Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Steve Ray Explains Luther and the Apocrypha

Romanist apologist Steve Ray recently posted Sola Scriptura and the Canon of Scripture. He made a few historical statements about Martin Luther.

Steve Ray: "There is no doubt that the Septuagint was known to and used by Jesus, Paul and Timothy and yet, in the 16th century, Martin Luther removed these seven books from the Bible because they contain passages that support distinctly Catholic doctrines like praying for the dead and purgatory—doctrines which he rejected. Luther justified his action in part upon the fact that the some Jews themselves rejected the Deuterocanonicals as part of their canon."

Martin Luther's translation of the Bible contained the "seven books." As to the reasons he classified them as apocrypha, Mr. Ray should actually read Luther's prefaces to the apocryphal books. He could start by looking at Luther's preface to 2 Maccabees. He could also take a look at my review of Catholic Apologist Gary Michuta's examination of Luther and the Apocrypha (Part 2) .

Steve Ray: "Martin Luther used their doubt [some Jewish leaders about the apocrypha] to justify his own."

Yes, but he also referred to St. Jerome as well. Was Jerome trying to justify his own doubt? Luther classified the apocrypha as not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read. With this distinction, Luther acted similarly to Athanasius and Cyril of Jerusalem.

Steve Ray: "Luther picked that truncated canon for the same reason the rabbis did: in order to undermine the teachings of the Catholic Church which did not fit his new theology."

So, why then did Cardinal Cajetan, and even some of the Catholic scholars at the Council of Trent reject the apocrypha?

What I find interesting in statements like those put forth by Steve, is that the issue really surrounds the proof text Roman Catholics use from 2 Maccabees to support purgatory and prayers for the dead. They are typically hard pressed to explain why Luther classified the entire apocrypha as not held equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read. Perhaps a Catholic apologist could actually go through the apocrypha, pick out distinctly Catholic doctrines, and then explain why Luther rejected each book. That would be honest.

6 comments:

bkaycee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bkaycee said...

Honesty would not help the Romanist case, so whatever it takes in service of mother church is fine. Ask Jan Hus.

Jugulum said...

I also note his bald assumption that the Apocrypha were in the Septuagint manuscripts during the time of Christ. (We lack any such manuscripts until Vaticanus and Sinaiticus in the 4th century, if I recall correctly. I suppose there might be earlier testimony to their inclusion, from the Early Church Fathers.)

There's also his assumption that being collected along with the Septuagint implies that they were seen as Scripture.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Did you forget that St. Jerome ended up upholding those books as Scripture. You mislead people by your remarks.

Jugulum said...

Is your basis for that, "Because Jerome included the Apocrypha in the Vulgate"?

James Swan said...

Did you forget that St. Jerome ended up upholding those books as Scripture. You mislead people by your remarks.

For Matthew: Guest Blog:Did Jerome Change His Mind on the Apocrypha ?