Friday, January 2, 2009

Luther had no Old Testament Canon

Martin Luther admitted:

"We are obliged to yield many things to the Papists (Catholics) that they possess the Word of God which we received from them otherwise we should have known nothing about it." (Commentary on St. John ch.16) This is Luther, instructing all who hears him that Christians owe their Bible to the efforts of the Catholic Church.

Christians realize that if God has revealed Himself to us, we must be able to know with absolute assurance where that revelation can be found. Since we staking our salvation on the Truth of Gods Word, we need to know exactly and infallibly how the Canon of Scripture came to be. The Canon of Scripture refers to a standard or official list of inspired books that make up the Bible.

The Protestant OT is based upon the Palestinian (Hebrew) canon used by Hebrew-speaking Jews in Palestine. The Catholic OT is based upon the Alexandrian (Greek) canon used by the Greek speaking Jews throughout the Mediterranean region, including Palestine. The city of Alexandria in Egypt had the largest Library in ancient times and during Ptolemy II Philedelphus (285-246 BC) according to history, a translation of the entire Hebrew Bible into Greek was performed by approx 70 Jewish Scholars, about 6 from each of the 12 tribes. It is from this Alexandrian translation that we have the term "Septuagint", which is Latin for 70, the number of translators.

The Greek translation was very popular, the predominate language by the time of Christ, and Hebrew was a dying language by then. (Jews in Palestine spoke Aramaic primarily) So it is fair to surmise that the Septuagint was the translation used by Jesus and the New Testament writers. While the Septuagint contains 46 books the Hebrew canon contains only 39. Why?

The Hebrew canon was established by Rabbi's at the Council of Jamnia (100 AD) in response to the Christian Church which was using the Alexandrian canon. The Jews at Jamnia rejected 7 books from the Hebrew canon (we all know which ones) on the grounds that they could not find any Hebrew versions of these 7 books and portions of Daniel and Esther, which the Septuagint supposedly translated from Hebrew into the Greek language.

At the Councils of Hippo and Carthage (393-397 AD) The Catholic church officially determined which books comprise the canon of the Bible, approving the 46 books of the Alexandrian canon as the Old Testament canon. For 16 Centuries the Alexandrian canon was a matter of uncontested Faith and practice.

In 1529 Luther proposed the Palestinian canon of 39 books in Hebrew as the OT canon, where he justified removing the 7 books from the already uncontested 12 century old Bible using the same concern from Jamnia that the the Greek books had no Hebrew counterparts. However, Dead Sea Scrolls research has yielded ancient Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books, thereby nullifying these rejections.

Whats the point?

Which OT would you rather use...the OT used by Jesus Christ, the New Testament authors and the early Church, or, the OT used by the Jews who rejected Christ and persecuted Christianity?

If your Bible includes the 7 books, then you follow Jesus and the early Church. If your Bible omits the 7 books you follow the non Christians Jews at Jamnia and Martin Luther, who expressed motivation to discard even more Sacred canon (James, Esther and Revelation), who also intentionally added the word "alone" to Sacred Scripture in his German translation of Romans (3:28).

Beyond Luther and even Jamnia, the fairly modern discoveries of Hebrew Sirach documents should shelve that logic of non-canonical altogether and reconfirm the Alexandrian OT once again.

Luther had no canon, and apparently, no historical canon perspective by the time he tossed his Priesthood.

4 comments:

~Joseph the Worker said...

Did I tell you my idea about Christmas next year? I'm going to get a statue of St. Nicholas and have him punching a heretic. My first choice: Martin Luther. :)

(Just a joke guys!)

The Catholic Journeyman said...

You're letting him off easy...IMO.

janes said...

Nice blog!!! Creatively explained everything..I was just looking for
Greek TV show and lodged at ur blog to appreciate it.

mel said...

Thanks for this. I obviously have much research to do. Nice blog; I found you thru JTW's blog. Nice-looking graphics, too. God bless.