Argument “Against” the Eastern Canon
There is good indication that the Christian should accept as Scripture the books agreed by the majority to be canonical. These include the whole New Testament and all of the content of the Old Testament acknowledged by all of the churches. Beyond these, I eagerly acknowledge (as many Church father’s did) what Protestants call Apocryphal books of the Old Testament to be of high value within the Church but not of the same authority.
I approach the canonical question from what is held in common and defend what is held in common. From there I request evidence for and respond to those who would argue that other books have the same authority as those already universally held. The overall case for books held in common can be found in previous posts. My current understanding of what ought to be in the Christian Old Testament operates on the idea that we inherited our OT from the Jews before the New Covenant era. This content was and is more or less known. I am willing to altar this view if it can be shown that the Jews (majority in Palestine) accepted certain apocryphal books as Scripture in the Old Testament era or that the apostles believed them to be.
Some ideas as to why we should accept the additional books into our canon have been addressed in previous posts. Here I will mention a few I have found in the past to be most weighty and only briefly voice my objections to each.
1) The apostles frequently used apocryphal books in the NT
-This is certainly true and for this reason it is a great benefit to have a copy on hand when reading the Scriptures. However, use does not equal Scripture. There are instances where pagan sources are also used and those are certainly not to be regarded as Scripture.
-I do not see that the apocryphal books are used as Scripture by the apostles. Still, admittedly lingering questions remain in regards to 1 Enoch. This however, is not accepted by the majority of the Christian churches.
2)The LXX was the Churches’ Bible.
-The LXX manuscripts are diverse and are a collection of books from different places from different times and the lists of apocryphal books within the collections differ. There was not one translation circulating around. Beyond this, the historical context of its use must be considered along with my reasons for accepting the books not under question.
3) Some Church Fathers quoted parts of the apocrypha as Scripture
-I reject some of the beliefs of the Church fathers on the canon because I look at what was considered canonical by the majority of the Jews in Palestine before the resurrection and operate on the assumption that the apostles followed that pattern unless indication can be given otherwise. Beyond this, a pattern of canonical confusion in the Church that is not found among the Jews becomes evident as the Gentile Church becomes larger. The confusion is evident internally and is also acknowledged as many sought the East for guidance (it is the Eastern Church that showed more concern in this regard).
4)More books are found at Qumran
-The Jews at Qumran were an extreme exception and should be treated according to their wishes. They disassociated themselves from the rest of the Jewish community thinking the temple was corrupt. Many of the books they used were not regarded as Scripture by the Jews in Palestine. Beyond this, they included books from their own communities that were certainly not accepted by the Christian Church at any time and did not have others such as: Judith, Wisdom, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, 1 and 2 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh and 3 and 4 Maccabees.
-There is no way to tell (at least according to Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.) whether the fragments of Proverbs, Qohelet, Sirach, Tobit, Letter of Jeremiah and Psalm 151 are “regarded as authoritative or canonical in any sense.”
In sum, I do not approach the question of canon forcing a Protestant perspective (though that is where I initially started having known nothing of the canon and only knowing the books in ours) and wanting to destroy the Eastern Orthodox canon(s). I now start with what seemed to be the case with the Jews (by extension the apostles) and approach other books on a case by case basis and so far, it seems only the Ethiopian Orthodox might potentially be pleased with one of my findings.