Roman Catholic apologists on the Canon of Scripture

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DTK

Puritan Board Junior
In the last decade and a half, with the resurgence of modern day Roman apologists, they have insisted that the canon of Scripture was finally settled at the Council of Rome in 382, under the authority of Pope Damasus I, and that it was reaffirmed by later conciliar authority. They insist that the same canon was reaffirmed (for example) at the Council of Hippo in 393 and at the Council of Carthage in 397, etc. And all too often Protestants have simply acquiesced to such claims as factual.

But a careful study of the details of such claims will not stand before the scrutiny of the facts involved. Hippo and Carthage received the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras as canonical Scripture, which pope Innocent I approved. However, the Vulgate version of the canon that Trent approved was the first Esdras that Jerome designated for the OT Book of Ezra, not the 1 Esdras of the Septuagint that the councils of Hippo and Carthage (along with Innocent I) approved and received as canonical. Thus Trent rejected as canonical the version of 1 Esdras that Hippo and Carthage accepted as canonical. Trent rejected the apocryphal Septuagint version of 1 Esdras (as received by Hippo and Carthage) as canonical and called it 3 Esdras.

As my friend Bill Webster has pointed out...
The veneration which this Church (i.e. the North African Church of Augustine´s day) held for the Septuagint, based on implicit faith in its inspiration, is well represented by Augustine. He believed the myth of the seventy-two Jewish translators who, under Ptolmey, were individually placed in isolation and independent of one another, rendered the same translation of the Old Testament. The adherence by Augustine and the North African Church to the Septuagint has some significant implications for the whole question of the establishment of the canon. Again, Roman Catholic apologists argue that the canon was authoritatively settled for the universal Church at the councils of Hippo and Carthage. The problem with this is that the canon decreed by the North African councils differed from that decreed by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century on one important point. Hippo and Carthage stated that 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras were canonical. They were referring to the Septuagint version of 1 and 2 Esdras because that was the Bible their Latin version was based upon. In that version, 1 Esdras was the apocryphal additions to Ezra and Nehemiah not found in the Hebrew Bible, while 2 Esdras was the canonical version of Ezra-Nehemiah. The Jews only acknowledged Ezra and Nehemiah which they combined into one book. This was 2 Esdras in the Septuagint version. It was Jerome (in his Latin Vulgate) who separated Ezra and Nehemiah into two books calling them 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras respectively. This became standard for the Vulgate and the basis upon which Trent declared the Septuagint 1 Esdras to be uncanonical. 1 Esdras in the Septuagint then became 3 Esdras in the Vulgate and the other Apocryphal apocalyptic work of 3 Esdras became 4 Esdras in the Vulgate. In the earliest Septuagint manuscripts, Codex Vaticanus (early 4th century) and Codex Alexandrinus (early 5th century), 1 Esdras is listed as one book and Ezra-Nehemiah is listed separately as a second book. See Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith (Battle Ground: Christian Resources Inc., 2001), Vol. 2, p. 346.
An examination of the New Catholic Encyclopedia confirms these facts. See New Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: McGraw Hill, 1967), Vol. II, Bible, III, pp. 396-397. We need to be careful in receiving uncritically what current Roman apologists are prone to pass on as factual data.

Roman Catholics also seek to minimize the fact that Pope Gregory I denied 1 Maccabees to be canonical...
Gregory the Great: With reference to which particular we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not Canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forward testimony. Thus Eleazar in the battle smote and brought down an elephant, but fell under the very beast he killed (1 Macc. 6:46). See Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Gregory the Great, Morals on the Book of Job, vol. II, Parts II and IV, Book XIX.34 (Oxford: Parker, 1845), p. 424.

Moreover, Roman Catholic historian George Tavard affirms that the canon for the Roman communion wasn´t established before the Council of Trent...
George Tavard: The question of the "œdeutero-canonical" books will not be settled before the sixteenth century. As late as the second half of the thirteenth, St Bonaventure used as canonical the third book of Esdras and the prayer of Manasses, whereas St Albert the Great and St Thomas doubted their canonical value. George H. Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church: The Crisis of the Protestant Reformation (London: Burns & Oates, 1959), pp. 16-17.

DTK

[Edited on 6-15-2006 by DTK]
 
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