(Continued from page 321)
The Catholic Encyclopedia evidence proves how poorly Papal Rome identified the true canon!
The 'Apocalypse of Mary' - merely the outcome of an extravagant devotion?!
TCE: Yet again we see that a work that is recognised by The Catholic Encyclopedia as transparently faked was 'frequently copied in the Middle Ages, and enjoyed a certain degree of respect, although St. Jerome ...' recognised and rejected it as apocryphal with the words: Legunt quidam et ad Laodicenses Epistolam, sed ab omnibus exploditur ('Some read an Epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is exploded by all'). The seventh Ecumenic council, held in 787, states that the ancients allowed that there was an epistle with this direction, but that all the orthodox theologians rejected it as supposititious. And yet some Papal Roman Catholics now try and question the accurate discernment of Jerome and these later 'orthodox theologians' and try to claim that the 'Church Fathers' were in agreement over the canon - yet, if so, why was this work still being 'frequently copied in the Middle Ages'?!
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Pseudo-Correspondence of St. Paul and Seneca
This consists of eight pretended letters from the Stoic philosopher Seneca, and six replies from St. Paul. They are identical with a correspondence alluded to by Jerome (de Viris Illustr., xii), who without passing judgment on their value, notes that they are read by many. These letters, therefore, could not have been composed after the second half of the fourth century. They are based on the early traditions of Seneca's leanings towards Christianity and the contemporary residence at Rome of Paul and the philosopher. We will merely note the existence of a spurious Letter of St. John, the Apostle, to a dropsical man, healing his disease, in the Acts of St. John by the pseudo-Prochorus; one of St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, to Quadratus, in Armenian (Vetter, Litterarische Rundschau, 1896).
TCE: The Catholic Encyclopedia recognises these 'eight pretended letters' as 'identical with a correspondence alluded to by Jerome' who, while not 'passing judgment on their value, note[d] ... they are read by many', and then concludes that they 'could not have been composed after the second half of the fourth century'. Again, this begs the obvious question: if the uninspired Catholic Encyclopedia can recognise these facts, how come Papal Rome in the days of Jerome had no one who could consistently pass judgement, warn and prevent 'many' from reading such obvious forgeries?
Christian apocryphal apocalypses
Apocalypse of the Testamentum D.N. Jesu Christi.
(See the section on the Testamentum above.)
The Apocalypse of Mary
The Apocalypse of Mary is of medieval origin, and is probably merely the outcome of an extravagant devotion. It describes the Blessed Mother's descent to Limbo, and exists in Greek manuscripts. It has been printed in the Tischendorf collection (Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti).
TCE: Yet another result of a (clearly un-Scriptural) Papists devotion to a blessed servant of God, yet The Catholic Encyclopedia dismisses such dangerous, blasphemous attempts to add to Scripture (ref. Revelation. 22:18) as 'merely the outcome of an extravagant devotion'! Revelation 22:18 gives us a dreadful warning of divine punishment by Christ Jesus against all who dare add any thing to the Scriptures in general, and to this prophecy in Revelation in particular. Joining any thing to be received as Scripture which God never revealed to be part of His Word, or by putting a false sense and meaning upon scripture as God never intended, and the words cannot rationally bear, is such a serious matter that Almighty God declares that he will add to such His plagues, and shut them out of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven. This is the great guilt and the dreadful curse Papal Rome lies under, by making oral tradition of equal authority and even above the Scriptures, adding new articles of faith and new points of doctrine which is, in effect, to accuse God of ignorance or inadvertency.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: Apocalypses of St. Peter
The Muratorian Fragment, written at Rome in the latter part of the second century, names the apocalypses of John and Peter side by side as the only ones received in the Church, remarking that some do not acknowledge the latter. There is abundant evidence that the Petrine apocalypse was believed authentic in many quarters of the early Church, and enjoyed in a certain measure canonical authority. Clement of Alexandria always credulous with regard to apocrypha even honoured it with a commentary; Eusebius (Church History VI.14.1), places it almost on an equality with the antilegomena or better class of disputed writings; Jerome rejects it flatly. Notwithstanding this, as late as the middle of the fifth century it was publicly read in some churches of Palestine. The few citations of patristic writers were unable to convey an idea of its contents, but fortunately a considerable fragment of this ancient document was discovered at Akhmîn, Egypt, together with the pseudo-Petrine Gospel in the language of the original, viz., Greek. A quotation of Clement of Alexandria from the recovered parts enables us to identify the manuscript with certainty as a portion of the apocalypse of antiquity. The passage relates to a vision granted by Christ to the Twelve on a mountain, exhibiting the glory of two departing brethren, the splendour of heaven, and a gruesome picture of hell. The language has a Jewish-Christian savour. The apocryphon is attributed by critics to the first quarter of the second century and is therefore one of the earliest specimens of non-canonical literature. There exist under the names Apocalypse of St. Peter, Apocalypse of St. Peter through Clement, Liber Clementis, various Arabic and Ethiopic recensions of an apocalypse which has nothing in common with the ancient Greek one.
TCE: Your proposals about the factors that finally 'decided' canonicity ('It was by Papal authority that disputes and doubts were settled about what constituted Scripture, since nobody knew with certainty what constituted Scripture, until 400 A.D. ... tradition has to be followed, for those at the helms of it determined Scripture in the 4th century') are shown to be at odds with The Catholic Encyclopedia which admits that 'as late as the middle of the fifth century it [Apocalypses of St. Peter] was publicly read in some churches of Palestine'.
The Catholic Encyclopedia: The Apocalypse of St. Paul
A prefatory notice pretends that this work was found in a marble case under the house of Paul at Tarsus, in the reign of King Theodosius (A.D. 379-395), and upon intelligence conveyed by an angel. This indicates the date of the apocalypse's fabrication. It purports to reveal the secrets seen by the Apostle in his transport to the third heaven, alluded to in 2 Corinthians 12:2, and was composed in Greek. From this Pauline apocalypse must be distinguished a Gnostic work entitled the 'Ascension of Paul', referred to by St. Epiphanius, but of which no remains have survived. There is a spurious 'Apocalypse of John', of comparatively late origin. Regarding the so-called Apocalypse of St. Bartholomew see Gospel of St. Bartholomew.
The apocrypha and the Church
At a very early period orthodox writers and, presumably, ecclesiastical authorities found it necessary to distinguish between the genuine inspired books and a multitude of spurious rivals - a fact which is a very important element in the formation of the Christian canon. Thus as early as about A.D. 170, the author of the descriptive Latin catalogue known as the 'Muratorian Fragment' mentioned certain works as fictitious or contested. At the same time St. Irenæus called attention to the great mass of heretical pseudographic writings (inenarrabilis multitudo apocryphorum et perperam scripturarum, Adv., Hær., I, xx). Undoubtedly it was the large use heretical circles, especially the Gnostic sects, made of this insinuating literature which first called forth the animadversions of the official guardians of doctrinal purity. Even in the East, already the home of pseudographic literature, Origen (d. 254) exhibits caution regarding the books outside the canon (Comment. in Matth., serm. 28). St. Athanasius in 387 found it necessary to warn his flock by a pastoral epistle against Jewish and heretical apocrypha (P.G., XXVI, 1438). Another Greek Father, Epiphanius (312-403) in 'Hæreses', 26, could complain that copies of Gnostic apocrypha were current in thousands. Yet it must be confessed that the early Fathers, and the Church, during the first three centuries, were more indulgent towards Jewish pseudographs circulating under venerable Old Testament names. The Book of Henoch and the Assumption of Moses had been cited by the canonical Epistle of Jude. Many Fathers admitted the inspiration of Fourth Esdras. Not to mention the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of St. Paul (at least in the Thecla portion) and the Apocalypse of St. Peter were highly revered at this and later periods. Yet, withal, no apocryphal work found official recognition in the Western Church. In 447 Pope Leo the Great wrote pointedly against the pseudo-apostolic writings, 'which contained the germ of so many errors ... they should not only be forbidden but completely suppressed and burned' (Epist. xv, 15). The so-called Decretum de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris' is attributed to Pope Gelasius (495), but in reality is a compilation dating from the beginning of the sixth century, and containing collections made earlier than Gelasius. It is an official document, the first of the kind we possess, and contained a list of 39 works besides those ascribed to Leucius, 'disciple of the devil', all of which it condemns as apocryphal. From this catalogue it is evident that in the Latin Church by this time, apocrypha in general, including those of Catholic origin, had fallen under the ecclesiastical ban, always, however, with a preoccupation against the danger of heterodoxy. The Synod of Braga, in Spain, held in the year 563, anathematizes any one 'who reads, approves, or defends the injurious fictions set in circulation by heretics'. Although in the Middle Ages these condemnations were forgotten and many of the pseudographic writings enjoyed a high degree of favour among both clerics and the laity, still we find superior minds, such as Alcuin, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, pointing out their want of authority. An echo of the ancient condemnations occurs in the work De Festis B.M.V. of Benedict XIV, declaring certain popular apocrypha to be impure sources of tradition. (See CANON OF SACRED SCRIPTURE.)
TCE: This final section clearly points out the fallacies in your original theses concerning the apocryphal works and the genuine sacred canon, for it admits:
1. At a very early period orthodox writers and, presumably, ecclesiastical authorities found it necessary to distinguish between the genuine inspired books and a multitude of spurious rivals - a fact which is a very important element in the formation of the Christian canon.
2. Thus as early as about A.D. 170, the author of the descriptive Latin catalogue known as the 'Muratorian Fragment' mentioned certain works as fictitious or contested.
3. At the same time St. Irenæus called attention to the great mass of heretical pseudographic writings (inenarrabilis multitudo apocryphorum et perperam scripturarum, Adv., Hær., I, xx).
4. Undoubtedly it was the large use heretical circles, especially the Gnostic sects, made of this insinuating literature which first called forth the animadversions of the official guardians of doctrinal purity.
5. Even in the East, already the home of pseudographic literature, Origen (d. 254) exhibits caution regarding the books outside the canon (Comment. in Matth., serm. 28).
6. St. Athanasius in 387 found it necessary to warn his flock by a pastoral epistle against Jewish and heretical apocrypha (P.G., XXVI, 1438).
7. Another Greek Father, Epiphanius (312-403) in 'Hæreses', 26, could complain that copies of Gnostic apocrypha were current in thousands.
8. Yet it must be confessed that the early Fathers, and the Church, during the first three centuries, were more indulgent towards Jewish pseudographs circulating under venerable Old Testament names. [TCE: So we find The Catholic Encyclopedia supplying evidence that supports the reason we warn against taking too much notice of the 'Fathers' and their works, for they were not fully orthodox in their views themselves, doubtlessly because they were also influenced by these apocryphal works as well as other deceptions!].
9. The Book of Henoch and the Assumption of Moses had been cited by the canonical Epistle of Jude. [TCE: The Catholic Encyclopedia makes the 'guess' that Jude 'cites' these books despite the fact that they clearly point out the overall doubts in these, and other, apocryphal works!]
10. Many Fathers admitted the inspiration of Fourth Esdras. Not to mention the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of St. Paul (at least in the Thecla portion) and the Apocalypse of St. Peter were highly revered at this and later periods. [TCE: Again, The Catholic Encyclopedia has criticised the 'Church Fathers' for being 'indulgent towards Jewish pseudographs' - books that Papal Rome does not necessarily need to support its erroneous doctrines - but here they make use of the 'Fathers' approval. Clearly, the approval of the 'Church Fathers' proves very little!]
11. Yet, withal, no apocryphal work found official recognition in the Western Church. [TCE: This answers many of the questions you initially posed - and shows why the decision of the Council of Trent was a volte-face in the light of Papal Rome's earlier attitude].
12. In 447 Pope Leo the Great wrote pointedly against the pseudo-apostolic writings, 'which contained the germ of so many errors ... they should not only be forbidden but completely suppressed and burned' (Epist. xv, 15). [TCE: Was this the view of an infallible Pope or not - and how could other popes overturn his views?]
13. The so-called Decretum de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris' is attributed to Pope Gelasius (495), but in reality is a compilation dating from the beginning of the sixth century, and containing collections made earlier than Gelasius. It is an official document, the first of the kind we possess, and contained a list of 39 works besides those ascribed to Leucius, 'disciple of the devil', all of which it condemns as apocryphal. From this catalogue it is evident that in the Latin Church by this time, apocrypha in general, including those of Catholic origin, had fallen under the ecclesiastical ban, always, however, with a preoccupation against the danger of heterodoxy. [TCE: Although the sentiment sounds good the credentials of the document are also exceedingly specious for, apart from any other consideration, it is linked to the 'Donation of Constantine' forgery].
14. The Synod of Braga, in Spain, held in the year 563, anathematizes any one 'who reads, approves, or defends the injurious fictions set in circulation by heretics'. Although in the Middle Ages these condemnations were forgotten and many of the pseudographic writings enjoyed a high degree of favour among both clerics and the laity, still we find superior minds, such as Alcuin, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, pointing out their want of authority. An echo of the ancient condemnations occurs in the work De Festis B.M.V. of Benedict XIV, declaring certain popular apocrypha to be impure sources of tradition. [TCE: The admission that 'both clerics and laity' still embraced heretical works 'the Middle Ages' is consistent with the history of Rome and proves our views of such work to be based on truth that even your sources acknowledge].
This material obviously asks the question of the Papal Roman Catholic Church - why aren't all of these books in the Papal Vulgate? By what criteria does Rome allow one book while rejecting another? We have already given good reasons for rejecting all of these books as part of the Word of God. Let us see a Papal apologist refute our clear, logical, reasons for the attitude of true Biblical scholars towards these books as clearly stated earlier!
Now, let us return to your seriously flawed attempt to paint an approving picture of the Apocrypha.
You write: 'The original and proper sense of the term apocryphal is applied to sacred literature not published openly, but guarded - hidden - for generations, relatively, inasmuch as knowledge of it was confined and limited to a few circles - and the exclusive use of the wise. Accordingly, an apocryphal writing has no unfavorable import, but simply denotes a composition which claimed a sacred origin, and was supposed to have been hidden for generations; and was shut up and sealed until an appointed time.'
TCE: This view of yours is simply ridiculous because it leads to the most obvious danger of 'apocryphal' works being produced at some date in the future and the 'ignorant and unstable' (2 Peter 3v16) accepting them because they simply do not know any better. In fact, the whole system of Papal Rome is geared to exactly this as proven by the very recent 'revelations' about Mary which have absolutely zero Scriptural support. Likewise, invented 'Tradition' is used to try and prop up the new attributes and doctrines about Mary - or the 'visions' of gullible youngsters in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina and proves how far Papal Rome is from the doctrines and guidance of the inspired apostles.
By reading the full account from The Catholic Encyclopedia we discovered how you embellished their words to try and support your view of the Apocrypha and we then searched the works of genuine authorities, e.g.:
Michael E. Stone, Professor of Armenian Studies and of Religious Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and author of over 40 books and numerous articles in the fields of Armenian Studies and Ancient Judaism - see following link:
who wrote (our emphasis in blue as usual):
'The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) consists of a collection of writings dating from approximately the 13th - 3rd centuries BCE. These books were included in the Jewish canon by the Talmudic sages at Yavneh around the end of the first century CE, after the destruction of the Second Temple. However, there are many other Jewish writings from the Second Temple Period which were excluded from the Tanakh; these are known as the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha.
The Apocrypha (Greek, 'hidden books') are Jewish books from that period not preserved in the Tanakh, but included in the Latin (Vulgate) and Greek (Septuagint) Old Testaments. The Apocrypha are still regarded as part of the canon of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, and as such, their number is fixed.
The term Pseudepigrapha (Greek, 'falsely attributed') was given to Jewish writings of the same period, which were attributed to authors who did not actually write them. This was widespread in Greco-Roman antiquity - in Jewish, Christian, and pagan circles alike. Books were attributed to pagan authors, and names drawn from the repertoire of biblical personalities, such as Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, Baruch, and Jeremiah. The Pseudepigrapha resemble the Apocrypha in general character, yet were not included in the Bible, Apocrypha, or rabbinic literature.
All the Apocrypha and most of the Pseudepigrapha are Jewish works (some contain Christianizing additions). They provide essential evidence of Jewish literature and thought during the period between the end of biblical writing (ca. 400 BCE) and the beginning of substantial rabbinic literature in the latter part of the first century CE. They have aroused much scholarly interest, since they provide information about Judaism at the turn of the era between the Bible and the Mishna (Biblical Law and Oral Law), and help explain how Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity came into being.
[TCE: Note - you try and criticize us for taking note of the widely acknowledged abilities and opinions of Josephus as a historian yet you, as a supporter of Papal Rome, share the same view as this Jewish expert (Michael E. Stone, Professor of Armenian Studies and of Religious Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) who says that 'All the Apocrypha and most of the Pseudepigrapha are Jewish works (some contain Christianizing additions)'... They provide essential evidence of Jewish literature and thought during the period between the end of biblical writing (ca. 400 BCE) and the beginning of substantial rabbinic literature in the latter part of the first century CE'. How is it that you share the opinion of a contemporary Jewish historian?
'Apocryphal works' known to the Jews were not widely accepted but considered 'curiosities'!
What does Papal Rome and parts of the Jewish world have in common?
Certain of the apocryphal works were known in Jewish tradition throughout the Middle Ages, not necessarily in their full texts, but in shortened and retold versions, or in translations back into Hebrew or Aramaic from Christian languages. Thus forms of the Books of Judith, Maccabees and Ben Sira, as well as parts of Wisdom of Solomon were familiar to Jewish scholars. But these works never achieved wide acceptance in Judaism and remained, to a greater or lesser extent, curiosities.
TCE: So, this expert is of the opinion that 'apocryphal works' in various forms that were known to the Jews, even in the Middle Ages, were not widely accepted but considered 'curiosities'. Is there any reason for Papal Roman Catholics to treat them differently?
Other developments contributed to and stemmed from this process: the beginnings of archeology, the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs and Babylonian cuneiform, and antiquarian and scholarly study of the Holy Land. In this context, interest developed in Jewish documents which could help illuminate the New Testament. Many works were discovered, published, translated and studied, and they came to be called the Pseudepigrapha. An English translation of works known by the early twentieth century was prepared under the guidance of the renowned English scholar R. H. Charles and entitled The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, published in 1913. To modern Jewish scholars, these works are known as the Sefarim Hitsonim ('External Books'). Two major annotated translations into Modern Hebrew have been published, one edited by Abraham Kahana (most recently re-issued in 1959) and one by A.S. Hartom (1969).
When these books were first studied, scholars realized that they could help to provide a context for the understanding of the origins of Christianity. No longer was rabbinic Judaism to form the primary basis for comparison with the earliest Christian literature, but rather the Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period, and particularly the Pseudepigrapha, could contribute much insight, making the Jewish origin of Christianity more comprehensible.
The contribution of the study of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha to the understanding of the New Testament should not be underrated. The approach to Jesus that is typified by Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus (1964) - using the context of 'Jewish apocalyptic' to help understand his activity - would not have been possible without the discovery of the Pseudepigrapha. As a result of these studies, we now have insight into types of Judaism and religious ideas within the Jewish tradition that would otherwise have remained lost.
Here we move closer to answering a central question: why study this literature at all? The general answer is that the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha should be studied because they embody an expression of the human spirit, and the historian is enjoined to study the human past. But, for scholars of the so-called 'Judeo-Christian culture', a particular interest is inherent in the investigation of that segment of the past in which Judaism took on the form it still has and in which Christianity emerged. Yet this very agenda, when formulated thus, bears within it potentialities for the perversion of truth and the misconception of reality. The historical enterprise is an interpretative one; there is a great danger inherent in the study of the origins of one's own tradition. Modern and medieval 'orthodoxies' tend to interpret the time before they existed in terms of themselves. It has only been in the last generation of scholarship of Judaism in the Second Temple Period, that the implications of this way of seeing the world have begun to penetrate the fabric of historical thinking and writing.
This is an extremely important development, for it permits the Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period, and the people who produced and cherished these works, to step outside the giant shadows cast by the twin colossi of the Talmud and the New Testament. It then becomes possible to start to delineate what appear to have been central aspects of Judaism in the Second Temple Period. New features of Jewish life and thought become evident and the task of their detailed description and integration into an overall picture can be broached. Only such an endeavor will, in the final analysis, make it possible for us to advance our understanding of the development of rabbinic Judaism and of Christianity. This is a weighty labor but a very important one, and it is the Pseudepigrapha that provide us with evidence of vital aspects of Judaism that would otherwise have remained unknown.
This aspect of the study of the pseudepigraphical literature is in its very infancy. By pursuing it, we are able to trace the influence of ancient Jewish traditions and documents down the centuries. There have been one or two researches that have shown the way (Satran 1980; Stone 2001); other associated investigations have looked at the way Jewish apocryphal traditions were taken up and developed by medieval Judaism and Christianity (Bousset 1896; Stone 1982, Stone 1996). These two avenues of investigation seem likely to produce real results in the direct study of the texts, in the evaluation of their character and function, as well as in the differentiation of Jewish and Christian materials, not always an easy task. From this particular perspective, the study of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha teaches us to understand significant aspects of medieval culture, of Jewish history and of Christian origins.'
TCE: It is clear that your jibe about Josephus has rebounded on you, for Professor Stone has a similar agenda to Papal Rome in embracing the 'Apocrypha' for reasons outside of real concern to preserve the Word of God accurately. Papal Rome seeks to support her false doctrines from the works while much of the Jewish world seeks to support traditions and un-Scriptural 'rabbinic religion' from such studies.
You write: Those books in the Septuagint or Greek version of the Hebrew Masoretic text, but which the Jews rejected after the time of Christ in 100 A.D. are designated as the Old Testament 'Deutero-Canonical' Books( Deutero - Canon), a term that was already in wide currency and applicable to New Testament Books not universally recognized at the time.
TCE: Again the record shows that these works were rejected by orthodox Jews before Christ's days and the term was certainly not used for New Testament books in the way you imply, for the record shows that many of the 'Church Fathers' held doubts over these apocryphal books.
You write: The word 'Bible' comes from the Greek biblion meaning 'the book;' the plural is ta biblia, 'the books.' In Greek the word is a neuter, but later on the word biblia was taken for a feminine singular, 'the book.' This term was used for the first time, by the Council of Carthage in 400 A.D. to designate the Holy Scriptures in book form and one language (Ecclesial Latin). Taken in this sense, it refers to all the books of both Testaments. The Bible is the Book par excellence. The Latin Vulgate is in itself the Bible. To question that is to violate the Law of Identity, one of the 3 fundamental axiomatic rules upon which rational discourse itself is based.
TCE: Strange that you use The Catholic Encyclopedia as an authority and yet it speaks against your claims:
Under their heading 'According to the Jews' we read:
Whether the terms graphe, graphai, and their synonymous expressions to biblion (Nehemiah 8:8), ta biblia (Daniel 9:2), kephalis bibliou (Psalm 39:8), he iera biblos (2 Maccabees 8:23), ta biblia ta hagia (1 Maccabees 12:9), ta iera grammata (2 Timothy 3:15) refer to particular writings or to a collection of books, they at least show the existence of a number of written documents the authority of which was generally accepted as supreme'.
As a result ta biblia (literally 'little papyrus books') was used by Hellenistic Jews to describe their sacred books in the Septuagint and the term, applied to the Old Testament, can be traced to about 223 CE while Chrysostom appears, on the evidence alone, to be the first writer ('Homilies on Matthew', written 386-388 CE) to use the phrase to describe both the Old and New Testaments together.
It was not a matter of some council or synod deciding which books they were going to have in the Bible for, first, compared with the New Testament, there was very little controversy over the canon of the Old Testament. The books of the Old Testament were recognized as being divinely inspired and authoritative almost as soon as they were written. The writers were accepted as being God's spokesmen and, soon after the book of Malachi was written (in about 430 BC), the Jews officially recognized and closed the Old Testament canon. It was also commonly believed that Ezra's time marked the end of divine inspiration, so there was no reason not to close the canon. Combined with the fact that the existence of questionable religious material was recognised and resulted in obvious concern that less informed Jews might use some of this questionable material or even begin to use the Christian writings in matters of faith. Coupled with their concern to keep the authoritative texts free of scribal error came the recognition that it would first be necessary to establish an official canon in order that it be preserved. Thus the Council of Jamnia, held in about 90 AD, established and closed the canon of the Old Testament for nearly all Jews. It has been their canon ever since and consists of the twenty-seven books of what 'Protestants' know as the Old Testament, although the order of the books in the Hebrew Bible differs. Since the New Testament explicitly states that Israel was entrusted with the oracles of God and was the recipient of the covenants and the Law (Romans 3:2), the Jews should be considered the custodians of the limits of their own canon - and the majority of them have always rejected the Apocrypha.
Further, in the second century A.D., even the Alexandrian Jews who could make use of the original Septuagint version adopted Aquila's Greek Version of the Old Testament - and Aquila's text excluded all of the Apocryphal books! (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, 557). It is certainly extremely unlikely that the Jews of Alexandria would accept a new version of the Old Testament that omitted seven books if they had really considered these Apocryphal books to be a part of sacred scripture.
All of the books of the New Testament as we know them today were officially recognized in the Eastern Church in 367 AD in Athanasius' Festal Letter and in the Western Church in 397 AD at Carthage and the full collection of sixty-six books which have been in Bibles ever since were recognized as being the canonical ones in the above 4th century letter and council. Before the first church council formally ratified the question about which books made up the Christian Scriptures, the decisions had already been made and the council only went on record, approving what was already acknowledged. You have failed to address our comments about Jerome and his handling of the 'Vulgate' and ignoring those facts will not make your version correct!
Your attempt to insist that 'The Latin Vulgate is in itself the Bible' is unprovable, wishful thinking and, when the inaccuracies of the Vulgate are considered, an insult to the Word of God preserved so faithfully in the surviving manuscripts that have now been thoroughly re-examined. Anyone examining the true history of the Vulgate may be astonished to find that it is not more inaccurate, but it is a fact that more accurate Bibles came after Jerome because of the unceasing striving of faithful, orthodox Christians.
Trotting out phrases gleaned from the Internet, i.e. 'To question that is to violate the Law of Identity, one of the 3 fundamental axiomatic rules upon which rational discourse itself is based ' as if this will be a crushing, closing argument simply will not cut it! It is every bit as dumb as the Mormon 'elders' (most of them under 20-years of age and totally unqualified to be called an elder) who come to our doors and, after we have shown them equally irrefutable evidence of the falseness of the claims of Joseph Smith and his false church, false 'gospel', and false anti-christ 'saviour', bluster 'you are not spiritually capable of making a judgement on this matter!' Logical analysis of facts has obliterated your puerile attempts to support the doctrines of Papal Rome and there is no avenue left for you to overturn the obvious conclusions concerning the apocryphal books.
You write: You reject the Old Testament deutero canon because it is the legacy left by the founder of the Anti-Christian 'religion' - of protestantism; Luther, rejected the deuteron [sic] canon and several other books of the NEW TESTAMENT solely owing to his preconceived notions and heretical doctrines (that Faith alone is necessary for salvation) being strongly repudiated in these Divine Scripitures [sic].
TCE: Again you have simply failed to even try and address our facts! In particular you have made no attempt to refute salvation which is stated in clear Biblical terms exemplified in Ephesians 2:8-10:
'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Regarding Luther's supposed rejection of any New Testament books the truth is that he ultimately came to accept all of the books and the time he spent in investigating each carefully simply parallels the way in which many 'Church Fathers' slowly came to accept the books. For example, regarding the authority of the First, Second and Third Epistles of John, in the primitive Church some entertained doubts as to the two latter being canonical as late as the days of Eusebius (who lived in the fourth century) and ranked them among the apocrypha. We have seen that The Catholic Encyclopedia reveals Eusebius was not the most critical of men but, clearly, many were on guard against imposture, especially in relation to writings professing to be the work of apostles. The extreme caution which Luther applied to works, after his faith in Rome's leading was shaken, merely replicates that of some 'Church Fathers' of the early centuries. Caution was of the utmost consequence to the Christian faith for, had it been otherwise or of the nature exhibited at the Council of Trent, genuine faith would have been greatly corrupted as has happened in Papal Rome.
It should be noted that Origen was the first to cite James, speaking of it as 'the current Epistle of St. James' which would make it seem that some, at least, accept it as canonical. The Syriac version included it and Eusebius placed James among the antilegomena, as practically accepted in most churches but not in all (Eusebius History, II, 23) while he quoted James 4:11 as Scripture and James 5:13 as spoken by the holy apostle! It was only from Eusebius onward that the book had a firm place in the Greek churches, being used freely by Didymus and Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzus, and Ephraem of Edessa. The Antiochene Fathers (like Chrysostom), who kept to the Syrian Canon, used James but, in the West, the recorded approval of its canonicity does not appear so rapidly and it was mainly neglected until late in the 4th century and then slowly adopted through the influence of Jerome and Augustine. The Third Council of Carthage (AD 397) clarified the status for the Western church and from that date forward its canonicity was apparently unquestioned until the time of the Reformation when, despite the views so commonly expressed by Papists, it was Erasmus and Cajetan who first revived the old doubts! As we have stated in other places, Luther's struggles were eventually resolved and he included it in the Bible he had printed.
The suspicion of forgery, in reference to the Second Epistle of Peter, second and third of John, Jude, and the Apocalypse, was so strong that, in the third century, when the Peshito Syriac version was assembled, these books were omitted, and have not been received into that version to the present day and the same version is still in use in the Syrian Churches. A later Syriac version (assembled AD 508) called the Philoxenian (from Philoxenus, bishop of Hierapolis, under whose direction it was formed from the Greek by his rural Bishop Polycarp) was afterwards corrected and published by Thomas of Charkel (in AD 616) and contains these, as well as all the other canonical books of the New Testament.
The First Epistle of John was received and quoted by Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, contemporary with the apostle, by Papias, who had been a disciple of John, by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria; Origen, and many others. The Second epistle was quoted by Irenaeus, received by Clement of Alexandria, mentioned by Origen and Dionysius of Alexandria, and quoted by Alexander, bishop of Alexandria. All three epistles were received by Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, the Council of Laodicea, Epiphanius, Jerome, Ruffinus, the Third council of Carthage, Augustine, and by all those authors who received the same canon of the New Testament that contemporary Christians accept, so that all the epistles are in the Codex Alexandrinus and in many other compilations, such as the catalogues of Gregory of Nazianzen, etc.
Thus we find that even the three small letters of John (1-3 John) were known and quoted at a very early period and received as genuine by the most respectable Greek and Latin 'fathers' of the Christian Church. Their apparently private nature might have been the only reason that they might not have been in more general circulation at the beginning of their history and therefore precluded them being widely known and accepted as canonical for a considerable time. Clearly, this is as good a postulation as any used by The Catholic Encyclopedia of Papal Rome to explain their use, or lack of use, of Apocrypha and 'Pseudepigrapha'.
You write: Consequently you offer various differing explanations to explain why you reject the Sacred Scriptures. These explanations are myths because they are either incorrect or simply inadequate red-herring reasons for rejecting the Bible.
TCE: We have given clear Scriptural and historical reasons for our rejection of the apocrypha and you offer only pointless bluster in response. We have even analysed The Catholic Encyclopedia's articles on the rejected 'apocrypha' and seen how they admit that those outside their own 'deuterocanon' are uninspired, error-strewn, or even contain false prophecy - yet they can accept the equally erroneous works that Trent eventually approved! It is never good enough to declare anyone 'incorrect' or their reasons 'inadequate' - you have to prove your case factually and this you have failed to do!
You write: As protestant 'church' historian J. N. D. Kelly writes, 'It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant 'bible']. ... It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books' (Early Christian Doctrines, 53), which are rejected by protestants.
TCE: Firstly, using your own reasoning, you should be a 'Protestant' since you try and use Protestant historian Kelly to argue for you! But it is easier to find and analyse the source of this selective quote from a dishonest Papal Roman Catholic source on the Internet, e.g. we read at:
'During the Reformation, primarily for doctrinal reasons, Protestants removed seven books from the Old Testament: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith, and parts of two others, Daniel and Esther. They did so even though these books had been regarded as canonical since the beginning of Church history.
[TCE: We have proven these claims are simply and clearly untrue!]
The Papal Roman Catholic source continues with the portion you quoted: 'As Protestant church historian J. N. D. Kelly writes, 'It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. ... It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books' (Early Christian Doctrines, 53), which are rejected by Protestants.
TCE: We have clearly shown that these books were not 'always included' in the naive way this statement infers - although it does at least admit that 'so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books' were accepted '... with varying degrees of recognition'! Presumably you do not object to Kelly calling the books 'apocrypha or deuterocanonical'? Not that the classification would ever make any of them canonical.
This website concludes with the statement:
'Below we give patristic quotations from each of the deuterocanonical books. Notice how the Fathers quoted these books along with the protocanonicals. The deuterocanonicals are those books of the Old Testament that were included in the Bible even though there had been some discussion about whether they should be.'
TCE: We end with this equally disingenuous statement, for it has been shown to be a fact that the 'Fathers' exhibited many un-Scriptural and variable ideas and doctrines and quoted from many dubious works, but this never made the books canonical!
Since you quote from Kelly's book and thereby treat him as an authority, we include the evidence of more of his comments on this subject (page 52 to 60) from:
Before you embraced the works of JND Kelly perhaps you should have at least perused these relevant pages where he:
accepts the decision of the Jewish Council of Jamnia on the Old Testament canon;
foolishly accepts the un-Scriptural premise that 'the Church' is the 'new Israel';
accepts that Clement, Barnabas and Justin refer to the Jewish Old Testament as 'Scripture' (p52);
is in substantial agreement with our summation on the 'Church Fathers' and their errors!
You write: The first myth you present relating to the supposed absence of the deuteron canon in the Masoretic Text is a red herring. The problem is that its basis in history is gossamer thin. As you'll see, accepting this myth leads to some remarkable dilemmas. You might as well reject what you have now as scripture, because the ancient texts on which they are in part based are incomplete and missing passages.What is the truth about Rome's treatment of the Bible?
TCE: You have used a lot of material from
You use their 'gossamer thin' line without attempting to refute the point we made, regarding the Masoretic Text and your nonsensical claim that 'You might as well reject what you have now as scripture, because the ancient texts on which they are in part based are incomplete and missing passages' is unprovable and therefore equally fatuous.
First, some more facts - Regarding Old Testament manuscripts:
The Old Testament autographs were written between about 1450 and 400 BC.
The fragments and manuscripts of the Old Testament among the Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest collection of the Hebrew manuscripts and fragments.
The Dead Sea Scrolls date between 200 BC to AD 70 and so are dated back to within 300 years from when the last book of the Old Testament was written. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain the entire book of Isaiah and parts of every other Old Testament book except for Esther and they confirm that the Jewish scribal copying of the Old Testament Scriptures contained remarkably few errors. They proved that the doubts expressed by many scholars, concerning the accuracy of the Masoretic text, were unfounded.
The Geniza Fragments are parts of the Old Testament in Hebrew and Aramaic which were discovered in 1947 in an old synagogue in Cairo, Egypt. They date back to about 400 AD
The Ben Asher manuscripts are copies of the Old Testament from the Masoretic Hebrew text made by five or six generations of the Ben Asher family. They date back to about 700-950 AD
Two almost complete Greek LXX translations of the Old Testament date to about AD 350.
The Aleppo Codex is the oldest complete Hebrew Old Testament and was copied in about AD 950 (before a 1948 synagogue fire it was a complete copy of the Old Testament).
The British Museum Codex has an incomplete copy of the Pentateuch, (AD 950).
The St Petersburg (or Leningrad) Codex is the complete manuscript of the entire Old Testament and dates back to AD 1008. It is the basis of Kittel's Biblia Hebraica which is widely recognized as a standard Hebrew text.
First printed Hebrew Old Testament
In 1524, Jacob ben Hayyim used copies of the ben Asher manuscripts and had them printed and published. As this was the first text of the Hebrew Old Testament to be printed it soon became the standard for printed Bibles. The earliest complete copy of the Masoretic text of the Old Testament is housed in the St. Petersburg Public Library and dates back to about 1008 AD.
Dates for completion of manuscripts
430-420 BC - With the writing of the book of Malachi came the completion of the original writing of the Hebrew manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible.
200 BC - Completion of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament Hebrew into Greek.
1st century a.d. - Completion of all the original Greek manuscripts which make up the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.
390 AD - Jerome translated the manuscripts he had access to into the Latin Vulgate - and he enclosed the apocrypha in the appendix to the New Testament.
Ref. Encyclopedia of Bible Facts
At least three text types are present in the manuscripts of the Psalms. The Hebrew Bible, that is, the Masoretic text (MATTHEW), certainly represents the superior text. The manuscripts of this family preserved the best readings, even though they were at times archaic, rare, or difficult. Such preservation demonstrates the high regard the scribes had for the text they received. Nevertheless translators and commentators have occasionally taken liberties in emending the text in an effort to resolve some of the difficulties. The changes suggested need to be evaluated carefully.
In the Greek Septuagint (LXX) text the Psalms are based on a different and inferior textual tradition than the Masoretic text. Where the Hebrew is particularly rare or difficult, and the Greek translators had some difficulty, they often smoothed out the text in their renderings. Jerome and the translators of many English Bibles depended rather heavily on the Greek.
Ref. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty. [highlights in blue emphasise facts already brought out and reveal a situation that was exacerbated by the repeated incompetence of Papal Roman Catholic monks whose mistakes have already been proven]
You write: Firstly, the problems with your red-herring, is its reliance on the incorrect notion that the modern Jewish 'canon' is identical to the canon used by Jesus and the Apostles. This is false. In fact, the Old Testament was still very much in flux in the time of Christ and there was no fixed canon of Scripture in the Apostolic period. Jesus held people accountable to obey their conscience and therefore, to obey Scripture insofar as they were able to grasp what constituted 'Scripture.'
TCE: The evidence clearly reveals that it is impossible for you to disprove 'that the modern Jewish 'canon' is identical to the canon used by Jesus and the Apostles'! When you write that 'the Old Testament was still very much in flux in the time of Christ and there was no fixed canon of Scripture in the Apostolic period' you are ignoring the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, in particular, which reveals that you are wrong. The only reasonable claim you can make is that their Old Testament might not have contained the Book of Esther and the Qumran community might have made use of the many other dubious works in their library for other purposes (ref. our earlier reply). If you try and claim that Qumran accepted and used the apocrypha/pseudo-epigrapha as Scripture you will also have to accept all of their other non-canonical works as Scripture too! You also go against the opinions of JND Kelly who you used as an authority!
The evidence for the use of the Apocrypha at Qumran is exceedingly sparing, for the only portions that have been found among the >800 scrolls recovered there are three scrolls containing portions of Ecclesiasticus (Chapter 6 in Hebrew, scroll 2Q18), Tobit (in Aramaic, scroll 4Q196), and the Letter of Jeremiah (v43-44 in Greek, 7Q2). Whereas about ten 'expositional commentaries' of variable nature have been found dealing with the canonical Old Testament books, not one has yet been found in regard to any apocryphal work!
Scholars suspect that the scrolls containing the fragments of apocryphal works may not have even been copied by the Qumran scribes themselves, but were introduced from another source at a later date. Since it is also impossible to determine whether these extra-biblical books at Qumran preceded or antedated the time of Christ, it is equally impossible to determine whether they were viewed as canonical or un-canonical by the Essenes, while there is no evidence that they were accepted by the disciples, or the Lord Jesus Christ! The same argument will apply to the materials of any other Jewish community, whatever its moniker. These books may very well have been completely ignored by many scribes and teachers of Jesus' day, or those preceding or antedating Him. We simply do not know and anyone trying to argue for their 'possible' use is arguing from silence - which is the weakest of arguments. As we will show later, the facts that we do know fall into line with the testimony of the reputable historian Josephus who was eye-witness to much of the history that unfolded close to the apostolic era and who clearly revealed the low esteem in which the apocryphal books were held compared to the clearly revealed canon. Further, the mere presence of these fragments of Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, and the Letter of Jeremiah do not conclusively indicate that the Essenes included these books in their canon, as the Dead Sea Scrolls as a body contain fragments of numerous other apocryphons and pseudographical works, such as the Book of Giants, the Book of Jubilees, I Enoch, the Book of Noah, which have never been seriously considered for inclusion in the Jewish canon.
The Qumran scrolls supply further evidence in the 'Essene Manual of Discipline', which functioned as a 'rulebook' for the behaviour of entrants into the sect, and regulated their behaviour. This 'Manual' also supplies the same testimony against the acceptance of the Apocrypha as Scripture, for whenever quotes from Deuteronomy, Numbers, Isaiah, Proverbs, and Leviticus appear, it uses the literary formula, 'It is written'. In a similar manner another Essene work known as 'The Zadokite Fragments' uses the phrase 'God said' in reference to portions of scripture from Malachi, Amos, Zechariah, Hosea, Deuteronomy, Numbers, Isaiah, and Micah. While these works also quote from various apocryphal works (both those accepted as part of the Papal Roman Catholic canon and those rejected by Rome), these formulas which indicate the book to be inspired Scripture are never used.
Unless at least comparable evidence is supplied by Papal Rome, instead of repeated arguments from silence, it remains clear that 'Protestant' groups were correct in following the pattern initiated by Jews who revered the Old Testament canon and the examples set by many 'Church Fathers' who also rejected the Apocrypha. Even if we include the works of 'Church Fathers' who expressed doubts about some New Testament books, as well as the apocrypha/pseudo-epigrapha, it is possible to at least take a consensus and see that, even among these men who were certainly not unanimously or entirely Scriptural in their views, the majority of the New Testament was accepted - for they quoted so extensively from the canon we have today that, even if all of the New Testament was lost, we would have all but eleven verses of the twenty-seven books that make up the 'Protestant canon' preserved in their works!
Your claim that 'Jesus held people accountable to obey their conscience and therefore, to obey Scripture insofar as they were able to grasp what constituted 'Scripture'' also logically means that you can have no possible argument with us for refusing to accept the canon you are insisting upon! In fact, your whole chosen subject becomes pointless for, should it be admitted that 'people accountab[ility]' means they are allowed to 'obey Scripture insofar as they [a]re able to grasp what constitute[s] 'Scripture'' then, like the 'thief on the cross', they need nothing more than faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to ensure they arrive safely in Paradise, just as Scripture declares:
Luke 23:39-43 - 'And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.'
Papal Rome obviously denies this Scripture and would require such a malefactor to suffer in the non-existent 'Purgatory' of its own invention and never be sufficiently cleansed of sin and capable of instant appearance in Paradise on that same day! We prefer to believe Scripture and the Promises of the Wonderfully Benevolent God of the Word. We will continue with the examination of your claims despite the fact that you clearly do not have a leg to stand on.
You write: Some groups of Jews used only the first five books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch); some used only the Palestinian collection of books (39 books); some used the Alexandrian canon (46 books), and some, like the Dead Sea community, used all these and more. The Palestinian and Alexandrian collections were more normative than the others, having wider acceptance among orthodox Jews, but for Jews there was no universally defined 'canon' to include or exclude the 'deuterocanonical' books around 100 A.D.
TCE: We have high-lighted the vague, unprovable, claims you make for the Jewish canon (and will compare them with the views of the authoritative Jewish Encyclopedia later). As we have already shown, genuine historians Josephus and Philo disprove your claims. It is equally impossible to prove what the 'Dead Sea community' - or any other community - used in their belief system and what they had in their library for research and comparison studies. We have many books from the major and minor religions of the world in our possession - but we certainly do not 'use' them except for 'research and comparison studies'! When you write 'some groups of Jews used ...' you can only be speaking of the known groups - and their beliefs can only be approximated from the contents of the 'known books' they actually used and believed were Scripture, but only if they also left some attested word as a record for us to discover. No one knows exactly what the 'Dead Sea community' believed and researchers can only come to informed, educated conclusions from the evidence, as we have shown. Or you can guess - which is your chosen method! Logically this method would apply to any other group(s) around in those days, however minor they may have appeared in the eyes of these named 'major' groups, and the same truth applies today. There are heretical groups of every kind in the contemporary 'Protestant' groups - one in Canada, for example, who have foolishly and blasphemously chosen to reject the Book of Revelation. But we also do not forget that we wrote the following on this page of our website under the heading:
Scripture cannot be overturned by any Papist and ad hominem attacks fail in like manner!
'in the year 1590 A.D., Sixtus V issued an edition of the Vulgate which he declared to be final, and prohibited under an anathema the publication of any new editions thereafter unless they should be exactly like that one. However, he died soon after, and scholars found numerous errors in his edition. He had rewritten the entire Bible, adding phrases and sentences with no regard for accurate translation, leaving out entire verses, changing the titles of the Psalms - and inventing his own system of chapters and verses! In a Papal Bull, Aeternus Ille (an allegedly infallible declaration on faith and morals to the entire Church), he declared by 'the fullness of Apostolical power' that his new 'translation' of the Bible must be 'received and held as true, lawful, authentic and unquestioned in all public and private discussions, readings, preachings and explanations.' Anyone who disobeyed was to be excommunicated. When genuine scholars read his work they were horrified, but none more than the Roman clergy - for Sixtus had instantly made obsolete the Council of Trent's approved Latin Bible and all textbooks based upon it!'
You have chosen to ignore this fact which is utterly damning to every aspect of Papist claims regarding 'canonical works' - and therefore doctrine. How could an 'infallible pope' produce such a Bible that usurps every other source of 'doctrinal authority' that went before? And did Rome really think that it could quietly let this 'howler' slip away into distant memory while it continued to insist on its imagined magnificent role as a 'protector and canonizer' of Scripture?
Catholic bishops decided canonicity of the New Testament?
You write: Consider the Sadducees. They only regarded the first five books of the Old Testament as inspired and canonical. The rest of the Old Testament was regarded by them in much the same way the deuterocanon is regarded by you today. This was precisely why the Sadducees argued with Jesus against the reality of the resurrection in Matthew 22:23-33 they couldn't see it in the five books of Moses and they did not regard the later books of Scripture which spoke of it explicitly (such as Isaiah and 2 Maccabees) to be inspired and canonical. Jesus doesn't try to drag the Sadducees kicking and screaming into an expanded Old Testament. He simply holds the Sadducees accountable to take seriously the portion of Scripture they do acknowledge: that is, He argues for the resurrection based on the five books of the Law. But of course, this doesn't mean Jesus commits Himself to the Sadducees' whittled-down canon.
TCE: Firstly, trying smear tactics by bracketing us with the Sadducees fails miserably because our website clearly reveals our beliefs in the full, inerrant teachings of the Word of God and our careful application of Scriptural tests, such as Acts 17:11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, which reveal the truth about the Apocrypha. It is noticeable that Papal Roman Catholics try and gloss over the reasons Biblical believers reject the Apocrypha - which we detailed earlier. Those clear, logical, Scriptural reasons cannot be overturned by any Papist and your attempts to try nothing more than ad hominem attacks fail in like manner.
Far from 'simply ... hold[ing] the Sadducees accountable to take seriously the portion of Scripture they do acknowledge', when 'the Sadducees argued with Jesus against the reality of the resurrection in Matthew 22:23-33' we read in this passage that Jesus rebuked them clearly (v29):
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
This applies equally to Papists and all who reject any portion of Scripture. Jesus makes no attempt to 'drag the Sadducees [or anyone!] kicking and screaming into' any truth that they are clearly intent on rejecting, for He proved that they did not even recognise the truth about the resurrection from the Scripture they were supposed to know (v32) - and He had already warned them clearly:
Matthew 3:7 - But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Since 'The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven' (Matthew 16:1), Jesus warned (Matthew 16:6) those who He had chosen to 'Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees'.
He clarified this warning:
Matthew 16:11-12 - How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
In the same manner we must warn the world of the 'leaven of Rome' whose false doctrines constructed from the extra-Biblical Apocrypha - and 'the traditions of men' that they have added - follow the same pattern Jesus warned of in Scripture where traditions usurp the Word of God (Mark 7:1-23 - NASB):
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem,
2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked* Him, 'Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?' 6 And He said to them, 'Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN .' 8 'Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.' 9 He was also saying to them, 'You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 'For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER '; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH '; 11 but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.' 14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, 'Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 ['If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.'] 17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He said* to them, 'Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?' (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, 'That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 'For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 'All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.'
During New Testament times the limits on the Old Testament canon had already been finalized, for 430 years had passed since Malachi had spoken and written. Compared with the New Testament, there was very little controversy over the canon of the Old Testament as the books were recognized as being divinely inspired and authoritative almost as soon as they were written and the writers accepted as being God's spokesmen so that, soon after the book of Malachi was written, the Jews officially recognized and closed the Old Testament canon (as Josephus and Philo testify). We have already answered all relevant questions regarding the canon of the Old Testament and New Testament in our earlier material - available on this page under the heading:
Just to wrap up any other attempted avenues of escape we will briefly discuss the problems you face:
The Jews thought of their Scriptures as consisting of three sections: the Torah (Law), the Prophets, and the Writings (compare Luke 24:44) and the books of Moses were considered 'law' despite the fact that a considerable amount of their material is not legalistic in nature. The Torah was unquestionably considered the most important division of the Scriptures. The Sadducees, who accepted only the Torah as inspired Scripture (as did the Samaritans, who considered themselves God's true chosen people), should hardly be mentioned in any attempt to find the true canon of the Old Testament, since they were clearly an off-shoot of genuine Judaism. Another question concerns the manner and source of these pseudepigraphic works. At best, from internal evidence, we may form some idea of the surroundings of those who wrote them. As we have seen, many of them are quoted by the 'Fathers', and the whole of the works have been preserved to us through Christian means, a large number preserved by being adopted into the Old Testament canon of the Ethiopian church, a considerable number unearthed from the Ambrosian Library in Milan and, apparently, most of them written in Palestine by Jewish writers. Yet no clear indubitable sign of the knowledge of these books can be found in the Talmud.
These works, the majority of which were written in Hebrew by Jews, were forgotten by the descendants of these Jews and retained by Gentile Christians, by nations who were ignorant of Hebrew and who preserved them in Greek, Latin or Ethiopic translations. A characteristic of the Judaism during the period in which these books were appearing was the power exercised by certain recognized sects. Josephus, the most nearly contemporary historian of the Jews, is accepted as authoritative by historians worldwide and he clearly reveals the prominence of the three sects: Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. This is clearly confirmed to a large extent by the Gospels and the Acts, with the noticeable exception of the Essenes who are never mentioned by name, possibly because they had already withdrawn from public life to a considerable degree.
Just as there arose, under the influence of philosophy, several sects among the Greeks, as the Academics, the Peripatetics, and the Stoics, so also there arose among the Jews sects, such as the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. The Pharisees had some resemblance to the Stoics, the Sadducees to the Epicureans, the Essenes to the Academics. While the Pharisees were proud, vain, and boastful like the Stoics, the Sadducees, who denied the immortality of the soul and the existence of spirits (Acts 23:8), took a view more akin to the Epicureans (ref. Acts 17:18 - the Epicureans held an unpopular view that the world was not made by God, but was the effect of a fortuitous collision of 'atoms'), and therefore they attempted to free themselves from serious concerns about the hereafter. By contrast, the Essenes were more moderate, simple and religious, and therefore more akin to the Academics.
How many other minor groups also existed? The 'Zealots' were ardent nationalists who awaited an opportunity to revolt against Rome and were blamed by some for the collapse of Judea to Rome in the war of A.D. 66-70. The Jewish historian, Josephus, claimed that they degenerated into mere assassins or sicarii ('dagger-men'). While they sided with the Pharisees in supporting Jewish Law and opposed the Herodians and Sadducees, who tried to maintain the political status quo, they were intolerant of the Essenes, and later the Christians, for their tendencies toward non-violence. Two are famous as disciples of Jesus: Judas Iscariot and Simon the Canaanite. But the origins of the Essenes is equally vague - it seems that from the Biblical Nazarites sprang the Rechabites, from the Rechabites the Essenes, from the Essenes the Anchorites or Hermits and later, in imitation of those, the many monastic orders. But is there any good reason to look to them for an accurate guide to the canon? Absolutely not!
The scribes, the literary class among the Jews, all belonged to one or other of these ruling sects. Consequently these apocryphal works almost certainly proceeded from members of one of those sects. Their mutual resemblance precludes their authors from belonging some to one sect and some to another. We know fairly accurately, from Josephus and the New Testament, that the Sadducees were the priestly sacerdotal class and, above all, were political schemers. Nothing could be farther removed from the spirit and doctrines of the apocrypha and pseudo-epigrapha than this sect, for the forgeries raised Messianic hopes, angels were prominently mentioned, and hierarchies were described and names given. The doctrine of immortality was often implied and the places of reward and punishment were described. So, logically, the 'Apocalypses' cannot be attributed to the Sadducees.
There is greater plausibility in attributing the 'Apocalypses' to the Pharisees. As far as the many dubious doctrines are concerned there is no doubt that the agreement with the many errors of Phariseeism is relatively close. The difficulties in accepting this view of their origin is that, with the fall of the Jewish state, the Sadducees disappeared when there was no field for political activity and when the destruction of the temple meant there were no more sacrifices to require the services of Aaronic priests. Being nearly contemporaneous the Essenes all but disappeared from the scene and the Pharisees alone remained to carry on the traditions of Judaism. The Talmud reveals the result of Pharisaic literary activity while the Mishna (the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the 'Oral Torah') is the only work which is at least nearly contemporary with the 'Apocrypha' while having none of the characteristics of the apocalyptic writings. The later Hagadi Midrash have more resemblance to some of these works, most noticeably to the pseudepigraphic Book of Jubilees (discussed earlier). But the almost total lack of any references to any of the Apocalypses in the recognized Pharisaic writings, and the fact that no Jewish version of any of these books has been preserved, speaks fairly conclusively against any idea that the 'Apocalypses' owed their origin to the Pharisaic schools.
The books that form the 'ordinary apocrypha' are in a different position. That the majority, if not the whole of them, were received into the Jewish canon of Alexandria may mean no more than that one branch of the Pharisees, separated for a considerable time from the rest of Judaism, embraced the apocrypha. Some of them are found in Hebrew or Aramaic, such as Sirach, Tobit and Judith. But none of the Apocalypses have been found in that source so this leads to the obvious conclusion that the Pharisees did not write these books.
This leads to the deduction that they are possibly the work of the Essenes. Josephus informs us that the Essenes had many secret sacred books and, in one of these books (4 Esdras), we find a truly apocryphal story which seemingly affords an explanation of the existence of these books. 2 Esdras 14:40-48 tells how Ezra supposedly received a cup of water 'as if it were fire' to drink, and then he dictated to five men who wrote in characters which they did not understand 'for forty days' until they had written 'four score and fourteen books' (Revised Version - British and American). Ezra is then commanded, 'The first that thou hast written publish openly, and let the worthy and unworthy read it: but keep the seventy last that thou mayest deliver them to such as be wise among thy people.' While the twenty-four books of the ordinary canon would be open to all, these other seventy books would only be known by the wise - presumably, the Essenes. This story proceeds on the completely unproven assumption that all the Biblical books had been lost during the Babylonian captivity but that, after he had his memory quickened, Ezra was able to dictate all of them - but of these only twenty-four were to be published to all while seventy were to be kept by a society of wise men. This is an attempt to 'explain' how the Books of Enoch and Noah, and the account of the Assumption of Moses, could appear upon the scene at proper times and yet not be known before. The last-named book contains another 'device' claiming that Moses tells Joshua to embalm (hedriare) the writing which claims to give an account of what is to become of Israel. The embalmed books would then be delivered up when 'Divine providence' chose to reveal them! These works are supposedly products of this 'secret society' which would guard the sacred books and had prepared stories to explain both how they had remained unknown and how, at certain critical points in Israel's history, they were to be made known. All this is claimed to fit the nature of the Essenes, and especially the branch that dwelt as Coenobites beside the Dead Sea. Thus developed a hypothesis that the Essenes were the authors of these books and that the Community of Engedi would be especially ready to see visions and dream dreams. Stories of this brotherhood being 'possessed by the spirit of Enoch or of Noah' and therefore capable of writing the words of the patriarch dictated to them merely try to flesh out typical 'Da Vinci Code' type fiction. The hypotheses are further padded out by claims that, since the Essenes were not dwellers by the shores of the Dead Sea, or 'associates with the palms of Engedi,' some of the writings of this class of material might be expected to reveal a greater knowledge of the world and more of the influence of events than those which proceeded from the Coenobites. Such hypotheses are typical of the kind of material embraced by a combination of wishful thinking and delusional Gnosticism that has pervaded the Papal Roman Catholic Church since it left Biblical truth behind.
As we discussed earlier, there is abundant evidence that the community at Qumran did not hold the sparse 'Apocryphal' material in their possession in any high regard at all. And, of course, there is no evidence that the community there was in any way 'orthodox' and is therefore not to be seen as a strong source of evidence for the canon accepted by Jamnia or any other authority.
Thus you are left with nothing but hopeful speculation in your quest to add the Apocrypha to genuine Scripture.
You write: When addressing the Pharisees, another Jewish faction of the time, Jesus does the same thing. These Jews seem to have held to a canon resembling the modern Jewish 'canon', one far larger than that of the Sadducees but not as large as other Jewish collections of scripture. That's why Christ and the Apostles didn't hesitate to argue with them from the books they acknowledged as Scripture. But as with the Sadducees, this doesn't imply that Christ or the Apostles limited the canon of Scripture only to what the Pharisees acknowledged.
TCE: You might be able to fool the unwary with phrases of the kind we have highlighted in red (above), but all of your claims are based on speculation and unproven. The fact that the Septuagint was known by the Apostles and appears as quotes in the New Testament does not ever prove that the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles must therefore have 'argue[d] with them from the books they acknowledged as Scripture' or that they approved of the Apocrypha in any way at all. We have already discussed the verse in Jude concerning Michael the archangel who would not rail against the devil and the view of some of the uninspired (and sometimes heretical!) early 'Church Fathers' that this episode was recorded in a Jewish apocryphal book 'Assumption of Moses.' This book no longer exists - which, in itself, proves that it is not part of the canon even if it did exist, or God would have preserved it! Arguing that another Jewish tradition has it that Michael had been given the custody of the grave of Moses is also unprovable. Jude cannot be shown to have quoted from tradition or from a source now no longer available, or, as others have conjectured, by using a vision of Zechariah (Chapter 3) but, as stated previously, there is no reason to discount the likelihood that the Holy Spirit revealed this to the inspired writer Jude. It seems possible that Michael the archangel was commissioned by the Lord to conduct the funeral of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) and then the devil appeared upon the scene claiming the body of the servant of the Lord, but for what purpose? Since nothing more definite is revealed saying more than this is pure speculation. Jerome's lack of support for the apocrypha as canon also supports the view we stand by and it is clearly an opinion based on the known facts and therefore impossible to over-turn.
The most likely explanation for the source of the 'traditions' of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus railed against, has been found in the worldwide Rabbinic synagogue system of the Jewish communities that sprung out of the destruction of the temple. Oral tradition led onto massive 'commentaries' written by Rabbis that have as little reference to genuine Scripture as do the many false traditions and doctrines of Papal Rome.
(Continued on page 323)