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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Integrity of the New Testament Canon

(or, the Papacy was built on forgeries, part 3)

In response to my recent postings, to the effect that the papacy was built on forgeries and “pious fictions,” (
here and here) one commenter said, “The same thing can be said (and *HAS* been said) about the NT, by those of a skeptical bent...”

Well, yes, many things are “said.” But it’s up to those who “say” things to prove them; it’s also for those who have things *said* about them to argue against them.

Carson and Moo, in their “Introduction to the New Testament” (2005), discuss issues of pseudonymity and pseudipigraphy (“the practice of ascribing written works to someone other than the author”), as these issues have been brought up in connection with the New Testament (pgs 337 ff.)

First, a couple of definitions:
Pseudonymity: Works that are falsely named.

Pseudipigraphy: Works that are falsely attributed.

Literary Forgeries: Works written or modified with the intent to deceive.

Anonymity: No formal claim is made to authorship (e.g., Matthew, John, and Hebrews are all anonymous).
So, even though some New Testament writings are said to be pseudepigraphical (and that case is not proven, it is clear that many scholars consider all of the potentially pseudepigraphical works in the NT to be authentic, on a case-by-case basis, there is very good attestation for each of the individual books.

While some New Testament works are held to be pseudepigraphical, (including Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Peter), there are very strong arguments to the contrary. For example:

  • The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus): While these are held by some to have been written pseudonymously, according to Thomas Schreiner, recent commentators who have defended their authenticity include J.N.D. Kelly, Joachim Jeremias, Donald Guthrie, Gordon Fee, George Knight III, Philip Towner, L.T. Johnson, and William Mounce.

  • Ephesians: Harold Hoehner traces sources historically and, as Carson and Moo say, “his detailed work demonstrates that [Raymond] Brown’s assertion that 70-80% of scholars have adopted the view that this letter was not written by Paul is impressively mistaken.”

  • 2 Peter: According to Scrheiner, “if one were inclined to doubt the authenticity of any letter in the New Testament, it would be 2 Peter. … Indeed, Petrine authorship is still the most credible position,” and he begins with 16 pages of analysis to say why this letter is authentic (260-276).

  • Schreiner goes further: “I am persuaded that evidence is lacking that any canonical document is actually pseudonymous" (“1, 2 Peter, Jude,” New American Commentary, pg 273). He cites R.L. Donelson, “Pseudepigraphy and Ethical Argument in the Pastoral Epistles,” saying “there is no evidence that pseudonymous documents were ever accepted as authoritative.”


    The fate of early extrabiblical Christian examples
    Some of what I’m about to cite from Carson and Moo has a direct relation to the process of canonization, that is, determining whether or not a writing was to be included in the Canon of the New Testament.
    “About the middle of the second century AD, pseudonymous Christian works began to multiply, often associated with a great Christian leader. We are not here concerned with works that purport to tell us about esteemed Christian figures without making claims as to authorship, but only with those that are clearly pseudepigraphical. Some of these are apocalypses (e.g., the Apocalypse of Peter, the Apocalypse of Paul); some are gospels (e.g., Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Thomas, which is really no gospel at all, but mostly a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus). Several are letters claiming to be written by Paul: 3 Corinthians, Epistle to the Alexandrians, Epistle to the Laodicians. The latter was almost certainly written to provide the document mentioned in Colossians 4:16. It is a brief and rough compilation of Pauline phrases and passages (primarily from Philippians). The largest collection of pseudonymous epistles from the early period of the church’s history is the set of fourteen letters fo correspondence between the apostle Paul and Seneca. They are referred to by both Jerome (De vir. ill. 12) and Augustine (Epist. 153). The Muratorian Canon (c. AD 170-200) refers to the Epistle to the Alexandrians and the Epistle to the Laodiceans as “both forged in Paul’s name (Mur. Can. 64-65) and thus will not allow them to be included (“Introduction to the New Testament,” 341).
    Regarding the process of determining the Canon, the case may be pressed further. According to Schreiner:
    Paul specifically criticized false writings in his name in 2 Thess 2:2 and ensured the authenticity of the letter in 2 Thess 3:17. The author of Acts of Paul and Thecla was defrocked as bishop even though he wrote out of love for Paul (Tertullian, De Bapt. 17). In addition, Gospel of Peter was rejected in A.D. 180 in Antioch because the author claimed to be Peter and was not. Serapion the bishop said, “For our part, brethren, we both receive Peter and the other apostles as Christs, but the writings which falsely bear their names we reject, as men of experience, knowing that such were not handed down to us” (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. 6.12.1-6). Evidence that early Christians accepted pseudepigraphic documents as authoritative Scripture is completely lacking. Some argue that Acts of Paul and Thecla and Gospel of Peter were only rejected for deviant teaching, not for pseudepigraphy. But both of the texts [cited] say otherwise, specifically indicting the writers for falsely ascribing the writings to another. (Schreiner, 270-271).
    Carson and Moo say, "all sides agree ... that pseudepigraphy was common in the ancient world." They also cite Donelson, saying "No one ever seems to have accepted a document as religiously and philosophically prescriptive which was known to be forged. I do not know a single example." This is virulently the case in early Christian circles" (342).

    For any of you recent or would-be Tiber-jumpers who are impressed with such arguments as “we needed an infallible Church to give us an infallible canon" -- or the vagueness and generality that goes along with such a statement -- I hope that you will consider the specific ways that individuals in the early church worked to defend the integrity of the canonical Scriptures. In my next posts, Lord willing, I’ll go into some detail about the forged and pseudepigraphic documents that were pressed into service to support the papacy. (And following that, d.v., there’s a lot more to report on the spurious documents that went to support various Marian doctrines, too.)

    Admittedly, the information that I’ve provided here is not a complete survey. But I wanted to give a start, some places to follow up with, and to provide examples of the integrity that went into the protection of the New Testament Scriptures. For any of you young and devout Reformed and Evangelical seminarians who are inclined, I think this information provides a starting point for an excellent thesis.

    As If The Pope didn't Have Enough To Deal With...

    Pope urged to change vow on celibacy by Italian women who have had affairs with priests, Daily Mail, 5/28/2010

    Italian priests' secret mistresses ask pope to scrap celibacy rule Forty women send unprecedented letter to pontiff saying priests need to 'experience feelings, love and be loved'

    Here's an interesting related blog: Rentapriest- A conversation about the married Catholic priesthood and church reform. There's a blog for everyone, that's for sure. I found this blog via Jimmy Akin's recent article: What Do Italian Priests' Mistresses Want You To Know?

    Melito of Sardis and the Old Testament Canon: Overview & Arguments

    Melito of Sardis (D. 170) is one of the earliest voices on the canon. In fact, his Old Testament list is the oldest Christian list extant. Melito actually went to Palestine from Sardis to determine the precise Old Testament canon. His list is preserved as a fragment in Eusebius's Church History:

    But in the Extracts made by him the same writer gives at the beginning of the introduction a catalogue of the acknowledged books of the Old Testament, which it is necessary to quote at this point. He writes as follows: “Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: Since thou hast often, in thy zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Savior and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavored to perform the task, knowing thy zeal for the faith, and thy desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou, in thy yearning after God, esteemest these things above all else, struggling to attain eternal salvation. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song off Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.” Such are the words of Melito. [source]


    Melito's Old Testament Canon

    I.The five books of Moses

    II.The second group:
    Joshua of Nun
    Judges
    Ruth
    4 books of Kings
    2 books of Chronicles

    III.The third group:
    The Psalms of David
    Wisdom
    Ecclesiastes
    The Song of Songs
    Job

    IV.The Prophets:
    Isaiah
    Jeremiah
    The Twelve in one book
    Daniel
    Ezekiel
    Ezra

    Exclusions to Melito's Old Testament Canon
    Nehemiah
    Lamentations
    Proverbs
    Esther
    The Apocrypha


    Possible Solutions For The Excluded Books
    Based on earlier lists, it is within the realm of possibility that Nehemiah is included in Ezra. Lamentations could be a part of Jeremiah.

    "Wisdom" is the alternate name for the book of Proverbs (F.F. Bruce: "According to Eusebius, Hegessipus and Irenaeus and many other writers of their day called the Proverbs of Solomon 'the all-virtuous Wisdom'" [F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988), p.71].

    Esther: "The four categories of Melito’s list may correspond to the familiar Masoretic division into the Torah, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets and Writings. But if so, the inclusion of the two books of chronicles among the Former Prophets is worthy of comment. If the four books of Kings and the two books of Chronicles are each taken as single categories in Melito’s list the total number of books would be twenty-one, suggesting the possibility that the omission of Esther may be accidental. Origen makes explicit reference to a canon of twenty-two books for the Hebrew Scriptures and then proceeds to list only twenty-one, omitting the book of the Twelve so-called minor prophets. But that omission is clearly an error in the transmission of Origen’s testimony as witnessed by the fact that Rufinus, in his translation of Origen, includes the prophets in question. The restoration of Esther to Melito’s list would produce a list of twenty-two books. Inclusion of Esther within his second category along with Ruth would result in a curious symmetry in the arrangement: 5 + 6//5 + 6. But the same result could also be achieved with the omission of Esther by dividing his category of the “four books of Kings” into the more familiar canonical categories of the books of Samuel and Kings, which is more likely. Melito is apparently not concerned with the number twenty-two as an organizing principle for the canon of Hebrew Scripture. And though his four categories may reflect the fourfold arrangement of Masoretic tradition, his distribution of Ruth, Chronicles, Daniel and Ezra among the Prophets suggests another conclusion. The Writings as a division of the canon of Hebrew Scripture was in flux. The reason for this state of affairs may be the book of Esther" [Duane L. Christensen, "Josephus And The Twenty-Two-Book Canon Of Sacred Scripture" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society Volume 29 (29:41]).

    Counter Arguments
    Contrary to these suggestions, Roman Catholic apologist Gary Michuta argues,

    "We ought to take a closer look at Melito's list, as well, before moving on. A moments reflection reveals that it does not line up with the protestant canon at all. It omits the books of Lamentations, Nehemiah, and Esther - and includes the Book of Wisdom. Even if Lamentations and Nehemiah are present, as some have argued, under the other titles broadly defined, the omission of Esther remains unaccountable. We do know that there were disputes among rabbis in this area concerning Esther's inspired status. Melito's list, therefore, is not identical to the Protestant canon" (Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, pp. 75-76].

    Michuta's opinion seems to be based on an uneven scale when he says the Protestant canon does not line up to Melito's "at all." It certainly does, especially if one compares Melito's canon to that dogmatized by Trent. Michuta also has no clear factual evidence that Lamentations and Nehemiah were not included in other books. Granted, the burden of proof lies on those who claim they do, however, based on previous ways the books were counted in earlier lists,this suggestion is not far-fetched. Michuta even quotes F.F. Bruce on the Wisdom/Proverbs solution, but leaves out Bruce's evidence from church history affirming this solution. True, Esther is missing, but it is common knowledge that the book of Esther was considered antilegomena: a book previously disputed but ultimately considered canonical. Therefore, the book of Esther is simply proving that there were in fact those who doubted its canonicty, both within Judaism and the church. In other words, Esther is living up to its pedigree of antilegomena. So in essence, the Protestant canon lines up with Melito's with the exception of one book. The Roman Catholic Old Testament canon pales in comparison.

    Infuriating Factoid: Melito Excludes the Apocrypha
    There's really only one response to Melito's exclusion of the Apocrypha. Roman Catholics typically question Melito's integrity: why would Melito go to Palestine for information about the canon when excavations have revealed there was a Jewish population and temple in his immediate area? Some counter that there could have been tension with the Jews or extenuating circumstances provoking Melito's journey. Roman Catholics respond that despite antagonism between Jews and Christians, dialogues did still go on during that time period.

    William Webster speculates Melito's list came from a Christian Church near Palestine- thus Melito's list reflects "a Christian perspective and a consciousness of the Hebrew numeration and canon" (Holy Scripture vol. II, p. 336].

    The simple fact of the matter is we only have Melito's testimony of where he received his list from: "Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament...". Or as another translation says,

    "you [Onesimus] have been desirous to obtain an accurate account of the ancient books, both as to their number and their order; I have taken pains to accomplish this, knowing your earnestness in respect to the faith, and your desire for instruction in regard to the word; and most of all, that you, while striving after eternal salvation, through desires after God, give a preference to these things. Making a journey therefore into the east [Palestine], and having arrived at the place where these things [i. e. scriptural events] were proclaimed and transacted, I there learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, which I here arrange and transmit to you."

    Does this sound like the words of an untrustworthy man? If he says he went to Palestine for an accurate list, then he did. For a Roman Catholic to question the integrity of Melito ignores the testimony of Church history. Moses Stuart comments:

    My first remark on this testimony of Melito is, that it comes from a very distinguished and enlightened man. Cave says justly of him: "Vir pietate non minus quam doctrina clarus;'' and Tertullian (a contemporary) testifies of him, that most Christians called him a prophet; in Hieron. de Script, c. 2, 4. His knowledge was acquired, moreover, by a special effort and much caution; for he was not content with what he learned at Sardis, but must needs go to Palestine itself, in order that he might know the exact truth, of the whole matter respecting the Jewish Scriptures.[source]

    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Luther Celebrated The Feast of the Assumption?

    I followed a rabbit trail from a CARM discussion about Martin Luther observing the Marian feast day of the Assumption. My journey begins here:

    The Lutheran pastor and scholar, Charles Dickson, notes that “the feast [of the Assumption] celebrated by the Church on August 15, dates from the forth century, when numerous festivals honoring our Lady were common practice.” The history of Church feasts demonstrates that these celebrations grew from beliefs that existed long before the feasts themselves were formally inaugurated. “Interestingly enough, the sixteenth-century Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, included this feast on a list of liturgical celebrations that should, in his words, ‘be observed among Evangelical Catholics as a sign of continuity and order’ Charles Dickson, A Protestant Pastor Looks at Mary (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., c. 1996), pp. 83-84.[source]

    I don't have A Protestant Pastor Looks at Mary, nor do I plan on purchasing it. That doesn't mean the trail ends. Here's my next stop: New Book of Festivals and Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints By Philip H. Pfatteicher. On page 397 comes the following:



    Here's "Concerning the order of public worship" (1523). Anyone familiar with this time period knows that the church of Wittenberg was going through a structural crisis. Karlstadt had been far more radical in seeking to immediately overhaul the church. Luther though wanted subtle change to occur. Luther wrote this treatise as guide to church order, both daily and annually. He states:

    All the festivals of saints are to be discontinued. Where there is a good Christian legend, it may be inserted as an example after the Gospel on Sunday. The festivals of the Purification and Annunciation of Mary may be continued, and for the time being also her Assumption and Nativity, although the songs in them are not pure. The festival of John the Baptist is also pure. Not one of the legends of the apostles is pure, except St. Paul’s. They may either be transferred to the [closest] Sunday or be celebrated separately, if one so desires.[LW 53:13]

    According to Eric Gritsch, Luther then went on to abandon the festival of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and her Assumption:

    “He rejected the festivals of Mary's Immaculate Conception, December 8, and her Assumption, August 15.” [Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VII, 240].

    “According to Luther Mary should be honored in festivals that focus on Christ, which is why he eventually rejected the celebrations of her Immaculate Conception (December 8), her birth (September 8), and her Assumption (August 15). He did honor her in the festivals of the Annunciation (March 25), the Visitation (July 2), and Purification (February 2), since these are connected with the birth of Christ. "We dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the child was born."[Ibid. 241]

    “Luther continued to preach on these festivals, but stopped preaching on the other three festivals after 1523.”[Ibid. 382]

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Stephen Wurth 19th century books on eBay

    Here.

    HT: Wayne on Puritanboard

    Whitaker's Disputations: A Refutation of Stapleton's Arguments on the Authority of the Church (Part 2)

    We are continuing our series on Whitaker's Disputations. This post will look at Stapleton's second argument defending the assertion that we need the Church, specifically the Catholic Magisterium, to identify the canon for Christians, and that this identification gives the Church the most "certain" authority possible.

    (For those interested in the earlier sections of Disputations, Green Baggins has begun analysis on the first chapter--the number of books contained in the canon.)

    Stapleton's Second Supporting Argument

    Stapleton's second argument1 can be summarized as follows:

    P1 The canon cannot be discerned by appealing to style, phraseology and other criteria without the additional judgment of the Magisterium.
    P2 The Magisterium knows best how to judge style, phraseology and other criteria.

    C1 Therefore, we need the Magisterium to identify the canon.

    A Simple Reply

    Whitaker levels three counter-arguments, but only the second (and a directly related part of the third) will be discussed here, perhaps because it is the most practical and powerful:

    Secondly, although we should concede all this to him, yet where will be the coherence of his reasoning,— The church knows best the voice of the spouse, and the style and phraseology of scripture; therefore its authority is the most certain? For what though the church know? What is that to me? Are these things therefore known and certain to me? For the real question is, how I can know it best? Although the church know ever so well the voice of its spouse, and the style and phraseology of scripture, it hath that knowledge to itself, not to me; and by whatever means it hath gained that knowledge, why should I be able to gain it also by the same?2

    This argument is further supplemented:

    But as to his pretence that because the church delivers the rule of faith, it must therefore be the correctest judge of that rule; we must observe that the terms deliver and judge are ambiguous. The church does indeed deliver that rule, not as its author, but as a witness, and an admonisher, and a minister: it judges also when instructed by the Holy Spirit. But may I therefore conclude, that I cannot be certain of this rule, but barely by the testimony of the church? It is a mere fallacy of the accident. There is no consequence in this reasoning: I can be led by the church's voice to the rule of faith; therefore I can have no more certain judgment than that of the church.3

    Two observations for now:

    1. The point is well-received. If the Church gives us the canon and we cannot come to know it any other way, what of it? How does it logically follow that the Church is now the most authoritative body in the life of the believer? How does it follow that we should now submit our interpretations of Scripture to the Magisterium?

    Whitaker uses an analogy to shore up this point (which I have slightly tweaked): There were Jews who could not have known (intellectually or by faith) Christ as the Messiah had not John the Baptist revealed him to them. Does it therefore follow that John the Baptist was the best interpreter of Christ's commands? Should these Jews have submitted their interpretations of Christ's words and commands to John's first and foremost? It's not obvious how that would be the case.3

    2. It is also instructive for Whitaker to remind us that however the Church gains knowledge of the canon, laypersons should also have access to those means. If the Church identifies the canon through historical inquiry, why are we not allowed to engage the same texts with the same tools and come to the same conclusions independently? What, specifically, is it about the Magisterium that allows it identify the canon? Should the methods and reasons used to arrive at this knowledge remain inaccessible to everyone outside of the Magisterium? It's not obvious why this should be the case.

    Athanasius is a fine example of this. Before any council met to recognize (or "determine" as some Catholics would argue) the canon, the famous father had successfully identified the New Testament canon:

    ...it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that any one who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued stedfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance...Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.4

    If Athanasius was able to identify the canon without recourse to the determination of the Magisterium, why are Protestant Christians any different?
    _____________________________

    1. William Whitaker, Disputations, 286-287.

    2. Ibid., 287.

    3. Ibid., 288.

    4. Athanasius, Festal Letter 39.

    The 'reforming work' of Paul--what a load of skubala!

    scotju said (9:13 AM, May 28, 2010):

    Hey Ben M, what is this thing that Calvin and Luther had for filth, especially feces? Matt Schultz said ol' Jean had his scholarly side, but it sounds to me it's just a load of you know what.

    But on a more serious note, I remember back when I was in the Worldwide Church of God, that similar langauge was used from the pulpit to denounce those who dared question the holy will of Herbert Armstrong. His favorite word was vomit. He would say things like false ministers were vomiting garbage on the congergation. However, like Lu&Cal, he did on occassion, use the langauge of excrement. I remember reading a letter he sent out around the time of his first wife's death accusing the church being full of filth, like his wife's impacted bowels. So I has to wonder what was really on these guy's minds in their 'reforming work.'


    The Apostle Paul said (circa 60 AD):

    More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung!1 – that I may gain Christ, (Philippians 3:8)

    1. tn The word here translated “dung” [Greek: skubala] was often used in Greek as a vulgar term for fecal matter. As such it would most likely have had a certain shock value for the readers. This may well be Paul’s meaning here, especially since the context is about what the flesh produces. (Source)

    Papacy built on pious fiction and forgery 2

    The right way to understand history is to start from the beginning.

    What was it like to be a Christian in the earliest church in Rome? We have a marvellous picture of this earliest church, provided by the New Testament scholar Peter Lampe, author of the work "From Paul to Valentinus: Christians in Rome in the First Two Centuries."

    The Catholic historian Eamon Duffy writes in his work, "Sinners and Saints":
    "All modern discussion of the issues must now start from [this] exhaustive and persuasive analysis by Peter Lampe.”

    Lampe seemingly searched and analyzed every scrap of paper from that era, every tomb, every inscription, every archaeological find, every available public record, and he pieced together one of the most intricate reconstructions of the church in this place, in this era. Lampe brings to life this ancient city, in a way that modern readers I think will see and feel and understand what was going on in that earliest church period.

    Here is most of
    the entire work on Google Books.

    Before Christians were in Rome, there was a network of Jewish synagogues in the city.

    Philo, writing in the first half of the first century ad, already knew of a number of established "proseucha," or Jewish synagogue buildings in Rome.

    "The inscriptions verify a maximum of fourteen different congregations," Lampe says (p. 431-2). These are listed in Appendix 4 of his work.

    These are individual communities, independently organized, each with its own place of assembly, its own council of elders, and its own community officials. These communities were only loosely associated with each other. Throughout the entire imperial period there is no evidence of a union of Roman Jewish communities under one single council of elders, a finding that is a contrast to Alexandria, where the diverse synagogues formed one big political corporation.... At least five of the communities listed above existed already in the first century c.e. The background of a fractionated Roman Jewry serves as a foil to the fractionation of Roman Christianity.
    This is important for understanding how early Roman Christianity developed, because, as Lampe says, "That new communities of worship were established in a city next to already existing communities was not unusual for Jewish circumstances. A group of ten men capable of worship were enough to form a new community (footnote 1, pg 431).

    It's important to note that Roman visitors were present in Jerusalem at Acts 2: Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism).... Those who accepted [Peter's] message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

    So it’s not certain, but a very clear picture emerges of how Christian churches first were formed in Rome. Returning from Rome after Pentecost, new Roman Christians (likely in the early 30’s ad) traveled back home, and began to worship in and around this network of synagogues.

    Here's how Lampe assesses the growth of Christian communities along the Puteoli-Rome trade axis, following the routes of Christians in Rome as early as shortly after Pentecost.

    The Christian presence in Puteoli and Rome correlates with a twofold background. (a) Jews had lived in Puteoli since Augustan times (sources), perhaps Aquileia in the north, and Puteoli accommodated the only pre-Christian Jewish settlements in Italy known to us. This is one more confirmation that earliest Christianity spread along the routes that Judaism had already followed: the synagogues were the setting for the first Christian mission. (b) The Jewish as well as the Christian "axis" Puteoli-Rome has a particular economic-historical background. The stretch Puteoli-Rome was the main trade route between the East and the city of Rome in the first half of the first century. The road of Judaism and Christianity from the east to Rome followed in the footsteps of trade. ... That Judaism and Christianity made their way to Rome through Puteoli ... was typical of the entrance of eastern religions into the world's capital city. (Lampe, pgs 7, 9-10)
    What kind of leadership did they have? What kind of worship? We don’t know, and can only speculate. However, we do have further evidence of the presence of Christians in Rome throughout the 30’s and 40’s. Consider Acts 18:


    After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
    The “Edict of Claudius” in 49 ad was reported in secular history by Suetonius, who said that Jews were expelled from Rome for creating disturbances “under the influence of Chrestus.” These must have been some severe and ongoing disturbances not only to have captured the eye of the Emperor, but to have prompted such a severe action.

    Lampe continues, “Several observations suggest that Aquila and Pricilla had been expelled from Rome as Christians and had emigrated to Corinth.


    In Corinth, Paul baptized only Gaius, Crispus, and the household of Stephanas (1 Cor 1:14-16) – not Aquila or Priscilla. The first person converted in Greece by Paul was Stephanas (1 Cor 16:15) – Not Aquila or Priscilla. That is startling, because, at the very beginning in Corinth, Paul stayed, lived, and worked not with Stephanas, but with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:3). The logical conclusion is that the couple were already baptized when Paul appeared as the first Christian missionary in Corinth. (Lampe, 11-12)
    If this occurred in 49 ad, we know for certain that there were Christians again in Rome by 57 ad, when Paul wrote to the church there. Lampe associates the earliest churches (he even includes a map), with the "house churches" that Paul greeted in Romans 16, "ecclesiastical regions" along with population centers of the city (pg 477 in the book).

    Later Roman records are very detailed, and Lampe later uses records of established churches (known from attendance records at councils) and actually traces the locations from Romans 16 into these “tituli” churches.


    Lord willing, I'll give more details of these "house churches," and pictures of ordinary life for the first Christians at Rome, in future postings.

    Links of Interest

    This is what happens when I have more than the few minutes I usually do. Here are a few links of interest I visited today:

    Did Martin Luther go to Hell? A Catholic Answers thread including this gem: "Shortly before his death Luther and his wife (an ex-nun) were standing in their garden looking at the stars. Mrs Luther said it wouldn't be long before they would be up there among the stars. Luther replied, "Oh no, that isn't for us. We've gone too far for too long."


    Buying relics: This is a thread from Steve Ray's discussion forum. In this discussion, you'll learn all about the morality of buying and selling allegedly sacred objects. Includes, "I can see that a blessed rosary itself cannot be sold, but I did think it could be sold for the cost of a carrying pouch or something like that, in the same way I thought that a relic could be "sold" for the cost of the reliquery. I agree that it sounds a bit too close to simony for comfort, but I thought it was permitted."

    Drums At Mass, YIKES!!! : A Catholic Answers discussion including, " I don't ever remember drums being part of the traditional Mass, and I don't understand why this idea is being incorporated. I grew up in a Parish that had the traditional organ music with the occasional choir present, and then sadly, I was away from the church for many years. I now attend a different church that is in the community that I live in now, and it has a guitar Mass. I have grown accustomed to the guitar Mass, but now drums are being incorporated and I can't stand it. First of all, we have a drummer that apparently has no sense of rhythm and couldn't keep a beat if his/her life depended on it."

    Saint enters Purgatory, returns to tell all: This one came via e-mail from the Roman Catholic publisher, Sophia Press. St. Catherine of Genoa takes a visit to Purgatory and returns to tell all. "...since official Church teachings tell us little more about Purgatory than that it's a place where souls undergo purification by cleansing fire to attain the holiness necessary to enter Heaven. In such circumstances, reliable eyewitness testimony is treasured, even when, as in Catherine's case, it is brief: you can read the whole transcript in less than an hour." "And what did she see?... Catherine saw that the eyes of the souls in Purgatory are lifted solely toward God alone, intent only on His goodness, which is drawing them ever closer to Him.... Oh, sure, reports Catherine:there's fire in Purgatory, even pains equal to those of Hell."

    On a serious note...

    An Update - Rejecting and Renouncing Roman Catholicism: Here's an interesting blog link I found on the sidebar at Catholic Champion. I have no idea who this person is, but he began by saying, "About two years ago I entered the Roman Catholic Church, convinced that it alone was the only true Christian Church... Thanks to organizations like Catholic Answers, or men like Steve Ray, ... Art Sippo, and other well-known Roman Catholic apologists, my way towards Rome seemed the best idea. Seemed...the best idea." He ends by saying, "In case any of you are wondering which church I'm leaning towards now, I'm sincerely seeking out the Reformed Christian faith. That's the "Calvinist" faith specifically, and believe me I'm just as much surprised about this as you are! But I haven't found the doctrine of grace preached and taught so faithfully according to the biblical texts as I have found in Calvinism."

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Whom to believe?

    Catholic Nick said:

    You said: "Irenaeus was clearly wrong when he said that Peter and Paul founded the church at Rome." According to who? Liberal scholars (who want to discredit the Christian faith and Bible as much as possible) or traditional minded (faithful) Catholic scholars and historical appeals to Irenaeus by Catholic documents? 
    I could toss liberal Protestant Scholars at you who discredit the Bible and claim "factual errors" on your part.
    In other words, the liberals are so sneaky that they discredit any given doctrine in any way they can while still "believing" in the doctrine so as to attempt to avoid guilt. The Raymond Brown quote above is a beautiful example of this, where he attempted to smear and discredit the traditional Christian notion that St Paul wrote Ephesians, and he did so with the overall goal of smearing the Bible as likely tampered with.


    Nick,

    Why are these "liberal Catholic scholars" Catholic? If they're scholars and they write and get read by churchmen and aren't roundly refuted by the RCC, then why shouldn't I put a lot more faith in them than in you, anonymous blogger layman? Who the heck are you, exactly?


    the liberals are so sneaky that they discredit any given doctrine in any way they can while still "believing" in the doctrine so as to attempt to avoid guilt

    And isn't the Magisterium shrewd enough to figger that out? Why not do sthg about it? Why does the task fall to you? Who the heck are you, again?


    The Raymond Brown quote above is a beautiful example of this

    "St. Anthony Messenger Press Publisher Jeremy Harrington, O.F.M., said, "Raymond Brown reached scholars, religious educators and clergy with his academic books, but in his zeal he wanted to reach more: the people in the pew who hungered for a greater understanding of the Bible. We were honored that a scholar of his stature would write for a popular audience.

    "Brown once commented that Catholic Update and St. Anthony Messenger reached hundreds of thousands, more than his books. He also reached that wider audience through Scripture From Scratch and the paperback books that he wrote for St. Anthony Messenger Press. He was a joy to work with. Some authors resist any suggestions, but Brown was open to ideas and editing. He was a gracious man and a brilliant scholar who knew the fruits of his labor were for everyone."

    Brown, a Sulpician priest, was Auburn Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, New York. He was twice appointed a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, by Pope Paul VI in 1972 and by Pope John Paul II in 1996. He wrote extensively on the Bible. In addition to his books, he was a frequent contributor to Catholic Update, St. Anthony Messenger magazine and Scripture From Scratch (all publications of St. Anthony Messenger Press)." (Source)

    And then...on the other side...there's Nick. Ah yes, Nick, who has been appointed a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission...zero times. Is an INfrequent contributor to Catholic Update. Is NOT a priest. Is NOT a professor of Biblical Studies, at any university or seminary. Has written...zero books.
    Hmm, whom to believe?


    I've yet to see any Protestant around here appeal to any given Church Father as "one of their own"

    Ah true. FAR better to express fantastically incorrect views about a CF than to hold a realistic view that actually fits the evidence! How silly of me!
    You didn't read the "where I put it all together" post, did you? Please do, and don't come back till you do.

    Tiber Swim Book Club #2


















    I wanted to provide some book recommendations for all of you getting ready to swim the Tiber and convert to Roman Catholicism. You know how you're reading the Early Church Fathers, and how wonderful it is? You know that feeling you're getting that now you've plugged into ancient Christian history? Well, as you're ordering your books by Hahn, Madrid, or Ray, (the ones telling you all about Church history that you think are "unanswerable"), for the sake of both sides of the issue, because we know you're trying to be as honest and careful as possible in your research, I think you need to secure a copy of this book:

    A Treatise on the Right Use of the Fathers in the Decision of Controversies Existing at This Day in Religion by John Daillé (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1856)

    Here's an excerpt from the book on how two contemporaries and friends have two different opinions on an important subject:

    Epiphanius maintains against Aerius,of whom he ranks among the Heresiarchs, that a bishop, according to the Apostle Paul, and the original institution of the office itself, is more than a priest: and this he proves in many words, answering all the objections that are made to the contrary. If you only read the passage, I am confident that when you have done, you would not hesitate to swear that what he has there delivered, was the general opinion of all the doctors of the Church; it being very unlikely that so great and so renowned a prelate would so positively have denied the opinion which he disputed against, if any one of his own familiar friends had also maintained the same. Yet for all this, Jerome, who was one of the principal lights of our western Church, and who lived at the same time with Epiphanius, who was his intimate friend, and a great admirer of his piety, says expressly, "that among the ancients, bishops and priests were the same; the one being a name of dignity, and the other of age." That it may not be thought that this fell from him in discourse only, he there undertakes to prove the same at large, alleging several passages of Scripture on this subject; and he also repeats the same thing, in two or three several places of his work; whereby it evidently appears that even positions quite contradictory to the opinions which have been delivered and maintained by some of the Fathers, and proposed in whatever terms, have notwithstanding been sometimes either maintained, or at least tolerated, by some others of no less authority.

    Jerome himself has severely criticised Rufnnus, and condemned many of his opinions as most pernicious and deadly; yet we do not anywhere find that he was ever accounted a heretic by the rest of the Fathers. But we shall have occasion hereafter to consider more at large similar examples; and shall only at present observe, that if those books of Jerome, which we mentioned a little before, should have chanced to be lost, every man would then assuredly have concluded from Epiphanius, that no doctor of the ancient Church ever held, that a bishop and a priest were one and the same thing in their institution.

    Who now, after all this, will assure us, that among so many other opinions as have been rejected here and there by the Fathers, and that too in as plain terms as those of Epiphanius, none of them have ever been defended by some of the learned of those times? Or, is it not possible, that they may have held them, though they did not write in defence of the same? Or may they not perhaps have written also in defence of them, and their books have been since lost ? How small is the number of those in the Church, who had the ability, or at least the will, to write ! And how much smaller is the number of those whose writings have been able to secure themselves against either the injury of time or the malice of men!

    It is objected against the Protestants, as we have observed before, that Jerome commends and maintains the adoration of relics: but yet he himself testifies, that there were some bishops, who defended Vigilantius, who held the contrary opinion; whom he, according to his ordinary rhetoric, calls " accomplices in his wickedness."*

    Who knows now what these bishops were, and whether they deserved any such usage at Jerome's hands or no? For the expressions which he uses against them, and against their opinions, are so full of gall and enmity, that they utterly take away all credit from his testimony. But we have insisted long enough upon this particular, and shall therefore forbear to instance any further in others.

    As it is therefore impossible to discover exactly, out of the Fathers, what have been the sense and judgment of the ancient Church,—whether taken universally or particularly, or whether the Church is taken for the whole body of believers, or for the prelates and inferior clergy only,—I shall here conclude as heretofore, that the writings of the ancients are altogether insufficient for proving the truth of any of those points which are at this day controverted amongst us.

    News From Rome

    Pope Explains Authority and the Priesthood

    Says Role of Clergy Is That of Guide, Teacher

    VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Pope cannot do whatever he wants, and instead must obey Christ and his Church, Benedict XVI says.

    "He clarified that "even the Pope -- point of reference for all the other pastors and for the communion of the Church -- cannot do what he wants; on the contrary, the Pope is custodian of the obedience to Christ, to his word taken up again in the 'regula fidei,' in the Creed of the Church, and must proceed in obedience to Christ and to his Church."

    [source]

    The Apocrypha & Luther via Catholic Answers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Papacy built on pious fiction and forgery, part 1

    J. Gresham Machen said, in his 1915 lecture "History and Faith," that "The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian."

    And in fact, thanks to the last few centuries' worth of historical criticism, and a couple of “historical Jesus” quests, both the life of Jesus and the history of the New Testament have undergone a thorough historical examination, and in the process, have only had their historical reliability enhanced.

    On the other hand, what we've been told about the early papacy has fallen away like chaff. Instead of boasts about the papacy being "instituted by Christ" and "immediately and directly" given to Peter and "perpetual successors," now, Joseph Ratzinger has stepped back and said that the papacy "goes back to the Lord and was developed faithfully in the nascent church." (Ratzinger, "Called to Communion," page 72.)

    How was it "faithfully developed"?

    In the first place, some Catholics will say that it is no contradiction that this "immediate" and "perpetual" power nevertheless had to "develop." But I am writing to individuals who, able to read and think, will easily be able to see the disjunction at this point.

    Eamon Duffy, who was President of Magdalene College at Cambridge, and a church historian, wrote the following summary ("Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes")

    Irenaeus thought that the Church had been 'founded and organised at Rome by the two glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul,' and that its faith had been reliably passed down to posterity by an unbroken succession of bishops, the first of them chosen and consecrated by the Apostles themselves. He named the bishops who had succeeded the Apostles, in the process providing us with the earliest surviving list of the popes -- Linus, Anacletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, and so on down to Irenaeus' contemporary and friend Eleutherius, Bishop of Rome from AD 174 to 189.

    All the essential claims of the modern papacy, it might seem, are contained in this Gospel saying about the Rock, and in Irenaeus' account of the apostolic pedigree of the early bishops of Rome. Yet matters are not so simple. The popes trace their commission from Christ through Peter, yet for Irenaeus the authority of the Church at Rome came from its foundation by two Apostles, not one, Peter and Paul, not Peter alone. The tradition that Peter and Paul had been put to death at the hands of Nero in Rome about the year ad 64 was universally accepted in the second century, and by the end of that century pilgrims to Rome were being shown the 'trophies' of the Apostles, their tombs or cenotaphs, Peter's on the Vatical Hill, and Paul's on the Via Ostiensis, outside the walls on the road to the coast. Yet on all of this the New Testament is silent. Later legend would fill out the details of Peter's life and death in Rome -- his struggles with the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus, his miracles, his attempted escape from persecution in Rome, a flight from which he was turned back by a reproachful vision by Christ (the 'Quo Vadis' legend), and finally his crucifixion upside down in the Vatican Circus at the time of the Emperor Nero. These stories were to be accepted as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church -- Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable accounts either of Peter's later life or the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, wherever we turn, the solid outlines of the Petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve. (Duffy, pg 2.)
    In a world where history affirms the life of Christ, the testimony of his resurrection, and in which the New Testament has been affirmed as reliable history, and the movements of Paul and the events in his life pinned down to the very year they happened, this same study of history has washed away the underpinnings of the historical papacy.

    In fact, the city of Rome was very geographically diverse, and throughout the first half of the second century, the Roman church was led by a network of presbyters in a network of house churches.
    These presbyters fought among themselves as to who was greatest. I've quoted Hermas from "The Shepherd of Hermas as saying, "They had a certain jealousy of one another over questions of preeminence and about some kind of distinction. But they are all fools to be jealous of one another regarding preeminence.”

    Roger Collins relates, "The sheer size of Rome would have made it hard for Christians to create a single organizational structure or congregate in one part of the city. Because the earliest Christian groups grew out of the Jewish community, their presence in Rome probably mirrored that of the Jews, with particular concentrations in certain neighborhoods, notably Trastavere. As the new faith began making converts, probably mostly amongst immigrants and across a growing range of social classes, the dispersal of Christians throughout the city intensified. Because of the persecution of Christians by Nero around ad 64, it became prudent to live and meet in small groups, and avoid congregating in public in large numbers. Because they worshiped in rooms dedicated to the purpose in private houses and kept their meetings very discreet creating a clerical hierarchy exercising authority over the different Christian groups in the city proved a slow process." (Roger Collins, "Keepers of the Keys of Heaven, pg. 13)
    Indications of this can be found in text produced by Christian writers in Rome in the late first and second centuries. The author of the Epistle of Clement may have been the man of this name later described as the person responsible for drafting communications sent on behalf of the Christians of Rome to other churches. But by the time of Tertullian and Irenaeus, Clement was listed as the second or third bishop of Rome.

    This difference of perspective on Clement is telling. The late-second-century authors were probably reporting a tradition that had grown up in Rome in which leading figures amongst the elders of their day were retrospectively turned into bishops, to produce a continuous list of holders of the office stretching back to Peter. Why this happened can be explained, but it would be helpful to ask which of the people named by Irenaeus and Tertullian should be regarded as the first real bishop of the city. Most scholars now agree that the answer would be Anicetus, who comes in tenth on both lists, and whose episcopate likely covered the years 155 to 166.

    Not everyone is convinced that what has been called a monarchic bishop, with unquestioned authority over all the Christian clergy in the city, was to be found in Rome even as early as this, and Fabian (236-250) has been proposed as the first bishop of Rome in the full sense. (Collins, 13-14)
    As I've mentioned, committed Roman Catholics will simply dismiss this historical work as "modernist" or worse, and with the wave of a hand, they will assert, in Newmanesque fashion, that the burden of proof lies with the modern historian to "prove" that there was not simply an unbroken succession from Peter onward. But what I've given you are mere summary treatments of histories that are much more detailed, much more widely respected, and rarely ever contradicted. This is becoming the accepted historical account of the early papacy. Catholics should be asked to make some case about what is actually lacking in this historical research that is to be doubted. (Especially given the clarity that now exists regarding the life of Christ and the testimony of the earliest church.)

    Robert Eno, S.S. (Order of Sulpicians, whose mission is to teach Catholic seminarians), in his 1990 work, "The Rise of the Papacy," suggests that:

    Such a view is becoming increasingly widespread. The evidence here, as with most subjects of this period, is fragmentary, and the issue can be debated in both ways. But the evidence available seems to point predominantly if not decisively in the direction of a collective leadership. Dogmatic a priori theses should not force us into presuming or requiring something that the evidence leans against. (pg. 26)
    This historical information is evidence in addition to Scriptural "proofs" (Matthew 16, Luke 22, and John 21) that Roman Catholics provide as "evidence" for the papacy, as described by Robert Reymond, in his “A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith,” pg 818:

    Rome’s exegesis of Matthew 16 and its historically developed claim to authoritative primacy in the Christian world simply cannot be demonstrated and sustained from Scripture itself. This claim is surely one of the great hoaxes foisted upon professing Christendom, upon which false base rests the whole papal sacerdotal system.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Carrie's "The Semi-Authoritative Catholic Canon"

    I came across this post from Carrie looking for something else. It was so interesting, I felt it should be re-posted- James



    A popular argument by online Roman Catholic (RC) apologists centers around the certainty of the biblical canon. The RC apologist will ask the Protestant, “how can you be sure you have the right books without the infallible authority of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC)”? Likewise, the RC apologist will claim that the biblical canon taught since Hippo/Carthage and throughout history is the RC canon (with the Protestant canon “missing” books) despite acknowledging Church fathers and theologians who expressed doubts about the deuterocanonical books.

    In previous posts we have seen that the vote to make the RC canon an article of faith by the addition of an anathema was not overwhelming supported by the council members at Trent. If the exact contents of the biblical canon was crystal clear throughout history as the RC apologists maintain, and clearly defined by past councils, one would have expected solid support for making the canon an article of faith. Yet that was not the case, why?

    If we look at some of the canon discussions that occurred at the Council of Trent both before and after the February 15th vote in 1546 (which according to Catholic historian Hubert Jedin “committed the Council to the wider canon”), we will get a glimpse into some of the uncertainty around the canon. What we will see is what Chadwick described as quoted in a previous post, “In the cold light of finality, the formulas look rigid against Protestants. Seen as the end of a long debate with differing opinions, the formulas have more nuance, more flexibility, than any Protestant hitherto supposed.”

    Following on a previous post, after describing the vote on Feb 15th, Jedin goes back to summarize the discussions that occurred in prior meetings leading up to the vote and the final implication:
    “This question was not only a matter of controversy between Catholics and Protestants: it was also the subject of a lively discussion even between Catholic theologians. St Jerome, that great authority in all scriptural questions, had accepted the Jewish canon of the Old Testament. Thc books of Judith, Esther, Tobias, Machabees, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, which the majority of the Fathers, on the authority of the Septuagint, treated as canonical, Jerome described as apocryphal, that is, as not included in the canon though suitable for the edification of the faithful…The general of the Franciscans Observant, Calvus, dealt thoroughly with the problems raised by Cajetan in a tract drawn up for the purposes of the Counci1. He defended the wider canon, and in particular the canonicity of the book of Baruch, the story of Susanna, that of Bel and the dragon, and the canticle of the three children (Benedicite). On the other hand, he refused to accept the oft-quoted Apostolic Canons as authoritative for the canonicity of the third book of Machabees. The general of the Augustinians, Seripando, on the contrary, was in sympathy with Erasmus and Cajetan and sought to harmonise their views with the Florentine decree on the ground that the protocanonical books of the Old Testament, as "canonical and authentic", belong the the canon fidei, while the deuterocanonical ones, as "canonical and ecclesiastical books", belong to the canon morum. Seripando, accordingly, follows the tendency which had made itself felt elsewhere also in pre-Tridentine Catholic theology, which was not to withhold the epithet "canonical" from the deuterocanonical books, yet to use it with certain restrictions.

    The tracts of the two generals of Orders show that opinions diverged widely even within the Council. The prestige of the Augustinian general and that of the Bishop of Fano who sided with him, may have prompted Cervini to discuss the whole complex question in his class. It became evident that no one supported the subtle distinction between a canon fidei and a canon morum, though it met with a somewhat more favourable reception in the general congregation of 12 February when several of the Fathers deemed it useful, though not necessary. The majority agreed with the opinion of the general of the Servites, that controverted theological questions, which had already been the subject of discussion between Augustine and Jerome, should not be decided by the Council but should be allowed to remain open questions. The result of the above-mentioned vote of the general congregation of 15 February committed the Council to the wider canon, but inasmuch as it abstained from a theological discussion, the question of differences between books within the canon was left as it had been.” History of the Council of Trent, pgs 56-57

    Additional details around the discussion in the general congregation of Feb 12th are provided by Duncker:
    “Cardinal Cervini, reporting the previous day's discussion in his Classis, brought up the two points still to be settled : First, whether a distinction is to be made between Sacred Books from which the foundations of our teaching are drawn and those which, though truly canonical, are not so in the same sense as the former (Acts: "not of the same authority") but are received by the Church so that from them the multitude may be instructed, such as the books of Proverbs, Wisdom and so on. This distinction would seem to be pertinent (…Acts:…does not seem off the point), because this question is still much disputed and not yet determined by the Church, though Augustine and Jerome and other ancient writers often spoke of it.

    After having mentioned incidentally that Cardinal Pacheco was against this distinction, Severoli (and the Acts) only say that "Although many esteemed it useful and even not less necessary (Acts: 'yet less necessary'), nevertheless the view of several (Acts: Of the majority') prevailed, that this question be left intact to posterity (Acts: 'be omitted and left*) as it was left to us by our Fathers." The General of the Servites, Bonucci, insisted, in his turn, ". . . that this question must surely be left intact (Acts omit this part of his statement) as, in points on which Jerome and Augustine disagree, the Church has not been accustomed to pass judgment (Acts: 'the Synod should not pass judgment, as the Church has not been accustomed to do so').”

    …The question was not yet settled, for that same night the Cardinal legates reported to Rome that the point about the degrees of the books of the Old Testament, which had come up during the debate, had still to lie examined, as many of the ancient holy Doctors had said that some were canonical and suited to settle dogmas and that others did not have so much authority but were only "agiographi" (sacred writings).” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, vol 15, pgs 285-286

    The implication of the Tridentine decision on the Catholic canon is outlined by F. J. Crehan, S.J.:

    “After sharp discussion the Council came to the decision that it received and held in honour pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia, with equal devotion and veneration, the books of Scripture and the divine and apostolic traditions (that is, those coming from Christ or the apostles) which concerned faith or morals. It did not mean that each book of Scripture was inspired in exactly the same way, as some modern theologians have claimed, for the Council was not comparing book with book but the body of Scripture with the body of apostolic tradition. …The further question, whether in the decree of Trent anything should be said about the status of books within the canon (that is, of the deuterocanonical books), was left to one side. Writing on 16 February 1546, the day after the debate, the legates report to Rome that there was general agreement not to enter into that question (Acta, x, 382) and the notice in the official account of the proceedings (Acts, V, 10), recording that there was a majority in favour of putting the books all on an equal footing but that nothing was put into the decree about it, seems to agree with this. The fact that the words pari pietatis affectu recipit do not appear in the decree, but another place, where they establish an equality between Scripture as a whole and Tradition, has led some theologians into a short-sighted attempt to twist the story of the Council. The legates cannot have been mistaken when they wrote that there was agreement not to enter into that difficult matter.” The Cambridge History of the Bible, pgs 199-202

    So what does this all mean? First, it shows that the Catholic canon is imprecise in that it potentially contains books that are less authoritative and not adequate for proving dogma. A two-fold Catholic canon is still an open question according to the Council of Trent. Second, this imprecision translates into uncertainty for the faithful as the authority of any one book in the canon has intentionally been left undecided by the Catholic magisterium. Add to this the fact that a few books in the Vulgate were passed over in silence at the Council of Trent (3 & 4 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh), meaning that these books may or may not be inspired and deserving of a place in the canon, and we are left with an open Catholic canon containing books of potentially variable authority in matters of faith.

    Likewise, the Catholic arguments against the Protestant canon as “missing books” or “inconsistent with church history” are also invalid in light of these facts. Where the Catholic Church has left the theological difficulties regarding the canon open, the Protestant canon could be a functional option from a Catholic point of view. As the Thomist, Scotist and Molinist schools of thought are all allowed to coexist in in areas of RC theology that are not precisely defined, a possible position to be held by a Roman Catholic is that the apocryphal books do not establish doctrine, which is quite close to the Protestant position in regard to these books. Jerome’s opinion of the biblical canon has not been rejected by the RCC, and Protestants have simply sided with Jerome as well as others throughout church history.

    As such, the certainty that the standard RC apologist claims regarding their biblical canon is far from valid in my mind. The Council of Trent specifically chose not to provide clear answers to historical questions around the canon, leaving Catholics with uncertainty around the level of authority for individual books. The Protestant canon seems to provide far more certainty for understanding doctrine, as we have included in our canon all inspired books of God (none passed over in silence), all of which can be equally consulted in matters of faith (no degrees of authority). So while the "charisma of infallibility" possessed by the Catholic Church has been able to firmly establish the bodily assumption of Mary as dogma, they have been unable to adequately define the authoritative status of the components of Scripture in matters of doctrine. Once again, the facts of history do not align with the lofty claims of RC apologetics.