Did the Councils of Hippo and Carthage have a different OT canon then Trent?


#1

I have heard some people allege that the councils of Hippo and Carthage in the late 4th century had a slightly different canon of scripture than the canon of the council of Trent. Supposedly Hippo and Carthage included 3 Esdras and Trent did not. If this were true, how would it impact the catholic church’s claim to having the canon settled in 4th century?


#2

I don’t believe that the Catholic Church says that the Canon was infallibly defined by the end of the fourth century. It was essentially defined even before Hippo and Carthage, but was not infallibly defined until Trent.


#3

Hey Bro Rich,
Two points:

  1. But don’t most scholars, both Catholic and non, consider the Canon set after Carthage and Hippo?

  2. Isn’t the reason that Trent infallibly defined this issue because until then it had not been attacked?


#4

Hey CM,

1.) Weren’t Carthage and Hippon limited in their jurisdiction?

2.) Although I’m not sure the canon of Carthage and Hippo was “attacked”, there were prominent Catholics, even at the time of the reformation who rejected your deutero’s either in whole or in part. Cardinal Cajetan comes to mind. I bring this up to illustrate that Carthage and Hippo weren’t…I don’t know the term. dogmatic(?) in their decrees.

3.) In the debate between Michuta and White on this issue, the differences between Carthage and Hippo on the one hand, and Trent on the other were brought up. BTW, I know you guys don’t care for James White all that much but this debate was very informative. Both sides brought up very good points so if you can get this debate from a website somewhere, I would suggest purchasing it.

If I remember correctly, Hippo and Carthage state that 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras are canonical. They are referring here to the Septuagint version of 1 and 2 Esdras.

In this version 1 Esdras is the Apocryphal additions to Ezra while 2 Esdras is the Jewish verion of Ezra-Nehemiah from the Jewish canon. I believe that Trent states that 1 Esdras is actually Ezra from the Jewish canon and 2 Esdras is Nehemiah from the Jewish canon. Trent omits the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras.

Also, Hippo and Carthage state that Solomon wrote 5 books of the Old Testament when in actuality he wrote only 3.

I believe the way Michuta handled this issue was to say that Trent passed over the issue of canonicity of 1 Esdras in silence.


#5
  1. It was for all practical purposes.

  2. The Canon is also addressed in two other universal Councils between the regional councils at the end of the 4th century and the Universal Council of Trent in the 16th century. So there may very well have been some other minor issues in the 1200’s and 1400’s. We also find the Canon in other Christian writings between the councils.


#6

Hi, everybody! Sorry if I slow you down by jumping in here…but:

Yes.  But, isn't the point NOT that they couldn't speak finally for the whole church, but that they met regionally at both events and agreed on the same list for their regions.  (And before either of these regional councils, Pope Damasus in AD 382, prompted by the *Council of Rome*, wrote a decree listing the present OT and NT canon of 73 books, which list was coincidentally (?) echoed soon thereafter by Hippo and Carthage.)

2.) Carthage and Hippo weren’t…dogmatic(?) in their decrees.

Since no Catholic entity can speak dogmatically without the pope, his absence is a clue that these councils, while settling the matter as much as they could, did not purport to settle it for the Church at large.

I believe that Pope St. Innocent I in AD 405, approved the 73-book canon, and by so doing closed the canon. His canon was re-stated repeatedly, most famously at Trent.

If I remember correctly, Hippo and Carthage state that 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras are canonical. They are referring here to the Septuagint version of 1 and 2 Esdras.

In this version 1 Esdras is the Apocryphal additions to Ezra while 2 Esdras is the Jewish verion of Ezra-Nehemiah from the Jewish canon. I believe that Trent states that 1 Esdras is actually Ezra from the Jewish canon and 2 Esdras is Nehemiah from the Jewish canon. Trent omits the Septuagint version of 1 Esdras.

But, when you say “Jewish version” and “Jewish canon”, I get confused. The Septuagint was a translation (completed between 250-125 BC), by Jews for Jews, of the scriptures from Hebrew into the language Hebrews were then commonly using–Greek. So the Septuagint was a Jewish book. (It also happens to be the translation/collection referenced by Jesus and the New Testament writers…who also chose to write in Greek.)

In the third century, rabbinic Judaism “purified” the scriptures by dropping from the Septuagint anything which seemed too Gentile or too Greek–so, dropping any book for which they could find no Hebrew version (the Dead Sea Scrolls have since provided ancient Hebrew copies of some of these dropped books…) So this reduced canon of the Old Testament (adopted 1500 years later by Martin Luther for his own reasons): also Jewish.

I wish I could speak to what is given as fact about the re-labeling of Esdras, Ezra etc., but I can’t. If what you say is so–that somewhere along the line, maybe at Trent, material included in the original Septuagint was dropped, then that would seem to show that what Catholics accept now as the Septuagint is not really the Septuagint? Because the material the Septuagint included as 1 Esdras is missing from the Catholic OT now? Do we know whether this “dropped” material is included in the OT lists drawn up by Damasus, Hippo, Carthage? If there is material lost between the publication in BC of the Septuagint and now, when was it lost?

I can see I would have to drop everything and excavate church history to determine this–and since I trust the Church to be right about her patrimony, I tend to accept the Bible She gives me as authentic and inspired… but of course, I am interested to see how it works out in the details if others have them…:slight_smile:


#7

I think Michuta handled this question again (but from a different angle) during his recent appearance on CAL. A caller brought up the extra books in the Orthodox bibles and whether or not the Orthodox would be allowed to keep these if and when there is unification. Michuta said something along the lines that these books were passed over silently during Trent, so that might provide some sort of allowal for the Orthodox. I’ll have to re-listen to the broadcast.

Does he handle the “passed over in silence” issue in his book?


#8

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