Canon of Scripture


I was just confronted with a quote from St Gregory the Great where he calls 1 Macc not Canonical. Anyone heard of this? Have an answer?




  1. With reference to which particular we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not Canonical [Note: Cited by Cosin, Scholast. Hist. of Canon, c. viii. art. xcix. where some attempts at reconciling such statements with the decree of the Council of Trent are discussed. The same work contains a general review of authorities on the Canon of H. S. a subject too extensive for a mere note.], yet brought out for the edifying of the Church, we bring forward testimony. Thus Eleazar in the battle smote and brought down an elephant, but fell under the very beast that he killed. [1 Macc. 6, 46] Whom, then, does this one represent, whom his own victory bore down, but those persons who overcome bad habits, but by being lifted up are brought down under the very things they bring under? For it is as if he died under the enemy he lays low, who is lifted up by the sin that he subdues. Accordingly it deserves above every thing to be considered, that good points cannot avail, if bad ones that creep in unawares are not guarded against. All that is done perishes, if it be not heedfully preserved in humility. Hence too it is well said of the first parent himself; And the Lord put the man into the Paradise of pleasure, to work and to keep it. [Gen. 2, 15] For he ‘worketh,’ who does in act the good that is enjoined. But what he has wrought he keepeth not, whom that creepeth upon which is forbidden. Therefore let blessed Job, because he had covered himself on every side with good practice, say, With righteousness I was clothed, and arrayed myself as with a garment. Where it is forthwith added,
    And my judgment a diadem.


The simple answer is that the Fathers of the Church held many different views on issues such as this, but the decision to include (or not) a book in the Canon of Scripture isn’t made by one man, but the Magisterium as directed by the Holy Spirit.


Don’t confuse canonicity and “inspired” or “divine”. Pope Gregory believed the deuterocanon was inspired by God, but didn’t believe it held the same status as the protocanon in regular teaching within the Church. It’s also worth pointing out that this is the Pope’s personal opinion. The Pope is not infallible at all times, so the degree to which this statement is binding on Catholics or carries any truth can be disputed. Furthermore, the Pope’s personal opinion can be wrong.


Long story short, there were periods in different times and places in the Church where the “deterocanonical” books were disputed as to their status. Long story long (but not as long as it could be), see here:


I wonder if 1 Macc. 6:46 is the only verse in the Bible where the word “elephant” occurs.


A similar question was posed and answered by the folks at EWTN Catholic Q & A some years ago, here.


I believe that Maccabees is deuterocanoncial; so in a sense one could say it is not canonical, but rather…


Haha that’s a good one!

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