Masoretic Text

I understand part of the criteria was all the available manuscripts had to be in Hebrew to make it into the Canon. Now that we have discovered some of the Deuterocanonical books in Hebrew among the deal sea scrolls, why don’t the Jews and Protestants now include them in their Canon?

Because we and the Orthodox use them.


Status quo bias.

I’m very much interested to see what Jews and Protestants have to say. I’m not interested in debating, only understanding their position.

I’d be curious as to where you found this claim. It doesn’t come from the Reformers–at least none that I know of.

I got it from this Jewish website. Jews seem to be more open than non-Catholic Christians…

I’m afraid it doesn’t give much details about the deuterocanonical books, but it does mention the book of Tobit preserved in both the Aramaic and Hebrew versions.

Though Catholic, I am of Jewish descent and may be able to help with what I know from my heritage.

First of all you might be surprised that there is no such thing as an “official canon” of the Hebrew Bible, not in the way Catholics and Christians generally view the canon.

In Judaism there is a collection of “accepted” texts and a list of what this includes, but there was no official closing of the canon that ever occurred. While it is true that you will find many who propose that this happened at the Council of Jamnia in the late first century AD, by the mid-20th century this was discovered to be a hypothesis and not a historical event (the hypothesis was advanced by Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz in 1871).

In Judaism Holy Writ is grouped by language, era, and subject matter. The books of the Second Temple era which are those that make up the Deuterocanonicals were not included in the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible, but Jews nevertheless agree that they contain much of value and are worthy of study.

The Books of Maccabees are regularly read and reviewed by Jews, especially around Chanukah since they contain the earliest references to the events surrounding the rededication of the Temple. Scholarship tends to agree that the first book was likely originally composed in Hebrew. Of all books, why was it not included in the Hebrew Bible?

No one can say for sure. Some believed that the canon was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty itself (the Maccabees), others argue that politics got in the way when Christians began to use the Septuagint which contained those books. Others point to the fact that it was during the era in which these books were written and being distributed that the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, thus giving little time for the books to be accepted.

So while you will find Jews who know these books you are discussing quite well, the reason for Protestants rejecting them is a bit more clouded. Because Graetz had not advanced his Jamnia hypothesis until the 19th century, the reason for a rejection of these books goes back to the time of Martin Luther. The points raised as to why he did that are many, but it isn’t as clean and dry here either. None of the books he wanted rejected were ever formally removed from the canon of his day, even by Protestants. Having been a Catholic, Luther’s views may have been a holdover from Catholicism itself. Some Catholics felt some books didn’t belong or at least questioned them being in the canon since antiquity, most famously St. Jerome. As far back as the second century there were arguments in Christian circles surrounding many of the books we now accept. The Reformation made it easier to have a platform to suggest their removal, but nothing happened until the modern era.

Though generally set aside to their own section in Bibles, these books were never removed from printings and copies, even by Protestants until the 19th century when British members of the Bible Society decided to print Bibles without the Apocrypha. The Jamnia hypothesis was being promoted by some as history and a historical proof for that action, and it caused much discord even among Protestants. On the basis of this American versions of the King James Bible began being printed without the Apocrypha by the early 1900s.

It lasted less than a century however. By the time the 1970s came around Protestants were curious about the “Catholic books,” some in light of more clarity regarding the Jamnia hypothesis. While currently most Protestant Bibles do not have these books, they can still be found in special editions of their most popular translations, such as the NRSV.

The Masoretic Text, however, isn’t the “closed” canon. It is just the reading of the Hebrew Tanakh (Old Testament) as defined after the era of the Second Temple (the earliest texts from this copyist tradition dates to the 9th century). As the Dead Sea Scrolls show, there was a slightly different copyist tradition in the past as the sopherim of that earlier era seemed to agree more with what can be found the LXX. The Masorets were sopherim from the 5th century onward who developed the Hebrew text into a tradition that all accept today.

I guess that gives you one particular Jewish perspective, but your question also addressed “Protestants” (which is so non-specific as to be nearly meaningless–since Protestantism is quite diverse.) I assume you picked this idea up somewhere though.

I am unaware of any Protestant denomination that accepts the deuterocanonical books as of an equally inspired status as the protocanonicals. Feel free to correct me though.

The point made was about Hebrew being the criteria for the canon. See OP.

Oh, OK. I misunderstood your first post.

Thank you brother. A very informative post indeed! I’ve learnt quite alot :thumbsup:

I’m curious. The Protestants that do accept 2nd Maccabees as inspired, how do they explain the Jews praying for the dead?

Since I am unaware of any Protestant denominations that officially accept 2nd Maccabees as inspired, you will have to ask this question of individual Protestants who believe this.

But it is a mistake for Catholics to believe the Evangelical claim that belief in Purgatory and praying for the dead is unique to Roman Catholicism. It is not.

To begin with, as the Book of Maccabees and the history of the Jews shows, the idea originated in Judaism. And some Protestants have gone on record making claim to this belief as well.

C.S. Lewis, for example, wrote in his Letters to Malcolm:

Of course I pray for the dead.
…I believe in Purgatory…Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they?

Catholics should not propagate the Evangelical/Fundamentalist falsehood that Purgatory and prayer for the dead are unique to Roman Catholicism. The majority of those who are members of the Judeo-Christian paradigm have always subscribed to the idea and still do.

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