Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Canon Brain Teaser

We've all heard the claim that canon of sacred scripture was proclaimed by the Councils of Hippo, Carthage, and reaffirmed by Trent. The truth of the matter is that for a Roman Catholic, the Canon wasn't infallibly decided until Trent during the 16th Century. Thus for 1600 years, no one really knew with certainty what God had actually said, if one actually believes the paradigm that a council speaks with infallibility. The New Catholic Encyclopedia has honestly pointed out,

According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.”

Ok, now go get a cup of coffee (or two). Did you know that the councils of Hippo and Carthage actually "canonized" a different book then the Council of Trent? Try to work through the following slowly. I admit, it get's a little tricky.

1. The councils of Hippo & Carthage held the books 1 & 2 Esdras are canonical (based on the Septuagint Version, as translated in their Latin Bible).

2. 1 Esdras is a book that contains spurious apocryphal material.

3. In the Septuagint 2 Esdras is what we know as Ezra and Nehemiah

4. Jerome, in the Latin Vulgate Separated 2 Esdras into Ezra and Nehemiah, calling them 1 & 2 Esdras.

5. The Council of Trent: declared the Septuagint book of 1 Esdras non-canonical, because it contained spurious apocryphal material.

6. The Council of Trent began calling the Septuagint book of 1 Esdras3 Esdras,” even though there was already a different spurious apocryphal book of 3 Esdras. Trent renamed that book “4 Esdras

7. The council of Trent deems 1 Esdras canonical (because it is now Ezra)

8. Hippo & Carthage though earlier claimed their version of 1 Esdras (Septuagint version that contained spurious apocryphal material) canonical.

9. Hippo & Carthage canonized a different 1 Esdras than the council of Trent.

Do councils contradict each other? It appears so.