Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Deutercanonical books

A claim often made to undermine the logic of Sola Sciptura, especially towards KJV proponents, is that the KJV "originally had 12 extra books".

Leaving aside that the KJV translators and publishers clearly didn't intend to endorse them as canonical since they were put in a separate section titled "The Apocrypha", not Canon is what "Apocrypha" means.  They were the 1611 equivalent to DVD bonus features.

It is not the KJV itself I consider God's inspired word but the Masoretic Text for the Hebrew Bible and Textus Receptus for the Greek New Testament.  The Deutercanonical books are part of neither of those but are preserved for us mainly via Septuagint manuscripts.

The desire to make it sound like Protestants and Evangelicals are the ones picking and choosing I find annoying because the Catholic Bibles do NOT keep all 12 of those books, only some of them.

The first time one of them was quoted by a Catholic while debating Martin Luther, he responded "since when is that in The Bible?"  While these books were around, they were never considered of equal authority.  It was in response to the Reformation some started being propped up more.

The Catholic Church choose to keep in their Bible ones that they could take as supporting their positions on issues like Prayer for the Dead, but rejected ones that contradicted their views on those issues.  If Protestants were also picking and choosing you'd think they'd have kept the ones the Catholic Church rejected.

While the books of Maccabees are most interesting to us today for being our oldest historical source on the origins of Hanukkah, and the Hasmonean revolt.  I suspect the Catholic Church kept them because of parts like First Maccabees chapter 8 that really praised Rome.  I personally think chapter 8 is where the Hasmoneans starting going wrong.

2 Esdras (also called 4th Esdras by languages that call the Canonical Ezra and Nehemiah 1 and 2 Esdras).  Is infamous for the Prophecies it gives, some of which I have and will in the future mention for the sake of curiosity on my Prophecy Blog.  But the book is dangerous because of a strong Anti-Semitic tone it has.

Judith and Tobit are interesting historical oddities that often come up in talks on Revised Chronology and also Lost Tribes speculation (which one of the 2nd Esdras Prophecies is also a part of).  If they ever were reliable histories the versions we have are clearly corrupt, being filled with confusing geographical contradictions and historical anachronisms.

There are three more books also grouped with the Deutrcanonical books though they are not among the 12 included in the 1611 KJV or in any Catholic Bibles, but they are popular in the Eastern Churches.

They are 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151.

Psalm 151 doesn't seem to say anything particularly interesting.  But it's amusing to me that it makes the Psalms like the original Pokemon.  150 are all you need, but there is also an extra.

4 Maccabees is a poetic elaboration on a story found in 2 Maccabees.

3 Maccabees however is not about the history it's title would make you think.  It is clearly a work of Prose Fiction written by Alexandrian Jews during the time of Caligula about Alexandrian Jews during the time of Ptolemy IV Philopater.

It has an attempt to do an Abomination of Desolation qualifying event but gets thwarted.  Then later Ptolemy tries to massacre the Alexandrian Jews with drunk elephants.

Something similar to the latter is mentioned by Josephus in Against Apion as being tried by Ptolemy VIII Psycon.  I find it amusing how Ussher and many others since think Josephus must be mistaken on which Ptolemy did this, since 3 Maccabees is clearly a literary narrative, and Jospehus goal in Against Apion was documenting things the Greek Alexandrians could verify from their own (now lost to us) historical records.  Now it's possible similar incidents could have been tried by both Kings since History does repeat itself, but if only one is true it's Ptolemy VIII.

So those are my thoughts on this collection of Apocrypha.  They're interesting sources of information, but not Inspired Scripture.

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