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Review of "proofs" from the Westminster Confession about the Old Testament canon

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  • Review of "proofs" from the Westminster Confession about the Old Testament canon

    Westminster Confession of 1647 provides a summation of reformed doctrines. It starts with a chapter of scripture that includes this statement:

    Chapter 1, Section 3. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

    Here are the proof texts for this assertion:

    And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27

    Comment: This verse says nothing about the canon of the Old Testament.

    And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in she prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Luke 24:44

    Comment: The law of Moses (Torah), the prophets (Nevim), and the psalms do not encompass the entire Hebrew scriptures. Besides the Psalms, Hebrew writings (Ketuvim) includes Ruth, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles. If this verse is the basis for restricting the bible canon, then Protestant bibles should delete ten Old Testament books along with the entire New Testament.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_Bible

    Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them (the Jews) were committed the oracles of God. Romans 3:2

    Comment: The question is which Jews? Bereans (Acts 17:11) and the Jewish relatives of Timothy (2 Tim 3:15-16) spoke Greek and used the Septuagint as scriptures. With the possible exception of Luke, all the New Testament authors were Jews, and they frequently quote from the Greek Septuagint even when it includes verses not found in the modern Hebrew scriptures. Most Protestant bibles use the Masoretic text, which is the Hebrew text used by medieval Jews in Europe based on the traditions of the Pharisees. What basis is there to reject the scriptures of authors of the New Testament, Timothy, and the Bereans while exclusively using the text based on traditions of the Pharisees?

    For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:21

    Comment: Yes, the bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Did the Holy Spirit also inspire those who decided which books belong in the bible?

    The canon of the New Testament develop as a consensus in the Church during the late four and fifth centuries. The oldest surviving bible manuscripts include the Greek Septuagint as for the Old Testament with books that are absent from many Protestant bibles. If the Church of the fourth and fifth century was right about the New Testament, then how could it be so wrong about the Old Testament?

  • #2
    If the statement about the Old Testament canon is not based on scripture, then what is it based on? Tradition?

    Whose tradition?

    If you say tradition of "the Jews", then which Jews? Jews who rejected Christ?

    Or Jews such as the apostles, Timothy's family, and the Bereans who accepted Christ?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Theophilos View Post
      And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27

      Comment: This verse says nothing about the canon of the Old Testament.
      It says that Moses (the Torah) and the Prophets are scripture that point to the Messiah and were accepted by Jesus as such.

      Originally posted by Theophilos View Post
      And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in she prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Luke 24:44

      Comment: The law of Moses (Torah), the prophets (Nevim), and the psalms do not encompass the entire Hebrew scriptures. Besides the Psalms, Hebrew writings (Ketuvim) includes Ruth, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles. If this verse is the basis for restricting the bible canon, then Protestant bibles should delete ten Old Testament books along with the entire New Testament.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrew_Bible
      Just as the first book of the Bible is called Genesis because the first word of the book is Genesis. So here we have an example of a common Jewish tradition of using the first word to refer to the entire book. In the same way, Psalms was the first book of the third section of the Hebrew “Bible”. The first section was the Torah (the 5 books by Moses). The second section is the books of the Prophets arranged with the Major Prophets (long books) first and Minor Prophets (short books) following. The third section began with the book of Psalms and included a variety of different books ... poetry, histories, songs. Just as Genesis was referenced by the first word referring to the whole book, so this third section was often referenced by the first book of the section (Psalms) referring to the entire collection of books. It is to this Jewish tradition that the WCF refers when it lists this verse as a proof for that point.

      To the best of my knowledge, the apocryphal books were never viewed as canonical by any group, but I have not done an exhaustive search on this. I do know that many were demonstrated to not have been written by the claimed authors and some were written centuries after others that are supposed to be by the same author, so they are clearly not scripture by the New Testament Standard used to establish the NT Scripture.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by atpollard View Post
        It says that Moses (the Torah) and the Prophets are scripture that point to the Messiah and were accepted by Jesus as such.

        Just as the first book of the Bible is called Genesis because the first word of the book is Genesis. So here we have an example of a common Jewish tradition of using the first word to refer to the entire book. In the same way, Psalms was the first book of the third section of the Hebrew “Bible”. The first section was the Torah (the 5 books by Moses). The second section is the books of the Prophets arranged with the Major Prophets (long books) first and Minor Prophets (short books) following. The third section began with the book of Psalms and included a variety of different books ... poetry, histories, songs. Just as Genesis was referenced by the first word referring to the whole book, so this third section was often referenced by the first book of the section (Psalms) referring to the entire collection of books. It is to this Jewish tradition that the WCF refers when it lists this verse as a proof for that point.

        To the best of my knowledge, the apocryphal books were never viewed as canonical by any group, but I have not done an exhaustive search on this. I do know that many were demonstrated to not have been written by the claimed authors and some were written centuries after others that are supposed to be by the same author, so they are clearly not scripture by the New Testament Standard used to establish the NT Scripture.
        The deuterocanonical books were part of the Septuagint used as scriptures by Greek-speaking Jews and early Christians. They appear as part of the Christian Old Testament in the earliest surviving bibles from the early 300's. What basis there to remove them from Christian bibles?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Theophilos View Post

          The deuterocanonical books were part of the Septuagint used as scriptures by Greek-speaking Jews and early Christians. They appear as part of the Christian Old Testament in the earliest surviving bibles from the early 300's. What basis there to remove them from Christian bibles?
          A plot by the Illuminati.

          Actually, they were typically listed in a distinct section often called the Apocrypha. Many early Church Fathers make reference to them in letters and some of those references make it clear that they were valuable historic references, but not divinely inspired scripture.

          They were removed from Christian Bibles because they contain information that directly contradicts other scripture that is known to be inspired (like the Torah) and because some of the books are known to be false accounts written by later authors removed centuries from the events they describe (Like some of the books of Ezra).

          It is interesting that Jesus told the Pharisees ...

          [Mat 23:35 NASB] 35 so that upon you may fall [the guilt of] all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
          [Luk 11:51 NASB] 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house [of God;] yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.'

          ... The death of Abel is found in Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the death of Zechariah is found in Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:22), the last book of the Hebrew Bible (excluding the Apocrypha which was never viewed as Jewish Scripture). So Jesus statement places all of the Old Testament as witnesses against them ... and also defines the beginning and end of the Old Testament.

          Do you have access to a Bible that still includes the Apocrypha?
          I was just curious what the Publisher might have had to say about those books in the introductory notes.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by atpollard View Post

            A plot by the Illuminati.

            Actually, they were typically listed in a distinct section often called the Apocrypha. Many early Church Fathers make reference to them in letters and some of those references make it clear that they were valuable historic references, but not divinely inspired scripture.

            They were removed from Christian Bibles because they contain information that directly contradicts other scripture that is known to be inspired (like the Torah) and because some of the books are known to be false accounts written by later authors removed centuries from the events they describe (Like some of the books of Ezra).

            It is interesting that Jesus told the Pharisees ...

            [Mat 23:35 NASB] 35 so that upon you may fall [the guilt of] all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
            [Luk 11:51 NASB] 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house [of God;] yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.'

            ... The death of Abel is found in Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the death of Zechariah is found in Chronicles (2 Chronicles 24:22), the last book of the Hebrew Bible (excluding the Apocrypha which was never viewed as Jewish Scripture). So Jesus statement places all of the Old Testament as witnesses against them ... and also defines the beginning and end of the Old Testament.

            Do you have access to a Bible that still includes the Apocrypha?
            I was just curious what the Publisher might have had to say about those books in the introductory notes.
            The bibles that I have incorporate the books into the Old Testament, which is the way they appear in the earliest surviving Christian bibles from the fourth century.

            My understanding is that Jews traditionally kept the books as separate scrolls, so there was no established order to the books at the time of Christ. The oldest surviving Hebrew bible (Leningrad Codex) lists Ezra-Nehemiah as the last book.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Theophilos View Post
              The bibles that I have incorporate the books into the Old Testament, which is the way they appear in the earliest surviving Christian bibles from the fourth century.

              My understanding is that Jews traditionally kept the books as separate scrolls, so there was no established order to the books at the time of Christ. The oldest surviving Hebrew bible (Leningrad Codex) lists Ezra-Nehemiah as the last book.
              I don’t really have a dog in this fight. If you want to read the Apocrypha, then enjoy. If you want to treat it as “God breathed” then that is your right. Just do not be surprised when it starts saying things that contradict the teaching of the Old and New Testaments exclusive of those books. That then becomes your problem to deal with.

              Comment


              • #8
                I checked and Ezra-Nehemiah comes immediately before Chronicles in the Ketuvim/Writings, so I have no idea why a Codex from AD 1000 is missing the last book of the Hebrew Bible.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here is an interesting bit of information on why the Apocrypha was excluded from Protestant Bibles:

                  “The Apocryphal books were written between about 350 B.C. and 80 A.D. — in those years between the Old and New Testaments. The reason why Protestants have never accepted them is that they do not believe that these books were really inspired of God; Catholics didn't either, at least not officially, until the 1500's.”

                  “The Old Testament as we know it is a collection of books originally written in Hebrew. Jewish scribes have painstakingly preserved these writings for thousands of years. But none of the Apocryphal books has ever been included in Jewish scripture. That's because most of them were not written in Hebrew — but in Greek. This easily differentiates them from other Old Testament scriptures, and that's a big reason why you won't find the Apocrypha in any Jewish Bible.”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by atpollard View Post
                    I checked and Ezra-Nehemiah comes immediately before Chronicles in the Ketuvim/Writings, so I have no idea why a Codex from AD 1000 is missing the last book of the Hebrew Bible.
                    The Leningrad codex has the same books, but it places Chronicles before Psalms.

                    The point is that the order of books in the modern Hebrew scriptures is of modern origin. Synagogues traditionally use separate scrolls for each book, so there was no fixed order until recently.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by atpollard View Post
                      Here is an interesting bit of information on why the Apocrypha was excluded from Protestant Bibles:

                      “The Apocryphal books were written between about 350 B.C. and 80 A.D. — in those years between the Old and New Testaments. The reason why Protestants have never accepted them is that they do not believe that these books were really inspired of God; Catholics didn't either, at least not officially, until the 1500's.”

                      “The Old Testament as we know it is a collection of books originally written in Hebrew. Jewish scribes have painstakingly preserved these writings for thousands of years. But none of the Apocryphal books has ever been included in Jewish scripture. That's because most of them were not written in Hebrew — but in Greek. This easily differentiates them from other Old Testament scriptures, and that's a big reason why you won't find the Apocrypha in any Jewish Bible.”
                      Contrary to popular belief, most of the deuterocanonical books were originally written in Hebrew.

                      For example, multiple Hebrew texts have been found for the Book of Sirach. The sources include t
                      he Dead Sea Scrolls and in the archives of an ancient Egyptian synagogue.
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirach

                      I would also note that chapters 2 through 7 of the Book of Daniel appear have no Hebrew original. The modern Jewish version of these chapters is in Aramaic, not Hebrew. Time delete these chapters from the bible?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Fine, if you are going to drag me into the details of the Apocrypha, then let’s do this.

                        FIRST REASON TO REJECT APOCRYPHAL BOOKS: They teach heresies.

                        Heresy #1: A Person Is Saved By Works
                        • For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life (Tobit 12:9).
                        • So now, my children see what almsgiving accomplishes, and what injustice does it brings death! (Tobit 14:11).
                        • Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (First Maccabees 2:52).
                        The Bible, on the other hand, says that a person is saved by grace through faith. It is not based upon our good works.

                        The testimony of God through his Apostolic writings contradict the teaching of salvation by works. The Apostle Paul specifically states that salvation is NOT the result of the good works of man:
                        • For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
                        So which is to be rejected as uninspired, the teaching of the Apostle Paul or the words found in Tobit and First Maccabees?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          FIRST REASON TO REJECT APOCRYPHAL BOOKS: They teach heresies.

                          Heresy #2: They Teach Purgatory

                          Second Maccabees teaches about a place between heaven and hell created for purging of sins:
                          • So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin (Second Maccabees 12:41-45).
                          The Book of Hebrews, recognized as Christian Scripture in all of the early churches along with the Letters of Paul and the four Gospels that we have today, contradict this teaching with the claim that upon death, each soul goes to either be with the Lord or is sent away from the Lord with no middle ground:
                          • Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
                          So which is to be rejected as uninspired, the Book of Hebrews and Gospel Parables that confirm it, or the words of Second Maccabees?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            FIRST REASON TO REJECT APOCRYPHAL BOOKS: They teach heresies.

                            Heresy #3: The Prayers Of The Dead

                            The Book of Baruch claims that God hears the prayers of those who have died.
                            • O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear now the prayer of the dead of Israel, the children of those who sinned before you, who did not heed the voice of the Lord their God, so that calamities have clung to us (Baruch 3:4).
                            Nowhere else does any verse suggest that the dead pray for the living. All oThe dead do not pray for the living. Scriptures on prayer are always about the living praying for the living.


                            So which is to be rejected as uninspired, all of the references to prayer in Scripture, or the words of Baruch?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by atpollard View Post
                              FIRST REASON TO REJECT APOCRYPHAL BOOKS: They teach heresies.

                              Heresy #3: God Hears The Prayers Of The Dead

                              The Book of Baruch claims that God hears the prayers of those who have died.
                              • O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear now the prayer of the dead of Israel, the children of those who sinned before you, who did not heed the voice of the Lord their God, so that calamities have clung to us (Baruch 3:4).
                              Nowhere else does any verse suggest that the dead pray for the living. All oThe dead do not pray for the living. Scriptures on prayer are always about the living praying for the living.


                              So which is to be rejected as uninspired, all of the references to prayer in Scripture, or the words of Baruch?
                              The author of the Book of Revelation appears to agree with Baruch:

                              . . . the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8-9

                              Comment

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