Deuterocanonicals


#1

I recently had a discussion with a Protestant friend in which I argued that the early Church viewed the deuterocanonicals as being part of Scripture. In order to back my argument with facts, I decided to do research. What I found was that several significant Church Fathers apparently denied the canonicity of the deuterocanonicals or did not include them in their lists of the canon. Among them were Melito of Sardis, Athanansius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, and Pope Gregory the Great (specifically 1 Maccabees). What was disturbing to me was that Pope Gregory would say that 1 Maccabees was not canonical after the Councils of Hippo and Carthage and previous Popes declared that it was. Moreover, I’m having difficulty responding to the claim that Tobit cannot be canonical because the angel Raphael lied by specifically saying he was Azariah, the son of a person Tobit knew. How can an angel lie? I know there are plenty of angel-in-disguise stories in the Bible, but in none of these stories do you find an angel blatantly lying about his identity. Instead, they remain silent. I know Jewish morality at the time was different from Christian morality, but wouldn’t an angel, a sinless being that knows the moral law of God, know better and refrain from lying? I know that Tobit is a work of fiction, but why would the Holy Spirit inspire someone to write a story in which an angel of God sins by lying?

God Bless


#2

Of course many of the earliest Church Fathers disagreed. Many leaders had books such as the Book of Barnabas in the Bible. The Scriptures had not yet been set down authoritativly and so some books that are in there now were not then…and some in there then are not now. The Church has the authority to tell us which books belong in the Scriptures and thank God she did!!
We should not try to prove the deuterocanonicals by saying that the early Church Fathers all held to them…when in fact, as you found out, they did not. They did not because the Scriptures had not yet been set down.


#3

Did Some Church Fathers Reject the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture?

The answer is that even those who had doubts about the canonical status of the Deutercanonicals used them as Scripture and cited them as such. Even Jerome who had some strong words against them, in practice, used them as Scripture. Read the link. The Fathers unaninmously quoted the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture. This is what he claims he proves… and I think he does… you read and be convinced:

[font=‘Times New Roman’]We will first see a statement from the Father that does seem to indicate that they do not accept the Deuterocanonicals as canonical Scripture. Then we will see how they viewed the Deuterocanonicals in their quotations and references…[font=‘Times New Roman’]My focus is that we will see that the Church Fathers unanimously treated them as Scripture, even if at the same time these very Fathers suspected that they were not canonical.[/font]

[/font]
Ooh, the plot thickens. :slight_smile:

To supplement that, read Refuting an Attack on the Deutercanonicals at the same site.

It has answers to some silly objections such as…

I know that Tobit is a work of fiction, but why would the Holy Spirit inspire someone to write a story in which an angel of God sins by lying?

Then why does Scripture record Saul ‘falling on his sword,’ that is, committing suicide?

The view the Church Fathers had was overwhelmingly in favor of the Deutercanonicals. Furthermore, the small selection of Fathers that did express doubts did use them as Scripture. And, to put it all to rest, the Church declared them to be Scripture. That’s good enough for me. Read both of those links all the way through. Alright?


#4

OK, I knew I had a note in one of my Bibles…The name Azariah is symbolic; it means “help of God”. And Ananias ( name of the father Tobit knew) means “grace of God”.
So, what the story is having the angel say is something like: I am God’s helper, sent by God’s grace"…which is perfectly true.
I do realize that this may not satisfy your friend, but the fact is, that the name was used to symbolize something very real in the story…


#5

OOOOH! I love this topic. My first defense of my faith involved the deuterocanonicals. And my resource was Jimmy Akin’s reply:

ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/DEUTEROS.HTM

and the same reply but shorter:

cin.org/users/james/files/deuteros.htm

When my protestant friend was spouting this apocrypha this, Jerome and Origin didn’t believe that; this tract answered these questions, and I didn’t hear from him again on this subject.

I get it out and re-read it every now and then to re-sharpen my knowledge on this subject. There are many other defenses out there, but this one’s my sentimental favorite.

SG257


#6

Here’s another good site about the deuterocanonicals:

envoymagazine.com/backissues/1.2/marapril_story2.html

Anti-Catholics love to use St. Jerome against the deutorcanonicals. But from the site that Rob gave, you will find that was not the case. St. Jerome believed that they should not be part of the canon because the European Jews did not accept them, making them apologetically useless in defending the faith from Jewish objections. (Such as the prophecy of the Lord’s passion in the Book of Wisdom.) From the site provided by Rob, you will see that St. Jerome quotes the deuterocanonicals in defense of Catholic doctrines, he did view them as scripture. When the Church declared the canon in the 300s, he accepted its decision:

'Jerome

“What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:29–68, RSV-CE], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they are wont to make against us. If I did not reply to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly the remark, for I said, ‘This is not the time to discuss such matters’” (Against Rufinius 11:33 [A.D. 401]).’

catholic.com/library/Old_Testament_Canon.asp

Let’s not forget that St. Jerome was a firm believer in the perpetual Virgity of Our Lady:

jamesakin.com/

click where it says “Mary and the Saints” Then click where it says “Mary’s Virginity” Then click where it says, “How did St. Jerome defend Mary’s Perpetual Virginity?”


#7

Thank you all for the helpful information. However, I still don’t understand why Pope Gregory the Great would call 1 Maccabees uncanonical after the Councils of Hippo and Carthage said they were? Since he was Pope, I thought he would agree with the decisions of the councils. Also, the Bible talks about Saul committing suicide without endorsing it or presenting it as acceptable behavior. Saul was a human being with a fallen nature. Angels, on the other hand, are not. I still having difficulty understanding how a story inspired by the Holy Spirit would have an angel lying? I know the names he presneted have symbolic meaning, but they were also the names of actual people that Tobit’s family knew.

God Bless


#8

From what I can tell, the statements attributed to Pope Gregory the Great concerning the deuterocanonical books were made before he became pope. Even so, he does not deny that the deuterocanonicals should not be in the Bible:
Now, according to his [St. Jerome’s] judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they [the deuterocanonical books] may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose.


#9

[quote=Todd Easton]From what I can tell, the statements attributed to Pope Gregory the Great concerning the deuterocanonical books were made before he became pope. Even so, he does not deny that the deuterocanonicals should not be in the Bible:Now, according to his [St. Jerome’s] judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they [the deuterocanonical books] may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose.

[/quote]

confused by the double negative… he did say they were canonical,right?


#10

Just to clarify, please…

The deuterocanonicals were included in the canon of scripture at Hippo (393) and Carthage (397), correct?


#11

[quote=MrS]confused by the double negative… he did say they were canonical,right?
[/quote]

Oops. Sorry about that. Yes. I meant: “Even so, he does not say that the deuterocanonicals should not be in the Bible” or “Even so, he does not deny that the deuterocanonicals should be in the Bible.”

It seems to me that Gregory distinguished two classes of books within the canon of the Bible: 1. books (the protocanonicals) to be used for confirming matters of faith and for edifying the faithful; 2. books (the deuterocanonicals) to be used for edifying the faithful only.


#12

[quote=mikeledes]Thank you all for the helpful information. However, I still don’t understand why Pope Gregory the Great would call 1 Maccabees uncanonical after the Councils of Hippo and Carthage said they were? Since he was Pope, I thought he would agree with the decisions of the councils. Also, the Bible talks about Saul committing suicide without endorsing it or presenting it as acceptable behavior. Saul was a human being with a fallen nature. Angels, on the other hand, are not. I still having difficulty understanding how a story inspired by the Holy Spirit would have an angel lying? I know the names he presneted have symbolic meaning, but they were also the names of actual people that Tobit’s family knew.

God Bless
[/quote]

This also operates on the assumption that by canon and Scripture he meant the same exact thing. Indeed, today the two meanings have come to mean virtually the same thing. However, it is possible they weren’t exactly the same in the past. Is it at all plausible that Scripture that was not scheduled to be regularly read in a particular church would not be canon? Matt’s site uses the example of a certain church which does not consider Revelation to be in canon, for it is not read in the liturgy-- and yet would be horrified if you told them it wasn’t Scripture. Sometimes the lines aren’t as fine as we’d like them. But, there usually is a good explanation.


#13

[quote=mikeledes]Angels, on the other hand, are not. I still having difficulty understanding how a story inspired by the Holy Spirit would have an angel lying? I know the names he presneted have symbolic meaning, but they were also the names of actual people that Tobit’s family knew.
[/quote]

The Angel was not lying. The Book of Tobit is a historic parable, meaning that it is based on historic facts, but the story was written more to emphasise a moral then facts.

Tobit the elder prays for death, God hears his prayer (via the presentation of it by St. Raphael) and send Rapheal to Tobit. Which means, “Medicine of God.”

In Chapter 5, when Tobit the elder asks for the name of the companion of his son, Raphael (Medicine of God) replies he is Azariah (God Helps), the son of Hanniah (God is merciful). Then Tobit the elder replies that he knows Hanniah (God is merciful) and Nathaniah (God gives), and that they are the two sons of Shemiah (God hears).

With that said, you can see more clearly how the Holy Spirit moved the author of this parable. The Angel is not lying, he is giving us hints to his identity and that God has heard Tobit’s prayer. In essence, how God hears our prayers.

The passages I make reference to are: Tobit 5:13-14.


#14

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