[quote=JeffreyGerard]Back to Luther and the scholars. Have a look at the definition of heresy: Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same (emphasis mine). If these scholars were Catholic, then they were heretics if they doubted the inerrancy of the bible. And the immediate penalty for heresy is excommunication. So I would have to conclude that these scholars were either not Catholic to begin with, or were heretics. Either way, their opinion as to what was or was not inspired in the bible would be irrelevant to the Church, right?
Even if one were to grant the validity of the Roman Catholic Church declaring the contents of the canon, Erasmus, Luther, and Cajetan formed their opinions and debated these issues previous to the council of Trent. The New Catholic Encyclopedia has honestly pointed out,
“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.”
[quote=JeffreyGerard]I would not lump Cardinal Cajetan’s exegesis in with Luther’s wholesale reclassification of divinely inspired biblical texts as “of doubtful authenticity”.
Why not? Cardinal Cajetan also questioned the authenticity of certain Biblical books. The Catholic Encyclopedia points out he questioned “the authorship of several epistles… Hebrews, James, II Peter, II and III John, Jude.” The New Catholic Encyclopedia takes a stronger position on his “questioning”and says, “He expressed strong doubts about the literal meaning of Canticles and the Apocalypse; the authenticity of Mk 16:9-20 and Jn 8:1-11; and the authorship of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, and 3 John, and Jude.” In 1532, Cajetan wrote his Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament. In this work, Cajetan leaves out the entirety of the Apocrypha since he did not consider it to be Canonical. Cajetan said,
“Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his 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 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. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.”
[quote=JeffreyGerard] Why would Luther take the bible (compiled by the Catholic Church) and “tweak” it?
It is a simple historical fact that Luther’s translation of the Bible contained all of its books. Luther began translating the New Testament in 1521, and released a finished version in 1522. He published sections of the Old Testament as he finished them. He finished the entire Bible by 1534. Luther expressed his thoughts on the canon in “prefaces” placed at the beginning of particular Biblical books. These prefaces were not out of the ordinary. Luther was not engaging in any sort of outrageous scholarly behavior.Luther scholar Paul Althaus explains, “[Luther] allows the canon to stand as it was established by the ancient church. But he makes distinctions within the canon.” It is these “distinctions” that are often seen as removal. In these prefaces, Luther explained that he understood the Biblical books in an order based on how clearly “Christ the gospel of free grace and justification through faith alone” was enunciated. He considered this to be the apostolic standard by which all was evaluated.
Jeff, I suggest you take a look at this when you get a minute: