Why 'The Epistle of Barnabas' and 'The Gospel of Barnabas' are rejected from the canon!
More on 'The Shepherd of Hermas' - the longest of all the non-Canonical writings wrongly accepted by some 'Fathers'!
Regarding 'The Epistle of Barnabas' - it was rejected for many good reasons and it should be noted that all works bearing the name of Barnabas are rejected as non-canonical. Not surprisingly, another anti-Christ cult also tries to make use of the later 'Gospel of Barnabas' - Islam! Muslim apologists often cite 'The Gospel of Barnabas' in hopeful defence of Islamic teaching and the false book is a best seller in Muslim countries. Yusuf Ali referred to it in his commentary on the Qur'an, Muhammad Ata ur-Rahim erroneously insisted that 'The Gospel of Barnabas is the only known surviving Gospel written by a disciple of Jesus.... [It] was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the churches of Alexandria up until 325 AD' while M. A. Yusseff argues, with totally misplaced confidence, that 'in antiquity and authenticity, no other gospel can come close to 'The Gospel of Barnabas'.'
But the truth is that reputable scholars have carefully examined 'The Gospel of Barnabas' and find absolutely no basis for its authenticity. After reviewing the evidence in an article in Islamochristiana, J. Slomp concluded: 'in my opinion scholarly research has proved absolutely that this 'gospel' is a fake. This opinion is also held by a number of Muslim scholars.' In their introduction to the Oxford edition of 'The Gospel of Barnabas', Longsdale and Ragg conclude that 'the true date lies... nearer to the sixteenth century than to the first.' Likewise, in his classic work 'Jomier proved his point by showing beyond any doubt that the G. B. V. [Gospel of Barnabas Vienna manuscript] contains an Islamicised late medieval gospel forgery.'
A central idea in this work is in accord with a basic heretical Muslim claim, namely, that Jesus did not die on the cross. Instead, this book contends that Judas Iscariot was substituted for Jesus (sect. 217). This view has been adopted by many Muslims, since the vast majority of them are taught to believe that someone else must have been substituted on the cross for Jesus for, surely, this perfect 'prophet of Allah' could never be allowed to die in such a humiliating way.
The evidence for authenticity is entirely lacking and the claim that it is a first-century gospel, written by a disciple of Christ, has to deal with the fact that the earliest 'possible' reference to it comes from a fifth-century work, Decretum Gelasianum (Gelasian Decree, by Pope Gelasius, AD 492-95), although even this reference is in doubt. There is also no original language manuscript evidence for its existence but, by contrast, the New Testament books are verified by over 25,000 Greek manuscripts, including 5,700 that begin in the second and third centuries A.D.
L. Bevan Jones notes that 'the earliest form of it known to us is in an Italian manuscript. This has been closely analyzed by scholars and is judged to belong to the fifteenth or sixteenth century, i.e., 1400 years after the time of Barnabas.' Even Muslim defenders of it, e.g Muhammad Ata ur-Rahim, admit that they have no manuscripts of it before the 1500s. There is also no reference to it by any Muslim writer before the fifteenth or sixteenth century while it is obvious that they would have used it if it had been in existence. As Ragg observes: 'Against the supposition that 'The Gospel of Barnabas' ever existed in Arabic we must set the argument from the total silence about such a Gospel in the polemical literature of the Moslems. This has been admirably catalogued by Steinschneider in his monograph on the subject.' Ragg also noted that many Muslim writers who wrote books would no doubt have referred to such a work if it had been in existence, e.g. Ibn Hasm (d. 456 A.H.), Ibn Taimiyyah (d. 728 A.H.), Abu'l-Fadl al-Su'udi (wrote 942 A.H.), and Hajji Khalifah (d. 1067 A.H.). Not one of them, or any other known Muslim scholar, ever referred to it between the seventh and fifteenth centuries when Muslims and Christians were in heated debate!
No father or teacher of the Christian church ever quoted from this 'Gospel' from the first to the fifteenth century and, obviously, if it had been considered authentic, it would have been cited many times by some Christian teacher during this long period of time, as were all the other canonical books of Scripture. Had this gospel even been in existence, whether authentic or not, it would certainly have been cited by someone but no 'father' cited it during its supposed existence for over 1,500 years!
A problem with this forgery is that it is sometimes confused with the first-century forgery, the Epistle of [Pseudo] Barnabas. AD 70-90), which is an entirely different book but Muslim scholars, knowingly or unknowingly, use this date to falsely allege that there is support for an early date. Muhammad Ata ur-Rahim is one who confuses the two books and subsequently incorrectly claims that it was in circulation in the second and third centuries AD. His scholarship is brought into serious doubt when he admits that they are listed as different books in the 'Sixty Books' as 'Serial No. 18 Epistle of Barnabas.... Serial No. 24. Gospel of Barnabas' and in one place he even cites by name the 'Epistle of Barnabas' as evidence of the existence of 'The Gospel of Barnabas'!
Some have mistakenly assumed that the reference to a gospel used by Barnabas referred to in the apocryphal 'Acts of Barnabas' (before c. AD 478) was 'The Gospel of Barnabas'. However, this is clearly false, as the quotation reveals: 'Barnabas, having unrolled the Gospel, which we have received from Matthew his fellow-labourer, began to teach the Jews.' So, by deliberately omitting this emphasized phrase, the impression is given that there is a Gospel of Barnabas. The message of the apocryphal Gospel of Barnabas is completely refuted by eyewitness first-century documents and they exist in literally thousands of manuscripts which support their authenticity in the form of the New Testament. The claims that Jesus did not claim to be the Messiah and did not die on the cross are thoroughly refuted by these eyewitness, first-century documents.
Muslims appealing to this work seem to forget that it also clearly contradicts the Qur'an's claim that Jesus was the Messiah when it claims: 'Jesus confessed, and said the truth; 'I am not the Messiah.... I am indeed sent to the house of Israel as a prophet of salvation; but after me shall come the Messiah' (sects. 42, 48). This is flatly contradictory to the Qur'an, which repeatedly calls Jesus the 'Messiah' [the 'Christ'] (cf. Sura 5:19, 75). Even Muslim scholars who recommend it, such as Suzanne Haneef, have admitted that: 'the authenticity of this book has not been unquestionably established ... it is believed to be an apocryphal account of the life of Jesus.' Other Muslim scholars also doubt its authenticity for, like the other Apocryphal works you attempt to whitewash, the book contains easily detected errors such as anachronisms and descriptions of medieval life in western Europe that reveal that it was not written before the fourteenth century, e.g.: it refers to the year of Jubilee coming every one hundred years, instead of fifty as was practiced before this time ('The Gospel of Barnabas', 82). The papal declaration to change it to every one hundred years was made by the church in AD 1343. John Gilchrist, in his work titled Origins and Sources of the Gospel of Barnabas, concludes that 'only one solution can account for this remarkable coincidence. The author of 'The Gospel of Barnabas' only quoted Jesus as speaking of the jubilee year as coming 'every hundred years' because he knew of the decree of Pope Boniface.' He added: 'but how could he know of this decree unless he lived at the same time as the Pope or sometime afterwards? This is a clear anachronism that compels us to conclude that 'The Gospel of Barnabas' could not have been written earlier than the fourteenth century after Christ.' Another significant anachronism is the fact that 'The Gospel of Barnabas' uses the text from the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible (fourth century AD), even though Barnabas supposedly wrote his 'Gospel' in the first century AD! Other examples of anachronisms include a vassal who owes a share of his crop to his lord ('The Gospel of Barnabas', 122), an illustration of medieval feudalism; a reference to wooden wine casks (ibid., 152) rather than wine skins as were used in Palestine; and even a medieval court procedure (ibid., 121).
Jomier provides a list of many mistakes and exaggerations in 'The Gospel of Barnabas' and notes historical mistakes, such as, 'Jesus was born when Pilate was governor, though he did not become governor until 26 or 27 AD' as well as geographical mistakes, e.g. Chapter 20 'stated that Jesus sailed to Nazareth,' even though it is not on the seashore. 'The Gospel of Barnabas' also contains exaggerations, such as Chapter 17's mention of 144,000 prophets and 10,000 prophets being slain by Jizebel (in Chapter 18). According to Slomp, 'Jomier's study showed many Islamic elements throughout the text that prove beyond any doubt that a Muslim author, probably a convert, worked on the book.' Fourteen such influences are noted, e.g., Jomier notes that the word 'pinnacle' of the temple, where Jesus is said to have preached, was translated into Arabic by dikka, a platform used in mosques. Also, Jesus is represented as coming only for Israel while Muhammad supposedly came 'for the salvation of the whole world' (Chapter 11). Finally, we find the Qur'anic denial that Jesus is the Son of God and Jesus' sermon in the work is modelled after a Muslim hutba that begins by praising God and his holy Prophet (Chapter 12).
So the Muslim use of 'The Gospel of Barnabas' to try and support their doctrines is found to be devoid of evidence to support it and its teachings even contradict the Qur'an! Clearly, far from being an authentic first-century account of the facts about Jesus, this false 'gospel' is a proven late medieval fabrication. The only authentic first-century records we have of the life of Christ are found in the New Testament which categorically contradict the teaching of 'The Gospel of Barnabas'. (ref. 'The Gospel of Barnabas', David Sox; Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross).
So, while you strive to follow the foolish example of the popes and The Catholic Encyclopedia in discarding all the logical criteria that genuine orthodox Christians use to regularly refute and confound Rome's efforts to smuggle its false doctrines into the incomparable Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the same logical arguments are shown to refute Islam and every other false religion inspired by Satan.
You write: The mere appearance of an autograph of an Apostle on a text is not a sufficient criterion of inspiration. It is a positive and partial touchstone of inspiration, but emphatically is not exclusive, in the sense that all non-Apostolic authored works were by that very fact barred from the sacred Canon of the New Testament.
TCE: The Catholic Encyclopedia wrote: 'The weight of Catholic theological opinion is deservedly against mere Apostolicity as a sufficient criterion of inspiration. The adverse view has been taken by Franzelin (De Divinâ Traditione et Scripturâ, 1882), Schmid (De Inspirationis Bibliorum Vi et Ratione, 1885), Crets (De Divinâ Bibliorum Inspiratione, 1886), Leitner (Die prophetische Inspiration, 1895--a monograph), Pesch (De Inspiratione Sacræ, 1906). These authors (some of whom treat the matter more speculatively than historically) admit that Apostolicity is a positive and partial touchstone of inspiration, but emphatically deny that it was exclusive, in the sense that all non-Apostolic works were by that very fact barred from the sacred Canon of the New Testament. They hold to doctrinal tradition as the true criterion.'
Pardon us for quoting the true origin of your attempt, while including the false conclusion ('They hold to doctrinal tradition as the true criterion'), and making it clear that the very fact that the works of the authors are doctrinally consistent with the Old Testament and their New Testament contemporaries, while fakes such as the 'Barnabas' forgeries are doctrinally and factually erroneous, makes identification of the inspired works of God's servants clear to those led by the Holy Spirit who leads us 'into all truth' (John 16:7ff.) .
We have already made clear that the diligent method of the Bereans in testing all things by Scripture was commended:
'Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, examining the scriptures daily, whether these things were so' (Acts 17:11).
The sufficiency of Scripture has been proven in our earlier replies (which you have made no genuine attempt to refute) and the Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers referred to Scripture as clear, authoritative, and final and never once implied in any way that extra-Scriptural tradition was needed to supplement Scripture, or that any man or group of men was authorized to give authoritative interpretations of Scripture. We also proved that the Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the Pharisees for doing precisely what the Church of Rome does today - substitutes a body of human teachings and making it equal to or even superior to the Word of God. We have also shown, by using the same methods that dismantle the Apocryphal works you try and defend, and analysis of Islamic attempts to employ the false 'Barnabas' material, that the criteria applied cannot be refuted.
You write: [or, rather, The Catholic Encyclopedia writes - with your modifications of inconvenient parts!] Origen and his school divided books with Scriptural claims into three classes: In the first class, the Homologoumena (or compositions universally received as sacred), stood the Gospels, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, Acts, Apocalypse, I Peter, and I John. In the second class, the Antilegomena (the contested writings) were Hebrews, II Peter, II and III John, James, Jude, Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and the Gospel of the Hebrews. Personally, Origen accepted all of these as Divinely inspired, though viewing contrary opinions with toleration. All the rest were spurious.
Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, was one of Origen's most eminent disciples, a man of wide erudition. In imitation of his master he divided religious literature into three classes: His Homologoumena were the Four Gospels, thirteen Epistles of St. Paul, Hebrews, Acts, I Peter, I John, and Apocalypse. There is some inconsistency in his classification, though ranking Hebrews with the books of universal reception; he elsewhere admits it is disputed. His list of Antilegomena, or contested writings; (distinguished the superior and inferior sort). The better ones are the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, II Peter, II and III John; these, like Origen, Eusebius wished to be admitted to the Homologoumena, but was forced to record their uncertain status; the Antilegomena of the inferior sort were Barnabas, the Didache, Gospel of the Hebrews, the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Apocalypse of Peter. All the rest are spurious.
Eusebius diverged from his Alexandrian master in personally rejecting Apocalypse as an un-Biblical [sic], though compelled to acknowledge its almost universal acceptance. Eusebius was the first to call attention to important variations in the text of the Gospels, viz., the presence in some copies and the absence in others of the final paragraph of Mark, the passage of the Adulterous Woman, and the Bloody Sweat.
St. Cyprian, accepted all the books of the New Testament except Hebrews, II Peter, James, and Jude. Jude had been recognized by Tertullian, but, it had lost its status in the African Church, owing to its citation of the quasi-scriptural book of Henoch. Cyprian's testimony to the non-canonicity of Hebrews and James is confirmed by Commodian, another African writer of the period, as does Mommsen's Canon, a manuscript of the tenth century, but whose original has been ascertained to date from West Africa about the year 360.
TCE: Since we reviewed this material earlier, in its original position in The Catholic Encyclopedia, we will only ask why you omitted the end portion (following now) which, again, reveals the common method of forging comments and documents that Papal Rome is historically infamous for (e.g. 'The Donation of Constantine' and the 'pseudo-Isidorian Decretals'):
'A very important witness is the document known as Mommsen's Canon, a manuscript of the tenth century, but whose original has been ascertained to date from West Africa about the year 360. It is a formal catalogue of the sacred books, unmutilated in the New Testament portion, and proves that at its time the books universally acknowledged in the influential Church of Carthage were almost identical with those received by Cyprian a century before. Hebrews, James, and Jude are entirely wanting. The three Epistles of St. John and II Peter appear, but after each stands the note una sola, added by an almost contemporary hand, and evidently in protest against the reception of these Antilegomena, which, presumably, had found a place in the official list recently, but whose right to be there was seriously questioned.'
How can we trust works that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits have often been 'doctored' by a pro-Papist hand or, as here, 'an almost contemporary hand'? We also thoroughly dealt with Rome's long history of forgeries earlier.
You write: [Again, you adjust The Catholic Encyclopedia work - but we have re-inserted the (red) section regarding Athanasius!] In his 'Epistola Festalis' (AD 367) the illustrious Bishop of Alexandria ranks all of Origen's New Testament Antilegomena, which are identical with the deuteros, boldly inside as the Homologoumena, without noticing any of the scruples about them. Thenceforward they were formally and firmly fixed in the Alexandrian Canon. And it is significant of the general trend of ecclesiastical authority that not only were works which formerly enjoyed high standing at broad-minded Alexandria--the Apocalypse of Peter and the Acts of Paul--, [involved by Athanasius with the apocrypha] but even some that Origen had regarded as inspired--Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache--were forcefully suppressed.
TCE: Why bother omitting this small section - because it does not support your desired result?! Considering how much Origen got wrong it is hardly surprising that the books he failed to correctly classify 'were forcefully suppressed '.
The early 'Church Fathers' clearly held many heretical views!
You write: The Muratorian Canon or Fragment, composed in the Roman Church in the last quarter of the second century, is silent about Hebrews, James, II Peter; I Peter, and omitted by oversight, since it was universally received at the time. This restricted Canon [sic] not only similar to the African Church's collection, with slight modifications, but also at Rome and in the West generally until the close of the fourth century. This same ancient authority (the Muratiorian [sic] Canon) gave a very favourable and canonical standing to the Apocalypse of Peter and the Shepherd of Hermas. These two books enjoyed canonicity amongst the Early Christians; these works reiterated Christian doctrines and belief.
TCE: Concerning 'The Muratorian Canon or Fragment', we have commented on this later in our summation of the reasons for the canon ('However, there is a break in the manuscript, so we cannot be certain that these books were not included ') and also note that it doesn't give 'a very favourable and canonical standing to the Apocalypse of Peter and the Shepherd of Hermas' - but rejects some other books, including the Shepherd of Hermas!
You have copied this badly from The Catholic Encyclopedia which reads:
'The Muratorian Canon or Fragment, composed in the Roman Church in the last quarter of the second century, is silent about Hebrews, James, II Peter; I Peter, indeed, is not mentioned, but must have been omitted by an oversight, since it was universally received at the time.
The Shepherd of Hermas is the longest of all the non-Canonical writings classified among the Apostolic Fathers - considerably longer than any book of the New Testament. The author called himself Hermas and placed part of his life at least, at Rome, where some of his early 'visions' occurred on the road to Cumae, an ancient Greek town about twelve miles West of Naples so that his work has a central Italian background (shades of Mormon 'prophet' Smith who betrayed himself by geographical, historical and factual howlers including setting his work in the US of A, circa 1830!). The Greek mainland colony was already known as the home of a sibyl (Greek 'prophetess') whose cavern still exists - so it would be far from unusual to find a source of false spiritual works emanating from this area. Hermas was supposedly instructed to write some of the words revealed to him in two little books and to give one to Clement and one to Grapte (Vision II, iv. 3). Clement was to send his book to the foreign cities, since that was his function. Presumably this Clement was the author of the first epistle of Clement, an officer of the church at Rome, considered by later writers from Irenaeus onwards to be in the succession of Roman bishops, though not in a modern sense of the term. Since Clement lived in Rome (ca. 88-97), it is probable that the early part of 'The Shepherd' was written at some time during that period. On the other hand, the Muratorian Canon reads: 'very recently, in our own times, in the city of Rome, Hermas wrote the Shepherd, when his brother Pius, the bishop, sat upon the chair of the city of Rome.' This is done to create an impression of being trustworthy, Pius possibly being a bishop in the decade beginning with the year 140 AD. 'The Shepherd' betrays itself in several ways, e.g. concerning the problem of sins committed after baptism, when it is suggested that God graciously grants an opportunity for repentance and forgiveness in Hermas' day, but there would be no such opportunities in the future! Such a clear contradiction stands out a mile and we have to wonder about the nature of so many 'Fathers' who failed to high-light such absurdities. When Jehovah's Witnesses come to our door and reluctantly concede that they believe in a two-tiered Christianity in which only the 144,000 chosen few will go to heaven and the rest will remain on 'perfect planet paradise' apart from the blessings of heavenly Paradise, we have to point out the clear un-Scriptural teaching and its obvious fallacies! Consistent with Papal Rome's heresies, Hermas warns that, if the commandments were not kept, salvation would be lost while, on the other hand, resolution will make it easy to keep them. Did nobody ask which commandments are 'essential' to keep, or how many times you could break one yet still be 'saved'?! When the New Testament makes clear the 'shadows' of the Old Testament and emphasises that no man can keep all the commandments and live (Romans 3: 20-23; 6:23) and therefore needs to be 'in Christ' (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17) to be certain of salvation, we cannot fail to recognise that the 'Shepherd of Hermas' is a forgery designed to point anyone putting their faith in it towards the false doctrines of Papal Rome! That many 'Church Fathers' fell into the 'works salvation' of Papal Rome is obvious from reading their frequently heretical works. Hermas' parables are equally 'Mormon-like' and his theological statements often blatantly heretical, e.g. the Holy Spirit is the Son of God (IX. i. 1), baptism is necessary for salvation (tough on the 'thief on the cross' - cf. Luke 23:43!), and the apostles baptized those who had died before them so that they might be saved (IX. xvi. 5)! Hermas wrote that works beyond the commandments of God were possible and made one 'more honorable with God' than one was 'destined to be' (Similitudes V. iii. 3). Despite all of this - and more - 'The Shepherd' was considered an inspired book by Irenaeus, Origen, and by Tertullian in his earlier years.
[ref. J. A. Robinson, Barnabas, Hermas and the Didache (1920); W. J. Wilson, 'The Career of the Prophet Hermas' in HTR, XX (1927), 21-62; R. M. Grant, The Apostolic Fathers, I (1964)].
The Apocalypse of Peter (dated ~200 AD) is mentioned in the Muratorian Canon with the comment that some did not want it read in church; there were thus reservations even at this early stage. Theophilus of Antioch alludes to it, Clement of Alexandria quotes it by name, and Sozomen in the 5th century records that it was still read annually in the churches of Palestine on Good Friday. Eusebius, on the other hand, rejected it with the other Petrine apocrypha (Hist. III. 3), including it with Hermas, Barnabas, and the Acts of Paul among the 'spurious' (Hist. III. 25). While it enjoyed a wide circulation in both East and West and the ideas it presents survived through such works as the 'Sibylline Oracles' (Bk. II) and the Apocalypses of Paul and Thomas right down to Dante's 'Divina Commedia' the text has only been known since 1887 in a Greek fragment discovered at Akhmim with part of the 'Gospel of Peter', and since 1910 in an Ethiopic fragment. Experts believe the identification is certain because of agreements with the patristic quotations mentioned above and we should ask why, if any popes had ever really considered it part of the canon, it had not been preserved and widely read for the whole of its history!? In fact the doctrines revealed in the works portray it as a forgery as certainly as the other Apocryphal works fail Scriptural tests by their own testimonies. A born again Christian reading them will recognise their errors just as easily as they recognise a forgery when they begin to read 'The Book of Mormon' (even though the false prophet Joseph Smith copied ~27,000 words directly from the King James Bible) - we know this to be fact because we have witnessed it first-hand!
You write: Bishop St. Optatus of Mileve (370-85) does not use Hebrews. St. Augustine, while himself receiving it, acknowledged that many contested this Epistle. But in the Synod of Hippo (393) the great Doctor's view prevailed, and the correct Canon was adopted. However, it found many opponents in Africa, resulting in three consecutive councils held there at brief intervals--Hippo, Carthage, in 393; Third of Carthage in 397; Carthage in 419--found it necessary to formulate catalogues. The catalogues of Hippo and Carthage are identical with the Christian Canon of the present, but not the Protestant. The Synod sent a least [sic] of the Sacred Books to the absent Bishops and their churches.
TCE: As shown earlier, The Catholic Encyclopedia (under the heading 'Fixation in the African and Gallican Churches' - found at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm reads, in full:
It was some little time before the African Church perfectly adjusted its New Testament to the Damasan Canon. Optatus of Mileve (370-85) does not used [sic] Hebrews. St. Augustine, while himself receiving the integral Canon, acknowledged that many contested this Epistle. But in the Synod of Hippo (393) the great Doctor's view prevailed, and the correct Canon was adopted. However, it is evident that it found many opponents in Africa, since three councils there at brief intervals--Hippo, Carthage, in 393; Third of Carthage in 397; Carthage in 419--found it necessary to formulate catalogues. The introduction of Hebrews was an especial crux, and a reflection of this is found in the first Carthage list, where the much vexed Epistle, though styled of St. Paul, is still numbered separately from the time-consecrated group of thirteen. The catalogues of Hippo and Carthage are identical with the Catholic Canon of the present. In Gaul some doubts lingered for a time, as we find Pope Innocent I, in 405, sending a list of the Sacred Books to one of its bishops, Exsuperius of Toulouse.
'Some doubts lingered'? And still difficulty in accepting 'Hebrews'? Surely not when 'Papal infallibility' was so well established! Absolutely no confidence in Papal Rome can be engendered from these claims.
Jerome accepted the Deutero-canonical books?!
You write: Thus in the Early Fathers is at times seen between them [sic] a slight interchangeability between their Homologoumena and Antilegomena; and less so the exclusion of spuriously-deemed texts.
The early writings of the Apostolic Fathers were venerated and respected as divine scripture and incorporated into the Homologoumena. Other writings were placed in the Antilegomena. Till to this day [sic], some of the Eastern Churches still retain them - though the Western Church does not place them to canonical usage [sic] and rank as She formerly did. Their canons are much more extensive. The Armenians have one uncanonical letter to the Corinthians and two from the same. The Coptic-Arabic Church include with the canonical Scriptures the Apostolic Constitutions and the Clementine Epistles. The Ethiopic New Testament also contains the so-called 'Apostolic Constitutions'.
So at the close of the first decade of the fifth century the entire Western Church was in possession of the full correct Canon of the New Testament with certainty. For the Church as a whole the content of the New Testament was definitely fixed, and the discussion closed.
TCE: We have already seen how the clearly un-inspired 'Fathers' blundered their way to a result that still remained unclear to many who must have known that 'Papal infallibility' was a non-starter and - as later Papal historians acknowledged - not even envisaged. How did these 'Fathers' come to hold so much influence in some quarters? And, as we noted earlier, your claim for the 'full correct Canon of the New Testament ... [being] definitely fixed, and the discussion closed' is nothing but wishful thinking.
When you write about 'the canon' and these related works and admit that 'the Western Church does not place them to canonical usage [sic] and rank as She formerly did', can you not see the obvious contradictions? While the Lord Jesus Christ taught that the Holy Spirit would lead believers 'into all truth' (John 16:7ff.) it is clear that Papal Rome was led by a very different spirit - as is seen by the very titles embraced by your heritage!
Jesus taught: '... the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so with you' (Matthew 20:25-26) and plainly castigated the use of the religious title 'rabbi,' (meaning 'teacher,' derived from the Hebrew word for 'great') and the religious title 'father.' Both terms usurp the place of God according to Jesus, as there is only one Teacher and one true Father, both of whom are in heaven (Matthew 23:8-11). Jesus prayed to the Holy Father in John 17:11, and no one should dare to usurp that title. Neither biological fathers nor fathers in the faith are referred to as titles of ecclesiastical office and we find the first misuse of the religious title 'father' for ecclesiastical purposes was in reference to the so-called 'Church Fathers' of the first centuries. Some of the pre-Nicean 'Fathers,' particularly Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, tried to preserve the apostolic tradition against heresy and some of the later 'Fathers' at least made literary contributions of variable quality (e.g. Jerome who produced the Vulgate and Eusebius with 'History of the Church from Christ to Constantine'). But the effect of most of these 'Fathers' was negative, tearing the church away from its Judaic and Biblical origins and redefining Christian dogma in the light of secular Greek philosophy. The influences of Hellenization on their thinking caused their resultant literature to tend to take the reader away from the God-breathed Scriptures and into the opinions of the writer - and this is happening to this very day.
The facts are clear: the early 'Church Fathers' clearly held many heretical views and the only genuine 'Church Fathers' are the apostles and prophets whose writings were given by divine inspiration and recorded in the Holy Scripture. The 'faith once delivered to the saints' (Jude 3) and able to make us 'perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works' (2 Timothy 3:16-17) is all we need. Nothing the 'Church Fathers' wrote compares with the Bible because their teaching does not contain one 'jot or tittle' of divine revelation. The best we can say of them is that they quoted the New Testament so extensively that all but eleven verses of all the genuine canonical books are contained in their writings! We have also noted that 'Irenaeus declares that the apostles 'had perfect knowledge' - and this clearly contrasts with the imperfect knowledge the 'Church Fathers' - and then the popes - exhibited!
The term 'Church Fathers' is a misnomer that was derived from Papal Rome's false doctrine of hierarchical church polity. These men were not 'fathers' of the church in any Scriptural sense and did not have any divine authority, but were mere church leaders from notable localities who had the ability to leave a record of their faith in writing which reveals them to be considerably flawed. Because the Roman Catholic Church was led by men who absorbed exegetical errors and heresies they exalted these men to authority beyond the bounds of Scripture and made them 'fathers' over the churches located within entire regions and, eventually, over the churches of the whole world through the even more fake 'papas' of the Vatican.
All of the 'Church Fathers' were infected with some degree of false doctrine and the evidence of that - already supplied here - will suffice for now. Most of them were seriously infected and even the so-called 'Apostolic Fathers' of the second century were teaching the false gospel that baptism, celibacy, and martyrdom provided forgiveness of sin (Howard Vos, Exploring Church History, p12). Of the later 'fathers' - Clement, Origen, Cyril, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Theodore, and John Chrysostom - the same historian admits:
'In their lives and teachings we find the seed plot of almost all that arose later. In germ form appear the dogmas of purgatory, transubstantiation, priestly mediation, baptismal regeneration, and the whole sacramental system' (Vos, ibid., p25).
The 'Church Fathers' are really the fathers of the Roman Catholic Church and the men who laid the foundation of apostasy that produced Romanism and Greek Orthodoxy.
The idea that the word 'canon', for a list or catalogue of New Testament books, meant that these books which were included in the lists were regarded as canonical (Greek, kanonikos) on the grounds that they were authorized to be read within the Church, while books excluded from such public use became uncanonical (akanonistos) and the process of including them or excluding them from the canon was described by derivatives of the same word (e.g., kanonizein, apokanonizein), should not require that the use of the word in connection with the decisions of church councils must mislead us into thinking that the New Testament canon is an ecclesiastical creation. The evidence shows clearly that the concept of 'a canon' long preceded the use of the word to describe it.
While you try and underplay the role undertaken by the Jewish elders who met at Jamnia and examined the books that belonged to the Old Testament 'canon', it is impossible for you to intelligently dispute the authoritative nature of these elders for, in fact, they were merely confirming a usage of the idea of a 'canon' which had been established for a considerable time and also set a parallel that is clearly seen in the growth and ultimate acceptance of the New Testament 'canon'. The only possible difference is that they were so sure of the method of determining the 'result' that they took a fraction of the time to give a result while the ecclesiastics supposed powered by 'Apostolic Succession' or 'Papal infallibility' took centuries. Not a good advert for the Papal Rome you claim controlled the process!
This exalted view of the Old Testament canon was an important factor in the procedure of early Christian worship, since it formed the basis for the earliest liturgies and the New Testament writers were inspired to reveal the clear instances where the Christian Gospel was supported by testimony from the Old Testament. Of the evangelists, Matthew is specially notable in this respect and the Apostle Paul also showed high regard for the Old Testament and cited it in various ways, all of which points to obvious acceptance of it as authoritative while their complete lack of the use of quotations from the Apocryphal works proves their lack of regard for these as 'canonical' works.
Did the New Testament writers hold to 'degrees of canonicity' within the Old Testament? Was the Pentateuch regarded as superior to the historical books and the prophetical books? Where did the third division of the Hebrew Scriptures, 'the Writings', figure in early Christian thought? There is no evidence to support the view that any differentiation was made, for testimonies are cited from all the sections with apparently equal authority. This observation is significant because a similar approach came to be made toward the New Testament collection of books.
It was implicit in Christian theology that Jesus not only fulfilled the Old Testament, but went beyond it in His teaching. His modifications of the Mosaic law in the Sermon on the Mount showed the authoritative nature of His teaching, as compared with the considerable authority of Moses. It is unthinkable that any long period of time elapsed before the words of Jesus were regarded in the same light as the Old Testament, yet Papal Rome would have us believe it was a dithering, stumbling procedure involving slow-witted men and their councils. What criterion did Christians use to determine what gospel records were to be regarded as authoritative in the New Testament canon? The evidence from the writings of the 'apostolic fathers' of the 2nd century reveal that, in their eyes, the gospels were not initially cited in the same authoritative way as the Old Testament and it took some time for this to happen - which clearly reveals the absence of any kind of 'infallible' papal input.
Trying to argue that oral teaching was regarded more highly than written testimony in accord with Jewish procedure in relation to the oral law, which was as authoritative as the written code, would only hold ground if there was written confirmation of the idea. But there is no support for this idea and, in fact, Paul makes it clear in his warnings to beware 'forgeries' that were circulating even before his death (2 Thessalonians. 2:2; 3:17) and, by writing in his own hand (Paul used an amanuensis in letter writing, but the superscriptions were written in his own hand to show the genuineness of his epistles - cf. Romans 16:22; Colossians. 4:18; Galatians 6:11), he proved that the letter they read was authentic, that believers should seek only to follow the authentic gospels and epistles - and the Holy Spirit would lead them 'into all truth' (John 16:7ff.)! Strange that, while arguing for oral transmission in accordance with Jewish methods of committing oral teaching to memory, you accept that Papal traditions can embrace the same but, when we quote from the writings of an acknowledged Jewish historian (Josephus) you baulk! Apart from any other consideration the necessity for written forms in which the teaching became fixed was evident as soon as eyewitnesses (particularly the apostles) were removed by death. To try and argue that it took the 'councils' close to 400 AD to finalise the canon (while no genuine orthodox, Bible-believing Christians accept that the considerably confused 'Church Fathers' had any part to play) is simply unacceptable. Coupled with this we know that the Roman emperors, and then their papal successors, destroyed anything written by genuine, orthodox, Bible-believing Christians that they could lay their hands on that was in disagreement with Rome's teachings and beliefs, or which exposed their errors, as already shown.
The knowledge possessed by Paul's closest associates concerning the churches to whom he wrote (e.g., Timothy, Titus, Tychicus), coupled with the knowledge that Paul himself encouraged the interchange of his epistles (cf. Colossians 4:16), leaves no good reason why this should not have led fairly rapidly to circulation of his collection of epistles. And what was true for Paul's epistles would also be equally true for any other writings whose apostolic origin could be assured. The great importance of apostolicity in the development of the New Testament canon is seen in the great number of pseudepigraphical works which were attributed to apostles in an attempt to provide rival sources for doctrine (mostly of an heretical nature). This principle of apostolicity can be amply illustrated in a survey of patristic evidence.
A powerful impetus toward the formation of the New Testament canon should have come from the Church's resistance to heretical books because when Gnostic sects, and others, claimed support for their doctrines from secret sources and secret books, the need for the orthodox Church to make clear its own authentic sources became urgent. The purpose of the New Testament canon was not only to define the authorized books, but also to identify and exclude the spurious and heretical. A different tendency was seen in the heretic Marcion's canon which set out to provide an authorized list to be used in his own heretical church, but which excluded many books used by orthodox Christians. The existence of such a list must have shown the need for a clear understanding of orthodox usage and local churches (especially after reading the warnings about 'false gospels' contained in the epistles, e.g. Galatians 1:6-9) would desire a uniform usage with other churches, especially those in the same vicinity.
The specific evidence for the New Testament canon consists mainly of patristic allusions and citations from New Testament books, but also includes certain patristic comments relating to the acceptance or otherwise of Christian writings. Unfortunately, the earliest period is not prolific in evidence of citation, and it is not until the time of Irenaeus that authors became more specific and their citations considerably more numerous.
You write: It is false and inaccurate history for you to allege St. Jerome never accepted the Deutero-canonical books. This is untrue. In fact, he strenuously defended their status as inspired Scripture and in fact, calls people like you, foolish sycophants for alleging such; writing, 'What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume (ie. canon), proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I wasn't relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us' (Against Rufinus 11:33 [AD 402]).
In earlier correspondence with Pope St. Damasus, St. Jerome did not call the deuterocanonical books unscriptural, he simply said that Jews he knew did not regard them as canonical. But for himself, he acknowledged the authority of the Church in defining the canon. When Pope St. Damasus and the Councils of Carthage and Hippo included the deuterocanon in Scripture, that was good enough for St. Jerome. He 'followed the judgment of the churches.' And he calls persons such as you, sycophants. So your claim is mooted. All Church Fathers accepted the Catholic Canon - so your position is Protestant and needs serious revision.
TCE: Papal Roman Catholics admit that Jerome was charged by Pope Damascus I 'to translate the Bible into Latin for the nations of the West.' (The Bible Is A Catholic Book, p3) but, in Jerome's preface to his translation he enumerated the books contained in the Hebrew Canon and added:
'This prologue I write as a preface to the books to be translated by us from the Hebrew into Latin, that we know that all the books which are not of this number are apocryphal; therefore Wisdom, which is commonly ascribed to Solomon as its author, and the book of Jesus the son of Sir, Judith, Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the Canon.' (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. II, 834). As pointed out earlier, Roman Catholic scholar Dr. Gigot wrote very frankly: 'Time and again this illustrious doctor (Jerome) of the Latin church rejects the authority of the deutero-canonical books in the most explicit manner.' (ibid., p56)
The argument that Jerome changed his position on the Apocrypha later in life, accepted these books as inspired because of the 'judgment of the churches' on this matter, even referring to them as 'Scripture' needs careful examination. The material on the internet (apparently supplied by Papal Roman Catholic Mark Shea - see:
http://www.envoymagazine.com/backissues/1.2/marapril_story2.html (# page may now be unavailable) which includes this fuller statement:
'In his later years St. Jerome did indeed accept the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible. In fact, he wound up strenuously defending their status as inspired Scripture, writing, 'What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Son of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume (ie. canon), proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I wasn't relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us' (Against Rufinus 11:33 [AD 402]). In earlier correspondence with Pope Damasus, Jerome did not call the deuterocanonical books unscriptural, he simply said that Jews he knew did not regard them as canonical. But for himself, he acknowledged the authority of the Church in defining the canon. When Pope Damasus and the Councils of Carthage and Hippo included the deuterocanon in Scripture, that was good enough for St. Jerome. He 'followed the judgment of the churches.'
It would be interesting to find the written quotes that supposedly prove Jerome accepted the 'deuterocanonicals' as genuine Scripture, never mind that he 'strenuously' defended them. Can anyone in Papal Rome supply these references? Jerome supposedly followed the 'judgment of the churches' (which is sometimes inferred to be judgements made at the synods of Hippo and Carthage) but the truth is that this statement - 'judgment of the churches' - is referring to the use of Theodotion's translation of Daniel by the churches instead of the Septuagint version.
Earlier, in discussing The Jewish Encyclopedia we read:
3. First Esdras. In the Latin Bible, Third Esdras. A fragment of the oldest Greek version (used by Josephus) of Chronicles (including Ezra and Nehemiah), containing I Chron. xxxv.-Neh. viii. 13, in a different, and in part more original, order than the Hebrew text and with one considerable addition, the story of the pages of King Darius (iii. 1-v. 6). The book is printed in an appendix to the official editions of the Vulgate (after the New Testament), but is not recognized by the Roman Church as canonical.
4. Additions to Daniel. a. The story of Susanna and the elders, prefixed to the book, illustrating Daniel's discernment in judgment. b. The destruction of Bel and the Dragon, appended after Christian. xii., showing how Daniel proved to Cyrus that the Babylonian gods were no gods. c. The Song of the three Jewish Youths in the fiery furnace, inserted in Daniel. iii. between verses 23 and 24. These additions are found in both Greek translations of Daniel (Septuagint and Theodotion); for the original language and for the Hebrew and Aramaic versions of the stories, see Daniel.
So we find that 'additions are found in both Greek translations of Daniel (Septuagint and Theodotion)' - which raises the obvious question in reference to 'Theodotion the heretic': How is it easily possible to criticise the work of one called a heretic and yet find the supposedly canonical Septuagint (LXX) contains the same errors?
The claim that 'Pope Damasus and the Councils of Carthage and Hippo included the deuterocanon in Scripture, that was good enough for St. Jerome' is noteworthy for several reasons: first, because Hippo and Carthage met some years after Jerome wrote this to his friends (it was addressed to Paula and Eustochium about AD 392) while Damasus died in 384 A.D, nine years before Hippo (393) and thirteen years before Carthage (397), so phrasing it in this way makes it seem that Damasus was in agreement with the councils, which is somewhat disingenuous; secondly, it shows the difficulties caused by the incorporation of an apocryphal matter into this book; thirdly, the fact that Theodotion's version, not the LXX, was read in the Churches; fourthly, that the book was not reckoned by the Jews as being among the prophets but among the Hagiographa; fifthly, the meetings at Hippo and Carthage were regional councils which did not speak for the entire church, so Jerome was not obliged to submit to their decisions. Thus it was Theodotion's version Jerome refers to when he mentions the 'judgment of the churches' and not their decision on canon, or any change of mind over the Apocrypha, for we find at:
under a page titled 'Apology Against Rufinus (Book II)' with the heading:
As to Daniel, it was necessary to point out that Bel and the Dragon, and similar stories were not found in the Hebrew.
33. In reference to Daniel my answer will be that I did not say that he was not a prophet; on the contrary, I confessed in the very beginning of the Preface that he was a prophet. But I wished to show what was the opinion upheld by the Jews; and what were the arguments on which they relied for its proof. I also told the reader that the version read in the Christian churches was not that of the Septuagint translators but that of Theodotion. It is true, I said that the Septuagint version was in this book very different from the original, and that it was condemned by the right judgment of the churches of Christ; but the fault was not mine who only stated the fact, but that of those who read the version. We have four versions to choose from: those of Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy, and Theodotion. The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion. Otherwise from the fact that I stated that Porphyry had said many things against this prophet, and called, as witnesses of this, Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinarius, who have replied to his folly in many thousand lines, it will be in his power to accuse me for not having written in my Preface against the books of Porphyry. If there is any one who pays attention to silly things like this, I must tell him loudly and freely that no one is compelled to read what he does not want; that I wrote for those who asked me, not for those who would scorn me, for the grateful not the carping, for the earnest not the indifferent. Still, I wonder that a man should read the version of Theodotion the heretic and judaizer, and should scorn that of a Christian, simple and sinful though he may be.
So the real issue here was ('the heretic and judaizer') Theodotion's translation of Daniel, which was being used by the churches rather than the Septuagint (LXX). However, in addition to the LXX there were other Greek versions of the Old Testament (those of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, at least), which led Origen to produce his Hexapla, in which he used parallel columns to compare all the Greek versions available to him with the Hebrew text and led him to suggest his own revision. One of the reasons for Jerome choosing to make his translation of the Old Testament by going back to the Hebrew text was because the Old Latin version of the Old Testament was based directly on the LXX and had, for a variety of reasons including scribal errors, become substantially corrupted. Other ancient versions of the Old Testament were parallel to those in the New Testament (the main versions were the Syriac and the Coptic) which reveals that the expanding use of the Old Testament was closely linked with the developing needs of the church. The whole Bible existed in at least seven versions by the 6th century A.D., in Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Gothic, and Ethiopic. The Theodotion translation, while also being faulty and not necessarily based on the Septuagint but possibly containing similar errors, was condemned by the 'right judgment of the churches', but this reference does not apply to any canonical decision made by the local councils of Hippo and Carthage, as Jerome wrote in his preface to Daniel:
'The Septuagint version of Daniel the prophet is not read by the Churches or our Lord and Saviour. They use Theodotion's version, but how this came to pass I cannot tell. Whether it be that the language is Chaldee, which differs in certain peculiarities from our speech, and the Seventy were unwilling to follow those deviations in a translation; or that the book was published in the name of the Seventy, by some one or other not familiar with Chaldee, or if there be some other reason, I know not; this one thing I can affirm - that it differs widely from the original, and is rightly rejected. For we must bear in mind that Daniel and Ezra, the former especially, were written in Hebrew letters, but in the Chaldee language, as was one section of Jeremiah; and, further, that Job has much affinity with Arabic. ... to confess the truth, to this day I can read and understand Chaldee better than I can pronounce it. I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing them to an obelus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume. I heard a certain Jewish teacher, when mocking at the history of Susanna, and saying that it was the fiction of some Greek or other, raise the same objection which Africanus brought against Origen ... Then he would captiously maintain that the three youths in the furnace of raging fire had leisure enough to amuse themselves with making poetry, and to summon all the elements in turn to praise God. Or what was there miraculous, he would say, or what indication of divine inspiration, in the slaying of the dragon with a lump of pitch, or in frustrating the schemes of the priests of Bel? Such deeds were more the results of an able man's forethought than of a prophetic spirit. But when he came to Habakkuk and read that he was carried from Judaea into Chaldaea, to bring a dish of food to Daniel, he asked where we found an instance in the whole of the Old Testament of any saint with an ordinary body flying through the air, and in a quarter of an hour traversing vast tracts of country. And when one of us who was rather too ready to speak adduced the instance of Ezekiel, and said that he was transported from Chaldaea into Judaea, he derided the man and proved from the book itself that Ezekiel, in spirit, saw himself carried over. And he argued that even our own Apostle, being an accomplished man and one who had been taught the law of Hebrews, had not dared to affirm that he was bodily rapt away, but had said: 'Whether in the body, or out of the body, I know not; God knoweth.' By these and similar arguments he used to refute the apocryphal fables in the Church's book. Leaving this for the reader to pronounce upon as he may think fit, I give warning that Daniel in Hebrew is not found among the prophets, but amongst the writers of the hagiographa; for all Scripture is by them divided into three parts; the law, the Prophets, and the hagiographa, which have respectively five, eight, and eleven books, a point which we cannot now discuss.'
Jerome clearly goes on to explain one Jews opinion against these apocryphal books and the problems he had faced when challenged over these tales. J.N.D. Kelly (who you have used as an authority) gave this opinion on the matter:
'Jerome, conscious of the difficulty of arguing with Jews on the basis of books they spurned and anyhow regarding the Hebrew original as authoritative, was adamant that anything not found in it was 'to be classed among the apocrypha', not in the canon; later he grudgingly conceded that the Church read some of these books for edification, but not to support doctrine.' [J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, San Francisco: Harper, 1960, p55 - emphasis added].
So your 'good enough for St. Jerome' jibe is bogus!
Incidentally, Origen's Letter to Julius Africanus on the History of Susanna (Daniel 13) contains a reply to objections which Julius urged against the authenticity of the history of Susanna and also offers crucial and startling proofs of Origen's deficiency in historical criticism. Africanus pointed out, from its plays upon words among other things, that the writing must have been Greek originally, and that it was not contained in the 'Hebrew' Daniel. Origen agreed that he had indeed been unable to find Hebrew equivalents to the paronomasias (also called 'puns', i.e. involving a word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect) quoted but suggested, without evidence, that they may exist and that the Jews had probably omitted the history to save the honour of their elders! The aged Africanus addressed Origen as 'a son' and revealed a far higher nobility of spirit by writing: 'May such a principle never prevail in the church of Christ that falsehood is framed for His praise and glory'!
The reply to Africanus from Origen - at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0414.htm - contains these thoughts:
2. You begin by saying that when, in my discussion with our friend Bassus, I used the Scripture which contains the prophecy of Daniel when yet a young man in the affair of Susanna, I did this as if it had escaped me that this part of the book was spurious. You say that you praise this passage as elegantly written, but find fault with it as a more modern composition, and a forgery; and you add that the forger has had recourse to something which not even Philistion the play-writer would have used in his puns between prinos and prisein, schinos and schisis, which words as they sound in Greek can be used in this way, but not in Hebrew. In answer to this, I have to tell you what it behooves us to do in the cases not only of the History of Susanna, which is found in every Church of Christ in that Greek copy which the Greeks use, but is not in the Hebrew, or of the two other passages you mention at the end of the book containing the history of Bel and the Dragon, which likewise are not in the Hebrew copy of Daniel; but of thousands of other passages also which I found in many places when with my little strength I was collating the Hebrew copies with ours. For in Daniel itself I found the word 'bound' followed in our versions by very many verses which are not in the Hebrew at all, beginning (according to one of the copies which circulate in the Churches) thus:
'Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael prayed and sang unto God,' down to 'O, all ye that worship the Lord, bless ye the God of gods. Praise Him, and say that His mercy endureth for ever and ever. And it came to pass, when the king heard them singing, and saw them that they were alive.' Or, as in another copy, from 'And they walked in the midst of the fire, praising God and blessing the Lord,' down to 'O, all ye that worship the Lord, bless ye the God of gods. Praise Him, and say that His mercy endureth to all generations.' But in the Hebrew copies the words, 'And these three men, Sedrach, Misach, and Abednego fell down bound into the midst of the fire,' are immediately followed by the verse, 'Nabouchodonosor the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors.' For so Aquila, following the Hebrew reading, gives it, who has obtained the credit among the Jews of having interpreted the Scriptures with no ordinary care, and whose version is most commonly used by those who do not know Hebrew, as the one which has been most successful. Of the copies in my possession whose readings I gave, one follows the Seventy, and the other Theodotion; and just as the History of Susanna which you call a forgery is found in both, together with the passages at the end of Daniel, so they give also these passages, amounting, to make a rough guess, to more than two hundred verses.
Continuing to speak about Daniel, further down this page, he writes:
9. But probably to this you will say, Why then is the 'History' not in their Daniel, if, as you say, their wise men hand down by tradition such stories? The answer is, that they hid from the knowledge of the people as many of the passages which contained any scandal against the elders, rulers, and judges, as they could, some of which have been preserved in uncanonical writings (Apocrypha). As an example, take the story told about Esaias; and guaranteed by the Epistle to the Hebrews, which is found in none of their public books. For the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in speaking of the prophets, and what they suffered, says, 'They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword' To whom, I ask, does the 'sawn asunder' refer (for by an old idiom, not peculiar to Hebrew, but found also in Greek, this is said in the plural, although it refers to but one person)? Now we know very well that tradition says that Esaias the prophet was sawn asunder; and this is found in some apocryphal work, which probably the Jews have purposely tampered with, introducing some phrases manifestly incorrect, that discredit might be thrown on the whole. However, some one hard pressed by this argument may have recourse to the opinion of those who reject this Epistle as not being Paul's; against whom I must at some other time use other arguments to prove that it is Paul's. At present I shall adduce from the Gospel what Jesus Christ testifies concerning the prophets, together with a story which He refers to, but which is not found in the Old Testament, since in it also there is a scandal against unjust judges in Israel. The words of our Savior run thus:
'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partaken with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore be ye witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Gehenna? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.' And what follows is of the same tenor: 'O Jerusalem; Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.'
Let us see now if in these cases we are not forced to the conclusion, that while the Savior gives a true account of them, none of the Scriptures which could prove what He tells are to be found. For they who build the tombs of the prophets and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, condemning the crimes their fathers committed against the righteous and the prophets, say, 'If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' In the blood of what prophets, can any one tell me? For where do we find anything like this written of Esaias, or Jeremias, or any of the twelve, or Daniel? Then about Zacharias the son of Barachias, who was slain between the temple and the altar, we learn from Jesus only, not knowing it otherwise from any Scripture. Wherefore I think no other supposition is possible, than that they who had the reputation of wisdom, and the rulers and elders, took away from the people every passage which might bring them into discredit among the people. We need not wonder, then, if this history of the evil device of the licentious elders against Susanna is true, but was concealed and removed from the Scriptures by men themselves not very far removed from the counsel of these elders.
TCE: Origen makes many dubious claims in his reply. Concerning this one 'about Zacharias the son of Barachias, who was slain between the temple and the altar, we learn from Jesus only, not knowing it otherwise from any Scripture' it appears he was unaware of the account of the murder described in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, which seems to be the exact illustration, especially as Zacharias' last words were, "The Lord require it," and thus they were warned that "of that generation it should be required"! If Jesus had not added (in Matthew's account) "the son of Barachias," no one could have doubted that it referred to any other than Zacharias the son of Jehoiada, whose slaughter is recorded in these passages in 2 Chronicles. It is certain that the Jews accept no other Zacharias slain in the Temple but this one and they have written of his slaughter in the Talmuds (cf. Midras Echah and Midras Coheleth). If anyone queries the changing of the name they should refer to the name Jehoiada in the catalogue of priests (1 Chronicles 6:1) and question if he appears under some other name, has been totally left out of that numbering or, if he was also called Barachias, consider that he had three names. This last possibility is not unusual in a nation where multiple names existed (consider that Jewish rabbis claim that Moses had no less than ten names!).
Continuing from the same section from http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0414.htm
In the Acts of the Apostles also, Stephen, in his other testimony, says, 'Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.' That Stephen speaks the truth, every one will admit who receives the Acts of the Apostles; but it is impossible to show from the extant books of the Old Testament how with any justice he throws the blame of having persecuted and slain the prophets on the fathers of those who believed not in Christ.
And Paul, in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, testifies this concerning the Jews:
'For ye, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men.' What I have said is, I think, sufficient to prove that it would be nothing wonderful if this history were true, and the licentious and cruel attack was actually made on Susanna by those who were at that time elders, and written down by the wisdom of the Spirit, but removed by these rulers of Sodom, as the Spirit would call them.
TCE: Origen also constructs the same kind of hopeful speculation that The Catholic Encyclopedia encourages in Papal Roman Catholics and also admits to the use of devices in translation of the Word of God that modern translators are surely bound to baulk at further down this same page:
12. I had nearly forgotten an additional remark I have to make about the prino-prisein and schino-schisein difficulty; that is, that in our Scriptures there are many etymological fancies, so to call them, which in the Hebrew are perfectly suitable, but not in the Greek. It need not surprise us, then, if the translators of the History of Susanna contrived it so that they found out some Greek words, derived from the same root, which either corresponded exactly to the Hebrew form (though this I hardly think possible), or presented some analogy to it. Here is an instance of this in our Scripture. When the woman was made by God from the rib of the man, Adam says, 'She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of her husband.' Now the Jews say that the woman was called 'Essa,' and that 'taken' is a translation of this word as is evident from 'chos isouoth essa,' which means, 'I have taken the cup of salvation;' and that 'is' means 'man,' as we see from 'Hesre ais,' which is, 'Blessed is the man.' According to the Jews, then, 'is' is 'man,' and 'essa' 'woman,' because she was taken out of her husband (is). It need not then surprise us if some interpreters of the Hebrew 'Susanna,' which had been concealed among them at a very remote date, and had been preserved only by the more learned and honest, should have either given the Hebrew word for word, or hit upon some analogy to the Hebrew forms, that the Greeks might be able to follow them. For in many other passages we can, I find traces of this kind of contrivance on the part of the translators, which I noticed when I was collating the various editions.
13. You raise another objection, which I give in your own words:
'Moreover, how is it that they, who were captives among the Chaldeans, lost and won at play, thrown out unburied on the streets, as was prophesied of the former captivity, their sons torn from them to be eunuchs, and their daughters to be concubines, as had been prophesied; how is it that such could pass sentence of death, and that on the wife of their king Joakim, whom the king of the Babylonians had made partner of his throne? Then, if it was not this Joakim, but some other from the common people, whence had a captive such a mansion and spacious garden?'
Where you get your 'lost and won at play, and thrown out unburied on the streets,' I know not, unless it is from Tobias; and Tobias (as also Judith), we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew Apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves. However, since the Churches use Tobias, you must know that even in the captivity some of the captives were rich and well to do.
Origen concludes (at the foot of the same page):
... Your last objection is, that the style is different. This I cannot see. This, then, is my defense. I might, especially after all these accusations, speak in praise of this history of Susanna, dwelling on it word by word, and expounding the exquisite nature of the thoughts. Such an encomium, perhaps, some of the learned and able students of divine things may at some other time compose....
TCE: this last sentence betrays much concerning the nature of Origen's approach to 'divine things' for how could it be possible for any 'learned and able student' to equal inspired Scripture? The fact that he calls 'Susanna' 'an encomium' in this way is, in itself, an admission that the work is un-canonical!
While the Council of Trent supposedly made 'the' official pronouncement on the canon of Scripture and definitively proclaimed that the Apocrypha was sacred Scripture the question of who was involved in this decision is rarely broached. What kind of scholars were involved in this decision on the canon? Were there any who opposed the decision? The Roman Catholic historian (and expert on Trent) Hubert Jedin explained that a group of scholars at the Council included Cardinal Giralamo Seripando, Professor of Theology and Greek and Hebrew lecturer, one of the leaders of a minority of outstanding theologians who attended and distinguished himself by his zeal for the purity of the text of Holy Writ, and because of his strong views concerning original sin and justification (which sound as if he was not at one with Papal Rome's views). Jedin wrote that Seripando was:
Impressed by the doubts of St. Jerome, Rufinus, and St. John Damascene about the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament, Seripando favored a distinction in the degrees of authority of the books of the Florentine canon. The highest authority among all the books of the Old Testament must be accorded those which Christ Himself and the apostles quoted in the New Testament, especially the Psalms. But the rule of citation in the New Testament does not indicate the difference of degree in the strict sense of the word, because certain Old Testament books not quoted in the New Testament are equal in authority to those quoted. St. Jerome gives an actual difference in degree of authority when he gives a higher place to those books which are adequate to prove a dogma than to those which are read merely for edification. The former, the protocanonical books, are 'libri canonici et authentici'; Tobias, Judith, the Book of Wisdom, the books of Esdras, Ecclesiasticus, the books of the Maccabees, and Baruch are only 'canonici et ecclesiastici' and make up the canon morum in contrast to the canon fidei. These, Seripando says in the words of St. Jerome, are suited for the edification of the people, but they are not authentic, that is, not sufficient to prove a dogma. Seripando emphasized that in spite of the Florentine canon the question of a twofold canon was still open and was treated as such by learned men in the Church. Without doubt he was thinking of Cardinal Cajetan, who in his commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews accepted St. Jerome's view which had had supporters throughout the Middle Ages.' (Hubert Jedin, Papal Legate At The Council Of Trent, St Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1947, pp270-271).
Later in his book, Jedin wrote how Seripando pointed out an obvious and logical contradiction that Papal Rome left itself open to if it insisted in this volte face:
'For the last time [Seripando] expressed his doubts [to the Council of Trent] about accepting the deuterocanonical books into the canon of faith. Together with the apostolic traditions the so-called apostolic canons were being accepted, and the eighty-fifth canon listed the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) as non-canonical. Now, he said, it would be contradictory to accept, on the one hand, the apostolic traditions as the foundation of faith and, on the other, to directly reject one of them.' (ibid., p278).
Later, Jedin documents the group of equally excellent scholars who also stood against 'tradition' as being on the same level of authority as scripture:
'In his opposition to accepting the Florentine canon and the equalization of traditions with Holy Scripture, Seripando did not stand alone. In the particular congregation of March 23, the learned Dominican Bishop Bertano of Fano had already expressed the view that Holy Scripture possessed greater authority than the traditions because the Scriptures were unchangeable; that only offenders against the biblical canon should come under the anathema, not those who deny the principle of tradition; that it would be unfortunate if the Council limited itself to the apostolic canons, because the Protestants would say that the abrogation of some of these traditions was arbitrary and represented an abuse… Another determined opponent of putting traditions on a par with Holy Scripture, as well as the anathema, was the Dominican Nacchianti. The Servite general defended the view that all the evangelical truths were contained in the Bible, and he subscribed to the canon of St. Jerome, as did also Madruzzo and Fonseca on April 1. While Seripando abandoned his view as a lost cause, Madruzzo, the Carmelite general, and the Bishop of Agde stood for the limited canon, and the bishops of Castellamare and Caorle urged the related motion to place the books of Judith, Baruch, and Machabees in the 'canon ecclesiae.' From all this it is evident that Seripando was by no means alone in his views. In his battle for the canon of St. Jerome and against the anathema and the parity of traditions with Holy Scripture, he was aligned with the leaders of a minority that was outstanding for its theological scholarship.' (ibid., p281-282).
These scholars clearly agreed with Jerome's clear statements in his prefaces and commentaries in which he denied their inspiration as well as their canonicity. It clearly defeats the purpose and definition of 'the canon' if 'God-breathed' Scriptures (2 Timothy 3v16) are mixed with uninspired works which reveal clear errors of any kind. In his commentary on Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus, Jerome stated:
'As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two Volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.'
According to Jerome, these books are capable of 'edifying' people but cannot be used to support or give authority to any doctrine!
In his preface to the books of Samuel and Kings, Jerome also emphatically stated:
'This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a 'helmeted' introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which generally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon.'
And, as shown earlier, in his preface to Daniel he stated:
'I say this to show you how hard it is to master the book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; because, however, they are to be found everywhere, we have formed them into an appendix, prefixing to them an obelus, and thus making an end of them, so as not to seem to the uninformed to have cut off a large portion of the volume.'
So Jerome points out that the additions were not in the Hebrew Scriptures and clearly calls Bel and the Dragon a 'fable', which explains why he would only append such works to his Vulgate while marking all such materials in the same way - with an 'obelus' (a recognised methodology in which this critical symbol was used in ancient manuscripts to mark a questionable passage). So there is absolutely no support for the claim that Jerome had changed his mind and now, or ever, held the Apocrypha to be inspired Scripture.
When claims are made that Jerome sometimes used the word 'scripture' when quoting a verse from the books he has already labelled Apocrypha (e.g., 'for does not the scripture say: Burden not yourself above your power? Sirach 13:2' - ref. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001108.htm ), we must remember that he has already stated that 'Ecclesiasticus' (Sirach) is not to be used doctrinally but can be used ecclesiastically, so this is still no claim for 'inspiration' or 'canonicity' but an example of slip-shod or accidental use! There are many similar examples that can be found in Jerome's work, but all they do is expose the danger that anyone can fall into if they allow 'polluted water' to mix in any way with the 'pure water of the Word' (Ephesians 5:26).
J.N.D. Kelly held these views on the 'deuterocanonical' or 'Apocryphal' books and Jerome's attitude towards these books - and his usage of the word 'scripture':
Jerome's conversion to 'the Hebrew verity' [i.e. in contrast to the LXX] carried with it an important corollary - his acceptance also of the Hebrew canon, or list of books properly belonging to the Old Testament. Since the early Church had read its Old Testament in Greek, it had taken over without question the so-called Alexandrian canon used in the Greek-speaking Jewish communities outside Palestine. This had included those books (Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, etc.) which are variously described as deuterocanonical or as the Apocrypha. Around the end of the first century, however, official Judaism had formally excluded these, limiting the canon to the books which figure in English Bibles as the Old Testament proper. Since Origen's time it had been recognised that there was a distinction between the Jewish canon and the list acknowledged by Christians, but most writers preferred to place the popular and widely used deutero-canonical books in a special category (e.g. calling them 'ecclesiastical') rather than to discard them. Jerome now takes a much firmer line. After enumerating the 'twenty-two' (or perhaps twenty-four) books recognised by the Jews, he decrees that any books outside this list must be reckoned 'apocryphal': 'They are not in the canon.' Elsewhere, while admitting that the Church reads books like Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus which are strictly uncanonical, he insists on their being used solely 'for edifying the people, not for the corroboration of ecclesiastical'. This was the attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life - in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture. Again what chiefly moved him was the embarrassment he felt at having to argue with Jews on the basis of books which they rejected or even (e.g. the stories of Susanna, or of Bel and the Dragon) found frankly ridiculous. (J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings, and Controversies, Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000, p160-161).
Papal Rome is renowned for accepting many characters (as 'saints', 'popes', 'fathers' etc.), miracles, and doctrines, that are also 'frankly ridiculous', but that does not excuse any genuine Bible student for throwing their lot in with this sad aberration that feigns to be the true Christian ekklesia!
We could easily argue that Kelly follows the example of many writers who read things out of known historical facts that they can certainly never entirely prove so that, when he writes that the Septuagint (LXX) was accepted by the Early Church 'without question', we know that he cannot prove this conclusively because no one knows every situation that existed in past history, or whether any kind of Christian faction existed that was as doubtful about the Septuagint as some of the Jews had been! Apart from many other things he wrote that are detrimental to your view of history, Kelly makes it clear that he is at least fairly ignorant of the true nature of the writings of the 'Church Fathers', even though he takes a view that Jerome took an 'attitude which, with temporary concessions for tactical or other reasons, he was to maintain for the rest of his life - in theory at any rate, for in practice he continued to cite them as if they were Scripture'. Anyone who is generous with the truth for 'tactical or other reasons' should be viewed with caution and Jerome proves himself to be a man who is to be viewed with more than a little suspicion. That Kelly does not give examples of how Jerome actually quoted the apocryphal works as 'scripture' leaves his material only slightly open to use by those with a Papal axe to grind but, as we have briefly shown, there are reasonable, valid explanations for these claimed occurrences.
So, in fact, there is no evidence that Jerome had any change of heart regarding the apocryphal books and, as shown previously, the expert scholars at Trent (Cardinal Giralamo Seripando, et al) also accepted his position, as did many others through the ages.
So, far from our claims being 'mooted', all of your claims have now been refuted beyond reasonable doubt. In conclusion, we will let the riposte of Jerome sum up the position you now find yourself in as a result of your inability to checkout facts ('All Church Fathers accepted the Catholic Canon' is an obviously false claim!) and to lazily rely on the accusations invented by equally incompetent Papal Roman Catholics: 'the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer'.
You write: You were correct in saying that Sola Scriptura is not found in the Bible, but your fallacy in demanding a parallel passage in the Bible stating the Tri-unity of God, is unfounded. The Bible not only teaches that, but also, additionally, Christians do not believe in Sola Scriptura as the protestant community unfortunately does; but rather accepts this doctrine through the Oral Gospel - the Apostolic Tradition handed down through the ages. You yourself admit there is no such verse in the Bible teaching Sola Scriptura, hence, it's unbiblical. You also made the laughable claim that if you put all parts of the bible together, it supposedly teaches Sola Scriptura. Not only is that false, but you presented no evidence of this because there isn't any. Anybody can make the same claim too, for their beliefs which you reject.
TCE: In your hurry to criticize and reject our clear and irrefutable explanation you have simply proven yourself to be illogical and incapable of even reading carefully - for this is what we actually wrote:
'Show us one verse in the Bible that clearly declares Sola Scriptura, that the Bible is sufficient in itself,' is the specious challenge thrown out by Catholic apologists. One might as well demand 'just one verse that states that God is a triune being of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' No single verse says so, yet the doctrine of the Trinity - or, more correctly, the Tri-Unity of God - is accepted by both Catholics and Protestants as Biblical. Nor is there a single verse which contains the words 'the Bible is sufficient.' However, when we put together the many verses in the Bible on this topic it is clear that the Bible teaches its own sufficiency both to authenticate itself to the reader and to lead to spiritual maturity and effectiveness all who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and read it with open hearts.
By your reasoning the Triunity of God is a false doctrine because there is not one single verse that states it - and this is exactly the reasoning used by cults such as the Jehovah's Witnesses! But when we collate the Scriptures which clearly teach that Sola Scriptura is taught in the Bible - as we did - we prove the truth of Sola Scriptura! You have merely resorted to using a straw man, namely: '... there is no such verse in the Bible teaching Sola Scriptura'.
And then you write 'Anybody can make the same claim too, for their beliefs which you reject.'
Obviously they cannot - as you and your fellow Papal Roman Catholics have proven repeatedly with your attempts to use 'Emperor's New Clothes Theology' to prove such doctrines as 'Mariology'.
(Continued on page 340)