CAL 4/18/14—Tim Staples on the Canon


I was listening to CAL the other day and noticed what I would consider a mishmash of misinformation on the biblical canon. I’m curious how Catholics react to Tim Staples’s claims and/or approach:

15:20-17:06; 23:05 Orthodox wrongfully inserted books into the biblical canon;

18:18 Staples wants to use O.T. books being quoted in the N.T. as a criteria for books being canonical, but at the same time he wants to reject the Book of Enoch, which of course is also quoted in the N.T. (the book of Jude).

20:04 Staples claims that Jesus used the canon of the Septuagint. (Of course the codex wasn’t even invented yet at the time of Jesus, and moreover, even if it had been then Jesus would have considered books as scriptural that Catholics reject, such as 3 & 4 Maccabees, which the caller also points out at around 21:15)

30:30 Jesus read from the Greek text of Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth (I don’t know of a single scholar that thinks the Jews of Nazareth would have used a Greek text in their synagogue service.)

Staples points out that the Dead Sea Scrolls community had books like Tobit in their biblical canon (Of course again, the codex hadn’t been invented yet and we don’t have a list of canonical books used by the Qumran community, and all sorts of extra-biblical writings were found at Qumran as well. Staples’s point would actually support the caller’s question that the Book of Enoch could be considered canonical, since it was also found at Qumran.)

I could go on, but I think you get my drift. You can listed to the call yourself at around 15:20 - 24:45.


CAL is “Catholic Answers Live” ?? It must be.

Staples has led you down a blind alley with a trick question. Or, so The Orthodox Bible would make you think. (from Thomas Nelson Publishers).

Why? According to this “Bible” the Orthodox Church has never officially defined the list of books in the Bible, so his assertion that the “Orthodox” have inserted such and such a book into the Bible is like an icicle melting on a hot sidewalk.

In a preliminary essay in this “Bible” the editors tell you what the Orthodox Church is. part of that definition, which is how they define themselves for sure, is by listing which church councils they subscribe to, which is only six or seven of the early ecumenical councils. The early councils which defined a list of canonical books were not ecumenical councils.


So, it takes one person about $30 and some reading time to, shall we say, put Staples answer into some context and perspective.


Yes, CAL = Catholic Answers Live

That’s my point. Virtually everything Staples was saying on that call was either just incorrect or wildly speculative.


The Council of Trent was the last church council that I am aware of that affirmed (in the face of the protestant reformation) which books belonged to the canon of the Bible. But, I’m not sure that it was ecumenical council in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, but was certainly not such by the Orthodox Church, which had been schism for hundreds of years, with each “church” excommunicating the other.

The Orthodox Study Bible essay on the Orthodox Church shows how the Roman Catholic Church was simply the first church to schism from it, the self-proclaimed church of the new testament. They attribute the subsequent protestant schisms as simply following logically and necessarily from the “error” of the RCC in defining the papacy as we know it today. The protestants, the OC says, simply reacted as it did to the errors of the RCC.

(a separate book I read on the subject of the Orthodox Church summarizes the situation this way, that the Roman Catholics added too much to the Church and the Protestants threw away too much but they’re still doing business as the church of the new testament. )

The Catechism of the Catholic Church even today says that the Orthodox Church is in schism due to its heresy.

One of the appendices of The Orthodox Study Bible, nonetheless, shows the standard morning and evening prayers of the Orthodox Church, one of which contains a prayer for reunification of those churches in schism from it

The Orthodox Church, according to the supplementary information, still asserts the solitary “procession” of the Holy Spirit from the Father (filioque controversy alive and well).


Catechism of the Catholic Church
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.

247 The affirmation of the filioque does not appear in the Creed confessed in 381 at Constantinople. But Pope St. Leo I, following an ancient Latin and Alexandrian tradition, had already confessed it dogmatically in 447,76 even before Rome, in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon, came to recognize and receive the Symbol of 381. the use of this formula in the Creed was gradually admitted into the Latin liturgy (between the eighth and eleventh centuries). the introduction of the filioque into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Latin liturgy constitutes moreover, even today, a point of disagreement with the Orthodox Churches.

248 At the outset the Eastern tradition expresses the Father’s character as first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who proceeds from the Father”, it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son.77 The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (filioque). It says this, “legitimately and with good reason”,78 for the eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as “the principle without principle”,79 is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Holy Spirit proceeds.80 This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.


There is not really any question of doctrine involved. It is not a heresy, but a schism…


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