Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Apocrypha & Luther via Catholic Answers

Here is my recent brief discussion on Luther and the apocrypha from the Catholic Answers forum:

I know why Martin Luther removed the book of Macabees because of its support for praying for the dead, but Im trying to find something that explains the reasons he took out the other 6 books in the OT. Does anyone know his reasons???? Thanks,

Actually, Here is Luther's synopsis of 2 Maccabees. Note his actual reasoning for rejecting the book:

Preface to the Second Book of Maccabees (1534)
This book is called, and is supposed to be, the second book of Maccabees, as the title indicates. Yet this cannot be true, because it reports several incidents that happened before those reported in the first book, and it does not proceed any further than Judas Maccabaeus, that is, chapter 7 of the first book. It would be better to call this the first instead of the second book, unless one were to call it simply a second book and not the second book of Maccabees; another or different, certainly, but not second. But we include it anyway, for the sake of the good story of the seven Maccabean martyrs and their mother, and other things as well. It appears, however, that the book has no single author, but was pieced together out of many books. It also presents a knotty problem in chapter 14[:41–46] where Razis commits suicide, something which also troubles St. Augustine and the ancient fathers. Such an example is good for nothing and should not be praised, even though it may be tolerated and perhaps explained. So also in chapter 1 this book describes the death of Antiochus quite differently than does First Maccabees [6:1–16]. To sum up: just as it is proper for the first book to be included among the sacred Scriptures,* so it is proper that this second book should be thrown out, even though it contains some good things. However the whole thing is left and referred to the pious reader to judge and to decide.[LW 35:352-353]

Luther comented on 1 Maccabees,
"This is another book not to be found in the Hebrew Bible. Yet its words and speech adhere to the same style as the other books of sacred Scripture. This book would not have been unworthy of a place among them, because it is very necessary and helpful for an understanding of chapter 11 of the prophet Daniel."

Ok, so far what I've got is that some Protestants agree that Luther removed books, some don't. I still dont know the reason for the other books being removed... But the big point is, he was still a MAN who decided to mess with the bible, by removing books that were there for hundreds of years because he personally didnt like them in there. And by doing that, if you think about it, it would be accusing God, who is perfect, who inspired the bible writers to be a liar.

Remember, Luther's Bible contains the Apocrypha. The books were not removed.Recently on Catholic Answers Fr. Sebastian Walshe addressed the topic Can Doctrine Develop? Fr. Walshe explained that previous to Trent's infallible declaration, there was uncertainty about which books were canonical. Fr. Walshe also briefly discussed the Apocrypha. Walshe admits there was indeed controversy in the church as to its status. It simply isn't the case that the church unanimously accepted these books early on and that Luther removed them.Walshe also says that Thomas Aquinas was not certain if the books of Maccabees should be considered part of canonical Scripture. That is, Aquinas didn't know one way or the other if the books of Maccabees were part of the canon because the church had yet to determine the status of these books. In fact, there were quite a number of people previous to Luther that doubted the full canonicity of the Apocrypha. Even one of the best Roman Catholic contemporaries of Luther, Cardinal Cajetan, held a similar view as Luther did on the status of the Apocrypha. There was even a group of very well respected Roman Catholic scholars at Trent that argued against including the Apocrypha as fully canonical.

Originally Posted by Scoobyshme
Martin Luther chose the Hebrew version out of convenience because it got rid of some of the support for the doctrine of Purgatory, with which he disagreed.

I've done a fair amount of looking for proof for this claim. If you've got proof, I'd be interested in seeing it.The best argument so far is that put forth by Gary Michuta. In his book, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger Michuta argues it was at the Leipzig debate in which Eck cornered Luther into rejecting Maccabees because it taught the doctrine of purgatory. A major problem though with Michuta's position is that Luther went into this debate with Eck affirming the reality of Purgatory (though with reservations). So the typical Catholic argument that Luther had to deny the canonicity of 2 Maccabees at Leipzig in order to maintain his belief in the non-existence of purgatory fails.The fact of the matter is, Luther rejected the canonicty of 2 Maccabees for the reasons I posted earlier, as he himself explained.

The thing is, as I have stated before, Martin Luther and any other MAN, even Saint Thomas Aquinas or any other Catholic, who happend to disagree with what the bible was teaching should never have removed or changed anything, for it was their own OPINIONS. It wasn't until 1500 years later, when the reformation began,when the bible was really looked upon. Because in the years before that, everyone agreed with what it had to teach, and the Church established and finalzied the canonization what books were inspired and in how they were to be put. So Nothing was ever changed. Because God Himself states In Revelation 22:18-9 " For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man SHALL TAKE AWAY from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book." And history even shows that Martin Luther considered removing the book of Revelation. And he also added the word Alone. To Pauls statement.If you open a Protestant Bible it is missing 7 BOOKS. It is a fact. I have read over and over that it was Martin Luther who took them out. You are saying that he didn't. If he didn't than who did? Please tell me that. And it still bothers me that no one has explained to me, if indulgences was his gripe, then why did he take away the true presence of Chirst? Body, Blood, Soul and divinity in the Eucharist.EVERY SINGLE EARLY CHURCH FATHER, if you read their writings, have complete Catholic Teachings. They were ALL Catholic. This is becoming more complicated then it is. The fact is, The Catholic Church had the Bible established in 382AD and when the reformers decided to rebell in the 1500s the bible as we knew it was changed by removing books, and changing wording. Which is against Gods own words.

Remember again, Luther never removed the Apocrypha, nor did Thomas Aquinas. Previous to the 16th Century, there was not an infallibly defined canon for the Roman Catholic Church. Previous to such dogmatic declaration, freedom was allowed to hold differing views on the Apocrypha. That's why you'll find a significant amount of people that held differing views on the apocrypha previous to Trent. In keeping with early an Christian tradition, Luther included the Apocrypha of the Old Testament saying, "These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read."

You said, "It wasn't until 1500 years later, when the reformation began,when the bible was really looked upon. Because in the years before that, everyone agreed with what it had to teach, and the Church established and finalzied the canonization what books were inspired and in how they were to be put. So Nothing was ever changed." That's simply historically inaccurate. Everyone did not agree on the canon that was later dogmatized by Trent.

Luther never considered removing Revelation from the Bible. He questioned its canonicity and whether or not it was written by an apostle. The editors of Luther’s Works add: “The canonicity of Revelation was disputed by Marcion, Caius of Rome, Dionysius of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and the Synod of Laodicea in a.d. 360, though it was accepted by others as Eusebius reports…. Erasmus had noted in connection with chapter 4 that the Greeks regarded the book as apocryphal.” Later in Luther's life, Luther said, Luther says, “Because its interpretation is uncertain and its meaning hidden, we have also let it alone until now, especially because some of the ancient fathers held that it was not the work of St. John, the Apostle—as is stated in The Ecclesiastical History, Book III, chapter 25.  For our part, we still share this doubt. By that, however, no one should be prevented from regarding this as the work of St. John the Apostle, or of whomever else he chooses.”

Luther mentions others before him translated Romans 3:28 as he did (for example, Ambrose and Augustine). Joseph Fitzmyer verified Luther’s claim, and also presented quite an extensive list of those previous to Luther using "alone". Even some Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.”

You said, "If you open a Protestant Bible it is missing 7 BOOKS. It is a fact. I have read over and over that it was Martin Luther who took them out. You are saying that he didn't. If he didn't than who did? Please tell me that." Actually, Trent erroneously gave the Apocrypha full canonical status. Previous to that time, the books were included in copies of the Bible, but often not treated with the same pedigree. Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta argues the Puritans fought to have the Apocrypha removed from Bible printings. He says the 1559 Geneva Bible removed the books, but left blank pages in their place. However, the 1611 edition of the King James version did include the Apocrypha, and including it was more the norm. By the 1700's pressure was building to have the books removed completely. In the 1800's various Bible societies looking to mass-print the Bible kept the apocrypha out.

You said, "This is becoming more complicated then it is. The fact is, The Catholic Church had the Bible established in 382AD and when the reformers decided to rebell in the 1500s the bible as we knew it was changed by removing books, and changing wording. Which is against Gods own words." This isn't true either.

We could go back and forth quoting Catholic and Protestant lines, but the point that keeps being ignored is this, The Church DID have the same bible from 382 until the reformers. Many people may have disagreed but the Church had the final say. When the Reformers rebelled then and only then did the bible lose the 7 books. If it wasn't Luther then Who was it???? You are saying that Luther and a bunch of other scholars didn't feel that they were inspired, so they ALL agreed to remove them. So now, here we are back to where Papal Authority is being challenged, which is where Lutherism came in. So I guess this is ancient old arguments. I still feel that the bible, which was in place and no one challenged because of Divine inspiration, was messed with by mere men.

" For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book." Revelation 22:18-9

You originally presented an inaccurate question. Luther didn't remove books from the Bible. If you want to know Luther's opinions on the Apocryphal books, you can find his opinion on the Apocrypha in Luther's Works vol. 35. If you'd like a copy the pages in which Luther discusses these books, I can e-mail it to you. He comments on the books, typically giving historical reasons why he didn't find them fully canonical, but useful to read. He even quotes them throughout his writings.

The Roman Church did not infallibly declare the same contents of the Bible as it had in the fourth century in non-ecumenical councils. I suggest doing some study into the Esdras problem. Hippo and Carthage include a book as canonical that (as Michuta argues) Trent later passed over in silence.

The other main area of discussion is how the church viewed the apocryphal books. Simply having them printed in the Bible doesn't necessarily mean they were treated with same canonical status by the church collectively. They were not.

As you mentioned, the basic issue comes down to authority. Roman Catholics claim the apocrypha was fully canonical because they are dogmatically required to believe this. On the other hand, Protestants say Trent fully canonized 7 books they should not have. The argument then gets played out in the field of history. I'm convinced that Trent erred, and that's what the facts of history show. Roman Catholics then present their historical evidence. This thread will then expand to about 25 pages, and whoever has the most time to keep going usually claims to be the winner. I typically don't have the energy to go 25 pages. I happen to have some free time today though.

You then asked me the same question I answered previously: "When the Reformers rebelled then and only then did the bible lose the 7 books. If it wasn't Luther then Who was it????"

I answered that. Scroll back up, and re-read the argument I presented from Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta. The Reformers treated the Apocrypha as did many in the centuries preceding them: These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read. By the 18th century, various Bible societies doing mass printings of the Bible removed those books from their printings. This is according to Mr. Michuta's research.

Great questions though- and I hope I've been able to present the "other side" in a helpful way.

I still find it difficult to understand why people would want to follow mere men that started their own churches and made their own rules. People can argue back and forth about who was right about this and that but it still comes down to the fact that The Catholic Church was there from the beginning and still is. Pride and selfishness seem to be the reason. To rebel against the Church Jesus Chirst established, in my eyes, is saying that Jesus is a liar since " The Gates of Hell will not prevail against it."

9 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Remember again, Luther never removed the Apocrypha, nor did Thomas Aquinas. Previous to the 16th Century, there was not an infallibly defined canon for the Roman Catholic Church. Previous to such dogmatic declaration, freedom was allowed to hold differing views on the Apocrypha. That's why you'll find a significant amount of people that held differing views on the apocrypha previous to Trent. In keeping with early an Christian tradition, Luther included the Apocrypha of the Old Testament saying, "These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read.""

That's quite interesting. Thanks for posting this.

Lvka said...

The reason Luther removed the OT or LXX books not found in the Hebrew was because of his reliance upon St Jerome's opinion regarding them.

In other words, the Protestant rejection of those books is based upon tradition: I find this to be pretty ironical.

idealclosets said...

For starters, I believe that my fellow protestant brothers and sisters are worthy in the eyes of Christ. I consider any argument with one saved by the cross to be a family dispute. But you should also be aware that wild horses could not drag me from the Catholic Church. Once you start going against the Church, where does it stop. Luther was right in his issues he had with the Church, and in the beggining of his protest, wanted to purge the Church of those in power's corrupt practises. Those issues should have been dealt with within the Church, but they did not take him seriously. Over time after his excommunication, Luther was a broken drunkard who had some serious mental issues. You cant take pieces of his writings ( as you did with his opinion on the Apocrypha) and show him in a light of gentleness. I have read many very disturbing and heretical things from this man. Being empowered by government heads who saw an oppurtunity to change things as they saw fit Luther got out of hand. Luther attempted to remove the Epistle of James from the Bible, calling it "an Epistle of straw". The reformation causes a slippery slope of changing opinions and bad philosiphy. If I write one hundred people a disertation, they will all have their own opinions of what I meant, but I would be the only one who actually knows what I meant. That is why Christ established a teaching Church. It was not until the reformation that the Church had to be identified as the Catholic Church. Before any Scripture was written this Church had to orally uphold Christ's word. That is why I believe Solas Scriptura to be a lie. Back on subject though, Luther, with his break from the Church,should have reformed within like the great Saint Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits.

zipper778 said...

I appreciate your warm feelings toward Protestants idealclosets, but I wanted to point out a few things.

idealclosets:
Once you start going against the Church, where does it stop.

Me:
Well, once you start adding "T"raditions that were never there in the beginning, where does it stop?

idealclosets:
Luther attempted to remove the Epistle of James from the Bible, calling it "an Epistle of straw".

Me:
He did, among other books such as Hebrews as well. However, Luther never actually removed books from the Bible.

idealclosets:
It was not until the reformation that the Church had to be identified as the Catholic Church.

Me:
Are you unaware of the Great Schism in 1054AD?

idealclosets:
Back on subject though, Luther, with his break from the Church,should have reformed within like the great Saint Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits.

Me:
Are you unaware that it was Leo X who excommunicated Luther in 1521? The pope didn't even give Luther a chance to make his point.

No offense idealclosets, but your arguments are strawman ones.

LaMagdalena said...

Having just come across this, I'd simply like to say that as an educated Roman Catholic, I am embarrassed and humiliated by the poorly written and unreasonable 'argument' presented against historical fact. I hope that you recognize that not all of us are so dogmatic, ignorant, or belligerent. Thank you for responding so moderately to the ever-bleating sheep that need, for their own peace of mind, to feel their shepherds do no wrong.

James Swan said...

Having just come across this, I'd simply like to say that as an educated Roman Catholic, I am embarrassed and humiliated by the poorly written and unreasonable 'argument' presented against historical fact. I hope that you recognize that not all of us are so dogmatic, ignorant, or belligerent. Thank you for responding so moderately to the ever-bleating sheep that need, for their own peace of mind, to feel their shepherds do no wrong.

Thanks!

Yeshua ha mashiack deciple said...

I just have to say the catholic church holds and teaches the doctrines of christ and the apostles and the gates of hell shall not prevailagainst Gods church. But protestant churches are only 600 yrs old and have taught more teachings and doctrines and overtime has changed these teachings and doctrines than every religion combined!! Repent and come home to rome sweet home. But if u MUST be protestant then it may be very hard but find a preacher that observes christs commandments and teachings (mathew 28.) And teaches u to do the same. To love christ (john14:23).

James Swan said...

I just have to say the catholic church holds and teaches the doctrines of christ and the apostles and the gates of hell shall not prevailagainst Gods church. But protestant churches are only 600 yrs old and have taught more teachings and doctrine

This sounds like something the Jewish leaders would have said to Christ and the apostles.

Constantine said...

Protestant churches aren't just 600 years old.

We trace our lineage back to Christ and His apostles.

Rome is the schismatical church at least since the time of the Council of Basle.

Peace.