Author Topic: Orthodox Biblical Canon?  (Read 488 times)

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Offline Xavier

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Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« on: May 03, 2020, 11:14:38 AM »
I read that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church considers 81 books to belong to the Bible Canon, 27 New and 54 Old: "The Ethiopian "narrow" canon includes 81 books altogether: The 27 book New Testament; those Old Testament books found in the Septuagint and accepted by the Orthodox; as well as Enoch, Jubilees, 2 Esdras, Rest of the Words of Baruch and 3 books of Meqabyan (these three Ethiopian books of Maccabees are entirely different in content from the four Books of Maccabees known elsewhere)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_biblical_canons#East_African_canons

Anyone here have specific thoughts on the Biblical Canon and how the process of Church Discernment of the Canon progressed differently in East and West?

Also, is this excerpt from the above link correct? "The Synod of Jerusalem[45] in 1672 decreed the Greek Orthodox Canon which is similar to the one decided by the Council of Trent. The Eastern Orthodox Church generally consider the Septuagint is the received version of Old Testament scripture, considered itself inspired in agreement with some of the Fathers, such as St Augustine, followed by all other modern translations.[46] They use the word Anagignoskomena (Ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα "readable, worthy to be read") to describe the books of the Greek Septuagint that are not present in the Hebrew Tanakh. The Eastern Orthodox books of the Old Testament include the Roman Catholic deuterocanonical books, plus 3 Maccabees and 1 Esdras (also included in the Clementine Vulgate), while Baruch is divided from the Epistle of Jeremiah, making a total of 49 Old Testament books in contrast with the Protestant 39-book canon.[47] Other texts printed in Orthodox Bibles are considered of some value (like the additional Psalm 151, and the Prayer of Manasseh) or are included as an appendix (like the Greek 4 Maccabees, and the Slavonic 2 Esdras).[47]" Thoughts on this subject?

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Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2020, 12:02:12 PM »
The biggest difference in discernment of the canon between East and West is due to one phenomenon: the Reformation. The canon, in the strict sense meant by modern Catholics and Protestants, is the direct consequence of the controversies of the 16th century.

Another factor is the printing press. It must be remembered that before printing, the Bible (in any form of the canon) very, very rarely existed as one volume. This means books circulated unevenly, sometimes independently, sometimes in smaller collections, and sometimes just as readings in lectionaries. Overall, though, the canon of churches more than anything reflects what has historically been used liturgically. The earliest editions of the Peshitta, for instance, did not include Revelation and several epistles; these are not used liturgically in the Syriac churches as they appear to have been unknown in early centuries in Syriac-speaking regions. However, in interaction with the broader church, these books came to be included in the Syriac Bible, even if not used liturgically.
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Offline Dominika

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2020, 12:32:42 PM »
^^ this

Even interiorly in EO and OO communities there is no one strict canon, but it's not something bad. In the end, all of them are church writings and part of traiditon, and it's like patristic and monastic writings and vitas of saints: some of them were popular more in one region in certain ediiton, while the same in anotehr edition in anotehr palce, and some other were more commonly-read in other places. Unless such writing contains heresy, it's ok and something enriching.

Offline moronikos

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2020, 05:27:09 PM »
The Prayer of Manasseh is in the Compline Services. How much more canonical can it get? Liturgically, it is more "canonical" than Revelation/Apocalypse.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2020, 07:20:40 PM »
Besides what has already been said...

Anyone here have specific thoughts on the Biblical Canon and how the process of Church Discernment of the Canon progressed differently in East and West?

Let's just call them "extra books" as a catch-all, for convenience. In the first millennium the Greek Fathers tended to exclude the extra books, and the Latin Fathers tended to accept them; Fathers from other places (as you mentioned, Ethiopia) could have different canons entirely. Here's a rough graphic I made a few years ago, just to kind of demonstrate the basic trend I mentioned between Greek and Latin...



(data was pulled from sites such as this one, CCEL, New Advent, etc.)

The trend for the Greek-speaking Christians at some point reversed and started to mirror the Latin theologians. Thus you have the kind of list we find in the 17th century Confession of Dositheus. And yet the 19th century Catechism of St. Philaret of Moscow, despite referencing Maccabees to establish doctrine, nonetheless excludes the extra books when formally outlining the Bible canon. And so we're left with the situation today where, as was said, there is still some allowance for diversity, though it's of a specific kind: while certain books are disputed, no new books are going to be added to the potential list. 
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2020, 08:26:24 PM »
Cool! Any Eastern data around?
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2020, 10:37:25 PM »
Cool! Any Eastern data around?

The only OO data I remember coming across is stuff you can find on places like wikipedia, which is basically just a single outline of the books they accept, I don't recall any particular Fathers of Manuscripts from them.
"And Moses said to the children of Israel, 'Because ye have wept and have asked for flesh, behold the Lord will give you flesh to eat; not one day, nor two, nor five, nor ten, but a month of days shall ye eat, until it goeth out of your nostrils, and becometh nauseous to you.'" (The Book of the Bee, 30)

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2020, 11:30:19 PM »
I miswrote. I meant later Eastern data. Something authoritative later than the 9th century. I'm only aware of the Confession of Dositheus.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2020, 11:54:23 PM »
It's been a while since I was looking into this, but the other names (besides Pat. Dositheus and St. Philaret) I mentioned in another thread are:

Metrophanes of Alexandria (d. 1639)
Synod of Jassy (1642)
St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite (d. 1809)
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (d. 1873)

I don't have the specific lists for them though.
"And Moses said to the children of Israel, 'Because ye have wept and have asked for flesh, behold the Lord will give you flesh to eat; not one day, nor two, nor five, nor ten, but a month of days shall ye eat, until it goeth out of your nostrils, and becometh nauseous to you.'" (The Book of the Bee, 30)

Offline rakovsky

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2020, 11:05:55 AM »
I read that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church considers 81 books to belong to the Bible Canon, 27 New and 54 Old: "The Ethiopian "narrow" canon includes 81 books altogether: The 27 book New Testament; those Old Testament books found in the Septuagint and accepted by the Orthodox; as well as Enoch, Jubilees, 2 Esdras, Rest of the Words of Baruch and 3 books of Meqabyan (these three Ethiopian books of Maccabees are entirely different in content from the four Books of Maccabees known elsewhere)." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_biblical_canons#East_African_canons
From your link:
Quote
The Ethiopian "narrow" canon includes 81 books altogether: The 27 book New Testament; those Old Testament books found in the Septuagint and accepted by the Orthodox; as well as Enoch, Jubilees, 2 Esdras, Rest of the Words of Baruch and 3 books of Meqabyan (these three Ethiopian books of Maccabees are entirely different in content from the four Books of Maccabees known elsewhere).
The "broader" Ethiopian New Testament canon includes four books of "Sinodos" (church practices), two "Books of Covenant", "Ethiopic Clement", and "Ethiopic Didascalia" (Apostolic Church-Ordinances). However, these books have never been printed or widely studied. This "broader" canon is also sometimes said to include, with the Old Testament, an eight-part history of the Jews based on the writings of Flavius Josephus, and known as "Pseudo-Josephus" or "Joseph ben Gurion" (Yosēf walda Koryon).
I remember looking at the issue of some of the Ethiopic books that aren't in the European canons, and found them confusing, because not alot was written about them in our scholarship.
One time that it came up was in studying the Apocalypse of Peter, a first-second century writing that is partly preserved in Greek texts and fully in the Ethiopic "broader canon". In the Ethiopic canon, the telling of the "Apocalypse of Peter" seemingly continues with an account by Clement, and it wasn't clear to me whether this continuation was part of the 1st-2nd century text called the "Apocalypse of Peter". In Donaldson's translation, IIRC, the separation between the two texts is unclear, with the first flowing into the second text. Eventually I realized that they are two separate texts, with the Clementine continuation being a much later addition to the 1st-2nd century text.
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Offline rakovsky

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2020, 11:36:10 AM »
Something that was a bit confusing to me about the Greek scriptural books that aren't in the usual "Reformed Protestant" OT was that apparently some of them are called "Deuterocanon" by the Latins, whereas others of those Greek books are non-canonical Apocrypha. The "Deuterocanon", meaning "secondary canonicity", apparently is made of books that were actually "canonized" but were not found in the rabbis' Tanakh that the Reformed Protestants adopted as their OT.

If this is the case, the term Deuterocanon seems misleading, because the absence of those Deuterocanonical books in the rabbis' Masoretic texts does not seem clearly sufficient to me as criteria to qualify them as having "lesser" status in the canon. It might not be sufficient criteria because the rabbis are a separate authority from the Christian authorities on the Bible, being a separate religious community. And it isn't clear whether it was the rabbis or their pre-Christian (BC-era) predecessors who established the rabbinical canon.

Quote
The deuterocanonical books (from the Greek meaning "belonging to the second canon") are books and passages considered by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East to be canonical books of the Old Testament but which are considered non-canonical by Protestant denominations. ...Though there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed, some scholars hold that the Hebrew canon was established well before the first century AD – even as early as the fourth century BC,[7] or by the Hasmonean dynasty (140–40 BC).[8] The Hebrew canon does not include the seven deuterocanonical books and this formed the basis for their exclusion from the Protestant Old Testament.

... The term [Deuterocanonical] distinguished these books both from those that were termed protocanonical books, which were the books of the Hebrew canon; and from the apocryphal books, which were those books of Jewish origin that were known sometimes to have been read in church as scripture but which were considered not to be canonical.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterocanonical_books

To give you examples of what I mean about the Orthodox Bible having both "Deuterocanonical" and non-Deuterocanonical "Apocryphal" texts:
"3 Esdras" is Deuterocanonical: It is considered part of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canon. But confusingly perhaps, it is put in the KJV's "Biblical Apocrypha" section.
"4 Esdras" is Apocryphal: It is not considered part of the Catholic or Orthodox canons. Yet it is included in Slavonic Bibles. IIRC, I saw it in a list of Russian Biblical books together with the other OT books, so that a casual reader might not realize that it's outside the canon. In the KJV, it is included in the "Biblical Apocrypha" section.

Another issue is that almost all of the books in the KJV's "Biblical Apocrypha" section are part of the Catholic and Orthodox "canons", which reflects that those Catholic and Orthodox "canonical" books that make the KJV Apocryphal list are "Deuterocanonical".
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Offline WPM

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2020, 11:51:25 AM »
We clearly have the full Bible.

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Orthodox Biblical Canon?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2020, 01:43:55 PM »
I think you may be overthinking "deutero". It means "second" before meaning "secondary". As in "second canon", regardless of importance.
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