Monday, May 31, 2010

Daniel's Susanna: Why Isn't it Biblical?

One of the Roman Catholic additions to the book of Daniel is Susanna. It's the story of the virtuous and beautiful Jewish wife of a rich man in Babylon. She is approached by two elders who lust after her. They give her a choice: she can either yield to their sexual desires or be falsely accused as an adulteress. She chooses the false accusation and is condemned. A young Daniel protests and cries out against this injustice. In a second trial, the woman is exonerated by Daniel cross-examining the men and exposing their lie. You can read this story here.

I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at some of the extra apocryphal material Roman Catholics say Protestants wrongly excluded from the Bible. Remember, the common complaint is that Protestants don't have writings like Susanna in the Bible because Luther took it out. The doctrines taught in the apocrypha were said to contradict his teachings, so he removed them. Then, the rest of Protestantism followed him like sheep.

Luther's View
Of course, Luther did give his reason for not accepting Susanna and the other additions to Daniel: "We have uprooted such cornflowers (because they do not appear in the Hebrew versions of Daniel...)". But he translated it anyway and included it in his Bible saying, "And yet, to keep them from perishing, we have put them here in a kind of special little spice garden or flower bed since much that is good..." For Luther, Susanna "seem[ed] like beautiful religious fiction." If someone wanted to use it, Luther said "it can all be easily interpreted in terms of the state, the home, or the devout company of the faithful" [LW 35:353]. Luther being consistent with this either quotes or refers to Susanna in LW 11:112; 12:201; 18:330; 37:322; 44:223.

Jerome's View
That's outrageous isn't it? No not really. "The history of Susanna is certainly a Greek original, as was inferred by Julius Africanus and Porphyry from plays on words possible only in Greek" [source]. "Jerome places it at the end of Daniel, with a notice that it is not found in the Hebrew Bible" [source]. When it comes right down to it, Susanna is left out of the Bible because it appears to be a later addition to Daniel. It's questioned by Protestants on historical and textual grounds. It wasn't part of the Hebrew Bible. It's a later addition written in Greek, not Hebrew.

Roman Catholics were given a chance many years ago to come to terms with these facts. In responding to Porphyry's claims against the entire book of Daniel, Jerome grants he's made some good points in regard to the apocryphal additions:

But among other things we should recognize that Porphyry makes this objection to us concerning the Book of Daniel, that it is clearly a forgery not to be considered as belonging to the Hebrew Scriptures but an invention composed in Greek. This he deduces from the fact that in the story of Susanna, where Daniel is speaking to the elders, we find the expressions, "To split from the mastic tree" (apo tou skhinou skhisai) and to saw from the evergreen oak (kai apo tou prinou prisai), a wordplay appropriate to Greek rather than to Hebrew. But both Eusebius and Apollinarius have answered him after the same tenor, that the stories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are not contained in the Hebrew, but rather they constitute a part of the prophecy of Habakkuk, the son of Jesus of the tribe of Levi. Just as we find in the title of that same story of Bel, according to the Septuagint, "There was a certain priest named Daniel, the son of Abda, an intimate of the King of Babylon." And yet Holy Scripture testifies that Daniel and the three Hebrew children were of the tribe of Judah. For this same reason when I was translating Daniel many years ago, I noted these visions with a critical symbol, showing that they were not included in the Hebrew. And in this connection I am surprised to be told that certain fault-finders complain that I have on my own initiative truncated the book. After all, both Origen, Eusebius and Apollinarius, and other outstanding churchmen and teachers of Greece acknowledge that, as I have said, these visions are not found amongst the Hebrews, and that therefore they are not obliged to answer to Porphyry for these portions which exhibit no authority as Holy Scripture...

But even Origen in his Vulgate edition (of the Greek Old Testament) placed asterisks around the work of Theodotion, indicating that the material added was missing (in the Septuagint), whereas on the other hand he prefixed obeli (i.e., diacritical marks) to some of the verses, distinguishing thereby whatever was additional material (not contained in the Hebrew). And since all the churches of Christ, whether belonging to the Greek-speaking territory or the Latin, the Syrian or the Egyptian, publicly read this edition with its asterisks and obeli, let the hostile-minded not begrudge my labor, because I wanted our (Latin-speaking) people to have what the Greek-speaking peoples habitually read publicly in the regions of Aquila and Symmachus. And if the Greeks do not for all their wealth of learning despise the scholarly work of Jews, why should poverty-stricken Latins look down upon a man who is a Christian? And if my product seems unsatisfactory, at least my good intentions should be recognized. [source].

Commenting on Daniel 13:54 Jerome says,

'Tell me under which tree thou sawest them conversing with each other.' And he answered, 'Under the mastic tree.' And Daniel said to him, 'Well hast thou lied against thine own head; for behold, the angel of God, having received His sentence from Him, shall cleave thee in twain.' And a little while later the other elder said, 'Under the holm tree.' And Daniel said to him, 'Well hast thou lied against thine own head; but the angel of the Lord waiteth with a sword to sever thee in twain.'" Since the Hebrews reject the story of Susanna, asserting that it is not contained in the Book of Daniel, we ought to investigate carefully the names of the trees, the skhinos and the prinos, which the Latins interpret as "holm-oak" and "mastic-tree," and see whether they exist among the Hebrews and what their derivation is ---- for example, as "cleavage" [Latin (scissio) is derived from "mastic" [Greek skhinos], and "cutting" or "sawing" [Latin sectio, serratio] is derived from "holm tree" [Greek prinos, which resembles the Greek word for "to saw": prio] in the language of the Greeks. But if no such derivation can be found, then we too are of necessity forced to agree with the verdict of those who claim that this chapter [Greek pericope] was originally composed in Greek, because it contains Greek etymology not found in Hebrew. [That is, because Daniel twice makes a sinister wordplay based upon the Greek names of these two trees, and a similar pun could not be made out from the Hebrew names, if any, of these trees, the story itself could never have been composed in Hebrew.] But if anyone can show that the derivation of the ideas of cleaving and severing from the names of the two trees in question is valid in Hebrew, then we may accept this scripture also as canonical.

Commenting on chapter 14, Jerome says:

"And as soon as he had opened the door, the king looked upon the table and cried out with a great voice: 'Great art thou, O Bel, and there is no deceit with thee.'" The statement of Scripture in this passage, "He cried out with a great voice," may seem, because of its reference to an idolator ignorant of God, to refute the observation put forth a little previously, that the expression "great voice" is found only in connection with saints. This objection is easily solved by asserting that this particular story is not contained in the Hebrew of the Book of Daniel. If, however, anyone should be able to prove that it belongs in the canon, then we should be obliged to seek out some answer to this objection.

Dead Sea Scroll manuscript fragments have been found of the book of Daniel. To my knowledge, these fragments do not contain any of the Greek additions (the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, and the Story of Susanna). Jerome's appeal for proof has yet to be answered.


The Debate: Africanus versus Origen
"On the History of Susanna there is an interesting correspondence between Julius Africanus and Origen, in which the former denies the genuineness of the story and the latter defends it" [source]. You can read that debate here. Africanus notes similar textual problems expressed by Jerome above, as well as inconsistencies within the story itself. His letter is a quick read.

Origen's response is quite lengthy, but one argument in particular is worth noting:

But probably to this you will say, Why then is the “History” not in their Daniel, if, as you say, their wise men hand down by tradition such stories? The answer is, that they hid from the knowledge of the people as many of the passages which contained any scandal against the elders, rulers, and judges, as they could, some of which have been preserved in uncanonical writings (Apocrypha).

Origen goes on to describe those Jews that hid the books as "the rulers of Sodom." Schaff states, "Origen tried at great length to refute these objections, and one of his arguments is that it would be degrading to Christians to go begging to the Jews for the unadulterated Scriptures" [source].

Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta questions "just how many third century Christians Africanus may reasonably be supposed to represent" and that his opinion was based on his own "private study". Couldn't the same be easily said about Origen's view as well? Michuta says Origen's opinion is based on "an appeal to near-universal acceptance in all the churches of God" [Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, pp. 91-92]. Simply because the church read Susanna, doesn't make it canonical.

Michuta appears to embrace Origen's argument that "it is an offense against God to consider that the Jews, who rejected Christ, could somehow have preserved the true collection in pristine purity over and against the Spirit-filled Church" [Ibid. p.90]. A response to both Origen and Michuta was given by Paul in Romans 3: Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.


Conclusion
"whatever may be thought concerning these literary or historical questions [about the extra-chapters of Daniel], there cannot be the least doubt that in decreeing the sacred and canonical character of these fragments the Council of Trent proclaimed the ancient and morally unanimous belief of the Church of God" [The Catholic Encyclopedia].

That really is the bottom line- when it comes right down to it, the reason Susanna is part of Daniel in a Roman Catholic Bible is because Trent infallibly said so. The Protestant takes Romans 3 quite seriously. The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. Their Bible does not have Susanna. Linguistic problems show the book was not of Hebrew origin, but Greek. It was a later addition to the text, rejected by the Jews.

127 comments:

Lvka said...

The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. Their Bible does not have Susanna.


The book of Daniel, in its Greek form, DID have Susana: diaspora Jews were still Jews.

James Swan said...

"The biggest problem with the theory of the Alexandrian canon is that there are no lists or collections one can look to in order to see what books comprised it. Pfeiffer himself acknowledged that no one knows what the canon of the Alexandrian and other Diaspora Jews was before the LXX was condemned in Palestine, ca. 130 CE. Long ago E. Reuss concluded that we know nothing about the LXX before the time when the church made extensive use of it. That includes the condition of the text and its form as well as its extent. Another problem with the Alexandrian canon theory is that it has not been shown conclusively that the Alexandrian Jews or the other Jews of the Dispersion were any more likely to adopt other writings as sacred scriptures than were the Jews Palestine in the two centuries BCE and the first century CE. Further, there is no evidence as yet that shows the existence of a different canon of scriptures in Alexandria than in Palestine from the second century BCE to the second century CE….Since the communications between Jerusalem and Alexandria were considered quite good during the first century BCE and CE, it is not certain that either the notion or extent of divine scripture would be strikingly different between the two locations during the period before 70 CE…Although the Jews of the Dispersion were more affected by Hellenism than were the Jews of Palestine, there is little evidence to show that this influence also affected their notion of scripture or the boundaries of their scriptures."- Lee McDonald The formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, p.91


"It has frequently been suggested that, while the canon of the Palestinian Jews was limited to the twenty-four books of the Law, Prophets and Writings, the canon of the Alexandrian Jews was more comprehensive. There is no evidence that this was so: indeed, there is no evidence that the Alexandrian Jews ever promulgated a canon of scripture."- F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, p.44-45

Lvka said...

Again:

I'm not talking about "canons": I'm talking about the TEXT itself. (In this case, that of Daniel)

Susana is NOT a BOOK!

Matthew Bellisario said...

"The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. Their Bible does not have Susanna. Linguistic problems show the book was not of Hebrew origin, but Greek. It was a later addition to the text, rejected by the Jews. "

This is simply not true. The Jews used the Septuagint and they had Susanna in that version. The Dead Sea Scrolls are inconclusive because for the most part they are only fragments and not complete texts, and I believe that only 1 of the manuscripts 1QDanb has enough text to verify that Susanna is not found in chapter III. Though Susanna is not found in the fragments, hopefully you know that Susanna is found in varying places in the ancient manuscript tradition, not just as chapter 3, but later found as chapter 13 or even as a prologue in the early Greek tradition. It is only in the later MT that we see Susanna consistently and definitively missing from the text, not so in the earlier manuscripts used by the Hellenized Jews and I might add, the early Christians as well. Nice try, but your little article here does not prove anything conclusively via historical critical methodology.

John said...

It's clearly misleading to blame it all on Trent sine EO have the book too.

And whether the book belongs as part of the same work of literature as Hebrew Daniel doesn't prove it isn't inspired. Neither does the language of the author prove it. Neither does the later aversion by some sects of Jews to writings in Greek matter unless we want to throw out the NT.

Matthew Bellisario said...

True, and I would also like to know why the Protestants accept the longer form other books in the NT which are not found in the earlier manuscripts like the Johannine Comma which is not found in the earliest manuscripts. Yet we see it was accepted as part of the Biblical Canon. I think these additions should throw out of their Canon as well no?

JoeyHenry said...

I don't believe that Susanna is canonical. However, due care should be given in making conclusion that it is written in Greek. There are scholars who defend that Susanna is written in a Semitic language (prob. Hebrew). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) succinctly summarized the issue:

"Our materials for judging of the language in which the author wrote are slender, and no great probability can at present be reached. The following scholars argue for a Greek original: Fritzsche, De Wette, Keil, Herzfeld, Graf, Holtzmann. The following are some of the grounds: (1) There are several paronomasias or word-plays, as in Susanna verses 54 f, Grk: schinon ("under a mastick tree") .... Grk: schisei ("will cut"); verses 58 f, Grk: prinon ("under a holm tree") .... Grk: prisai ("to cut"). But this last word (Grk: prisai) is absent from the true Septuagint, though it occurs in Theodotion (Swete's text, verse 59, has Grk: kataprise from the same root). If the word-play in verses 58 f is due to a translation based on Septuagint, the first example (verses 54 f), found in Septuagint and Theodotion, is as likely to be the work of the translator of those verses from the Hebrew. (2) It is said that no trace of a Hebrew original has been discovered; but up to a few years ago the same statement could have been made of Sir.

There is a growing opinion that the author wrote in Hebrew (or Aramaic?); so Ball, J. T. Marshall, R. H. Charles. (1) The writer was almost certainly a Palestinian Jew, and he would be far more likely to write in his own language, especially as he seems to have belonged to the Pharisaic party, who were ardent nationalists (see preceding section, at end). (2) There is a goodly number of Hebraisms, rather more than one would expect had the writer composed in Hellenistic Greek."

As of now, though, there is no conclusive evidence that Susanna is written in Greek since no fragment has been found to tip the scale unlike Sirach. Further, there is considerable evidence that the story is fiction and a later addition to the canonical book Daniel.

JoeyHenry said...

Erratum:

As of now, though, there is no conclusive evidence that Susanna is written in Greek [I mean Hebrew/Aramaic] since no fragment has been found to tip the scale unlike Sirach. Further, there is considerable evidence that the story is fiction and a later addition to the canonical book Daniel.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I never heard of Daniel's Susanna until reading this post. It's quite illuminating.

Thanks James Swan and the above commenters.

James Swan said...

I'm not talking about "canons": I'm talking about the TEXT itself. (In this case, that of Daniel)

Susana[sic] is NOT a BOOK!

Then present evidence that the it was written in Hebrew and accepted by the Jews.

James Swan said...

This is simply not true. The Jews used the Septuagint and they had Susanna in that version.

Proof?

hopefully you know that Susanna is found in varying places in the ancient manuscript tradition, not just as chapter 3, but later found as chapter 13 or even as a prologue in the early Greek tradition.

Jewish or Christian "ancient manuscript tradition"?

James Swan said...

It's clearly misleading to blame it all on Trent sine EO have the book too.

Granted, but the focus on my article was not Orthodoxy, but Roman Catholicism.

And whether the book belongs as part of the same work of literature as Hebrew Daniel doesn't prove it isn't inspired.

The actual battle is whether or not the Jews accepted Susanna. The language of origin is simply a fact in in proving they did not.

James Swan said...

True, and I would also like to know why the Protestants accept the longer form other books in the NT which are not found in the earlier manuscripts like the Johannine Comma which is not found in the earliest manuscripts. Yet we see it was accepted as part of the Biblical Canon. I think these additions should throw out of their Canon as well no?

I don't accept 1 John 5:7-8 as canonical. In fact, the Bible open in front of me at the moment places these verses in a footnote, not in the text.

This though is another topic.

James Swan said...

As of now, though, there is no conclusive evidence that Susanna is written in Greek since no fragment has been found to tip the scale unlike Sirach. Further, there is considerable evidence that the story is fiction and a later addition to the canonical book Daniel.

The internal evidence points to Greek origin.

I came across some of the information you posted as well. One Roman Catholic author I read argued for Susanna to have been in Aramaic.This reminds me a bit of Matthew being originally written in Aramaic.

James Swan said...

there is considerable evidence that the story is fiction and a later addition to the canonical book Daniel.

I didn't delve into this a much due to to time. Note the arguments of Africanus in the link to his letter to Origen.

This type of argument can be a double-edged sword- one could argue other passages in Daniel are fiction. On the other hand, there are other passages from the apocrypha that are blatantly erroneous (for an interesting interaction, search out Dr. White's debate with Gary Michuta and view the cross examination).

Matthew Bellisario said...

Swan says, "The actual battle is whether or not the Jews accepted Susanna."

It is obvious the Hellenistic Jews did accept it, because it is in their Greek manuscript tradition. The Theodotion translation made by a Hellenistic Jew clearly contains it, and to further the point it was accepted by nearly all the early Christians as part of the Canon at least for the first 300 years before it started to be called into question.

It is no surprise to me however that the Protestant would rather align themselves with later Jews who obviously rejected Christ as their savior and who also rejected Christian Biblical Tradition in favor of those that rejected Christ.

Again I ask, which NT texts do you choose to accept as Biblical, and why? Which longer texts of books are you going to accept and why? How did you end up with your current NT text? I think we have a case of picking and choosing here as to what the Protester will and will not accept as being "Biblical" when it come to historical sources.

Lvka said...

Susan is a Jewish book: not "Greek", because it wasn't written by Homer. -- So, it might be part of God's oracles: that's a possibility that you have to take into account, as opposed to simply dismiss it outrightly. -- That it wasn't written in Hebrew is irrelevant (was the NT written in Hebrew?).

Churchmouse said...

Matthew Bellasario states...

It is obvious the Hellenistic Jews did accept it, because it is in their Greek manuscript tradition.

"Obvious"??? I believe Jim did ask for "proof"? Yet, I always find the "inclusion = acception" ridiculous. Jerome included the books but he didn't regard them as canon. Luther included the books but he didn't regard them as canon. The 1611 KJV translators included the books but didn't regard them as canon. For the sake of argument, even if the Hellenistic Jews did include Susanna in the collection of books, where is the evidence that it was viewed as God-breathed Scripture? Did the Alexandrians hold to one and the Palestinians to another? If history records the disagreements regarding books that remained in the Hebrew canon (Esther, Song of Songs, etc.), surely we would find an uproar regarding books that were not included by the Palestinians. Yet, we don't.

The Theodotion translation made by a Hellenistic Jew clearly contains it, and to further the point it was accepted by nearly all the early Christians as part of the Canon at least for the first 300 years before it started to be called into question.

Theodotian was a known heretic, an Ebionite who denied the deity of Christ (it's ironic that you use this as a prooftext and, later, vilify Protestants for following the Hebrew tradition...oh, well). As far as "acceptance" by the early Christians, "acceptance" how? "Acceptance" as a historical book? Or "acceptance" as a canonical book? How does "acceptance" translate into canonicity?

It is no surprise to me however that the Protestant would rather align themselves with later Jews who obviously rejected Christ as their savior and who also rejected Christian Biblical Tradition in favor of those that rejected Christ.

The argument is pragmatic at best. Just because the Jews rejected Christ, it doesn't therefore follow that they rejected books you assume were part of the "Christian Biblical Tradition." Furthermore, if the Protestant follows the Hebrew canon, it's nothing but sheer vilification to equate Protestants with those who rejected Christ. Evidently, we don't reject Christ and we take issue with those who usurp the purity of God's Word.

Again I ask, which NT texts do you choose to accept as Biblical, and why? Which longer texts of books are you going to accept and why? How did you end up with your current NT text? I think we have a case of picking and choosing here as to what the Protester will and will not accept as being "Biblical" when it come to historical sources.

How many times has this straw man been answered. ALL the criterions (apostolicity, orthodoxy, antiquity, etc.) that led to the acceptance of the books we call the New Testament were available to the Protestant. We didn't need Rome to authenticate them for us. Agreement on the canonicity of the NT books cannot be viewed as acceptance of a Roman "authority" or even an acknowledgment thereof. It simply means that we agree, nothing more and nothing less.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"For the sake of argument, even if the Hellenistic Jews did include Susanna in the collection of books, where is the evidence that it was viewed as God-breathed Scripture?"

Because it was part of the actual text of the book, that is why.

"Acceptance" as a historical book? Or "acceptance" as a canonical book? How does "acceptance" translate into canonicity? "

It is not a separate book. It is part of the book of Daniel. Canonicity is determined by the Church recognizing Scripture for what it is.

"Furthermore, if the Protestant follows the Hebrew canon, it's nothing but sheer vilification to equate Protestants with those who rejected Christ. "

The Hebrew canon that you use is a later canon developed by later Jews who rejected the Septuagint, which the early Christians embraced. Which tradition are you going to follow, the Jewish or the early Christian?

"It simply means that we agree, nothing more and nothing less."

Agree using what means? Your own intellect and historical criticism? Again, how are you going to determine if the Johannine comma is part of the canon or not? If it is not in the earliest manuscripts, should we include it in the Bible or not? Catholics know the answer, do you?

Jason Engwer said...

Matthew Bellisario wrote:

"It is no surprise to me however that the Protestant would rather align themselves with later Jews who obviously rejected Christ as their savior and who also rejected Christian Biblical Tradition in favor of those that rejected Christ."

What we have is a combination of pre-Christian and post-Christian Jewish testimony on subjects like the timing of the closing of the canon and what standards should be used to judge the canon. The fact that a post-Christian Jewish source rejected Christianity doesn't tell us that his Old Testament canon must be wrong. He could be wrong about who Jesus was, yet be correct on other subjects, like the Old Testament canon. It would be absurd to suggest that a rejection of Christianity makes somebody wrong on every theological subject or unreliable in every comment he makes about history.

The early Christians made far more use of books like Isaiah and Daniel in arguing against Judaism than they did books like Tobit and the additions to Daniel. If later Jewish sources were motivated by their opposition to Christianity in deciding on their canon, then why would they retain a book like Isaiah while rejecting one like Tobit? Why would they retain Daniel's Son of Man passages, which were so heavily used by the early Christians, while rejecting the additions to Daniel being discussed in this thread? It doesn't seem that a negative reaction to Christianity was the primary motive behind the Jewish canonical judgment. What, then, is the relevance of mentioning that the later Jewish sources rejected Christ? As Josephus and other sources suggest, the Jewish perception of the canon seems to have been shaped largely by factors that were in place before any rejection of Christ had occurred. And even the later solidifying of the Jewish consensus isn't necessarily something that was motivated by a rejection of Christ just because it occurred among Jews who rejected Christianity.

Not only did some early Christian sources, like Melito of Sardis and Julius Africanus, question part or all of the Apocrypha, but some included books that Roman Catholics reject, like 1 Enoch. The ancient Jewish sources were inconsistent as well, but apparently much less so. The earlier and more consistent Jewish consensus seems more credible than later and less consistent Christian views of the Old Testament.

For anybody who's interested, I have a brief summarization of the argument for the traditional Protestant Old Testament canon here.

Jason Engwer said...

Matthew Bellisario wrote:

"Again I ask, which NT texts do you choose to accept as Biblical, and why? Which longer texts of books are you going to accept and why? How did you end up with your current NT text?"

Evangelicals generally arrive at their Biblical text the same way Catholics arrive at their texts of the church fathers, papal documents, conciliar documents, etc. Just as you don't need an infallible church ruling to tell you which text of Clement of Rome or Augustine to trust, we don't need an infallible church ruling to tell us which Biblical text to trust. And if somebody is going to arrive at a belief in Catholicism by means of Biblical texts like Matthew 16:18, as Catholics often tell us we should, then how do we arrive at a trust in such texts prior to our acceptance of Catholicism?

Matthew Bellisario said...

"Not only did some early Christian sources, like Melito of Sardis and Julius Africanus, question part or all of the Apocrypha, but some included books that Roman Catholics reject, like 1 Enoch."

So what? This does not prove the this passage in Daniel is not part of the actual Biblical book.

"The earlier and more consistent Jewish consensus seems more credible than later and less consistent Christian views of the Old Testament. "

What earlier Jewish consensus? There is only one source older than the Septuagint and that is the Dead Sea Scrolls which we already addressed. The early Christians as a majority had it in their manuscripts and it continued to recognized as part of the book of Daniel. The 100,000 dollar question is who is going to be the authority that is going to decide what historical account is correct? Who is going to decide what manuscripts are the closest to the original? You have to answer the question about the Johannine Comma. Is it part of the canon or not. If or if not, why? If their is a disagreement on the canon among Christians in the early Church, who is going to determine who is right? Just showing that some people disagreed is not enough to discount the Catholic position. You spend a lot of time trying to discredit the Catholic Church and little to prove your own actual position.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"Evangelicals generally arrive at their Biblical text the same way Catholics arrive at their texts of the church fathers, papal documents, conciliar documents, etc."

Tell us then how you personally decide which of the early Church writers was correct in the determination of the Canon. Are you the infallible vessel now that will determine who was right and who was wrong? Again, do you or do you not accept the Johannine Comma?

Churchmouse said...

Because it was part of the actual text of the book, that is why.

This means nothing. How do you know if it were truly an “actual” part of the text? Furthermore, you really give nothing to progress your argument. For instance, if it were an “actual” part of the text of the book, then at what point did the Palestinians remove it and why is there no record, no arguments, involving its removal?

It is not a separate book. It is part of the book of Daniel. Canonicity is determined by the Church recognizing Scripture for what it is.

Again, provide your evidence for Susanna being a “part of the book of Daniel" and one that was viewed canonically. Canonicity was based on criterions and not merely because one party claims it is. You and I both know it.

The Hebrew canon that you use is a later canon developed by later Jews who rejected the Septuagint, which the early Christians embraced. Which tradition are you going to follow, the Jewish or the early Christian?

Again, this is all assumption based on the biases you embrace. It’s pragmatism in all its glory. The truth is that you have NO evidence that the Jews removed any books that were part and parcel of those given by God. None.

Agree using what means? Your own intellect and historical criticism? Again, how are you going to determine if the Johannine comma is part of the canon or not? If it is not in the earliest manuscripts, should we include it in the Bible or not? Catholics know the answer, do you?

Like Jim, I don’t hold to the Johannine comma as canonical, for the reasons stated. However, the comma does present biblical truths found within canonical Scripture, a reiteration of these truths. To assert “Catholics know the answer, do you?” means nothing. It just reaffirms the Sola Ecclesia argument, that it is just a matter of claiming what the “infallible” Church affirms and assume that it is, somehow, an answer. It is nothing but mere assumption once again. But thanks for the non-answer.

Jason Engwer said...

Matthew Bellisario wrote:

"What earlier Jewish consensus?"

The one referred to by Josephus and corroborated by other sources. See the article I linked above.

You write:

"The 100,000 dollar question is who is going to be the authority that is going to decide what historical account is correct?"

Historical questions can be answered by means of historical evidence. We don't need an "authority" to tell us what to believe.

You write:

"Who is going to decide what manuscripts are the closest to the original? You have to answer the question about the Johannine Comma. Is it part of the canon or not. If or if not, why?"

The historical evidence for the Johannine Comma is bad. The fact that you keep bringing up that example doesn't reflect poorly on us. It reflects poorly on you. If you need an "authority" to tell you whether to include the Johannine Comma, then you don't have much discernment. If you can't reliably judge such a textual issue without an authority like the Roman Catholic Church telling you what to believe, then how would you arrive at a trust in Catholicism by means of historical argumentation? How do you come to believe in Jesus' historical existence, His miracles, His founding of a church, etc. if you're so incapable of making historical judgments? If you can't even discern what to do with the Johannine Comma without some "authority" telling you what to do, then how do you judge whether Matthew's gospel is historically reliable, whether the letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch are genuine, which text of those letters to trust, etc.?

Churchmouse said...

Tell us then how you personally decide which of the early Church writers was correct in the determination of the Canon. Are you the infallible vessel now that will determine who was right and who was wrong? Again, do you or do you not accept the Johannine Comma?

Wow! The rabbit trails are amassing. The argument assumes an "infallible vessel." It goes back to what Jim stated about Matthew 16:18 and the Catholic's acceptance of its interpretation. Bellisario, a fallible man, merely accepts his own fallible judgment of which he fallibly believes is an infallible church. And he expects all to follow suit. At the end of the day, Bellisario is just like anyone else, realizing that if it is good for the goose it is just as good for the gander.

Anders Branderud said...

Quote: “Michuta appears to embrace Origen's argument that "it is an offense against God to consider that the Jews, who rejected Christ”

They fail to distinguish between the historical first century Ribi Yehoshua and the le-havdil (to differentiate) Christian Jzus .
Le-havdil, A logical analysis (found in www.netzarim.co.il (Netzarim.co.il is the website of the only legitimate Netzarim-group)) of all extant source documents and archeology proves that the historical Ribi Yehosuha from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical.

The original words of the pro-Torah teacher Ribi Yehoshua were redacted by Roman Hellenists, and the redaction is found in the “gospels”. Jzus is described in the “gospels”, and le-havdil the teachings of the historical Torah-teacher Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth are found in the reconstruction (using a logical and scientific methodology to create the reconstruction), Netzarim Hebrew Reconstruction of Hebrew Matityahu (NHM).

The historical Jew Ribi Yehoshua is not the same as the Christian Jzus. The historical Ribi Yehoshua was a human.
The Christian Jzus was not an historical person.
Ribi Yehoshua was crucified by the Hellenist Tzedoqim Temple Priesthood that wanted to crucify Ribi Yehoshua, not by Torah-observant Jews. Here is the reason for the crucifixion of Ribi Yehoshua:

”While the facts have been available since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, this is the first time, anywhere, that the complete picture is being laid out in one place.
The documented history is that the "Temple Priesthood" were Tzedoqim (Sadducees), quite distinct from their rival sect, the Perushim (Pharisees) who, today, are called Orthodox Jews.

Check with university History professors, your Encyclopedias (including Ency. Judaica) or the Khanukh•âh′ page of our website History Museum: In BCE 175, Antiochus Epiphanes, an ardent Hellenist who exercised control over Yehudah (Judea) and Yerushalayim, permanently Hellenized the Tzedoqim "Temple Priesthood" by accepting money from a rabid Hellenist Tzedoqi collaborator named Yehoshua (Jason) Ben-Shimon and physically ousting Jason's brother: the sitting Torah-true High Priest, Khonyo (Yekhonyah) Ben-Shimon.
Khonyo turned out to be the last Torah-true High Priest of the Temple, ever. Except for a brief interlude by the Maccabees, the Temple Priesthood ever since Jason were Hellenist Tzedoqim, 180° opposite to the Torah-true Tzedoqim of his deposed brother, Yekhonyah--whose followers almost certainly were the Qumran Tzedoqim.

Part 1 of 2

Anders Branderud said...

The Dead Sea Scrolls suggest that--understandably given their rabid Hellenization and their collaboration with the Hellenist occupiers of Yehudah--both the Qumran Tzedoqim and the Perushim viewed the Hellenist Tzedoqim "Temple Priesthood" as "Wicked Priests." The Temple Priesthood were the (first Syrian, then Roman) Hellenist Judenrats of that era.
This is the key to understanding what no one has ever explained sensibly: it's impossible to explain why Romans bothered to execute a Perushi Ribi as a threat to Rome OR a crowd of Jews would scream out for the death of one of their own rabbis EVEN IF he HAD made a claim to be the Mashiakh, which he never actively pursued in any political sense. It's absolutely clear that Ribi Yehoshua never posed any political threat to Romans nor religious threat to Jews from that perspective.

But the record shows that Ribi Yehoshua was SERIOUSLY condemnatory of Hellenism, which means against the Hellenist Tzedoqim "Wicked Priests" of the Temple!
How is that key? The Hellenist Tzedoqim Temple Priesthood were the key link between the Hellenist Roman rulers and their control over the Yehudim (Jews) of Yehudah (Judah / Judea). The Roman occupiers depended on the Hellenist Tzedoqim Temple Priesthood... and Ribi Yehoshua was attacking that critical link that enable Hellenist Roman occupiers to exercise control. Discrediting the Jewish-Roman link of these Hellenist collaborating Judenrats threatened Rome's ability to control Yehudah. For that, the two--the Hellenist Tzedoqim Temple Priesthood and Rome--crucified (a Roman political execution NEVER used by Jews) Ribi Yehoshua.

The ONLY good guys were the Ribi Yehoshua's fellow Perushim (only Perushim had rabbis & Ribis)... today's Orthodox Jews who keep Torah according to Halakhah.
These "scholars" are trying their hardest to continue confusing the Torah Perushim with the Hellenist Tzedoqim collaboraters with the Roman occupiers. In their ignorant attempt to avoid historical fact, they inadvertently ensure that the world continues to blame--and hate--whomever their preinclincations already blamed and hated--all Jews alike.” (quote: Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben Dawid; Web café blog ( http://www.netzarim.co.il ))

Matthew Bellisario said...

"This means nothing. How do you know if it were truly an “actual” part of the text? "
Because it is the actual written text int e Septuagint. You seem to to ignorant of the fact that it is not a separate book.

"The historical evidence for the Johannine Comma is bad. The fact that you keep bringing up that example doesn't reflect poorly on us.""

Yes it does since it is in your Bible.

" then how do you judge whether Matthew's gospel is historically reliable, whether the letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch are genuine, which text of those letters to trust, etc.?"

Because the Church that Christ founded says they are, "He who hears you hears me." Christ did not say "He who makes himself his own authority hears me."

Again, you have to infallibly prove the Canon by your own historical criticism, good luck in doing that. As it stands none of you have proven that this particular passage is not part of Scripture. Its all speculation on your part.

Matthew Bellisario said...

As far as Sola Ecclesia goes, you seem to be ignorant of that term as it cannot apply to Catholicism, since the Church never has held itself over Divine Revelation, but only its servant and in relying on her ability to recognize Divine Revelation for what it is, unlike yourselves who really subscribe to not to "Scripture Alone", but" individualism alone." This is great, now we have Prots that cant even decide if the text they have int heir Bibles is actually Scripture.

Ryan said...

MB wrote:

"Because it was part of the actual text of the book, that is why."

You ignored his point. Even if it was a part of the "actual text," that doesn't prove it was regarded as Scripture (cf. the inclusion of the apocrypha into the ecclesiastical writings of Jerome et. al.). If it wasn't regarded as canonical by those people - yet still included - why does inclusion necessarily = canonicity in the canon of the Hellenistic Jews if it doesn't in the others?

Churchmouse said...

Yes it does since it is in your Bible.

LOL!! It seems that you continue to labor under the assumption that “inclusion = canonical acceptance.” You do it with the Alexandrian Jews and you do it with us. Evidently, there is a disclaimer with the Johannine comma and whether one accepts it as canonical or not, it still presents biblical truth. You’d be hardpressed to deny it. The truth is that we do not need an infallible interpreter or any extra-biblical tradition or revelation to substantiate what is so clear. Furthermore, Rome has followed the very criterions we do to decide what books belong in the NT. You haven’t provided anything to counter the evident.

Because the Church that Christ founded says they are, "He who hears you hears me." Christ did not say "He who makes himself his own authority hears me."

Sola Ecclesia!! Sadly, you can’t recognize it for what it is.

Again, you have to infallibly prove the Canon by your own historical criticism, good luck in doing that. As it stands none of you have proven that this particular passage is not part of Scripture. Its all speculation on your part.

I trust God! That is where you and I separate. I firmly believe that God can lead His people to His truth WITHOUT the need for an alleged “infallible interpreter.” His sheep hear His voice and they follow. God has left us with criterions to substantiate what belongs or doesn’t belong and that’s a plus, but He clearly leads.

Still, you haven’t presented anything to alleviate your dilemma, namely that you are just a fallible man who chooses to fallibly accept that your church is infallible AND, that at the end of the day, your church has followed the very criterions that Protestants recognize in determining the NT books. They just claim “infallibility” in doing so when we recognize that there is no need for such a thing.

As far as Sola Ecclesia goes, you seem to be ignorant of that term as it cannot apply to Catholicism, since the Church never has held itself over Divine Revelation, but only its servant and in relying on her ability to recognize Divine Revelation for what it is, unlike yourselves who really subscribe to not to "Scripture Alone", but" individualism alone." This is great, now we have Prots that cant even decide if the text they have int heir Bibles is actually Scripture.

And you seem to be ignorant of the fact that Catholics are dependent on Rome to determine Divine Revelation, whether they are written or of the alleged extra-biblical source. If you cannot see that, ultimately, EVERYTHING is contingent on Rome, than that’s an error of your own making. Claiming that Rome has never held herself over Divine Revelation is semantics, considering that it isn’t an issue of holding herself “over” the very thing she decides the interpretation thereof. It is Sola Ecclesia because she determines and takes precedent over any interpretation and, as a result, she takes prominence over the very thing which YOU claim she doesn’t hold herself over.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"You ignored his point. Even if it was a part of the "actual text," that doesn't prove it was regarded as Scripture"

I am sure the readers read the Book of Daniel and as they read they it they cut that part out of it as not being Scripture. What a joke to even imply such a thing. As I said it was part of the actual book of Daniel.

Rhology said...

MB really doesn't care about honestly engaging the facts. How many times do we have to tell him that the Comma Johanneum is a FOOTNOTE of DOUBTFUL ORIGIN in our Bibles, before he'll stop repeating "It's in your Bible!!!!1"?
Amazing. The depths of willful idiocy.

Matthew Bellisario said...

At least I'm not the willful idiot who obviously has no clue as to what is supposed to be in the canon and what is not.

Ryan said...

"I am sure..."

No, you're not. That's the point, bro. Otherwise, you'd answer the question.

Matthew Bellisario said...

"No, you're not. That's the point, bro. Otherwise, you'd answer the question."

Sorry son, the Jews and early Christians accepted the text in their Bibles, to bad you don't. I did answer the question.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Churchmouse said...

I am sure the readers read the Book of Daniel and as they read they it they cut that part out of it as not being Scripture. What a joke to even imply such a thing. As I said it was part of the actual book of Daniel.

Proof???

Churchmouse said...

Sorry son, the Jews and early Christians accepted the text in their Bibles, to bad you don't. I did answer the question.

Proof???

Churchmouse said...

True, and I would also like to know why the Protestants accept the longer form other books in the NT which are not found in the earlier manuscripts like the Johannine Comma which is not found in the earliest manuscripts. Yet we see it was accepted as part of the Biblical Canon. I think these additions should throw out of their Canon as well no?

Oh, by the way, dare I say that if Susanna were attached to Daniel in Scripture, in like manner as the Johannine comma, it would have the disclaimer such as the footnotes found in the Johannine comma. MB would be criticizing us over our "acceptance" even though it clearly means nothing other than just "inclusion."

Jason Engwer said...

I had written:

"If you can't even discern what to do with the Johannine Comma without some 'authority' telling you what to do, then how do you judge whether Matthew's gospel is historically reliable, whether the letters attributed to Ignatius of Antioch are genuine, which text of those letters to trust, etc.?"

Matthew Bellisario responded:

"Because the Church that Christ founded says they are, 'He who hears you hears me.' Christ did not say 'He who makes himself his own authority hears me.'"

Where has Roman Catholicism infallibly judged the correct text of Ignatius of Antioch's letters?

And I asked how you come to trust in Roman Catholicism to begin with. You can't cite the alleged authority of Roman Catholicism to explain why you accept evidence that leads you to believe in Roman Catholicism. For example, why should somebody believe in Catholicism because of texts like Matthew 16:18 if they must first believe in Catholicism to accept such texts?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"why should somebody believe in Catholicism because of texts like Matthew 16:18 if they must first believe in Catholicism to accept such texts?"

This looks to be a circular argument. Kinda like this:

Bellisario: "The Roman Catholic Church is the Infallible Authority and Interpreter of Scripture."

Engwer: "How do you know?"

Bellisario: "Because Matthew 16:18 says so."

Engwer: "How do you know that Matthew 16:18 says that the Roman Catholic Church is the Infallible Authority and Interpreter of Scripture?"

Bellisario: "Because the infallible Roman Catholic Church tells us how to interpret Matthew 16:18."

Engwer: "You're arguing in circles."

Bellisario: "No, I'm not. I'm the Catholic Champion and you lose."

Engwer: "I didn't lose. You lose."

Bellisario: "No, you lose."

Engwer: "We're arguing in circles."

Bellisario: "But you still lose. Don't forget that."

;-0

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Constantine said...

At least I'm not the willful idiot who obviously has no clue as to what is supposed to be in the canon and what is not.

Don’t be so hard on yourself, Eminence. You are quite the willful idiot.

Churchmouse said...

Ben M... Man!! What a tedious waste of a post. Especially the implication that a "believing Jew" would have accepted the LXX. I guess all the Alexandrians believed that Christ was the Messiah. I guess all the Alexandrians became Christians. Well, that is according to your logic.

Ryan said...

"Sorry son, the Jews and early Christians accepted the text in their Bibles, to bad you don't. I did answer the question."

Wrong. You repeated your assertion without regard for the analogies which seemingly dismantle your position... bro :P

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lvka said...

ChurchMouse (and others),


there's a reason they're called Additions to Daniel: because they're part of the LXX text of the book of Daniel... just like the Additions to Esther are part of the LXX text of the book of Esther.

They are NOT self-standing books: Wisdom is NOT called "Additions to Solomon", for instance, precisely for the same reason: it's a self-standing book, and not a chapter of anything else.

There are also OTHER canonical books, which contain chapters found ONLY in the LXX: 1 Kings 12-14 comes here to mind, which in the LXX version contains an entire chapter not found in the Masoretic.

The re-sampling and re-arranging of such chapters in Western bibles was first done by Saint Jerome, when he translated the Latin Vulgate in the 4th or 5th century.

Lvka said...

Anders Branderud,


I thought I might share this article with you.

Rhology said...

Here's what they have in all have in common: they all have Greek, not Hebrew names!


Oh noes!!!!!!!1
Wow - "Numbers" is a Greek word! Who knew?

James Swan said...

“It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive than the twenty-two, or twenty-four, books of the Hebrew Bible of Palestinian Judaism. ... It always included, with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deuteron-canonical books.

Augustine:

"Those things which are not written in the canon of the Jews cannot be adduced with so much confidence against opposers."

"What is written in the Book of Judith the Jews are truly said not to have received into the canon of Scripture."

"The Jews do not have this Scripture which is called Maccabees, as they do the law and the prophets, to which the Lord bears testimony as to his witnesses. But it is received by the Church not without advantage, if it be read and heard soberly, especially for the sake of the history of the Maccabees, who suffered so much from the hand of persecutors for the sake of the law of God."

Origin: "...I know not, unless it is from Tobias; and Tobias (and also Judith) we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves."

That's OK Ben, if you want to rely on Protestant scholarship rather than the testimony of the ECF's, that's quite alright.

Churchmouse said...

Yeah Ben, tell me something I don't know. It was a Greek-speaking world and the LXX made its way filling a need. However, it doesn't mean that every book was considered canonical. Again, the mere fact that history records the disputations regarding books that remain in the Bible (i.e. Esther, Song of Songs), where is the disputes regarding books that were taken out? Again, the LXX was a necessity, but it doesn't follow that all the additions and books in the LXX were going to pass free and clear. You don't find the Alexandrians up in arms regarding books they considered inspired.

JoeyHenry said...

"The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was not the Hebrew version, but the Greek translation known as the Septuagint.

"Begun at Alexandria about the middle of the third century B.C., this became the Bible of the Greek-speaking Jews of the Dispersion, and most of the Scriptural quotations found in the New Testament are based upon it rather than the Hebrew.”

Note however, that although the NT writers makes use of the Greek translation of the Hebrew text, we don't have concrete evidence that the Greek translation that they'd used included the "Apocrypha". We have no direct evidence from the Gospels or the Apostles that the Apocrypha were considered authoritative.

The LXX that we have are from the fourth and fifth centuries which is already influenced by Christian scribes (noting the differences of the contents of the LXX codex Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus which proves the process of addition of more books or writings). Thus, this is not an evidence that the LXX (or something similar to it) the Apostles used contained the Apocrypha or that the Alexandrian Jews considered the Apocrypha at par with the Hebrew OT.

Indeed, some later Christian scribes/writer consider it at par with the Hebrew OT but no evidence directly from the Alexandrian Jews or from the time of the Apostles exist which proves that they consider the Apocrypha at par with the Hebrew OT. According to Metzger (Apocrypha, pp. xxi-xiii), none of the early Latin and Greek church fathers who quoted from the Apocrypha as Scripture knew any Hebrew. Those who knew Hebrew or have studied Hebrew tend to dismiss the authority of the Apocrypha simply because they recognized it as an addition which Jesus and the Apostles could not have viewed as Scriptures.

Lvka said...

The question that any honest Protestant has to seriously ask himself:

What was the position of the Fathers you mention as rejecting the Apocrypha on issues such as prayer for the dead, prayer to the Saints, icons, salvation by works also, etc?

Rhology said...

That's funny. I much prefer asking myself: What was the position of the Scriptures on issues such as prayer for the dead, prayer to the Saints, icons, salvation by works also, etc?

Lvka said...

Then ask yourself, (since you make so much recourse to the Fathers when it comes to the Apocrypha), how did they read the Scriptures, since they DO see these things in the Scriptures.

Rhology said...

Maybe you should ask yourself why you think it's a valid excuse to make the same mistake as some of them did, seeing things in the Scr that aren't there?

bkaycee said...

What was the position of the Fathers you mention as rejecting the Apocrypha on issues such as prayer for the dead, prayer to the Saints, icons, salvation by works also, etc?

Is it me or does that make little sense?

I would say from reading Webster, that the SCHOLARLY, LEARNED view of the church rejected the apocrypha, up to and including Cardinal Cajetan

http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/Apocrypha3.html

Lvka said...

And what was the position of that scholarly side of the Fathers on issues such as prayers for the departed and intercession of the Saints?..

Viisaus said...

It was not until the 4th century that the invocation of saints became widespread - probably as a result of the huge post-Constantinian expansion as hordes of not very committed people entered the church and brought their pagan-like ideas and attitudes with them.

Tertullian and Cyprian in the 3rd century still wrote whole treatises on prayer without mentioning lower intercessors.

Lvka said...

So, in other words, Sub Tuum Presidium does NOT date from the third century, was NOT used in the Coptic Liturgy of that time, and --when translated--, does NOT read like this:


Beneath thy tenderness of heart
we take refuge, O Mother of God,
disdain not our supplications in our necessity,
but deliver us from perils,
O only pure and blessed one.

Viisaus said...

No, I don't believe that that Coptic liturgy would date from the 3rd century.

RC and EO sources, liturgies included, are often riddled with forgery and later interpolation.

Recently your fellow EO JOhn had his own argument blown to his face when he cited a spurious work - attributed to Methodius of Olympus - to prove the existence of Mariolatry at early date.

(More on pseudo-Methodius here:

http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2010/03/yet-another-steve-ray-patristic-error.html )

Lvka said...

Liturgies, as a whole, evolve over time (if that's what you meant); but the poetry I mentioned was part of it during the third century..

Viisaus said...

Worship of saints is such an obviously semi-pagan or least sub-Biblical custom that even if it were not expressly forbidden by the LETTER of the Scriptures, its very spirit would militate against it.

How many prayers to saints are there in the Book of Psalms? Not even one call for "saint Abraham, pray for us".

Protestant Christianity is just about the only major religion in the world that does not worship and seek the favors of dead people. To me, this is a glorious distinction well worth upholding.

RCs and EOs are on this issue in agreement with Muslims - enjoy the company:

http://www.archive.org/details/religionofcresce00tisd

p. 200

"1. In the case of the vast majority of Muslims everywhere, their religion in practice (as distinguished from theory) consists almost wholly in the worship of pirs or saints. This may be accounted for in part by the fact that the fixed prayers in Arabic are unintelligible to most Muhammadans, and also partly by the feeling, inculcated by the Qur'an, that God is not our Father, and is separated from human nature by an unfathomable abyss. No mediator is provided by the theoretical religion, but human nature by saint-worship asserts its deep need of one."

Lvka said...

Worship of saints is such an obviously semi-pagan or least sub-Biblical custom ...


Well, ... obviously! (As obvious as that flatness of the earth).

Lvka said...

Not even one call for "saint Abraham, pray for us".


Why, of course! After you get to redefine the contents of the Bible, there are none left anymore:


Prayer of Azariah 1:12  And cause not thy mercy to depart from us, for thy beloved Abraham's sake, for thy servant Isaac's sake, and for thy holy Israel's sake;

Rhology said...

That's not praying TO Abraham. It's so funny - you try so hard, yet you fail so often.

Lvka said...

Such (biblical) prayer-forms are common in Orthodoxy, while at the same time completely absent from Protestantism. -- that was my point.

When was the last time *YOU* put forth before you the departed Saints and righteous when asking for God'S mercy?

Rhology said...

You say they're biblical. Prove it.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Now Rhology, that's completely unfair. You know Lvka is incapable of fulfilling your request.

Lvka said...

The verse I offered is from the middle of the third chapter of the LXX version of Daniel. -- the one which Jerome moved and Protestants then re-moved.

Viisaus said...

This is more like the sort of worship that benighted EO masses have historically liked to give to their saintly patrons:

"Whatever his origin, the saint has, for an essential attribute, the baraka, the sacred emanation. Through it he brings to those who worship him, prosperity, happiness, all the good things of this world; he can bestow his gifts, passing beyond the individual, upon a whole district, and even beyond the confines of this world, through his powers of intercession with Allah. (Gaudefroy-Demombynes, Muslim Institutions, p. 56)."

http://www.answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/Vol1/8c.html

Only with the spread of modern education AND Western Protestant influences did EOs begin to get ashamed of some of the cruder forms of their hagiolatry.


Here is an example of popular piety in the 19th century Russia - and this is by no means the worst possible example, but represents respectable mainstream:

http://www.archive.org/details/freerussia03dixogoog

p. 303

"On the way from Moscow to Troitsa stands the hamlet of Hotkoff, in which lies the dust of Sergie's father and mother; over whose tombs a church and convent have been built. Every pilgrim on the road to Troitsa stops at this convent and adores their bones.

"Have you been to Troitsa before?" we heard a pilgrim ask his fellow, as they trudged along the road. "Yea, thanks be to God." "Has Sergie given you what you came to seek?" "Well, no, not all." "Then you neglected to stop at Hotkoff and adore his parents; he was angry with you." "Perhaps; God knows. It may be so. Next time I will go to Hotkoff. Overlook my sin!""

Lvka said...

So... now back to my innitial question:


Those apocrypha-rejecting Fathers: what was their opinion on prayers for the departed and prayers to the Saints?


It's a common-sensical question to ask, isn't it? (Especially given the post-facto reasons that Protestants invoke for rejecting these books of Scripture) -- Right?

Viisaus said...

It should be YOU that should be worried and puzzled by the fact that even the great defender of icons, John of Damascus, held to the 22-books Hebrew canon:

http://www.bible-researcher.com/johnofdamascus.html

"... Observe, further, that there are two and twenty books of the Old Testament, one for each letter of the Hebrew tongue. For there are twenty-two letters of which five are double, and so they come to be twenty-seven. For the letters Caph, Mere, Nun, Pe, Sade are double. And thus the number of the books in this way is twenty-two, but is found to be twenty-seven because of the double character of five. For Ruth is joined on to Judges, and the Hebrews count them one book: the first and second books of Kings are counted one: and so are the third and fourth books of Kings: and also the first and second of Paraleipomena: and the first and second of Esdra. In this way, then, the books are collected together in four Pentateuchs and two others remain over, to form thus the canonical books. Five of them are of the Law, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. This which is the code of the Law, constitutes the first Pentateuch. Then comes another Pentateuch, the so-called Grapheia, or as they are called by some, the Hagiographa, which are the following: Jesus the Son of Nave, Judges along with Ruth, first and second Kings, which are one book, third and fourth Kings, which are one book, and the two books of the Paraleipomena which are one book. This is the second Pentateuch. The third Pentateuch is the books in verse, viz. Job, Psalms, Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of Solomon and the Song of Songs of Solomon. The fourth Pentateuch is the Prophetical books, viz the twelve prophets constituting one book, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then come the two books of Esdra made into one, and Esther.

There are also the Panaretus, that is the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Jesus, which was published in Hebrew by the father of Sirach, and afterwards translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus, the Son of Sirach. These are virtuous and noble, but are not counted nor were they placed in the ark."

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Viisaus, thanks for your contributions to this thread.

Rhology said...

The verse I offered is from the middle of the third chapter of the LXX version of Daniel

Fine, I'm happy for you. Now, were you going to show us where these concepts are biblical? (Saying "for the sake of ____" while addressing God is, um, not addressing a dead person; it's addressing God.)

Lvka said...

It should be YOU that should be worried and puzzled by the fact that even the great defender of icons, John of Damascus, held to the 22-books Hebrew canon:


NO. :-) Rather, YOU should be worried and puzzled by the fact that the great defender of the 22-books Hebrew canon held to icons -- and defended them with countless arguments FROM precisely that 22 book canon (Exodus, Kings, Chronicles, etc). :-)

Lvka said...

Rho,

exactly how many times did YOU ask God to show mercy on you or on someone else, for the sake of His saints and righteous?

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Engwer said...

The evidence suggests that the Biblical authors and the earliest patristic Christians didn't believe in praying to the deceased. See here, and particularly note that the practice of praying only to God is something for which Celsus criticized Christians in general. Praying to the dead did become popular later, but the earlier sources carry more historical weight. It's misleading to refer to what the fathers believed on a subject, as if they all must have held only one view, when later generations of the fathers contradict earlier generations.

bkaycee said...

Didnt Augustine get taken in by the Myth of the 70 elders, where their translations of the LXX "miraculously" were identical?

Lvka said...

If praying to the dead had been an accepted practice in Biblical times, we would expect it to be mentioned many times in many contexts, explicitly. But it isn't.


Matthew 27:47 and Mark 15:35.

Jason Engwer said...

Lvka wrote:

"Matthew 27:47 and Mark 15:35."

Some bystanders were attempting to explain what Jesus said, and they were mistaken. How does it follow that scripture is supporting prayer to the dead by recording what some mistaken bystanders said? Scripture also records accusations that Jesus was a sinner and was empowered by Satan.

As I said, scripture covers thousands of years of history and a wide variety of contexts within that history. There are hundreds of passages on prayer. The fact that you have to resort to a distortion of a passage like Matthew 27:47 to argue for Biblical support for praying to the dead reflects poorly on your position.

Lvka said...

You asked where does the Bible mention someone calling upon the departed saints in prayer.

Granted that Elijah is not dead, but he isn't God either...

It's not a distortion, they really thought he calls upon Elijah the Prophet in the hour of His need, and the reason they thought that He was doing that was because it was something done and practiced in their time.

For more information on the subject, I offer this link.

Acolyte4236 said...

"Now request and intercession and thanksgiving, it is not out of place to offer even to men—the two latter, intercession and thanksgiving, not only to saintly men but also to others. But request to saints alone, should some Paul or Peter appear, to benefit us by making us worthy to obtain the authority which has been given to them to forgive sins—with this addition indeed that, even should a man not be a saint and we have wronged him, we are permitted our becoming conscious of our sin against him to make request even of such, that he extend pardon to us who have wronged him."

Origen, On Prayer, X

Lvka said...

Justin Martyr, First Apology, Sixth Chapter (2nd century AD):


Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son, who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels, who follow and are made like to Him, and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.

Viisaus said...

"For more information on the subject, I offer this link."

Even (for the sake of argument) granting that such ideas had been commonspread among first century Jews, it would have been mere Pharisaical superstition and corruption of true Old Testament religion.

They had other silly beliefs as well, like thinking that Christ was John the Baptist reborn. Kooks try to use this to prove that the Bible teaches reincarnation:

http://www.cinemaseekers.com/Christ/reincarnation.html

In fact, one can find just about as much "proof" in the Bible for reincarnation as for worshipping saints. The above piece with its inane eisegesis quite reminds me of EO attempts to find evidence for icon-worship from the Scriptures.


Anyhow, the Pharisees and the Rabbinic Judaism that grew out of their system indeed eventually ended up practising crude hagiolatry. Hasidic Jews especially have a huge cult of "wonder-working rabbis."

So basically - like Muslims, like pagans, like RCs and EOs - Talmudic Jews brazenly pray to their departed holy men, whom they idolize in an un-Biblical manner.

Only Protestants, to their honor, do not worship saints. Which makes them unique in this world, and which is their glory.

Lvka said...

First you say they didn't exist because they left no traces.. then when I *show* you the traces, you dismiss them anyway.. -- really, haven't we been through this pattern on two other occasions already? :-\

Viisaus said...

"First you say they didn't exist because they left no traces."

What are you talking about? What "they" did not exist? You express yourself in a confused manner.

"really, haven't we been through this pattern on two other occasions already? :-\"

Yes, we have already seen many times your cheap rhetorical trick of declaring yourself a winner, while pooh-poohing all the heavy evidence against your positions (like that John of Damascus had the same canon as Protestants do).

Viisaus said...

Basically you act as if all the heavy hits on your position didn't really matter, but if you can make Protestants concede even one little thing, then you're the winner.

George Salmon noted this attitude of RC/EO apologists:

http://www.sounddoctrine.net/Classic_Sermons/George%20Salmon/infallibility_church.htm

"The Romish champions, beaten out of the open field, have shut themselves up in this fortress of Infallibility, where, as long as their citadel remains untaken, they can defy all assaults. Confute them by any arguments you please, and they can still reply, 'The Church has said otherwise,' and there is the end of the matter. But, though the Roman Catholic has thus shut himself up in a fortress, he can at any moment sally out on you, if he thinks he can do it with success. He will for the moment waive the question whether the Pope could decide wrongly, and will undertake to show that decisions of his which had been controverted were, in point of fact, right. Every victory a Roman Catholic can gain over you on particular points of controversy strengthens his faith in the attribute of Infallibility, his Church's claim to which seems to be verified by fact."

Jason Engwer said...

Lvka wrote:

"It's not a distortion, they really thought he calls upon Elijah the Prophet in the hour of His need, and the reason they thought that He was doing that was because it was something done and practiced in their time."

You're assuming that Jesus' alleged prayer to Elijah was considered a reflection of a common Jewish practice. Then you assume that the Jewish practice must have been acceptable. Why are we supposed to believe that?

As I said above, and you still haven't addressed the point, we wouldn't expect prayers to the dead to be absent and contradicted in both scripture and the earliest patristic literature if the practice had occurred then as it does today in Catholicism and Orthodoxy and was considered acceptable.

I won't have time to read the article you linked until after I get home from work this evening. Is the article even relevant to what I've argued? Does it make a case that praying to the dead was considered acceptable to the relevant historical sources, not just that the practice existed? I don't deny that some people attempted to contact the dead in ancient times. That's why the Old Testament authors and some of the church fathers, for example, condemned the practice. The issue here is whether prayer to the dead was acceptable to relevant sources, like the prophets, the apostles, and the earliest post-apostolic Christians. Many ancient Jews practiced idolatry, consulted mediums, or denied that Jesus was the Messiah. Simply arguing that some Jews prayed to the dead wouldn't be enough. If some Jews prayed to the dead, but others opposed the practice, then on what basis are you judging the former group to be correct?

Ben M said...

Viisaus,

Only Protestants, to their honor, do not worship saints.

Doxa = "worship" - used of Christ and the saints.

“But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.” Lk. 14:10

So Biblically, the saints are indeed entitled to "worship." But given what passes for a "saint" in Protestantism, it's little wonder Protestants are reluctant to accord them any sort of "worship"! ;)

Fr. Denifle tells us about some early Protestant "saints".

Quote:

Gates and doors were thrown open to adulterers, so that, as early as 1525, the complaint which was directed to the spokesman of that debased crowd, is urged upon one's ears:

"When did ever more adulteries take place than since you wrote? If a woman cannot get pregnant by her husband, she is to go to another and breed off-spring, which the husband would have to feed. And the same was done by the man in his turn."

One of the fallen crowd himself uttered a cry of distress to a fellow apostate: "By the immortal God, what whoredom and adulteries we have to witness together!"

The new teachers likewise carried on as madly as possible — did it in their very sermons. In one of these, the spokesman instructs his hearers on the married life as follows: "One easily finds a stiff-necked woman, who carries her head high, and though her husband should ten times fall into unchastity, she raises no question about it. Then it is time for the husband to say to her: 'If you don't want to, another does;' if the wife is unwilling, let the servant-girl come. If the wife is then still unwilling, have done with her; let an Esther be given you and Vashti go her way.”

Close quote.

Luther and Lutherdom , pp. 16-17.

Jason Engwer said...

Acolyte4236,

You posted that passage from Origen in another forum, and I replied to it there. You didn't respond to me. I'll repeat what I told you in our earlier discussion.

Origen seems to be addressing relations on earth, if somebody like Paul or Peter "appears". And he doesn't limit his comments to saints, but is addressing all men. It would be unreasonable to draw the conclusion that Origen is advocating attempts to contact deceased saints, like Paul and Peter after their death, if those deceased saints don't first appear to us on earth. If you want us to think that Origen was advocating attempts to contact deceased saints who haven't appeared to us, you should explain why.

Later in the same chapter of his treatise, Origen argues that the proper recipients of prayer can be discerned by means of the examples given in scripture. There are no examples of praying to the deceased in scripture, and Origen never advocates the practice in any of his many comments on related subjects. He often discusses deceased saints and angels, including their relation to our prayers, but he never encourages attempts to contact those saints and angels in the form of what we today commonly call prayer. Just as the lack of such prayers in scripture would be unexpected if the people of Biblical times believed in praying to saints and angels, the lack of reference to such prayers in Origen's many comments on related issues is unlikely if he believed in the practice.

In his treatise Against Celsus, Origen uses a wide variety of terms, not just terms like "pray" and "prayer", when addressing such issues. He comments that angels are involved in bringing our prayers to God and bringing God's blessings to us (Against Celsus, 5:4), but goes on to say that we shouldn't "invoke" angels (5:5). He says that it's sufficient to imitate the angels' devotion to God without invoking them (5:5). Angels and other created beings are aware of our prayers to God and our moral character, for example, and they pray with us, but we shouldn't "propitiate" or "invoke" them (8:64). He repeatedly refers to the fact that only God sees our thoughts (7:51; On Prayer, 10), commenting that Christians for that reason pray only to God (4:26).

While we could reconcile such comments with prayers to the dead and angels by adding qualifiers that Origen doesn't mention, why do so? Given how often he discusses deceased saints and angels, including their relationship with our prayers (the role of angels in presenting our prayers to God, etc.), it seems unlikely that he would never advocate what we today call prayer to the saints and angels if he believed in the practice.

Jason Engwer said...

Lvka,

What do you think your citation from Justin Martyr proves? Nowhere in his writings does he advocate prayers to the dead. He does, however, mention the evoking of departed spirits among other pagan practices Christians reject:

"For let even necromancy, and the divinations you practise by immaculate children, and the evoking of departed human souls, and those who are called among the magi, Dream-senders and Assistant-spirits (Familiars), and all that is done by those who are skilled in such matters - let these persuade you that even after death souls are in a state of sensation" (First Apology, 18)

Concerning the passage you've cited, see here, including the note of the translator.

Rhology said...

BenM said:
But given what passes for a "saint" in Protestantism, it's little wonder Protestants are reluctant to accord them any sort of "worship"!

Ben, your Pelagianism is showing again.
But I'm also extremely shocked to hear that there have existed people in attendance at Protestant churches who were sinners. I mean, I can barely express my shock. And amazement.
Think of it. Sinners. In church. Sinners. In church. Just let it sink in.

Lvka said...

Viisaus & Jason,

Jason infered that if Jews did indeed pray to the dead, then that should had left some traces in the Bible: so I showed him (I showed you both actually) the traces, ... only to see that you now both complain that although it's there, it doesn't mean it's "kosher". :-)



Viisaus,

"they" = "prayers [to the dead]"



Jason (and Viisaus),

I did read the foot-note -- from where do you think I got the text in the first place? :-) -- and it did give me indeed great sadistic satisfaction to see Schaff twist and turn like the famous centaur with the arrow piercing his liver in agony over how to explain [away] the rather simple and straighforward text of Justin... which text only make sense if one accepts the Orthodox distinction [between doulia and latria] drawn by the great defender of the 22 book OT canon, John Damascece. :-)



Viisaus,

John Damascene's OT canon (22 + 2) is the same as ours. In the Orthodox Church, the OT texts read publicly in the Church are drawn from the 22 books [in their LXX form: i.e., including the LXX additions or extra-chapters], and Wisdom.

Lvka said...

...that's why Melito of Sardis was spot-on when adding Wisdom to the other 22 books: it was NOT a mistake, nor did he refer to Proverbs, as Protestants argue.

Ben M said...

Think of it. Sinners. In church. Sinners. In church. ...“Bad popes.” In chur ... D'oh!

LOL!

Rhology said...

Think of it. Sinners, who claim to be nothing more than sinners.
Or Popes, who claim to be infallible...and who are supposed to be presbuteroi and yet who don't even get close to fulfilling the NT qualifications for that office. D'oh indeed.

Rhology said...

So Biblically, the saints are indeed entitled to "worship." But given what passes for a "saint" in Romanism, it's unbelievably bizarre that they'd want to accord to ANY of them any sort of "worship"! ;)

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhology said...

Uh oh, Ben M doesn't know what a tu quoque is, or the significance of when one side's making grandiose claims (and failing to fulfill them) and the other side's making no such grandiose claims. That's why Ben M is but a third-rate antagonist 'round these here parts.

Jason Engwer said...

Lvka hasn't demonstrated any Biblical support for prayers to the dead, and he's ignored the Biblical and patristic evidence I've cited against the practice. But he has linked us to an article that focuses on post-Biblical Judaism.

I just finished reading the article, and I wonder whether Lvka has read it. Note the following:

- Though he sometimes comments on earlier periods, the author is focused on post-Biblical Judaism.

- He's addressing a variety of practices, including prayer to inanimate objects and animals. Much of what he discusses isn't even relevant to the exchange here concerning prayers to the dead.

- He's not arguing that all Jews believed in praying to the dead. Rather, he's arguing that some did, whereas others opposed the practice.

- Some of his arguments are highly speculative. He repeatedly suggests that earlier sources may have been destroyed or altered by later sources who opposed the practices in question.

- He agrees with me that some of the later practices are condemned by scripture, which is a contradiction of Lvka's position. The author writes, "On the surface, the Siddur, or prayer book, would seem to indicate that Jews do not pray to angels or other divine agents, but solely to the Lord." Then, when we go to the note attached to the end of that sentence (note 2), we read that "The existence of the prohibition goes back to Scripture". Elsewhere, he refers to how some of the practices in question were "already prohibited in the Pentateuch". And he writes, "Hence, praying at gravesites, a custom prohibited in Scripture and condemned in later periods, appears to have been a norm more than a thousand years ago, even if the halachic authorities refused to admit it." Thus, Lvka's own source is arguing that there was inconsistency within Judaism on such issues, with later sources contradicting what scripture had taught earlier.

- Lvka's suggestion that I denied that any Jew prayed to the dead is wrong and absurd. If some Jews in Isaiah's day prayed to the dead, for example, that fact would do nothing to prove Biblical support for the practice. We would look to what sources like Isaiah said on the subject (Isaiah 8:19, 19:3) rather than asking whether any Jew supported the practice. As I said before, some Jews have supported idolatry, the rejection of Jesus' Messiahship, etc. What does that prove? I was addressing Biblical and early patristic sources, so citing support for praying to the dead among some post-Biblical Jews is a changing of the subject.

- Lvka hasn't given us any reason to conclude that the Jews who prayed to the dead were correct, whereas the Jews who opposed the practice were incorrect.

Jason Engwer said...

Below are some of Meir Bar-Ilan's comments from the article Lvka cited. Lvka will have to explain how such an assessment allegedly supports his position on prayers to the dead:

"Although no actual prayers have come down to us from this time, a strong indication that they did exist is the fact that a not inconsiderable number are known from a later period, the Middle Ages....As stated above, these prayers, composed over hundreds of years during the Middle Ages, are still being recited while no Talmudic prayers of this kind have survived. However, it is assumed that these late prayers were continuing a tradition from the Mishnah and Talmud periods or the first centuries C.E. (if not earlier)....However, in spite of this prohibition, prayers to angels can still be found in Talmudic texts....One of the best-known stories in the Babylonian Talmud describes a prayer to celestial bodies as intermediaries between man and God....It would appear, therefore, that according to this tradition, even Moses prayed to intermediaries, including the heavens, the sun and the moon, Mt. Sinai(!), rivers, some other 'cosmic beings' and even to humans, such as Joshua, Eleazar and other leaders of Israel. Clearly, then, a Talmudic source (which was probably censored in a later period) reflects the belief that Moses prayed to various intermediaries, both celestial and human, to intervene on his behalf and ask the Lord to have pity on him....It was, therefore, the intent of both the baraita and the Mishnah to ban sacrificial slaughter in which the slaughterer invokes an intermediary, either by name or by uttering the name of the angel appointed over it. Clearly then, although the sages had established that the blessing recited at the time of the slaughter should be addressed to God, some Jews continued to invoke the names of angels, such as Michael, or those of specific mountains, lakes, and the like....It is assumed that the Samaritans appealed to the angel appointed over the mountain not only at circumcisions, but also in the course of ritual slaughter, as Jews were accustomed to do, a practice condemned by the sages. This may very well explain why the sages taught in Mishnah Ber 9:2 that anyone seeing a mountain, ocean, or something similar is required to recite a blessing such as ‘Blessed be He Who created the Great Sea’. In other words, one should not invoke or be awed by the angelic officer appointed over these natural phenomena, but offer thanks only to God. In general, then, we can say that the halachic midrashim cited here appear to reflect not only theoretical laws, but a reality in which the rituals of certain Jews included reference to a variety of servants and attendants of God, such as angels, seraphim, and the like. While the sages of the Mishnah considered this custom disgraceful and banned it, for other Jews it was apparently common practice....Since contact with the dead was considered to contaminate the living, in Biblical times, as in the tannaitic period, there were some people who took care not to be rendered impure in this way....However, the gradual disappearance of the laws of purity and impurity enabled the people to begin to visit graves and solicit the help of the deceased....We can therefore deduce from Talmudic sources that the practice of appealing to the dead Patriarchs began in the Amoraic period [beginning in the third century A.D.], most probably emerging around their burial places in Hebron and Rachel’s tomb....Hence, praying at gravesites, a custom prohibited in Scripture and condemned in later periods, appears to have been a norm more than a thousand years ago, even if the halachic authorities refused to admit it."

Jason Engwer said...

Regarding Justin Martyr, Lvka writes:

"I did read the foot-note -- from where do you think I got the text in the first place? :-) -- and it did give me indeed great sadistic satisfaction to see Schaff twist and turn like the famous centaur with the arrow piercing his liver in agony over how to explain [away] the rather simple and straighforward text of Justin... which text only make sense if one accepts the Orthodox distinction [between doulia and latria] drawn by the great defender of the 22 book OT canon, John Damascece."

The page I linked includes parentheses. Your quote didn't. Either you didn't get the quote from the page I cited or you altered the passage. Which is it?

If you remove the parentheses, then you alter what the editor was trying to convey. And you're ignoring the evidence for the editor's position, which is discussed in the note. All you're doing is asserting that you're correct, without interacting with the contrary arguments. Why should that convince anybody?

You're also ignoring the passage I cited from Justin.

Your distinction "between doulia and latria" is a less natural way of reading what Justin said. He doesn't mention your distinction. You're reading it into the text. If you make the comment on angels parenthetical, as the translation I cited does, then there's no need to read your distinction into what Justin wrote.

Furthermore, the sentence right before the one we're discussing contrasts the gods of other religions with the one God of Christianity. It wouldn't make much sense for Justin to go on, in the next sentence, to say that Christians worship angels along with God, all the while assuming that his readers will think of the "distinction between doulia and latria" you're appealing to. Your inclusion of angels in the worship Justin refers to requires us to read a distinction into the text that Justin doesn't mention, and it makes less sense of the surrounding context.

And the passage you've been focusing on doesn't even mention the deceased. Even if Justin was saying that Christians worship angels, which is a dubious interpretation of what he wrote, how would that comment suggest that we can pray to dead humans?

Viisaus said...

William Baldwin pointed out how saint-worship diminishes the unique divine status of Christ, making Him look like only "primus inter pares", the leader of a group of other holy personalities:

"Daniel Clendenin relates the following anecdote in Eastern Orthodox Christianity: "The story is told of a Protestant who asked an Orthodox Priest what it was that his church believed. The priest responded that 'it would be better to ask not what we believe but how we worship.'"[23] Fair enough. I'll close with that. Benz describes how the Orthodox believer begins worship:

[He] first goes up to the iconostasis, the wall of paintings which separates the sanctuary from the nave. There he kisses the icons in a definite order: first the Christ icons, then the Mary icons, then the icons of the angels and saints. After this he goes up to ... the icon of the saint for the particular day.... Here, too, he pays his respects by a kiss, bow and crossing himself. Then having expressed his veneration for the icons, he steps back and rejoins the congregation.[24]

The difference between Christ on the one hand and Mary and the saints on the other is one of degree, not kind. The Orthodox may deny this as vigorously as they wish. But when we ask how they worship, they confess that by their actions they neither understand nor acknowledge the uniqueness of Christ."

http://74.6.239.67/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=william+baldwin+icons&fr=yfp-t-701&u=members.surfbest.net/pages@surfbest.net/bible/papers/eastern_orthodoxy.htm&w=william+bill+billy+baldwin+icons+icon&d=c042re8_Uiel&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=1mualo2jvBD6kiD3VJC3MQ--


In the 2nd century "Martyrdom of Polycarp", we can see that the veneration of martyrs was still within decent bounds. For they write:

"Polycarp 17:2-3

So he put forward Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to plead with the magistrate not to give up his body, 'lest,' so it was said, 'they should abandon the crucified one and begin to worship this man'--this being done at the instigation and urgent entreaty of the Jews, who also watched when we were about to take it from the fire, not knowing that it will be impossible for us either to forsake at any time the Christ who suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those that are saved--suffered though faultless for sinners--nor to worship any other.

For Him, being the Son of God, we adore, but the martyrs as disciples and imitators of the Lord we cherish as they deserve for their matchless affection towards their own King and Teacher. May it be our lot also to be found partakers and fellow-disciples with them."

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/martyrdompolycarp-lightfoot.html

Below you can find the text in original Greek, and see that in the sentence "For Him, being the Son of God, we adore", "adore" is expressed with the term "proskynesis" which RCs and EOs would later claim to stand for mere second-rate worship that could be offered to any venerable person:

http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/main/polycarp/01_martyrdom_of_polycarp_03.shtml

In other words, 2nd-century Christians "proskuneod" Christ alone.

Lvka said...

Jason,

there were no parentheses in Greek 2,000 years ago, to my knowledge. (Nor do I see any other verbs there with which to couple the word "angels")

Meir bar-Ilan, as the name indicates, is a Jew, so he naturally takes certain things for granted. (It's the same as if a Protestant author would've written the article: he too would have had the same presuppositions).



Viisaus,

Christ was "adored", and the Saints (and their relics) were "cherished". -- which implies two degrees of honor: one given to God, the other given to His Saints.

Jason Engwer said...

Lvka wrote:

"there were no parentheses in Greek 2,000 years ago, to my knowledge"

Do you also reject commas, periods, and such if they weren't in the original language? If so, why have you been including them in your quotations of ancient sources? Why would you raise an objection to my position that depends on reasoning you don't apply to your own position?

Even if you hadn't been inconsistent on this point, your objection wouldn't make sense. Parentheses don't have to be in the original document in order to accurately convey an author's intentions. The fact that "there were no parentheses in Greek" means that translators have to provide them whenever they were intended by a Greek author. Is it your position that people writing in Greek never made parenthetical comments, so that parentheses should never be included in translations of Greek works?

And you still haven't explained where you got your quotation of Justin. It didn't come from the web page I cited. Did you alter the passage before posting it?

You also aren't interacting with the arguments of the editor I cited or my arguments about the surrounding context.

Do you think that the readers won't notice such problems with your posts? Do you think you can keep acting so irresponsibly without readers of a forum like this noticing what you're doing?

You write:

"Meir bar-Ilan, as the name indicates, is a Jew, so he naturally takes certain things for granted. (It's the same as if a Protestant author would've written the article: he too would have had the same presuppositions)."

How do you supposedly know that he was "taking certain things for granted"? He cites sources to support the claims in question. You aren't giving us any reason to conclude that he's wrong. You're just asserting it. When your own source is shown to contradict you, and he offers documentation to support the contradiction, you ignore the documentation and assert, without evidence, that he's "taking certain things for granted".

Acolyte4236 said...

Viiasaus,

Citing Baldwin is only as good as his arguments. His argument seems to rest on an inference from bodily actions. If his inference is bad, then the argument is so. It doesn’t follow that because kissing is given to all that the difference between them is one of kind. The kiss of peace being given between clergy first doesn’t imply a difference in kind as if the clergy were metaphysically a different kinds of beings.

Second, it would only follow if veneration was worship. Protestants make think it is, or at least some Protestants, but that of itself isn’t informative or of any real argumentative value. And the only thing that follows is at best an instance of question begging.

Any decent lexicon will inform you that prosknysis is a biblical term and as such can be used for obeisance and not worship in the Bible.

If anything, the shoe is on the other foot, given that Protestants follow Rome in thinking of God as being.

In any case, accusing the Orthodox of taking Christ as a creature is flatly absurd both on the basis of texts said every week and of unique actions rendered only to Christ.

Acolyte4236 said...

Clarification. The inference from kissing all the images doesn’t imply a difference in degree or a sameness of kind or a difference in kind. The act of kissing in veneration is by itself, idle in terms of inferences. It is insufficient. Consequently, Baldwin’s claim doesn’t follow from the act of veneration. It might if there were no acts that were liturgically reserved for Christ alone, which of course, there are.

Lvka said...

Hi, Jason.


1). Parts of ennumerations aren't "comments".

(I also don't think you would've liked it if the translator would've been a Jehova's Witness, and would've extended the paranthesis so as to include the Son and the Spirit also...)


2). Consider the esteemed professor as a 'hostile witness'.

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Engwer said...

Lvka wrote:

"I also don't think you would've liked it if the translator would've been a Jehova's Witness, and would've extended the paranthesis so as to include the Son and the Spirit also"

I didn't suggest that parentheses can be added without regard for evidence. The rendering of Justin's passage that I cited is accompanied by a note that argues for the use of the parentheses. And we know how Justin viewed Jesus and the Spirit from other passages in his writings. We also know about the general theological tendencies of his day. The parentheses make sense in light of such contexts, whereas your suggestion that he was mentioning the worship of angels along with Trinitarian worship is dubious.

I and the source I cited have argued for the parenthetical nature of Justin's comments. You, on the other hand, haven't given us any reason to agree with your interpretation. You just assert it.

And I remind you, again, that this passage we're discussing in Justin isn't even about prayers to the dead.

You write:

"Consider the esteemed professor as a 'hostile witness'."

You still aren't interacting with the evidence he cited for his conclusions that contradict your position, and you still aren't giving us any reason to conclude that he's " taking certain things for granted".

You need to do less asserting and more arguing.

Lvka said...

1) When did I ever say or write that Justin viewed and worshipped Angels no different than the members of the Trinty? :-)


Here's the passage again, in all its unadulterated beauty:


But both Him, and the Son, who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels, who follow and are made like to Him, and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore.


Notice the two verbs there: worship AND adore.



2) I would've tollerated the use of parantheses for purely grammatical purposes: for instance:


But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things), and the host of the other good angels (who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore.


... but not for dogmatically-driven distortions of the text.



3) The beauty of my interpretation of the text is that it's not an "interpretation". :-)

Lvka said...

Notice the two verbs there: worship AND adore.


Sorry, I spoke unprepared. It's "honor" and "bow down to" (sebometha kai proskynoumen)
Neither word is "latria".

Lvka said...

(Third in a row: I hate it when this happens...)

Justin's Second Apology in the original Greek and Latin. -- see chapter 6, at the end.

Lvka said...

...I meant First Apology... Sorry!

Viisaus said...

Ben M:

"Thus the saints are in fact worthy of veneration and of a lesser kind of “worship” (doxa). This is crystal clear to anyone who understands and appreciates the Incarnation."

Dishonest word games. I would hardly call "doxa" as the forbidden kind of veneration Protestants object to, or translate it as "worship" at all - more like "glorifying".

And you can well glorify or honor a person without supplicating him like some pagan demigod.

In the KJV Bible, "doxa" was translated as "worship" only once, in some other versions not even at once:

"KJV (168) - dignity, 2; glorious, 10; glory, 145; honour, 6; praise, 4; worship, 1;

NAS (167) - approval, 2; brightness, 1; glories, 1; glorious, 5; glory, 155; honor, 1; majesties, 2;"

http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=1391

I actually think that some real saints in heaven are embarrassed by the sort of idolatrous tripe that ignorant and mislead people on earth are addressing them with. True saints did not want people to glorify them at the expense of God on earth, why would they then become more ambitious in heaven?


But anyways, so you'd like to tout the Incarnation as a get-out-of-jail-free card permission slip to idolatrously honor creatures?


"Plain reason against joining the church of Rome" (1880) by Richard Littledale, pp. 60-61:

http://www.archive.org/details/plainreasonsaga01littgoog

"The second argument is, that the worship of the Blessed Virgin is a strong outwork of the doctrine of the Incarnation, and is thus practically useful.

The reply is, that so far from this view finding favour with the Catholic Fathers when Arianism was powerful and threatening to conquer the whole Church, they — and especially St. Athanasius — contended that the fact of worship having been confessedly paid to Christ from the beginning was the strongest proof that He was not a mere creature, but God; because God ONLY can be worshipped at all. If the cultus of the B. V. M. be allowed, this plea fails, and the argument for the Incarnation is seriously weakened.

In truth, there is not such zeal now for the Incarnation itself in the Roman Church as to inspire confidence in its own permanent hold of that article of the Faith. For, in F. Gury's "Compendium of Moral Theology" (vol. i. pp. 124, 125), a widely-used and standard textbook in nearly all Roman Catholic clerical seminaries, and issued even from the press of the Propaganda itself in 1872, the question is asked: "Is explicit belief in the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation matter of necessity?" And the answer is, that opinions are divided on this head, but the more probable one is the negative, because a merely implicit belief sufficed before Christ's coming, and therefore ought to suffice afterwards also. If a Roman Catholic be at liberty to believe no more than, say, Judas Maccabaeus did, one does not quite see the utility of the Church as a witness to Christ's revelation of Himself. But implicit belief in the Pope is not sufficient; that must be explicit."

Viisaus said...

Lvka:

"John Damascene's OT canon (22 + 2) is the same as ours."

No it's not, what a load of "skubalon" you're trying to pull off. You are acting Jesuitically, brazenly claiming black to be white.

Damascene outright says that Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach "are not counted", while not even bothering to refer to other apocryphal books (like Maccabees, for example).

His canon utterly contradicts what you claim to be the EO canon, and actually proves that unlike RCs (with their Tridentine decision), EOs do not actually possess any infallibly declared canon at all.

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

Ben M:

"Doxa = "worship" - used of Christ and the saints.

“But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.” Lk. 14:10"


Like Jason said, it's sheer sign of desperation that RC and EO apologists are forced to rely on such shabby materials as this in their search for Biblical proofs for saint-worship.

This is how RC Douay-Rheims version translates that verse:

10 But when thou art invited, go, sit down in the lowest place; that when he who invited thee, cometh, he may say to thee: Friend, go up higher. Then shalt thou have glory before them that sit at table with thee.

http://www.drbo.org/chapter/49014.htm

Glory, not "worship".

And the scene anyways seems to be clearly describing things that are happening in heaven or at last judgment - it's not the people on earth who are shown to be "glorifying" a person but "them that sit at table with thee".

Lvka said...

Viisaus,

Hi!


Canonical books are the ones read publically in the Church... and the Orthodox OT readings are from these 22 + 2 books (in their LXX versions). [Damascene also says that Wisdom and Sirach are to be read in the Church].

Jason Engwer said...

Lvka wrote:

"Notice the two verbs there: worship AND adore."

If you read the text in its most natural sense, Justin applies both terms to all of the entities he goes on to refer to as "them". You're reading two assumptions into the text. First, you're assuming that each term, "worship" and "adore", is meant to be applied to only part of "them", not the entire group. Second, you're assuming that the two terms have the Eastern Orthodox distinction you're assigning to them. You haven't justified either assumption.

And you're ignoring the contextual evidence I cited earlier.

And you're ignoring the fact that the passage says nothing about praying to the deceased even if we accept your view of who the term "worship and adore" is referring to.

Lvka said...

As I wrote in an earlier comment:

There's no worship there: Neither verb is a derivative of "latria".

Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.