I had a few more thoughts on Gary’s Michuta’s use of the Luther quote, Maccabees "has weight with the faithful, but it won't avail against the obstinate." The following is part of a response I left on the Catholic Answers boards.
Gary Michuta said:
Gary Michuta said:
“I probably shouldn't do this because it is one of several bombshells in my book, but I'll give you a little preview. Luther, apparently, shouldn't be counted as just one of several confused theologians of his era. If the Protestant scholar H. H. Howarth is correct (and I've read a lot of his works and he is always very accurate, Luther originally held the Deuterocanon to be canonical. In 1517, in a debate with the head censor of Rome, Luther claimed that he would only be persuaded in argument by the "canonical Scripture." In this same debate, Luther quotes both Sirach and Tobit against his opponent. One year later, in the Second Disputation at Leipzig, the Catholic Eck cornered Luther with a citation from Second Maccabees. Luther rejected Maccabees from the canon, but added the interesting concession that Maccabees "has weight with the faithful, but it won't avail against the obstinate."
I now have the article I think Gary is citing: H. H. Howarth, "The Origin And Authority Of The Biblical Canon According To The Continental Reformers: I. Luther And Karlstadt", Journal Of Theological Studies, 1907, Issue VIII, Volume XXXI, pp. 321–365.
I'm guessing Gary will be arguing Luther didn’t have any problem with the apocrypha until his theology of justification by faith alone became a key hermeneutic in his determination of canon. On the other hand, I’m hopeful his book covers the other reasons Luther put forth in his Prefaces why he rejected the apocrypha, written some years later.
If my understanding of Gary’s position proves accurate from his brief words, he is putting forth a maliciously-intent-Luther, rather than a theologian with both theological and historical reasons for rejecting the apocrypha. Remember, Luther is a historical figure. His theology grew and developed throughout his career. It doesn’t surprise me the more mature Luther grew in his studies of the historical and linguistic evidence against the apocrypha. I’m hopeful Gary’s book does more than cite the Eck debate and also presents Luther’s more defined mature position.
Michuta seems to be implying Luther rejected 2 Maccabees from the canon, yet conceded “the faithful,” or, those of the faith, grant it is canonical. I wonder which of these options he’s implying:
1. Luther put forth a contradiction
2. Luther simply did what he wanted to with Second Maccabees, knowing full well it was a canonical book. In other words, he knowingly rejected a canonical book because of its implied teaching on Purgatory.
Questions: Who are “the faithful” and who are “the obstinate”? Why is this a concession?
I think perhaps the phrase is probably a sarcastic jab, and not a concession to the validity of Second Maccabees. Michuta admits in this debate with John Eck when this statement was made, Luther rejects this book from the canon. Read the phrase this way: the “faithful” are those devoted to Rome and its teaching on Purgatory. Of course it has weight with them. But for those who are “obstinate”, or those who hold this book is not canonical, it will not avail, nor could it ever be of use, or be used to prove a Biblical doctrine. The key term is "the faithful". I think Luther does not mean, "Christians". He means those devoted to Rome, or those with faith in Rome.