Monday, October 09, 2006

Cyril of Jerusalem on the Canon

My last entry took a brief look at Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem and some of his statements on sola scriptura. I wanted to mention one other interesting aspect of the CARM board discussion on Cyril. A Roman Catholic, responding to me said:

“…[Y]ou seem to be dismissing and not interacting directly with Cyril's explicit statements that Eucharist is the literal Body and Blood. He explicitly describes a church service that is just like today's mass. And he explicitly talks about the communion of saints. The center of worship was the mass, not 45 minutes of sermon. That is one of the reasons I converted. When I see worship as described by the earliest Christians, it is consistently strikingly similar to a catholic mass, not a "contemporary" worship service held in an evangelical church.”

The main problem is Cyril only allows his doctrine to be substantiated from Scripture. Scripture served as his sole objective authority. Modern-day Catholics would argue Scripture is not the sole authority, rather "Tradition" also can be used as an objective authority.

But one wonders if this person really checked out Cyril's writings. If he did, what did he do when he came across Cyril's writing on the Canon? Check out which Canon of Scripture Cyril was reading, particularly the Old Testament:

33. Now these the divinely-inspired Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament teach us. For the God of the two Testaments is One, Who in the Old Testament foretold the Christ Who appeared in the New; Who by the Law and the Prophets led us to Christ's school. For before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, and, the law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ. And if ever thou hear any of the heretics speaking evil of the Law or the Prophets, answer in the sound of the Saviour's voice, saying, Jesus came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it. Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dose thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters.

35. Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave, and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.


36. Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects.


Obviously, Cyril's view of the canon is not the Roman Catholic view, nor is it exactly the Protestant view either, but it is much closer to the Protestant view.

Was Cyril's view of the canon taken into consideration in this Catholic’s "conversion"? Was Cyril's view of the ultimate authority of Scripture taken into consideration when he "converted"? I'm doubtful he took into consideration those aspects of the Early Church Fathers that don't "fit" into the modern day Roman sect (By the way, his response can be found here). This is one of the big problems I have with zealous defenders of Rome- they seem to only look at the facts they want to.

1 comment:

Kevin Davis said...

This is one of the big problems I have with zealous defenders of Rome- they seem to only look at the facts they want to.

Oh how many times have I said the same thing, except enter "Protestantism" for "Rome." As for the issue at hand, the place of scripture in the early church, I'd recommend Robert Louis Wilken's The Spirit of Early Christian Thought (Yale University Press 2005), which deals extensively with the importance of scriptural writings in the early church's debates and discernment of the Christian faith. Wilken teaches early church history at the University of Virginia and, a few years ago, converted to the Catholic Church from a Protestant background.