Who did the Protestant reformers think they were to take books out of the Bible?

I was doing a Bible study in college that was non denominational, and I must say I felt like an outcast a lot of the time, because it was mainly Protestants there. I had my Catholic Bible and whenever I would ask about a line from say the Book of Tobit, they would look at me like I was crazy because it isn’t in their Bibles. So I did research and learned that the original Greek Septuagint contained all of the books in the Catholic Bible along with 1 and 2 Esdras, 3 and 4 Maccabees, and Prayer of Manessah. According to tradition the Latin Vulgate was translated from the Septuagint however the copy Jerome had was missing the books which are in Orthodox Bibles but not in Catholic Bibles. That isn’t the point though, I read that Luther took these books out because he didn’t like them, and wanted to remove Esther, 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation as well. Who did he think he was to say “Oh these books aren’t inspired because I say they aren’t” and shove them in the back of the Bible and call the Apocrypha. 2 Maccabees has the doctrine of purgatory in it. And I always thought the irony was that the story of Hanukah is in 1 Maccabees yet the Hebrew Bible doesn’t even accept it as canon.

Some of the reason I have heard as to why they removed books were: 1) no copies were in Hebrew, 2) did not agree with their theology.

It is good that you are there to share truth. I am sorry that you feel outcast. Perhaps you can focus on what you share in common; a love for life in Christ.

That’s right. Today’s Roman Catholic bible wasn’t totally, officially, absolutely codified until the Council of Trent. Up until that time, some pretty famous and infamous Catholics were free to dispute certain books’ authority as Scripture compared to other books. Those Catholics included Luther, but also some of his adversaries, including Cardinal Cajetan and Erasmus.

Well, then you read a load of hooey. Luther’s Die Bibel actually contained more books than today’s Roman Catholic bible; he included the Prayer of Manasseh. The thing to keep in mind about Lutherans is that it’s really only in Reformed-influenced America that they use a 66-book bible. The Lutheran Confessions themselves never once list how many books belong in the canon. It’s supposed to be a healthy tension held in place by the church, tradition, reason, and academics - all guided by the Holy Spirit. Here’s more information.

Now, it is correct that he considered some books of greater and lesser value. That is obvious even to us today; the Gospels hold more weight than, say, Paul’s epistles or Daniel, or Revelation. To that end, Luther personally didn’t count the Apocrypha as rightly Scripture, but he included it in his bible because other Lutherans disagreed. That was normal at the time.

Let him tell you in his own words:

“What is Luther? … A poor stinking bag of maggots.”

Nope. As I explained, that’s not how it worked. The Roman Catholic Church hadn’t even decided which books were “officially” in until after Luther’s death. Plenty of other good Catholics held similar views to Luther prior to Trent. That council simply closed the academic debate for Roman Catholics.

The only extant versions of the Septuagint material available was produced by the early church:

Vaticanus (early 4th century)
Sinaiticus (early 4th century)
Alexandrinus (early 5th century)

These all have: Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith and Tobit.
Vaticanus does not have the Maccabean books.
Sinaiticus includes 1 and 4 Maccabees.
Alexandrinus includes 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees and the Psalms of Solomon.

3 and 4 Maccabees are not considered canonical by the Catholic church.

That can only get you so far, especially when the other people, who suppossedly love Christ, support things in direct opposition to his teachings.

That’s right. Today’s Roman Catholic bible wasn’t totally, officially, absolutely codified until the Council of Trent. Up until that time, some pretty famous and infamous Catholics were free to dispute certain books’ authority as Scripture compared to other books. Those Catholics included Luther, but also some of his adversaries, including Cardinal Cajetan and Erasmus.

I’m sorry, but this is simply not true. The Canon of Scripture was finalized at the councils of Hippo and Carthage, in ~ 393 / 413 BC. The Catholic Bible has not changed since that day. While certain Catholics certainly have argued against inclusion of certain books, we have bishops today arguing in favor of rejecting Catholic dogmas like the indissolubility of Marriage, and the nature of Marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The fact that people chose to reject Catholic dogma doesn’t somehow mean that that dogma is in question. It just means that they’re too prideful to acknowledge that they are wrong.

Well, then you read a load of hooey. Luther’s Die Bibel actually contained more books than today’s Roman Catholic bible; he included the Prayer of Manasseh. The thing to keep in mind about Lutherans is that it’s really only in Reformed-influenced America that they use a 66-book bible. The Lutheran Confessions themselves never once list how many books belong in the canon. It’s supposed to be a healthy tension held in place by the church, tradition, reason, and academics - all guided by the Holy Spirit. Here’s more information.

His original edit of the bible did include the full set of books held in the Catholic Bible, but several Old Testament book, such as Second Maccabees and even the Gospel of Luke, were relegated to an appendix and noted by Luther as not having the same authoritative force as the “actual” Biblical cannon and he saw it. Later, with the printing of the King James’ version of the Bible, that appendix was removed, resulting in the Protestant edition of the Bible that exists today. (I think he may have relented on Luke and included it as an authoritative book in his initial print, I can’t remember offhand.)

The Bible was given to the world by the Catholic Church, and no-one has the authority to add or remove anything to it. What is authoritative doesn’t magically change over the course of history, that is the nature of absolute Truth.

Let him tell you in his own words:

Nope. As I explained, that’s not how it worked. The Roman Catholic Church hadn’t even decided which books were “officially” in until after Luther’s death. Plenty of other good Catholics held similar views to Luther prior to Trent. That council simply closed the academic debate for Roman Catholics.

This is simply wrong. There is not a single piece of historical evidence which supports this viewpoint.

If you’re interested in learning about the actual history of the Bible and its compilation, then this book is excellent:

Where we got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church

It was written by an Anglican Reverend, Henry Graham, whom I believe converted to Catholicism as a result of his historical study on the origin of Biblical texts. I’m not sure if the book was finalized prior to his conversion, but I believe it was started before it. You can pick this book up for two bucks from Barnes and Noble.

God Bless

May I ask where you read that? Are these Martin Luther’s words?

Just a couple of examples of Luther’s words regarding the Duetercanonical books:
1 Maccabees

This is another book not to be found in the Hebrew Bible. Yet its words and speech adhere to the same style as the other books of sacred Scripture. This book would not have been unworthy of a place among them, because it is very necessary and helpful for an understanding of chapter 11 of the prophet Daniel.

Judith:

Therefore this is a fine, good, holy, useful book, well worth reading by us Christians. For the words spoken by the persons in it should be understood as though they were uttered in the Holy Spirit by a spiritual, holy poet or prophet who, in presenting such persons in his play, preaches to us through them.

Sirach

This book has heretofore carried the Latin title, Ecclesiasticus, which has been understood in German to mean “spiritual discipline.” Through reading, singing, and preaching it has been extensively used and inculcated in the churches, yet with little understanding or profit except to exalt the estate of the clergy and the pomp of the churches.

Its real name is otherwise Jesus Sirach, after its author as its own prologue and the Greek [50:27] indicate. This is how the books of Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, and all the prophets are named, after their authors. Yet the ancient fathers did not include this one among the books of sacred Scripture, but simply regarded it as the fine work of a wise man. And we shall let it go at that.

This is a useful book for the ordinary man. The author concentrates all his effort on helping a citizen or housefather to be Godfearing, devout, and wise; and on showing what the relationship of such a man should be to God, the Word of God, priests, parents, wife, children, his own body, his servants, possessions, neighbors, friends, enemies, government, and anyone else. So one might well call this a book on home discipline or on the virtues of a pious householder. This indeed is the proper “spiritual discipline,” and should be recognized as such.

To simply claim that Luther didn’t like then, so he threw them out does not square with the facts. Here we see examples of how he in fact liked them, though he is far less generous with 2 Maccabees and Baruch.

It also needs to be said that he did see to it that they were part of his translation. If he had hated them, why would he have taken the time and effort to include them?

It is also worthy of note that he also included the Prayer of Manasseh, so his translation had 74 books, not 73.

Jon

I’m confused by your information.

Are you saying that those codices are the earliest forms of the LXX that we currently have, and that no manuscripts of individual books are older?

Where did you read this? Luther translated Esther and allowed it in his Bible, without offering any negative criticism as to its non-canonicity in his Bible prefaces. He translated it, not with the apocryphal books, but rather with the canonical books. I know of no evidence that Luther ever had any negative criticism inclining him to want to remove 2 Peter. Luther’s questioning of Jude primarily has to do with its status in Church history, and it’s internal evidence as to its apostolicity. It’s also within the realm of possibility Luther changed his mind on Revelation (compare his original preface to his revised preface of Revelation).

Luther was acting as a theologian previous to Trent’s infallible pronouncement on the canon, so until something is settled dogmatically, isn’t there freedom within the Catholic church on the issue? This is why Erasmus and Cajetan similarly held differing opinions on the canon. Keep in mind, there is still freedom on particular books, even for Catholics. Note this comment from Gary Michuta:

"The fourth question of the Capita Dubitationum asked whether those books that were not included in Trent’s list, but were included in the Latin Vulgate (e.g. The Book of Esdras, 4 Ezra, and 3 Maccabees), should be rejected by a Conciliar decree, or should they be passed over in silence. Only three Fathers voted for an explicit rejection. Forty-two voted that the status of these books should be passed over in silence. Eight bishops did not vote. The majority won, and Trent deliberately withheld any explicit decision on these books.

.

…The question of Esdras’ canonical status was left theoretically open." [Gary Michuta, Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger (Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007), pp. 240-241].

Just because of a certain poster in this thread, I thought I’d go ahead and share this link: socrates58.blogspot.com/2004/09/luthers-outrageous-assertions-about.html

To the OP:

Martin Luther believed that his was appointed by God to correct the flawed teachings of the Catholic Church, which he believed had long since fallen into apostasy. To a degree, there was some validity in his complaints. The Church suffered a great deal of corruption at that time (in terms of the upholding of its own moral teachings and the use of it’s earthly power. Not in terms of Dogma, which remained unchanged even by the worst of the Popes). Unfortunately, Luther mistook this moral failing as some sort of indication that the Church was not Christ’s Church. He was a deeply scrupulous Catholic monk who went to confession multiple times throughout the day. He simply couldn’t reconcile his notions of sin and forgiveness with God’s justice.

In the end, he unfortunately chose to believe in himself rather than in the Church which Christ founded. With this abandonment of the core truths and authority of Catholicism, he no longer felt bound by the ~1,200 year-standing Canon of the Bible, and started rejecting books which did not fit with his personal understanding of the ‘truth.’ We still see the results of this belief (that an individual can interpret scripture apart from an authority) in the splintering of modern Protestantism today, where there are literally thousands of denominations all claiming that they alone have the correct interpretation of Scripture, inspire by the Holy Spirit.

That’s quite the write up. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading that. I’ve wanted to read more of what Luther wrote so I can try to understand him better and thereby refute his position better.

Which ecumenical council, then, did declare the canon prior to Luther’s era, because Cardinal Cajetan did not understand the case to be closed. He says:

“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.”

If we deny Luther his liberty to dispute certain books, as had been done throughout the history of the Church, then we must deny many Catholics theirs, including Cardinal Cajetan.
I personally see no need to do so, as at the time, the Church did not deny this liberty.

Jon

It’s my understanding that the only form currently extant of the septuagint canon (or canons?) are in manuscripts produced by the early church. In other words, without an actual septuagint Bible, we are left with speculating as to which books were included. My point above is that if one appeals to a book as being canonical because it was “in the septuagint,” the extant manuscripts we do have are not unified, and in some instances include books not considered canonical today by the Catholic church.

The final Canon of Bible was ratified at the councils of Hippo and Carthage around 400 ad. All Trent did in regards to Biblical Canon was to denounce Luther’s edition with it’s modified Table of Contents. The documents are all available on the Vatican website. You might enjoy reading them.

Aw shucks, you made me blush.

I just said it in two other posts, but the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, around 400 AD.

The fact that some individuals, even Cardinals, disputed the inclusion of certain books doesn’t mean that they were right to do so, or that the issue was not considered closed by the Church. For example, take that group of German Cardinals who are advocating in favor of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. (non-annulled and remarried, specifically). They are arguing about the validity of a certain Dogma. That doesn’t mean that their arguments are valid or that there is somehow some question on the issue in Canon Law. It just means that a handful of individuals have decided that their personal views on the matter supersede the defined Dogmas of the Church. They are wrong now just as those people who sought to denounce certain Biblical texts were wrong then.

=ProdglArchitect;13178730]I just said it in two other posts, but the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, around 400 AD.

these are local councils, and not ecumenical. If they were ecumenical, and binding on the whole church, there would be not variances of the canon in EO churches.

The fact that some individuals, even Cardinals, disputed the inclusion of certain books doesn’t mean that they were right to do so, or that the issue was not considered closed by the Church.

It doesn’t make them wrong, either. It only confirms their Catholic liberty to do so at that time.

For example, take that group of German Cardinals who are advocating in favor of allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. (non-annulled and remarried, specifically). They are arguing about the validity of a certain Dogma. That doesn’t mean that their arguments are valid or that there is somehow some question on the issue in Canon Law. It just means that a handful of individuals have decided that their personal views on the matter supersede the defined Dogmas of the Church. They are wrong now just as those people who sought to denounce certain Biblical texts were wrong then.

The difference is that the canon had not been defined by an ecumenical council.

Armstrong’s article is valuable to me, because in many ways, I disagree with Luther on the canon, but I recognize his liberty to dispute books, a liberty that extends back to the early Church.

Jon

I see, thank you for the clarification.

Of course, you would concede that the fact that an Old Testament writing was written in Greek in and of itself implies it belonged to the LXX tradition, no?

Regarding making you blush: :p.

The Oxford Annotated Bible w Apocrypha, which I love because it has discussion in the beginning of each book, the status, where it is in the bible, and Esther it said Luther said “he’d wished the book was never written” however mainly because of the disagreement between which was valid, the Hebrew or Greek version. I also like the bible because the deuterocanonical books have explanations whose bibles they are in, and this bible contains all of the Catholic and Orthodox books, including 1 and 2 Esdras, Prayer of Manesseh, and 3 and 4 Maccabees. 3 Maccabees is in Orthodox bibles, 4 Maccabees is only recognized in the Georgian orthodox church, though it is an appendix to the Greek bible. 3 Maccabees is totally different events than 1 and 2, actually occurring about 100 years earlier. 4 Maccabees is more of a philosophic book that mentions people from the first two books. What is peoples beef with the Maccabees books, or Tobit and Judit? I think they are beautiful books plus Maccabees you learn more about the events in between Babylon and Christ, the Hellenistic era.

I have The Apocrypha, Lutheran Edition with Notes

And I love it.

Jon

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