Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Reformers and the Catholics--why are the Bibles different?

The fastest growing church in Columbus is Rock City, formed in 2011.
I was baptized in Church of the Brethren, a "New Testament church." on Palm Sunday in 1950 and have been a "sola scriptura" Lutheran since Palm Sunday 1976 when I was confirmed.  I was probably 70 years old before I saw a Catholic Bible at a used book store, and wondered why the Church had "added" things mine didn't have (I probably had 6 translations all with the same list and books). This controversy was thoroughly investigated by St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) when he was quite young--being only about 27 when he began this work. Since "sola scriptura" is basic to most Protestant, "Bible only," non-denominational and Restoration churches, it's worth a look to see what was said post-reformation. Which scripture?  His work was intended to present the Catholic faith to French Protestants some years after Catholics in their region had been persecuted and driven out.  It is reported that he brought 70,000 Christians who had no knowledge of the faith, back into the fold.

For me, one of the most interesting parts (free on the internet, although in print there may be better translations) is "which Bible" should we claim as authoritative?  The one the church used for 15 centuries (and still does), or the one the Reformers decided to revise? The Old Testament canon that Jesus referred to as "scripture," has been changed, although I don't think there was an official body who determined canon--the Jews didn't agree either in the time of Jesus. This is the link to Chapter 7 of "The Catholic Controversy," and the ones preceding it are excellent also. He gives both sides--but pretty much demolishes the argument for removing these Old Testament books and revising the canon to suit 16th century ideas.
"The Council of Trent gives these books as sacred, divine and canonical: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Josue, Judges, Ruth, the four Books of Kings, two of the Paralipomenon, two of Esdras ( a first, and a second, which is called of Nehemias), Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, one hundred and fifty Psalms of David, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom ,Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias with Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharius, Malachy, two of Machabees, first and second: of the New Testament, four Gospels, -S. Matthew, S. Mark, S. Luke, S. John,-the Acts of the Apostles by S. Luke, fourteen Epistles of S. Paul,-to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews,-two of S. Peter, three of S. John, one of S. James, one of S. Jude, and the Apocalypse. The same books were received at the Council of Florence, and long before that at the third Council of Carthage about twelve hundred years These books are divided into two ranks. For of some, both of the Old and of the New Testament, it was never doubted but that they were sacred and canonical: others there are about whose authority the ancient Fathers doubted for a time, but afterwards they were placed with those of the first rank." (chapter 3)
I was familiar with what the 19th and 20th century seminaries had done with higher criticism and how theologians had cast doubt on the authority of  scripture, but according to St. Francis,  the reformers used a similar method--bit by bit, chipping away at the passages that underscored the theology and Christology they didn't like. Why he asks is the Holy Spirit given to individuals and nobodies to interpret privately the Bible, but not the Church?
"Why shall one allow Calvin to cut off Wisdom or the Machabees, and not Luther to remove the Epistle of S. James or the Apocalypse, or Castalio the Canticle of Canticles, or the Anabaptists the Gospel of S. Mark, or another person Genesis and Exodus? If all protest that they have interior revelation why shall we believe one rather than another, so that this rule supposed to be sacred on account of the Holy Spirit, will be violated by the audacity of every deceiver.  
Recognise, I pray you, the stratagem. They have taken away all authority from Tradition, the Church, the Councils, what more remains? The Scripture. The enemy is crafty: if he would take all away at one stroke he would cause alarm. He starts a certain and infallible method of getting rid of it bit by bit, and very gradually: that is, this idea of interior inspiration, by which everybody can receive or reject what seems good to him. And in fact consider a little how the process works itself out. Calvin removes and erases from the canon Baruch, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Machabees; Luther takes away the Epistle of S. James, of S. Jude, the Second of S. Peter, the Second and Third of S. John, the Epistle to the Hebrews; he ridicules Ecclesiastes, and holds Job a fable. In Daniel, Calvin has erased the Canticle of the Three Children, the history of Susanna and that of the dragon of Bel; also a great part of Esther. In Exodus, at Geneva and elsewhere among these reformers, they have cut out the twenty-second verse of the second chapter, which is of such weight that neither the Seventy nor the other translators would ever have written it if it had not been in the original. Beza casts a doubt over the history of the adulteress in the Gospel of S. John (S. Augustine warns us that already the enemies of Christianity had erased it from their books; but not from all, as S. Jerome. says)." . . . Chapter 5 
"But before I quit this subject, I pray you, reformers tell me whence you have taken the canon of the Scriptures which you follow? You have not taken it from the Jews, for the books of the Gospels would not be there, nor from the Council of Laodicea, for the Apocalypse would not be in it; or from the Councils of Carthage or of Florence, for Ecclesiasticus and the Machabees would be there. Whence, then, have you taken it? In good sooth, like canon was never spoken of before your time. The Church never saw canon of the Scriptures in which there was not either more or less than in yours. What likelihood is there that the Holy Spirit has hidden himself from all antiquity, and that after 1500 years he has disclosed to certain private persons the list of the true Scriptures?" Chapter 6

No comments: