Poll: What's Your Opinion of the Ideal Inclusion of the Deuterocanon?
A daddy-or-what?
They're blasphemous, and have no place in a Christian's library.
They're interesting reads, but don't belong with the rest of the Bible.
Ideally, they'd be included in a separate "Apocrypha" section between the Old and New Testaments.
Some of these works belong in the Old Testament, but certain others should either be excluded or held in a separate "Apocrypha" section.
It was wrong to remove them in the first place. They were considered holy works for a thousand years before Luther, and no one has any right to change it.
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An Inquiry Regarding the Deuterocanon. What's the Real Consensus?
09-15-2017, 09:37 PM (This post was last modified: 09-16-2017 12:32 AM by Pool Frog.)
Post: #1
Question An Inquiry Regarding the Deuterocanon. What's the Real Consensus?
Since I was a child, I've always been told that anyone who altered a word of the Bible would spend an eternity in damnation (A claim I've since found has no backing from the Bible itself, but to keep a work as close to its original state as possible is a solid principle, nonetheless). However, the Christian Bible as a whole collection of works has existed from day one with the inclusion of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Maccabees, and several parts of other books (Daniel and Esther, I believe, but don't quote me on it) as part of the Old Testament, and the books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh as Apocrypha. Even Protestant Bibles contained these books until 150-ish years ago under the "Apocrypha" label. But now, not only have they been totally excluded, but very few Protestants are even aware of the change.

When I've talked to people before, it hasn't been particularly helpful. The answers I usually get are "These books aren't inspired like the rest". A more sufficiently worthless answer I've never heard, since I could easily say the same about a cookbook with just as much backing. Another one is that the removal of these texts were "...part of Luther's divine purpose", or something to that effect. That's... kind of better, but it doesn't address why the books were removed altogether, nor does it explain why we still have the books from the New Testament which Luther deemed lesser. There are more in the same vein, such as an appeal to St. Jerome or the languages of origin, but none have convinced me.

The best answer I've gotten has been something like "They don't fit thematically with the rest of the Old Testament (That is, the history of the covenant, and how it was continually broken, only to be mended by the love and mercy of God, and the ultimate resolution of this harsh, but inevitably temporary cycle), therefore they don't legitimately belong in the first place". That one, I have to admit, just barely misses the mark with me. Its deficiency boils down to two flaws; The Protestant Old Testament also contains books that are superfluous to this message (I don't think we'd be out of God's reach if the Song of Songs disappeared), and the Deuterocanon contains at least one book (That is, 1 Maccabees) that covers an important chapter in the history of the Israelites leading up to the time of Christ. The only parts of the Deuterocanon I can say definitely don't warrant a place in the Bible are the books of Esdras and some of the additions to Daniel.

My purpose here isn't to confront, but to hear the reasons for the continuing omissions. Though I've been among Christians for a long time, I only recently came to the faith myself, and though I did ultimately decide that the Protestant Churches were most in alignment with my reason and my principles, there are some things such as this that I can't reconcile. I look forward to any insights anyone can bring to my table.
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09-16-2017, 01:23 PM
Post: #2
RE: An Inquiry Regarding the Deuterocanon. What's the Real Consensus?
(09-15-2017 09:37 PM)Pool Frog Wrote:  When I've talked to people before, it hasn't been particularly helpful. The answers I usually get are "These books aren't inspired like the rest". A more sufficiently worthless answer I've never heard, since I could easily say the same about a cookbook with just as much backing. Another one is that the removal of these texts were "...part of Luther's divine purpose", or something to that effect. That's... kind of better, but it doesn't address why the books were removed altogether, nor does it explain why we still have the books from the New Testament which Luther deemed lesser. There are more in the same vein, such as an appeal to St. Jerome or the languages of origin, but none have convinced me.

The reason that they were excluded is essentially "an appeal to ... the languages." The Orthodox/Catholic branch of Christianity first used a Greek translation of the Old Testament that (mostly) dates to a few hundred years BCE. The Catholics (being the Roman branch of Orthodoxy and reading Latin rather than Greek) began using a Latin translation.

A slightly simplified history is that when Martin Luther started rabble rousing, he thought that vernacular translations into German should based on the "original" Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, so he made one. His Old Testament was based on the Masoretic text that was assembled during the early Middle Ages. The main problem is that the Masoretes left out some of the texts that were used for the Greek and Latin translations, so Martin Luther didn't consider them canonical, either.

While the actual history is slightly more complicated (it's still debated whether some deuterocanonical books were originally written in Hebrew or Greek, for example), the main point is that prior to the Masoretes, there wasn't really a defined Jewish canon. The early Christians used Jewish writings that were later removed from Jewish collections. These were preserved by Christians in languages that they read (Greek and Latin), but not by Jews in Hebrew.

The main Protestant argument, then, is that since the deuterocanonical books weren't considered scripture by Jews and weren't otherwise preserved in Hebrew, then they shouldn't be in the Christian canon.

The Orthodox/Catholic argument is since that these books were considered to be authoritative by the early Christians and perhaps even the Apostles, they should be still be authoritative now.

An interesting fact along those lines is that there are even vestiges of texts in the New Testament beyond simply these two collections. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church retains a translation of the Book of Enoch that Jude may have been referring to in Jude 1:12-15. There's also a reference in Matthew 12 to Jesus calling himself "greater than Solomon" with regard to commanding demons. This may refer to a version of the "Testament of Solomon"; we have a version that includes portions clearly from the Christian era, but there may have been a pre-Christian version that is now lost.
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