23 October, 2009

"Bourn Again" questioning the inspiration of the Christian Bible

(Bourn Again) We both know the Bible claims to be inspired, but the "deutercanonicals" never claim that. No deutercanonicals were written by an apostle or prophet, none of them were confirmed by miracles (something that happens often in the Bible (for example, 1 Kings 18 and Hebrews 2:4). Also, they never contain predictive prophesy, which would have confirmed inspiration. 2 Maccabees actually admits that it was an abridgment of another man's work and expresses concern on if a good job was done (2 Macc. 2:23, 15:38). How could this happen if it was inspired?

(Cristoiglesia) There are some instances of the books of the Bible claiming inspiration but almost always in particular instances such as prophetic statements. I cannot think of but one instance where it is clear that a particular book is inspired. In the case of the Old Testament only the second book of Samuel contains a statement of inspiration and only then in regards to a particular personal revelation. So, if one is to believe inspiration only of the testimony of the biblical authors then almost all the books of the Bible would be excluded as canonical. The Deuterocanonicals are not written by an apostle because there were none when the books were written. All the Old Testament books would be excluded if this was a criterion for inspiration and most of the Old Testament books were not written by prophets. The same is true if confirmation by miracles is a criterion. The author referred to another’s writing for more complete information. This is completely appropriate for an author to supply supporting sources.

(Bourn Again) The New Testament writers also never quoted anything from the deutercanonicals. The gospel of Matthew quotes or alludes to the Old Testament about 130 times, but never once did they quote the deutercanonicals. Some church fathers did approve of the deutercanonicals, but many denied their inspiration, such as Origin, Jerome, Athanasius, and Cyril of Jerusalem.

(Cristoiglesia) Here are some of the references in the New Testament to the Deuterocanonical works:

Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents.

Matt. 6:19-20 - Jesus' statement about laying up for yourselves treasure in heaven follows Sirach 29:11 - lay up your treasure.

Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others.

Matt. 7:16,20 - Jesus' statement "you will know them by their fruits" follows Sirach 27:6 - the fruit discloses the cultivation.

Matt. 9:36 - the people were "like sheep without a shepherd" is same as Judith 11:19 - sheep without a shepherd.

Matt. 11:25 - Jesus' description "Lord of heaven and earth" is the same as Tobit 7:18 - Lord of heaven and earth.

Matt. 12:42 - Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books.

Matt. 16:18 - Jesus' reference to the "power of death" and "gates of Hades" references Wisdom 16:13.

Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.

Matt. 24:15 - the "desolating sacrilege" Jesus refers to is also taken from 1 Macc. 1:54 and 2 Macc. 8:17.

Matt. 24:16 - let those "flee to the mountains" is taken from 1 Macc. 2:28.

Matt. 27:43 - if He is God's Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18.

Mark 4:5,16-17 - Jesus' description of seeds falling on rocky ground and having no root follows Sirach 40:15.

Mark 9:48 - description of hell where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched references Judith 16:17.

Luke 1:42 - Elizabeth's declaration of Mary's blessedness above all women follows Uzziah's declaration in Judith 13:18.

Luke 1:52 - Mary's magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14.

Luke 2:29 - Simeon's declaration that he is ready to die after seeing the Child Jesus follows Tobit 11:9.

Luke 13:29 - the Lord's description of men coming from east and west to rejoice in God follows Baruch 4:37.

Luke 21:24 - Jesus' usage of "fall by the edge of the sword" follows Sirach 28:18.

Luke 24:4 and Acts 1:10 - Luke's description of the two men in dazzling apparel reminds us of 2 Macc. 3:26.

John 1:3 - all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1.

John 3:13 - who has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven references Baruch 3:29.

John 4:48; Acts 5:12; 15:12; 2 Cor. 12:12 - Jesus', Luke's and Paul's usage of "signs and wonders" follows Wisdom 8:8.

John 5:18 - Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.

John 6:35-59 - Jesus' Eucharistic discourse is foreshadowed in Sirach 24:21.

John 10:22 - the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.

John 10:36 – Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Macc. 4:36.

John 15:6 - branches that don't bear fruit and are cut down follows Wis. 4:5 where branches are broken off.

Acts 1:15 - Luke's reference to the 120 may be a reference to 1 Macc. 3:55 - leaders of tens / restoration of the twelve.

Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 - Peter's and Paul's statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12.

Acts 17:29 - description of false gods as like gold and silver made by men follows Wisdom 13:10.

Rom 1:18-25 - Paul's teaching on the knowledge of the Creator and the ignorance and sin of idolatry follows Wis. 13:1-10.

Rom. 1:20 - specifically, God's existence being evident in nature follows Wis. 13:1.

Rom. 1:23 - the sin of worshipping mortal man, birds, animals and reptiles follows Wis. 11:15; 12:24-27; 13:10; 14:8.

Rom. 1:24-27 - this idolatry results in all kinds of sexual perversion which follows Wis. 14:12,24-27.

Rom. 4:17 - Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19.

Rom. 5:12 - description of death and sin entering into the world is similar to Wisdom 2:24.

Rom. 9:21 - usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7.

1 Cor. 2:16 - Paul's question, "who has known the mind of the Lord?" references Wisdom 9:13.

1 Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-26 - warning that, while all things are good, beware of gluttony, follows Sirach 36:18 and 37:28-30.

1 Cor. 8:5-6 - Paul acknowledging many "gods" but one Lord follows Wis. 13:3.

1 Cor. 10:1 - Paul's description of our fathers being under the cloud passing through the sea refers to Wisdom 19:7.

1 Cor. 10:20 - what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7.

1 Cor. 15:29 - if no expectation of resurrection, it would be foolish to be baptized on their behalf follows 2 Macc. 12:43-45.

Eph. 1:17 - Paul's prayer for a "spirit of wisdom" follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7.

Eph. 6:14 - Paul describing the breastplate of righteousness is the same as Wis. 5:18. See also Isaiah 59:17 and 1 Thess. 5:8.

Eph. 6:13-17 - in fact, the whole discussion of armor, helmet, breastplate, sword, shield follows Wis. 5:17-20.

1 Tim. 6:15 - Paul's description of God as Sovereign and King of kings is from 2 Macc. 12:15; 13:4.

2 Tim. 4:8 - Paul's description of a crown of righteousness is similar to Wisdom 5:16.

Heb. 4:12 - Paul's description of God's word as a sword is similar to Wisdom 18:15.

Heb. 11:5 - Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 & Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah.

Heb 11:35 - Paul teaches about the martyrdom of the mother and her sons described in 2 Macc. 7:1-42.

Heb. 12:12 - the description "drooping hands" and "weak knees" comes from Sirach 25:23.

James 1:19 - let every man be quick to hear and slow to respond follows Sirach 5:11.

James 2:23 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

James 3:13 - James' instruction to perform works in meekness follows Sirach 3:17.

James 5:3 - describing silver which rusts and laying up treasure follows Sirach 29:10-11.

James 5:6 - condemning and killing the "righteous man" follows Wisdom 2:10-20.

1 Peter 1:6-7 - Peter teaches about testing faith by purgatorial fire as described in Wisdom 3:5-6 and Sirach 2:5.

1 Peter 1:17 - God judging each one according to his deeds refers to Sirach 16:12 - God judges man according to his deeds.

2 Peter 2:7 - God's rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6.

Rev. 1:4 – the seven spirits who are before his throne is taken from Tobit 12:15 – Raphael is one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints before the Holy One.

Rev. 1:18; Matt. 16:18 - power of life over death and gates of Hades follows Wis. 16:13.

Rev. 2:12 - reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God's Word in Wisdom 18:16.

Rev. 5:7 - God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8.

Rev. 8:3-4 - prayers of the saints presented to God by the hand of an angel follows Tobit 12:12,15.

Rev. 8:7 - raining of hail and fire to the earth follows Wisdom 16:22 and Sirach 39:29.

Rev. 9:3 - raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9.

Rev. 11:19 - the vision of the ark of the covenant (Mary) in a cloud of glory was prophesied in 2 Macc. 2:7.

Rev. 17:14 - description of God as King of kings follows 2 Macc. 13:4.

Rev. 19:1 - the cry "Hallelujah" at the coming of the new Jerusalem follows Tobit 13:18.

Rev. 19:11 - the description of the Lord on a white horse in the heavens follows 2 Macc. 3:25; 11:8.

Rev. 19:16 - description of our Lord as King of kings is taken from 2 Macc. 13:4.

Rev. 21:19 - the description of the new Jerusalem with precious stones is prophesied in Tobit 13:17.

Exodus 23:7 - do not slay the innocent and righteous - Dan. 13:53 - do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.

1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the intercessory mediation of deceased Samuel for Saul follows Sirach 46:20.

2 Kings 2:1-13 – Elijah being taken up into heaven follows Sirach 48:9.

2 Tim. 3:16 - the inspired Scripture that Paul was referring to included the deuterocanonical texts that the Protestants removed. The books Baruch, Tobit, Maccabees, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom and parts of Daniel and Esther were all included in the Septuagint that Jesus and the apostles used.

Sirach and 2 Maccabees – some Protestants argue these books are not inspired because the writers express uncertainty about their abilities. But sacred writers are often humble about their divinely inspired writings. See, for example, 1 Cor. 7:40 – Paul says he “thinks” that he has the Spirit of God.

None of the Church fathers denied the inspiration of the Deuterocanonicals. Some critics of the Christian Bible claim that because these books were not included in their Canon list means that they did not deem them inspired. That is weak evidence at best and shows ignorance of what “canonical” meant to those in the early Church. Most often it only meant that it was not used in their liturgical practice and not because they believed they were not inspired. Also, none of them had the authority to speak for the whole Church as did the Synods and Councils such as Hippo and Carthage.

(Bourn Again) One of the earliest Christian lists of the Old Testament by Melito, the bishop of Sardis, in 170 AD lists all Old Testament books, except Esther and the entire deutercanonicals. Athanasius lists all books of the Old and New Testaments, again except Esther, and not a single deuterocanonical book. He mentioned some, yes, but then called them a teaching tool instead of Canonical!

The Jews of Palestine rejected the deuterocanonicals. Flavius Josephus excluded the deuterocanonicals. Philo quoted almost every OT book, but never the deuterocanonicals.

(Cristoiglesia) Of course the Canon was not decided until the completion of the three African Synods of Hippo and Carthage. So any lists they compiled was speculation and non-binding personal opinions which the Church had no obligation to adopt. The issue was settled at the African Synods.
As for Josephus, he was a Jewish historian and during His life the Christian Canon had not yet been decided. The same is true for Philo. Besides any opinion of theirs would not be binding on the Christian Church. Philo did use the Septuagint which contained the Deuterocanonicals so this argument backfires on you whether he quoted from the Deuterocanonicals or not.

(Bourn Again) There are also historical errors in the deuterocanonicals. As John Ankerberg and John Weldon summarized: "Tobit contains certain historical and geographical errors such as the assumption that the Sennacherib was the son of Shalmaneser (1:15) instead of Sargon II, and that Nineveh was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus (14:5) instead of by Nabopolassar and Cyaxares.... Judith cannot possibly be historical because of the glaring errors it contains.... (in 2 Maccabees) there are also numerous disarrangements and discrepancies in chronological, historical, and numerical matters in the book, reflecting ignorance or confusion."
"Tobit was supposedly alive when Jeroboam staged his revolt in 931 BC and was still living at the time of the Assyrian captivity (722 BC), yet the book of Tobit says he lived only 158 years (Tobit 1:3-5; 14:11). Archeology has always agreed with the Old and New Testament.

(Cristoiglesia) “First, from a certain perspective, there are "errors" in the deuterocanonical books. The book of Judith, for example, gets several points of history and geography wrong. Similarly Judith, that glorious daughter of Israel, lies her head off (well, actually, it's wicked King Holofernes' head that comes off). And the Angel Raphael appears under a false name to Tobit. How can Catholics explain that such "divinely inspired" books would endorse lying and get their facts wrong? The same way we deal with other incidents in Scripture where similar incidents of lying or "errors" happen.
Let's take the problem of alleged "factual errors" first. The Church teaches that to have an authentic understanding of Scripture we must have in mind what the author was actually trying to assert, the way he was trying to assert it, and what is incidental to that assertion.
For example, when Jesus begins the parable of the Prodigal Son saying, "There was once a man with two sons," He is not shown to be a bad historian when it is proven that the man with two sons He describes didn't actually exist. So too, when the prophet Nathan tells King David the story of the "rich man" who stole a "poor man's" ewe lamb and slaughtered it, Nathan is not a liar if he cannot produce the carcass or identify the two men in his story. In strict fact, there was no ewe lamb, no theft, and no rich and poor men. These details were used in a metaphor to rebuke King David for his adultery with Bathsheba. We know what Nathan was trying to say and the way he was trying to say it. Likewise, when the Gospels say the women came to the tomb at sunrise, there is no scientific error here. This is not the assertion of the Ptolemiac theory that the sun revolves around the earth. These and other examples which could be given are not "errors" because they're not truth claims about astronomy or historical events.
Similarly, both Judith and Tobit have a number of historical and geographical errors, not because they're presenting bad history and erroneous geography, but because they're first-rate pious stories that don't pretend to be remotely interested with teaching history or geography, any more than the Resurrection narratives in the Gospels are interested in astronomy. Indeed, the author of Tobit goes out of his way to make clear that his hero is fictional. He makes Tobit the uncle of Ahiqar, a figure in ancient Semitic folklore like "Jack the Giant Killer" or "Aladdin." Just as one wouldn't wave a medieval history textbook around and complain about a tale that begins "once upon a time when King Arthur ruled the land," so Catholics are not reading Tobit and Judith to get a history lesson.
Very well then, but what of the moral and theological "errors"? Judith lies. Raphael gives a false name. So they do. In the case of Judith lying to King Holofernes in order to save her people, we must recall that she was acting in light of Jewish understanding as it had developed until that time. This meant that she saw her deception as acceptable, even laudable, because she was eliminating a deadly foe of her people. By deceiving Holofernes as to her intentions and by asking the Lord to bless this tactic, she was not doing something alien to Jewish Scripture or Old Testament morality. Another biblical example of this type of lying is when the Hebrew midwives lied to Pharaoh about the birth of Moses. They lied and were justified in lying because Pharaoh did not have a right to the truth — if they told the truth, he would have killed Moses. If the book of Judith is to be excluded from the canon on this basis, so must Exodus.
With respect to Raphael, it's much more dubious that the author intended, or that his audience understood him to mean, "Angels lie. So should you." On the contrary, Tobit is a classic example of an "entertaining angels unaware" story (cf. Heb. 13:2). We know who Raphael is all along. When Tobit cried out to God for help, God immediately answered him by sending Raphael. But, as is often the case, God's deliverance was not noticed at first. Raphael introduced himself as "Azariah," which means "Yahweh helps," and then rattles off a string of supposed mutual relations, all with names meaning things like "Yahweh is merciful"Yahweh gives," and "Yahweh hears." By this device, the author is saying (with a nudge and a wink), "Psst, audience. Get it?" And we, of course, do get it, particularly if we're reading the story in the original Hebrew. Indeed, by using the name "Yahweh helps," Raphael isn't so much "lying" about his real name as he is revealing the deepest truth about who God is and why God sent him to Tobit. It's that truth and not any fluff about history or geography or the fun using an alias that the author of Tobit aims to tell.” (Mark P. Shea)

(Bourn Again) Now for the doctrines. The deuterocanonicals often disagree with the Bible.
The doctrine of mass: 2 Macc. 12:42-45 to Hebrews 7:27
The world was created by preexistent matter: Wisdom of Solomon to Genesis 1 and Psalms 33:9
The idea that giving alms to the poor can help atone for sins: Sirach 3:3, 3:30, 5:5, 20:28, 35:1-4, 45:16, 45:23 to Romans 3:20
The invocation and intervention of saints: 2 Macc. 15:14; Baruch 3:4 to Matt. 6:9
The worship of angels: Tobit 12:12 to Colossians 2:18
And finally, purgatory: 2 Macc. 12:42, 45 to Hebrews 9:27. I think I had mentioned before that it was based off of this.

(Cristoiglesia) The Deuterocanonicals are books of the Bible. How can they disagree with themselves? You need to show me the doctrines by which you think the Deuterocanonical books disagree and why. As for the Doctrine of Purgatory II Maccabees certainly does support the Doctrine but to say that it is based on II Maccabees is ignoring the vast Scriptural and theological basis for the Doctrine.

(Bourn again) Yes, the Septuagint does contain the deuterocanonicals, but not until about the fourth century after Christ. This suggest that the deuterocanonicals was not in the original Septuagint. This also may explain why although the apostles often quoted the Septuagint, they never quoted from the deuterocanonicals.

(Cristoiglesia) This is nonsense. The Septuagint always contained the Deuterocanonicals since before the Church was founded. The Canon of the Septuagint was the Canon of the Diaspora and the Essene Jews in its entirety including the deuterocanonical books. The Christian Bible was canonized in the late fourth century and it contained the same books we have today including the Deuterocanonicals.

(Bourn Again) Let’s look at the tests of canonicity:
1. Backed by an apostle/prophet- No
2. Is the book authoritive?- No, they never claim to be inspired, and 2 Macc. nearly admits that it was not.
3. Does it tell the truth about God and doctrine as it is already known by previous revelation- Bereans searched the OT to see if Paul's teaching was true (Acts 17:11). Galatians 1:8 shows that Paul recognized this too. The deuterocanonicals contradict other testimonies.

(Cristoiglesia) I have no idea what you mean by backed by an apostle and certainly not all books of the Bible claim inspiration. The Deuterocanonicals never disagree with any other Scriptures or Doctrines.

(Bourn Again) Does the book give evidence of having the power of God?- Real scriputre is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). Many church fathers admitted that it did not have it, and was solely a teaching tool instead of the inspired word of God. I know you find the Bible to be a teaching tool, but it is so much more. It is the inspired word of God, and it is an insult to lower it to a textbook.

(Cristoiglesia) None of the Church Fathers denied the inspiration of Scriptures and certainly not the Deuterocanonicals. None of the Church Fathers denied that the Deuterocanonicals were not the Word of God. The Bible being a teaching tool is not an insult but testimony to its veracity.

(Bourn Again) 5. Was the book accepted by God's people? Many NT books were recognized as scripture around the time they were written, not canonized some 1500 years after they were written.

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, the Septuagint was the accepted Canon by the first Christians and certainly by the New Testament authors and Jesus. The Septuagint was the only Canon ever recognized by the Church and was canonized at the African Synods in the late fourth and early fifth centuries at the Synods of Hippo and Carthage. If you are referring to the Council of Trent, the Canon was only confirmed in response to the Protestant heretics that desired to remove any books that conflicted with their man-made doctrines in their efforts to combine Secular Humanism with Christianity. They wanted to remove New Testament books as well. In short, in the history of the Christian Church until the Reformation there was never a time when the Deuterocanonical books were not believed to be inspired Canon and used by the Church as such.

(Bourn Again) The only claim that the Roman Catholic church has of the apostles quoting the deuterocanonicals is Hebrews 11:35. This is compared to 2 Macc. 7. First off, this is not an exact quote, but an allusion if anything. There is never a clear quotation from the deuterocanonicals. Even if this was an allusion, this does not make it anymore inspired then "Bad company corrupts good character" from Thaïs is inspired because Paul used it in 1 Cor. 15:33.

(Cristoiglesia) See the list of references to the Septuagint provided above. By what authority does any Protestant have to question the authority given by Jesus to His Church? The answer is none.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

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