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Michuta tackles a very touchy subject, one with direct bearing upon sola scriptura. Why do only Catholic bibles have the texts known as the Deuterocanonicals?
The problem is compounded by the fact that Protestant bibles used to contain these same texts. "Before 1599 nearly all Protestant bibles included the Deuterocanonical books...It was not until the middle of the 17th century that the tide began to turn" (p 245) and the texts were removed. Michurta sets out to explain how, and why, this came about.
The ancient Jews did not develop a canon before Christ died. "Judaism was comprised of as many as twenty-four distinct parties...and each...had its own distinctive theology and preferences in matters of canonicity" (p 13).
One fact Michurta proves is that the early Christians used the Deuteros frequently. There are quotations from the Deuteros in Luke, Revelation, Matthew, Romans, Hebrews, and James. In addition, 1 Clement, Barnabas, Polycarp, Hermas, the Didache, and many more used portions of the Deuteros.
So how and when did the number of Jewish texts begin to differ from those of the early Christians? Michuta provides an in-depth discussion of how the canon was chosen, for both the Jews and the Christians, regarding the Deuteroes. He lists all the councils where they were discussed, as well as all the early fathers who quoted from the Deuteroes.
This is an outstanding book. Yes, you need it in your library.
Mr. Michuta's work will be trouble for the Sola Scriptura crowd. After all, how can one claim to follow the Bible alone when one cannot claim to know what books are to be included in the Bible? Perhaps they would do better to claim "part of the Bible alone" instead. Such is the evidence contained in this thorough study of the deuterocanonical books.
Mr. Michuta begins this study with the Protestant assertion that the new testament writers did not consider the deuterocanonical books as canonical. With a dizzying array of new testament to deuterocanonical parallels, he buries that assertion under the tremendous weight of evidence to the contrary. He proceeds then to bury the claim that the apostolic, ante-Nicene, and early church fathers did not consider these books canonical - and again Mr. Michuta provides a plethora of evidence to the contrary. In the process of providing the historical evidence to bury the Protestant position, Mr. Michuta gives us some insight through the effect of the second Jewish rebellion and anti-Christian bias on the development of the Jewish canon on which Protestants base their own canon. It is a damning indictment indeed that the Protestant canon would be based on the work of enemies of the faith.
But Mr. Michuta is not finished with this dark history of the Protestant rejection of the very scripture they would claim to venerate. He continues with the influence of Jerome's "Hebrew veritas" and why it was rejected by the church. Then he proceeds to challenge the Protestant apparent belief in the infallibility of Jerome above the church. He also provides us with the summary of Martin Luther's test - simply stated, only books that support Martin Luther's theology were accepted by Martin Luther.Read more ›
This material is especially worthwhile for two kinds of readers: 1) Protestants desiring to understand one more element of the Catholic Church and 2) Catholics who don't know why they have "extra" books. The footnotes and works cited also provide plenty of further reading for serious students. This isn't light reading or devotional material, but clearly defends the deuterocanonical or apocryphal books. [...].
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Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger tells the story of how some Protestants used the removal of the Deuterocanon from the Bible as a proxy for their attack on Catholicism. Some reviewers have characterized this work as unscholarly, but the 770 footnotes (not to mention the numerous in-line citations), and the argument-response approach of the author stand in evidence against that charge.
The facts are devastating to the Protestant case, which has been held as the conventional wisdom in the English-speaking Christian world, including among Catholics.
The following chain of facts was especially enlightening, as it shows the origin of the Deuterocanon being 'questionable':
* At the time of the Apostles, there exist various Jewish sects (Sadducees, Pharisees, and many others) most of whom have very sharp theological disagreements.
* There is no defined Jewish canon at this time, but many accept the Deuterocanon via the Greek Septuagint, which had been around for close to 2 centuries and held in great respect. Both Philo and Josephus ascribed divine inspiration to its authors.
* The Dead Sea Scrolls testify to Deuterocanon books in Hebrew intermixed with the Protocanon.
* During the Second Jewish Revolt (A.D. 132-135) Christians (then still considered a Jewish sect) were pressured by Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph to renounce Jesus, join the revolt, and accept Bar Cochba as the Messiah.
* Christians refused this apostasy and were treated by Jews as heretics and traitors.Read more ›
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