Tuesday, March 31, 2020

7 Books that should be in your Library which you can use to Study and Defend the Deuterocanonical Books

More than two weeks ago, 2 to 3 persons asked me about the Deuterocanonical Books on how to defend them against critics. 

The Deuterocanonical Books that I am referring to are what Protestants refer to as “Apocryphal Books” or books in the Bible used by Catholics which are not in the Bible versions of non-Catholics. 

1. Invitation to the Apocrypha by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.

If you want an updated, concise and reliable introduction about the Deuterocanonical Books, you will need this book written by a Catholic Biblical scholar. 

Father Harrington wrote a remarkable introduction about these books for both formal or informal students. The well-thought of explanation for each one puts the content in the proper perspective. Fr. Daniel J. Harrington is the Chair of the Biblical Studies Department and Professor of Testament at Boston College School of Theology.

2. An Introduction to Early Judaism by James Vanderkam

This Book does not only provide an excellent introduction to early Judaism but also historically and scholarly discussed each of the Deuterocanonical Books.  

It is the perfect overview to the extra-biblical material in the Deuterocanonical writings. This material inspired writers of the scriptures found in the Canon. It does not only give a summary of many of the books, but a history of the period from 400 B.C.E. up to the turn of the millennium.Prof. Vanderkam presents a comprehensive gamut of summaries and thoughts from the Second Temple Period.

James Vanderkam is a Professor of Hebrew Scriptures at the University of Notre Dame. He is a popular and respected scholar in the studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls with expertise in literature and history of Early Judaism. His research focused on the Dead Sea Scrolls and related text.  Prof. Vanderkam is gifted in Bible scholarship with comprehensive study of the Second temple period.

3. The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research by R. Timothy McLay

This is our usual answer to those who ask why our Bible contains the Deuterocanonical books, "The Church used the Septuagint in part because the writers of some New Testament books obviously quoted from this Greek translation rather than from the Hebrew originals."

In the book written by Bible scholar R. Timothy McLay, he mentioned that ancient Greek codices contained Deuterocanonical writings. 

“The Early Church’s use of the Greek texts as Scripture mirrors the same authority that the Greek Scriptures received from the Hellenistic Jewish community. The Letter of Aristeas, which was written to defend the authority of the LXX translation for the Alexandrian Jewish community, clearly establishes that the Greek translation of the Pentateuch was Scripture for the Greek-speaking Jews.’* The external evidence of our Greek codices, which contain the apocryphal/deutero-canonical writings, is a simple testimony to the authority that the Greek Scriptures exercised in the life of the Early Church. (The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research, R. Timothy McLay, page 144 )
McLay also justifies the use of the Septuagint in the New Testament by analyzing authentic New Testament quotes of the Jewish Scriptures. This work discloses the scope of the Septuagint’s effect on the manuscript and theology of the New Testament. Considering the textual variation during the first century, the Jewish Scriptures as recognized, read, and translated in Greek provided the basis for majority of the explanation made by New Testament writers.

4. The Books written by Lee Martin McDonald, The Origin of the Bible: A Guide for the Perplexed and the Canon Debate

We often hear from critics of Deuterocanonical Books that they reject these books because Jews also reject them. However, a Protestant scholar, Lee Martin McDonald clarified there are two groups of Jews, those from the east who rebuffed these books and Jews from the western diaspora who accepted them. 

In this regard, the Jews in the western diaspora were much like the early Christians who initially regarded not only the books of the Hebrew Bible as scripture, but also many apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books. This may have contributed to many of the successes of the Christians in gaining a number of early converts from the diaspora Jews. As noted earlier, a factor that reflects the differences in the scriptures of Jews in the east and those in the west is the discovery of several copies of the books of Tobit and Sirach in both the Hebrew and Aramaic languages in the ninth to the tenth century Cairo Geniza (a storage room in Jewish places of worship for sacred texts that were no longer usable). There were few binding connections between the Jews in the east and those in the western part of the Roman Empire especially after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The Temple in Jerusalem had been the center of connectedness for the Jews of the diaspora in the east and west with Jews in the Land of Israel. After its destruction, the central feature of that connectedness was missing. After the destruction of the Temple, the rabbinic Jews in the east focused especially on the oral Torah traditions that were codified in the Mishnah and those in the west focused more on the scriptures that the Jews in the east had earlier (by or before 150 CE) given to them.” (The Origin of the Bible: A Guide For the Perplexed, Lee Martin McDonald, pages 89-90)
McDonald also made it clear that the scriptures of Diaspora Jews are books in the Septuagint which included the Deuterocanonical Books. 
“Indeed, the scriptures of the diaspora Jews included the books circulating in the LXX, which included the apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books in it.” (The Origin of the Bible: A Guide For the Perplexed, Lee Martin McDonald, p. 88)
McDonald also disputed what other Protestants say that only the Deuterocanonical Books were rejected by the Jews. He emphasized that even the Greek translation of Pentateuch was not accepted by many Jews in the east. 
"Those in the West continued for centuries toaffirm the scriptures of the Septuagint that contained books from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, but those books and even the Greek translation of the Pentateuch were rejected by many Jews in the east. By the end of the second century Jewish rejection of the translation of the Law into Greek by later rabbis can be seen in the following: “It is related that five elders wrote the Torah in Greek for King Ptolemy. And that day was as intolerable for Israel as the day the golden calf was made, for the Torah cannot be translated adequately” (Massekhet Soferim, 1). The Jews to the east and those to the west became separated by language and eventually by various interpretations of the traditions and sacred books that they held in common." (The Origin of the Bible: A Guide For the Perplexed, Lee Martin McDonald, p. 89)
We may be surprised by the statement of McDonald regarding the rejection made by Martin Luther not only of the Deuterocanonical books but other books of the New Testament which are Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation.
“Martin Luther rejected several New Testament books, namely Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation, though he included them at the end of his New Testament. For him they added nothing to Christian doctrine and were even contrary to essential Christian teaching. His rejection of the importance and significance of these books and the Deuterocanonical books reflects the freedom in his generation to question books in the biblical canon.” (The Origin of the Bible: A Guide For the Perplexed, Lee Martin McDonald, T&T Clark, 1 edition (2011), p. 40)
In another book, The Canon Debate edited by Lee Martin Mcdonald and James Sanders  had a very good answer why Martin Luther spurned the Deuterocanonical books. 
“With regard to the apocrypha, Luther’s judgment was shaped to some extent by the theological controversy about the doctrines of purgatory and praying for the dead, which were traditionally based on 2 Mace 12:45-46. He appealed to Jerome’s distinction between the (Hebrew) canonical books and the apocrypha, and to his principle that these books should not be used for establishing ecclesiastical doctrines.” (The Canon Debate, Edited by Lee Martin Mcdonald and James A. Sanders, Baker Academic; Reprint edition (December 1, 2001))

5. The Bible and Qumran: Text, Shape, and Interpretation by Dr. Peter Flint

Dr. Peter Flint is a non-Catholic Biblical scholar who gave us a surprising answer in his book where it is written that the Deuterocanonical books are accepted by all Christian groups, excluding Protestants. 
“Some of the apocrypha are accepted by all Christian groups, excluding Protestants, as Scripture. Seven of these are entire books (Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch [with the Letter of Jeremiah = Baruch 6 ]).” (The Bible at Qumran: Text, Shape, and Interpretation, Peter W. Flint, Eerdmans (2001), p. 85)

It is contrary to what some Protestants claim that Christians cannot accept Deuterocanonical books.

Dr. Peter Flint is among leading scholars of the Dead Sea Scrolls and one of the 70 official members of the Dead Scrolls editors worldwide. He is also co–author of the popular book, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English

6. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation by Bruce M. Metzger

Verses in Revelation 22:18-19  are often used against Catholics by anti-Catholics saying this verse proves the Catholic Church disobeyed God by adding the Deuterocanonical books. 

But on page 106 of this commentary, Dr. Bruce Metzger clarified that it refers to the scribes who added words to ancient Greek manuscripts. 
"When books were copied by hand, scribes would occasionally add comments of their own or leave out words they thought were unsuitable. John therefore includes at the end of his book a solemn warning (similar to that found in Deut. 4:2; 12:32) declaring that nothing should be added or deleted, for the very good reason that it is a revelation from God (22:18-19).” 
Dr. Bruce Metzger is not only a noted bible scholar but also respected by his peers both Protestant and Catholic due to his exceptional knowledge about textual criticism and manuscripts of the New Testament. 

7. A Commentary on Textual Additions to the New Testament by Philip Comfort

Some of those who assail the Deuterocanonical books are Protestants who use the King James Version. Do our friends know that this bible version contains extra words? 

This is what the introduction of Philip Comfort says:
"..the King James Version, based on the Textus Receptus, have all these extra verses, phrases, and words.  Those who read the King James Version (also the New King James Version) are reading a "leavened" version---that is, it is a text with thousand of extra words...In short, the additions were the result of scribal gap-filling wherein scribes added words as they read and copied a text. The sources for the additions came from their own minds, other gospels, other scriptures, and oral traditions" (A Commentary on Textual Additions to the New Testament, Philip W. Comfort, Kregel Academic (December 27, 2017), pp. 7-8)

Philip Comfort is one of the notable new testament textual criticism scholars in the modern times. Many of his books will help in our study of the ancient Greek manuscripts. 

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