The Dongola Times

(Anachronistic) Dispatches from the Kingdom of Makuria.
18th of September, 2014

The Septuagintal Protestant: A BlogFight

I just had this compilation of posts at a blog, where the issue was scripture. Nothing to work up a Reformed Christian like the standard Roman Catholic ridiculousness regarding scripture. They don’t even try to make sense, because they think the pope already made sense for them. —Except he didn’t, and doesn’t. These are the fruits of off-loading faith onto a(nother) man.

So here goes. I will just dump what happened from my side, expecting that the quotes of my interlocutors will provide enough context. The first of them is actually a repeat of what I sent in here earlier, because now I am putting everything, both that and all the other substantial ones that came after. I have collated several responses to several sub-threads, into what should be roughly-chronological. If something I raise doesn’t show up again later, it is because it was not responded to, which often happens to hard questions in such fora.

I am Reformed, and I use the Septuagint. (In particular, I use Brenton for English.)

I only count 66 canonical books in the Bible, because that is what our creeds count. Scripture is not all the books that could be included. There is a criterion, and it is not simply “valid prophecy” or the like.

Just because prophecy can be established in a book doesn’t imply that it is canon; after all, prophecy is the word of God, and not necessarily the stuff found in the canon. Paul, for instance, refers to the prophecies spoken over Timothy. They are not in the canon. There is no co-relation between valid prophecy and what is canon.

Furthermore, I see that this whole blog post is entirely confused about “scripture” on the one hand and “the Bible.” Clear up the misunderstanding, and you can have a discussion that approaches usefulness. Otherwise this is just an attempt at scandalising and provoking undue debate and argument. This is one of the things undoing the body of Christ since 1 Timothy was written.
… here we have a single verse in which it clearly states that it was “the Son of God” who will be tortured and killed.
You clearly haven’t had to countenance with what calls itself “higher criticism.” Some scoffers will say it is a later inclusion, in light of Christianity; and what will you say then? (Have you checked the original-language artifacts in Wisdom?)

You should understand that Wisdom quote correctly, and see that it is not about Christ, since those who killed Christ never called Him “the just one.” The words in that reference could never have occurred from the mouths of those who thought Jesus was transgressing Deuteronomy 13.

You will reap many bitter fruits if you so lightly treat these matters.
What I first found was that Protestants call the “extra” 7 books “apocryphal” meaning “doubtful”, “not genuine”, or even “not inspired”.
No; we call them that because in the Greek it means “hidden”. And they are.
Calvinist theologian R.C. Sproul summarizes the issue in the following manner
Sproul is not the Protestant pope. That is his opinion, not the opinion of Protestants. We don’t have an authoritative figure.

But have you, at the very least, checked to see what the *canonical* confessions say about this? I mean the Three Forms of Unity? Did you honestly, or even fairly, take Sproul’s to be *the* Protestant position?

Did I mention that I use the Septuagint for my Old Testament? LXX for life.

Its not the Prophecy only that I made my points regarding criterion, but Church Authority on the canonization. It doesn't matter what you count or what your creed is.
The Church doesn’t decide on what Scripture is; Scripture decides on what the Church is.
(Cue … Haha.)
These things are of faith, not pronouncements. Read our Belgic Confession; it will do your soul much good.

The creeds are codifications of what is true to believe, and they say 66 books. They are right, because it is right. The creeds don’t “canonise” it; they merely recognise it. Do you have a good reason to disagree, especially since your Wisdom quote is clearly not a reference to Christ?
… St. Athanasius came up with a list of 73 books for the Bible that he believed to be divinely inspired.
And was St. Athanasius being arbitrary? Stop digging!

It is even funny how you have this one-eyed view, entirely ignorant of, say, the process by which the Ethiopian Tewahedo arrived at their canon.

And, again, stop confusing “scripture” and “Bible”, because until you distinguish these two, you are not making much sense. Do you think Prots like me would say that Jesus’ references to “scripture” were wrong because, necessarily, they didn’t include the New Testament?

Most people stop digging when they get to this point.
The Council of Trent, in 1546, in response to the Reformation removing 7 books from the canon (canon is a Greek word meaning “standard”), reaffirmed the original St. Athanasius list of 73 books.

You don’t even know the history! The RCC was the first to have a canon that distinguished the Apocrypha from the 39, because Jerome’s preference was for the Masoretic. Jerome was not a Protestant. (As I said, I am a Septuagintal Reformed Christian myself.)
If you had something to help us clear up, explain it, but to sit here and just give an opinion is meaningless.
The Bible is a specific subset of scripture. It is fixed in time—66 books—but scripture has had to evolve through time. There is even an instance of Jesus debating with the Sadducees out of the scriptures (“… even Moses says it …”), and then He upbraids them for their not knowing the scriptures (because they didn’t have the other parts of the scriptures—the Prophets—which most-clearly taught the doctrine of resurrection). Comment boxes, alas, are not the place for this kind of thing.
I look at things very very simply, the book says and I obey.
Yes, but your book is wrong, and you still obey. You would know it is wrong if you bothered with higher criticism.

Anyway, what book are you talking about; the Bible? Roman Catholics—I take it that you are one—are forbidden from doing that, except for magisterial documents (like bulls and the like).

NT writers follow the LXX versions rather than the Hebrew versions.
They use both the Vorlage/Masoretic and the LXX. Neither is lesser.
… here we see deuterocanonicals referenced in the NT.

Except they aren’t.

(References are not established merely by similarity of theme. Otherwise, even Greek myths can honestly claim representation. I am putting this here because [interlocutor] has said I didn’t explain enough, and I agree. I hope this small clarification suffices.)

The Catholic Church compiled the Canon and declared it inspired.

Except it didn’t.

Is this the level of debate in these comments?
You even say that the RCC *compiled the canon*?

Comrade, one of your comments said "I beg to differ" and the rest of your comments historically have this "begging to differ" theme.
I can’t be blamed for disagreeing with wrong, can I?
(I have just added a little bit more information for disagreeing, on the other comment to which your refer.)
While no book of the Bible claims itself to be divinely inspired.
Are you serious, [interlocutor]? Even after we recently discussed Psalm 45 (for a single instance)? Do you remember when Jesus told the Pharisees “… and scripture cannot be broken …”; was He speaking of the opinions of men, or the testimony of God Almighty?
… and no book states anything like, "The words of this book were chosen by God" or "This book is divinely inspired." …
So, for instance, you see no such claim in all of Moses, because he doesn’t have that particular sentence?

See, reflexive Papism has this danger, in that it commits one to faith in mere men, even to the point of requiring learnt blindness (which is indispensable if you will have to put your faith in man). No wonder you never saw any other OT quote calling Jesus Christ the Son of God. Hah. Job has whole chapters as direct quotes of God, you know.
Out of the many forgeries – the current 27 book New Testament appeared.
[Interlocutor], my NT never rose out of forgeries. The pure oracles of God were not merely selected out of competing forgeries! Are you serious? The very existence of forgeries implies the *prior* existence of genuines. I detect that you are way out of your depth on this topic.
… and YES the list was compiled by the bishops of the Catholic Church.
By “Catholic” do you mean “Roman Catholic”? I know that the reflexively-Papist learn to confound those two, but they are not the same.

And, no, the Church cannot possibly compile the Scriptures which not only *predict* it, but also on the foundation of which it stands.

If by “Catholic” you mean “Roman Catholic”, and, for instance, you go on to claim “the keys of heaven” as the basis of the RCC, would you say base that on the scriptures, or would the scriptures be valid because you already have the RCC selecting the scriptures in which the keys reference is found?
They checked to see how much the book was being used by other bishops and priests in their Masses
And why would they have been using books in their masses which were not canon? Could they have run gnostic masses, before the tally and score was done? Do you even realise how confused and upside-down this is?

By the way, the Roman Catholic mass actually does not use the Bible; I am sure you know that.
They looked to see if the books were written by an apostle or someone who was reporting the words of an apostle.
Hah; and how would they even know that these apostles wrote scripture, leave alone what it is that the apostles wrote?

(And the outright confusion in this false approach is shown by the multiplicity of pseudepigrapha, both old and new, in certain communions.)
Only those books which “scored” favorably on all three of these criteria made it into their canons.
So could the list being rated have been arbitrary; and if not, why not?

Canon is not about scores and the opinions of men, no matter how pious. We don’t accept the Bible because others do; the word of God doesn’t need anybody’s approval.

You people go astray because you have more faith in man than in God, and you reap very bitter fruits from this.

Canon is not about scores. You are gravely—and dangerously—mistaken.
Luther removed the 7 books he declared uninspired.

At the very least, respect Jerome’s decision, even if you get the history wrong. It was not a mistake on Jerome’s part, and Luther merely followed Jerome.

We Orthodox say that if any writing that contradicts the Liturgy it is to be discarded.

We, Reformed, say otherwise. And how do you choose? Simple tribalism or preference? —So why not do this with your canon?

Besides, now we are supposed to fight over liturgy, as, for instance, the liturgy you base on can be corrupt.

All this is because faith is repulsive?
and say WOW [interlocutor] doesn't believe that the Bible was inspired?
I am saying “Wow, [interlocutor] doesn’t even see the claim, in the Bible, that it contains the very literal words of God!” And you said you don’t, which is embarrassing.
and no book states anything like, "The words of this book were chosen by God" or "This book is divinely inspired."
But that occurs several times!
In other words, we do not have a verse that says "The Bible is divinely inspired: man's word God breathed. Period. End of story. Stop your spinning.
Hey, even “the Bible” is not in the Bible. —Well? And would the absence Peter’s letter—from when we get “God-breathed”—have rendered the Bible prior to that point *not* God-breathed, since, until Peter, that sentence was not there?
And it is me you pile with words like “sophist”, “first-class spin artist”, and the like? Let me tell you that the reason I don’t call everybody here that is because it would be wrong. However, I call some—like you—reflexively-Papist, because they are; they are reflexively taking a position without realising that it can’t compute on their part. (Don’t worry; you could always call me reflexively-Prot, since I actually am.)
1-Which church was it? 2-Where is this Church today?
No church chose the canon. There was one church then, and there is one church now. Tribalism is for desert wanderers.
This assumes that the Bible is self-authenticating.
It is. Any proof contrary? Do you not have the Holy Spirit, or do you merely think that the claims in our Confession of Faith are wrong? (If so, why not say that, so we can have a useful, grown-up discussion—even in a comment box)? I did refer you to it earlier.
By the way, I ask questions expecting answers in responses. I respond to yours, you may have noticed.
how come then Protestant reformers could not authenticate these books w hile Catholics did?
Nobody ever needed to authenticate the books. I don’t know what Romanists say they did, when they don’t even know what the Bible is. They officially don’t establish a number; did you even know that?
The usage “self-authenticating” could be deceptive; anyone can have a different view and claim a book to be self-authenticated.
And why would that have any bearing on the faith that we have in our scriptures? Do you think the existence of the Qur’anic claims, or the Mormon canon, impinges on anybody’s faith in the scriptures?
This instruction is clear by Paul who warns to “Test all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21), and in 1 John 4:1 says, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”
So you tested the scriptural injunction to test all things (scripture itself presumably included). Hmm … So you say that you accepted that scripture, accepted its directions, and then put it on the pile together with the gnostic gospels from which your canon was chosen.

Only four out of scores of gospels were chosen while all the others were rejected.
This is exactly your problem. You assume that there were more than four. Are you a gnostic?
You even have, I believe it is Justin Martyr (or a near-contemporary) relying on 1 Enoch to insist that there could not have been more than 4 gospels (because 1 Enoch uses 4 as a crucial foundational number in some places).
Even respected Protestant scripture scholar F. F Bruce in fact admits …
I have long been aware of such wrong-headed positions. Bruce never chose our canon for us (much less your anonymous “Fathers”—and do not call anyone on Earth “Church Father”, you near-heretics, when we have only one Father!; but that is in scripture, which may not have survived your Fathers).
Also, I must warn you that my position is not too simplistic. It is far harder—impossible, I say—to assault than these things you have encountered.
I notice the resort to canned responses from the fact that nobody has dealt with the weirdness of a Septuagintal Protestant. Do you even assume that I agree with this man, after I made clear that I am Septuagintal? Man … I know it is a comment box, but still.
[The early Fathers] had recourse to the criterion of orthodoxy...
You stop at the Church Fathers, but they are where I start. Do you see the problem now? Do they have recourse to … yet more Church Fathers? Do you see the problem?
"By the way, the Roman Catholic mass actually does not use the Bible; I am sure you know that."

Changing subjects will not help you.
You made a ghastly mistake in your claim about how the scripture came about, and hence that correction from me.
You know that is just a pious trick trying to show that you are a man of God and I am a follower of men. If you purely trust God Alone, than stop reading some of these crappy books you trust that is written by men.
But my books were not written by men; that is why men cannot decide on whether or not they are canon. Canon is recognised, not chosen. For you, however, absent a declaration from men, you really don’t know what the Bible is.

But now I will help you: why don’t you take me to task for having 66 books, since I have told you that the reason I use the LXX, but without the Apocrypha, is because of Jerome’s decision? Right there, a lot of rope for you to get lots of pro-Romanist apology out of me, a fierce Prot. You could get me to defend why I use the LXX, not the Masoretic, yet, as a Prot, I am from a Masoretic background. Then you could get a much more refined view of what—as I would insist—a sound Christian scripturology looks like. The reason you have stopped just short of wanting to prove your axioms (such as saying you test scripture because that same scripture says “test all things”) is because you treat scripture the same way many have been wrongly taught to. You have to understand that, because this is really far out of your league, you may have to stop the reflexive positions and perhaps listen to a more-nuanced position. Clearly a Prot of this type would have more to say than the canned responses.

By the way, [interlocutor], I refrain from calling anyone names, even when I disagree. You are not a “spin artist” or “sophist”; just wrong.

Find a justification for those labels you gave me, and I will wear them before you with pride (for they will be my position).
You say that I am, because I don’t expect to prove my axioms. Is that the reason?