In the beginning of his translations Jerome included the
reason that the Jews rejected these books, however it can be clearly seen
that he considered these books to be equally inspired by looking at his
letter to Rufinius as well as the fact that he included them in his Bible
translation, the Latin Vulgate.
Jerome wrote in Against Rufinius II:33 [AD 401]
"What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the
churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my
preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont
to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three
Children [Dan. 3:24-90], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14],
which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish
sycophant. I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the
remarks that they are wont to make against us. If I did not reply
to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem
that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly
the remark, for I said, ‘This is not the time to discuss such matters’"
[Against Rufinius Book 2, Section 33]
JEROME’S LETTER TO POPE DAMASUS,
THE BISHOP OF ROME contains the following:
(letter # 15 - This letter, written in AD 376 or 377, illustrates
Jerome's attitude towards the see of Rome which was held by Pope Damasus
at that time.)
"…As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with
none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I
know, is the rock on which the church is built ! This is the house
where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah,
and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. … He
that gathers not with you scatters…"
Some people have reasoned that since the Christians are of the New
Testament era that they should determine the canon of the New Testament
and since the Jews are of the Old Testament era that they should determine
the canon of the Old Testament. However logical this may sound on
the surface there is a problem with this idea. Namely, that there
are two groups of Jews.
One group of Jews rejected Jesus. The other group accepted
Jesus Christ as their Messiah and became completed Jews, or in other words
Christians. The Hebrew Canon of the majority of today’s Jews is the
canon that was settled upon by a group of Rabbis meeting in Jamnia [Javneh]
in 90 AD. However, these Rabbis were exclusively those who rejected
Jesus. They also rejected all of the New Testament.
this same meeting they also required all Jews to curse Jesus Christ and all
other Jewish people who became Christians.
The other group, the completed Jews, or Christians, accepted the
books as equally inspired. This can be seen in their writings where
they use and quote from these books and even call them Holy Scripture.
So the pertinent question is, should we look to the Jews, the scribes and
Pharisees, who did not recognize the Incarnated Word of God when He walked
in their midst to tell us what is the inscripturated Word of God -the Bible-
or do we look to the early Christian Church?
The Septuagint, which means seventy, ( LXX ) is the Greek translation
of the Old Testament which was completed in Alexandria, Egypt in about
100 BC. It was begun by a group of seventy-two Hebrew scholars from Jerusalem
that were sent to Alexandria to provide the Jews of the Dispersion with
a copy of the scriptures in their language. (Since Alexander the
Great had conquered the known world of his day, they spoke primarily Greek.)
There are approximately 350 quotations in the New Testament
of the Old Testament. Of these 350 quotations 300 come from the Greek
Septuagint. It was the Old Testament Bible of the first century Christians.
Jesus quoted from it. The Septuagint included the Deuterocanonical
books which Protestants call the "Apocrypha." The Jews in Ethiopia
to this day still follow the same identical canon which is found in the
Catholic Old Testament which includes these seven Deuterocanonical books
(cf. Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 6, p. 1147).
The Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its Micropaedia, the article "Septuagint,"
states "The Septuagint has four (divisions): law, history, poetry, and
prophets, with the books of the Apocrypha inserted where appropriate."
The Encyclopaedia Britannica also states,
[in its article "Biblical Literature" section
"Old Testament Canon, Texts, and Version - The Canon - The Christian Canon"
volume 14, page 907, 1994 edition, Macropaedia:]
"The Christian Church received its Bible from Greek-speaking
Jews and found the majority of its early converts in the Hellenistic world.
The Greek Bible of Alexandria thus became the official Bible of the Christian
community, and the overwhelming number of quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures
in the New Testament are derived from it...
Also in this article "Biblical
Literature" the section
"Early councils of the African Church held at Hippo (393) and Carthage
(397,419) affirmed the use of the Apocryphal books as Scripture...
"Throughout the Middle Ages, the Apocryphal books were generally
regarded as Holy Scripture in the Roman and Greek churches, although theoretical
doubts were raised from time to time...The first modern vernacular Bible
to segregate the disputed writings was a Dutch version by Jacob van Liesveldt
(Antwerp, 1526). Luther’s German edition of 1534 did the same thing
and entitled them ‘Apocrypha’ for the first time...
"In response to Protestant views, the Roman Catholic Church made
its position clear at the Council of Trent (1546) when it dogmatically
affirmed that the entire Latin Vulgate enjoyed equal canonical status.
This doctrine was confirmed by the Vatican Council of 1870...
"Even though the Wycliffite Bible (14th century) included the Apocrypha,
its preface made it clear that it accepted Jerome’s judgment"
"The translation made by the English bishop Miles Coverdale
(1535) was the first English version to segregate these books, but it did
place Baruch after Jeremiah...
"The first Bible in English to exclude the Apocrypha was the Geneva
Bible of 1599.
The King James Version of 1611 placed it between
the Old and New Testaments. In 1615 Archbishop George Abbot forbade
the issuance of Bibles without the Apocrypha, but editions of the King
James Version from 1630 on often omitted it from the bound copies.
The Geneva Bible edition of 1640 was probably the first to be intentionally
printed in England without the Apocrypha, followed in 1642 by the King
"New Testament Canon, Texts, and Version" on page 961, the Encyclopaedia Britannica states:
"The Old Testament in its Greek translation, the Septuagint
(LXX), was the Bible of the Earliest Christians...In the last decade of
the 1st century, the Synod of Jamnia (Jabneh), in Palestine, fixed the
canon of the Bible for Judaism, which, following a long period of flux
and fluidity and controversy about certain of its books, Christians came
to call the Old Testament. A possible factor in the timing of this
Jewish canon was a situation of crisis: the fall of Jerusalem and reaction
to the fact that the Septuagint was used by Christians and to their advantage,
as in the translation of the Hebrew word ‘alma’ ( ‘young woman’ ) in chapter
7, verse 14, of Isaiah- ‘Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear
a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ - into the Greek term parthenos
( ‘virgin’ )."
Christians understand these men of the Church to have been inspired
by the Holy Spirit. The Church wrote the books as well as determined
which ones were really inspired.
"As far as the New Testament is concerned, there could be no Bible
without a church that created it..."
Origen (185-254 AD), in his "Commentaries on the Psalms" [to
Ps. 1: apud Eusebium, Hist. eccl. 6,25], writes "The 22 books according
to the Hebrews are these..." He then goes on to list the Old Testament
books but he leaves out the Deuterocanonical books with the exception of
the sixth chapter of Baruch which is called the Letter of Jeremiah,
which he includes. Origen also wrote the "Hexapla" which contained
six columns of synopsis of Old Testament versions: the Hebrew text, a transliteration,
the Septuagint, and three other Greek translations. It did not include
the Deuterocanonical books, but Origen did indicate where the appropriate
Deuterocanonical texts were missing.
A superficial examination of this data has led some people to conclude
that Origen did not consider the Deuterocanonical books inspired.
When Origen listed the books "according to the Hebrews" he was listing
the books that the Hebrews, that is the Jews of his day, considered inspired.
He was not intending to list the Christian canon. The fact that Origen
considered the Deuterocanonical books inspired by God is evident by his
many other writings.
In his letter to Julius Africanus, Origen writes that "History of
Susanna" - a portion of the book of Daniel that is found only in the longer
Deuterocanonical text - "is found in every Church of Christ." Origen
wrote that the Jews of his day had had an Old Testament that had been altered.
To Africanus, he wrote (section 9 ), "But probably to this you will say,
Why then is the "History" not in their Daniel, if, as you say, their wise
men hand down by tradition such stories? The answer is, that they
hid from the knowledge of the people as many of the passages which contained
any scandal against the elders, rules, and judges..." In this letter
Origen also refers to the books of Tobit and Judith as well as the other
Deuterocanonical additions of Daniel and Esther. He defends his use
of these books on the basis that the Church accepts them.
Origen quotes Wisdom and Sirach right along with other Scripture
passages ( See his Homily 5 on Leviticus sec.2, para.4 and Comm. on John
bk.6, para.183.) And in his homily #12 on Genesis he writes, "For
hear what the Scripture says: ‘Prick the eye and it will bring forth a
tear; prick the heart and it brings forth understanding.’" This is
a quotation from the Deuterocanonical book of Sirach, chapter 22, verse
19. [The word "Scripture" is a reference to the writings of the Bible.
The word "Bible" which means book, did not come mean the Written Word of
until much later. For example, St. Augustine in his writing Christian
Instruction 2,8,13 states, "The whole canon of the Scriptures… is contained
in these books…" He then goes on to list those books of the Bible
and only those books.]
Also in his letter to Africanus, Origen states, "And I make it my
endeavor not to be ignorant of their various readings, lest in my controversies
with the Jews I should quote to them what is not found in their copies..."
This explains why the "Hexapla" did not contain the Deuterocanonical text.
The Encl. Brit. explains that "The purpose of the Hexapla was to provide
a secure basis for debate with rabbis to whom the Hebrew alone was authoritative."
It would have been pointless to try to demonstrate the truth of Christianity
by quoting books that they no longer accepted.
Justin the Martyr in his "Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew," written about
180 AD, writes in chapter 71,
"But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who
refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who
were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt
to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether
taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy
elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified
is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man... but
I proceed to carry on my discussions by means of those passages which are
still admitted by you. For you assent to those which I have brought
before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, ‘Behold,
the virgin shall conceive,’ and say it ought to read, ‘Behold the young
woman shall conceive.’"
Josephus (about 37 AD - 100 AD), who was a Jewish apologist and historian,
contended that the Old Testament Canon was closed by Ezra the prophet.
Since Ezra died before the Deuterocanonical books were written that would
mean that the Old Testament Canon would be the same as that of the Masoretic
Text. The Masoretic Text was written about 100 AD by a Jewish Scribe
and it did not include the Deuterocanonical books. This theory can
not account for the fact that the Jews included the Deuterocanonical books
in the Septuagint which was used by Christ and the Apostles.
We read in the New Catholic Encyclopedia
[volume 2 on pages 389-390, of 1967 edition in the article
Bible, part III, (canon) section: 2. History of Old Testament Canon - Canon
of the Old Testament among the Jews - Closing of Old Testament Canon]
"It was believed for a time that the collection of OT books
was fixed conclusively by Ezra. The proponents of this theory relied
largely on the apocryphal 4 Ezra 14.19-48, written c. A.D. 90, about 500
years after Ezra lived. But when carefully examined this passage
does little more than ascribe to Ezra some role in the preservation of
the OT texts. It does not unequivocally affirm that he was the final
arbiter of the OT cannon."
The Council of Trent, in 1546 AD, emphatically stated that the
as well as the protocanonical books were all equally inspired. However,
it was only confirming the traditional canon of the Church. The same
Canon had been formally stated at the Ecumenical Council of Florence on
Feb. 4, 1442 (EnchBibl 47). See Text.
And at the
Seventh Ecumenical Council, II Nicaea 787 AD (See
Text) And at the
Sixth Council of Carthage 419 AD, which explicitly stated this canon. This
is the same canon that was approved by Pope Innocent I in 405 AD, and the
same canon that was stated in the Third Council of Carthage in 397 AD,
as well as the Council of Hippo in 393 AD, and the Council of Rome in 382
AD under the authority of Pope Damasus I.
"At another time it was believed that the OT canon was determined
by Ezra together with his associates, ‘the men of the Great Synagogue.’"…
"The very existence of the Great Synagogue, to say nothing of its
alleged canonizing function, is open to question. One grave objection
to its existence is the complete silence about it in the OT itself, as
well as in Josephus, Philo and the Apocrypha. The earliest reference
to such a group is in the Mishnaic treatise, Pirke Avoth (c,1), which dates
only from the 2d or 3d Christian century…"
"All too commonly it is assumed that great differences of opinion
divided Palestinian Jews from those of the Dispersion and that the differences
sprang from divergent theories of inspiration prevalent in Alexandria and
Jerusalem. This is a purely gratuitous inference [see
Peter Katz, ZNTWiss 47 (1956) 209]. The Hellenistic Jews before the
fall of the theocracy in Palestine looked reverently toward Jerusalem and
favored religious currents coming from it. Doubts were referred there
for solution (Josephus, Contra Apion 1.30-36). They turned to Jerusalem
for their Scriptures (2 Mc 2.13-15) and for its translation [Est 11.1 (Vulg);
10.31 (LXX)]. If they used the Deuterocanonical books in the Diaspora,
it was because they had received them from Palestine… Palestine, then,
was the source of the esteem for the Deuterocanonical works. The
OT, as it is found in the LXX, reflects, therefore, a tradition older than
the present Hebrew Bible in regard to its list of sacred books…"
"An examination of the NT use of the OT shows that the NT writers
had the same broad view of the sacred books as the Hellenist and Qumran
Jews had of them. The NT writers knew and used a fuller collection
that included the so-called Deuterocanonical books. The OT of the
early Church was not the Masoretic Text (MT), but the Septuagint (LXX),
which contained the Deuterocanonical as well as the protocanonical books.
In the LXX the former were not, as in some later versions, relegated to
a limbo of doubt by being grouped together in a place apart. Rather,
they were interspersed throughout the whole OT and assigned to places where
they seemed best to fit…"
"Doubts began to develop in the East in the 4th century. These
doubts seem to have emerged as an aftermath of the Christian polemic with
the Jews. Since the Jews from the time of the Synod of Jamnia no
longer recognized the Deuterocanonical literature, it would have been futile
for Christian apologists to make use of them. Justin Martyr says
this expressly (Dial. Tryphon). These hesitations gradually evolved
into misgivings about the canonicity itself of the books…"
"M. Jugie has shown conclusively that from the earliest times through
the Middle Ages there was general agreement in the Byzantine Church that
the disputed books were canonical."
End part I
continue see part II,
Protestants , Luther, and Allusions.