Luther and the Old Testament


#1

Why did Martin Luther drop 7 books and wanted more dropped when the Reformation started?

Were they “too Catholic” in his eyes or something?


#2

Here is some stuff I have from other posts that may help explain:

In Jesus’ day the canon of the OT had not been settled. Different groups in Palestine honored different canons of scripture. The Sadducees and Samaritans, for example, held that only the first five books of the Bible were Scripture. The Pharisees had a canonical tradition that is much like the Protestant one today. Finally, some Jews honored the canonical tradition that is much like the Septuagint translation of the OT.

The Greek translation was made between 250-125 BC and is known as the “Septuagint” after the Latin word for 70(LXX), which is the number of authors who compiled it.

So which canon did Jesus use?? In His time Hebrew was a dead language and most Palestinian Jews spoke Aramaic, while Greek was common in the Mediterranean. So it is no surprise that all the New Testament writers used the Greek Septuagint. The vast majority of OT quotes in the NT are from the Greek Septuagint. In fact, even Protestant authors Gleason Archer and G.C. Chirichigno list 340 places where the NT sited the Septuagint, as opposed to only 33 from the Hebrew canon. That’s 90% use of the Septuagint only.

In 1529 Martin Luther proposed to adopt the Hebrew canon used by rabbinic Judaism (Those who rejected Jesus) of 39 books of OT canon. He did this because he did not like what some of the seven books had to say, like praying for the dead in 2 Maccabees.

In response to this heresy, the Council of Trent reaffirmed the 73 book canon of the Bible, including the 46 book Septuagint OT. The Catholic Church did not add the seven books, but merely reaffirmed what she had established 1200 years earlier.

Ask this question, “Would you rather use the OT used by the apostles and other NT writers, or the OT used by the Jews who later rejected Christ?”

If you follow the Septuagint you follow the apostles and other NT writers. If you follow the Hebrew you follow those who rejected Jesus and Martin Luther.

Martin Luther also wanted to rip the Book of James (or the “Epistle of Straw” as he so warmly called it) out of the Bible and here’s why.

James 2:14-24, 26
What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it?
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say,
“You have faith and I have works.”
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
You believe that God is one.
You do well.
Even the demons believe that and tremble.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus,
that faith without works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works
when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works,
and faith was completed by the works.
Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
Abraham believed God,
and it was credited to him as righteousness,
and he was called the friend of God.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
For just as a body without a spirit is dead,
so also faith without works is dead.


#3

Thanks. I’m surprised that James was kept in if he wanted it ripped out for that reason.


#4

[quote=LRThunder]Why did Martin Luther drop 7 books and wanted more dropped when the Reformation started?

Were they “too Catholic” in his eyes or something?
[/quote]

The books in question had been disputed since the beginning, and the disputes had been renewed in the Renaissance. Luther was hardly odd–he was just a bit more radical than many (but much less radical than others–he didn’t eliminate them altogether as the Reformed did).

Edwin


#5

It is also of note that Luther did not want them “ripped out.” He considered them valuablefor guidance, but not for doctrine. Calvin and other reformers considered them completely worthless and nothing but the writings of man.

As for the NT books, Revelations, Jude, James, and Hebrews were noted by early Christians as “disputed” (antilegomena). So Luther wasn’t alone or stark raving mad in questioning them.

I’m not defending everything done by Luther, but I don’t think he should be portrayed as the bogeyman either.


#6

[quote=Contarini]The books in question had been disputed since the beginning, and the disputes had been renewed in the Renaissance. Luther was hardly odd–he was just a bit more radical than many (but much less radical than others–he didn’t eliminate them altogether as the Reformed did).

Edwin
[/quote]

There has also been heresy after heresy since the beginning, but only ONE truth.

We often hear from protestants about the late first century group of Jewish sages who met at a council in Jamnia. To determine the canon of Jewish scripture and excluded the seven deuterocanonical books and the entire NT. However, these sages that met did not form a council, but an institution, which has been variously characterized as rabbinical school.

Also, If you study the data you will find that the sages barely dealt with the canon of scripture, but only discussed the canonicity of a few books, like Song of Songs end Ecclesiastes, not necessarily just the deuterocanonical books. They also did not close the canon of scripture for rabbinical Judaism for this was debated well into the third century.

Since the early Christians had used the Septuagint since the beginning, they simply ignored the decisions of the rabbinic Jews. So should we. These rabbis had no authority to tell the early Christians which canon to follow, since these were the same rabbis who rejected Christ, His Church, and the writings that would later be in the NT canon. Protestants follow a decision made by Jews who totally rejected Christ instead of the constant practice and judgment of the early Church.


#7

It seems to me that it all comes down to whether or not you believe Jesus in John 14:16. The fact is, any number of texts could have been included or excluded at any point along the road. Why did it happen the way it did? Because the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church, of course.

Since the Reformation goes directly against Jesus’ command that the Church be one (Matt. 16:18, John 10:16, etc. etc.), I highly doubt the HS was guiding Luther’s lone decisions regarding the Bible.

Do you believe Jesus, or not?


#8

Around the end of the fourth century, The Church settled any confusion and established the canon of the OT and NT with a series of councils and decrees.

382AD - Pope Damasus, wrote a decree listing the present OT and NT canon of 73 books.
393AD - Council of Hippo approved the 73 book OT and NT canon.
397AD - Council of Carthage also approved the 73 book OT and NT canon.
405AD - Pope St. Innocent wrote a letter confirming the 73 book OT and NT canon approved at Hippo and Carthage.
419AD - Second Council of Carthage also approved the 73 book OT and NT canon.
1441AD - the ecumenical council of Florence formally defined the same 73 book list of Scripture.
1546AD - the ecumenical council of Trent formally defined the same 73 books as the canon of the Bible.

I challenge anyone to show me a Bible written before the year 1500 that does not contain the 73 book canon.


#9

I challenge anyone to show me a Bible written before the year 1500 that does not contain the 73 book canon.

By the beginning of the 5th century, or slightly earlier, the Syrian Church’s version of the Bible, the Peshitta (‘simple’ translation) was formed. For the New Testament it represented an accommodation of the Syrian canon with that of the Greeks. It contains 22 books - all of the present New Testament except:

II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, Revelation of John

ntcanon.org/Peshitta.shtml

Oh, add these up too: ntcanon.org/Stichometry_of_Nicephorus.shtml

Can’t resist a challenge :slight_smile:


#10

[quote=Vaclav]ntcanon.org/Peshitta.shtml

Oh, add these up too: ntcanon.org/Stichometry_of_Nicephorus.shtml

Can’t resist a challenge :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Which council was this approved by?


#11

I don’t recall you asking for a council.

I challenge anyone to show me a Bible written before the year 1500 that does not contain the 73 book canon.


#12

Maybe if you re-phrase it? I challenge anyone to produce a Bible authorized by the Catholic Church before the year 1500 that does not contain the 73 book canon.

What are friend has validly pointed out is that the church can not be held accountable for the Syrian Church that broke away in the 2nd century. I’m not sure where the Patriarch of Constantinople got his information, but I bet it’s not in compliance with the Magisterium.

Notworthy


#13

By the way, I believe in the 73 books as canon, just to be clear. I also find it sad that whereas Luther wanted those seven books to be printed in the Bible (though as an appendix), almost none of the Protestant bibles printed today have them even as an appendix.

Some Protestant ministers will still cite Maccabees, but it is rare. I’d be especially surprised to hear an Evangelical or Fundamentalist preacher cite any of the “apocryphal” books. I don’t know why they completely removed the books :frowning:

Do the Eastern Churches use the same 73 today?


#14

As an Evangelical, I had never seen these books and only heard about them if they were being used as an excuse to attack Catholicism for having added to the Bible. I have to admit, as a convert to Catholicism, I have yet to read the entire 7 books yet, I’ve got such a backlog of reading. I should put them at the top of the list! :o


#15

As an Evangelical, I had never seen these books and only heard about them if they were being used as an excuse to attack Catholicism for having added to the Bible. I have to admit, as a convert to Catholicism, I have yet to read the entire 7 books yet, I’ve got such a backlog of reading. I should put them at the top of the list!

They used to be printed in some German Lutheran Bibles. I know because I remember seeing them in my Mom’s Bibles. They were separated, but they were there. I had heard a Presbyterian minister one time reference Maccabees and I’m sure most of the congregation was either not paying close attention or had a big question mark go off in their mind.

You’re right, they are almost unheard of in most Protestant churches. I’d be willing to bet many Protestants never heard of them. Once you get past the Maccabees (which some use as a historical resource) then I’m sure books like Tobit and Baruch are widely unknown.


#16

Ok, I’ve got some Bible reading of my own to catch up on. But can anyone tell me why those particular books are important other than that they were part of the original canon? I think I remember reading that they referenced the bodily aspects of the incarnation which makes Protestants uncomfortable, but I don’t know for sure what the fuss is over.


#17

[quote=NotWorthy]Maybe if you re-phrase it? I challenge anyone to produce a Bible authorized by the Catholic Church before the year 1500 that does not contain the 73 book canon.

What are friend has validly pointed out is that the church can not be held accountable for the Syrian Church that broke away in the 2nd century. I’m not sure where the Patriarch of Constantinople got his information, but I bet it’s not in compliance with the Magisterium.

Notworthy
[/quote]

You’re right. I probably should have re-phrased it. I am mostly wondering about the seven deuterocanonicals. Did the Syrian Church recognize these books? Is there any evidence of the seven books being officially rejected by any church before the protestant reformation?


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