Saturday, November 26, 2011

Augustine and Jerome: The OT Biblical Canon (Conclusion)


Conclusion
Indeed there is still disagreement on what belongs in the Old Testament in the church today. Christian denominations have settled on what is clearly canonical and what is not, but the church as a whole is in disagreement and reasons for canonical certainty become confused with group identification and blind adherence to convention. Today we may live in a fractured church, but the past is no ideal to strive back to. Augustine and Jerome had their own challenges and contexts to consider and they also lived with canonical confusions in their own time some of which can be thought of as obvious mistakes only today. 

The aim of this paper, after being clear on what is meant by canonical, was to examine Augustine and Jerome in their disagreement over which books were to be considered part of the Old Testament canon and then to consider their reasons and influences before deciding which was closer to something the church today should accept. 

Throughout this study it has become evident that Jerome’s approach is to be preferred. Context is everything and it is easy to get so locked into ones own denomination and era that questions and circumstances unique to the era in question are filtered out. Jerome did a better job at becoming acquainted with the people charged with the divine oracles from the old covenant, including the Old Testament and the period of time closer to the apostles.  Both Augustine and Jerome believed in apostolic authority, which is something the church today should also take as authoritative since the apostles are the key witnesses to Christ. When the question of accepting the additional books comes into view, the apostles themselves should be listened to and it has been found that the apostolic testimony seems to favor going back to the Jewish source and it was concluded that the relevant Jewish group did probably have a limited canon much like the Hebrew and Protestant canon today. Not all questions were resolved though such as the book of Enoch being used authoritatively and lingering questions surrounding the book of Esther might still remain. However, as new evidence and insight become evident it is up to the church to look at the evidence charitably and honestly and be willing to challenge preconceived notions that get in the way of a better understanding of God’s revealed Word.

Bibliography

Augustine. "Christian Doctrine." Edited by Philip Schaff. In A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Series I Vol II. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

______________. “City of God.” Edited by Philip Schaff. In A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Series I Vol.II. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

______________. “Reply to Faustus the Manichaean.” Edited by Philip Schaff. In A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Series I Vol. IV. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

Beckwith, Roger. The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church: and its Background in Early Judaism. Oregon: Wipf and Stock Pub, 1985.

Bruce, F.F., The Canon of Scripture. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

Cain, Andrew. The Letters of Jerome: Asceticism, Biblical Exegesis, and the Construction of Christian Authority in Late Antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Charles, Canon. The Apocalypse of Baruch and the Assumption of Moses. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1929.

Ellis, Earle. The Old Testament in Early Christianity. Tubingen: J.C. B. Mohr, 1991. 

Harkas, Stanley. Orthodox Christian Beliefs About the Bible. Minneapolis: Light and Life Publishing Company, 2003.

Hengel, Martin, The Septuagint As Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of its Canon. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.

Jerome. “Jerome’s Apology for Himself Against the Books of Rufinus.” Edited by Philip Schaff. In A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Series II Vol 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

_________. “Preface to the Book of Hebrew Questions” Edited by Philip Schaff. In A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church Series II Vol. 6 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993).

Jobes, Karen; Silva, Moises.  Invitation to the Septuagint (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005),

McDonald, Lee. The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority (Peabody: Hendrickson Pub Inc, 2007), 38.

White, Caroline. The Correspondance (394-419) Between Jerome and Augustine of Hippo. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990.

Williams, Megan. The Monk and the Book: Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2006.

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