Preaching from the apocrypha

YeshuaFan

Well-known member
I am a member of the United Methodist Church in a small North Western town in the United States. I am one of the last conservative/traditionalist holdouts in my congregation. Over the years I've had many disagreements with the liberal path that the church is on, however I am resolved to stay with the church until the impending split of the Methodist church happens and I see where my local congregation lands (though I am fairly certain it will go the liberal route).
About six months ago we got a new pastor and after seeing that he had graduated from a very liberal seminary I was pretty certain about what his stance on many topics would be. He has thus far voiced his support homosexual marriage and a variety of other "progressive" issues.
So, to get to the point, this evening I decided to look at the pastors preaching schedule to see what Scripture next weeks sermon would be about. I was surprised (although maybe I shouldn't have been at this point) to see that he plans on preaching from the apocryphal Book of Wisdom/Wisdom of Solomon. He had mentioned in a conversation several months ago that he had preached from the apocrypha in the past and was encouraged because he got positive feedback from the other congregations he had served. I told him at the time that I was very uncomfortable with anything other than Scripture being preached from the pulpit. Tonight I emailed him (I haven't heard back yet) to reiterate my stance that while the apocrypha may have some value in the context of historical research, it has no place being preached from the pulpit.
I'm just looking for some feedback/discussion on this issue.
Time to depart that church and denomination!
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
The first Christians were all Jews. This why the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) was called to resolve whether gentile converts had to convert to Judaism first. Christianity was originally one of many Jewish sects.
Yes: ethnically the first Christians were all Jews.


Paul still considered himself a Jew:
I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia . . . Acts 22:3
I am a Pharisee, son of Pharisees . . . Acts 23:6
Yes. ethnically Paul was a Jews
He became a Christian (religiously ) on the Road to Damascus
The LXX is not just a translation from the Hebrew. It also indicates the canon of scripture for Greek-speaking Jews who became part of the early church. The LXX was the original Christian bible even before the New Testament was completed. That canon is still the basis of the Old Testament for most Christians.
FALSE There are books in the LXX that no one considers canonical

You are very loose and sloppy with your "facts"
Both the Greek and Hebrew scriptures come from Jews, but modern Hebrew canon comes from the traditions of the Pharisees who rejected Christ.

FALSE
the modern Hebrew canon comes the collection of Holy Scrolls kept in God's Holy Temple.
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
The LXX is not just a translation from the Hebrew
The LXX contained translations of the Hebrew Scripture
AND other un-inspired books that were considered important, but no one considered Theopneustos.

The LXX was a collection of scrolls: they were not bound in a single volume.
Different areas at different time had a different collection scrolls included in the LXX.

The collection of Holy Scrolls kept in God's Holy Temple did not include the LXX apocrypha.
 

Theophilos

Active member
Yes: ethnically the first Christians were all Jews.



Yes. ethnically Paul was a Jews
He became a Christian (religiously ) on the Road to Damascus

FALSE There are books in the LXX that no one considers canonical

You are very loose and sloppy with your "facts"


FALSE
the modern Hebrew canon comes the collection of Holy Scrolls kept in God's Holy Temple.
The Council of Carthage was the first to recognize the current New Testament canon, and it also recognized the Old Testament canon derived from the LXX. The Old Testament books listed here are found in every Catholic and Orthodox bible.

It was also determined that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in the Church under the title of divine Scriptures. The Canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two books of Paraleipomena, Job, the Psalter, five books of Solomon, the books of the twelve prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezechiel, Daniel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two Books of the Maccabees.

Of the New Testament: four books of the Gospels, one book of the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, one epistle of the same [writer] to the Hebrews, two Epistles of the Apostle Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude, one book of the Apocalypse of John.
 

shnarkle

Well-known member
Yes: ethnically the first Christians were all Jews.
Religiously as well. They all attended synagogue and were religiously observant Jews.
Yes. ethnically Paul was a Jews
He claims he was of the tribe of Benjamin. His Jewish designation was a geographic reference due to living in Judea.
He became a Christian (religiously ) on the Road to Damascus
False. This term was used by pagans. It was a term of derision which no one in the early church adopted. The church referred to themselves as "the way". They adopted a reference which Christ used for himself.
 

1Thess521

Well-known member
The Council of Carthage was the first to recognize the current New Testament canon, and it also recognized the Old Testament canon derived from the LXX. The Old Testament books listed here are found in every Catholic and Orthodox bible.


is this true or false?
There are books in the LXX that no one considers canonical

Straight to the point :
Does it matter to you that your Deuterocanonical Books were not included among the collection Holy Scrolls in God's Holy Temple while the Holy One stood in its courtyard?
 
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Theophilos

Active member
is this true or false?
There are books in the LXX that no one considers canonical

Straight to the point :
Does it matter to you that your Deuterocanonical Books were not included among the collection Holy Scrolls in God's Holy Temple while the Holy One stood in its courtyard?
Yes, there are LXX books not included in the canon. On the other hand, the list includes the books that Greek-speaking Timothy studied as a child. These are the scriptures that Paul specifically praised.

There is also early Christian literature that is not in the New Testament. Consider the Didache and 1 Clement. Both were included in some early bible manuscripts. 1 Clement was written by a bishop of Rome who was ordained by Peter, but neither book appears on the canon of the New Testament today.

The same process that consensus in the Church that established the New Testament canon was also responsible for the Old Testament canon.
 
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1Thess521

Well-known member
Yes, there are LXX books not included in the canon. On the other hand, the list includes the books that Greek-speaking Timothy studied as a child. These are the scriptures that Paul specifically praised.

There is also early Christian literature that is not in the New Testament. Consider the Didache and 1 Clement. Both were included in some early bible manuscripts. 1 Clement was written by a bishop of Rome who was ordained by Peter, but neither book appears on the canon of the New Testament today.

The same process that consensus in the Church that established the New Testament canon was also responsible for the Old Testament canon.
i am on to your word games
early Christian literature does not equal Theopneustos

everyone agrees the LXX contained Greek translations of actual Hebrews Scripture.

Does it matter to you that your Deuterocanonical Books were not included among the collection Holy Scrolls in God's Holy Temple while the Holy One stood in its courtyard?
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Yes, there are LXX books not included in the canon. On the other hand, the list includes the books that Greek-speaking Timothy studied as a child. These are the scriptures that Paul specifically praised.

There is also early Christian literature that is not in the New Testament. Consider the Didache and 1 Clement. Both were included in some early bible manuscripts. 1 Clement was written by a bishop of Rome who was ordained by Peter, but neither book appears on the canon of the New Testament today.

The same process that consensus in the Church that established the New Testament canon was also responsible for the Old Testament canon.
Good examples and explanations by you.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
So, to get to the point, this evening I decided to look at the pastors preaching schedule to see what Scripture next weeks sermon would be about. I was surprised (although maybe I shouldn't have been at this point) to see that he plans on preaching from the apocryphal Book of Wisdom/Wisdom of Solomon. He had mentioned in a conversation several months ago that he had preached from the apocrypha in the past and was encouraged because he got positive feedback from the other congregations he had served. I told him at the time that I was very uncomfortable with anything other than Scripture being preached from the pulpit. Tonight I emailed him (I haven't heard back yet) to reiterate my stance that while the apocrypha may have some value in the context of historical research, it has no place being preached from the pulpit.
I'm just looking for some feedback/discussion on this issue.
From a traditional Protestant (Lutheran/Anglican/Methodist) stance, it does not appear that preaching from the Apocrypha is necessarily bad or deviant. Luther is the main Protestant promulgator of Sola Scriptura. Luther wrote a commentary on Tobit, and included the Apocrypha in one of his German editions of the Bible, along with his own Prefaces. He encouraged reading the Apocrypha, and the Apocrypha is among old traditional Lutheran Devotional readings. This came up in a lecture series that I've been listening to by St John's Lutheran in Alexandria, Virginia.

The same can be said about the Apocrypha for Anglicans and Methodists- in fact the more so, because unlike Lutherans, Anglicans and Methodists don't hold to "Sola Scriptura", but rather to "Prima Scriptura". Methodists hold to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral of 4 sources of authority, one being Tradition. Since the Apocrypha is not in the Protestant "canon", it's instead in Protestant "Tradition".

So from a Protestant POV, preaching from the Apocrypha is not necessarily wrong, but rather the danger from a Protestant POV would only be if the wrong things are preached about the Apocrypha. Luther would say that only the scriptural canon can establish "articles of faith", but preaching from the Apocrypha (like his commentary on Tobit) would not cause a conflict for his Sola Scriptura idea as long as it's not treated as the basis for making establishing "articles of faith." This conflict is even less important for the Methodists and Anglicans, as they don't hold to Sola Scriptura. One of Luther's complaints about Henry VIII's church rules was that they were supposedly not based on Scripture. I don't know if that issue would still apply to the Anglican Church after it left the RC Church, but my guess is that the issue would still apply.
 

rakovsky

Well-known member
Does it matter to you that your Deuterocanonical Books were not included among the collection Holy Scrolls in God's Holy Temple while the Holy One stood in its courtyard?
I think that you are bringing up an important issue. Good job, Thess.

Some of the Deuterocanonical texts may have been among those Temple scrolls at some point, it seems to me. I am open minded on that topic. Here are some factors to consider.

First, one of the main theories about the Dead Sea Scrolls is that they are from the archives of the Temple priests of Onias' dynasty who represent the rightful priestly line that fled into exile when the Maccabean line took over. The DSS Great Psalter has Psalm 151 on the end of it, and Psalm 151 is in the LXX. One or more of the canon list sources approved by the Council of Trullo, and hence the 7th Ecumenical Council, includes Psalm 151 as canonical. However, the rabbis do not include Psalm 151 as canon.

Second, how do we know exactly which books were among those in the Temple? Josephus gives a cumulative number like 22, but the 22 books include other books among their number. That is, those 22 books include more than what you and I would normally number as 22 literal books. I have seen canonical lists by the Eastern Fathers like in Laodicea that tend to exclude the Deuterocanon but still include one or two Deuterocanonical books as canon.

Third, could more of those Deuterocanonical books, like the Maccabean series, been in the Temple in the Maccabean period, but then removed from the Temple when the Maccabean line became downcast? As I recall, the Maccabees were seen as heroes in Jewish tradition, but their status is somewhat ambivalent in the eyes of the rabbis, and the rabbis didn't preserve the Maccabean books, even among their noncanonical records like the Mishnahs.

Further, whether some Scrolls were in the Temple is not really the decisive issue for the Christian canon. Rather, the Christian canon is what the Christian Assembly considers to be its official list of Scripture. To give an analogy, the rabbis considered that the line of prophets and prophetic books ended with Malachi. Jesus in the NT noted that the rabbis didn't consider John the Baptist among the ancient prophets. However, in Matthew's Gospel, Jesus counts John the Baptist as among the ancient line of the prophets. Thus, whether Christianity numbers someone or their book as prophetic does not rest decisively on specifically the rabbinnical decisionmaking of the pre-Christian period. Rather, their status in Christianity is addressed by the Christian Church.

Personally, I am open minded on the topic of the Deuterocanon's status. The earliest apparently official Christian canon list of which I am aware is the Muratorian fragment, apparently from the mid to late 2nd century AD. Its OT section is missing, but it does include the Wisdom of Solomon among the canon. The most official answer for the worldwide Christian community seems to be in the 7th Ecumenical Council, which I personally take as treating the Deuterocanon's canonicity as optional, rather than as mandatory (Catholic view) or as denied (Protestant view). Similarly, worldwide, there are Christians who consider the Deuterocanon to be canon, and others who deny its canonicity. Both views can be found among Christians (including modern EOs), and it seems correct to say that both views can be legitimately argued either way.

Peace.
 
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