Friday, March 07, 2008

A History of the Apocrypha

“The early Christian Church, which began within the bosom of Palestinian Judaism, received her first Scriptures (the books of the Old Testament) from the Jewish synagogue. Since, however, the Gentile converts to Christianity could not read Hebrew, the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint), which many Jews had also come to use, was widely employed by the Church. Because of the antagonism which developed between the Synagogue and the Church, the Jews abandoned the use of the Greek Septuagint, and this circulated henceforth solely among the Christians. Almost the only manuscript copies of the Septuagint which have come down to us today were written by Christian scribes,” B. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (Oxford 1977), 175.

“In the first place, the number of Apocryphal books is not identical in all copies of the Septuagint. This circumstance suggests that there was no fixed canon at Alexandria which included all of these peripheral books. In the second place, the manuscripts of the Septuagint which contain these disputed books were all copied by Christian scribes, and therefore cannot be used as indisputable proof that the *Jewish* canon included all the books in question. In the third place, though Philo, the greatest of the Jewish Hellenists in Alexandria, knew of the existence of the Apocrypha, he never once quoted from them, much less used them for the proof of doctrine, as he habitually uses most of the books of the Hebrew canon. It is extremely difficult, therefore, to believe that the Alexandrian Jews received these books as authoritative in the same sense as they received the Law and the Prophets,” ibid. 176-77.

“The question remains, however, how such books came to stand so closely associated with the canonical books as they do in the manuscripts of the Septuagint. In attempting to find at least a partial answer to this problem, it should not be overlooked that the change in production of manuscripts from the scroll-form to the codex or leaf-form must have had an important part to play in the ascription of authority to certain books on the periphery of the canon,” ibid. 177.

“The prevailing custom among the Jews was the production of separate volumes for each part of the Hebrew canon…When the codex or leaf-form of book production was adopted, however, it became possible for the first time to include a great number of separate books within the same two covers…For whatever reason the change was instituted, it now became possible for canonical and Apocryphal books to be brought into close physical juxtaposition. Books which heretofore had never been regarded by the Jews as having any more than a certain edifying significance were now placed by Christian scribes in one codex side by side with the acknowledged books of the Hebrew canon. Thus it would happen that what was first a matter of convenience in making such books of secondary status available among Christians became a factor in giving the impression that all of the books within such a codex were to be regarded as authoritative. Furthermore, as the number of Gentile Christians grew, almost none of whom had exact knowledge of the extent of the original Hebrew canon, it became more and more natural for quotations to be made indiscriminately from all the books included with the one Greek codex,” ibid. 177-78.

“From the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament an Old Latin Version was made, which of course also contained the Apocryphal books among the canonical books. It is not strange, therefore, that Greek and Latin Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Cyprian (none of whom knew any Hebrew), quote the Apocrypha with the same formulas of citation as they use when referring to the books of the Old Testament. The small number of Fathers, however, who either had some personal knowledge of Hebrew (e.g. Origen and Jerome) or had made an effort to learn what the limits of the Jewish canon were (e.g. Melito of Sardis) were usually careful not to attribute canonicity to the Apocrypha books, though recognizing that they contain edifying material suitable for Christians to read,” ibid. 178.

“Whether it was owing to the influence of Origen or for some other reason, from the fourth century onward the Greek Fathers made fewer and fewer references to the Apocrypha as inspired. Theologians of the Eastern Church, such as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Amphilochius, drew up formal lists of the Old Treatment Scriptures in which the Apocrypha do not appear,” ibid. 178-79.

“Subsequent to Jerome’s time and down to the period of the Reformation a continuous succession of the more learned Fathers and theologians in the West maintained the distinctive and unique authority of the books of the Hebrew canon. Such a judgment, for example, was reiterated on the very eve of the Reformation by Cardinal Ximenes in the preface of the magnificent Complutensian Polyglot edition of the Bible which he edited (1514-17). Moreover, the earliest Latin version of the Bible in modern times, made from the original languages by the scholarly Dominican, Sanctes Pagnini, and published at Lyons in 1528, with commendatory letters from Pope Adrian VI and Pope Clement VII, sharply separates the text of the canonical books from the text of the Apocryphal books…Even Cardinal Cajetan, Luther’s opponent, at Augsburg in 1518, gave unhesitating approval to the Hebrew canon in his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament, which he dedicated in 1532 to Pope Clement VII. He expressly called attention to Jerome’s separation of the canonical from the uncanonical books, and maintained that the latter must not be relied upon to establish points of faith, but used only for the edification of the faithful,” 180.

“It was not easy for all Roman Catholic scholars to acquiesce to the unequivocal 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 (see above, p180), 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,” ibid. 190).

“The position of Eastern Orthodox Churches regarding the canon of the Old Testament is not at all clear. On the one hand, since the Septuagint version of the Old Testament was used throughout the Byzantine period, it is natural that Greek theologians such as Andrew of Crete, Germanus, Theodore the Studite, and Theophylact of Bulgaria, should refer indiscriminately to Apocrypha and canonical books alike. Furthermore, certain Apocrypha are quoted as authoritative at the Seventh Ecumenical Council held at Nicaea in 787 and at the Council convened by Basil at Constantinople in 869. On the other hand, writers who raise the issue regarding the limits of the canon, such as John of Damascus and Nicephorus, express views which coincide with those of the great Athanasius, who adhered to the Hebrew canon,” ibid. 192-93.

“What was perhaps the most important synod in the history of the Eastern Church was convened at Jerusalem in 1672…The Synod expressly designated the books of Wisdom, Judith, Tobit, Bel and the Dragon, Maccabees (four books), and Ecclesiasticus as canonical,” ibid. 193-94.

“The position of the Russian Orthodox Church as regards the Apocrypha appears to have changed during the centuries. During the Middle Ages Apocryphal books of both the Old and the New Testament exerted a widespread influence in Slavic lands. In subsequent centuries Constantinople’s leadershp gave way to the Holy Synod ruling from St. Petersburg, whose members were in sympathy with the position of the Reformers. Through a similar influence emanating from the great universities of Kiev, Moscow, Petersburg, and Kazan, the Russian Church became united in its rejection of the Apocrypha. For example, the Longer Catechism drawn up by the Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow and approved by the Most Holy Governing Synod (Moscow, 1839) expressly omits the Apocrypha from the enumeration of the books of the Old Testament on the ground that ‘they do not exist in Hebrew’,” ibid. 194.

“As a result, there appears to be no unanimity on this subject of the canon in the Greek Orthodox Church today. Catechisms directly at variance with each other on this subject have received the Imprimatur of Greek Ecclesiastical authorities, and the Greek clergy may hold and teach what they please about it,” ibid. 195.

38 comments:

  1. Metzger is like a human xerox machine. He doesn't do much in depth research, but he's good at repeating stuff he heard.

    The early Christian Church received her first Scriptures (the books of the Old Testament) from the Jewish synagogue.

    They've found inscriptions from the time of Christ in Greek on the ruins of a synagogue mentioning the leader's name in Greek. It appears there were Greek speaking synagogues. Thus the earliest Christian community received the LXX.

    , the number of Apocryphal books is not identical in all copies of the Septuagint. This circumstance suggests that there was no fixed canon at Alexandria

    Firstly, no one can seriously claim that by the time of Christ the LXX has anything specificallly to do with Alexandria. By this time it was all over the world.

    Secondly, if we believe the lists we have, what little there are close to this time, we must conclude there was no fixed canon of the Hebrew scriptures.

    Philo, the greatest of the Jewish Hellenists in Alexandria, knew of the existence of the Apocrypha, he never once quoted from them

    But other rabbis from the same era did quote from them.

    The small number of Fathers, however, who either had some personal knowledge of Hebrew (e.g. Origen and Jerome) or had made an effort to learn what the limits of the Jewish canon were (e.g. Melito of Sardis) were usually careful not to attribute canonicity to the Apocrypha books

    Though Origen lists what local Jews considered the canon in his time, he did not restrict himself thus.

    And among all these learned quotes, do we see any evidence of what the actual Hebrew canon of Jesus' time was? Nope. Just rumour and innuendo.

    It seems good to quote this also:

    http://community.livejournal.com/allsaintsforum/109037.html

    The Triablogue'ers have been engaging, of late, in some critical Ortho-bashing. One of their recent examples is their: Show me your Bible. In it they apparently attempt to demonstrate that the Orthodox biblical canon is a mass of chaos and as a result seem to be attempting to show that Orthodox really have no Bible, since they do not have a standardized critical set of texts of canonical Scriptures.

    I say apparently, because the post is just simply three large cites without any commentary from the Triablogue'ers--and the ensuing comments to the post are about something else altogether. But if what appears to be the Triablogue'ers "argument" is indeed their "argument," then it is sophomoric in the extreme. Indeed it is nothing more than a non sequitor.

    First of all it begs the question of a need for a standard critical edition of the set of books that are the Orthodox canon of Scripture. Critical editions of texts are a uniquely modernist development based on Enlightenment epistemological presuppositions not shared by either Jesus or the Apostles. To be sure, Origen's Hexapla and Jerome's Vulgate are something of precursors to modern text criticism, but the two efforts (Origen/Jerome over against modern text critics) are not the same, and Origen's and Jerome's texts (assuming Origen's could be recovered) would fail most text critical standards today. It also presupposes and imposes on the biblical canon an understanding of accuracy that is predicated upon the original texts and the individual words and particles of that text.

    The non sequitor, of course, is that absent a standardized text critical edition of the Scripture that utilizes modernist presuppositions about accuracy of the text, no group can claim a canon of Scriptural texts. That is to say it the other way around, simply because one cannot bring forth a standardized (according to modernist mores) text of, say, Jeremiah (which is a mess in the LXX), or of Mark (shorter, longer or middle?), that one does not have a canonical text of Jeremiah or Mark. It presupposes that a canon necessitates strict verbal identity between manuscripts, or at least a recoverable approximation of the autograph.

    Now, that said, the New Testament canon among Orthodox is unproblematic. The Old Testament canon is, seemingly, a bit more so. Are 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151 in or not? What about the "additions" to Esther? And so on?

    First, let's note a fact that Protestants, in particular, misuse. They pull out Origen and Jerome to use as a means to indicate that books like Tobith and Judith were not accepted as Christian Scripture, by highlighting both men's criticism of these books. What Protestants fail to appreciate is this: Origen and Jerome included these books in their versions of the Old Testament, and in so doing testified to the widespread use of these books as Christian Scripture. Also, what Protestants fail to appreciate is that our earliest surviving codices were not simply editions of the New Testament which we use as witnesses of manuscript traditions and families, but, were, in fact, among the first complete Christian Bibles, and included in their contents, those "extra, apocryphal" books. So, in point of fact, the Protestant excision of these books from their Bibles is a departure from the canonical traditions of the Church.

    Now, I intentionally used the plural just then: "canonical traditions." Unlike Protestants, Orthodox do not believe that Scripture alone establishes doctrine and Tradition. Rather, Scripture itself is the primary but not the sole witness to the Apostolic Tradition. That is to say, Scripture does not stand over Tradition in the sense of judging it, but stands with Tradition as authoritative co-witness to the Apostolic Faith and way of life.

    The primary way this is exemplified is the use the Church made of Scripture in its life through the centuries: primarily as part of the liturgical services. That is to say, Scripture was not read as a book alone, isolated from a communal and worship context. That is not to say, of course, that Christians, particularly the Fathers, did not read Scripture and study it outside the liturgical context, but rather that the near-total experience of almost all Christians with regard to the Scriptures was that of those Scriptures being read, prayed, taught and interpreted from the Eucharistic worship of the Church.

    And just as all Orthodox Churches follow the same Divine Liturgies, but there are variations in the way those Liturgies are served, so, too, all Orthodox Churches have the same Scripture lections, but there are variations in those Scripture lections as well (most notably the passages read during the Triodion: the Antiochians differ somewhat from other Orthodox in the text for the Syro-Phoenician woman). This does not mean that Orthodox do not have a canonical tradition for Scripture, and thus do not have a Bible, but, rather, that their Bible is the same Bible with allowable variations.

    Of course, looking at Orthodoxy from the lense of Protestantism further assumes that Protestantism is the standard by which the historical Church is to be judged. And when you add the lense of modernism that the Triablogue'ers to a man also ubiquitously use, well, the resultant view is distorted in the extreme.

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  2. Guys,

    this isn't the first millennium any more. We do not possess any longer an oscilating canon. Sorry!

    Any Romanian Orthodox Bible ever produced contained the same books: those of the LXX; all of them. The same goes for the Greek Orthodox Bible, which *IS* the LXX itself, containing all its books.

    This, and the fact that we do actually use them in worship. The Menaions contain readings from the so-called Apocrypha. Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh are used in certain Church services. The ending of Mark is part of any Orthodox Four-fold-Gospel-book that rests on any Orthodox altar in any Orthodox Church in the whole wide world.

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  3. Jimmy either isn’t aware of or ignores much of what we’ve said about the canon, and the same is true of the other poster he quotes. Jimmy writes:

    “They've found inscriptions from the time of Christ in Greek on the ruins of a synagogue mentioning the leader's name in Greek. It appears there were Greek speaking synagogues. Thus the earliest Christian community received the LXX.”

    Who is “the earliest Christian community”, and what’s the canon of “the LXX” in question? If you’re saying that some of the earliest Christians would have used some form of the Septuagint, then who has suggested otherwise, and what significance is that fact supposed to have?

    You write:

    “Secondly, if we believe the lists we have, what little there are close to this time, we must conclude there was no fixed canon of the Hebrew scriptures.”

    What do you mean by “fixed canon”? If you’re referring to universal agreement, then why should we accept that standard? Unanimity wouldn’t be needed in order for us to conclude that there was a majority view.

    And if we don’t have much evidence to go by, then we make a judgment based on the evidence we have, however little it is. We don’t have as much evidence as we’d like to have for identifying a Jewish canonical consensus, but that evidence is the best standard we have for reaching a conclusion on the subject. What’s the alternative? Choosing one of the later Eastern Orthodox traditions to follow instead? Why would anybody do that? You haven’t given us any reason to trust one of those later Eastern Orthodox traditions, and we have many articles in our archives explaining why we reject Eastern Orthodox claims about authority and church history.

    You write:

    “And among all these learned quotes, do we see any evidence of what the actual Hebrew canon of Jesus' time was? Nope. Just rumour and innuendo.”

    If the Jewish and Christian sources who reject the Apocryphal books are only giving us “rumour and innuendo”, then what should we think of the Christian sources who include one or more of the Apocryphal books? Is their testimony “rumour and innuendo” as well?

    I would say that an early Jewish source like Josephus or an early Christian source like Melito of Sardis carries more weight than later Eastern Orthodox traditions that agree about some Apocryphal books while disagreeing about others. As I said earlier, we don’t have as much evidence on this subject as we’d like to have, but some explanations of the evidence we have are better than others. When the ancient Jews reach a consensus that rejects the Apocrypha, it makes more sense to explain that consensus by assuming an earlier rejection of the Apocrypha than to explain the consensus by assuming an earlier acceptance of the Apocrypha. We have no reason to think that an Eastern Orthodox Old Testament canon was widely accepted among the ancient Jews. Early Christian sources responding to Judaism, like the New Testament authors and Justin Martyr, make no suggestion of a Jewish canonical change. Nothing in the Apocrypha would lead us to the conclusion that the Jewish people would reject those books because of Christian content. It’s doubtful that they would keep books like Isaiah and Daniel, while rejecting ones like Tobit and Judith, if they were motivated by opposition to Christianity. The best explanation for the Jewish canonical consensus is that the ancient Jews thought that it was the canon God had given them. The Jewish sources aren’t as early, as numerous, or as unanimous as we’d like, but their testimony is more weighty than the testimony of later, conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions.

    The other poster you quote makes too many false or misleading claims for me to interact with all of them, but I do want to respond to the following:

    “What Protestants fail to appreciate is this: Origen and Jerome included these books in their versions of the Old Testament, and in so doing testified to the widespread use of these books as Christian Scripture.”

    The issue isn’t whether some Apocryphal books were “widely used” as scripture. The issue is what Jewish canon Jesus and the apostles are likely to have accepted. Identifying that canon by an early Jewish canonical consensus makes more sense than identifying it by a series of later, conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions. It also makes more sense than assuming that there was no canon that Jesus and the apostles accepted or concluding that the later Eastern Orthodox traditions were Divinely approved. It’s possible that the early Jewish canonical consensus was wrong. But if the best evidence we have leads us to a wrong conclusion, then we’ll have to be wrong. The alternative you’re offering could also be wrong, and it’s more likely to be. If you think that an early Jewish canonical consensus may have been mistaken, you should be even more doubtful about later and more conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions.

    The poster you quoted goes on to write:

    “Unlike Protestants, Orthodox do not believe that Scripture alone establishes doctrine and Tradition. Rather, Scripture itself is the primary but not the sole witness to the Apostolic Tradition. That is to say, Scripture does not stand over Tradition in the sense of judging it, but stands with Tradition as authoritative co-witness to the Apostolic Faith and way of life.”

    And when we look to non-Biblical sources such as Josephus and the church fathers, we find widespread contradictions of Eastern Orthodoxy. Josephus rejects the canonicity of the Apocrypha, there’s widespread patristic opposition to the veneration of images, the earliest Christians don’t believe in praying to the deceased, etc. We don’t just criticize Eastern Orthodoxy for contradicting scripture. We also criticize it for contradicting the church fathers and other historical sources. See the many relevant articles in our archives.

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  4. Notice that LVKA gives us no reason to agree with the standards he asserts. He suggests that we should overlook the canonical disagreements of the first millennium, but he doesn’t explain why. He refers to “any Romanian Orthodox Bible”, “the Greek Orthodox Bible”, what’s used in “certain church services”, etc., but he doesn’t give us any reason to agree with such sources. He doesn’t explain the canonical disagreements among modern Eastern Orthodox, disagreements we’ve documented in previous discussions. Instead, he tells us about some Eastern Orthodox sources who agree with each other about the canon or who make use of some portion of a canon in some way. How does that address the problems Steve and others, like me, have raised in this thread and elsewhere?

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  5. “What Protestants fail to appreciate is this: Origen and Jerome included these books in their versions of the Old Testament, and in so doing testified to the widespread use of these books as Christian Scripture.”

    After spending time in Palestine, Jerome rejected the Apocrypha. In other words, he held the consensus of the Jews as being more reliable than "Tradition".

    Same with Athanasius.

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  8. Lvka is now repeating the same arguments, nearly verbatim that he tried to pawn off here once before. When he can provide something else, we'll listen.

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  9. But other rabbis from the same era did quote from them.

    1. Why isn't that just "rumor and innuendo?"
    2. How does their quoting from them lead the conclusion they were considered canonical? What evidence do you have that this was the case?


    They've found inscriptions from the time of Christ in Greek on the ruins of a synagogue mentioning the leader's name in Greek. It appears there were Greek speaking synagogues. Thus the earliest Christian community received the LXX


    1. Nobody denies that Greek speaking Jews used the LXX. Rather, the question is "Which books it it were canonical and which were not?" You might want to read, for example, Baruch, which speaks directly to the canonicity of itself.

    2. No two codices of the LXX agree, so how do you deduce the canonical status of the Apocrypha from the LXX?

    Metzger is like a human xerox machine. He doesn't do much in depth research, but he's good at repeating stuff he heard. Metzger is hardly a popularizer. When you have academic credentials and serve on the faculty at Princeton, get back to us.

    Now, I intentionally used the plural just then: "canonical traditions." Unlike Protestants, Orthodox do not believe that Scripture alone establishes doctrine and Tradition. Rather, Scripture itself is the primary but not the sole witness to the Apostolic Tradition. That is to say, Scripture does not stand over Tradition in the sense of judging it, but stands with Tradition as authoritative co-witness to the Apostolic Faith and way of life.

    How does one distinguish between true and false tradition then? If we have extant Apostolic teaching other than what is found in Scripture, then where can we find it? If you can document it, it's written, and if written, then canonical.

    hat Protestants fail to appreciate is this: Origen and Jerome included these books in their versions of the Old Testament, and in so doing testified to the widespread use of these books as Christian Scripture.

    1. The lists disagree.
    2. "Christian Scripture" merely begs the question of canonicity. Jerome draws a specific distinction in this matter.

    Also, what Protestants fail to appreciate is that our earliest surviving codices were not simply editions of the New Testament which we use as witnesses of manuscript traditions and families, but, were, in fact, among the first complete Christian Bibles, and included in their contents, those "extra, apocryphal" books. So, in point of fact, the Protestant excision of these books from their Bibles is a departure from the canonical traditions of the Church.


    We are well aware of this, but the mere existence of the books in a codex is not proof their canonicity.

    So, we're left with a question begging assertion, which is rather ironic given the chastisement your source gave us for begging the question.

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  11. JIMMY SAID:

    [Quoting Healy]

    "I say apparently, because the post is just simply three large cites without any commentary from the Triablogue'ers--and the ensuing comments to the post are about something else altogether. But if what appears to be the Triablogue'ers 'argument' is indeed their 'argument,' then it is sophomoric in the extreme. Indeed it is nothing more than a non sequitor."

    The entire post consists of verbatim excerpts from Metzger. That should have been evident from the uniform citation formulae, viz. quotation marks, "ibid.," pagination.

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  12. Lvka said...
    "I'm simply being constant with myself: repeating to me the same question 10 times, or 100 times, will not get You 10 or 100 answers: just one. Sorry. If You want different answers, then ask different questions."

    You've been warned not to waste our time by repeating the same answers we've already refuted on multiple occasions. Giving the same bad answer to the same good question is no excuse.

    Since you're a slow learner, I'll reiterate my earlier admonition: If you can actually say something which marks an advance over your original, oft-refuted argument, fine. Otherwise, your redundant comments will be deleted.

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  13. Who is “the earliest Christian community”,

    Go ask Metzger, since he referred to the "earliest Christian Church".

    If you’re saying that some of the earliest Christians would have used some form of the Septuagint, then who has suggested otherwise

    This Metzger quote suggests otherwise by saying that the early Christian Church received her scriptures from the Synagogue but then because gentiles couldn't read Hebrew they started using the LXX.

    what significance is that fact supposed to have?

    It's a counter-point to Metzger's statements.

    What do you mean by “fixed canon”?

    Go ask Metzger.

    If you’re referring to universal agreement, then why should we accept that standard? Unanimity wouldn’t be needed in order for us to conclude that there was a majority view.

    Good question. Why should we accept a particular standard? Who sets the standard and where is it documented?

    And if we don’t have much evidence to go by, then we make a judgment based on the evidence we have, however little it is.

    Based on what criteria? You can't examine the evidence till you know what to look for.

    We don’t have as much evidence as we’d like to have for identifying a Jewish canonical consensus, but that evidence is the best standard we have for reaching a conclusion on the subject.

    Really. So why don't you throw out Esther since the majority of the witnesses exclude it? You ARE willing to go with what evidence you have, right?? Or are you just bluffing?

    If the Jewish and Christian sources who reject the Apocryphal books are only giving us “rumour and innuendo”, then what should we think of the Christian sources who include one or more of the Apocryphal books? Is their testimony “rumour and innuendo” as well?

    In part yes, because they are but individuals attesting to what they know in their place and time, without access to the reflection of further centuries of God's people.

    I would say that an early Jewish source like Josephus or an early Christian source like Melito of Sardis carries more weight than later Eastern Orthodox traditions that agree about some Apocryphal books while disagreeing about others.

    Really, so a Christ-rejecting Jew carries more weight. Great, except that Jospehus lists no canon.

    When the ancient Jews reach a consensus that rejects the Apocrypha, it makes more sense to explain that consensus by assuming an earlier rejection of the Apocrypha than to explain the consensus by assuming an earlier acceptance of the Apocrypha.

    There's so many holes here it isn't funny.

    1) You can't prove what the ancient Jews had as a canon.

    2) You can't show they had consensus.

    3) You assume a break between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God in recognizing the canon.

    4) You end up believing Christ rejecting Jews over and against the Church. If you don't trust the latter, why the former?

    We have no reason to think that an Eastern Orthodox Old Testament canon was widely accepted among the ancient Jews.

    Right, because we have no reason for knowing what the ancient Jews had as a canon, being as there is no list.

    arly Christian sources responding to Judaism, like the New Testament authors and Justin Martyr, make no suggestion of a Jewish canonical change.

    And yet your Metzger quotes concede that the very earliest Christians used an expanded LXX canon. Go read Metzger again.

    The best explanation for the Jewish canonical consensus is that the ancient Jews thought that it was the canon God had given them.

    You ignore myriad of other factors, not least of which is that the Jews themselves couldn't agree on their canon for more than half a millenium later.

    The Jewish sources aren’t as early, as numerous, or as unanimous as we’d like, but their testimony is more weighty than the testimony of later, conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions.

    How do conflicting Jewish sources trump conflicting Christian sources? What nonsense.

    But if the best evidence we have leads us to a wrong conclusion, then we’ll have to be wrong.

    But this best evidence, is simply the opinion of some Jews. Why you think this is good evidence, but the opinion of the Church isn't, is completely mystifying.

    And when we look to non-Biblical sources such as Josephus and the church fathers, we find widespread contradictions of Eastern Orthodoxy.


    Josephus is not part of Holy Tradition. Nobody cares what a Christ-rejecting Jew thinks, although in this case, he doesn't say anything to help your case.

    Josephus rejects the canonicity of the Apocrypha,


    Funny, because he didn't make a list.

    there’s widespread patristic opposition to the veneration of images,


    Nonsense. You can pull out a couple of quotes, maybe.

    the earliest Christians don’t believe in praying to the deceased, etc.


    You assume. If we accept silence from the earliest evidence, we could reject scripture too.

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  14. At the time of Jesus, the state of the canon was in flux, both inside and outside of Palestine. Greek-speaking Jews by and large were very likely to use the Septuagint, and thus their canon(s) resembled the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics.

    In Paul's letters and Acts we see none of the friction that would have invariably occured between Jewish Christians and Greek Christians over the issue of the canon. One possible conclusion to be reached from all this is that the early Christians did not attach as much importance to the limits of the canon as modern ones do. The same goes for Jesus. He must have been affected by these canonical disputes in the course of his life. Do we have any evidence that Jesus preferred one canon over another? No. That is striking given the level of disagreement and uncertainty over the canon in his day. You must remember that people then were very superstitious and illiterate, and thus were likely to view many texts as having supernatural qualities to some degree. Doctrinal debates over sharp canonical boundaries would thus be foreign to most of them.

    Your arguments for the canon therefore rely on the premise that one superstitious group of people (the Palestinian Jews) had a better insight than did another group of susperstitious people (the Greek-speaking Jews). Yet your arguments, which are purely probabilistic, rely on the assumptions that 1) the Palestinian canon never underwent a process of narrowing and/or clarification during the first century, 2) that Jesus had a definite opinion with regards to the canon (even though nothing is stated to such effect in the New Testament), 3) that his opinion corresponds to the modern Hebrew/Protestant canon, 4) the Greek converts (such as Paul) must have (or at least, should have) done away with their traditional Septuagint canon and adopted the Palestinian canon, without this being indicated in the New Testament.

    Moreover, for your arguments to be accepted by RCs and EOs, you must convince them to accept these premises, particularly #2 and #3. You cannot do this. But even if you could they wouldn't accept it, because they assume value the canons of the Greek Jews and those of the Christian Churches more than you do. This only points to the impossibility of rational theological dialogue, especially when you are describing categories ("inspiration") that defy analysis or observation, but rather rely on probabilitic historical arguments ( in which the opponents don't even recognize the same historical sources as legitimate).

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  15. "Really, so a Christ-rejecting Jew carries more weight. Great, except that Jospehus lists no canon."

    Athanasius did. Melito of Sardis did. Jerome did.

    "Josephus is not part of Holy Tradition. Nobody cares what a Christ-rejecting Jew thinks..."

    Boy, that's a question-begging assertion.

    Next:

    "Nonsense. You can pull out a couple of quotes, maybe."

    Ludwig Ott (Roman Catholic):

    “Owing to the influence of the Old Testament prohibition of images, Christian veneration of images developed only after the victory of the Church over paganism. The Synod of Elvira (about 306) still prohibited figurative representations in the houses of God (Can. 36).”

    Hefle (Roman Catholic):

    “The primitive church,” says even a modern Roman Catholic historian, “had no images, of Christ, since most Christians at that time still adhered to the commandment of Moses (Ex. xx. 4); the more, that regard as well to the Gentile Christians as to the Jewish forbade all use of images. To the latter the exhibition and veneration of images would, of course, be an abomination, and to the newly converted heathen it might be a temptation to relapse into idolatry. In addition, the church was obliged, for her own honor, to abstain from images, particularly from any representation of the Lord, lest she should be regarded by unbelievers as merely a new kind and special sort of heathenism and creature-worship. And further, the early Christians had in their idea of the bodily form of the Lord no temptation, not the slightest incentive, to make likenesses of Christ. The oppressed church conceived its Master only under the form of a servant, despised and uncomely, as Isaiah, liii. 2, 3, describes the Servant of the Lord.”

    Moving on:

    "You assume. If we accept silence from the earliest evidence, we could reject scripture too."

    “Thus reliable evidence of prayers being addressed to her, or of her protection and help being sought, is almost (though not entirely) non-existent in the first four centuries…There is evidence, sparse but persuasive, that a genuine cult of the Virgin was emerging about this time, and that prayers were beginning to be addressed to her. Thus Epiphanius, writing in the 370s, describes a sect, the Collyridians, who celebrated a form of worship in connection with her. He was at pains to refute such heretical practices, protesting like other orthodox writers that, while Mary was beautiful, holy and deserving of great honour, worship should be confined to Almighty God alone.”
    –J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, rev. ed. (Peabody, MA: Prince Press, reprinted 2003), pp.491, 497-498.

    Secondly, the T-bloggers have been over this before. The church fathers are used as historical witnesses, not as 'sacred' tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jason said: What do you mean by “fixed canon”?

    Jimmy replied. Go ask Metzger.


    This runs counter to your own claim:

    Secondly, if we believe the lists we have, what little there are close to this time, we must conclude there was no fixed canon of the Hebrew scriptures.

    Why don't you stop punting to us when you need to define your own terms?

    Really. So why don't you throw out Esther since the majority of the witnesses exclude it? You ARE willing to go with what evidence you have, right?? Or are you just bluffing?

    1. External evidence isn't the only criterion for determining canonicity. For example, why should we accept, let's say, Ecclesiasticus, which denies its own canonicity?

    2. You may want to recheck your own line of argumentation here. Just because there was debate on Esther before and after Jamnia does not mean that the majority position was against it.

    In part yes, because they are but individuals attesting to what they know in their place and time, without access to the reflection of further centuries of God's people.

    This is directly contradictory to what other Orthodox persons have stated on this very blog. We're told on the one hand that the Church accepts what has always been accepted by all, and yet on the other that it takes centuries of reflection to establish the canon. You can't have it both ways.

    Really, so a Christ-rejecting Jew carries more weight. Great, except that Jospehus lists no canon.

    Another regular feature of the Orthodox interlocutors on this blog is a strong strain of Anti-Semitism. You'd do well to take off your white sheet and pointy headed hood before making this argument, as it does little than trade on the genetic fallacy.

    It also begs the question.

    Josephus states the number of books at 22 and stated that those 22 alone were canonical. He also divides the canon into the traditional 3 parts: Law, Prophets, and Writings.

    Finally, Josephus is but one line of argumentation for us. We don't use him because he gives an exact list, so your rebuttal fails.

    1) You can't prove what the ancient Jews had as a canon. We know what Aquila translated. We know what several sources numbered, and we know what Baba Bathra 14 refers to as canonical.

    Do you have an alternative Jewish canon to suggest?

    2) You can't show they had consensus. What would you consider acceptable evidence?

    If "consensus" is your standard, that's a problem for you, since no two codices of the LXX agree and the Orthodox have more than one canon between them.

    3) You assume a break between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God in recognizing the canon. There was a break between the Jewish people of God and the Gentile people of God, not between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God. So, you're showing your racism here, yet again.

    4) You end up believing Christ rejecting Jews over and against the Church. If you don't trust the latter, why the former?

    1. Notice the smuggled assumptions about the Orthodox Church being the one true holy apostolic church. Where's the supporting argument?

    2. One can't help but notice your anti-Semitism is showing.

    3. If Jews are heterodox and not to be trusted, what about Origen? The Orthodox advocates of late have made appeals to him. Is Jewish heresy unacceptable but Origenic heresy more acceptable?

    And yet your Metzger quotes concede that the very earliest Christians used an expanded LXX canon. Metzger draws a distinction between the books that were "canonical" in the LXX and those in proximity to them.


    Funny, because he didn't make a list.
    The Writings, Prophets, and Law in 22 books do not the Apocrypha make.

    Nonsense. You can pull out a couple of quotes, maybe.

    None of the earliest sources mention veneration of images. We've been over this here before. You are the ones making the claim otherwise, so it's up to you to document the claim.

    Also, McGuckin, who is EO himself, disagrees with you: "Christianity in the earliest period seems to have shared the aversion common in Judaism (though not an absolute aversion as is demonstrated by the highly decorated second-century synagogue at Dura Europos) to painted representations in religious contexts." (The Westminster Handbook To Patristic Theology [Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004], p. 32)

    Ott (RCC): "Owing to the influence of the Old Testament prohibition of images, Christian veneration of images developed only after the victory of the Church over paganism. The Synod of Elvira (about 306) still prohibited figurative representations in the houses of God (Can. 36)." (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma [Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1974], p. 320)

    You assume. If we accept silence from the earliest evidence, we could reject scripture too.

    Actually, you'd do well to check the archives of this blog before telling Jason or any of us that we've "assumed" anything:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/08/perry-robinsons-claims-about-what.html
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/some-clarifications-on-prayers-to.html
    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/03/in-another-thread-orthodox-wrote.html

    ReplyDelete
  17. How does their quoting from them lead the conclusion they were considered canonical? What evidence do you have that this was the case?

    Oh ok, so gives a rip what Philo quoted?

    No two codices of the LXX agree, so how do you deduce the canonical status of the Apocrypha from the LXX?

    How do you deduce that Esther is in the Hebrew bible when it is missing from almost all early lists?

    Metzger is hardly a popularizer

    Sure he is, as evidenced by how many books he has on Amazon.com. But the actual point is he spread himself very thinly. He read a lot and repeats a lot, but doesn't have much depth.

    If we have extant Apostolic teaching other than what is found in Scripture, then where can we find it? If you can document it, it's written, and if written, then canonical.

    Just because it is written in various places, doesn't mean it is written in a single canonical form.

    1. The lists disagree.

    Yup, all lists disagree.

    We are well aware of this, but the mere existence of the books in a codex is not proof their canonicity.

    You've already conceded there is no "proof". So it's just down to listing the evidence. A list beats no list, which is what you've got.

    ReplyDelete
  18. External evidence isn't the only criterion for determining canonicity.

    Ok great, so please shut down this blog now since everyone is going to have a different opinion of what the internal evidence points to.

    Just because there was debate on Esther before and after Jamnia does not mean that the majority position was against it.

    What's Jamnia got to do with anything?

    The fact is that almost all lists omit it. The lists are your evidence right? Or are you now falling back to silence as your refuge? If so that's worth remembering about your position.

    This is directly contradictory to what other Orthodox persons have stated on this very blog. We're told on the one hand that the Church accepts what has always been accepted by all, and yet on the other that it takes centuries of reflection to establish the canon. You can't have it both ways.

    Nonsense, and I highly doubt anyone Orthodox couched it as rigidly as that. Sometimes there isn't consensus and the process of time leads to consensus. Without acknowledging this process, nobody knows the canon.

    Another regular feature of the Orthodox interlocutors on this blog is a strong strain of Anti-Semitism. You'd do well to take off your white sheet and pointy headed hood before making this argument, as it does little than trade on the genetic fallacy.

    Ad-hominem nonsense. Until you start asking Muslims what you think the canon is, you can borrow my white hood.

    Josephus states the number of books at 22 and stated that those 22 alone were canonical.

    And your contemporary source for the contents of those 22 books is... what?

    He also divides the canon into the traditional 3 parts: Law, Prophets, and Writings.

    Irrelevant.

    Finally, Josephus is but one line of argumentation for us.

    No, he is zero lines of argumentation, but no doubt you've got twice as much argument waiting in the wings.

    Do you have an alternative Jewish canon to suggest?

    I could do, but what would be the point seeing as you and I both know that the canon wasn't closed by the Jews.

    There was a break between the Jewish people of God and the Gentile people of God, not between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God. So, you're showing your racism here, yet again.

    Really. So we need to separately consider the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. How odd, and here was I thinking we are all one in Christ Jesus. You're showing your racism again.

    Notice the smuggled assumptions about the Orthodox Church being the one true holy apostolic church. Where's the supporting argument?

    Notice the smuggled assumptions about [whatever Jew Triablogue is quoting as the person de jure] being part of the true people of God.

    If Jews are heterodox and not to be trusted, what about Origen? The Orthodox advocates of late have made appeals to him. Is Jewish heresy unacceptable but Origenic heresy more acceptable?

    Origen was a member of the true people of God, whereas post-Christian Jews aren't.

    Metzger draws a distinction between the books that were "canonical" in the LXX and those in proximity to them.

    I couldn't care less about Metzger's "distinctions", the point is he concedes that the earliest Christians, Greek and Latin, used bibles with the extra books.

    "Christianity in the earliest period seems to have shared the aversion common in Judaism (though not an absolute aversion as is demonstrated by the highly decorated second-century synagogue at Dura Europos) to painted representations in religious contexts."

    Oh, so its an aversion that doesn't mind churches covered from top to bottom in icons. Uh huh.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Jimmy wrote:

    “Go ask Metzger.”

    I asked you how you were defining your terms. Telling me to “ask Metzger”, as you’ve done repeatedly (in those words and with other words), doesn’t make sense. You’re not Bruce Metzger. And you began your earlier post by suggesting that Metzger is unreliable. Why should we assume that your terms are being defined as Metzger defines them? We can’t ask Metzger to be more specific about his terminology. But we can ask you to be more specific about yours. Instead of telling us to “ask Metzger”, which we can’t do, why don’t you answer what we ask you about your own terminology?

    You write:

    “Why should we accept a particular standard? Who sets the standard and where is it documented?”

    It seems that you don’t know how to defend your own claims, so you’d rather ask us questions or tell us something like “ask Metzger”. But you’ve already chosen to involve yourself in this discussion. You’ve already made assertions about the canon and have quoted an Eastern Orthodox source commenting on the subject. Instead of asking us why we accept the standards that we accept, which we’ve explained in previous threads, why don’t you answer the questions we’ve asked you about your assertions in this thread?

    You write:

    “So why don't you throw out Esther since the majority of the witnesses exclude it?”

    What majority are you referring to? Ancient Jewish and Christian sources refer to Jewish acceptance of Esther. The fact that some lists don’t mention it, for example, isn’t the only factor to be taken into account. We have more than lists to go by. You keep mentioning lists, which suggests that you have a shallow understanding of the issues involved. Esther didn’t get into the ancient Jewish canon, as well as ancient Christian canons such as Jerome’s, by being accepted by only a minority of Jews. The evidence suggests a majority acceptance.

    You write:

    “In part yes, because they are but individuals attesting to what they know in their place and time, without access to the reflection of further centuries of God's people.”

    And Eastern Orthodox of later centuries didn’t have “access to the reflection of further centuries of God's people”. How do you know what Eastern Orthodox will believe in the twenty-second or twenty-third century? Again, why are we supposed to think that later, conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions about the canon carry more weight than an earlier Jewish tradition?

    You write:

    “Really, so a Christ-rejecting Jew carries more weight.”

    I didn’t just mention Josephus. And the fact that Josephus rejected Christ doesn’t tell us whether he was correct about the canon. Josephus commented on a lot of subjects. Historians don’t reject what he said on every subject because of his opposition to Christianity. A first-century Jew is in a good position to tell us how Jews of that era viewed the canon. Telling us that Josephus was “a Christ-rejecting Jew” doesn’t give us any reason to reject what he reported about the canon.

    You write:

    “Great, except that Jospehus lists no canon.”

    He doesn’t have to list every book of the canon in order to make comments relevant to the extent of the canon. He refers to the closing of the canon as predating the Apocrypha, and he refers to widespread agreement about that canon. Neither fact (a pre-Apocrypha closing of the canon and widespread agreement about the canon) favors an Eastern Orthodox canon that includes Apocryphal books.

    You write:

    “You can't prove what the ancient Jews had as a canon.”

    What do you mean by “prove”? A certainty wouldn’t be needed. As I said earlier, if we only have a little evidence to go by, then we go by that little evidence.

    You write:

    “You assume a break between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God in recognizing the canon.”

    Most ancient Jews and some ancient Christians rejected the Apocrypha. Among the Christians who accepted one or more books of the Apocrypha, different ones accepted different Apocryphal books. In such a situation, we have to conclude that some of the people involved were wrong. For reasons such as the ones I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t seem that it was only post-Christian Jews who rejected the Apocrypha. Thus, there seems to have been rejection of the Apocrypha among the Jews at a time when you would consider the Jewish people “the people of God”. The fact that many later Christians accepted one or more of the Apocryphal books doesn’t mean that you have no “break between the people of God” if you include some Apocryphal books in your canon. By including Apocryphal books in your canon, you’re “breaking” with many ancient Jews and some ancient and more recent Christians. The recent Christians you’re disagreeing with include Eastern Orthodox who agree with us in rejecting the Apocrypha.

    You write:

    “You end up believing Christ rejecting Jews over and against the Church. If you don't trust the latter, why the former?”

    I’m trying to discern what canon Jesus and the apostles followed. If the evidence suggests that men like Melito of Sardis and Jerome were closer to that canon than men like Augustine and the framers of the Synod of Jerusalem were, then I follow “the church” as represented by the former rather than the latter. If an Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic consensus of the fifth, tenth, or sixteenth century conflicts with what the apostolic church seems to have believed, then why would I follow that later consensus rather than the earlier one?

    You write:

    “Right, because we have no reason for knowing what the ancient Jews had as a canon, being as there is no list.”

    Again, a list isn’t the only means of arriving at a canon. And you’ve given us no reason to trust later, conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions about the canon. If we only have a small amount of evidence regarding an ancient Jewish canon, it makes more sense to follow that small amount of evidence than to follow later, conflicting Eastern Orthodox traditions instead.

    You write:

    “You ignore myriad of other factors, not least of which is that the Jews themselves couldn't agree on their canon for more than half a millenium later.”

    Which would give them a better record than Eastern Orthodoxy. But you haven’t documented any relevant Jewish disagreement “more than half a millennium later”. As I said before, universal agreement isn’t the issue. Are you suggesting that a majority of Jews rejected, say, Isaiah or Esther? What are you referring to?

    You write:

    “How do conflicting Jewish sources trump conflicting Christian sources?”

    If the question under consideration is the identity of an early Jewish canon, then, yes, early Jewish sources tend to be more relevant than later Christian sources.

    You write:

    “Josephus is not part of Holy Tradition. Nobody cares what a Christ-rejecting Jew thinks”

    Since you’ve given us no reason to accept your definition of “Holy Tradition”, why should we be concerned with whether Josephus is qualified to be part of it? Josephus was a first-century Jew. He made some comments relevant to issues Christians are concerned about, such as the Jewish canon of the first century and the perpetual virginity of Mary. The fact that he rejected Christ doesn’t make him irrelevant whenever you don’t like what he said. Tacitus was a Christ-rejecting Roman. I can’t therefore reject anything he said that could be cited against what I believe. Tacitus is relevant to how we view Roman history, how we define ancient terminology, etc. A historian examining first-century Judaism or the ancient Roman empire can’t ignore the testimony of Josephus or Tacitus just because they were “Christ rejecters”. The fact that you keep making comments such as the ones quoted above suggests that you have a poor understanding of the issues. Why should any non-Eastern-Orthodox find it convincing for you to assert that only your undefined concept of “Holy Tradition” qualifies as admissible evidence?

    You write:

    “You can pull out a couple of quotes, maybe…. You assume. If we accept silence from the earliest evidence, we could reject scripture too.”

    I’ve given much more than “a couple of quotes”, and my evaluation of prayers to the deceased involves more than “silence from the earliest evidence”. Prayer is an issue that was frequently discussed by the relevant ancient sources. Sometimes entire treatises were written on the subject. The problem for prayers to the deceased isn’t just “silence”. Some patristic sources condemn the practice. But even if it were just a matter of silence, silence is significant in some contexts. Why would prayers to God be mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, for example, while prayers to the deceased would go unmentioned? A common practice of praying to the deceased is something we’d expect to be reflected explicitly and frequently in the historical record. Thus, “silence” would be highly significant.

    See my recent post on Roman Catholicism for some links to articles I’ve written on subjects like the veneration of images and prayers to the deceased:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/02/resources-on-roman-catholicism.html

    ReplyDelete
  20. http://www.bibliaortodoxa.ro/

    http://bitflow.dyndns.org/romanian/Biblia/Romanian-Biblia_Bucuresti_1688.pdf

    http://bitflow.dyndns.org/romanian/Biblia/Romanian-Biblia_Blaj_1795.pdf

    http://www.myriobiblos.gr/bible/ot/default.asp

    Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ok great, so please shut down this blog now since everyone is going to have a different opinion of what the internal evidence points to.

    That's a problematic statement, since part of the reason Orthodoxy accepts, let's say the canoncity of Romans is because of internal evidence that Paul wrote it.



    What's Jamnia got to do with anything?


    Apparently, you don't understand the argument you're making. People who refer to the problem with Esther's canonicity typically refer to the debates before and after the Council of Jamnia.

    The fact is that almost all lists omit it. The lists are your evidence right? Or are you now falling back to silence as your refuge? If so that's worth remembering about your position.

    No, lists are not our only line of evidence. You really should check the archives of this blog before making statements about what we've argued in these parts that your assertions can't support.

    You're the one making statements about "lists," so which "lists" do you have in mind? If these omissions were representative of the majority, you'll have to document the claim.

    Nonsense, and I highly doubt anyone Orthodox couched it as rigidly as that. Sometimes there isn't consensus and the process of time leads to consensus. Without acknowledging this process, nobody knows the canon.

    Again, check the archives of this blog, we've seen this argument made exactly as I have portrayed it several times, by several persons.

    How can we know this "consensus" is correct? Why should we accept the "consensus" of the 10th or 16th century but not that of an earlier time? If "consensus" in Orthodoxy was to declare that the Gospels were not written by their traditional authors, would you accept it? Indeed, this is precisely what's being taught in your own seminaries.

    Ad-hominem nonsense. Until you start asking Muslims what you think the canon is, you can borrow my white hood.

    Not at all, both you and Jay Dyer have repeatedly used the term "Christ rejecting Jews" as a means to dismiss contrary lines of evidence. That's both racist and question-begging. The fact that you don't recognize it says a lot about where your heart really is. "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." I sincerely doubt the Apostle Paul would have shared your contempt for "Christ rejecting Jews" given his statements in Romans 9 and given the statements in the New Testament that they were the ones to whom the oracles of God were entrusted.

    Your last statement doesn't even make sense. That's what you get for standing too close the embers of your burning cross.

    And your contemporary source for the contents of those 22 books is... what?

    Jospheus numbering is consistent with the other sources, Jewish and Christian that list the same number of books in the OT canon. We don't need Josephus to list their contents when the others do.

    Irrelevant. Very relevant, because this is the same 3fold division to which Jesus alludes Himself, or are Jesus' own words also irrelevant?

    I could do, but what would be the point seeing as you and I both know that the canon wasn't closed by the Jews.

    1. If you have an alternative, it's up to you to propose it, since the the argument for the OT canon is that the Christians received that canon from the Jews.

    2. You'll also need to demonstrate how your current canon is identical with the LXX in the First Century. Since no two codices are the same, we'll welcome your attempts to reconcile them.

    3. Arguments for the Apocrypha typically turn on the assertion that it was part of the canon of the Jews and that Christians merely accepted that canon. The argument runs like this: The Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God (Romans 3). The New Testament constantly quotes the Old Testament. Historical sources tell us that the Jews closed the OT canon. Therefore, we should accept the OT canon from them. Arguments for the acceptance of the Apocrypha typically assume that the Jews accepted the canonicity of those books as part of the OT, since they are intertestamental literature.

    So, without begging the question for the Orthdox Church, why should we accept the Apocrypha? Your argument thus far seems to turn on its presence in the LXX, but what evidence can you show that its presence means it is canonical? What evidence do you have that the contents of the LXX in the Apostolic era is identical with the contents of an Orthodox Bible today, particularly when the Orthodox can't agree to this very day about which of these books are canonical and which are not?

    Really. So we need to separately consider the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. How odd, and here was I thinking we are all one in Christ Jesus. You're showing your racism again.

    This is directly contrary to your orginal argument that there was a break between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God.

    1. The method of salvation under the Old Covenant does not differ from that under the New. So, they are the same people. There is only one people of God, those saved by grace through faith.

    2. There was a break of visible communities between the Jews and Christians - who were Gentiles. They broke with the synagogue and a long history of anti-Semitism began in the subapostolic period, one which you are, I might add, marvelously representing in your own words here.

    3. The Jewish remnant of the early church kept its ties with the synagogue - or will you argue that the Jerusalem Church separated from Temple worship prior to their departure for Pella, a demonstrably false claim?

    Notice the smuggled assumptions about [whatever Jew Triablogue is quoting as the person de jure] being part of the true people of God.

    I'm sure your Arian ancestors would be proud.

    You've given us no reason to accept the claim that Orthodoxy is the one true Church. You keep telling us to bow the knee to Holy Mother Church. Which church and why? Where's the argument?

    We've never said a Jew who rejects Christ is "part of the true people of God."

    Your problem is that you trade in the genetic fallacy.

    Origen was a member of the true people of God, whereas post-Christian Jews aren't.

    Orthodoxy accounts Origen a heretic. So, apparently, his heresy is acceptable to you, but the heresy of Jews is not. That's a double standard.


    I couldn't care less about Metzger's "distinctions", the point is he concedes that the earliest Christians, Greek and Latin, used bibles with the extra books.


    1. Which is not anything we've denied. Perhaps your white hat is cutting off the circulation to your brain. The argument is not that these Christians did not have codices (Bibles) with extra books in them, but that they regarded some as canonical and some as not. This also gets us back to your need to document that the codices they held in the 1st and 2nd century were identical in content with your own. You keep bringing up arguments from silence, but that cuts both ways.

    2. Apropos 1, you're the one who told us to reread Metzger. Metzger's argument is *not* your argument. Rather, he agrees with us.


    Oh, so its an aversion that doesn't mind churches covered from top to bottom in icons. Uh huh.


    1. "Icons" in the modern sense are not convertible with "painted pictures" in the primitive sense.
    2. Your original argument was not for the presence of icons but the veneration of images. So, now, you've changed your original claim.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh ok, so gives a rip what Philo quoted?

    Apparenlty, you do or you'd not be so aggressively trying to write him off.


    How do you deduce that Esther is in the Hebrew bible when it is missing from almost all early lists?


    A claim you have not yet documented, and a claim to shift the burden of proof when asked a question.

    Both of your replies above are an attempt to avoid answering questions put to you. I'll start answering these questions more when you start answering ours.

    Sure he is, as evidenced by how many books he has on Amazon.com. But the actual point is he spread himself very thinly. He read a lot and repeats a lot, but doesn't have much depth.

    The number of books one has on Amazon.com doesn't mean one is a "popularizer." It only means that what one has published is being sold.

    And you're the epitome of somebody who has read a little but repeats a lot.

    Just because it is written in various places, doesn't mean it is written in a single canonical form.

    I see this went right over your head. So, I'll go back over this for you. One of the standard Orthodox and Roman Catholic arguments agains the Protestant rule of faith comes from their claim that they are the Guardians of "Apostolic Tradition." We reply: Document the claim. This poses a classic dilemma for the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. If you can document the claim, then it's written. If it is also "apostolic tradition" then it should be Scripture. Ergo, we have Sola Scriptura by default, primacy of written material over orality.


    Yup, all lists disagree.


    A problem for your rule of faith, not ours.


    You've already conceded there is no "proof". So it's just down to listing the evidence. A list beats no list, which is what you've got.


    We have more than lists to go by. Our argument does not consist of "lists."

    ReplyDelete
  23. The only reason why the Russian and Greek Old Testament Canon slightly differ is because of the Roman Catholic and Protestant influence of Russia in the 17 & 18 hundreds.

    But as of right now.

    Both the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches embrace the Deutocannanicals. One of the main differences is 4th Macc.

    The Russians include 4th Macc whereas the Greeks might have it in an Appendix.

    But the issue of the Canon is not an issue to break communion over. It never was when the Church was young and it never will be because Sola scriptura was never a doctrine of the Church.

    A difference in the Canon of scripture is only a problem for protestants because of their doctrine of sola scriptura.


    Most of your arguments against the Deutocanonicals are lame.

    Everybody knows that the MSS is a post christian hebrew compilation that took about 900 years to edit.

    There was never a Hebrew council called Jamnia. Jamnia was a Hebrew academy. And you can't judge the LXX to a post christian Hebrew text type.


    Protestants had the Deuto's in their Bibles untill Calvinistic Bible Societies took them out in the 17 & 18 hundreds.


    The LXX was, is and always will be the christian Old Testament text. And there is nothing you can say or do that will ever change that historical fact.

    You can reconstruct history if you want but liberals do the samething with the Historical Jesus mumbo jumbo as well as a whole host of things in regards to the Protocanon, and early christianity.

    But what they say doesn't change the traditional view. Just as what you say doesn't change the traditional view.





    JNORM888

    ReplyDelete
  24. Jnorm888 wrote:

    “But the issue of the Canon is not an issue to break communion over. It never was when the Church was young and it never will be because Sola scriptura was never a doctrine of the Church. A difference in the Canon of scripture is only a problem for protestants because of their doctrine of sola scriptura.”

    The fact that you don’t limit your rule of faith to scripture doesn’t change the fact that scripture is part of your rule of faith. If it’s acceptable for Eastern Orthodox to disagree with each other about the extent of their rule of faith, then it’s acceptable for Protestants to do so.

    But which Protestants are disagreeing about the canon? We’re in more agreement with each other than you are.

    You write:

    “Everybody knows that the MSS is a post christian hebrew compilation that took about 900 years to edit.”

    Our arguments don’t depend on one Hebrew edition of the Old Testament. Apparently, you don’t have much of an understanding of what’s being discussed.

    You write:

    “Protestants had the Deuto's in their Bibles untill Calvinistic Bible Societies took them out in the 17 & 18 hundreds.”

    I haven’t studied what all Bibles prior to the eighteenth century contained, and I doubt that you have either. You offer no documentation. But even if your claim is true, Bibles often include tables of contents, indexes, maps, and other uninspired features as well. Since Protestants from the time of the Reformation onward have been arguing against the canonicity of the Apocrypha, what’s the significance of whether one or more Apocryphal books were included in Protestant Bibles?

    And it should be noted, again, that a term like “the Deuto’s” can be defined in many different ways. Is 4 Maccabees included? 1 Enoch? Psalm 151? What are you referring to?

    You write:

    “The LXX was, is and always will be the christian Old Testament text.”

    Then why did Melito of Sardis, a bishop of an apostolic church, not follow what you define as “the LXX”? Why were Athanasius, Jerome, Gregory the Great, and so many other patristic sources ignorant of your canon? If “the LXX” isn’t necessarily equivalent to your canon, then what’s the significance of referring to “the LXX”? Are you trying to mislead people with vague terminology that can be defined in so many different ways, including ways that fundamentally undermine your argument?

    You write:

    “You can reconstruct history if you want but liberals do the samething with the Historical Jesus mumbo jumbo as well as a whole host of things in regards to the Protocanon, and early christianity.”

    And we can accuse you of “reconstructing history”.

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  25. That's a problematic statement, since part of the reason Orthodoxy accepts, let's say the canoncity of Romans is because of internal evidence that Paul wrote it.

    An undocumented claim.

    Apparently, you don't understand the argument you're making. People who refer to the problem with Esther's canonicity typically refer to the debates before and after the Council of Jamnia.

    Before and after Jamnia, LOL. That doesn't rule out much. Yep, the Jews were arguing about these things for many many centuries.

    You're the one making statements about "lists," so which "lists" do you have in mind? If these omissions were representative of the majority, you'll have to document the claim.

    You'd be lucky if you could quote more than one church father who had your canon including Esther.

    Again, check the archives of this blog, we've seen this argument made exactly as I have portrayed it several times, by several persons.

    Nonsense.

    How can we know this "consensus" is correct? Why should we accept the "consensus" of the 10th or 16th century but not that of an earlier time?

    There was no consensus of an earlier time. If there was, the Church would still be holding it.

    If "consensus" in Orthodoxy was to declare that the Gospels were not written by their traditional authors, would you accept it?

    If, if, if.

    Not at all, both you and Jay Dyer have repeatedly used the term "Christ rejecting Jews" as a means to dismiss contrary lines of evidence. That's both racist and question-begging.

    God chose a people based on race. If you have a problem with that, go take it up with God. Of that race, some accepted and some rejected Christ. Them's the facts, and you can't reject those facts without rejecting the bible itself. The fact you feel the need to pull the race card shows the desperate nature of your position.

    I sincerely doubt the Apostle Paul would have shared your contempt for "Christ rejecting Jews" given his statements in Romans 9

    "it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. "

    If you're a Christ rejecting Jew, you are not a child of the promise. Not all Israel are Israel.

    And your contemporary source for the contents of those 22 books is... what?

    Jospheus numbering is consistent with the other sources, Jewish and Christian that list the same number of books in the OT canon. We don't need Josephus to list their contents when the others do.


    Nobody contemporary with Josephus gives the list! You are extrapolating things centuries later. And when lists are given centuries later, none of them agree! Almost all of them include at least some of the extra books! Your position is based on sand.

    Irrelevant. Very relevant, because this is the same 3fold division to which Jesus alludes Himself, or are Jesus' own words also irrelevant?

    The are irrelvant to this question seeing as he does not enumerate the contents of these divisions. You engage in gross question begging in assuming the extra books don't fit in the divisions.

    1. If you have an alternative, it's up to you to propose it, since the the argument for the OT canon is that the Christians received that canon from the Jews.


    You beg the question in assuming they inherited an intact canon, rather than inheriting the ongoing process of recognizing canon.

    2. You'll also need to demonstrate how your current canon is identical with the LXX in the First Century. Since no two codices are the same, we'll welcome your attempts to reconcile them.

    Since no two lists from the early period agree, even those with a canon closer to your list, I don't see the need to prove anything. You're engaging in gross hypocrisy.

    Historical sources tell us that the Jews closed the OT canon.

    Historical sources who reject the ongoing apostolic revelation! Amazing.

    Your argument thus far seems to turn on its presence in the LXX, but what evidence can you show that its presence means it is canonical?

    The same basis the Jews in Jesus' time did: you have to identify where the people of God are and find out what they believe. No invisible church will work here.

    What evidence do you have that the contents of the LXX in the Apostolic era is identical with the contents of an Orthodox Bible today, particularly when the Orthodox can't agree to this very day about which of these books are canonical and which are not?

    Again, begging the question that there was a known, settled "apostolic bible", when there is simply no reason to believe in this phantom.

    This is directly contrary to your orginal argument that there was a break between the Jewish people of God and the Christian people of God.

    You clown. You are the one arguing a break between the Jewish and Christian people of God.

    Orthodoxy accounts Origen a heretic. So, apparently, his heresy is acceptable to you, but the heresy of Jews is not. That's a double standard.

    Don't be obtuse. Origen was an inheritor of the Christian Tradition, no matter his questionable and various opinions. Jews are not inheritors of that Traditions.

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  26. The number of books one has on Amazon.com doesn't mean one is a "popularizer." It only means that what one has published is being sold.

    If writing a Reader's Digest bible doesn't make you a popularizer, I don't know what does.

    This poses a classic dilemma for the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. If you can document the claim, then it's written. If it is also "apostolic tradition" then it should be Scripture. Ergo, we have Sola Scriptura by default, primacy of written material over orality.

    How obtuse. Document that Hebrews has apostolic approval. If you can document it, it is written. Ergo it should be scripture. Thus you just added to the canon.

    How silly.

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  27. Jimmy wrote:

    “You beg the question in assuming they inherited an intact canon, rather than inheriting the ongoing process of recognizing canon.”

    We know that Jesus and the apostles accepted Jewish scripture. They cite it as such, and they argue over it in discussions with the Jewish people of their day. Whether the Apocryphal books weren’t included because of a closed canon or because of “the ongoing process of recognizing canon”, the fact remains that the evidence indicates that the Apocrypha wasn’t included. If you want us to add your Apocryphal books to the canon, based on a later recognition of those books by Eastern Orthodoxy, then you’ll need to make an argument for the alleged authority of Eastern Orthodoxy to settle the Old Testament canon. You’ll also need to tell us which Eastern Orthodox canon you have in mind. If you can’t make a convincing case for accepting that Eastern Orthodox canon, then accepting the Jewish books that Jesus and the apostles accepted remains the best option. We’re convinced that Jesus and the apostles had the authority to give us an Old Testament canon. We’re not convinced that Eastern Orthodoxy has that authority.

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  28. Friend,

    plese re-read all my comments (the ones You've deleted including): where do You see me "making an argument" for the Orthodox faith? Haven't I already said it repeatedly that I neither dream, nor expect to ever convert You?

    We both agree, I think, that it is up to the People of God the delimit the canonical boundaries: You accept much of the OT canon for that very reason. Jimmy here has argued, and so have I, (I think), that You make this segmentation between the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church. But for us they're both one Church. This Church was only a remnant in 33 AD, and onto this trunk were the Gentiles later grafted. We cannot reffer to Jews as Israel after that point in time: the Church is the New Israel, and heir to the New Covenant (so St. Paul). So, the process goes on in the Church.

    While it is true that I, personally, Craciun Lucian, think that the Orthodox faith is that Church (as I'm pretty sure you hold the same belief regarding Your own Protestant faith), I do not wish to impose that belief on You: I just want You to understand that it was up to *the Church* to further the defining of those canonical boundaries.

    At Jamnia, in 90 AD, the canonical status of books such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Proverbs, Ecclesiates, Song of Songs, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles was anything but clear. Even some centuries after that event, the Book of Esther still 'enjoyes' an unclear status. So, in conclusion, if NOT even in 90 AD the canonical boundaries were clear, less so in 1 AD, or in 30 AD, or in 50 AD, or in 70 AD.

    As for Your repeated expressing of some sort of sense of fear regarding "succumbing" to Orthodoxy were You to do that, or "recognizing" its status as the one true faith: do You do the same when You recognize the authority of the Seven Synods? My gut-hunch is: You obviously don't. So, ... why the double-standard? :-\ Why the inconsistency? :-|

    We're not asking You to bow down to us, and accept us as true and faithful heirs to First Century Christianity ... all we're doing is to ask You to not deny the power of THAT First Century Christian Church, of WHICH we all claim to descend from. :-(

    You trust God working in and through the OT Church in OT times, don't You? So, why choose to bereave God of that same power in the work that He's done in and through the NT Church in NT times as well? :-<

    The reason why Jews that do not profess Jesus to be the Christ of God have chosen to close their canon where they in fact did (and this some 60 yrs after not being part of the Church any longer), is that they believed Prophecy to have stopped some 3 centuries before ... John the Prophet, and Christ, Who is the "King, Priest and Prophet" par excellence. As Christians, we cannot -in good conscience- do that. :-( As Christians, we believe that the word of God became "incarnate" in stone up until the Word of God became incarnate in flesh. (John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 3:3). The last canonical Book of the Bible was written just about the turn of the century beginning with Jesus' birth. I think it makes much more sense if we look at it like this, don't You? :-)

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  29. Whether the Apocryphal books weren’t included because of a closed canon or because of “the ongoing process of recognizing canon”, the fact remains that the evidence indicates that the Apocrypha wasn’t included.

    You beg the question in assuming there are two groups of books, one which is your canon that the apostles accepted.

    However, there are lots of other books in your canon that the apostles don't quote. To assume your division as the correct one, and considering them as a group, is to assume what you must prove.

    Be consistent. If this is a good argument, throw out ALL the books the apostles don't quote, and include all those that they do quote.

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  30. Jimmy said:

    "Be consistent. If this is a good argument, throw out ALL the books the apostles don't quote, and include all those that they do quote."

    I never argued that the standard is quotation by an apostle. Rather, I've appealed to the Jewish canon of the apostolic era. Thus, Jewish sources like Josephus are relevant. While we've given you multiple examples of Jewish sources excluding the Apocrypha, you haven't told us which Apocryphal books you accept, nor have you given us any reason to think that your canon was the mainstream Jewish canon or that it should be accepted on any other grounds.

    You've suggested that Esther might not have been part of the mainstream Jewish canon. Steve Hays has discussed some of the evidence relevant to Esther in a recent thread:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/03/orthoducks-hunting.html

    But even if we were to conclude that Esther wasn't part of the canon, how would the exclusion of Esther help your position? Subtracting a book from the Protestant canon wouldn't give us reason to add the Apocrypha. Surely you aren't suggesting that we should assume the authenticity of Esther at the outset, then go looking for some criterion by which we can justify what we assumed from the start. Then, since following Eastern Orthodoxy would provide us with such a criterion, we're supposed to also accept the Apocrypha along with Esther? Is that what you're suggesting? You'll need to explain how your objecting to a book like Esther allegedly advances your position on this issue. If you're just trying to cast doubt on the Protestant canon, even though you can't offer any good case for your own canon, then at least there isn't as much doubt hanging over our canon as there is hanging over yours. If our canon is too long, yours is even further off the mark. But you haven't given us any reason to think that ours is wrong. We've offered more evidence for our canon than you've offered for yours. We still don't even know which Apocryphal books are in your canon.

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  31. We still don't even know which Apocryphal books are in your canon.


    Well, if You "STILL don't EVEN know", here are a few links that might be considered helpful:

    http://www.bibliaortodoxa.ro/

    http://bitflow.dyndns.org/romanian/Biblia/Romanian-Biblia_Bucuresti_1688.pdf

    http://bitflow.dyndns.org/romanian/Biblia/Romanian-Biblia_Blaj_1795.pdf

    http://www.myriobiblos.gr/bible/ot/default.asp

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  32. LVKA,

    You've already acknowledged that Orthodox disagree among themselves about which books are canonical. And we've documented some examples of such disagreements in previous threads. What do you think you're accomplishing by providing us with links to Orthodox canonical lists on the web? Nobody has denied that Romanian Eastern Orthodox, for example, have a canon. But other Eastern Orthodox have other canons. What do you think you're proving?

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  33. What do you think you're proving?

    Proving You wrong.

    The Orthodox Canon consists of the books that Catholics also possess, plus 3 Ezra and 3 Maccabees. (including Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh).

    Apart from these, the Slavs have 4 Ezra placed in an appendix, and the Greeks 4 Maccabees, likewise attached in an appendix.

    The links I've provoded show the equality between the Romanian and Greek canon. And the equality of the Romanian canon throughout the ages. (Since You were screaming so loud in my ears to "show us the documents! show me the documents!")
    Well, now I've showed You the documents ... but You STILL don't believe me, ... do You? (Or is it that You don't WANT to believe?).

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  34. The issue isn't limited to the current state of the Orthodox canon. As we've documented, Orthodox *tradition* is fluid on the canon. It's fluid in time as well as space.

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  35. Not anymore it's not. :-(

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  36. LVKA wrote:

    "The Orthodox Canon consists of the books that Catholics also possess, plus 3 Ezra and 3 Maccabees. (including Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh). Apart from these, the Slavs have 4 Ezra placed in an appendix, and the Greeks 4 Maccabees, likewise attached in an appendix."

    As we've documented in the past, some Orthodox don't accept any of the Apocrypha as scripture:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/eastern-orthodox-acceptance-of-hebrew.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/05/multiple-canons-of-eastern-orthodox.html

    And the disagreements among those who include Apocryphal books isn't just about whether to include them as non-inspired literature. Rather, there are disagreements about whether some Apocryphal books are inspired. In an earlier thread, you wrote:

    "The Catholic and Monophysite Churches share in the same passion for those same books that Protestants just love to hate: they also read from them aloud in their churches. They also share the same view regarding their canonicity. The ONLY difference between ALL of these churches lies on III & IV Maccabees and IV Ezra not being officially accepted by all of them. Well ... this and the fact that the Ethiopians have this special uniqueness about everything: canon included." (http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/02/well-always-have-paristexas.html)

    You were suggesting that 3 and 4 Maccabees and 4 Ezra are "officially accepted" by some churches. If 4 Maccabees and 4 Ezra are only accepted in a non-canonical sense, then why would you suggest that some churches "officially accept" them in the context of discussing "canonicity"?

    You go on to write:

    "The links I've provoded show the equality between the Romanian and Greek canon. And the equality of the Romanian canon throughout the ages."

    But in an earlier thread, you claimed that more than just the Romanian Bibles were consistent:

    "I've told You back the, and I have no pain in telling You now still, that every Romanian Bible ever printed, as well as every Greek Bible ever manuscripted or printed had the books that You call Apocrypha in them." (http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/02/well-always-have-paristexas.html)

    That's a false claim, as Steve Hays told you in that thread. Is that why you're now singling out the Romanian Bibles? And how do you know that inclusion within a Bible is equivalent to canonicity? Should we assume that Septuagint manuscripts containing books you reject represent a disagreement with your canon? When you refer to some Eastern Orthodox including 4 Ezra or 4 Maccabees "in an appendix", should we assume that they disagree with your canon?

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  37. Well, guys, You asked me to present You some kinda proof, or somethin`... which I very much did.

    I started by something simple: Romanian Bibles (I've told You long before that they had the same content, but the links to these beautiful centuries-old Romanian Bibles I've managed to find only recently). So, now I have even this XXth century technology called internet backing up my claims.

    As for the Greek Bibles, I've downloaded both Testaments a few yrs back from the official site of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. [Which proves that Jerusalem is in with the Greeks and Romanians in this world-wide anti-Protestant conspiracy].

    Other Bibles I wasn't able to put my dirty little fingers on, so I guess You're gonna have to do the "dirty-work" Yourselves. :p

    As for 4 Maccabbees being in an appendix, that's true (it's in an appendix, at the end of the Greek Old Testament that I've downloaded, separated from the rest of the three books -- the Greek word says "Parartema").

    Regarding canonicity, I don't remember any subsequent Synod contradicting or improving on these two:

    1642 - Iasi (Romania) - local - Re-affirmed as ‘genuine parts of scripture’ 3 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, three books of the Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, and the Epistle of Jeremiah.

    1672 - Jerusalem - PanOrthodox Synod - Condemned Calvinism of Cyril Lukaris

    Explicitly lists Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobit, The History of the Dragon, Susanna, Maccabees, and Sirach as ‘genuine parts of Scripture’.

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  38. Here's a link that migfht prove to be helpful. (It coincides with the order and nomenclature of the books in my Greek OT also, which is not available for download anymore, since the whole JP site is under construction).

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