OrthodoxChristianity.net
November 21, 2014, 02:17:59 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Orthodoxy or Catholicism? The Scriptural Canon...  (Read 3021 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« on: January 22, 2005, 07:04:15 PM »

For those who are contemplating perhaps converting to Orthodoxy,

Regarding an argument that Catholics (and sometimes Orthodox) often use in an attempt to demonstrate the authority of their Church--the scriptural canon--please give this thread (readers digest version) and this thread (more detailed version) some consideration. This is one area that Catholic apologists--or more accurately, e-pologists--and even many Orthodox Christians tend to go overboard with. Though to be fair, I have noticed that actual theologians from both sides have a better grasp of the situation (this is perhaps mostly an internet phenomenon, I don't know).

The reason that the Orthodox take the stand they do is not because we simply don't care (as Protestants like Bruce Metzger say in their works), but because (epistemologically speaking) we don't need to do so, and haven't been guided by the Holy Spirit to do so. And, to be honest, what type of doctrinal unity and consistency has a fixed canon given the western churches? IMO, it hasn't done anything at all in that regard; and in fact it seems to me that the groups who are more insistent and vocal on a fixed canon (e.g., low-church Protestants) are exactly the ones who have the most disunity. I can't prove direct causation between the two, but it's something to think about. Also, consider that it is the Orthodox who are accused (wrongly) of being "stagnant" in our theology: in other words, even those outside Orthodox indirectly (or unwittingly) admit that we have continuity and faithfulness to tradition on our side.
Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2005, 08:42:49 PM »

According to Tradition, there was a Council in Rome in the year 382 under Pope Damasus. A scriptural canon was supposedly adopted at this Council, this canon reportedly containing the same Old Testament books that later came to be the official Scriptural Canon of the Roman Catholic Church. Our chief record for what was supposedly decided at this Council in 382 is the Decretal of Gelasius, a late-5th century document, the accuracy of which is questioned. But despite it's questionable status, the old Catholic Encyclopedia calls this Decretal "of capital importance in the history of the canon," because it is part of "the first formal utterance of papal authority on the subject." And so, Catholics sometimes point to this Council in 382 as having a major role in ending disputes about the canon, and as demonstrating the supposed authority and primacy of the bishop of Rome.
 
History, however, presents us with some interesting things to consider regarding this Council. It was in 382 that Blessed Jerome returned to Rome from his travels, and it was also in that year that Pope Damasus asked Jerome to create a new version of the Scriture in Latin. Jerome accepted, and worked on this version of Scripture for years: his work came to be known as the Latin Vulgate. But a problem arises: Jerome didn't include all the apocryphal books that were supposedly accepted at the Council in 382 in his Bible. In fact, he only translated two of the books, and then only because of the continual urging of two friends of his. What's more, Jerome clearly takes a stand exactly contrary to the supposed position of the Council of 382: for Jerome clearly says that Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon and the other apocryphal books were not canonical. In fact, it is to Jerome that we owe the word "apocrypha" as applied to these books to begin with.
 
We have every reason to suspect that Jerome would know the position of the Roman Church on this matter. He is considered the greatest biblical scholar of the western Church. He was asked by Pope Damasus--who presided over the Council of 382--to make the translation. He had done extensive travelling and studying, and knew the traditions of many different Local Churches, certainly including Rome (Bl. Jerome was even the secretary of Pope Damasus for a while). Bl. Jerome returned to Rome in the same year that the Council of 382 supposedly made it's decision about the canon, so it would have been impossible for a man like Jerome to not have known what it said. And yet in spite of this, Jerome chose to take a different stance than the one supposedly taken by the Council of 382.
 
The most likely explanations seem to be the following: 1) The Council of 382 did not touch on the Old Testament canon, 2) The Council of 382 outlined a canon but it's decision was not binding even on people under Rome's jurisdiction; or 3) The Council of 382 outlined a canon, but once Jerome moved to the Holy Land a few years after the Council he did not feel obligated to follow the Roman Scriptural canon. Jerome did recognize that some people considered the Apocryphal books canonical (cf Letter 54:To Furia, 16), he just didn't happen to be one of them.
 
(Although not dealing directly with the Apocrypha, we might mention one further note, as it relates to the subject of whether the Council in Rome in 382 settled the canon. In the year 405 Pope Innocent of Rome sent a letter to a bishop in Gaul, Exsuperius of Toulouse, in which he excludes Hebrews from the New Testament Canon. Suffice to say, it seems hardly likely that a Pope of Rome would have excluded a book from the canon if there had already been an authoritative and binding pronouncement on the subject less than a generation beforehand).
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 11:11:53 PM by Paradosis » Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
Irish Hermit
Kibernetski Kaludjer
Warned
Merarches
***********
Offline Offline

Posts: 10,991


Holy Father Patrick, pray for us


« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2005, 07:10:55 PM »

It has been asked on another Forum and help with locating Internet material would be appreciated.  Many thanks.

Can someone please explain to me what the Orthodox Churches' position is on the canon of scripture? Has it been infallibly defined? Is it a fallible collection of infallible documents? When was it defined?


Logged
Jakub
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,748



« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2005, 07:50:41 PM »

I like the following comparison;

Orthodox Church = Tortise

Roman Catholic Church = Hare

Quick/rapid growth does not always = Strength

james
Logged

An old timer is a man who's had a lot of interesting experiences -- some of them true.

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2005, 08:36:10 PM »

Irish Hermit,

Quote
Can someone please explain to me what the Orthodox Churches' position is on the canon of scripture? Has it been infallibly defined? Is it a fallible collection of infallible documents? When was it defined?

This page might be of some help on this point.
Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
Irish Hermit
Kibernetski Kaludjer
Warned
Merarches
***********
Offline Offline

Posts: 10,991


Holy Father Patrick, pray for us


« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2005, 12:37:36 AM »

Irish Hermit,



This page might be of some help on this point.

Thank you!
Logged
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2005, 11:15:26 PM »

There is a distinction that is often not acknowledged (or even realised) when dealing with the Apocrypha. People normally assume that when a Father calls a book "Scripture," that that means that they would include it in the canon of scripture. However, while this seems logical, it is not always the case. The following reasons might be given as something of an explanation for this.
 
1) Sometimes Fathers call a book "Scripture" because it is their own personal opinion that it is scripture, but these Fathers would not call the book canonical because certain others (or the rest of the Church) disagrees. 2) If there is some disagreement over whether a book is Scripture, a Father might speak of a book in different ways at different times. 3) A Father might speak of a book as Scripture merely as a condescension to a widely-held belief that he does not personally hold. 4) A Father might call a book Scripture because he does not realise that he is quoting an apocryphal book.
 
Regarding the second possibility, we might consider what Eusebius says about the Epistle of James. Eusebius listed "the so-called epistle of James" "Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many," (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3, 25) and adds elsewhere that James, the bishop of Jerusalem, "is said to be the author of the first of the so-called catholic epistles. But it is to be observed that it is disputed; at least, not many of the ancients have mentioned it... Nevertheless we know that [James] also, with the rest, have been read publicly in very many churches." But elsewhere Eusebius unhesitatingly calls the Epistle of James "scripture" and says that it was written by "the holy apostle". (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2, 23; Commentary in the Psalms, 56, 2; 100, 5)
 
Regarding the third possibility, we might call to mind Bl. Jerome, who clearly excludes the Apocryphal books from the canon (see Apocrypha page), but nonetheless sometimes calls certain Apocryphal books like Sirach "scripture" in his writings (Letter 118: To Julian, 1; Letter 108: To Eustochium, 21).
 
Regarding the fourth possibility, this might happen when a Father quotes an apocryphal book but does not name it explicitly (of course, in the early Church they did not give specific references for Scriptural quotations as we often do today). Then, later, a Father reads the work of the earlier Church Father, and quotes the same passage as Scripture, not knowing that he has unwittingly quoted an apocryphal book. Such is perhaps the case, for example, when St. Athanasius--who excluded Sirarch from his canon--begins a quotation from Sirach with the words "as the Holy Scripture somewhere says" (Defense Against the Arians, 5).
 
There are also other examples of Church Fathers excluding apocryphal books from the canon but still call them scripture, such as St. John of Damascus (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4, 15 and 17).

(The tendency to use the Septuagint without accepting all of it's contents as canonical was perhaps not exclusively a Christian phenomenon, as F.F. Bruce mentions that "Philo, the learned Jew of Alexandria, whose life overlapped the life of Christ by about twnety years at either end, seems to have known and accepted the Hebrew canon. The Law to him is preeminently inspired, but he also acknowledges the authority of the other books of the Hebrew canon (although, as an Alexandrian, he used only the Greek version). He does not regard the apocryphal books as authoritative, and this suggests that, although these books were included in the Septuagint, they were not really accorded canonical status by the Alexandrian Jews." - F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), pp. 98-99)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 11:32:10 PM by Paradosis » Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2005, 11:17:05 PM »

It is commonly said during apologetical disputes on the internet that the 1st century Jewish Council of Jamnia rejected the Greek Septuagint (and therefore the Apocrypha) because it supported Christian claims, and instead chose a strictly Hebrew canon. It is then implied or explicitly stated that usage of "the Hebrew canon" is therefore unChristian.
 
At first glance this can sound persuasive to a Christian, given the hostile state of Jewish and Christian polemics at the time, and that early Christians (such as St. Justin Martyr) accused the Jews of purposely changing the Scripture to cover up prophecies about Jesus Christ. However, such claims about Jamnia seem to reach a bit; and furthermore, the claims about the "the Hebrew canon" seems to contradict the tone of early Christian thought on the canon.
 
Regarding Jamnia, here is what Orthodox Theologian Theodore Stylianopoulos and Protestant Theologian Bruce Metzger have said:
 
"The second difference is that the early Christians adopted a larger number of Jerish writings than the official list complied by rabbinic teachers at Jamnia or later. These additional books were in circulation from pre-Christian times in the Greek language among Greek-speaking Jews who regarded them as valuable. These books express the diverse beliefs, practices, and hopes of many Jews during the time of the Greek and Roman dominance of the ancient world. However, because they carried neither sufficient antiquity nor authority in the Jewish tradition, they were left out of the Hebrew canon by rabbinic leaders who intended to unite and consolidate Judaism after the desastrous wars with Rome during the first and second centuries." - Theodore G. Stylianopoulos, The New Testament: An Orthodox Perspective; Volume 1: Scripture, Tradition, Hermeneutic, (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2002), p. 22
 
"At the close of the first Christian century ['the writings,' ie. Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles] had come to be so highly regarded among the Jewish people in general that the Jewish Assembly or Council of jamnia (A.D. 90) made an official pronouncement of canonicity, recognizing all of the books now in each part of the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible. Though the right of several books... to remain in the canon was discussed by Rabbinical scholars at this time (and even later), such debates are thought to have been largely academic. The Hebrew canon had been determined by long and approved usage of the books, and the Assembly of Jamnia merely ratified what the most spiritually sensitive souls in Judaism had been accustomed to regard as holy Scripture." - Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, (Oxford University Press, 1977), p. 8
 
Coming from different perspectives, these two theologians see the Council of Jamnia slightly differently. What they agree on, however, was that the Council had a positive, rather than negative tone: the Jews were trying to "unite and consolidate," as Mr. Stylianopoulos put it, having been scattered and banned from entering Jerusalem about two decades beforehand (when the Temple and Jerusalem itself was almost completely destroyed, and was thereafter only a small gentile town for centuries). Noted Protestant scholar F.F. Bruce's view on the matter closely resembles that of Bruce Metzger:
 
"Some of the discussions which went on at Jamnia were handed down by oral transmission and ultimately recorded in the Rabinnical writings. Among their debates they considered whether canonical recognition should be accorded to the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and Esther. Objections had been raised against these books on various grounds... We should not exaggerate the importance of the Jamnia debates for the history of the canon. The books which they decided to acknowledge as canonical were generally accepted, although questions were raised about them. Those which they refused to admit had never been included. They did not expel from the canon any book which had previously been admitted. 'The Council of Jamnia,' as J.S. Wright puts it, 'was the confirming of public opinion, not the forming of it.'" - F.F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), pp. 97-98
 
Whatever might have happened at Jamnia, the Church Fathers did not seem to take such a disliking of the "Hebrew canon" as some modern people. In fact, it was commonly stated in the early Church that, because there were twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet, there were twenty-two Old Testament books. This idea makes no sense if the Church Fathers rejected the Hebrew canon as totally worthless. Yet, Origen, St. Athanasius, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory the Theologian, Rufinus of Aquileia, Epiphanius of Salamis, Bl. Jerome, and St. John of Damascus, all reject some or all the apocryphal books, and all of these writers mention the Hebrew canon to some extent when they are giving their own canon.
 
This is not to say that these Fathers routinely used the translations passed down by Rabbinical Judaism: certainly there is no argument that the Church Fathers, for the most part, used the Greek Septuagint. However, it does not follow from this that they therefore rejected the (supposedly) "truncated" Hebrew canon. In a word, it is simply incorrect to say that everyone accepted every book in the Greek Septuagint as canonical until the Protestant Reformation switched back to the Hebrew canon. And, this does bring up an interesting question about what exactly it meant to the early Church Fathers that something was "canonical" or "scriptural".
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 11:35:35 PM by Paradosis » Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2005, 11:17:47 PM »

It is sometimes claimed that the canon was "set" or "decided" in the late 4th or early 5th centuries. The basis for this normally rest on decisions at the Council of Hippo in 393, the Council of Carthage in 397, and the Council in Rome in 382. This is emphasised in Orthodox and Catholic polemics against Protestants, as it is considered a very persuasive argument in favor of a visible Church authority (ie. the Catholic or Orthodox Church).
 
But is it true that all Christians agreed on one canon until Martin Luther "cut books out of the canon" in the 16th century? Certainly the New Testament was, more or less, established in the late 4th century. Most of the Old Testament was also agreed upon at that time. However, this agreement was not absolute, even regarding the New Testament, and the Apocryphal books were particularly disputed.
 
It is not inconsequential that the first (extant) canon that contains most of the Apocryphal books (ie. Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, and Sirach) was not given until the late fourth century. Before this, every single Father who listed a Scriptural canon excluded at least a few, and sometimes all, of the apocryphal books. And even in the late fourth century there was hardly a consensus: for while St. Ambrose, the Council of Hippo (393), the Council of Carthage (397), and perhaps Pope Damasus and the Roman Church accepted the Apocryphal books, during the same time period there were many Fathers who explicitly excluded the apocryphal books, such as St. Athanasius, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Epiphanius of Salamis, and the Apostolic canons.
 
One is tempted, at first, to say that it was purely a matter of the Greek East going on one course, and the Latin West going on a different course. However, even in the west there are lots of examples from after the fourth century of disagreement as to what constituted the canon. Pope Innocent of Rome, for example, in response to a question on exactly this issue (ie. the canon), excluded the book of Hebrews from his New Testament canon in a response letter he wrote in 405. Jerome, who was the greatest biblical scholar of the western Church, rejected all of the apocrypha as being non-canonical, and Rufinus of Aquileia followed a similar course. Junilius, writing in the mid-6th century, accepted only Sirach out of all the apocryphal books as canonical, though he does mention that some additional books were accepted by others.
 
The disagreements continued in the east as well, as can be seen by the exclusion of the apocrypha from the canon by the Catalogue of the 60 Canonical Books (7th century), St. John of Damascus (8th century), and The Stichometery of Nicephorus (9th century). In fact, the disputes have continued right up to the modern era in the Orthodox Church, with--for example--the 17th century Orthodox Councils of Jassy and Jerusalem accepting all the apocryphal books, but later writers (e.g., St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain and many modern theologians) considering them non-canonical (or "on a lower footing").
 
It is true that the Roman Catholic Church does today accept all the Apocryphal books as authoritative, yet even they did not really set their canon in stone until the 16th century Council of Trent, as the Catholic New American Bible admits: "For Catholics the process was completed in A.D. 1546 when the Council of Trent explicitly and authoritatively announced the canon of seventy-two books of the Bible. Other lists, or canons, had been made before this that were the same as Trent's, but none had been put forward with the same authority." (The New American Bible, The Canon of the Bible, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986), p. xi) Bruce Metzger puts it more candidly, though with more bias:
 
"The first general council of the Church ever to give a decision on the question of the limits of the canon was that held at Tridentum (Trent) in Italy (1545-63). In reaction to Protestant cricitisms of the disputed books, on April 8, 1546, fifty-three Roman Catholic prelates at this Council pronounced an anathema upon any who would not receive the old Latin Vulgate Bible, with all of its books and parts, as sacred and canonical... It was not easy for all Roman Catholic scholars to acquiesce to the uniquivocal pronouncement of full canonicity which the Council of Trent made regarding books which, for so long a time and by such high authorities even in the Roman Church had been pronounced inferior. Yet, despite more than one attempt by noted Catholic scholars to reopen the question, this expanded form of the Bible has remained the Scriptural authority of the Roman Church." (Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, (Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 176, 178-180)
Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Offline Offline

Posts: 30,151


Hello for now, my friend


« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2005, 12:39:39 AM »

And again I sat in a Catholic chat room tonight. And again they trotted out the argument that "it was 1600 years and then Luther cut books out of the Bible". And again I pointed out that history isn't so cut and dry. And again I gave specific references, links, arguments, etc. And again I was ignored (no rebuttal, just told I was wrong and then ignored) because, well, they had a protestant taking the bait and they weren't about to stop trying to snag the fresh fish just because they were possibly wrong on minor trivialities like fact and truth. Oddly, what I have read of real Catholic theologians, they never seem to make this claim; I've only seen it or heard it from people who were taught on the net (or who were taught by people who were taught on the net). And the fact that the Orthodox also have a different canon? It matters not at all. Christian unity to these people means standing beside each other in a service and maybe demonstrating in front of an abortion mill. What's truth and unity and understanding when you can snag a new convert with your witty apologetic zingers?

Can you tell that I'm frustrated? Smiley
« Last Edit: April 09, 2005, 12:43:17 AM by Paradosis » Logged

Paradosis ≠ Asteriktos ≠ Justin

Hey, so I'm in a pop-alt-punk-folk-prog band called "Affable Dregs" and we have a new album coming out, titled "Vicious Turnips Always Taste Most Delicious." We'd really appreciate your support!
lpap
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 228

I stopped participating in this forum.


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2005, 12:11:35 PM »

Canon is not a documented system for salvation. It is the testimony of human persons that have known God.

The "canon" is not the method for salvation but it is "the archives" that record and keep these testimonies.

So the "canon" can not prove the authenticity of church. It only provides evidence that it is possible for man to have a personal relationship with the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

It is a common error to comprehend the “canon” as a super method for salvation. In this frame the canon itself provides the solution as a map for salvation. All that has to be done is to follow the road that is on the map. So the canon “bearer” holds the key to salvation.

Orthodox Church is the living body of Christ. As such Orthodoxy does not need such a “canon” - map - for salvation. If tomorrow by a supernatural way all bibles were disappeared from earth, then the Church would have written a new bible because their members would be in a true position to testify by their experience that man can meet God - and has done so - through personal relationship with the Persons of Holy Trinity.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2005, 12:13:37 PM by lpap » Logged

Life is to live the life of others.
Tags: canon of scripture Canon of scriptures 
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.069 seconds with 38 queries.