Friday, September 19, 2008

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth - Part 13

An Inconvenient Conciliar Truth - Part 13

Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the thirteenth in what has become a multi-part series.

Council of Jamnia (90) - 1st Century Council Rejects Apocrypha

The council of Jamnia was a Jewish council of the 1st Century that officially rejected the apocrypha as non-canonical. Now, these were not believing Jews, to be sure. Nevertheless, there is no valid basis for insisting that they opposed the Apocrypha for theological reasons relating to the person of Christ. Regardless of the motivation, however, the council is an inconvenient truth for those who wish to pretend that before the Reformers there was no opposition to the canon dogmatized by Trent in the 16th century.

23 comments:

Lucian said...

Given Your latest obsession with councils, I'm remembered of the first verse of the first Psalm.

Turretinfan said...

Lucian,

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

It's worth noting that this Psalm 1:1 uses "counsel" not "council."

In any event, it has come to my mind as well, and thanks, Lucian, for reminding me of it.

-TurretinFan

orthodox said...

The council of Jamnia is a late 19th to mid 20th century protestant myth that has been thoroughly debunked. Not even protestant apologists who know what they are talking about would dare bring up this embarrassment. There were some Jews in Jamnia who discussed a couple of the Hebrew books and affirmed them. That's it. Time for your retraction now.

Jeff said...

Turretinfan,

I visit your blog daily and love it. This is a very informative and helpful series that you've posted. Thank you for your diligent labors.

I have also enjoyed your exchange regarding the atonement. It really makes me want to go back and read through Owen's "Death of Death" again (and again, and again). All great stuff!

May God be glorified!
Jeff

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for your support, Jeff! I am glad you have been edified. On the atonement, Owen's masterpiece truly stands out - though it is opposed (of course) by the group that I've been addressing with the last several atonement-related posts.

Turretinfan said...

"Orthodox," you're totally wrong.

Check out the works of Bruce Metzger and F. F. Bruce to get a clue in this department.

At best (for your absurd and extreme claims), recent "scholarship" has attempted to dispute some of the earlier view of the council.

And, frankly, even in the 1830's (before the "late 19th century") the matter was so widely settled that the Encyclopedia Brittanica wrote: "The canon was virtually settled at Jamnia...."

You were very eager to ask for a retraction. Are you as eager to provide one?

-TurretinFan

Ben Douglass said...

The council of Jamnia is a late 19th to mid 20th century protestant myth that has been thoroughly debunked.

A Jewish scholar, Heinrich Graetz, came up with the hypothesis of the Council of Jamnia. It has been seriously challenged, although "thoroughly debunked" is probably too strong of words.

In any case, whether rabbinic Judaism rejected the deuterocanonicals in a formal Council at Jamnia, or simply built a consensus over time, the fact remains that the rabbis had no authority to reject these books.

No Catholic apologist has ever, to my knowledge, claimed that mainstream Judaism accepts the deuterocanonicals as Scripture. That is a straw man.

orthodox said...

Do you want to do a formal mini formal debate about the council of Jamnia? I'm not going to write a bunch of stuff just to have it excised by your censorship.

Debate Proposition: "There was no council of Jamnia, and Jamnia gives us very little information about the Jewish canon"

Put your money where your mouth is.

Turretinfan said...

Ben,

You're not the only person to make that claim about Graetz (some even going farther and stating that he introduced the idea in 1871).

Now I'm wondering whether the copy of the Encyclopedia Brittanica I found actually simply bears an inaccurate printing date.

Ben wrote: "No Catholic apologist has ever, to my knowledge, claimed that mainstream Judaism accepts the deuterocanonicals as Scripture. That is a straw man."

Yes, that would be a straw man. I hope I didn't make such an argument in my post.

Ben wrote: "In any case, whether rabbinic Judaism rejected the deuterocanonicals in a formal Council at Jamnia, or simply built a consensus over time, the fact remains that the rabbis had no authority to reject these books."

The rabbis did not have authority over Old Testament Scripture (just as the elders of the New Testament church of God do not have authority over Scripture). On the other hand, people do sometimes claim that no one before Luther (to take one example of the formulation of the claim) rejected the Apocrypha.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"Orthodox": I'm actively involved in two other debates right now. I think you still have your own blog - perhaps the easiest way for you to debunk the myth (as you perceive it) of Jamnia is to present your case that way.

-TurretinFan

GeneMBridges said...

I'm not going to write a bunch of stuff just to have it excised by your censorship.

This is rich, Orthodox. You're crying about "censorship" on this blog when you've made your entire blog readable by invitation only.

In any case, whether rabbinic Judaism rejected the deuterocanonicals in a formal Council at Jamnia, or simply built a consensus over time, the fact remains that the rabbis had no authority to reject these books.

Notice how Ben casts the issue in terms of "authority."

a. This merely begs the question for the need for an ecclesiastical "authority" to "determine" the canon.

b. According to the Apostle Paul, it's the Jews who were entrusted with the Oracles of God.

c. It's true that these were not believing Jews, eg. Christians, but this does not subtract from their ability to recognize what their own tradition thought of the DC's up to that time.

orthodox said...

How about this then. Present primary source material to support your claims. Britanicca doesn't count.

orthodox said...

"You're crying about "censorship" on this blog when you've made your entire blog readable by invitation only."

I'm saying I don't want to waste time working on something that will be censored. I take it you won't waste any time responding to my blog which you can't access, right? LOL

Turretinfan said...

What I suspect Gene means is that you don't even consider your own work on your blog worth making public, and yet you complain when I agree with you and don't help you publicize your work here.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

O wrote: "How about this then. Present primary source material to support your claims. Britanicca doesn't count. "

a) As far as I am concerned, you can consider that Enc. Brit. article retracted (at least as to its date).

b) I am not interested in writing a term paper on this particular subject when the only challenge is a single critic's ipse dixit.

c) So - you have your own blog (which apparently you have made "by invitation only"). If you want to present (there) a debunking of the generally accepted view about the existence and activity of Jamnia, feel free.

-Turretinfan

GeneMBridges said...

I'm saying I don't want to waste time working on something that will be censored.

No, instead, you'll work on something to publish on your own blog, but then you won't allow anybody but those who receive invitations to read it.

I take it you won't waste any time responding to my blog which you can't access, right?

How could I respond if I can't read it? Given that I've responded more than once to you across multiple forums, you have no basis to charge that I won't waste my time responding to you.

Of course, it is a waste of time to have to repeat myself so many times when you refuse correction, post the same things continually, etc.

Then, of course, there's the issue of you trying to defy your ban at Tblog by posting under different identities. Sorry, Orthodox, you don't get to cry these crocodile tears. You've proven yourself to be a dishonest opponent more than once, and we all know it.

The fact of the matter is just as TF has stated it. If you don't think the content of your posts are worthy of being made public, why should we take what you say in the comboxes here or elsewhere seriously? You're complaining about TF allegedly censoring what you say one the one hand, and then on the other you are refusing to open your blog up - and your blog is a place where, unless you suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder, you can post in uncensored fashion. Why should TF or Tblog publicize your material for you when you won't publicize it for all to read yourself on your very own blog?


LOL Yes, I have laughed out loud more than once at your posts. The latest series here has been most entertaining.

orthodox said...

You've made the positive assertion, so you are the one with an ipse dixit. If I say there is no evidence for pink unicorns, it's not an ipse dixit. You're asking me to prove a negative.

Nobody is asking for a term paper. Something as simple as XYZ ancient source said a council was held at Jamnia would be enough for now. Otherwise you should withdraw the entire article.

Turretinfan said...

Actually, "Orthodox" you made the positive assertion that "The council of Jamnia is a late 19th to mid 20th century protestant myth that has been thoroughly debunked."

-TurretinFan

Ben Douglass said...

Now I'm wondering whether the copy of the Encyclopedia Brittanica I found actually simply bears an inaccurate printing date.

Not necessarily. No one disputes that there was a rabbinic college at Jamnia. Does the Encyclopedia Brittanica specifically mention a Council, or does it just speculate on what the rabbis talked about in their college?

Yes, that would be a straw man. I hope I didn't make such an argument in my post.

You stated, "the council is an inconvenient truth for those who wish to pretend that before the Reformers there was no opposition to the canon dogmatized by Trent in the 16th century." Who wishes to pretend this? Catholic apologists? Everyone admits that there was Jewish opposition to the canon dogmatized by Trent for centuries prior to Luther. The debate is about the extent of Christian opposition to the Tridentine Canon.

Turretinfan said...

Ben,

I don't recall the exact words, but it is something to the effect that the canon was determined at Jamnia.

That said, not everyone is as precise as you are. Just quickly searching around the web, I found someone who specifically stated, "Before Luther, everyone recognized the Deuterocanonicals as part of the Bible." That person did go on to acknowledge Jamnia's canon determination but interestingly suggested that a canon of the LXX was already extent. (source)

You wrote: "The debate is about the extent of Christian opposition to the Tridentine Canon." Luther died about the same time that Trent was voting on the canon. Thus, Luther's rejection of the Deuterocanonicals preceded the definition of the Tridentine canon. But I think I addressed that under another head.

No, to me the idea that ancient Jews did not themselves accept the Deuterocanonicals is relevant to the issue of whether the Deuterocanonicals were accepted as inspired by the apostles - although of course it is not conclusive.

-TurretinFan

Ben Douglass said...

Notice how Ben casts the issue in terms of "authority."

a. This merely begs the question for the need for an ecclesiastical "authority" to "determine" the canon.


So, I take it that you agree that the rabbis at Jamnia had no authority to reject certain books as Scripture.

b. According to the Apostle Paul, it's the Jews who were entrusted with the Oracles of God.

Yes, it is a historical fact, which no Christian disputes, that the Jews were the original recipients and legitimate custodians of the word of God. However, Romans 3:2 does not prove that they retained that status after they rejected Christ. St. Paul uses an aorist, episteuthesan. If he had wanted to teach that the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God such that they were still its legitimate custodians at the time of his writing, he could have taught this with a perfect verb. As it stands, his aorist does not exclude this possibility, but it doesn't teach it either.

c. It's true that these were not believing Jews, eg. Christians, but this does not subtract from their ability to recognize what their own tradition thought of the DC's up to that time.

And which tradition was that? The Pharisaical tradition.

Ben Douglass said...

No, to me the idea that ancient Jews did not themselves accept the Deuterocanonicals is relevant to the issue of whether the Deuterocanonicals were accepted as inspired by the apostles - although of course it is not conclusive.

Agreed. However, the Council of Jamnia represents only one branch of the Jewish tradition, specifically Pharisaic Judaism. This branch became dominant after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, but Judaism at the time of Christ was much more diverse. There were Sadduccees, Essenes, Alexandrian Jews, Falasha, etc. If you want to argue that because ancient Jews, as a whole, did not accept the Deuterocanonicals as Scripture, therefore the Apostles probably did not accept them as Scripture, it's not enough to prove simply that Pharisaic Jews did not accept them as Scripture. For if you find in the ancient records that some schools of ancient Judaism accepted them and others rejected them, your argument has no force.

Turretinfan said...

Paul was willing to identify himself with the sect of the Pharisees. That does make that sect somewhat more significant. Associated with that testimony is the fact that Paul identified the Pharisees as the strictest sect.

Reading the works of canon scholars, I don't see any good evidence to suppose that the other sects had a different canon - even notwithstanding the various legends that have grown up regarding the LXX and the Alexandrian Jews.

-TurretinFan