Monday, February 01, 2010

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 23/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 23/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

23) Why do Protestants follow postapostolic Jewish decisions on the boundaries of the Old Testament canon, rather than the decision of the Church founded by Jesus Christ?

Simple Answer(s):

This question is so loaded that the only simple answer that can be given is "they don't."

Important Qualification(s):

1) We follow, in the strongest sense, the canon to which Jesus referred when he said, "from Abel .. unto ... Zacharias." (Matthew 23:35 & Luke 11:51)

2) The Roman Catholic Church is not "the Church founded by Jesus Christ."

3) The decisions of various local councils in the first millenium were not decisions of "the Church" that would require anyone outside their jurisdictional boundaries to do anything. They are decisions of churches, but not of The Church.

4) There is more than one sense to "follow." We agree with the Jews regarding the canon, but that's not quite the same thing as "following" them in the way that we "follow" our leaders.

5) The post-apostolic Jewish views of the canon provide evidence regarding the Old Testament canon. It would be foolish to ignore that evidence, and the church fathers themselves did not all ignore that evidence.

6) Some scholars allege that there was a so-called "council" of Jews at Jamnia that established the current Hebrew canon (as with so many other things in ancient history, other scholars disagree). While this so-called "council of Jamnia" of about A.D. 90 may have come after the death of the apostle John (normally thought to have died about A.D. 100), its constituent Jews were naturally those who lived during the apostolic period. So, "post-apostolic" (if it is referring to Jamnia) is misleading.

7) It is frankly absurd to imagine that no one had any idea of what the canon of Old Testament Scripture was before the Incarnation. After all, when Jesus speaks to people in the Gospels he frequently refers to "the Scriptures" and even exhorts the Jewish leaders who doubted him to "search the Scriptures." They didn't reply, "But no one has provided us with an infallible canon yet!"

8) Suggesting that we should follow the decision of a post-reformation Roman Catholic council as to the Old Testament purely on the weight of its authority is troubling, given that the same council, in the same section refers to Hebrews as one of Paul's epistles, something that practically all Biblical scholars today (even Roman Catholics) recognize isn't accurate. In other words, we have no good reason to think that Trent was infallible or to accept its decision as a decision that should bind God's church.

- TurretinFan

4 comments:

natamllc said...

TF,

I suppose, for our sakes you give so generously here.

Me, "that's a stupid and ignorant question"!

But so that I am placed well in the question,

Can you give an example of a Protestant exceeding or going beyond the decisions of Old Testament boundaries of the Jewish canon?

I can point to John's letters that clearly draws the line of boundaries for the Church being built upon the foundation, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

BenBerea said...

Re.: "Why do Protestants follow postapostolic Jewish decisions on the OT canon"

An irony of this question is that Rome, too, used to teach the OT canon that Protestants teach today. So if Protestants follow "postapostolic Jewish decisions on the OT canon", then Rome did too--and did so all the way up to the 16th century.

Originally, Rome's Vulgate contained the Prologue Galeatus, which stated

"And so there are also twenty-two books of the Old Law... what is outside of them must be placed aside among 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 [of Hermes?] are not in the canon."

which is the (rather inaccurately named) "Protestant" canon of scripture. Thus the original Vulgate contradicts what Trent taught later in the 16th century.

The earliest surviving Vulgate that exists today is the "Codex Amiatinus", from the 8th century, housed now in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, Italy. If a faithful Roman Catholic were read this still-existing tome today, he would hear Rome teaching him the "Protestant" canon of scripture.

Of course, the argument can be made that Rome taught multiple versions of the canon prior to Trent, not just the Protestant one. That may be true, but Rome's official version of the bible, the Vulgate, has to be said to have taught the "Protestant" canon.

john martin said...

“1) We follow, in the strongest sense, the canon to which Jesus referred when he said, "from Abel .. unto ... Zacharias." (Matthew 23:35 & Luke 11:51)”

Which excludes the NT and does not provide us with enough information about the canon anyway. It’s a bogus claim.

”2) The Roman Catholic Church is not "the Church founded by Jesus Christ."”

So the reformed church made by luther or Calvin or some other self proclaimed HS inspired prophet is the founder of the true church from 1500 to 200 years after Christ. Sorry this is just not tenable.

”3) The decisions of various local councils in the first millenium were not decisions of "the Church" that would require anyone outside their jurisdictional boundaries to do anything. They are decisions of churches, but not of The Church.”

What Councils are binding on the church. These councils were local, but they were also correct and did conform to apostolic tradition so they are a benchmark for orthodoxy.

”4) There is more than one sense to "follow." We agree with the Jews regarding the canon, but that's not quite the same thing as "following" them in the way that we "follow" our leaders.”

Why agree with the Jews and how do you know the OT canon is the correct canon anyway?

”5) The post-apostolic Jewish views of the canon provide evidence regarding the Old Testament canon.”

Which are not binding on NT Christians.

“ It would be foolish to ignore that evidence, and the church fathers themselves did not all ignore that evidence.”

Its not foolish to ignore a decision by people who have rejected Christ. It maybe foolish to abide by their decision without any other criteria to validate their decision. So what are the criteria that validates the Jewish OT canon?

”6) Some scholars allege that there was a so-called "council" of Jews at Jamnia that established the current Hebrew canon (as with so many other things in ancient history, other scholars disagree). While this so-called "council of Jamnia" of about A.D. 90 may have come after the death of the apostle John (normally thought to have died about A.D. 100), its constituent Jews were naturally those who lived during the apostolic period. So, "post-apostolic" (if it is referring to Jamnia) is misleading.”

Which is all irrelevant to the OT canon.

”7) It is frankly absurd to imagine that no one had any idea of what the canon of Old Testament Scripture was before the Incarnation.”

It could not have been closed because the incarnation hadn’t happened yet. This is almost self evident.

“After all, when Jesus speaks to people in the Gospels he frequently refers to "the Scriptures" and even exhorts the Jewish leaders who doubted him to "search the Scriptures." They didn't reply, "But no one has provided us with an infallible canon yet!"”

Yet He was God, so he knew objectively what the scriptures were and he knew the canon was not closed.

”8) Suggesting that we should follow the decision of a post-reformation Roman Catholic council as to the Old Testament purely on the weight of its authority is troubling, given that the same council, in the same section refers to Hebrews as one of Paul's epistles, something that practically all Biblical scholars today (even Roman Catholics) recognize isn't accurate.”

The pontifical biblical commission says Hebrews was written by Paul and so did the church fathers. Goes to show how off track modern biblical scholars are.

“In other words, we have no good reason to think that Trent was infallible or to accept its decision as a decision that should bind God's church.”

It’s a non sequitur because the opinion of scholars cannot be compared to the teaching if the church as the pillar and foundation of the church.

JM

Turretinfan said...

"Which excludes the NT and does not provide us with enough information about the canon anyway. It’s a bogus claim."

It provides plenty of information, it's not a bogus claim, and yes, the NT is not part of the OT.

"So the reformed church made by luther or Calvin or some other self proclaimed HS inspired prophet is the founder of the true church from 1500 to 200 years after Christ. Sorry this is just not tenable."

Nor is it our claim.

"What Councils are binding on the church. These councils were local, but they were also correct and did conform to apostolic tradition so they are a benchmark for orthodoxy."

In RC theology, the ecumenical councils are binding. I shouldn't have to tell you this. Your comment uses "benchmark" in exactly the opposite of its normal sense.

"Why agree with the Jews and how do you know the OT canon is the correct canon anyway?"

Already answered above.

"Which are not binding on NT Christians."

If evidence were binding on people, there would be no Roman Catholics.

"Its not foolish to ignore a decision by people who have rejected Christ."

Sure it is. A wise man considers all the evidence.

"It maybe foolish to abide by their decision without any other criteria to validate their decision."

Thankfully, we don't find ourselves in that position.

"So what are the criteria that validates the Jewish OT canon?"

Answered above.

"Which is all irrelevant to the OT canon."

Only to those who view the best historical evidence as "irrelevant."

"It could not have been closed because the incarnation hadn’t happened yet. This is almost self evident."

Actually, it's evident in hindsight that the canon of the Old Testament was closed prior to the Incarnation, since none of the OT authors were alive at the time of the incarnation. (Closed in objective fact, not necessarily closed in terms of recognition.)

"Yet He was God, so he knew objectively what the scriptures were and he knew the canon was not closed."

The canon of all Scripture, yes (the New Testament was still to come). The canon of the Old Testament, no.

"The pontifical biblical commission says Hebrews was written by Paul and so did the church fathers. Goes to show how off track modern biblical scholars are."

The church fathers were far from unanimous about that question, and it would be very enlightening to note the way in which the pontifical biblical commission asserts that the book was "written by Paul."

"It’s a non sequitur because the opinion of scholars cannot be compared to the teaching if the church as the pillar and foundation of the church."

I think you meant to use something other than "church" in that last instance. And, of course, we're aware that you just ignore the evidence whenever it contradicts your church - but that's part of our point. If you critically examined Rome's claims, you wouldn't be Roman Catholic.

-TurretinFan