Our Protestant protagonist has debunked yet another major myth concerning the deuterocanonical books! Let’s take this opportunity to review what his research has uncovered thus far:
In the first section of this series (Parts 2-9) our hero discovered the flaws in Major Myth #1: “The Catholic Church added 7 books to the canon of Scripture at the Council of Trent in 1546.” Those books, as he discovered, were part and parcel of all Bibles from the 4th century (the earliest extant manuscripts) to the time of the Reformers. The Reformers in their “wisdom” doubted the canonicity of not only the deuterocanonical books, but of many New Testament books as well, and having rejected the Magisterium of the Church which might have guided them on this, suggested that between 4 and 7 books of the New Testament might not really be Holy Scripture. Thus, at the Council of Trent the Catholic Church reaffirmed the canonicity of all 73 books of the canon. No books were added, and none were allowed to slip away.
In the second section (Parts 14-17) the protagonist researched the question of the canon of the Jews, and debunked Major Myth #2: “The Jews closed the canon of the Old Testament, and they never accepted the canonicity of the 7 additional books.” Obviously, some Jews must have accepted the canonicity of the 7 deuterocanonical books, since those books had by the first century found their way into the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament which was heavily relied upon by the authors of the New Testament and was even quoted from by Jesus Himself, as evidenced by Mark 7:6-8 (“…in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” in the Septuagint vs. “their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” in the Hebrew) and Matthew 21:16 (“…out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have ordained praise” in the Septuagint vs. “…out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have ordained strength” in the Hebrew). Some Protestant apologists try to make the case that the deuterocanonical books were not even in the Septuagint during Jesus’ lifetime, making it sound as if the Christians of later centuries just got confused over which books belonged in the Old Testament since they were no longer in close contact with the Jews. However, this seems exceedingly unlikely since the deuterocanonical books were accepted as Scripture by the first Christians, a fact to which many Protestant scholars, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias bear witness. Those same sources also inform us that the canon of the Old Testament was still open after the Resurrection of Jesus. If this is true, then it was Christ’s body, the Church, which had the God-given authority to discern which books belong in the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New.
Our protagonist has already seen the scholarly response (Part 13) to Major Myth #3: “The first Christians possessed a 66-book canon of Scripture, the same one Protestants use to this day. A few early Christians got confused and believed that the 7 additional books were Holy Scripture, but on the whole nobody was fooled.” The Septuagint was the Old Testament of the first Christians, who believed all the books in the Septuagint to be Holy Scripture. The debate in the first two centuries of Christianity raged not around the books of the Old Testament, but around the books of the New.
Our hero is now gearing up to face the corollary to Major Myth #3: “True Christians weren’t fooled by the 7 additional books because they could see that the apostles never quoted from them in the books of the New Testament, and almost never even alluded to them.” He’s about to go wading in the flood of “criteria” which Protestant apologists claim were used by the first Christians to determine which books were canonical and which weren’t. These “criteria” are notable for two things – they are skewed to rule the deuterocanonical books out (since these apologists are trying to prove that the deuterocanonical books are not Scripture), and they are devoid of historicity; in other words, they were unknown to the early Christians – Protestants made them up out of whole cloth. Our hero is going to read some audacious claims made by these apologists against the deuterocanonical books. As you research along with him, a word to the wise – when confronted with words like “many,” “few,” “always,” or “never,” – do a head count, add things up, just as you would if a snake-oil salesman came to your door offering a great deal on his elixir – one bottle for $11.57, or 3 bottles for the low, low price of $35.00! Do the math!! Don’t take things at face value – do your research. It will be well worth your while!
On the memorial of St. Onesimus
Deo omnis gloria!