Thursday, May 8, 2008

Misuderstandings Surrounding Jamnia & the LXX

There are many in the Eastern Orthodox church who would have us believe that the Jews had a more diverse collection of canonical books as represented in the Septuagint before limiting their canon at the synod of Jamnia in response to the Christian threat. This new canon list was supposedly picked up later by Martian Luther and the question is posed at the Protestant: "Why are you only using the books in the Hebrew canon and not the Bible of the early Church?"

Briefly, there are several things wrong with this setup. First, to say that the LXX was the early Church's Bible oversteps for several reasons. We must keep in mind that the early Church did not have one "Bible" as we do today. That is, all of the writings were not kept neatly in one book. Rather, there were a collection of writings. Also, the presence of what we call Apocryphal books in the LXX is easily explained by the high value the Jews placed on these writings at the exclusion of inspiration. It would make sense for them to want these writings translated as well.

Second, calling the LXX the early Church‘s Bible oversimplifies the problem. What is now called the LXX was at first only the first five books of Moses (Pentateuch) which were translated into Greek under Ptolemy II Philadelphus (282-246) and at the latest, toward the end of the middle of the third century.

The name "LXX" was first applied by a Christian when he was referring to the 7(2) translators to indicate what was at first a Jewish collection of writings. The scope of the writings were not yet fully established. Later, the designation LXX was applied to the entire Greek Old Testament. The actual translation of the historical and prophetic books came about gradually over 300 years and into the end of the first century AD. Some of the writings are not even translations at all, but were written in Greek from the beginning.

So, the LXX was not the early Church's "Bible" as we might think of it today. The LXX was a collection of writings and not a representative of the Hebrew canon. At one point, only the five books of Moses were translated and only later were other books added, some of which the question of where the books were translated and by whom they were translated is unknown.

Lastly, the idea that the Jews limited their canon in response to the Christian movement lacks proof. Absolutely none of the Apocryphal books were discussed at Jamnia, probably because there was no conflict over inspiration, and any previous dispute one would expect to see over the attempted removal of inspired books is just not present. One only needs to look at the fuss made at Jamnia over the question of five canonical books to see how rabbinic tradition was not quick to forget or overlook such disputes.

Further, there is still the question of why other books were not thrown out as well. After all, if there is going to be a canon conspiracy against the Christian movement, why not take out the more significant books such as Isaiah or Jeremiah? And why exclude books or appendages that were not used widely by Christians? The most reasonable explanation in light of what was mentioned earlier, is that it was all a matter of date. The Apocryphal writings were written during the centuries of silence and therefore excluded.

Without Jamnia being all our Catholic and Orthodox brothers wish it were, we are left with a lack of evidence leading us to believe the Jews limited their canon in response to the Christian movement. Rather, we find that the canonicity of the Apocryphal books was never in question because they were never thought to be inspired by the majority of Jews.

If the evidence for Jamnia being the deciding point for the Hebrew canon and the clear existence of the Apocryphal books in the early Church's "Bible" is not existent, then why are so many Orthodox and Catholics speaking of these as fact? In his book Orthodox Christian Beliefs About the Bible, Stanley Samuel Harakas, the Archbishop of Iakovos and professor of Orthodox theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology says,

"These ten books are found together in the first translation ever made of the Hebrew Bible in the version known as the Septuagint Old Testament. It represents what Jews believed their Scriptures to be about a century before the time of Christ. It was not until after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, toward the end of the first Christian century, that these books were excluded by Jews because they were written in Greek" (46-7).

Here the Archbishop is defending the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament. Notice how he appeals to "the first translation." His statement is misleading to those who do not know of the differences in translation and content. “We possess maybe two, three, or more versions of several of the books that are starkly divergent”(Hengel). At that, there are significant problems with the translation. For instance, the Jeremiah text is drastically abbreviated to an eighth and Job by about twenty percent with an added appendix placing Job as the Edomite king Jobab. In other words, while it is true that the LXX can be referred to as the first "translation," this does little to tell us about which books the Jews thought were canonical and, as will be explained, whether the New Testament writers treated the Apocryphal works as inspired.

Random Personal Note:
I've tried very hard to find some good scholarly Eastern Orthodox sources that use this story. After asking an Eastern Orthodox professor (who simply gave me a handout repeating the story without backup), Orthodox friends of mine who are "into" this sort of thing, searching Link Plus, ATLA and EEBO databases, The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, St. Vladimir's Quarterly and exhausting my Westminster friend's library and databases, I have decided that maybe, just maybe there aren't any. I say "maybe" because I am still paranoid that I might find a source somewhere. However, although frustrated, I am not perfect and probably missed something... still, in all likelihood, I am not addressing a scholarly argument, merely a common story circulating around.

Sad Day. :(


Sources:

1. Martin Hengel "The Septuagint as Christian Scripture"
2. Roger Beckwith "The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church"
3. Stanley Samuel Harkas "Orthodox Christian Beliefs About the Bible"


More Info:

1. The collection of writings in the LXX are diverse and not all of the Apocryphal books are in some of the copies. See Karen H. Jobes and Moises Silvia’s "Invitation to the Septuagint" as well as Martin Hengel’s "The Septuagint As Christian Scripture".

19 comments:

Jnorm888 said...

You need to read the post I have called "The myth of the closed canon of 70A.D.-90A.D. I quoted a person that shows why it's false.


You also should read what I have about "When did the Jews(nonbelieving) "officially" reject the Deuterocanon?"

I also quoted someone in the post called "A reflected Egyptian Bible".

We know that the Jews had a diverse canon for the Saducees only accepted 5 books while the Pharisees embraced more. The Samaritians also only accepted 5 books.

The Jewish community at Qumran embraced some books that the Pharisaic Jews didn't. As seen in the post I have called "Dead Sea Scrolls Bible"





JNORM888

Jnorm888 said...

Also the fact that you said that we have no proof that the Jews edited their books shows that you never read Justin Marty's "Justin Martyr's dialog with trypho a jew".

Another point I want to make is that it's an assumption that only the first 5 books were translated. Those who say this only say it because they "anachronistically" read into the word "LAW" in the Letter of Aristeas as always meaning the first 5 books of Moses, but in Ancient Judaism that wasn't always the case, Jesus in the Gospels used the word "Law" for one of the Psalms....or proverbs, and the Jews at Qumran also used the word "LaW" loosly when refering to other books outside of the first 5. So you shouldn't be so dogmatic and certain about that claim.

You should read the post I have called "The Letter of Aristeas and it's ussage of the word "LAW""




JNORM888

Catz206 said...

Thank you, I would love to take a look at it. Please post a link for the technologically impaired.

Catz206 said...

“We know that the Jews had a diverse canon for the Saducees only accepted 5 books while the Pharisees embraced more. The Samaritians also only accepted 5 books.
The Jewish community at Qumran embraced some books that the Pharisaic Jews didn't. As seen in the post I have called ‘Dead Sea Scrolls Bible’”

Saducees- This may be the case, though it is odd that the other books deemed inspired by the Pharisees were kept within the temple. Even still, the Saducees did not reflect the majority.

Samaritians- not considered Jews.

Qumran- Yes, you are very correct. Though they are not exactly your typical Jew. I will try and better communicate in the future that the majority of Jews (as represented by the Pharisees) are being referred to in reference to the Jewish canon.
“Also the fact that you said that we have no proof that the Jews edited their books shows that you never read Justin Marty's ‘Justin Martyr's dialog with trypho a jew‘.”

Sure the later Christian Church believed the Jews altered their canon and there was even a period of indecision on their own part (and confusion in many places) over what made up the OT canon. That is not under question.

Catz206 said...

Also, you said I was being dogmatic in claiming "only the first 5 books were translated." Perhaps there is a misunderstanding? I thought (perhaps wrongly?) it was common knowledge that only the first five books were translated before the rest followed later. As I said in my post:

"The name 'LXX' was first applied by a Christian when he was referring to the 7(2) translators to indicate what was at first a Jewish collection of writings. The scope of the writings were not yet fully established. Later, the designation LXX was applied to the entire Greek Old Testament."

Are you claiming that this is not the case or something else?

Jnorm888 said...

You can find it here.

If you look at all the links where it says "related links", that is where you will see most of what I was talking about.

As far as the LXX and the 5 books vs all the other books, I was just showing you why they "say" 5 books. They say it because of how they "interprete" the word "law" in the letter of Aristeas.

Now if you agree that Ancient Jews never had a 100% uniform collection of scrolls/books. Then why are you so much against Alexandrian Jews having a different tradition than Palestinian Jews......especially when the Jews of Palestine weren't in full agreement (had different traditions among themselves.....meaning they weren't in 100% uniformity)?




Take care




JNORM888

Catz206 said...

Thank you, I will read it when I am able.

“As far as the LXX and the 5 books vs all the other books, I was just showing you why they "say" 5 books. They say it because of how they "interprete" the word "law" in the letter of Aristeas.”

I can understand your aim more clearly now and will probably understand even better after reading all you have to say. Still, I have been told by credible sources that the dating for the other books is later (they were not all translated at the same time and place). Their reasons for thinking this most likely don’t merely revolve around one interpretation of law in the pseudo letter of Aristeas.

“Now if you agree that Ancient Jews never had a 100% uniform collection of scrolls/books. Then why are you so much against Alexandrian Jews having a different tradition than Palestinian Jews......especially when the Jews of Palestine weren't in full agreement (had different traditions among themselves.....meaning they weren't in 100% uniformity)?”

1) My concern is with the majority of Jews (not radicals in the desert, non-Jewish Samaritans or a smaller wealthy class whose limited canon is questionable) as represented in the Pharisees.

2) What is important to the discussion over our OT canon is what the Palestinian Jews of Jesus’ time held to be their canon and not whether or not there was an Alexandrian canon (no one even knows what the Scriptures of the Alexandrian Jews were before the LXX was condemned in Palestine 130ce).

In other words, I find the Alexandrian canon interesting but irrelevant to deciding what our OT canon should be but in response to your question: I reject the idea because of lack of proof and don’t see how the idea that a diverse canon in one location= diverse canon in another.

On another note, thank you for commenting. I am happy to have someone to talk about the canon with!

Jnorm888 said...

When it comes to scholars, you will find that sometimes there is alot of creativity envolved.

Sometimes things are just declared without any primary evidence to back it up.

If you have any hard evidence that would support the claim that the other books of the LXX was translated centuries latter, I would be more than happy to look at it.

I know that most western scholars are hostile to the LXX. Yes, it's true that some may have a few good things to say about it, but most of them are very hostile and extremely bias when it comes to the LXX.


Have a good weekend.







JNORM888

Jnorm888 said...

You said:

"1) My concern is with the majority of Jews (not radicals in the desert, non-Jewish Samaritans or a smaller wealthy class whose limited canon is questionable) as represented in the Pharisees."

My friend, Jews are Jews, and even half Jews(Samaritans) and Hellenistic JEws share in the Jewish Biblical Tradition.

Instead of looking to the Pharisees and what they held to, we should look at the family of texts the Apostles themselves quoted from. If we look at their quotes.....it is obvious that they mostly quoted from the Septuagint family of texts. And if you noticed the quotes, they quote more than just the first 5 books of the LXX family of texts. If you don't want to do the work yourself, you can always buy the two C.D.'s that Bercot has....as seen here (as a former follower of that movement, I can say that I no longer agree with him on many issues, but I still agree with him when it comes to the issue of the LXX. I stopped following Bercot in 2003, and I later became Orthodox)

Or you can look at the work Rick did over at notes on the Septuagint website.

Depending on the Septuagint family of texts, the range of New Testament quotes of the Old Testament will range anywhere from 75% to about 90%.

The one where you will find 90% of the quotes is
Lucians Rescension


You also said:

"2) What is important to the discussion over our OT canon is what the Palestinian Jews of Jesus’ time held to be their canon and not whether or not there was an Alexandrian canon (no one even knows what the Scriptures of the Alexandrian Jews were before the LXX was condemned in Palestine 130ce)."


To be honest, the Jews at that time didn't have an "official canon". So you can't really speak of Canon. From what it looks like to me, is that Jews of different groups gravited to slightly different books. I don't see 100% uniformity. And if you try and make it seem that there was 100% uniformity back then ......then I will have to call you out on it.

And I don't think you can say "noone knows what they were before they were condemned by the Jews around 135 A.D. ( In know you said 130 A.D.)

One can only say such a thing if they ignore the witness of Church Fathers( just because some of them dissagreed doesn't mean you throw there testamony out the window all togethere. What we do know is that at least some of the "deuterocanon" books were """ALWAYS""" embraced. This in and of itself should "nullify" the argument you and many others are trying to make. Christianity always embraced at least one of the books that is not in the Protestant canon), and the many quotes, references, and allusions of the New Testament text itself would have to be ignored if noone knew what the LXX was before 130 A.D.


I hope I wasn't mean or rude. If I was please let me know.


Take care and have a good weekend.






JNORM888

Jnorm888 said...

I gave the wrong link for one of them. I meant this one



here

and

here




JNORM888

Catz206 said...

“I know that most western scholars are hostile to the LXX. Yes, it's true that some may have a few good things to say about it, but most of them are very hostile and extremely bias when it comes to the LXX.”

Actually, you will find good company with many liberal scholars who subscribe to the history of religions approach. They love to emphasize the process of the canon shaped by the community and tend to think the canon was quite varied (Sanders).

Lee McDonald seems to firmly believe the early Church cited other books from the LXX as Scripture while also holding the Alexandrian canon to be a myth in addition to not all of the LXX being translated at one time.

Out of curiosity, why is it important that all of the books in the LXX were translated at once?

“My friend, Jews are Jews, and even half Jews(Samaritans) and Hellenistic JEws share in the Jewish Biblical Tradition.”

Must the other views be known and understood? Sure. They are quite valuable. However, they should not be lumped in with the mainstream- especially when they go out of their way to separate themselves as those at Qumran radically did.

“Instead of looking to the Pharisees and what they held to, we should look at the family of texts the Apostles themselves quoted from. If we look at their quotes.....it is obvious that they mostly quoted from the Septuagint family of texts. And if you noticed the quotes, they quote more than just the first 5 books of the LXX family of texts.”

I find the Pharisaic notion of Scripture so important because they make up the context Jesus’ words were said in (and context the apostles existed in). See Luke 24:44 which seems to assume knowledge of what is canonical. It would have made no sense to list those categories if no one knew what was in them. Knowledge of the canon generally seems to be assumed by the majority of Jews and further explanation is given by Josephus (Against Apion) when speaking to a gentile audience who would not have known the content. All this to say: context is important and we have warrant for looking at the context because Scripture and ancient sources take us there.

As for the use of the apocryphal works in Scripture…I agree. They are widely used and not simply limited to the first five books. This is why I will refer to these books when the text warrants it. They are quite valuable. Paul even uses pagan literature. How does the use of books that were considered highly valuable by Jews (or the pagan literature for that matter) lead us to believe they were inspired?

“To be honest, the Jews at that time didn't have an ‘official canon‘.”

Agreed in that there was no council or synod that made the decision. It does not follow that certain books at the exclusion of all others were not considered Scriptural though.

“From what it looks like to me, is that Jews of different groups gravited to slightly different books. I don't see 100% uniformity. And if you try and make it seem that there was 100% uniformity back then ......then I will have to call you out on it.”

I claim the same as I have been: There seems to be a consensus among the majority made up of Pharisaic Jews and this is the context Jesus and His apostles are found in and the context in which their words are to be interpreted.

“One can only say such a thing if they ignore the witness of Church Fathers( just because some of them dissagreed doesn't mean you throw there testamony out the window all togethere.”

Where did you get the idea that I would throw out the Church fathers? Have you seen any of my latest posts?

Are you claiming that the Jews of Palestine did not condemn the LXX after 130ce?

“What we do know is that at least some of the ‘deuterocanon’ books were """ALWAYS""" embraced. This in and of itself should "nullify" the argument you and many others are trying to make. Christianity always embraced at least one of the books that is not in the Protestant canon), and the many quotes, references, and allusions of the New Testament text itself would have to be ignored if noone knew what the LXX was before 130 A.D.”

Oh my. We were talking about the Jews, not the later Christians.

I don’t ignore any of the NT use of Apocryphal text. Why decide that I do without asking first?

Also, there has been no such claim that no one knew what the LXX was before 130AD. They would have to know what it was in order to condemn it right?

“I hope I wasn't mean or rude. If I was please let me know.”

Thank you very much for your concern. I am just worried we are speaking past each other. Maybe we should aim towards mutual understanding before we both try and critique one another. What do you think? Do you have any ideas?

Jnorm888 said...

You said:

"Maybe we should aim towards mutual understanding before we both try and critique one another."



I'm game. Where would you like to start.




JNORM888

Catz206 said...

great!

Lets start by just clarifying some of our beliefs before we critique.

I can start by telling you a few of my thoughts and then asking you some questions about yours and we will see where this goes.

*None of the contributers on this blog wish to throw the Church fathers out.

*I do not deny the use of the apocryphal books by the apostles and will often reference it when the text warrants.

*I am aware of the early Church's use of apocryphal books.

*When speaking of the Jewish canon I am referring to what was considered Scriptural by the majority of the Jews of the time at the exclusion of the apocryphal books.

Some questions I have for you:
1)How would you define the LXX (or uses of the term)?
2)What are your beliefs about the Alexandrian canon?
3)Why is it important that all of the books in the Bible in addition to the apocryphal were translated at once?

Please fill in any details you think will bring more clarity

Catz206 said...

Oh, and I have another question. I've been wondering for a while now whether the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the LXX and if so- how? Since we have a lot of fragments and different manuscript traditions...

Jnorm888 said...

Thanks, I will try to comment next week or the week after.

But before I do, I would like you to post your sources for:

[quote:]
""Oh, and I have another question. I've been wondering for a while now whether the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the LXX and if so- how? Since we have a lot of fragments and different manuscript traditions...""


I would like you to post your source(or sources) for this. Just so I know where you are coming from. If you have any quotes from articles or books,......that would be fine too.

But I will answer a few of your questions now.


You said:
1)How would you define the LXX (or uses of the term)?


My responce:
In a generic sense. I would define it as "The LXX family" or "Family of texts".



You said:
2)What are your beliefs about the Alexandrian canon?


My responce:
I don't believe the Jews had "Canons" back then. Neither in Palestine, Babylon, or Alexandria. They just had a collection of sacred scripture scrolls/books.

So I would simply call it, the Alexandrian collection/compilation of sacred texts/scripture. Or the Alexandrian tradition.

If I used the term "the Alexandrian canon" then I am sorry.



You said:
3)Why is it important that all of the books in the Bible in addition to the apocryphal were translated at once?


Because the idea that they were translated separately over 300 hundred years is mostly a modern speculation......driven by modern cynicism.

It goes back to how one interprets the word "LAW/Torah". It is my personal belief that modern western critical scholars are reading a strict modern understanding of the word "Law/Torah" into the Letter of Aristeas and works Philo.

The word Law/Torah didn't always mean "first 5 books only" in ancient times. We can see that with Jesus calling one of the Psalms(or proverbs..I forgot which one) "Law/Torah" as well as the Jewish group at Qumran using the word "Law/Torah" loosely.

So yes, I will fight that every time I see it.


Also I would like to comment on this for I know that this is your focus.

You said:
"*When speaking of the Jewish canon I am referring to what was considered Scriptural by the majority of the Jews of the time at the exclusion of the apocryphal books."



My responce:
I take it that you are assuming that Rabbinic Judaism had 100% uniformity of what was scripture and what was not? Are you assuming this? Also I would like to know if you are assuming that Rabbinic Judaism rejected the Deuterocanicals in the first century? If not then how can you be sure that non of them saw the D.C.'s as scripture?

To me, it is an assumption on your part. You are assuming that the terms "Prophets" and "Psalms" are only talking about the books that are in the Protestant Canon right now.

How do you know that the term "Prophets didn't contain more or less books in it? How do you know that the term "Psalms" didn't contain more or less books in it?


But I will give my comment either next week or the week after. Please be patient with me.




JNORM888

Catz206 said...

“Thanks, I will try to comment next week or the week after.”

Sounds good. I have been kind of busy also

""Oh, and I have another question. I've been wondering for a while now whether the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the LXX and if so- how? Since we have a lot of fragments and different manuscript traditions...""

No sources…I have always just been wondering and never got around to asking anyone in the EO. If you are wondering about the fragments and different tradition lines, I’ve gotten a lot my information from Hengel’s work and “Invitation to the Septuagint” by Moises and Silvia (sp?).

“My responce:
“In a generic sense. I would define it as "The LXX family" or "Family of texts".”

Would you include the Christian Recensions (Origen) and Jewish ones as well (Aquila…ect)? Are you referring to all the parts of the Hebrew text (including Apocrypha) that were translated into Greek?

“So I would simply call it, the Alexandrian collection/compilation of sacred texts/scripture. Or the Alexandrian tradition.”

Alright, what are your thoughts on the Alexandrian collection of sacred Scripture? Are they known? Has a definite collection been found?


“Because the idea that they were translated separately over 300 hundred years is mostly a modern speculation......driven by modern cynicism.



“The word Law/Torah didn't always mean "first 5 books only" in ancient times. We can see that with Jesus calling one of the Psalms(or proverbs..I forgot which one) "Law/Torah" as well as the Jewish group at Qumran using the word "Law/Torah" loosely.

So yes, I will fight that every time I see it.”

What I mean is, how would the interpretation of Law in the letter help your overall case? Why would it be helpful for the Eastern Orthodox Christian and harmful for the Protestant?


"*When speaking of the Jewish canon I am referring to what was considered Scriptural by the majority of the Jews of the time at the exclusion of the apocryphal books."


My responce:
I take it that you are assuming that Rabbinic Judaism had 100% uniformity of what was scripture and what was not? Are you assuming this? Also I would like to know if you are assuming that Rabbinic Judaism rejected the Deuterocanicals in the first century? If not then how can you be sure that non of them saw the D.C.'s as scripture?”

For the Palestinian Pharisees it does seem to be more or less uniform. If books were taken out by the Rabbinic Jews we would never here the end of it (just think of the fuss made over the question of already canonical books at Jamnia). My belief here is not based off of an “oh, I just want this to be the case…I have struggled over the question of the inclusion of Apocryphal books quite a bit and thought I might have to accept them until I was kindly pointed to some other sources by a professor. My reasons for holding what I hold in regards to the Palestinian Jews come in part from the information contained in some of the posts and the fact that I find evidence for the inclusion of the others unconvincing now.

“To me, it is an assumption on your part. You are assuming that the terms "Prophets" and "Psalms" are only talking about the books that are in the Protestant Canon right now.”

The verses were put forward only to indicate that the contents of the canon were known (there were not a plethora of competing opinions about their content). There is no assumption that this alone leads us to believe it resembled the Protestant canon. Other sources are used for that (I believe on this blog). Since affirmation is given of the contents of the Palestinian Jewish canon by Jesus (whatever books might be contained) and if the other evidence I provide seems to indicate a content resembling the Protestant one, then we have an authoritative collection and will need more evidence (which may exist) for the inclusion of apocryphal lit.

So, if after we understand each other. If you wanted to critique me you could show that: 1) Jesus’ words do not lead us to believe that an authoritative list was known (we may agree here) 2) The evidence I provide for the content of the Hebrew canon being a certain way is not sufficient or 3) that there is good reason to think that the apocryphal books should be included as well either by their presence in the LXX or use by an apostle…ect. Hopefully I am being helpful and not rambling ^_-


“But I will give my comment either next week or the week after. Please be patient with me.”

No problem! If you promise to be patient with me.

Jnorm888 said...

* I believe that the idea of a Palestinian Canon in the 1st century to be a myth.

* I don't believe the Jews in Alexandria formed a council to canonize the books they used. This is why I reject the idea of an "Alexandrian Canon". Instead, I believe that their tradition was different than that of Palestine, and that they used more books in their Sacred/Divine scrolls/Scriptures.


* The Jews at Qumran hated the Pharisees. If you read their works, you would see this. And this is why I think they should be included in our discussion.


* The early Pharisees persecuted the early Christians so why would they want to use their "tradition" of collected books?


* You would have to assume two things. 1.) That the Alexandrian Hellenistic Jewish tradition was 100%ly the same as that of the Pharisee tradition. 2.) And that the Pharisaic tradition was " 100%ly stable" in the first, second, and 3rd centuries. If not, then you have no argument.


* I believe that the Septugient was the scriptural tradition that Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Christians mostly used.

* I believe that the Septugient family of texts has more books than the later Pharisaic tradition.


* I believe that it took time for the non believing Jews to have a "stable" canon. It was not stable in the first couple of centuries. If one book was missing or if one book was added or was argued over then their collection of texts was still "unstable".


* I also believe that when it comes to "believers"/ A.K.A. the early Christians......they too didn't have a "stable" Old Testament. Now when I say stable, I mean 100% uniformity. If one book was missing, added or disputed then they didn't have stability.


* I believe that since the Apostles mostly used the LXX, that Eastern Orthodoxy is the keeper of the Scriptural tradition that the Apostles themselves used. We don't need a stable O.T. canon in order to be true to the LXX family of texts.


* I believe that for the most part, most early Christians simply embraced the D.C.'s as scripture. Most of them quoted the D.C.'s along with the P.C.'s without distinction, Some of them even used words like "scripture", The Holy Spirit Says, Divine, it is written, when quoting from the D.C.'s. They made no distinction. Many of them also used the D.C.'s as an authority when talking about doctrine, or in a dispute about doctrine. Also, the D.C.'s were read in Churches......This is very important, and everyone who belongs to a Liturgical Church understands the importance of this.


Now my Questions for you.


1.) If the early Christians followed the tradition of the Pharisees then why didn't they follow the "Hebrew structure" that Jews use today? And why is the Protestant structure different from the Pharisaic tradition? The Protestant structure is an edited version of the Septugient structure......not the Pharisaic one.


2.) What Protestant tradition do you follow? The Anglican, the Lutherian, the Dutch Reformed, or the English Puritan? This is very important for they differ in degree when it comes to the issue of the D.C.'s


3.) Do you really believe the Early Christians rejected the D.C.'s? If so why?


4.) If Pharisees were arguing over a few books in the 1st and early second century then you can't say that they had a stable canon. All it takes for me to prove my point is to show that one book was either missing or added or was disputed over. So why are you claiming that it was stable when it wasn't?


You said:
"Oh, and I have another question. I've been wondering for a while now whether the Eastern Orthodox Church uses the LXX and if so- how? Since we have a lot of fragments and different manuscript traditions..."

Yes we use the LXX family of texts. Over time a certain LXX tradition was used as a standard for Byzantines, but I am not talking about a certain jurisdiction, instead I am talking about Pan-Orthodoxy. So yes we use the LXX family of texts. If Rome was still in communion with us then I would include her into "Pan-Orthodoxy", but since she isn't....I am not including her. Now if I was to debate you about my own jurisdiction then I would change my argument of one of "a stable O.T.", but I am not. I am looking at this from the perspective of Pan-Orthodoxy. So those different manuscript traditions mostly came from us.....in different regions of the World in where we dwell. This is why I am saying that we embrace the LXX family of texts. So it doesn't matter if you are talking about Vaticanus, Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, N+v2......ect. Archeaology didn't steal every book or copy we have. Our books are mostly scattered with our service books. Before the time of the printing press no one had all the books in one big book. They were mostly scattered in different places. So no, we didn't loose the books only to find what the west took from us centuries later in a museum....only to copy them and put them back in our churches. We always had copies. We need them for our Liturgy.
We use the LXX because that's what the Apostles used, and when they died, we kept their stuff. And this is the only reason why we use the LXX. Other than that, there is no other reason.



You said:
"Would you include the Christian Recensions (Origen) and Jewish ones as well (Aquila…ect)? Are you referring to all the parts of the Hebrew text (including Apocrypha) that were translated into Greek?"


Yes, I would include the Revisions/Recensions, although Origen's Recension was nothing more than a 6 colomn parallel Bible. He needed it to debate the Jews, for the Jews wouldn't accept the books we had nor the extra verses we had that they didn't. So when christians debated Jews, they had to know what books the Jews were using.

However, the Jewish ones are not LXX. So no, Aquila and the rest would not be part of the LXX (eventhough Origen included them in his Parallel Bible), but they were known not to be part of the LXX. Infact, they were made to help the Hellenistic Jews reject the LXX. So no!


You said:
"Alright, what are your thoughts on the Alexandrian collection of sacred Scripture? Are they known? Has a definite collection been found?"

You keep trying to look for 100% stability in the ancient world. You won't find 100% stability back then....in alot of things. However, it was known that the LXX had more books. Some LXX may have a few less books, than another LXX but over all they had more books than what was found in Palestine.

The Old Latin translations of the LXX included the D.C.'s and that was in the 2nd century. Some parts of the LXX(D.C.'s) was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and that was first century.

And then we have the quotes, and references of the New Testament, and Pre-Nicen Christians. In whose main text was the LXX. In Origen's day, when he argued with Africanus, he said:

"“In answer to
this, I have to tell you what it behoves us to do in the cases not only of the History of Susanna, which is found in every Church of Christ in that Greek copy which the Greeks use, but is not in the Hebrew, or of the two other passages you mention at the end of the book containing the history of Bel and the Dragon, which likewise are not in the Hebrew copy of Daniel; but of thousands of other passages also which I found in many places when with my little strength I was collating the Hebrew copies with ours.”Origen(185A.D.-230A.D.)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PATRISTC/ANF4-15.TXT"

and

"“4. Again, through the whole of Job there are many passages in the
Hebrew which are wanting in our copies, generally four or five verses, but sometimes, however, even fourteen, and nineteen, and sixteen. But why should I enumerate all the instances I collected with so much labour, to prove that the difference between our copies and those of the Jews did not escape me? In Jeremiah I noticed many instances, and indeed in that book I found much transposition and variation in the readings of the prophecies. Again, in Genesis, the words, "God saw that it was good," when the firmament was made, are not found in the Hebrew, and there is no small dispute among them about this; and other instances are to be found in
Genesis, which I marked, for the sake of distinction, with the sign the
Greeks call an obelisk, as on the other hand I marked with an asterisk
those passages in our copies which are not found in the Hebrew. What needs there to speak of Exodus, where there is such diversity in what is said about the tabernacle and its court, and the ark, and the garments of the high priest and the priests, that sometimes the meaning even does not seem to be akin? And, forsooth, when we notice such things, we are forthwith to reject as spurious the copies in use in our Churches, and enjoin the brotherhood to put away the sacred books current among them, and to coax the Jews, and persuade them to give us copies which shall be untampered with, and free from forgery! Are we to suppose that that Providence which in the sacred Scriptures has ministered to the edification of all the Churches of Christ, had no thought for those bought with a price, for whom Christ died;[2] whom, although His Son, God who is love spared not, but gave Him up for us all, that with Him He might freely give us all
things?[3]

5. In all these cases consider whether it would not be well to remember the words, "Thou shalt not remove the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set."[4] Nor do I say this because I shun the labour of investigating the Jewish Scriptures, and comparing them with ours, and noticing their various readings. This, if it be not arrogant to say it, I have while I paid particular attention to the interpretation of the Seventy, lest I might to be found to accredit any forgery to the Churches which are under heaven, and give an occasion to those who seek such a starting-point for gratifying their desire to slander the common brethren, and to already to a great extent done to the best of my ability, labouring hard to get at the meaning in all the editions and various readings;[5] bring some accusation against those who shine forth in our community. And I make it my endeavour not to be ignorant of their various readings, lest in my controversies with the Jews I should quote to them what is not found in their copies, and that I may make some use of what is found there, even although it should not be in our Scriptures. For if we are so prepared for them in our discussions, they will not, as is their manner, scornfully laugh at Gentile believers for their ignorance of the true reading as they have them. So far as to the History of Susanna not being found in the Hebrew. Origen(185A.D.-230A.D.)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PATRISTC/ANF4-15.TXT"


Origen rejected the idea that the Church should get rid of the books they had in favor of what the Jews had. Most of the scholars I read......like J.N.D. Kelly, Pelikan and others all believe that the LXX had more books, and that the early christians embraced many of the D.C.'s.



I hope this helps, and I'm sorry if I was a little rude or mean.





JNORM888

Catz206 said...

oh sorry Norm, didn't see that you posted. I will take a look when I have time

Catz206 said...

“I hope this helps, and I'm sorry if I was a little rude or mean.”

I was bothered by your comments in the Melito post. I am going to give this another shot but I generally will not respond if I think my responses will not matter- regardless of content. If you think I am simply too biased to acknowledge any of the evidence you put forward then I see little value in continuing. Maybe clarifying this will help.

“* I believe that the idea of a Palestinian Canon in the 1st century to be a myth.”

Explain what you mean by this.

* “…"Alexandrian Canon". Instead, I believe that their tradition was different than that of Palestine, and that they used more books in their Sacred/Divine scrolls/Scriptures.”

Do you think they had a collection they consistently thought was canonical or did this fluctuate too much to tell?


“* The Jews at Qumran hated the Pharisees. If you read their works, you would see this. And this is why I think they should be included in our discussion.”

This takes them out of the context where Jesus lists categories of the canon though. I see that Qumran is valuable but how does their content tell us what should be in our canon?


“* The early Pharisees persecuted the early Christians so why would they want to use their "tradition" of collected books?”

Do you mean: why would I want to use their books? Scroll up and look at the verses I listed. Also look at my newest post “Understanding of the Church and Canon”.


“* You would have to assume two things. 1.) That the Alexandrian Hellenistic Jewish tradition was 100%ly the same as that of the Pharisee tradition. 2.) And that the Pharisaic tradition was " 100%ly stable" in the first, second, and 3rd centuries. If not, then you have no argument.”

But I don’t go for the first and do in fact have an argument. Again, look at the new post…it will help you see where I am coming from better.


“* I believe that the Septugient was the scriptural tradition that Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Christians mostly used.”

I would say that they used the translation but see no indication that all of the books were considered Scripture. Our disagreement here may go back to your view of what the LXX is…we can discuss this more once we are done understanding everything else.

“* I believe that the Septugient family of texts has more books than the later Pharisaic tradition.”

agreed


“* I believe that it took time for the non believing Jews to have a "stable" canon. It was not stable in the first couple of centuries. If one book was missing or if one book was added or was argued over then their collection of texts was still "unstable".”

Still, questions over one or two books would not be the same as a multitude of differences btw communities…one is not the same as many. Even still, questions over one does not mean it was not considered canonical. There are lingering questions over some books in the NT now by some groups and they are still considered part of our canon.


* “I also believe that when it comes to "believers"/ A.K.A. the early Christians......they too didn't have a "stable" Old Testament.”

I could agree with you there but only in regards to the Gentile Christians after the apostolic period.


“* I believe that since the Apostles mostly used the LXX, that Eastern Orthodoxy is the keeper of the Scriptural tradition that the Apostles themselves used.”

I guess I do not see how this is on two accounts. First, I am not convinced that the apostles thought the other books designated in the LXX were Scripture and second, I do not know that the Eastern Orthodox actually uses the LXX when they use a Bible. You can clarify this one for me.

“We don't need a stable O.T. canon in order to be true to the LXX family of texts.”
Yeah but given the diversity that is the LXX…which LXX tradition do you follow. They do not agree with each other in every place and many have books the other does not.

* “I believe that for the most part, most early Christians simply embraced the D.C.'s as scripture.”

What do we mean by early? Are we talking about the apostolic period or later?

1.) “If the early Christians followed the tradition of the Pharisees then why didn't they follow the "Hebrew structure" that Jews use today?”
Actually, I believe they do on the Eastern side. Melito follows Josepus’ form closely but I think uses LXX titles (for those familiar with the titles) and Origen’s project with the Hexapla tries and reconcile this.


“And why is the Protestant structure different from the Pharisaic tradition?”

I find the content relevant and not the ordering of books. I would not have a problem going by any order as long as all the content was present. I think most Protestants would agree apart from communication issues that would be an issue now if that were done.

“The Protestant structure is an edited version of the Septugient structure......not the Pharisaic one.”

How so?

“2.) What Protestant tradition do you follow? The Anglican, the Lutherian, the Dutch Reformed, or the English Puritan?”

I am nondenominational but am open to the idea that one structure may be superior to another. I also find myself agreeing with Eastern Orthodoxy on many accounts and would probably have become a member if it were not for certain issues.

“3.) Do you really believe the Early Christians rejected the D.C.'s? If so why?”

Nope. I believe that the Jews and Christians of the apostolic period and several key persons afterwards found them extremely historically beneficial and devotionally valuable but not of the same authority as Scripture. I do acknowledge that there are some who did think certain books were Scriptural due to the LXX copy that had and not being informed.


“4.) If Pharisees were arguing over a few books in the 1st and early second century then you can't say that they had a stable canon.”

I believe I said they had a more or less stable canon. If I didn’t then I apologize. I believe it to be for the most part stable but allow for some minor fluctuation.

“Yes we use the LXX family of texts. Over time a certain LXX tradition was used as a standard for Byzantines, but I am not talking about a certain jurisdiction, instead I am talking about Pan-Orthodoxy. So yes we use the LXX family of texts.”

Ohh I see. Thankx I have always been wondering that. ^_^
Still, there are problems with this. The LXX is not one big book…it is a designation applied to a wide variety of Greek translations of the Hebrew. To use one as a standard would in some cases mean neglecting another part of the LXX as a standard.
“You said:
"Would you include the Christian Recensions (Origen) and Jewish ones as well (Aquila…ect)? Are you referring to all the parts of the Hebrew text (including Apocrypha) that were translated into Greek?"

“Yes,”
Ok that clarifies things a bit.

“And then we have the quotes, and references of the New Testament, and Pre-Nicen Christians. In whose main text was the LXX. In Origen's day, when he argued with Africanus, he said:….ect”

How do these indicate that the books are Scripture?

“This, if it be not arrogant to say it, I have while I paid particular attention to the interpretation of the Seventy, lest I might to be found to accredit any forgery to the Churches which are under heaven, and give an occasion to those who seek such a starting-point for gratifying their desire to slander the common brethren, and to already to a great extent done to the best of my ability, labouring hard to get at the meaning in all the editions and various readings;[5] bring some accusation against those who shine forth in our community.”

Origen bases the authority of his LXX copies on the legend of the seventy. The expanding of the translation of the “LXX” to include all of the OT by the 70 is a later development of the legend. His grounds for holding his own as authoritative is faulty.

“Origen rejected the idea that the Church should get rid of the books they had in favor of what the Jews had.”

The Jews had the same books. Some in the Church had more content. And I agree with you that Origen did not want to dispose of the LXX. He tried to harmonize though.

“Most of the scholars I read......like J.N.D. Kelly, Pelikan and others all believe that the LXX had more books, and that the early christians embraced many of the D.C.'s.”

You keep saying stuff like this…I am not disagreeing with you here. I DO believe the LXX had more books. I DO believe some Christians embraced the Dcs…however, I do not acknowledge that they did in the apostolic period, believe they did to a LESSER extent on the Eastern (some even denying them completely) end earlier on.
------------------------------

If it can be shown that the legend of the seventy involved only the five books of the Pentatuch then would you acknowledge that Origin’s (and others holding to them) reason for holding the LXX as authoritative was faulty?