What books did Luther consider including?


#1

I had some time to think this weekend, and I wondered something. Did the early reformation movement look at only the current list of books in the Catholic bible and decide which ones to exclude? Or, where there other books that are not currently in the Catholic bible that Luther considered, but eventually rejected anyway.

From the discussions that I've followed in this forum, it seems like Luther started with the books of the Catholic bible, and decided which ones to toss out. For example, I'm aware that there was some debate about James and Revelation - but the decision was eventually made to keep those books as being inspired.

So, in summary, which books, if any did the initial reformation movement consider declaring inspired aside from the existing books in the Catholic bible?

Thanks!


#2

[quote="in_servitude, post:1, topic:304935"]
I had some time to think this weekend, and I wondered something. Did the early reformation movement look at only the current list of books in the Catholic bible and decide which ones to exclude? Or, where there other books that are not currently in the Catholic bible that Luther considered, but eventually rejected anyway.

From the discussions that I've followed in this forum, it seems like Luther started with the books of the Catholic bible, and decided which ones to toss out. For example, I'm aware that there was some debate about James and Revelation - but the decision was eventually made to keep those books as being inspired.

So, in summary, which books, if any did the initial reformation movement consider declaring inspired aside from the existing books in the Catholic bible?

Thanks!

[/quote]

The books Luther included in his translation were all of the books found in a typical western Bible, plus the Prayer of Manasseh.

As for debate about books, that debate is much older the Fr. Martin. It goes back to Eusebius, St. Jermone, and others. In that light, there are books which have always been attested, books which have been disputed, and books that have been rejected, for various reasons. Luther's writings on the canon reflect this historical fact regarding it.
So, to say that Luther "decided to toss some out" lacks historical accuracy. As for other books, I am not aware that he considered the books often found in Eastern canons.

Jon


#3

I'm not a historian, but enjoy playing one on the internet! :)

The thing about history is that you really need to try to understand people from THEIR point of view in time, not ours in our time. Luther didn't consider himself to be inventing a whole new form of christianity. He believed he was working for a reform of what Christ taught and his apostles handed on, a reform of what always had been, not something new.

It's also a common misconception that Luther removed the Deuteros from the Bible. He simply isolated them from the rest, first because some teachings within bothered him, then he found that Saint Jerome had some issues with them as well. Luther also disliked the NT book of James, but never found anything in Tradition to cast any suspicion on its authenticity, so he never acted on his issues. IIRC, it was later protestants that completed the downgrade of the Deuteros to apocrypha. IMO, Luther would have been unimpressed by the claims of the gnostic gospels and other claimants to apostolic authorship since none had any real pedigree in Tradition. And that's the real fun irony about Luther: He invented Sola Scriptura, but Tradition was still the arbiter of what constitutes Scripture and what isn't.

Ironically, Luther might have tossed out Hebrews if he had access to today's scholarship about authorship. I'm not up on the specifics, but it's a mainstream opinion among scholars today that Hebrews wasn't written by St. Paul. Had Luther thought that, he'd have snipped away. (IMO, of course)


#4

=in_servitude;10011059]I had some time to think this weekend, and I wondered something. Did the early reformation movement look at only the current list of books in the Catholic bible and decide which ones to exclude? Or, where there other books that are not currently in the Catholic bible that Luther considered, but eventually rejected anyway.

From the discussions that I've followed in this forum, it seems like Luther started with the books of the Catholic bible, and decided which ones to toss out. For example, I'm aware that there was some debate about James and Revelation - but the decision was eventually made to keep those books as being inspired.

So, in summary, which books, if any did the initial reformation movement consider declaring inspired aside from the existing books in the Catholic bible?

Thanks!

IT'S FAR EASIER TI IDENTIFY THE REMOVED SEVEN BOOK.

THE TWO SITES PROVIDED ARE EXCELENT FOR MORE INFORMATION,

ewtn.com/library/answers/deuteros.htm

What are the Deuterocanonical Books?

newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm

The Protestant Old Testament is lacking 7 entire books

2 (Tobias,
Judith,
Wisdom,
Ecclesiasticus/Sirach,
Baruch,
I Maccabees,
and II Maccabees),
3 chapters of Daniel and 6 chapters of Esther, leaving them with 66 incomplete books while Catholic Bibles have 73 books.

God Bless,
Pat


#5

[quote="manualman, post:3, topic:304935"]
I'm not a historian, but enjoy playing one on the internet! :)

The thing about history is that you really need to try to understand people from THEIR point of view in time, not ours in our time. Luther didn't consider himself to be inventing a whole new form of christianity. He believed he was working for a reform of what Christ taught and his apostles handed on, a reform of what always had been, not something new.

It's also a common misconception that Luther removed the Deuteros from the Bible. *He simply isolated them from the rest, first because some teachings within bothered him, then he found that Saint Jerome had some issues with them as well. * Luther also disliked the NT book of James, but never found anything in Tradition to cast any suspicion on its authenticity, so he never acted on his issues. IIRC, it was later protestants that completed the downgrade of the Deuteros to apocrypha. IMO, Luther would have been unimpressed by the claims of the gnostic gospels and other claimants to apostolic authorship since none had any real pedigree in Tradition. And that's the real fun irony about Luther: He invented Sola Scriptura, but Tradition was still the arbiter of what constitutes Scripture and what isn't.

Ironically, Luther might have tossed out Hebrews if he had access to today's scholarship about authorship. I'm not up on the specifics, but it's a mainstream opinion among scholars today that Hebrews wasn't written by St. Paul. Had Luther thought that, he'd have snipped away. (IMO, of course)

[/quote]

Manual,
Not too much to disagree with. Regarding Hebrews, he was aware that it probably wasn't Paul who wrote it, but instead of going through each of these, I am linking James Swan's work regarding Luther's view of the canon.
tquid.sharpens.org/Luther_%20canon.htm#a3

EDIT: On the bolded, I think Jerome's view played more heavily than any perceived dislike of what the books say. Other than 2 Macc, which BTW is referenced in the Confessions, I'm not aware of too much doctrinal controversy here. If Pastor Gary (gcnuss) pops in here, he might be able to enlighten about that more.

Jon


#6

[quote="JonNC, post:2, topic:304935"]
The books Luther included in his translation were all of the books found in a typical western Bible, plus the Prayer of Manasseh.

As for debate about books, that debate is much older the Fr. Martin. It goes back to Eusebius, St. Jermone, and others. In that light, there are books which have always been attested, books which have been disputed, and books that have been rejected, for various reasons. Luther's writings on the canon reflect this historical fact regarding it.
So, to say that Luther "decided to toss some out" lacks historical accuracy. As for other books, I am not aware that he considered the books often found in Eastern canons.

Jon

[/quote]

Hey Jon,

Thanks. I was hoping that you'd share your info.

My question is: when Luther was trying to decide on the canon he considered to be proper, did he consider any other books. You mentioned the books from the Eastern Orthodox as a possible option. But, from your answer, it does seem like he considered all the books of the Catholic bible for certain, but past that, we have no idea if any other books were considered.

Are you saying that it is not known what the full list of books were that Luther considered for inclusion?


#7

Swan's stuff is interesting reading, I've been through it once a long time ago, thanks for the refresh.

I find some of his tone a bit strained and defensive, but one can say the same about rather a number of catholic apologists too. In some ways, its the nature of the apologetics (and why one needs to do it in moderate doses). In particular, I think he misses the point when he points out how Luther did scholarly consultation with the best and brightests minds of his day rather than being the egomaniac self-appointed master of theology and Scripture many catholics accuse him of being. The problem with this defense is the lack of recognition that one can do all the proper homework and STILL fall victim to a fatal case of pride.

The difference is starkly visible when you compare Luther's approach to differing opinions on doctrine to someone like John Henry Newmann who managed to be both brilliant and humble at the same time. There's more to revelation than mere scholarship. Which isn't to denigrate scholarship; revelation would be largely wasted without good scholarship. But scholarship short on humility is as dangerous as ignorance.


#8

[quote="in_servitude, post:6, topic:304935"]
Hey Jon,

Thanks. I was hoping that you'd share your info.

My question is: when Luther was trying to decide on the canon he considered to be proper, did he consider any other books. You mentioned the books from the Eastern Orthodox as a possible option. But, from your answer, it does seem like he considered all the books of the Catholic bible for certain, but past that, we have no idea if any other books were considered.

Are you saying that it is not known what the full list of books were that Luther considered for inclusion?

[/quote]

No, my understanding (limited though that may be) is that, as a western Christian, he probably would not have considered books not in the western canon, though the Prayer of Manasseh seems to be an exception. For example, I don't think he would have considered 3 Macc, not because of what's in it, but because western Christians didn't use it.
But more than this, I don't think Luther saw himself as being in a position to determine a canon in the first place. I think he felt he was exercising the same privilege any Catholic in his time had (before Trent), and that was to question and debate those books considered Antilegomena (disputed). I support this by some of the comments he made in his prefaces, where he gives deference to the "ancients", and the fact that he did include all 73 books of the western Bible. In effect, a respect for the Tradition of the western Church.

All this said, there are folks around that know far more than I do on the topic, 2 which I've already mentioned. Hopefully, they'll stop in to correct me. :o

Jon


#9

I have never seen anything suggesting that Luther considered any books other than those he included in his translation.

It has been noted that he questioned the canonicity of the Deuterocanonicals. Apparently, and I have not been able to find an English translation, the Glossa Ordinaria which was used in teaching the Old Testament in Luther's time, prefaced each of the Deuterocanonicals with a statement that the book was not considered to be a part of the canon.

I would have to do some more research to be certain of this but it does fit in time since the canon was not formally defined until Trent. Before that, the Deuterocanonicals were subject to being questioned.


#10

[quote="gcnuss, post:9, topic:304935"]
I have never seen anything suggesting that Luther considered any books other than those he included in his translation.

It has been noted that he questioned the canonicity of the Deuterocanonicals. Apparently, and I have not been able to find an English translation, the Glossa Ordinaria which was used in teaching the Old Testament in Luther's time, prefaced each of the Deuterocanonicals with a statement that the book was not considered to be a part of the canon.

I would have to do some more research to be certain of this but it does fit in time since the canon was not formally defined until Trent. Before that, the Deuterocanonicals were subject to being questioned.

[/quote]

Thanks, Pastor.

Just to further mention about the status of the D-C's, Cardinal Cajetan, a rather well-known Luther contemporary, also states that they were not part of the canon.

But I would also add that ISTM it would also be incorrect to not consider their importance in the whole of scripture. I honestly don't think Luther or his contemporaries would approve of a 66 book Bible in our Lutheran churches.

Jon


#11

Hello Jon,

Thanks for the info.

Can you give me a pointer to the whole concept of “western christian” in the 1500s as to how that relates to the canon of scripture?

If it is true that all of the Catholic churches of the west didn’t reference or acknowledge those books, that Luther would go out of his way to include them, only to set them off in a separate section.


#12

[quote="JonNC, post:10, topic:304935"]
TBut I would also add that ISTM it would also be incorrect to not consider their importance in the whole of scripture. I honestly don't think Luther or his contemporaries would approve of a 66 book Bible in our Lutheran churches.

[/quote]

Jon,
I agree.


#13

=JonNC;10011522]No, my understanding (limited though that may be) is that, as a western Christian, he probably would not have considered books not in the western canon, though the Prayer of Manasseh seems to be an exception. For example, I don't think he would have considered 3 Macc, not because of what's in it, but because western Christians didn't use it.
But more than this, I don't think Luther saw himself as being in a position to determine a canon in the first place. I think he felt he was exercising the same privilege any Catholic in his time had (before Trent), and that was to question and debate those books considered Antilegomena (disputed). I support this by some of the comments he made in his prefaces, where he gives deference to the "ancients", and the fact that he did include all 73 books of the western Bible. In effect, a respect for the Tradition of the western Church.

All this said, there are folks around that know far more than I do on the topic, 2 which I've already mentioned. Hopefully, they'll stop in to correct me. :o

Jon

Hi Jon:)

Where is the evidence that any catholic could decide what books ought to included in the Bible.

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap030700.htm

*"The Council of Hippo, a local north Africa council of bishops created the list of the Old and New Testament books in 393 which is the same as the Roman Catholic list today.
*

The Council of Carthage, a local north Africa council of bishops created the same list of canonical books in 397. This is the council which many Protestant and Evangelical Christians take as the authority for the New Testament canon of books. The Old Testament canon from the same council is identical to Roman Catholic canon today. Another Council of Carthage in 419 offered the same list of canonical books.

Since the Roman Catholic Church does not define truths unless errors abound on the matter, Roman Catholic Christians look to the Council of Florence, an ecumenical council in 1441 for the first definitive list of canonical books.

**The final infallible definition of canonical books for Roman Catholic Christians came from the Council of Trent in 1556 in the face of the errors of the Reformers who rejected seven Old Testament books from the canon of scripture to that time." **

IF Martin Luther did not remove or at least approve of the removal of these SEVEN books; to whom ought we give credit?

God Bless my friend,

Pat /PJM


#14

=PJM;10015136]Hi Jon:)

Where is the evidence that any catholic could decide what books ought to included in the Bible.

Would you say, Pat, that if a Catholic cardinal stated as much, without reprimand, that there was at least liberty to do so?
Cardinal Cajetan:

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.”

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap030700.htm

"The Council of Hippo, *a local north Africa council *of bishops created the list of the Old and New Testament books in 393 which is the same as the Roman Catholic list today.

The Council of Carthage, a local north Africa council of bishops created the same list of canonical books in 397. This is the council which many Protestant and Evangelical Christians take as the authority for the New Testament canon of books. The Old Testament canon from the same council is identical to Roman Catholic canon today. Another Council of Carthage in 419 offered the same list of canonical books.

Since the Roman Catholic Church does not define truths unless errors abound on the matter, Roman Catholic Christians look to the Council of Florence, an ecumenical council in 1441 for the first definitive list of canonical books.

**The final infallible definition of canonical books for Roman Catholic Christians came from the Council of Trent in 1556 in the face of the errors of the Reformers who rejected seven Old Testament books from the canon of scripture to that time." **

The key to Hippo and Carthege are as your quote states - local councils, not general councils. and further, your quote shows Trent as the "final infallible definition". and of course, that on;y applies to Rome, since the Eastern patriarchates were not including, but I won't go into whether or not a council is truly ecumenical without all the patriarchates.
Additionally, the early local councils you site seem to have no application for the whole Church, as the East had a different canon even then.
I will say, however, that Hippo, et al, should not be set aside totally, because they are important parts of the hstory of the Church. But even they did not limit the liberty of Catholics to question the canonicity of the historically disputed books.

IF Martin Luther did not remove or at least approve of the removal of these SEVEN books; to whom ought we give credit?

As has been said, the removal seems to be a latter event, as even the 1611 KJV contained 73 books. Luther, himself, saw to it that they were all translated (he did have help) and continue today to be included in his translation.

God Bless my friend,

His blessing also with you, my friend.

Jon


#15

[quote="in_servitude, post:11, topic:304935"]
Hello Jon,

Thanks for the info.

Can you give me a pointer to the whole concept of "western christian" in the 1500s as to how that relates to the canon of scripture?

If it is true that all of the Catholic churches of the west didn't reference or acknowledge those books, that Luther would go out of his way to include them, only to set them off in a separate section.

[/quote]

When I say the western Church, I mean the Catholic Church in communion with Rome. Please understand though, I'm not saying that Rome didn't reference them. Pat's post about Hippo and Carthage point to the fact that it did. All I'm saying is that there was continuing level of dispute regarding the deuterocanon up until and even during Trent. Also note that Luther was dead by the time Trent convened.

Jon


#16

[quote="JonNC, post:8, topic:304935"]
No, my understanding (limited though that may be) is that, as a western Christian, he probably would not have considered books not in the western canon, though the Prayer of Manasseh seems to be an exception......

[/quote]

[quote="JonNC, post:15, topic:304935"]
When I say the western Church, I mean the Catholic Church in communion with Rome. Please understand though, I'm not saying that Rome didn't reference them. Pat's post about Hippo and Carthage point to the fact that it did. All I'm saying is that there was continuing level of dispute regarding the deuterocanon up until and even during Trent. Also note that Luther was dead by the time Trent convened.

Jon

[/quote]

Hey Jon,

Thanks for your input. I've seen many of these comments fire back and forth over the past year and it's been interesting to learn the truth about the messiness of establishing a canon.

Now, I get confused at this point when I see two things stated at the same time.

  1. "Western Christian" aka Catholic in union with Rome didn't view the deuteros as legit.
  2. The Council of Florence is cast aside as being non-ecumenical because it didn't include the separated Orthodox - it only had the western side of the church.
  3. The "western only" council included the deuteros.

Do you see how I might get this confused? The supposedly Western Christian council in the 1400s includes the deuteros, but Luther wouldn't want to consider them because they weren't used in the western tradition?

I appreciate the info you share with us.


#17

=in_servitude;10016150]

Now, I get confused at this point when I see two things stated at the same time.

  1. "Western Christian" aka Catholic in union with Rome didn't view the deuteros as legit.

Of course, I didn't say that. So I assume you are speaking of others. It think the D-C's are legit, but the fact is they have long been disputed.

  1. The Council of Florence is cast aside as being non-ecumenical because it didn't include the separated Orthodox - it only had the western side of the church.

It seems that is the definition of ecumenical general council. No?

  1. The "western only" council included the deuteros.

well, the Eastern Churches also include the D-C's, but then more. Another reason why ISTM that Lutherans certainly should look to Luther's example for a complete scripture.

Do you see how I might get this confused? The supposedly Western Christian council in the 1400s includes the deuteros, but Luther wouldn't want to consider them because they weren't used in the western tradition?

Contrarily, he did consider and include them. It was the Eastern books he would not have considered. From a Lutheran perspective, we recognize the historical disputed nature of them. This seems a rather prudent practice, and not a complete rejection of them.

I appreciate the info you share with us.

His peace,
Jon


#18

[quote="JonNC, post:17, topic:304935"]

Contrarily, he did consider and include them. It was the Eastern books he would not have considered. From a Lutheran perspective, we recognize the historical disputed nature of them. This seems a rather prudent practice, and not a complete rejection of them.

[/quote]

Hi Jon. That's interesting and perhaps good apologetic.:)

As an aside, what does 'not a complete rejection of them' means in term of Lutherans' practice? Would you use them to support doctrines or consider them a good spiritual reading only? ... if it is the latter, then how could they be included in the Bible if they are not considered at par with the other books?


#19

[quote="JonNC, post:17, topic:304935"]
Of course, I didn't say that. So I assume you are speaking of others. It think the D-C's are legit, but the fact is they have long been disputed.

[/quote]

Please accept my apology. I was careless in my wording.

Contrarily, he did consider and include them. It was the Eastern books he would not have considered. From a Lutheran perspective, we recognize the historical disputed nature of them. This seems a rather prudent practice, and not a complete rejection of them.
...
His peace,
Jon

Yes, I do get that the deuteros were included them in Luther's publications - but they were set off, I think, as being not of the Old or New Testament.

Previously, you JonNC said:

No, my understanding (limited though that may be) is that, as a western Christian, he probably would not have considered books not in the western canon, though the Prayer of Manasseh seems to be an exception.

I'm asking about this once again because there is something that I have not connected yet, and I get the sense that once I put the right 2 and 2 together, I'll have a big ah-ha! moment. So, please be patient with me on this.

You are saying that there was a "western canon" prior to Luther's work on discerning sacred scripture? I'm trying to understand where this comes from, especially in light of the Florence Council.

Peace!


#20

[quote="Reuben_J, post:18, topic:304935"]
Hi Jon. That's interesting and perhaps good apologetic.:)

As an aside, what does 'not a complete rejection of them' means in term of Lutherans' practice? Would you use them to support doctrines or consider them a good spiritual reading only? ... if it is the latter, then how could they be included in the Bible if they are not considered at par with the other books?

[/quote]

a complete rejection would put them with books that have historically been, well, rejected. This would not be our approach. We would definitely use them for good spiritual reading, and to support doctrine found in books that have been historically and universally attested.
If one looks at the history of the D-C's, it is obvious that they have not been considered universally "on a par" with the attested books, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be there. It just means we should consider the status of the books historically in terms of how we use them.

Jon


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