The Trouble with Jerome

Marinus van Reymerswaele, St. Jerome (1541)
Marinus van Reymerswaele, St. Jerome (1541)

One of the strangest parts of Protestantism, from an outsider’s perspective, is the combination of sola Scriptura (the belief that all Christian teachings must come from Scripture, a teaching not itself found in Scripture) and the belief that the Bible is only 66 books long.

What makes this view so odd is twofold. First, the teaching that the Bible is 66 books long is, of course, not a teaching found in Scripture. There’s no inspired table of contents, as it were. The second oddity is that the 66-Book Protestant Bible wasn’t used by any of the early Christians, nor was such a Bible ever used by the Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church or the Coptic Church, nor was such a Bible even used by Martin Luther or John Calvin. This belief that the Bible is only 66 books long also contradicts the Council of Florence, a pre-Reformation Ecumenical Council attended by Catholics, Orthodox, and Copts.

It would be as if a group were to spring up tomorrow and declare that all Christian teachings must be drawn from the Gospel of Luke, without being able to explain why all teachings must come on from Scripture or only from these Scriptures. So why would anyone believe in the 66-book canon? Nathan Busenitz at The Master’s Seminary gives the standard defense:

For those who might wonder, “Why don’t Protestants accept the Apocrypha?” the ultimate answer is that Jesus never affirmed it as being part of Scripture. And neither did the apostles.

Many of the early church fathers did not regard the Apocryphal books as being canonical either. They considered them to be helpful for the edification of the church, but they did not see them as authoritative. Even the fifth-century scholar Jerome (who translated the Latin Vulgate — which became the standard Roman Catholic version of the Middle Ages) acknowledged that the Apocryphal books were not to be regarded as either authoritative or canonical.

The first of these arguments is that books like Judith and Wisdom should be rejected because Jesus never quoted them, or affirmed them as ‘being part of Scripture.” But Jesus and the Apostles never quote from Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Judges, etc., and yet Protestants include all of these books in their Bibles. So that “ultimate answer” argument doesn’t make sense. Or else it’s just a brazen double standard.

But what about the other argument, that St. Jerome endorsed the same Old Testament canon that Protestants now affirm? That’s true… ish. But there are a few things you should know.

First, Jerome is often used in a dishonest way. By saying that “even” Jerome “acknowledged” this view, it would be easy to get the impression that Jerome’s view on the canon were the norm at the time. That’s false. Jerome and Rufinus stand alone amongst the early Christians in arguing for the 66-book canon, and remarkably, neither of them actually used the canon. As Busenitz notes, Jerome translated most of the Latin Vulgate, the standard Bible used throughout all of Western Christianity for over a millennium, and that Bible includes the very Scriptures that Protestants think shouldn’t be in there.

Second, Jerome actually cites books beyond the 66-book canon as Scripture. For example, in a letter to Eustochium written after Jerome denied the canonicity of the Deuterocanon, we find him quoting one of these books, Sirach, as Scripture: “for does not the scripture say: ‘Burden not yourself above your power?'” Ignoring all of that nuance to present him as holding the modern Protestant view is worse than inaccurate: it’s untrue.

Third, the canon of Scripture was still an unsettled question at the time. This is itself glaring evidence that the early Christians didn’t think that everything had to come from “Scripture alone.” There’s a big difference between a Catholic saying “this teaching hasn’t been clearly defined, but I think the right answer is X” and one who says “this teaching has been clearly defined, but I disagree and hold to X anyways.” Which leads too…

Fourth, Jerome is a Roman Catholic to the core. To take just a few of the more obvious instances in which Jerome made clear that his deepest desire was to believe the orthodox faith of the Roman Catholic Church, here he is contrasting Roman Catholicism from Origenism, in an argument against Rufinus:

“The Latin reader,” he [Rufinus] says, “will find nothing here discordant from our faith.” What faith is this which he calls his? Is it the faith by which the Roman Church is distinguished? Or is it the faith which is contained in the works of Origen? If he answers the Roman, then we are the Catholics, since we have adopted none of Origen’s errors in our translations. But if Origen’s blasphemy is his faith, then, though he tries to fix on me the charge of inconsistency, he proves himself to be a heretic.

And despite living in the East, Jerome wrote to the pope to settle the theological question about the natures of Christ. Here he is, in his own words:

Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord, woven from the top throughout, [John 19:23] since the foxes are destroying the vineyard of Christ, [Song of Songs 2:15] and since among the broken cisterns that hold no water it is hard to discover the sealed fountain and the garden inclosed, [Song of Songs 4:12] I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul. I appeal for spiritual food to the church whence I have received the garb of Christ. The wide space of sea and land that lies between us cannot deter me from searching for the pearl of great price. [Matthew 13:46] Wheresoever the body is, there will the eagles be gathered together. [Matthew 24:28] Evil children have squandered their patrimony; you alone keep your heritage intact. The fruitful soil of Rome, when it receives the pure seed of the Lord, bears fruit an hundredfold; but here the seed grain is choked in the furrows and nothing grows but darnel or oats. [Matthew 13:22-23] In the West the Sun of righteousness [Malachi 4:2] is even now rising; in the East, Lucifer, who fell from heaven, Luke 10:18 has once more set his throne above the stars. [Isaiah 14:12] You are the light of the world, Matthew 5:14 you are the salt of the earth, [Matthew 5:13] you are vessels of gold and of silver. Here are vessels of wood or of earth, 2 Timothy 2:20 which wait for the rod of iron, [Revelation 2:27] and eternal fire.

Yet, though your greatness terrifies me, your kindness attracts me. From the priest I demand the safe-keeping of the victim, from the shepherd the protection due to the sheep. Away with all that is overweening; let the state of Roman majesty withdraw. My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the cross. 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! [Matthew 16:18] This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. [Exodus 12:22] This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. [Genesis 7:23] But since by reason of my sins I have betaken myself to this desert which lies between Syria and the uncivilized waste, I cannot, owing to the great distance between us, always ask of your sanctity the holy thing of the Lord. Consequently I here follow the Egyptian confessors who share your faith, and anchor my frail craft under the shadow of their great argosies. I know nothing of Vitalis; I reject Meletius; I have nothing to do with Paulinus. He that gathers not with you scatters; [Matthew 12:30] he that is not of Christ is of Antichrist.

So if you really care about what St. Jerome has to say, by all means follow his example. Enter into full union with the Bishop of Rome and believe the saving faith that the Roman Catholic Church believes.  If you don’t care about what Jerome believes, then why bring him up at all?

As I said above, Jerome wasn’t saying “I reject the Catholic Church’s position on the contents of Scripture.” He readily affirmed the Church’s teachings, but (quite reasonably) wasn’t initially clear what the Church’s teaching was on this subject.

 

46 Comments

  1. This is excellent. Gone around with Craig on this one and he basically gave the same Protestant answer. What I haven’t really thought about is the excellent point you brought up regarding sola scriptura. If Sola Scriptura was taught by the early Christians you’d think settling on a canon of Scripture would be on top of the to do list.

    1. CK,

      You must be mistaken, because I never gave an answer like the one quoted. I challenge you to find it. Further, I don’t hold a 66 book Canon as dogma and I have publicly spoken very highly of the Deuterocanon.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. Hey Craig! You’re missing all the fireworks in another thread! Before I say anything, I do need to compliment you on your willingness to dialogue. I just spent over 36 hours defending the Church from the absolutely libelous attacks from a rabid anti-catholic and you are actually very refreshing now even through our not insignificant disagreements :). I do have a question for you though, do you hold any Canon at all as dogma?

        May God be with you.

        Matthew

        1. Actually, there is a wealth of apologetic resources provided in those ’36 hours’ that are valuable for all who love the Church– it’s faith and it’s history. Some of the quotes, pertinent to the subject matter, provided from the ECF’s are hard to come by if one had to start from scratch searching through the writings of these same ‘fathers’. So, such commentary is valuable in this respect, that it prods and entices the reader towards further study into the writings of the ECF’s, which in it’s turn draws the soul closer to the truth of Christ’s Holy Church. Moreover, this helps the reader to become more competent when he goes out to explain the faith to others, which is essential for the building up of God’s Kingdom, here on Earth. Is this not what the ‘New Evangelization’ is all about?

          I personally have become about 10x more knowledgeable about the Holy Faith through both Joe’s posts, and the follow-up comments. So…thanks to all for this!

      2. Craig, despite our disagreements, I do hold you in a very hight esteem indeed. You’re kind and polite, and open-hearted. I’ve had my share of rant and sarcasm this days, and you’re way past that. God/Allah/Shiva/Jupiter/Exu bless you, too, and the Christian short-skirt/hot pants/tank top girls.

  2. Joe, I am quite a bit disappointed with this article.

    You write that the “66-Book Protestant Bible wasn’t used by any of the early Christians.” Yet, you contradict these very words in your own article (“Jerome and Rufinus stand alone amongst the early Christians in arguing for the 66-book canon.”)

    The quoted above is not even true as Epiphanius and Amphilochus of Iconium also had explicitly 66 book Canons. Futher, no 73 Book Canons are known to exist before the Council of Carthage, and manuscript evidence suggests that the council had a 72 Book Canon.

    This means the whole premise of your article, that the Protestant Canon is historically unfounded is not only untrue, but you eviscerate your own position, as historically your Canon has no supporters.

    And I do not even write this in defense of a strict, 66 book Canon as I have my own doubts. But the facts are the facts.

    For more details, I wrote a rebuttal here:

    https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/09/01/response-to-the-trouble-with-jerome/

    God bless,
    Craig

      1. In a latter section, yes, because he said that adding them is debatable. This shows that he either recognized that others held a 66 book Canon, that he himself did but held Sirach and Wisdom as secondary in nature, or he just flat out contradicted himself (or scribal error.)

        1. Craig would you agree that?:

          1.) When Protestants say the word canon, they mean the entirety of inspired scripture.

          2.) When one of the fathers of the church uses the word canon, it rarely means the entirety of scripture.

          A.) We see this with Athanasius in Festal Letter 39, where he excludes the Deuterocanonicals from the canon, yet calls them scripture later in the letter, and in many other writings.

          B.) Rufinus also does not include them in the canon, yet quotes from two of them as scripture. (Baruch and Wisdom)

          C.) Same with Epiphanius.

          It becomes quite obvious to anyone that has read only a smattering of the early church fathers, that they do not use the word canon, in the same way that we use it today.

          1. “A.) We see this with Athanasius in Festal Letter 39, where he excludes the Deuterocanonicals from the canon, yet calls them scripture later in the letter, and in many other writings.”

            However, if we read the Festal Letter, we do see that Athanasius is making the differntiation between what he views to be fully inspired by GOd and what isn’t, so his “inconsistency” is not that he was arbitrarily using different Canons, but that he freely would use the word “Scripture” for a work which he defined not as truly Scripture. THe same for Rufinius and others. As I said previously, this is likely because the Deuterocanon was seen as a secondary work.

          2. Craig said:

            However, if we read the Festal Letter, we do see that Athanasius is making the differntiation between what he views to be fully inspired by GOd and what isn’t, so his “inconsistency” is not that he was arbitrarily using different Canons, but that he freely would use the word “Scripture” for a work which he defined not as truly Scripture. THe same for Rufinius and others. As I said previously, this is likely because the Deuterocanon was seen as a secondary work.

            Again, Athanasius simply says it is not in his canon. But we know in other places he lumps deuterocanonicals in with other parts of the Old Testament. He terms other writings as apocryphal, and refuses to even name the writings. So his canon is clearly not what he considers the entirety of sacred scripture.

            What further hurts your arguments is that in other places, Athanasius clearly calls the deuterocanonicals as sacred scripture, thereby showing he defined them as truly scripture. He specifically calls Wisdom Holy Scripture. And to top it off, he uses the deuterocanonicals to teach, and defend his arguments.

          3. Duane, maybe Athanasius changed his mind or you misunderstand the nuances in his Canon. He was explicit in his belief that the Deuterocanon was not equivalently Scripture:

            “In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: ‘Forasmuch as some have taken in hand Luke 1:1,’ to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers;” (Par 3)

            “But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. <b<But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple” (Par 7).

            I got to go, last word is for you.

          4. Craig said:

            He was explicit in his belief that the Deuterocanon was not equivalently Scripture:

            “In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: ‘Forasmuch as some have taken in hand Luke 1:1,’ to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers;” (Par 3)

            “But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness.

            Craig, you cannot get around this, as I explained on the other thread, and you have shown nothing to disprove:

            1.) Athanasius never says his canon is the entirety of what he holds to be sacred scripture.

            2.) In Festal Letter 39, Athanasius clearly says the deuterocanonicals are NOT apocryphal. In one part, he places Baruch, in the canon. There goes your argument that he holds the deuterocanonicals secondary.

            3.) He calls the Book of Wisdom Holy Scripture. You cannot elevate a book higher than that. He also does that with the other deuterocanonicals.

            4.) I understand the nuances of his canon. His canon was what was to be read in the liturgy. NOT WHAT HE CONSIDERED THE ENTIRETY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.

            5.) How come when Jesus says: scripture says, you accept that Jesus is referring to Holy Scripture, but when Athanasius calls a book: Holy Scripture, you twist this way and that to try to say Athanasius didn’t mean it was Holy Scripture?

    1. Craig,

      Once again you have expressed doubt on the 66 book protestant canon. On what basis do you hold any book of the Bible to be inspired without begging the question?

      And I believe Joe’s point is that no one ultimately held to a 66 book Canon (he can speak for himself though). Jerome did for a time but was ultimately obedient to the Church even when he disagreed ! 😉 He was influenced by Jews at the time while studying Hebrew but he ultimately sided with the Catholic Church on the Canon against the Jews.

      May God be with you.

      Matthew

      1. Yes Matthew,

        I do not believe you will find St. Jerome ever call the deuterocanonicals into question after 397 A.D., though I could be wrong.

        Duane

      2. First a comment, then and answer to your question.

        I am unaware of Jerome breaking with Catholic teaching and there being a time when he conformed to Catholic teaching. Do you have any documented evidence of this? I know that he and Augustine debated over manuscript traditions (Augustine preferred the LXX), but I think the idea that Jerome was breaking with “Accepted” teaching only to later relent is more of a myth than anything. Jerome said what he said about the Canon. He also quotes Deuterocanon as Scripture and he did not object to translating it. The evidence is not there to say that he definitively changed his mind on the issue, because having a 66 book Canon might not preclude someone from quoting other books as Scripture. That’s why I wonder if you have anything solid about Jerome being “ultimately obedient to the CHurch” because I am aware of know time when he was disobedient.

        To answer your question about Canon, I do not believe in an infallible Canon and I do not think that it effects the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

        Let me restate the obvious: You don’t need the Bible to be saved. You need faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. You might not know Jesus’ literal name, but if you know Him like Job, you are saved.

        So, the elect Jews were saved without all the Scriptures, and some I am sure without reading them. Job existed before any Scripture. The same is true for Christians today. You don’t need a Bible.

        However, you need to believe what the Bible teaches. So, even if you do not know what a Bible is, one’s faith must be consistent with Scriptural teaching. The Scripture contains the only, GOd breathed (2 Tim 3:16) truth we have on Earth.

        This is why one can be Sola Scriptura, but not have an infallible Canon. Because even if we subtracted all of the “doubtful” books that were disagreed about, that still leaves 85% of the Scripture, including all of Paul’s letters, the Psalms, the Gospels, the Torah, etc. Might we miss out on a few great tid bits in Wisdom of Solomon, or James, or Revelation, or Esther? Sure. But, we would be lacking nothing crucial. This is why we do not require an infallible Canon, never did, and never will.

        God bless,
        Craig

        1. Craig –

          Let me rephrase your position: Man doesn’t need to know whether any book of the Bible is scripture but he needs to follow whatever Bible he uses as though it is scripture.

          That is a logical fallacy and most importantly, an obvious contradiction.

          1. That’s not a fallacy. You need to know fractions in order to figure out what a batter hit during a baseball game. However, you may learn these fractions without having access to an authoritative math text book.

        2. Criag,

          Thank you for your reply. Am I to understand that you believe that Jerome rejected the inspiration of the Deuterocanonical books up to the day he died? Then why on earth would he then refer to them as Scripture and put them in the Vulgate? Do you believe that something can be “Scripture” but not divinely inspired? There is also a difference between being in error and being disobedient. Maybe the word “disagree” was too strong in my previous comment. “Jerome had some reservations about the inspiration of the Deuterocanon” would be a more accurate way to put it.

          I’m now rather confused on how you define the term “Canon” as it relates to scripture. I had always assumed that “Canon of Scripture”=”the list of divinely inspired books”=”the books of Sacred Scripture.” Now I know that earlier in Church history, the “canon” had a more liturgical meaning and would apply to the list of books read in various churches. But that is not typically how the term is used today. So let’s avoid the equivocation. Using the term as I understand it, no one prior to the Reformation (and for many decades after as well) held to the modern 66 book protestant canon.

          You said:

          “Let me restate the obvious: You don’t need the Bible to be saved. You need faith in Jesus Christ to be saved. You might not know Jesus’ literal name, but if you know Him like Job, you are saved.”

          Alright! Something I can wholeheartedly agree with :).

          However you also said:

          “The Scripture contains the only, GOd breathed (2 Tim 3:16) truth we have on Earth.”

          Except 2 Tim 3:16 doesn’t actually say that. You have imported the word “only” to the text. That verse does indeed tell us that Scripture is “God-breathed” but it does not say that ONLY scripture is God-breathed. In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, St. Paul calls his oral preaching “the word of God.” I would put that on par with “God-breathed” wouldn’t you?

          Lastly you said

          “This is why one can be Sola Scriptura, but not have an infallible Canon. Because even if we subtracted all of the “doubtful” books that were disagreed about, that still leaves 85% of the Scripture, including all of Paul’s letters, the Psalms, the Gospels, the Torah, etc. Might we miss out on a few great tid bits in Wisdom of Solomon, or James, or Revelation, or Esther? Sure. But, we would be lacking nothing crucial. This is why we do not require an infallible Canon, never did, and never will.”

          From this it sounds like Sola Scriptura wouldn’t require a Canon at all. I wonder how exactly Scripture can be formally sufficient in all matters of faith and life for Christians and then say that we don’t need any of it! lol. How do you know what books are in fact divinely inspired? Even 85% agreement doesn’t solve the problem because if no one is infallible then despite our agreement, we could both be wrong about said 85%.

          Furthermore, Sola Scriptura for this reason falls into an untenable anachronism. Joe actually had an article on this several years ago that was brilliant. I’ll link it here:
          http://shamelesspopery.com/was-sola-scriptura-true-during-the-apostolic-age/

          If Sola Scriptura could not be functional while the Scriptura is still being written, then it cannot be in the Bible without the Bible being in error. If the Bible taught Sola Scriptura at a time when Sola Scriptura could not possibly be true then it would be in error. But the Bible is inerrant, therefore Sola Scriptura is not taught in the Bible and is a novel tradition of men that nullifies the word of God.

          May God be with you.

          Matthew

          1. Matt,

            “Thank you for your reply. Am I to understand that you believe that Jerome rejected the inspiration of the Deuterocanonical books up to the day he died?”

            No, because as far as I know he never explicitly rejected them as inspired either. Rather, we know at a certain point in time he defended the preeminence of the 66 book Canon. I do not know if he would have viewed the 66 books as more inspired (a belief that some Catholics post-Trent had held), so I’ll cease speculating.

            “Then why on earth would he then refer to them as Scripture and put them in the Vulgate?”

            He may have referred them as Scripture as a matter of using them for teaching (as they were accepted) and the term did not carry the same connotations to him. As for the Vulgate, it was translated over the course of years in no specific order and he did not hand it in as a complete work, so I would not read too much into it. He translated books, but I’d guess he also translated lots of stuff.

            “Do you believe that something can be “Scripture” but not divinely inspired?”

            No, but I may understand the term differently than Jerome.

            ““Jerome had some reservations about the inspiration of the Deuterocanon” would be a more accurate way to put it.”

            Perhaps, though my guess was that he felt it should not be given the preeminence. Personally, I like the term “Deuterocanon” because it means “second Canon.” The inference of it being secondary is there, though this is probably not what you mean by it.

            “I’m now rather confused on how you define the term “Canon” as it relates to scripture. I had always assumed that “Canon of Scripture”=”the list of divinely inspired books”=”the books of Sacred Scripture.” Now I know that earlier in Church history, the “canon” had a more liturgical meaning and would apply to the list of books read in various churches. But that is not typically how the term is used today.”

            For our purposes “Canon” refers to the Scriptures of 2 Tim 3:16…word for word dictated by God.

            “Using the term as I understand it, no one prior to the Reformation (and for many decades after as well) held to the modern 66 book protestant canon.”

            I’d disagree and I named four guys who did. I am not convinced anyone in the ancient church held to the 73 book Canon.

            “Except 2 Tim 3:16 doesn’t actually say that. You have imported the word “only” to the text.”

            True, but I know of no one else that makes the same claim about anything, nor do I know of anyone in the Church ascribing to anything else such a claim, so “alone” is apt.

            “In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, St. Paul calls his oral preaching “the word of God.” I would put that on par with “God-breathed” wouldn’t you?”

            Sure, but the “word of God” is not being spoken of as it’s something on par of Scripture (or less of it.) It’s like saying, “word about God.” So, for arguments sake I’m a Catholic and I teach someone the Catechism, surely that’s enough info if they accept and live by it for them to be saved. That would be the word of God, but not GOd breathed and Scripture. It’s true, but not revelation.

            For what it is worth, I do believe the Apostles spoke of God’s revelation, but the Scripture is the only written evidence of this revelation.

            “From this it sounds like Sola Scriptura wouldn’t require a Canon at all.”

            It doesn’t.

            “I wonder how exactly Scripture can be formally sufficient in all matters of faith and life for Christians and then say that we don’t need any of it!”

            Because it is the authority, knowing the authority perfectly is not of paramount importance. If you lived in the 1st century and only heard John preach, that’d be fine but you would have missed out on Matthew and Paul.

            “How do you know what books are in fact divinely inspired? ”

            You don’t, we only have consensus over 85%, so the only thing we can be 100% sure of is the consensus.

            “Furthermore, Sola Scriptura for this reason falls into an untenable anachronism. Joe actually had an article on this several years ago that was brilliant. I’ll link it here…”

            A lot of Catholic apologetics on the issue strawman, fighting against “solo scriptura” and not sola scriptura. We do not believe that Scripture can be read divorced from tradition. For a Protestant view of sola scriptura, and not a strawman, click here:

            http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=19

            “If Sola Scriptura could not be functional while the Scriptura is still being written, then it cannot be in the Bible without the Bible being in error.”

            No, because when just the Jewish Scriptures were around they were the only authority. When the Scriptures grew in number, the authority became more expansive.

            God bless,
            Craig

          2. Craig, thanks for your reply and I am enjoying our discussion!

            “Pre-eminence” of the Protocanon is not the same thing as rejection of the Deuterocanon. Honestly, I can agree with a lot of what you said. I like the term “Deutercanon” too for the same reason. If you want to hold that those books are divinely inspired but are “less eminent” or “less important,” I think that is a perfectly orthodox Catholic position. All Scripture is divinely inspired but not all Scripture is equally important. Even in the Protocanon, Obidiah just does not share the same level of importance as do the Gospels.

            However, there is really no such thing as one book of Scripture being “more inspired” than another. Either the book is divinely inspired or it isn’t. Obidiah is still just as divinely inspired as the Gospels but far less important to the Christian message. Let’s note though that “less important” does not mean irrelevant or useless. On that note, you said:

            “He (Jerome) may have referred them as Scripture as a matter of using them for teaching (as they were accepted) and the term did not carry the same connotations to him.”

            The problem with this is that you assume Jerome uses a different definition of Scripture than Paul does. You quoted the verse 2 Timothy 3:16. ALL Scripture is God-breathed, and PROFITABLE for teaching, ect. We should assume that the Early Church Fathers use the same definition of Scripture as Paul does there. Gary Michuta made this point in his debate with James White in 2004 on this subject (and wrote two books about it). You cannot say that the same book is God-breathed but not divinely inspired. Likewise, while some books of Scripture may be more important than others for doctrine, none are useless so it is still valid to use the Deuterocanon to confirm doctrine when applicable.

            You said:

            “For our purposes “Canon” refers to the Scriptures of 2 Tim 3:16…word for word dictated by God.”

            Ooh, okay. So there is a very big problem with saying that Sacred Scripture is “word for word dictated by God.” I much prefer the way the Catholic Catechism puts it which is in paragraph 106:

            “God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “‘To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.'”

            The “dictation” position doesn’t really allow the human authors of Scripture to actually be authors in any real sense. If you dictate something to me, I am absolutely not the author. God is the primary author to be sure, but the human beings He inspires are most assuredly authors in a secondary sense. They were not under any kind of mind control lol. The dictation position would mean Paul was mistaken in all of his letters when he starts them “Paul, an apostle to fill in the blank.”

            You said in reference to 2 Timothy:

            “True, but I know of no one else that makes the same claim about anything, nor do I know of anyone in the Church ascribing to anything else such a claim, so “alone” is apt.”

            I just said that 1 Thessalonians 2:13 works. Also the Greek word for “God-breathed” is theopneustos which can also mean “From God’s spirit” ie the Holy Spirit. There are multiple places where Scripture says various people are “Filled with the Holy Spirit” and then begin to speak. A short list is: Luke 1:41, Luke 1:67, Acts 4:8, Acts 7:55. There are others but those are off the top of my head. Each of those instances involve someone speaking something “God-breathed,” “theopneustos,” “of the Holy Spirit.” That is true far before Luke recorded them. “God-breathed” cannot be arbitrarily restricted to writing and Scripture no where says that it is.

            You said:

            “So, for arguments sake I’m a Catholic and I teach someone the Catechism, surely that’s enough info if they accept and live by it for them to be saved. That would be the word of God, but not GOd breathed and Scripture. It’s true, but not revelation.”

            There is a BIG difference between that (which is kind of what I’m doing right now 😉 lol) and St. Paul’s preaching in Thessalonica circa 48AD. Paul was divinely inspired, I am not. St. Paul was preaching a new Revelation from God, I am not telling you anything new. Of course, God may be using me as one of His instruments to bring the glorious Truth of His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (I prayed for opportunities for this, ask and you shall receive!) but that still would be nowhere close to St. Paul’s oral preaching.

            You say:

            “A lot of Catholic apologetics on the issue strawman, fighting against “solo scriptura” and not sola scriptura. We do not believe that Scripture can be read divorced from tradition.”

            How is this a straw man? I got my definition of “Formally sufficient in all matters of faith and life for Christians” wrong? I’m aware that reformed folks do not say that they do not believe Scripture is the only authority or that they have a healthy respect for (and let’s be honest) SOME tradition. But you just can’t have Scripture be formally sufficient for anything if it’s incomplete and revelation is still being given! This was the case for the Jews as well. You would be the first I’ve heard to claim that the Jews prior to the New Covenant basically adhered to the reformed definition of Sola Scriptura. Especially in light of Fiddler on the Roof (TRADITION!!!!!!!!!!!!1 😉 lol).

            You said: “No, because when just the Jewish Scriptures were around they were the only authority.”

            I’m sorry, that’s just plain false. Moses was an authority. Joshua was an authority. The judges were authorities. The kings were authorities. The profits were authorities. The priests were authorities. Even the Pharisees were authorities (Matthew 23:1). If you want to say “well (except for the divinely inspired profits), those weren’t infallible authorities,” sure but the New Covenant is vastly superior to the Old. The Church is far superior to the old covenant nation of Israel which is a type. The fulfillment of a type is always superior to the type itself.

            Finally in response to my question on how do you know what the divinely inspired scriptures are, you said: “You don’t, we only have consensus over 85%, so the only thing we can be 100% sure of is the consensus.”

            And there ladies and gentlemen is the nail in the coffin for the reformation. The consensus doesn’t really matter because if you’re right about infallibility (or lack thereof) the consensus could be completely wrong! This is the legacy of protestantism on ALL doctrines. Protestantism has no infallible dogmas. No protestant is capable of binding my conscience to anything. They simply do not have the authority. Protestantism reduces all theology to nothing more than fallible human opinions. Surely our Divine Lord Jesus Christ left us something better.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

          3. Matt, I too have enjoyed our discussions but in in interest of time I need to cease, so though if Joe replies I may reply to him this will be my last response in this thread.

            ““Pre-eminence” of the Protocanon is not the same thing as rejection of the Deuterocanon. Honestly, I can agree with a lot of what you said. I like the term “Deutercanon” too for the same reason. If you want to hold that those books are divinely inspired but are “less eminent” or “less important,” I think that is a perfectly orthodox Catholic position.”

            Good, we have some common ground.

            “All Scripture is divinely inspired but not all Scripture is equally important.”

            Maybe. I think God Himself only knows what is the most important. From the Scripture itself we know that it is “God breathed,” and being that a spoken word is only exhaled and not inhaled, we may know that every word of Scripture comes from God. As Peter writes, “[N]o prophecy of Scripture came about b the prophet’s own interpretation. For Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried by the Holy Spirit.”

            Origen and Jerome taught that every single letter and how it was grammatically laid out was significant, and intentional on God’s part. Other Fathers taught that when they wrote prophecy, that they lost consciousness and wrote whatever God said, and regained it afterwards. I am not endorsing this view, but this shows how serious they took the dictation of the Scriptures.

            This is why Athanasius wrote, “The holy and inspired Scriptures are fully sufficient for the proclamation of truth.”

            Cyril of Jerusalem wrote, “For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning , but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.”

            Augustine declared that “in the plain teaching of Scripture we find all that concerns our belief and moral conduct” and Vincent of Lerins, in his defense of interpreting Scripture using the lens of Church tradition, said the Scripture was “sufficient, and more than sufficient, for all purposes.”

            So, the real question is whether the Deuterocanon would meet the criteria of having every single letter, turn of phrase, and doctrinal teaching literally exhaled out by God. You already concede the answer is no, because it is already “less important” and if every letter is breathed out for a specific purpose, this would be a hard teaching to hold to.

            This is the importance of the Canon. Amphilochius writes that “For there appear from time to time pseudonymous books, some of which are intermediate or neighbours, as one might say, to the words of Truth while others are spurious and utterly unsafe…For this reason I will state for you the divinely inspired (θεοπνεύστων, “God breathed”) books one by one, so that you may learn them clearly.”

            So, while the Deuterocanon might be an “intermediate/neighbor” and not without value just like the fathers of the Church, writing by the inspiration but not full dictation of the Spirit, Scripture alone is God breathed, purely from God, and God speaking on Earth.

            “However, there is really no such thing as one book of Scripture being “more inspired” than another. Either the book is divinely inspired or it isn’t.”

            True, but surely men other than those who wrote the Scripture God some sort of inspiration, though not dictation, from God. I do not think anyone writes anything insightful apart from the grace of God, as James reminds us all good things come. But Scripture is word for word inspired. So, Obadiah will meet that standard. 2 Maccabees, where the author says he could have probably wrote it a little better, probably not. It does not make 2 Maccabees of no importance, it is an immensely valuable resource which should be taught in churches. But, there is a reason that the fathers often did not refer to it as Scripture and even today, aside from message board debates, it is not really treated with equal esteem with the Scriptures by anyone.

            “Ooh, okay. So there is a very big problem with saying that Sacred Scripture is “word for word dictated by God.””

            That “problem” was no big to Jerome or Origen. Jerome wrote, “In the divine Scriptures every word, syllable, accent, and point is packed with meaning.” Origen writes, “There is not one jot or tittle written in the Bible [I presume the Greek has a different work] which does not accomplish its special work for those capable of using it.”

            In my mind, this criteria is what separates Scriptures from secondary works.

            “The “dictation” position doesn’t really allow the human authors of Scripture to actually be authors in any real sense.”

            Perhaps, but being that GOd can work all thing sin accordance with His will, He can control circumstances and inspiration so that a man with free will would write exactly what He wanted. Clearly, that is not outside His power.

            “There are multiple places where Scripture says various people are “Filled with the Holy Spirit” and then begin to speak. A short list is: Luke 1:41, Luke 1:67, Acts 4:8, Acts 7:55.”

            While the Scripture isn’t clear on this, I think we can agree generally that the Apostles would be like how you view the Pope. When they speak on matters of faith and teach that it must be believed, they were infallible. Hence, they were real men and had private opinions, but they were infallible when teaching doctrine.

            So, I would agree with you that before the Scripture we had infallible, inerrant teachings. However, we do not have men who literally breath out God’s revelation today. There are no “prophets” today. And, if you posit, Bishops replaced the Apostles and equivalently may speak for God, then how this would lack mention for hundreds of years when the Scripture was pontificated upon at length seems to me not worthy of serious intellectual consideration. So, the Scripture today stands in for the Apostles. So, Protestants would have not been sola scriptura when the Apostles were alive. They would be in their absence.

            “I’m aware that reformed folks do not say that they do not believe Scripture is the only authority or that they have a healthy respect for (and let’s be honest) SOME tradition.”

            As do you, as you reject tradition that contradicts modern Catholic teaching. Ancient tradition required the tasting of honey and milk after baptism. The sign of the cross was done on the forehead. Augustine taught ecumenical councils were not infallible. Clement and Didache taught against the monarchical episcopate. So, you reject all these traditions. The question is which tradition one uses to inform one’s reading of Scripture. The Catholics rely upon an infallible Pope. Protestants/Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox do not have an infallible source, and they are aware they have contradicting bishops and thinkers, so they historically analyze what appears to be the consistent and earliest teaching of Christians. Ultimately, that is a historical-critical method. The same method the fathers used when they argued that earlier fathers agreed with themselves. If they knew there was an infallible Pope to appeal to, they would have done so. However, the consistently followed the historical-critical approach.

            “But you just can’t have Scripture be formally sufficient for anything if it’s incomplete and revelation is still being given!”

            Sure it can, a lot of Scripture repeats itself.

            “Moses was an authority. Joshua was an authority. The judges were authorities. The kings were authorities. The profits were authorities.”

            Yes, when they were around there were authorities outside of Scripture. Same with the Apostles. When they weren’t around, the Scriptures stood in their place.

            “the New Covenant is vastly superior to the Old.”

            The New is taught in the Old, which is why Paul quoted from it to teach just that.

            “And there ladies and gentlemen is the nail in the coffin for the reformation.”

            No. I just quoted four or five fathers, who lacked infallible Canons and they taught that Scripture was sufficient for everything. So, your whole paradigm is ahistorical.

            “if you’re right about infallibility (or lack thereof) the consensus could be completely wrong!”

            I take it on a matter of faith that if every single Christian accepted it, which is hard to get on most issues, we may have the highest degree of confidence. Ultimately, we have a faith. There is no evidence that any of the Scriptures are actually from God. We take it from faith that they are. So, the question is what you make your starting point. I make mine the commonly accepted Scriptures. You make yours the Scriptures, the COuncil of Trent to decide those Scriptures, and the Catholic Church to tell you exactly what those Scriptures mean. THe Muslim makes it the Quran. This is why I never pretend to be intellectually superior and say that my position is somehow self-apparent. It’s not. No religion is. This is why I argue from what we commonly accept, the Scripture and Church History. If what we both accept disallows for the infallibility of Popes, then you would have an internal inconsistency which would force you to revaluate your faith. My faith, as I see it, lacks an inconsistency. And, if I am shown that there is, I will change my mind.

            God bless,

            Craig

          4. Hey Craig!

            You say: “Origen and Jerome taught that every single letter and how it was grammatically laid out was significant, and intentional on God’s part. Other Fathers taught that when they wrote prophecy, that they lost consciousness and wrote whatever God said, and regained it afterwards. I am not endorsing this view, but this shows how serious they took the dictation of the Scriptures.”

            It sounds like the “other Fathers” are describing some sort of state of ecstasy. That can happen but most scripture was not written like that. And its’ perfectly possible every single jot and tiddle of scripture to be exactly what He wanted, no more and no less, while still preserving the free will and secondary authorship of the human writers as well. Like I said, in Paul’s letters, he has to have some kind of authorship otherwise the opening greetings would be incorrect.

            The Fathers you quote on the Scripture all reveal that they have an enormous amount of respect, and love for Sacred Scripture and its necessity. But none of those quotes can make Sola Scriptura any more true because as you admit, Sola Scriptura could not have been true while public revelation is still being given and therefore could not be in that public revelation. And of course, none of those Fathers would pass a reformed theology test.

            You say: “So, I would agree with you that before the Scripture we had infallible, inerrant teachings. However, we do not have men who literally breath out God’s revelation today. There are no “prophets” today. And, if you posit, Bishops replaced the Apostles and equivalently may speak for God, then how this would lack mention for hundreds of years when the Scripture was pontificated upon at length seems to me not worthy of serious intellectual consideration. So, the Scripture today stands in for the Apostles. So, Protestants would have not been sola scriptura when the Apostles were alive. They would be in their absence.”

            Something does not have to be a new public revelation from God to be infallible or inerrant. I have never understood why protestants link those. Catholics claim that the Pope is infallible but have never claimed he was divinely inspired (outside Peter of course). Even though the Church does indeed speak with the authority of God, if it’s not new revelation (which ceased with the death of the last apostle), it doesn’t follow that what the Church says must be divinely inspired to be infallible and have God’s authority. In Titus 2:15, Paul says to Titus: ” Declare these things; exhort and reprove with ALL authority. Let NO ONE disregard you.” What a statement! Of course, Titus was not an apostle but we can clearly see Paul giving him an enormous amount of authority as Bishop of Crete. And you are thoroughly incorrect about the Church father’s not talking about the authority of a bishop. Ignatius of Antioch goes on at length in this regard. 1 Clement is a letter from the Bishop of Rome to the Corinthians admonishing them for their factitious attitude (they never learned lol) in deposing their own bishops. Evidently, Clement thought that they should listen to him even though John the apostle was still alive in Ephesus and much closer. The Bishops were given authority from the apostles as is seen in Paul’s letters to Titus and Timothy. 1 Clement is also clear that the apostles appointed men to “succeed their ministry.” Hence Apostolic Succession. You say that protestants would not be sola scriptura while the apostles are alive. But hold on a minute! This is conclusive proof that the Apostles taught no such thing! If they did teach it, you should believe it! The fact that you acknowledge you wouldn’t be sola scriptura while they were alive proves the apostles taught nothing of the sort. You then have no standing to bind my conscience to a demonstrably non-apostolic doctrine.

            You say “As do you, as you reject tradition that contradicts modern Catholic teaching. Ancient tradition required the tasting of honey and milk after baptism. The sign of the cross was done on the forehead. Augustine taught ecumenical councils were not infallible. Clement and Didache taught against the monarchical episcopate.”

            Tasting honey and milk after baptism in no way contradicts Catholic teaching. You are confusing “custom” with “Sacred Tradition.” That was an ancient custom but is in no way a binding tradition to be held with divine Catholic faith. We still make the sign of the cross on our foreheads though! We do this during mass right before the proclamation of the Gospel (and it can be done on your own). I disagree with your assessment of Augustine but it would take a long time to go into that. Check out this link for more information:
            http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/num16.htm
            And neither Clement or the Didache in any way contradict the Monarchical episcopate. Read this from Called to Communion for more discussion on that:
            http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2014/06/the-bishops-of-history-and-the-catholic-faith-a-reply-to-brandon-addison/

            You say: “The New is taught in the Old, which is why Paul quoted from it to teach just that.”

            But it isn’t abundantly obvious. If Scripture was as perspicuous as protestants would have us believe, then the New Testament and the whole apostolic ministry would have been irrelevant. If the Old Testament scriptures were “formally sufficient” for all matters of faith, the Paul wouldn’t have to explain how the Old Testament scriptures point to Jesus. The Pharisees were masters of Old Testament scriptures and probably had them all memorized. They still missed how they all point to Jesus even after Jesus told them! The scripture wasn’t perspicuous enough for the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 to understand Isaiah 53 without Phillip’s help.

            Finally you say: “I take it on a matter of faith that if every single Christian accepted it, which is hard to get on most issues, we may have the highest degree of confidence. Ultimately, we have a faith. There is no evidence that any of the Scriptures are actually from God. We take it from faith that they are. So, the question is what you make your starting point. I make mine the commonly accepted Scriptures. You make yours the Scriptures, the COuncil of Trent to decide those Scriptures, and the Catholic Church to tell you exactly what those Scriptures mean. THe Muslim makes it the Quran. This is why I never pretend to be intellectually superior and say that my position is somehow self-apparent. It’s not. No religion is. This is why I argue from what we commonly accept, the Scripture and Church History. If what we both accept disallows for the infallibility of Popes, then you would have an internal inconsistency which would force you to revaluate your faith. My faith, as I see it, lacks an inconsistency. And, if I am shown that there is, I will change my mind.”

            How is this not fideism? When infallibility for the Church gets rejected and what the scriptures actually are is anyone’s best guess, maybe fideism is all that remains. So do you seriously think that the only difference between you and Islam is a fideistic leap to the bible or the koran? Nothing of what you and I accept “disallows” the infallibility of the Pope. Again, people really need to learn what an actual contradiction is. And if you want to talk about inconsistencies, reformed positions on morals is case in point. Reformed traditions did a complete 180 on contraception. The ancient historical teaching straight from Jesus that divorce and remarriage is adultery was incredibly watered down by the protestant reformers (especially Henry VIII). More and more protestant denominations are embracing homosexual “marriage.” The Catholic Church alone has stood the test of time in these matters. Despite the devil doing his best to undermine the Church’s teachings from within using poorly formed priests, laity, and even bishops, he will NEVER overcome the Church because she is established firm by Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit.

            May God be with you.

            Matthew

    2. Craig,

      Sorry for your disappointment, but there’s no contradiction (must less self-evisceration or whatever) between saying that Jerome and Rufinus argued that we should use a 66-book canon and pointing out that they didn’t actually use such a canon themselves, and indeed spoke of Deuterocanonical Books as inspired and (in the case of Jerome) actually translated the majority of the Latin Vulgate which included the Deuterocanon. I pointed out this curious reality IN THIS POST, so it’s not exactly a disproof to say, “Yes, but did you know Jerome argued in favor of the 66 book canon?”

      Your argument on Carthage is wrong, and not what your source is suggesting. Bible Researcher argues that the Latin word “ejusdem” (“of the same”) is used anachronistically, and you’re concluding that this means somebody threw in a reference to the Hebrews. But if you removed ejusdem, the only thing it would remove is the line attributing Pauline authorship to Hebrews.

      In other words, the list would go from including “thirteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, one epistle of the same [writer] to the Hebrews,” to “thirteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, one epistle to the Hebrews.”

      Carthage probably didn’t originally ascribe Pauline authorship to Hebrews, but there’s no question that they considered it canonical (see, e.g., Augustine’s identical canon in City of God, and remember that he was one of the bishops present at Carthage.)

    3. Craig,

      You’re also wrong about all of the Fathers that you claim had 66-book canons. For example, as I’ve said of St. Amphilochius of Iconium before, Lamentations isn’t mentioned: this means that there’s either one Book too many, or too few for Protestants (depending on whether it’s the Hebrew or Greek version of Jeremiah being used). It also lists “Esdras, one and then the second” as canonical, which either means Ezra and Nehemiah, or Ezra, Nehemiah and Greek Esdras. It expressly doesn’t count Esther as canonical, cutting her out of the traditional Jewish ordering, albeit noting at the end: “With these, some approve the inclusion of Esther.”

      The New Testament list says of the Book of Revelation that “some approve, but most will call it spurious.” And as for the seven so-called Catholic Epistles, we’re told: “some say seven, others only three must be accepted: one of James, one of Peter, one of John, otherwise three of John, and with them two of Peter, and also Jude’s, the seventh.” ”

      For his part, St. Epiphanius explicitly includes Baruch. St. Rufinus, like St. Amphilochius, omits reference to Lamentations. If he considers Greek Jeremiah as canonical, that means he accepts Lamentations and Baruch, and has 67 books. If he considers Hebrew Jeremiah as canonical, that means he has 65 books. So none of your guys have the Protestant 66 book canon.

      1. Joe,

        “there’s no contradiction (must less self-evisceration or whatever) between saying that Jerome and Rufinus argued that we should use a 66-book canon and pointing out that they didn’t actually use such a canon themselves…”

        No offense, but I am not a big fan of the parsing of words like this. Allow me to restate your argument: “Even though Jerome and Rufinus endorsed a 66 Book Canon/Bible, they never used a 66 Book Canon.” While you may win your case in a court of law, it fails the test of common sense (which is why I call it a contradiction.) Jerome and Rufinus would have not endorsed a 66 book Canon, at the time they endorsed the said Canon, if they did not also use such a Canon at that time.
        So, even if they later change their minds and use a different Canon, or (more likely) they assigned a secondary status to Deuterocanonical works and freely used them in discussing doctrinal matters because of their common esteem, that does not change the fact that they as a matter of certainty used a 66 Book Canon in contradiction to your claim.

        Further, just because Jerome translated Deuterocanonical books, that in of itself is not evidence of your claim that he accepted them as Canon any more than the schoalrs behind the NRSV in translating them think they are Canon.

        “Your argument on Carthage is wrong, and not what your source is suggesting. Bible Researcher argues that the Latin word “ejusdem” (“of the same”) is used anachronistically, and you’re concluding that this means somebody threw in a reference to the Hebrews. But if you removed ejusdem, the only thing it would remove is the line attributing Pauline authorship to Hebrews.”

        Yes, but in the records of the Council, 13 epistles are ascribed to Paul. If Hebrews is “of the same” that makes the number 14. So, this makes it appear that the list was amended later. You admit in your reply that the council originally did not have the word for “of the same” in it, so we both agree the record has been amended.

        You suggest that the mention of Hebrews originally lacked an author. However, every single Epistle was given an author in the list. So, if we both already presume something was amended, wouldn’t it make more sense to say the whole section on Hebrews was added rather than assuming it was added without an author?

        Again, I did not hang my hat on this which is why I said, “manuscript evidence suggests.”

        “You’re also wrong about all of the Fathers that you claim had 66-book canons.”

        Actually, I am not.

        Amphilocus of Iconium did not mention Lamentations, because he would have counted it with Jeremiah to retain the traditional number of 22 (for the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet). I know you know this. As for Esther, being that by counting it the total is 22, the clear implication is he was including it. The same can be said about Revelation. But, even if he personally disapproved of both, the fact that some do means that there were Christians at his time that had a 66 book Canon.

        And pertaining to Saint Epiphanius, Baruch would have been part of his manuscript of Jeremiah (which, by the way, would have looked very different from your Vulgate version), so his inclusion of Baruch does not change the number of books he would have accepted (just as his exclusion of Lamentations would have not changed the number, as he would have presumed it was part of Jeremiah.)

        So, while there would be a debate as to whether Baruch legitimately belongs to Jeremiah (those who give priority to the LXX manuscript tradition would have done this), that does not change the number of books of the Bible. Rather, it begs the question as to what manuscript traditions we should be using to translate our Scriptures.

        I appreciate your interaction with the arguments, but it is my hope and prayer that you seriously address the logic of Jerome/Rufinius endorsing a Canon they supposedly did not use, and the confusion you appear to share pertaining to how the ancients count the book of Jeremiah. As for the issue over the Council of Carthage, I am well aware the issue is debatable. I think I made a convincing argument for my side, but it is my no means definitive.

        God bless,
        Craig

    4. Craig –

      The fact that someone might originally argue for a 66 book canon and then actually use a 73 books canon (key word being use) doesn’t create a contradiction by Joe. The only real contradiction is why someone who argued for a 66 book canon then turns around and uses a 73 book canon. By using a 73 book Bible Jerome and Rufinus contradict themselves, not the other way around on Joe.

      Claiming that Joe’s premises for his article is wrong is what is actually wrong unless you can point to an actual 66 book Bible in history (which you can’t) during the time period in question. Only if such a book existed and was used would the premise of his article be wrong. You owe Joe an apology or at least a retraction. Of course, if you want to redefine the word “arguing for” into meaning “rejection of” then your logic would make sense.

      1. You are aware Bible simply means “library” right? SO, I am sure Jerome had 66 books in his library. We are speaking Canon here, if someone had a 66 book Canon, he had a Protestant Bible. We have four ancient mentions of such a Canon. We have zero mentions of a 73 book Canon until perhaps the 5th century, and even that is debatable.

        God bless,
        Craig

        1. Craig –

          You are aware of the cost of a Bible aren’t you in the fourth and fifth century? I’m not so sure he could afford his own Bible.

          Of course, there is no physical 66 book Bible in history until the 16th Century but you seem to ignore that reality.

          You are now parsing words (an obvious contradiction) over the words Bible and canon. In modern English the two words are synonymous.

          Please state these “four ancient mentions” of a 66 book canon? Names and dates please.

          1. Already gave the names above, dates are synonymous with the men.

            “You are aware of the cost of a Bible aren’t you in the fourth and fifth century? I’m not so sure he could afford his own Bible.”

            Jerome was in a monastery and probably had access to everything. Even if they were not all his, and he did not own them, yes, the modern term Bible and Canon are pretty much synonymous. You are the one who said no one had one, which is of course an anachronism so I thought it was a silly thing for you to say.

  3. Craig –

    You stated:

    “You write that the “66-Book Protestant Bible wasn’t used by any of the early Christians.” Yet, you contradict these very words in your own article (“Jerome and Rufinus stand alone amongst the early Christians in arguing for the 66-book canon.”

    The fact that someone might originally argue for a 66 book canon and then actually use a 73 books canon (key word being use) doesn’t create a contradiction by Joe. The only real contradiction is why someone who argued for a 66 book canon then turns around and uses a 73 book canon. By using a 73 book Bible Jerome and Rufinus contradict themselves, not the other way around on Joe.

    Claiming that Joe’s premises for his article is wrong is what is actually wrong unless you can point to an actual 66 book Bible in history (which you can’t) during the time period in question. Only if such a book existed and was used would the premise of his article be wrong. You owe Joe an apology or at least a retraction. Of course, if you want to redefine the word “arguing for” into meaning an outright rejection of then your logic would make sense.

  4. Regarding the Deuterocanon, is there any doctrines that rise from these books. I mean: Protestants and Catholics disagree on them, but are there some consequence were it for the Catholics to renounce these books or for the protestants to embrace them? Also I think the Eastern-Ortohodox also have Maccabee 3, so why is that? (I will never understand the Eastern Church!)

    1. There’s no real consequence doctrinally to the Catholic Church dropping the 7 books (aside from the fact that we can’t — it’s been infallibly defined), as we do not hold do sola scriptura. There is for the protestants.

      2 Machabees explicitly commends praying for the dead, and Wisdom and Sirach have some pretty clear allusions to purgatory if I remember correctly. The consequence of protestants accepting the full canonicity of these books would result in having to embrace not a few Catholic doctrines, and renounce both Luther’s, Calvin’s, and Zwingli’s teachings (which around 0 protestants are ready to do). About the only options remaining for a protestant at that point would be maybe high-church anglican?

    2. Having read the DC, I do not know why Protestants treat it like the bogeyman. There are no new doctrines, no purgatory, no positive teachings on prayers for the dead, etc. I wrote about these in an article about Catholic Myths About the Deuterocanon.

      https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/04/16/catholic-myths-about-the-deuterocanon/

      Just so you know that I am an equal opportunity hater, at an earlier point in time I wrote about Protestant Myths About the Deuterocanon.

      https://christianreformedtheology.com/2016/02/04/protestant-myths-about-the-deuterocanon/

      God bless,
      Craig

  5. Craig –

    You stated the following:

    “That’s not a fallacy. You need to know fractions in order to figure out what a batter hit during a baseball game. However, you may learn these fractions without having access to an authoritative math text book.”

    You need to know math before you know what is a fraction!!!

    You are the one asserting that sola scriptura can exist without man knowing what is scripture. That’s a logical fallacy unless scripture is known a priori. Scripture can’t be scripture and not scripture at the same time. Sola Scriptura can only effectively work if scripture is known a priori. Otherwise, man can chose whatever he wants as scripture since there are no standards to determine what is scripture and scripture itself doesn’t set forth what is scripture or how it’s determined. This has been a logical fallacy of sola scriptura since it was invented.

    1. It’s actually worse I think. In response to my saying:

      “From this it sounds like Sola Scriptura wouldn’t require a Canon at all.”

      Craig responds:

      “It doesn’t.”

      I guess Sola Scriptura can somehow be true without Scripture even existing!

      Matthew

      1. Matthewp –

        Yep! A logical fallacy that Craig and Calvin can’t get around. Only if scripture existed a priori might sola scriptura actually work.

      2. Sola Scriptura was not true when God had prophets walking the Earth, speaking for Him. We do not have that anymore, so now we have the writings of those prophets, which stands in as their authority, which comes from God for it is God speaking. There is no “logical fallacy,” it is rather simple really but it seems like there is a purposeful intent not to understand it. I’ll give you the last word on this matter.

        1. Craig –

          I suggest you stop asserting that nobody needs to truly know what is scripture for sola scriptura to work. That’s a logical fallacy. Scripture can’t be scripture and not scripture at the same time.

  6. Craig –

    “Jerome was in a monastery and probably had access to everything. Even if they were not all his, and he did not own them, yes, the modern term Bible and Canon are pretty much synonymous. You are the one who said no one had one, which is of course an anachronism so I thought it was a silly thing for you to say.”

    You were the one who brought up Jerome having a library, not me. You are the one who didn’t condition your statement about Jerome’s library and implied it was his own because he was arguing for a 66 canon and therefore must have used a 66 canon despite evidence that others were using a 73 book canon. Of course, you reject the evidence of a 73 book canon but you’re certain Jerome was actually using a shared 66 book canon.

  7. Craig,

    Just a few questions/comments, would love your feedback on it.

    1: if some in the ancient world had a 66 book canon, but on the one hand it included material considered deuterocanonical/apocryphal by protestants today; or on the other hand excluded material within the protestant canon, though still adding up to 66 books…

    …how does that mean the ancient person had a protestant canon? It seems to me that although both get to 66, the contents are still different.

    2: You said “Jerome and Rufinus would have not endorsed a 66 book Canon, at the time they endorsed the said Canon, if they did not also use such a Canon at that time.”

    That may be the case. I think it may also be the case that they used a different canon, but since the canon debate was not strictly speaking “settled” at their own time, they weighed in on the subject in favour of a 66 book canon that they put forth. This seems at least plausible to me, and since historical data commonly (though not exclusively) comes to us narratively rather than with facts set in stone, we need to interpret the historical data. For this reason I’m not so sure your position so easily gainsays the catholic position. I think you’re also aware of the early church’s view of the “judgment of the churches”. This could easily explain why Jerome later went back to a different collection of canonical writings. Also, the 66 book canon they initially put forth still seems to have different contents as per my question in #1 above.

    3: you said “So, even if they later change their minds and use a different Canon, or (more likely) they assigned a secondary status to Deuterocanonical works and freely used them in discussing doctrinal matters because of their common esteem, that does not change the fact that they as a matter of certainty used a 66 Book Canon in contradiction to your claim.”

    I think by now this really seems to me to be beating a dead horse. When Joe talks about nobody in the ancient world using a 66 book canon, I take it from the context that he refers to the contents included in the current modern protestant canon. From the comments so far it seems to me you understood him more literally meaning 66 books, so that if you can prove a 66 count somewhere in history, Joe made an error.

    Fair enough. I don’t know 100% if Joe meant “66 books” as literally as you took him. Maybe he can enlighten us both. I do however think he probably meant it in the way I understood it.

    I’d be interested in your remarks on these points.

    God bless,
    Marius

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