different sectors of the Jewish community preferred different texts and different versions of texts. So there probably wasn't a completely agreed set of texts throughout the Jewish community at the time of Christ, though no doubt there was overlap. The "never" in that first sentence is wrong.

    Secondly, and I repeat myself, the deuterocanonicals are to be found in 4th Century Codex Vaticinus and the 5th Century Codex Alexandrinus, centuries before the schism between Catholics and Orthodox and over a thousand years before the Reformation. The Catholic doctrine re Purgatory was not definitively settled until the 16th Century Catholic Council of Trent. The initial Protestant arguments were primarily about the iniquity of indulgences, and only hardened later into a rejection of the concept of Purgatory as defined by the Council of Trent. So it is abundantly clear that the second and third sentences of the quote are deeply flawed. This isn't about theology. It is the evidence from both historical documents and the documents produced during the Reformation.

    For all I know, the quotation may indeed misrepresent the writings of Dr Fructenbaum, which as I said earlier I have been unable to get hold of. That's very possible. But the quote is demonstrably flawed. You are defending the indefensible.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited February 13
    MPaul wrote: »
    Yes well, you can believe the gospel according to wiki ..it is a free world.

    Much scholarship exists that contradicts the assertion that the Apocrypha was part of the Bible.

    Keeping it simple there are 3 lines of evidence.

    First are the key figures both Jewish and Christian and historical (eg Josephus, Philo,) who rejected the Apocrypha.
    That demonstrates, which is already clear from this thread, that there has been argument about the status of these books. It is not an argument for or against any particular conclusion.

    Second is the genesis of the apocrypha, the fact that it originated between the testaments after Malachi, the last canonical book and during the period where there were no prophetic voices. The apocrypha does not contain prophecy
    .
    That isn't a valid argument for anything. The books in question don't claim to be prophecy. Nor, though, do a number of the books in the Hebrew canon. Nor do most of the books in the New Testament. Whether a book contains prophecy has never been a test of canonicity.
    Third is the varied and unreliable nature of its content and authorship. The apocrypha at times is mythical, at times inaccurate and at times contradictory of accepted Canonical books.
    That isn't as persuasive an argument as you may think it is. First, the canonical Hebrew books are written by a number of different authors. Second, where in the extra books do you say they contradict canonical books? Third, there are contradictions in the canonical Hebrew books,
    - with each other - are the accounts of Abraham, Sarah and Pharaoh (Gen 12:14-20), Abraham, Sarah and Abimelech (Gen 20) and Isaac, Rebekah and Abimelech (Get 26:6-11) describing different versions of the same story, rather as a lawyer looks at several different statements covering the same events, or three different examples of making the same mistake and not learning from it? And, there are differences between the accounts of the same events in Samuel/Kings and Chronicles, even though it's fairly clear and has been accepted from earliest times that whoever assembled Chronicles, traditionally Ezra, either had Samuel/Kings to work from or an earlier version of them.
    - with natural history, the apparent belief that bats are birds, (Lev 11:19 and Deut 14:18) or that eagles fly with their chicks on their backs (Deut 32:11, Ex 19:4).
    - with human history. I accept that there's doubts as to the historicity of Judith and Tobit, but some of Daniel appears to be either an over-simplification or isn't that easy to reconcile with what seems to have happened.
    It is easy to create a binary argument but it is not really about Catholic/Othodoxy vs Protestant. It is about what true believers and true scholars through the ages have always acknowledged because the Holy Spirit witnessed to it.
    That's accepting the argument that scripture gets its authority from the universal witness of the church, except that it's putting that witness in a different place.

    I think part of the problem, is that people have unwittingly got into the habit of evaluating scripture according to their ideas of how they think its authority works, and then rejected bits that don't fit those ideas. It's easier to see where it's obvious as with Luther v the Epistle of James. But with the Greek only books, it's an easy bypass round actual engagement to reject the lot because there are one or two passages in one or two of them one doesn't like. So, because the Reformers didn't like Purgatory - on balance, I think with good reason - and the only possible reference to such a belief is in one of the Greek-only books, out go the lot.

    Yet in practice, I suspect very few of us really treat the whole of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as of equal status. Understandably, and IMHO rightly and reasonably, most of us regard the four gospels as the most important bits. And although we weight St Paul's epistles very highly, I suspect that many of us regard much that is in them as not really suitable either for actual children or for those who are only at the milk rather than solid food stage of their Christian lives (2 Pet3:15-16).

    Canonical they are, but how much attention do you actually pay to the sacrificial instructions in the Torah? And how often do you read Chronicles? Or quite large bits, rather than the favoured snippets, of Ezekiel or Daniel?
  • Why would someone as antisemitic as Luther consider the opinions of Jewish scholars after Christ to be the authority on what belonged in the inspired Scriptural Canon? Was he getting his list of non-apocryphal Old Testament books from somewhere else?
  • As He witnessed to the murder of rape victims?
  • The Catholics and Orthodox are a wee mud puddle of people. Bahahahaha! Cheek!
  • Why would someone as antisemitic as Luther consider the opinions of Jewish scholars after Christ to be the authority on what belonged in the inspired Scriptural Canon? Was he getting his list of non-apocryphal Old Testament books from somewhere else?

    I suspect there was a certain amount of wishful thinking and blindness to realities going on.
  • One of my favorite authors, Greg Boyd, has written extensively on doubt in ways that come close to the issue here I think-- in his book he talks about how we have made an idol of "certainty". I think inerrancy is tied to that. It is a way to convince yourself you're certain-- there are no gaps, no doubt, no unanswered questions in your theology. It probably also explains the appeal of bombastic theological bullies like John Piper (author of the noxious Nashville statement). Boyd uses the analogy of a map-- that a map can represent a territory but it never replaces the actual territory and is always a limited representation. Fundamentalists (or even evangelicals like myself) can come to hold our "map" of God (the Bible) so rigidly that we forget to explore the real thing-- God. Our map has replaces the reality. We only go deeper with God when we put down the map and begin exploring the reality of God, with all it's inherent unknowns.
  • I think there is a certain level of gatekeeping* going on - in the sense that if one can claim certainty in the midst of something that is to all intents and purposes totally uncertain, with many claims and counter claims which cannot be properly resolved in a satisfactory way so long after the point where the original debates happened - then the term "inerrant" becomes code for "everyone agreeing with me", and the next step is "if you disagree with me, you are disagreeing with God".

    So it becomes a device (in more situations than I can count) to exclude other people.

    *I'm not entirely sure if this is a real term or if I made it up. If the latter, I apologise.
  • ArethosemyfeetArethosemyfeet Shipmate
    edited February 13
    Gatekeeping is a fairly well known concept in geek circles, often used to exclude women or people with less... intense interest in a particular topic. It was one of the key hallmarks of the "gamergate" movement which has since segued into the alt right.
  • Yes, and I think it's use here is particular apt. Inerrancy is a way to keep people in line doctrinally-- or in gatekeeping terms, to decide who is "in" ("Bible believing", "true Christian") and who is "out" ("godless liberal"). The gatekeeping aspect is what keeps the insiders from questioning assumptions-- you don't want to suddenly find yourself banished.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    MPaul wrote: »
    My argument regarding the citation of the apocrypha by the NT writers is actually pretty well unanswerable.

    What they cite from the OT is from Torah, prophets and writings..their Bible. The do not cite the apocrypha only the canonical books and they don’t cite all of those which certainly does not negate the point because the canonical books all support one another.

    It would certainly seem to negate your point. After all, if the standard for what counts as a "canonical" First Testament book is quotation by the Second Testament it would indicate that anything not quoted is "apocrypha". That seems to be your standard, if applied fairly. This means that the apocrypha now also would include:
    • Judges
    • Ruth
    • Ezra
    • Esther
    • Ecclesiastes
    • Song of Solomon
    • Lamentations
    • Obadiah
    • Jonah
    • Zephaniah

    It should be noted that this standard is non-Biblical, insofar as it's not explicitly promoted or promulgated anywhere in the Bible.
    MPaul wrote: »
    However, if any NT writer did rate the Apocrypha as scripture you’d expect some evidence..some direct confirmation ..’ Out of the mouths of 2 or 3 witnesses let all things be established ‘ and all that.

    Again, the same could be said for anything on the above list, but for some unstated reason everything on the above list is considered kosher.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    The LXX was produced as a translation in the 2nd C BC for Greek-speaking Judaism and so the deuterocanonicals were certainly in the Jewish sacred scriptures before Christ was born

    Taking for granted the point in question. I have chips and steak on the same plate. Doesn’t mean chips are steak though.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    It would certainly seem to negate your point. After all, if the standard for what counts as a "canonical" First Testament book is quotation by the Second Testament it would indicate that anything not quoted is "apocrypha

    You mistake an indicator of canonicity for a necessary criterion of canonicity. I have not claimed the latter.

    I think the problem here is that no one group body or individual ever compiled a definitive canon. Rather the reverse, the canon distinguished itself in the believers of truth. It was kind of ‘here I am pick me’ in the worship,usage and reverential status of multiple generations of God fearers.

    The books you mention above all distinguished themselves in particular ways to the believers of the time and succeeding generations in ways the apocrypha manifestly doesn’t. Take just one example, Ruth. This tiny book establishes the lineage of David and ultimately Jesus the Messiah. Moreover, it includes a gentile women in there suggesting that Messiah was to be inclusive of people outside Israel.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited February 13
    The LXX was produced as a translation in the 2nd C BC for Greek-speaking Judaism and so the deuterocanonicals were certainly in the Jewish sacred scriptures before Christ was born

    Taking for granted the point in question. I have chips and steak on the same plate. Doesn’t mean chips are steak though.

    So the LXX contains a mixture of sacred Hebrew scriptures and other Hebrew books? And the deuterocanonicals are the "other books"? Is that your argument?

  • You really are clutching at straws. The Book of Wisdom has passages that are so valued that they appear even in the Church of Scotland's funeral services. I would find it hard to read the start of Wisdom 3 and not find God there. Have you even read any substantial part of the books you so categorically dismiss?
  • MPaul wrote: »
    The LXX was produced as a translation in the 2nd C BC for Greek-speaking Judaism and so the deuterocanonicals were certainly in the Jewish sacred scriptures before Christ was born

    Taking for granted the point in question. I have chips and steak on the same plate. Doesn’t mean chips are steak though.
    No chips aren’t steak (and Chronicles isn’t Psalms), but the fact that you’ve got them on the same plate suggests that you regard both as food, and, indeed, that you are planning to eat them both in the same meal.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    MPaul wrote: »
    It would certainly seem to negate your point. After all, if the standard for what counts as a "canonical" First Testament book is quotation by the Second Testament it would indicate that anything not quoted is "apocrypha".

    You mistake an indicator of canonicity for a necessary criterion of canonicity. I have not claimed the latter.

    <snip>

    The books you mention above all distinguished themselves in particular ways to the believers of the time and succeeding generations in ways the apocrypha manifestly doesn’t.

    Which "particular ways"? Doesn't the fact that the Apocrypha have been preserved over the centuries mean that they meet your criteria?
    MPaul wrote: »
    Take just one example, Ruth. This tiny book establishes the lineage of David and ultimately Jesus the Messiah. Moreover, it includes a gentile women in there suggesting that Messiah was to be inclusive of people outside Israel.

    I'm not sure most would be comfortable with a definition of canonicity that boils down to "aligns with my personal intellectual priors", but thanks for your honesty.

    An interesting side question here is whether the Book of Jasher can be regarded as canonical. It's quoted in the First Testament and possibly the Second as well, which would seem to indicate that it "distinguished itself in the believers of truth". This would lead to the problematic conclusion that the work was "canonical" and yet unavailable to put into the canon.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    Barnabas62 wrote: »
    The LXX was produced as a translation in the 2nd C BC for Greek-speaking Judaism and so the deuterocanonicals were certainly in the Jewish sacred scriptures before Christ was born

    Taking for granted the point in question. I have chips and steak on the same plate. Doesn’t mean chips are steak though.

    So the LXX contains a mixture of sacred Hebrew scriptures and other Hebrew books? And the deuterocanonicals are the "other books"? Is that your argument?
    I thought that was obvious

  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    You really are clutching at straws. The Book of Wisdom has passages that are so valued that they appear even in the Church of Scotland's funeral services. I would find it hard to read the start of Wisdom 3 and not find God there. Have you even read any substantial part of the books you so categorically dismiss?
    No I have not read all the apocrypha. Neither have you I bet. Look no one is saying there is no value there either. It is about which books are God-breathed revelation. I think the Maccabean story is a great story and helps fill the history between the exilic return and the Gospel era. It kind of fits somewhere in Daniel 11. That is beside the point as to whether you see it as scripture. I have actually read Enoch and I would like that to be correct as it fits with the dispensational view I espouse. But there is stuff in there that I cannot see fitting with the character of the God of the canon. He is too human, too familiar.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    bearing in mind the varying meanings of "error", "lens that corrects for error" is an idea I am going to explore.

    I've decided I quite like this idea.

    A lens cannot correct for an "error" in the sense that it cannot correct "2+2=5" into "2+2=4". It can't change what's there, neither does it add to or subtract from the subject, but what it does do is correct for bad focus, perspective, and so on - and importantly, this can change how you see what's there quite a lot.

    A bit like anamorphosis.

    And I agree with @Doublethink when she equates this idea of a lens with new interpretation of Scripture. The "lens" doesn't mean the text is "wrong", rather it recognises that the focus needs to be appropriate, otherwise things can be all out of proportion to each other.

    I think this "lens" idea can also be applied to the question of the canon.

    As I said earlier, functionally I think everybody has a "canon within the canon", corresponding to the better-thumbed bits of their Bibles. Accept this basic observation and the haggling about just which of the writings knocking around various quarters of the early church were canonical suddenly becomes less angst-ridden. Tradition and use establish a hierarchy in the texts - a kind of lens. I don't think anybody treats the deuterocanonicals with exactly the same degree of importance as the 66 contemporary protestant books of the canon, but I don't think anybody really treats, say, Obadiah or even 2 Peter the same way they do Exodus or John, either.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited February 13
    MPaul wrote: »
    Barnabas62 wrote: »
    The LXX was produced as a translation in the 2nd C BC for Greek-speaking Judaism and so the deuterocanonicals were certainly in the Jewish sacred scriptures before Christ was born

    Taking for granted the point in question. I have chips and steak on the same plate. Doesn’t mean chips are steak though.

    So the LXX contains a mixture of sacred Hebrew scriptures and other Hebrew books? And the deuterocanonicals are the "other books"? Is that your argument?
    I thought that was obvious

    Fine. So what is the evidence for that argument? Without evidence, you are simply supposing a division in the LXX which fits your belief that there must be such a division.

    Here is a Wiki article summarising a variety of views about the origin and content of the LXX.

    From which you may discover that pre-Christian Jews Philo and Josephus considered the Septuagint on equal standing with the Hebrew text and manuscripts of the Septuagint were among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The article also contains the arguments why Judaism moved away from the Septuagint, at least in part because of its use within a rival religion (i.e Christianity.) And the earliest MS evidence we have of what the Christian church thought of the LXX (as opposed to Jews post-Jesus) is, as I keep on saying, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Alexandrinus, which do not classify the deuterocanonicals as not-sacred.

    I find this evidence persuasive that the LXX was regarded at the time of Jesus, by both Jews and Christians, as a Greek translation of the sacred Hebrew texts in common use by Jews.

    What evidence persuades you that I am wrong?
  • MPaul wrote: »
    I think the problem here is that no one group body or individual ever compiled a definitive canon.

    Trent.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    MPaul wrote: »
    I think the problem here is that no one group body or individual ever compiled a definitive canon.

    Trent.
    The Synod of Hippo (393)?
    The Council of Carthage (397)?

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    And here is a link to the Synod of Hippo which confirms the inclusion of the deuterocanonicals.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    what is the evidence for that argument? Without evidence, you are simply supposing a division in the LXX which fits your belief that there must be such a division

    Why is Wkipedia authoritative? We do not even know who put that stuff together. I could equally accuse you of supposing the opposite without evidence that you could call definitive proof.

    I quote below from a 19 Century Anglican Divine from 1894 ..S Cheetham on Church History.

    “With regard to the Old Testament, the most competent Judges among the ancient fathers recognised only the books of the Hebrew canon as irrefragable and regarded the later additions of the Alexandrians as of much less weight and value...This view was supported by the great authority of Athanasius (Epist, Festal AD 365 tom 1 pt ii p.962)..he recognised only the books of the Hebrew canon while he applied the term apocrypha to spurious books which claimed authority under venerable names. In the western church, Rufinus gave his authority to a division equivalent to that of Athanasius. Jerome however, used the word apocrypha so as to include all books not found in the Hebrew canon....Still, the current Latin Bible was a translation from the LXX..hence Augustine cites all the books in question alike as scripture..and makes no clear distinction between the strictly canonical books and other books. It was doubtless under his influence that at the third council of Catharge a list of the books of Holy scripture was agreed upon in which the apocryphal books were mixed with those of the Hebrew canon. From this period, “Usage received all of the books of the enlarged canon more and more generally, as equal in all respects; learned tradition kept alive the distinction between the Hebrew canon and the apocrypha which had been drawn by Jerome”. (Westcott. Bible in the Church)””

    So he confirms, really, that there was a distinction, there was a controversy and that Augustine prevailed over Jerome...but really, the canon and the apocrypha are separate categories and always have been.
  • Riiiight. Wikipedia is less reliable than a book from 1894 even though the former has access to sources and information that was unavailable to a 19 century "Anglican Divine".

    Fwiw, I think people link to Wikipedia because it is relatively simple (to find, to read). It's quite unlikely that you'll find a Wikipedia page on an important subject that is giving a warped view of what the sources say.

    Of course, if one thinks it is biased, the thing to do is to read and critique the sources they use... not just search for a source that you can snip to make it sound like it supports your position.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited February 14
    mr cheesy wrote: »
    Riiiight. Wikipedia is less reliable than a book from 1894 even though the former has access to sources and information that was unavailable to a 19 century "Anglican Divine".

    Fwiw, I think people link to Wikipedia because it is relatively simple (to find, to read). It's quite unlikely that you'll find a Wikipedia page on an important subject that is giving a warped view of what the sources say.

    Of course, if one thinks it is biased, the thing to do is to read and critique the sources they use... not just search for a source that you can snip to make it sound like it supports your position.

    Ok, I take it back. Septuagint is a shitty Wikipedia page with many of the references sourced to an online Jewish encyclopedia. Which, at very least, needs considering as to its reliability as a source.

    I apologise MPaul. Everyone else, this page should be used with caution - I'm tempted to go and flag it myself.

    Edit: it's a copy of an encyclopedia from 1906. Mm.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    mr cheesy

    Thanks for the note of caution. I don't treat Wiki as infallible, but it can be useful and convenient in these discussions.

    More specifically, is it wrong about Philo, Josephus, the Dead Sea scrolls, the reasons for the post 1st century CE Jewish move away from acceptance of the Septuagint? I just used the Wiki article as a source for those pieces of evidence, all of which I've read elsewhere.

    The evidence from the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus, and from the Synods of Whitby and Carthage is surely conclusive that the 4th C church included the deuterocanonicals in the books of sacred scripture?

    The dating of those Synods is concurrent with the controversy re Jerome's view that the deuterocanonicals were not in the Hebrew scriptures he examined at the time. Because of the gradual distancing of the Jewish community from the content and books of the Septuagint, it is very likely that Jerome would be able to find Hebrew collections at that time which excluded the deuterocanonicals, and Jewish scholars who supported that view. That does not mean that those collections and scholarly views represented the understandings of Jews and Christians at the time of Jesus. And it clearly did not represent the authoritative position adopted by the church in the 4th century.

    Of course we are all free to look at the variety of historical references re this issue and draw our own conclusions. The journey from the production of the LXX to the Synod of Hippo took about 6 centuries, with many twists and turns.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    mr cheesy

    Thanks for the note of caution. I don't treat Wiki as infallible, but it can be useful and convenient in these discussions.

    More specifically, is it wrong about Philo, Josephus, the Dead Sea scrolls, the reasons for the post 1st century CE Jewish move away from acceptance of the Septuagint? I just used the Wiki article as a source for those pieces of evidence, all of which I've read elsewhere.

    The evidence from the Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus, and from the Synods of Whitby and Carthage is surely conclusive that the 4th C church included the deuterocanonicals in the books of sacred scripture?


    I can't answer that as I'm not familiar with the subject. But if you are relying on this particular Wikipedia page, I'd question whether the author(s) were either.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Fair enough. I'll have a look elsewhere. see what I can dig up.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Re Philo

    Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia source, which was one I remembered re his use of the Septuagint. That article quotes several supporting sources but does not include the Jewish Encyclopedia. The sources are pretty old, which of course does not invalidate them.

    The Jewish Encyclopedia, although from the first decade of the 20th C, seems to have a continuing decent reputation, as far as I can find.

    For a more modern book and quote re Philo, I found this.
    Daniel R. Schwartz, "Philo, His Family, and His Times", in Kamesar (2009), p. 18. "At a very early stage, the use of Hebrew seems to have declined and the language of the Jews of Alexandria came to be Greek exclusively. The translation of the Torah (and in time the other books) allowed Greek to be a vehicle for Jewish culture. Indeed, there developed a very rich Jewish literature in Greek already in the second century BCE. By the time of the era of Philo, it is hardly surprising that he was a highly accomplished Greek stylist, and probably knew little to no Hebrew."
    .

    The significance of Philo in this part of the discussion relates purely to his understanding of, and sources for, the Jewish scriptures in the 1st C CE, and not to the uses he made of those sources. He is a contemporary witness to both the existence of and the use by Greek-speaking Jews at that time of the contents of the LXX. On its own this evidence is not conclusive but it is part of a pattern which seems to me to have nothing to do with subsequent church doctrines re the scriptures or Purgatory. Which is where this part of the discussion started.



  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    MPaul

    The quote from S Cheetham is pretty much ruined by the first sentence, which includes the phrase "the most competent Judges". That makes the rest of the argument circular.

    Re Athanasius, here is his opinion. It is dated at about 360-70 AD and Athanasius died some 20 years before the decision of the Synod of Hippo. A couple of interesting points from the article.

    1. The quote from para 7
    7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.

    Athanasius seems to me to draw a distinction between the deuterocanonicals as appointed to be read for instruction in the word of godliness and other apocryphal writings not mentioned which may lead the simple astray. At least that is the only way I can make sense of what he is saying.

    2. Athanasius excludes Esther from his list of canonical OT books but puts it in his list of books which may be read for instruction in the word of godliness.

    From this evidence, I see no reason why Athanasius would have argued with the wider inclusive list produced by the Synod of Hippo. It looks to me as though he was quite open-minded about the positive value of the deuterocanonicals and Esther. If the decision of the later Fathers was to "include them in" I don't see he would have had much of a problem with that, as a matter of authority.

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited February 14
    Re this Eutychus post.

    I'm sure you are right about "the canon within the canon" i.e. seeing some texts as more significant than others. That's one of the reasons why I find the Athanasius quote interesting. An openness to the positive value of some writings outside the circle of canonicity we may prefer is a quite reasonable argument for some judicious widening of the circle.

    It's seems very likely that the Synod of Hippo "included books in" to try to avoid making canonical distinctions between books used by the eastern church and the western church. Augustine was worried that a more restrictive canon, as proposed by Jerome, would drive a wedge between Christians in the east and the west, and maybe between Christians within both areas. Why create another basis for a fight? That argument seems to me to have won the day at Hippo and also in the 5th Century text of the Codex Alexandrinus.
  • agingjbagingjb Shipmate
    I can see that the exact boundaries of a canon concern people for whom Biblical inerrancy is important (and I'm nowhere near discovering exactly what is the status of Esdras 1 and 2 - or is it 3 and 4).

    But I still do not know why inerrancy of whatever canon is chosen is so important.
  • Just a second, I thought parts of various apocryphal books were quoted in the NT anyway. Surely that's rather stronger reasoning for inclusion than what someone did it didn't say in the fifth century?

    Do those 'missing' or 'extra' (depending on POV) books actually add anything? Can't the same reasoning me used for including things like the Shepherd of Hermas?

    Again, I know I don't know much about these thing so apologies if this has already been covered.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited February 14
    mr cheesy

    I think MPaul argued that the inclusion of some excerpts from other books by the canonical writers made those quotes canonical because the canonical writing cannot error.

    As it happens, I agree with you that the quotes provide some powerful supporting evidence about what was thought to be scriptural by the NT writers who included them. But it is not an argument that wins the day. At least with MPaul, anyway.
  • Oh right. So the NT writers somehow made dodgy writing good..?
  • Curiosity killedCuriosity killed Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    No, the references to the apocryphal books are vague and can be hand waved away as referring to other books that are in the canon, if looked at with the right degree of belief.
  • Ah ok, got it.

    So what about The Shepherd?
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited February 14
    You are confusing the deuterocanonical books (as understood, varyingly, in catholicism and orthodoxy) with pseudepigrapha.
  • agingjb wrote: »
    I can see that the exact boundaries of a canon concern people for whom Biblical inerrancy is important (and I'm nowhere near discovering exactly what is the status of Esdras 1 and 2 - or is it 3 and 4).

    But I still do not know why inerrancy of whatever canon is chosen is so important.

    If I may return to the "lens that corrects for error" image I developed above, so far as I can see inerrantists will not suffer any thought of a "lens".

    Consequently, they find it important that the original text should be, as it were, visible from every angle, every perspective, and in any time and place, as being exactly the same.

    Authority is thought to derive from the written words alone. Interpretation - including interpretation illuminated by the Spirit - is not acknowledged to come into it; still less any weight ascribed by tradition.
  • But it was included in lists of canonical books until quite late on, I thought..
  • As far as I can tell the debate about which books included in the LXX are canonical is a different one to the debate about other books. Or at least marshals slightly different arguments.
  • Ok fair enough.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Do we know the criteria for inclusion in the canons?

    The rabbis and the church fathers were concerned about Esther because it does not mention God. Ecclesiastes was considered doubtful because it's 'all is vanity' pessimism and unconventional theology verged on heresy (it has a conventional ending tacked on). The monastics disliked The Song of Songs for obvious reasons but finally accepted it as a metaphor for God's love for the church. And Jonah was highly subversive for its time for its universalism.

    Did anyone ever provide a clear explanation for the final selection in the modern Bible?
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    edited February 14
    Why is Samuel Cheetham (1827-1908) a better authority on the early church’s view of the canon of the Old Testament than Augustine (354-430).

    J.N.D. Kelly in Early Christian Doctrines (Third edition) notes that for the Jews of Palestine the limits of what we call the canon (the term being alien to Judaism) were rigidly fixed (p.53) but the ‘outlook of Jewish communities outside Palestine tended to be much more elastic.’ He goes on to list 1 (3) Esdras, Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Song of the Three, Susannah, Bel and the Dragon, and the Prayer of Manasseh; noting (p.54) that ‘in the first two centuries at any rate the Church seems to have accepted all, or most of, these additional books as Scripture.’

    He notes extensive usage of the deutero-canonicals by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria. He comments that towards the end of the second century when it became known that the Jews were now (my emphasis) united in repudiating these books, hesitations began to creep in. He cites Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus as amongst those raising doubts, but notes (p. 55) that no such doubts were found in the Antiochene school, citing John Chrystosom and Theodore. He describes the Western church as forming a much more favourable estimate, and with the exception of such as Hilary, Rufinius and Jerome (all with close contacts with the Eastern Church) he notes that for ‘the great majority, however, the deutero-canonical writings ranked as Scripture in the fullest sense.’

    The same inclusive attitude, he says was ‘authoritatively displayed at the synods of Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397 respectively , and also in the famous letter which Pope Innocent I despatched to Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, in 405.’
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Is the selection of inspired Biblical scriptures based on much more than the scrutiny of common sense by historical church councils?

    Most modern commentators doubt that the Letters to Timothy were really written by Paul. And should the NT canon close before or after Revelation?

    On the other hand there are a number of early Christian writings that really should be better known and not lost to pseudepigraphal obscurity. The Didache, for example, is quoted in the Anglican eucharistic prayer liturgy.
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