Saturday, May 24, 2008

Some Protestants’ Rejection of Deuterocanonical Books (Inter-Testament Apocrypha): Justifiable?, p.4

Fact 2: Affirmation of Deuterocanonical Books as Scripture during the 1st – 4th Century


1. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
Rabbis quoted this book as scripture in their literature (L.M. McDonald, The Biblical Canon, p.177-178):
- b. Hagigah 13a
- y. Hagigah 77c
- b. Yebamot 63b
- Genesis Rabbah 8:2b, 91:3
- b. Bava Qamma 92b
- y. Berakhot 11b
- y. Nazir 54b
- Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:11
- b. Berakhot 48a

Early Christians who regard this book as Scripture (most are cited from L.M.McDonald, The Biblical Canon, p.439-442):
- Jerome (Letter to Eustochium)
- Augustine (On Christian Doctrine)
- Council of Carthage
- Gelasian Decree
- Codex Vaticanus
- Codex Sinaiticus
- Codex Alexandrinus

2. Wisdom of Solomon
- Melito (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History)
- Augustine (On Christian Doctrine)
- Council of Carthage
- Gelasian Decree
- Codex Vaticanus
- Codex Sinaiticus
- Codex Alexandrinus

3. Epistle of Jeremiah
- Origen (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History)
- Athanasius (39th Festal Letters. In it Athanasius included the Epistle of Baruch in the canon.)
- Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures)
- Epiphanius (Irenaeus, Against Heresies)
- Hilary of Poitiers (Prologue in the Book of Psalms 15)
- Codex Vaticanus
- Codex Alexandrinus

4. Maccabees
- Origen (K. Aland, The Problem of the New Testament Canon)
- Augustine (On Christian Doctrine)
- Council of Carthage
- Codex Sinaiticus
- Codex Alexandrinus

5. Tobit
- Hilary of Poitiers (Prologue in the Book of Psalms 15)
- Augustine (On Christian Doctrine)
- Council of Carthage
- Codex Vaticanus
- Codex Sinaiticus
- Codex Alexandrinus

6. Judith
- Hilary of Poitiers (Prologue in the Book of Psalms 15)
- Augustine (On Christian Doctrine)
- Council of Carthage
- Codex Vaticanus
- Codex Sinaiticus
- Codex Alexandrinus

7. 1 Enoch
- Jude 14-15 (The New Testament)
- Tertulian (On The Apparel of Women)

9. Jerome and his works
You might wonder why did I include Jerome in this category as one who affirms the deuterocanon. The reason is simply this: Jerome and his list of Christian canon is the most misunderstood fact among the anti-deuterocanon Protestants.

Jerome is deem as the authoritative figure that most Protestants invoke to exclude the deuterocanonical books from the Church canon. His 'Preface to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs' (c.a 391-393 AD) is being used perennially to reject the deuterocanon:
As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.
By that statement alone, it is true that Jerome seems to reject Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabean literatures. Others extend the charge that Jerome excludes the 'Story of Susanna', 'The Songs of the Three Children', and 'Bel and the Dragon'.

But one just need to read his 2 other works 'Preface to Daniel' and 'Against Rufinus (Book 2)' where he explained what he did or did not meant by what he wrote in the Prefaces.
"But as to the objections which Porphyry raises against [Daniel], or rather brings against the book [of Daniel that includes the Story of Susanna, Songs of the Three Children, and Bel and the Dragon], Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinaris may be cited as witnesses, for they replied to his folly in many thousand lines of writing, whether with satisfaction to the curious reader I know not." (Preface to Daniel. Emphasis added)
"What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book." (Against Rufinus, Book 2.33, c.a 401-402 AD. Emphasis added)
It is noteworthy as well to note that Jerome cites passages from the Hebrew Bible side by side with passages from deuterocanonical books, as if there is no differences between both.
"At least that is what Solomon says: 'wisdom is the gray hair unto men’ (Wisdom 4:9). Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion (Numbers 11:16)? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age (Story of Susannah 55-59). (Jerome's letter to Paulinus, c.a 395 AD)
I would cite the words of the psalmist: 'the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ (Psalm 51:17) and those of Ezekiel 'I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ (Ezekiel 18:23) and those of Baruch, 'Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ (Baruch 5:5) and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the prophets." (Jerome's letter to Oceanus, Epistle, A.D. 399)
Later in his life, in a letter Jerome wrote to Eustochium (404 AD), he quoted Sirach 13.:2 as Scripture to console his reader's loss of her mother:
Does not the scripture say: 'Burden not thyself above thy power'... (Emphasis added)
Here we observe a shift in Jerome's standing and his regards to Scripture. He does not seem to be having any distinction between those passages for "edification" and those for "doctrines of the church". In fact, he uses passages from Hebrew Bible and deuterocanon as if they are of the same standing.

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