Canon: The books of the Bible recognized by the Christian church as valid and inspired.
Reformation/Revolt: I use these terms interchangeably to describe the split of the Protestant church from the Catholic church (starting in 1517)
Deuterocanonical: Literally means, "alongside the canon". Describes the seven books of the Old Testament for which there were no original Hebrew texts. At least some of these were originally written in Greek and as such, were held in suspicion by Jewish religious leaders and later, by the Reformers as well. Some of these books have been found to have Hebrew originals in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The deuterocanonical books are: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (also called "Ecclesiasticus"), Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, as well as portions of Daniel and Esther. These books are also often referred to as the "apocrypha" by Protestant sources.
Septuagint: The Koine Greek translation of the Old Testament. The translation occurred between the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, and contain the 46 books of the OT, including the deuterocanonicals.
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We both knew what we had to do.
"Roman Catholic Bibles" place the books of Tobit and Judith between Nehemiah and Esther and 1 and 2 Maccabees after Esther. The books of Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon) and Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) are similar to the Book of Proverbs and are placed after the Song of Songs. The book of Baruch follows Lamentations. Eastern Orthodox scripture includes these books, too, and some Orthodox Bibles contain still others such as the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, and 3 Maccabees (with 4 Maccabees as an appendix).
These books were not part of Hebrew scripture, but were included in all Christian Bibles until The 16th Century Reformation. The Reformers chose the shorter Old Testament of the Hebrew Bible (39 Books), thus paralleling the thought of Martin Luther who considered these other books "not equal to the Sacred Scriptures, but useful and good for reading."
-- From the ELCA website regarding their beliefs of Scripture, emphasis mine
The Canon of Scripture
Wait a minute. Wait just a minute. I had to read it more than once, as shocked as I was. The Reformers chose to omit seven books of the Bible that had been included since the days of the early church -- the very books of the Septuagint that Paul used in his travels when he won people to Christ -- because they deemed these books unequal to the other books of Scripture? These seven books weren't originally written in Hebrew, but did that fact make them somehow less inspired? We learned that not only did they omit these seven Old Testament books, but Martin Luther also seriously considered omitting New Testament texts such as Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Revelation from the New Testament as well because he held such a low view of them. He termed James "an epistle of straw because it contains nothing evangelical" and of Revelation said, "I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it" and also added "to my mind it bears upon it no marks of an apostolic or prophetic character."
It seemed awfully presumptuous to me, to remove seven books of the Bible that had been accepted for sixteen centuries. As someone who has long held a high view of God's word, this did more than raise an eyebrow -- this was appalling. If it was indeed true that the Reformers used their own subjective judgment to decide that these seven books weren't equal to Scripture, this gave rise to several questions for me: By what authority were these books rejected? Since Scripture itself doesn't account for the books that should be in it, how was the Canon of Scripture formed in the first place, and who had the authority to decide this? What are the implications for us if the seven books that the Reformers omitted from the Old Testament are in fact Scripture?
Learning to see things from a different angle
This is where I had to question what I had been taught and what I had believed about Scripture, willing to admit that just maybe, it had been wrong. This is where I had to suspend my Protestant biases.
We had always heard from Protestant sources that the Catholic church added these seven deuterocanonical books at the Council of Trent (which was held in the 16th century in response to the Protestant revolt), but what we found was quite the opposite, and we had the words of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America affirming this. These seven books were not added later, but had always been there and held as authoritative until the reformers had them removed. When the Canon of Scripture was formally defined in the 4th century by Pope Damasus I and was later confirmed by three official councils of the Church, these seven books were included.
So what kinds of material did Luther have removed? One of the books removed was the book of Sirach and in the days of the early church, had earned the nickname "Ecclesiasticus" (literally, "Church Book") since it was often used to catechize new believers. Maccabees contains ample additional detail of the martyrologies described in Hebrews 11, and also describes the establishment of the Feast of Dedication that we see in John 10. The early church and even the apostle Paul had relied upon these and the other books, and until Luther omitted them from his translations, the entire Church was using them.
As we looked into this even more, we were searching for any justifiable reason why the Reformers would have omitted so many texts. What evidence could they have that would lead them to believe that these works had not in fact been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? While I wanted desperately to believe in their best intentions, we found that Luther's own hand penned the reason. Luther explicitly decreed that his own will was sufficient for the removal of these texts, and for the addition of words not in the original text. He added the word "alone" to the text of Romans 3:28 so that it read: "For we hold that one is justified by faith [alone] apart from works of the law." The word alone is in none of the original manuscripts. Paul never put it there. When confronted on this matter, Luther's response was this:
... if your Papist wishes to make a great fuss about the word "alone" (sola), say this to him: "Dr. Martin Luther will have it so and he says that a papist and an ass are the same thing." Please do not give these asses any other answer to their useless braying about that word "sola" than simply "Luther will have it so, and he says that he is a doctor above all the papal doctors." Sic volo, sic iubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas. (I will it, I command it; my will is reason enough).
Translated from Sendbrief von Dolmetschen, an open letter on translating by Dr. Martin Luther
In the meantime ...
Luther's own statements concerning his teaching and its results (available online through Google books)
Note about the video below:
This 10-minute video is very helpful in terms of gaining an overview about the formation of the Canon of Scripture, and the differences between the Catholic and Protestant canons. If your curiosity has been raised the least bit by what I've said here (or if you think I'm a heretic, or just completely off my rocker), I encourage you to watch it and to test for yourself the claims that are made. It is not meant to be an exhaustive resource, but does raise many good questions for those who are inclined to look deeper into the issues raised.