Friday, May 9, 2008

The NT and Apocryphal Works

The NT and Apocryphal Works
Another argument put forward for the canonical status of the Apocryphal books is their citation by the New Testament writers. This, however, is not sufficient to establish the canonical status of these books. If this line of reasoning is followed by Eastern Orthodox apologists, they open themselves up to the same critique leveled against the Protestant of not having all the inspired books in their canon.

It may be true that many apocryphal works are cited, especially by Paul, but this says nothing about their inspirational status. Simply using or quoting from a source does not necessarily lead to inspiration. After all, even pagan sources are sometimes used in the New Testament. Clearly, these pagan sources are not to be viewed as canonical and neither should the Apocryphal writings on the grounds of being used or quoted from.

The non-canonical work that comes the closest to being cited as Scripture, and termed by scholar Dr. Lee McDonald as "a troubling exception", is the book of Enoch. In Jude 1:14-15, Enoch is named as one who “prophesied.” The problem this poses will have to be saved for another time, but for now, it is important to note that this “problem” belongs to both Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians alike. If it is going to be argued that the Protestant is lacking in their canon because of the use of apocryphal texts, those arguing along these lines better be ready to explain why the best candidate for inspiration doesn’t show up in their own canon.


More Info:
1. One example of Paul’s use of hymns originally directed to Zeus can be found in Acts 17.
2. Enoch is present in the Ethiopian canon.
3. Interestingly, the place where Eastern Orthodoxy traditionally places it’s infallible authority (The Seven Ecumenical Councils) does not have a sufficient canon list. The closest is Athanasias’ list which is far from what is needed.

Sources:
1. Translated by Richard Laurence: "The Book of Enoch the Prophet"
2. "The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority" Lee Martin McDonald

5 comments:

Samuel Garcia said...

Finally a new post! Haven't read these yet but will soon.

Catz206 said...

heh kewel. Take your time. These are mostly for me and just random people. Nothing serious.

Anonymous said...

Wow, things are looking dangerous for the EO. Nice post.

Jnorm888 said...

Things are not looking dangerous for us. Unlike Rome and Protestantism, we never universally canonized just one list of Old Testament books. Infact, the Church never had a 100% unified number of Old Testament books. When when Rome was in communion with us, the Volgate had less books in it than the LXX family of texts. So the number of books in ones collection of "texts" is not the foundation of Church unity. The Church was running fine for 4 hundred years without a 100% unified New Testament text, and the Church is still running fine without a unified Old Testament text.

The fact that the Ethiopians have Enoch in their Canon doesn't mean a thing when it comes to Communion.

The Church never had a 100% unified Old Testament text, so that is not the bases for unity.

Infact, it never was......to think such a thing is to insert a foriegn Puritan protestant spin into the reality of the past.




JNORM888

Catz206 said...

“So the number of books in ones collection of "texts" is not the foundation of Church unity. The Church was running fine for 4 hundred years without a 100% unified New Testament text, and the Church is still running fine without a unified Old Testament text.”

I can definitely agree with you that the foundation of Church unity is not found in having the same canon list (if we mean to put it at the resurrection of the God man Jesus Christ and His commands to love God and love others). Still, while the Church can exist without certain books this does not mean she will not be missing out on all that God intended for her.

Also, see some of our discussions on the need for the Apostolic word whether it is through oral or written tradition (though we deny that it is best preserved through oral later on).

“The fact that the Ethiopians have Enoch in their Canon doesn't mean a thing when it comes to Communion.”

The critique was aimed at those who would go to the Eastern Orthodox Church in hopes of finding stability for their canon. It looks as though you might agree over the state of the Eastern Orthodox canon(s)?

“Infact, it never was......to think such a thing is to insert a foriegn Puritan protestant spin into the reality of the past.”

I don’t think anyone claimed this was a basis for Church unity. I would not call Eastern Orthodox Christians brothers and sisters if it were…and I don’t think anyone in the comments claimed this either.