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Is the 'Apocrypha' really canonical for Orthodox?


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#1 Jose Lauro Strapasson

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 03:49 AM

Hi all

I saw there was an old topic about "Apocrypha", but I think it was not about exactly I want to know.

In this page
http://www.fatheralexander.org

in found this article

http://www.fatherale...dogmatica_p.htm

It is in portuguese and is a translation from Father Michael Pomazansky (1888—1988).

It says that (Eastern) Orthodox Church only have 38 books in the Old Testament and some 'non-canonical' books know as apocrypha are included together with the canonical books just because they are usefull, good, etc...

It this correct? Or are this book real canonic inspirated by God, inerrant, as any other book of the old and the new testament?

Thank you.

#2 John Charmley

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 10:56 AM

Dear JoseLauro,

I have always been taught that what you have written is the case.

Canon comes from the Greek Kanon which is a measuring rod, and the early Church had its ways of assessing whether or not a book 'measured up'. Broadly speaking the question was 'by what authority?' The Jews accepted the words of the prophets were the word of God, and some books, such as those by Moses, were always accepted. The book of Esther, by contrast, was not accepted for a long time because it did not talk about God, but it was eventually accepted that it showed the workings of God's providence.

Books accepted as by prophets, or Apostles, were accepted from early on, and Paul's letters, for example, were accepted for the reasons given in 1 Galatians 1, and 2 Peter 3:16. 2 Peter itself was disputed for some time because of its obvious stylistic differences from 1 Peter, but it too was eventually accepted as canonical.

Revelations and 3 John were only commonly known in some parts of the Christian world, and again took a great deal of time before they were accepted everywhere; but the consensus of the faithful made them, too, canonical. 'The Shepherd of Hermas' was accepted in some parts of the Christian world for a long time, but in the end the consensus of the faithful was against it, it seemed to have no apostolic authorship or claim to such.

The Septuagint, dating from c. 250 B.C. contains 15 books (4 of which are combined with canonical OT books, making 11 more in RC texts) which are not in Protestant OTs, but which were accepted by Fathers such as Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria as well as by St. Augustine. The RC's formally recognised them as canonical at the Council of Trent in 1546. It might be noted in passing that Christ never quotes from these books, despite his immense knowledge of the Jewish scriptures.

I will leave it to the Orthodox scholars here to comment further, but this helps, I hope.


in Christ,

John

#3 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 02:56 PM

Hi all

I saw there was an old topic about "Apocrypha", but I think it was not about exactly I want to know.

In this page
http://www.fatheralexander.org

in found this article

http://www.fatherale...dogmatica_p.htm

It is in portuguese and is a translation from Father Michael Pomazansky (1888—1988).

It says that (Eastern) Orthodox Church only have 38 books in the Old Testament and some 'non-canonical' books know as apocrypha are included together with the canonical books just because they are usefull, good, etc...

It this correct? Or are this book real canonic inspirated by God, inerrant, as any other book of the old and the new testament?

Thank you.


Yes this is so. For example the Russian edition of the Old Testament published by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2000 includes among the other books the following books marked with stars: 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Letter of Jeremiah, Baruch, 3 books of the Maccabees and 3 Esdras.

These books are seen as being edifying but not of the authority of the other Old Testament books. The Russian bible refers to these books as non-canonical but this really means extra-canonical with 'canonical' books meaning the canon or regularly accepted list of books included in the Bible. Non-canonical in this case doesn't mean not legitimate.

Over the centuries and in different places there have been quite different lists of what were included among the edifying but not canonical books. In ancient times even Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians or The Shepherd of Hermas could be included as edifying reading.

Recall also that it was quite awhile before what we call the Bible appeared. At first individual Old Testament books, Gospels and epistles circulated through the Church as separate manuscripts. In this environment it is easy to see how different books could circulate whose authority the Church might question later on.

Especially after the rise of the gnostic heresies which mis-used these books, the Church gradually began compiling lists of canonical books. This effort is the precursor of our present bibles. I am completely unsure however of when bibles as we know them - complete volumes containing different scriptural books first appear in the Church.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#4 Scott Pierson

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Posted 23 December 2006 - 03:38 PM

I've read in a few protestant works that the Jewish people never accepted any of the deutrocanonical books as sacred but I dont think that is true because I've seen Jewish writtings that discuss and explain the Wisdom of Solomon and other books as well. I think they were later rejected by the Jews because of their use by Christians but prior to that some of the Jews did consider them to be scripture. Why would the Rabbis who translated the Septuagint add them if they thought they were not scripture ?

#5 Jose Lauro Strapasson

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 09:22 PM

Thank you all!:) Especially father Raphael.

So, is Timothy Ware book wrong in calling this books "deutero-canonical" as roman catholic like use?

#6 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 10:24 PM

Thank you all!:) Especially father Raphael.

So, is Timothy Ware book wrong in calling this books "deutero-canonical" as roman catholic like use?



No- deutero-canonical would be another way to put it.

The main point is that there are books outside the established canon of Scripture also read by the Church for their edifying content.

These books are often called deutero-canonical or even non-canonical (this is how the Russian Patriarchal Bible refers to them). Of course though we have to be careful that by this we don't mean these deutero-canonical books are illegitimate. We just mean they are literally outside the established canon of Scripture.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#7 Peter Farrington

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 11:19 PM

And deutero-canonical is a good word to use because it means, essentially, 'second list'.

So the deutero-canonical books are the second list of books we read. They are not the primary list of books but they are also listed by the church and accounted worth reading.

Peter

#8 Jose Lauro Strapasson

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 02:51 PM

Thank you again.

But this books are inspirated by God? And inerrant?
And how is this in greek bibles?

José Lauro.

#9 Peter Farrington

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 03:11 PM

All good is inspired by God. The writings of the Fathers are inspired by God, the advice of your priest in confession is inspired by God.

What varies is the level of authority that each is considered to have by the Church.

The primary canon is especially inspired and is foundational for the life of the Church and for all Christians in all places.

The deutero-canon is useful for teaching and contains much of value but is not considered to be so foundational - though a Christian should not discount or ignore it.

Likewise the writings of the Fathers are useful and necessary, but there may be differences of opinion within the Fathers on some things and so no one Father is given an authority such as the primary canon is. The writings of the Fathers are understood and weighed and used within the Church, by the Church. But again just as the writings of St Cyril are not the Bible, they have an appropriate authority because they are in accord with the primary canon. No Father could say something authoritative that is against the Bible for instance.

Then we have the advice of our Fathers in confession. This is authoritative for us, but it must also be in accord with the teachings of the Fathers and with the Bible, and it is in a sense non-transferable. What is given to me as advice is not the same as that which might be given to another, but both pieces of advice have personal authority as they are rooted in the life of the Church, which is again rooted in the primary canon of Scripture.

So I am trying to say that there is a continuum of authority of teaching in the Church, and it is not black and white, it is not inspired or not inspired. Even a non-Christian can be inspired of God to speak a word to a Christian, even Balaam's ***!

What is different is the scope and the authority of each source of teaching. As long as we use each source in accordance with the measure of authority the Church has given it - so the primary canon is universally necessary, the deutero-canon is useful for instruction but is not independently used to provide a source of doctrine.

Peter

#10 Nicolaj

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 06:48 PM

Dear brethren,

In the Bible of the russian orthodox church we have the old and new testament. This is an word of greek origin meaning agreement(law) or covenant. It describes the covenant which God makes with all people by his Sohn Jesus Christ. Every Testament containes an amount of books, these are the Canon, they are recognized by the church as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Canon is also of greek origin and meaning norm or rule. The orthodox Bible has in the old Testament 39 canonical and 11 deutero-canonical books. These deutero-canonical books found a place in the Bible while the Fathers recognized them as edification worthy.

Reading the Bible is very inspiring for our life. As I became an orthodox christian and talking to my spiritual father asking what to read as first he told me to read the Gospel. I was upset as I have read it my life in the other churches I have been. But reading it in an orthodox way it became a total new meaning for me and my life.
Having love to the Bible is having love to God. And love helps you to understand were intellect doesn't understand. So knowing the Bible is the key to know and love God and his Church.

#11 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 28 December 2006 - 11:20 PM

Dear friends,

There have been some very interesting posts in this thread on the nature of the books of the Old Testament, including those often called 'apocrypha'. Just a few further thoughts:

However one wishes to define the 'situation' of these books in terms of their weight and authority in relation to the other books of the Old Testament (and there is no uniform response to such a question in the Church), on a purely practical level I tend to find it best to encourage people to read them all on equal footing. Especially in the modern day, with its tendency to categorise, rank, itemise, valuate and judge written material on various levels of judgement, it seems best simply to approach the texts the Church has set before its people -- plainly and without any attempt at pre-determining levels of influence, meaning, etc.

There are aspects of Orthodox theology and praxis which make no sense without the writings of the so-called 'apocryphal' books.

INXC, Matthew

#12 Christophoros

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Posted 23 July 2007 - 10:09 PM

Here is a fascinating article entitled "Old Testament and Canon and Text in the Greek-speaking Orthodox Church," by Miltiadis Konstantinou of the University of Thessaloniki, which might answer some questions regarding the Anaginoskomena ("readables"), otherwise known as the "Apocrypha" or the "Deuterocanonicals."

http://users.auth.gr/~mkon/S065.doc

In Christ,
Christopher

#13 Theopesta

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 01:00 PM

Dear all,
I do not know Is this every thing in this topic??
I have read them several times, I like and appreciate them; but why St.Athanasius did not put them in between the canonical old testament??

After him who decided they are canonical or not??
Do please, Dr. Matthew, Might you write more about your comment???
With all respect,
In One Christ

#14 Kosta

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 08:41 PM

The book of Revelation is a deutero canonical book in every sense of tne word. Canonical books are those officially read during the liturgical cycle of services in the calendar year. The book of Baruch is listed as canonical in every list because its read during Christmas. Every other scripture which is still worthy to be read apart from liturgy and sanctioned by the Church as such is the second tier of books known as deuterocanonical. Apocrypha are the rejected books.




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