Is there any evidence that the Jews accepted the Deuterocanonicals?

According to Josephus:

We have but twenty-two [books] containing the history of all time, books that are justly believed in; and of these, five are the books of Moses, which comprise the law and earliest traditions from the creation of mankind down to his death. From the death of Moses to the reign of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, the successor of Xerxes, the prophets who succeeded Moses wrote the history of the events that occurred in their own time, in thirteen books. The remaining four documents comprise hymns to God and practical precepts to men (William Whiston, trans., Flavius Josephus against Apion, Vol. I, in Josephus, Complete Works, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1960, p. 8).

He says there has been no more authoritative writings since the reign of Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes (464-424 B.C.). This is the same time of Malachi – the last book in the Old Testament.

Josephus also declared the willingness of the Jewish people to die for their sacred writings:

“And how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them or take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willing to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in numbers, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws, and the records that contain them” (Josephus, Ibid. p. 609).


So I’m wondering what evidence there is that the Jews would have accepted the deuterocanonical books? What sort of historical evidence can we rely on?

Against Apion (Greek: Φλαΐου Ἰωσήπου περὶ ἀρχαιότητος Ἰουδαίων λόγος α and Φλαΐου Ἰωσήπου περὶ ἀρχαιότητος ἀντιρρητικὸς λόγος β; Latin Contra Apionem or In Apionem) was a polemical work written by Flavius Josephus as a defense of Judaism as a classical religion and philosophy, stressing its antiquity against what he perceived as more recent traditions of the Greeks. Against Apion cites Josephus’ earlier work Antiquities of the Jews, so can be dated after C.E. 94. It was most likely written in the early second century

This is post-Christianity’s gradual (often violent) separation from the synagogue, and remember the Temple was already destroyed.

Josephus also declared the willingness of the Jewish people to die for their sacred writings:

“And how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them or take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willing to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in numbers, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws, and the records that contain them” (Josephus, Ibid. p. 609).


So I’m wondering what evidence there is that the Jews would have accepted the deuterocanonical books? What sort of historical evidence can we rely on?

What do you mean by “accept”? There are many books not in the Jewish Scriptures considered canonical - Talmud, writings of Rabbis, etc. The Maccabees was probably well-known and called “the Book of the Hasmoneans”. Among others, the Greek/Alexandrian Jews - whom Josephus’ work is not about (he focuses more on Roman-Judea and Jerusalem) considered the book Scripture, as did many Jewish groups in Judea prior to the rise of Christianity and the Temple destruction.

The Jewish War
His first work in Rome was an account of the Jewish War, addressed to certain “upper barbarians”—usually thought to be the Jewish community in Mesopotamia—in his “paternal tongue” (War I.3), arguably the Western Aramaic language. He then wrote a seven-volume account in Greek known as the Jewish War (Latin Bellum Judaicum or De Bello Judaico). It starts with the period of the Maccabees and concludes with accounts of the fall of Jerusalem, and the succeeding fall of the fortresses of Herodion, Macharont and Masada and the Roman victory celebrations in Rome, the mopping-up operations, Roman military operations elsewhere in the Empire and the uprising in Cyrene. Together with the account in his Life of some of the same events, it also provides the reader with an overview of Josephus’ own part in the events since his return to Jerusalem from a brief visit to Rome in the early 60s (Life 13–17).

jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10237-maccabees-books-of
Concerning the author no information is obtainable beyond that which may be inferred from the book itself. He was a devout and patriotic Jew who lived and wrote in Palestine. This latter fact is proved by his intimate and exact geographical knowledge of the Holy Land (comp. iii. 24; vii. 19; ix. 2-4, 33, 34, 43; xii. 36-40; xiii. 22, 23; xvi. 5, 6) and by his lack of accurate knowledge of any of the foreign countries which he mentions. The author was also a loyal admirer of the Hasmonean family; he believed that to it Israel owed her deliverance and existence. He admired not only the military deeds of Judas (comp. v. 63), but also those of Jonathan (comp. x. 15-21) and Simon (comp. xiv. 4-15). The narrative is told not as though deliverance came by miracle, but as though it was due to the military genius of these men, exercised under the favoring guidance of God (i. 64, iii. 8). Curiously enough the word “God” does not appear in the work, nor does the word “Lord.” The idea is not lacking, however, as in the Book of Esther, but is represented by “Heaven,” or by the pronoun “He.” The author was a deeply religious man in spite of this mannerism. He was very zealous for the Law and for the national religious institutions (see i. 11, 15, 43; ii. 20-22; iii. 21), for the Scriptures (i. 56, iii. 48), and for the Temple (i. 21, 39; iii. 43).

What exactly is your point?

Sure, but I was asking specifically regarding the Deuterocanonical books found within the Catholic Old Testament.

To answer your question “What I mean by accept” it seems that Josephus wrote a comprehensive list about which Scriptures belong. He singled out specific books, and I’m wondering if that was ever done by a Jew prior to Josephus, or anyone else during that time or shortly after.

Is there any Jewish person who says “These books are our most important ones” While including the Deuterocanonicals?

There are lots of theories on why the books were excluded in the post-Temple Roman occupied Judean regions, here are a few:

myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/

It has also been suggested that the exclusion of the Books of the Maccabees can be traced to the political rivalry that existed during the late Second Temple Period between the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Sadducees, a priestly class in charge of the Temple, openly rejected the oral interpretations that the Pharisees, the proto-rabbinic class, openly promoted. The Maccabees were a priestly family, while the rabbis who may have determined the final form of the biblical canon at Jamnia were descended from the Pharisees. Is it possible that the exclusion of the Books of Maccabees was one of the last salvos in the battle between the Pharisees and Sadducees? Would the rabbis at Jamnia have been inclined to canonize a document that so clearly praised the priestly Hasmonean family?

Perhaps they felt it unwise to promote a text that heralded the successful outcome of a Jewish revolt. It may have posed a threat both internally and externally. The Romans would certainly not look kindly upon the popularization of such a text, since it might very well reintroduce the concept of revolt to a population desperately trying to survive the devastating outcome of its own failed attempts. Ironically, this very internal/external struggle lies at the core of the Hanukkah story, and perhaps it was this very struggle playing out again in history that prevented the basic texts about Hanukkah from being included within the biblical canon.

Although the Books of Maccabees were not included within the Hebrew Bible, they are still of value. Yet even this is difficult within a traditional Jewish context, due to another historical layer. First and Second Maccabees were included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible originally prepared for the Jewish community of Alexandria. However, the Septuagint became the official version of the Bible for the nascent Christian Church. When this happened, its authoritative nature was rejected by the Jewish community. Ironically, the Books of Maccabees survived because they became part of the Christian canon, for otherwise they most certainly would have been lost during the centuries. But once this Christian canonization occurred, these books became lost to the Jewish world for many centuries.

Today there is a renewed interest in these books within the Jewish community. Students of Jewish history and Jewish literature recognize the value of these documents that took such pains to record details, events and personalities of a major period in Jewish history. While not considered as part of the canon in any Jewish community, the books are again being read and studied to help enrich our understanding and our celebration of Hanukkah.

–Dr. Rachael Turkienicz teaches at York University and is affiliated with York’s Centre for Jewish Studies and its Faculty of Education. She also serves as director of a beit midrash in Toronto, Canada.

Also, if this topic is something you enjoy, you might find this lecture interesting:

yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/725302/Dr._Shnayer_Leiman/Inspiration_and_Canonicity:_The_Formation_of_the_Biblical_Text

So, the Dronaldian Canon of Scripture o has only twenty-two books vs the Protestant 39 Books?

Dronald…the Apostles themselves…they were Jews…prior to being Christians…and from them we get the Septuagint…which is what is the Catholic OT is. And consider Paul…a Jew named Saul…so what further evidence do you need?

Yes, the Deuterocanonicals apparently were read in the synagogues in various areas. There were plenty of synagogues, on the other hand, that didn’t accept Esther until fairly well along. Then there were folks like the Samaritans who didn’t even accept the books of the prophets. After there was the big Jewish revolt, the disagreement within Judaism about proper practice in synagogues became a lot more important, because they didn’t have the Temple anymore.

Christianity spread in a lot of areas which had the more inclusive Jewish view of Scripture, and Christianity included a lot of Deuterocanonical sayings in the Gospels. So Christianity kept the more inclusive version of the Bible, after it was mostly driven out of Judaism.

If you are interested in this topic, you will probably want to look at what was known and what has been discovered through archeology about Alexandrian Judaism, Babylonian Judaism, etc. I’m not sure where you should start, but there’s an academic blog called Paleojudaica that links to a lot of articles and news stories about ancient Judaism.

Besides the fact that they wrote them? :shrug:

As you know there was lots of debate on the Jewish canon and some Jews only accepted the first 5 books.

The biggest thing to me, is ask any Jewish scholar/rabbi what their holy texts are, and every single one if them will tell you more than the 39 book Old Testament. This is because Jewish tradition involves much more than just the written word. The Talmud and its commentaries are part of it. They’d never fathom reading the scripture outside that and it seems to me the deuterocanonicals fit in that type of tradition.

Can I suggest a book, A Christian’s Guide to Judaism by Rabbi Lotker. While it doesn’t really deal with this question directly, it does demonstrate that Christian’s ideas of what judaism is is at best inaccurate, and at worst a fabricated straw man.

I think you would very much enjoy this article from a Jewish perspective regarding why Maccabees is not in the Canon.

It seems they conclude, “we don’t know, probably political reasons”.

myjewishlearning.com/article/omitting-the-maccabees/

Actually, historical research reveals that the Masoretic Text wasn’t written until between the 7th to 11th centuries The Masorites admitted that they received corrupted texts to begin with.

What did the Masoretes themselves believe? Did they believe they were perfectly preserving the ancient text? Did they even think they had received a perfect text to begin with?
History says “no” . . .
Scribal emendations – Tikkune Soferim
Early rabbinic sources, from around 200 CE, mention several passages of Scripture in which the conclusion is inevitable that the ancient reading must have differed from that of the present text. . . . Rabbi Simon ben Pazzi (3rd century) calls these readings “emendations of the Scribes” (tikkune Soferim; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlix. 7), assuming that the Scribes actually made the changes. This view was adopted by the later Midrash and by the majority of Masoretes.
In other words, *the Masorites themselves felt they had received a partly corrupted text. *
A stream cannot rise higher than its source. If the texts they started with were corrupted, then even a perfect transmission of those texts would only serve to preserve the mistakes. Even if the Masoretes demonstrated great care when copying the texts, their diligence would not bring about the correction of even one error.

There also appear to be a number of accidental changes which they allowed to creep into the Hebrew text. For example, consider Psalm 145. Psalm 145 is an acrostic psalm where each verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the Aleppo Codex the first verse begins with the letter aleph, the second with the beyt, the third with the gimel, and so on. Verse 13 begins with the letter מ (mem-top highlighted letter), the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet; the next verse begins with the letter ס (samech-bottom highlighted letter), the 15th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There is no verse beginning with the 14th letter נ (nun).
The missing verse reads, “The Lord is faithful in His words and holy in all His works.” This verse can be found in the Septuagint. In this particular case, it is easy to demonstrate that the Masoretic Text is in error, for it is obvious that Psalm 145 was originally written as an acrostic Psalm. But what are we to make of the thousands of other locations where the Masoretic Text diverges from the Septuagint? If the Masoretic Text could completely erase an entire verse from one of the Psalms, how many other passages of Scripture have been edited? How many other verses have been erased?

Except for a response by SyroMalankara and Jon S no one else has given any reference to what they are writing. I think that Dronald had a valid question with a reference point to start from - anyone else have more to offer rather than just the ‘tradition’ argument? I’m speaking from a teacher’s point of view where everything I used in my classroom was backed up with research…

Help him out…I’m interested as well!!

Blessings, all!

Rita

All of the Greek Speaking Jews spread throughout the Roman Empire would have read the Septuagint in their synagogues as Scripture. The Essenes had all the Deutercanonical books and they were found when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

The Jewish Palestinian Talmud Quotes Sirach (a deuterocanonical book) as Scripture….
Rabban b. Mari (320-350 A.D.) told Raba: This matter is written in the Torah, repeated in the Prophets, and repeated a third time in the Writings, and was taught in the Mishnah, and was taught as a Baraita… and repeated a third time in the Writings, as it is written… [Quotes Sirach 12:15] (Cited in Lieman, The Canonization of the Hebrew Scripture, 97)

If you want a full understanding of the Origin of the Bible…Check out Dr. Brandt Pitre and order his 3 CD set of “The Origin of the Bible”. It will answer your questions with quotes and a full explanation of how the Jewish canon of today came to be…

You beat me to it :smiley: This was exactly the first thing that I thought of…

:thumbsup: :slight_smile:

Great observation and perhaps the most obvious. We can miss the simple evidence as we look into something complicated.

But maybe the OP is more interested in why the present Jews did not include the Deuterocanonicals.

The early Christian accepted the Deuterocanonical books as they were included in the Septuagint, the Greek edition of the Old Testament which the apostles used to evangelize the world. They nowhere told their converts to avoid seven books of it. Like the Jews all over the world who used the Septuagint, the early Christians accepted the books they found in it.

The apostles regularly referred to the Deuterocanonicals in their writings. The Catholic Church did not “add” these seven books to the Bible at the Council of Trent; they were always in use before that.

The reason they were dropped in the Protestant Bible is that they teach Catholic doctrines that the Protestant Reformers chose to reject.

Protestant Reformers justified this rejection by the fact that the Jews of their day did not honor these books, going back to the Council of Javneh in A.D. 90. However these were only European Jews; African Jews, such as the Ethiopian Jews accepted the Deuterocanonicals as part of their Bible.

Reuben

You may want to look into the Ethiopian Jewish Canon. They didn’t follow the decree of the Council of Javnen.

Interestingly, Dr. Brandt Pitre shows in his research on the origin of the bible that the Council of Jammia (or however you spell it) never occured. He has his PHD in Ancient Judiasm and New Testament Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He shows how the Jews in the 2nd and 3rd century still had not settled the final issue of what books made up their bible.

I was researching that last night, and found the same thing. Their definition of the canon of Scripture is more fluid than ours. Plus they also have the Tamud, which occurred after Jesus’ time.

That is because Jamnia was not a Council, but rather a school. There has never been an official “canonization” of Jewish Scriptures. At best, what happened at Jamnia was a debate with no conclusion.

Exactly. Even at the time of Christ, there were large segments of the Jewish population ( the Sadducees) that only recognized the Pentateuch as Scriptural.

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