Thankfully Marie took the time to go through my initial blog. Unfortunately, she starts by claiming that I said something I didn’t say. Specifically:

“that the apocryphal books ‘were continuously accepted and ratified by all Christian until the 16th century’”.

No. That’s not what I said. I find it interesting that Marie can post replies that are thousands of words long, containing the exact statements made by numerous anti-Catholics, but she can’t seem to cut and paste one of my sentences without altering what I actually wrote.  

Take for instance my first post on this issue. It is one. very short paragraph yet Marie can’t even quote from that accurately. Generally speaking, when someone continually mischaracterizes my printed words and then goes about trying to prove their point… They are not even addressing my words and even with that, they often fail to argue persuasively. What does this say about Marie’s argument? I’ll let you be the judge. 

In the present case, Marie continues to rely on her flawed sources and reasoning to support her arguments. You would think that a person who creates their own issue and then argues against that issue, would be able to do so effectively. Oh well. Let’s look at round two.

First: My actual statement was this: “Those 73 books were continuously accepted and ratified by all Christian until the 16th century.”

The 73 book canon, which was accepted a numerous Church Councils that took place long before Trent, included the Deuterocanonical books (which Marie calls the “Apocrypha”), but my post was much broader than simply focusing on the books that Luther later tried to remove from the canon. My post points out that the Christian Bible has always consisted of 73 books and it still does today. Luther’s abridged version of the Bible carried some sway for some time in Protestant circles, but now we are even seeing Protestant Bibles that contain the full 73 books. We know why Luther needed to remove books from the Bible and I know why Marie wants to try and turn this debate into a debate about the Deuterocanonical books. But the Deuterocanon wasn’t the point of Mike’s post and it wasn’t the point of my reply to Mike’s post. Marie’s efforts actually support my original reply, which is nice to see, even if it escapes her understanding.

Marie continues:

“I suppose, then, that the following are not considered by you to have been Christian: Jerome, Melito of Sardis, Epiphanius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzen, Hilary of Poitiers, Athanasius, Rufinius, POPE Gregory the Great, Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, Anastasius, Leontius, John Damascene, all the leading fathers of the Greek Church (for example, Anastasius, the patriarch of Antioch (560 AD); Leontius of Byzantium (580 AD); and John of Damascus who wrote two centuries later), Cardinal Cajetan, the great opponent of Luther in the 16th century; Cardinal Ximenes, the Archbishop of Toledo; and many, many others.”

Actually, most of these if not all of these people were not only Christian, they were Catholic. Of course, the only Church that existed before Luther was the Catholic Church, so that’s a pretty simple conclusion.

“All of these rejected the apocryphal books as canonical in the strict sense. They included them for the purpose of ecclesiastical reading and even circulated them with the Scriptures, but did not consider them inspired by God.”

Marie uses an unnecessarily strong statement that oversteps the facts. This is a common practice people make when they are arguing from a weak position (a position that lacks facts to support it). When a person argues with words such as, “it is clear”, you can start your analysis with the presumption that it is not clear. When they argue that “there is no doubt”, you can presume there is some doubt, maybe even a lot of doubt. When they say it “is manifestly untrue”, you can start with the presumption that it is probably true. Therefore, when Marie says the above noted Christians “rejected” the Deuterocanonical books, you should leave yourself  open to the possibility (if not the likelihood) that the above noted Christians did not “reject” the Deuterocanonical books.

“Because the canons approved at Hippo and Carthage were not binding on the Church, the “church” (made up of the majority of theologians, bishops and cardinals all the way up to the Reformation) most certainly expressed their opinions to follow Jerome and reject the apocrypha.”

Most certainly? Another overly aggressive statement that likely betrays the weakness of the argument. Also, Marie’s definition of the “church” is not accurate. The Church is the body of Christ, which includes all the baptized, not just theologians, bishops and cardinals. 

In any event, her argument here is disproven by the fact that the Deuterocanonical books are included in all the Bibles produced prior to the 16th century. They are also listed in the canon in all Church documents that address the canon of the Bible.

“And, Jerome never changed his mind. He continued to write commentaries on the OT books until his death. In his work, “Against Rufinus”, written in AD 401-402, he reiterated and defended his earlier position on the Apocrypha.”

Actually, Jerome was initially reluctant to include the Deuterocanonical books in the canon (previously listed by Origen) because he was deferring to the Jews he knew and they (at least some of them) did not consider the Deuterocanonical books to be inspired Scripture. As we know, he was obedient to the Church and included them in the Vulgate. Then, as he continued his study, he came to accept them without reservation. Keep in mind that my original reply to Mike’s post cites Origen as laying out the 46 book Old Testament and Jerome as the first to set forth the 27 book New Testament. This is a point apparently lost on Marie. Because of Marie’s misunderstanding, she generally cites Against Rufinus in her argument.

It is best to look at what St. Jerome actually said. In Against Rufinus (Book II, para 33), St. Jerome wrote: “In reference to Daniel my answer will be that I did not say that he was not a prophet; on the contrary, I confessed in the very beginning of the Preface that he was a prophet. But I wished to show what was the opinion upheld by the Jews; and what were the arguments on which they relied for its proof. I also told the reader that the version read in the Christian churches was not that of the Septuagint translators but that of Theodotion. It is true, I said that the Septuagint version was in this book very different from the original, and that it was condemned by the right judgment of the churches of Christ; but the fault was not mine who only stated the fact, but that of those who read the version. We have four versions to choose from: those of Aquila, Symmachus, the Seventy, and Theodotion. The churches choose to read Daniel in the version of Theodotion. What sin have I committed in following the judgment of the churches? But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children, and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible, the man who makes this a charge against me proves himself to be a fool and a slanderer; for I explained not what I thought but what they commonly say against us. I did not reply to their opinion in the Preface, because I was studying brevity, and feared that I should seem to be writing not a Preface but a book. I said therefore, As to which this is not the time to enter into discussion. Otherwise from the fact that I stated that Porphyry had said many things against this prophet, and called, as witnesses of this, Methodius, Eusebius, and Apollinarius, who have replied to his folly in many thousand lines, it will be in his power to accuse me for not having written in my Preface against the books of Porphyry. If there is any one who pays attention to silly things like this, I must tell him loudly and freely that no one is compelled to read what he does not want; that I wrote for those who asked me, not for those who would scorn me, for the grateful not the carping, for the earnest not the indifferent. Still, I wonder that a man should read the version of Theodotion the heretic and judaizer, and should scorn that of a Christian, simple and sinful though he may be.” See Against Rufinus

I think it is good to see what St. Jerome actually wrote because it not only shows the context, it shows his actual words. I underlined the portions of the text which most clearly define the context of what St. Jerome was saying. When he was saying that some of the Deuterocanonical books were not properly included in the canon, he was simply sharing the opinion of the Jews, not the Chrisitans.

On top of this mischaracterization of St. Jerome’s explanation, Maria skips over the fact that Origen is the one who first defined the 46 book Old Testament canon of the Christian Bible, not Athanasius, not Jerome, not St. Augustine and most certainly not people from a non-Christian religion. 

Marie continues:

“You said, ‘I also know of no Bible prior to Luther, which contained any canon different than the canon first set forth by Athanasius’ and ‘You simply fail to recognize that Trent ratified Athanasius and every Council after Athanasius, which considered the canon’. Wow, Bob. Really? Trent ratified Athanasius? I suppose then, that Trent ratified a canon that did not include the apocryphal books! Good grief!”

Marie creates her own illusion here. She imagines that Athanasius did not consider the Deuterocanonical books proper for the canon so she can then use this mischaracterization to argue it away. However, reality is not subject to wishes and desires. Reality is, well… real. And the reality is, Athanasius’ list included the Deuterocanonical books.

So in Marie’s response above, she mischaracterizes what St. Athanasius wrote and what I wrote. I guess I like my company though, so that’s a good thing. Also keep in mind that Athanasius’ contribution to the canon is the 27 book New Testament. His listing of the Old Testament books is also very similar to Origen’s, but it appears that he wrote about it in such a way that some people choose to deny his acceptance of the full 73 books. This isn’t a big deal to me, since he certainly accepted more than the 66 books later chosen by Martin Luther. The Church Councils take care of the rest.

Marie also sidesteps my point. All Bibles produced prior to the 1500’s, included the Deuterocanonical books right along with all the rest of the 66 books that the Protestants decided on in the 1500’s.

Athanasius said, “There are, then, of the Old Testament, TWENTY-TWO BOOKS IN NUMBER; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; in their respective order and names being as follows…” (NPNF2, Vol. 4, Athanasius Letter 39.2-7). Moreover, Athanasius omitted Esther from his canon. He did include Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah as additions to canonical Jeremiah. Despite these additions to the canonical works, however, Athanasius believed that these 22 books ALONE were the divinely inspired OT Scriptures from which the Church was to draw her doctrine of salvation. (Note: The difference in the 39 books in Protestant Bibles and the 22 original books is attributed to the fact that some books which are grouped together in the Hebrew canon were separated later. For example, the 12 minor prophets were originally considered to be one book.)”

Actually, Marie misinterprets Athanasius’ words. First, when Athanasius spoke of the Old Testament books, he specifically qualified his statement as follows: “for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews.” Marie includes this phrase in her argument, but then she skips over considering what it actually means. What Athanasius is saying is that he was informed of this canon by the Jews he knew (sounds like St. Jerome’s initial disussion too, doesn’t it?). He’s not saying the Old Testament canon was 22 books or even 40 books. This is important, because as a Catholic, the opinions of the Jews was considered, but not definitive.

Athanasius goes on to identify certain books that he called “apocryphal”. However, he does not list any of the Deuterocanonical books as apocryphal. Then he goes on to list Deuterocanonical books and says they are “appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd.” So not only does he include one of the Deuterocanonical books (Baruch as well as the remaining part of Esther rejected by Luther) in the canon used by the Jews he consulted, he differentiates between apocryphal books and books for instruction in the word of Godliness.

And to wrap up the debate on Athanasius’ role in this, he wasn’t declaring the canon of Scripture for the Catholic Church (he did not have that authority), but the N.T. canon he did lay out in 367 A.D. was the canon which was adopted over and over again throughout the Church history that followed him and his O.T. canon was influential to all Christians, including Protestants. Origen’s O.T. canon is the canon that all Catholics have always accepted and all Christians were Catholic until Luther came along. My initial post on the issue specifically credits Athanasius as the first to set out the 27 book New Testament canon, not the 46 book Old Testament canon. Marie is arguing against herself.

“Also, regarding the 22 OT books Athanasius listed, he gave this command: ‘Let no man add to these’”.

Oh Marie. You didn’t need to reach for this one. But as is the case with many of your arguments that seem to have some basis in truth, context matters. Your selected quote from Athanasius is contained in a paragraph that discusses the New Testament, not the Old Testament. Since the Protestants have always agreed (after much internal squabbling) that the Catholic canon of the New Testament is  and has always been correct, there is no need to open up this can of worms. But since you have, I wonder if you are familiar with Luther’s desire to remove several of the New Testament books. If he had, he would have run afoul of Athanasius’ command, “neither let him take ought from these.” But Luther did, in fact, do just that with the Old Testament books. Did Luther remove Revelation 22:19 from your Bible?

“If you really want to follow Athanasius, Bob, you will need to reject the apocryphal books. To state that the Church has “never wavered” from the “73 books” that Athanasius listed is manifestly untrue.”

Did I say that Athanasius listed the 73 books infallibly declared the canon at Trent? Marie has mischaracterized my words, which shows her lack of confidence in her argument. My exact words were: “The Church has never wavered on the 73 books since Athanasius listed what he considered to be the correct canon…”. Did Marie fail to catch my distinction or is she trying to reframe the argument to make me sound like I believe Athanasius listed all 46 books of the O.T. Therefore, I want to make it clear that it was Origen who listed the O.T. canon and Athanasius who was the first one to list the 27 N.T. canon. After that, the Church Councils took it up and consistently adopted the 73 book canon thereafter.

Nonetheless, maybe Marie knows of a stockpile of secret “66 book” Catholic Bibles somewhere in the world.

Marie is a living example as to why the Catholic Church had to protect the Bible for all these years. People come up with very strong and highly distorted opinions as to what is true and what isn’t. There were a lot of heretics and false prophets over the centuries (including still today) who were trying to publish all kinds of fictitious stuff, including very flawed versions of the Bible. This is even more reason to thank the Church for its veneration of the Word over the centuries and to appreciate the fact that the Scripture we have today is so accurate and dependable.

“You said, ‘First, Gregory likely wrote this before he was elected Bishop of Rome.’ Nope. Gregory the Great was pope from 590 to 604 A.D. Roman Catholic patristics scholar, William Jurgens, gives the following background to Gregory’s commentary:

When Gregory, while Apocrisarius in Constantinople, met Bishop Leander of Seville about the year 578, Leander asked him to write a commentary on the Book of Job. Gregory’s response was his Moralia or Moralium libri or Expositio in librum Iob, at which he worked intermittently for many years, finally completing the work in thirty-five books about the year 595 A.D. The Moral Teachings is devoted mostly to discussions of questions in moral theology and of practical applications of Gregory’s solutions. In a sense it may be regarded as the first manual of moral and ascetic theology (William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville: Liturgical, 1979), Volume III, p. 313).

Marie may not realize this, but she just supported my statement. To believe her is to believe that Gregory worked on his multi-volume set over the course of 17 years, but somehow completed the first part of his multi-volume set at the end of that 17 year period, which were his first 5 very hectic years as the leader of the Universal Church. But I think we can all agree that Marie is not logical if she wishes to believe this.

I think we can all agree that Gregory likely had most or all of his writing done prior to being elected pope. He had 12 years to write most or all of his 35 books prior to being elevated to Bishop of Rome (Pope). After another 5 years as pope, he finally published his writings. The section Marie quotes is near the middle of all the books, and therefore, was likely written in about 587 (possibly three years before he was elected pope).

Further, your claim was that the apocryphal books “were continuously accepted and ratified by all Christian until the 16th century”. Are you suggesting the Pope Gregory the Great was not a Christian? I don’t believe you are; therefore, your claim is false.

Marie cannot seem to accept my words as written. I never said that each individual Christian accepted all 73 books at all times and in all circumstances after 367 A.D. I said, “Those 73 books were continuously accepted and ratified by all Christian until the 16th century.” (See Mt 16:18-19, Mt 28:18-20, Jn 20:21 and Lk 10:16 among many more passage to help you see what I’m talking about)

All Christians did accept the 73 book canon because it was the canon of the Church (the only Church that existed) and the only canon known to man until the 16th century. There were some individuals who hesitated, doubted, questioned, etc…, but at the end of the day, St. Athanasius, St. Jerome, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John Chrysostom, St.  John Damascene, etc… pledged their obedience to Jesus Christ and His Church, they accepted the Bible that was compiled, protected, distributed and preached by the Church. And at all times before the 16th century, and that was a 73 book Bible. Then at Trent, it was infallibly declared to be the canon. The Church’s infallible declaration followed the historical teaching and understanding of the Church up to that point.

“Even if Gregory hadn’t been writing as pope, he still cannot be included as “continuously accepting and ratifying”. I assume you would agree that prior to his becoming pope, he was still Catholic.”

Gregory was Catholic (and therefore Christian) at all times as far as I know. One of many distinctions that seems to evade Marie is that I never said, each and every Christian accepted the 73 book canon at all times. I said, “Those 73 books were continuously accepted and ratified by all Christian until the 16th century.” Just go back and reread my previous paragraph explaining this.

“You said, ‘After he was elected Bishop, he did not have the books removed, which he could have tried to do and he may have been successful if only for a time.’ He didn’t have to have the books “removed” because they had never been officially added in the first place. They were circulated with the inspired Scripture but not considered canonical in the strict sense.”

If you wish to make your point on this, point to the writings of any Church Council or pope which says something to the effect that the Deuterocanonical books are to be rejected because they teach error are otherwise flawed, are not inspired, are heretical, etc… Statements like this are common in Church history as this is how the Church deals with error, heresy, flawed theology, etc…

That is what you need in order to win this point. But such statements do not exist with regard to the Deuterocanonical books. Instead, the Church Fathers you cite refer to the Hebrew canon of the OT or they talk about the canon that the Jews followed at the time. This isn’t saying anything about the Christian canon.

“Regarding the hesitation on the part of the Latin Church, you said, ‘Hesitation is not rejection and the full paragraph that contains that partial quote shows that the Church did accept and use the Deuterocanonicals.’ I never claimed that the church didn’t accept and use the apocryphal books. Please read my prior posts.”

Oh, I have. Believe me. However, to be fair, large portions of your prior posts contain verbatim quotes from professional Protestant apologists, often without you giving credit to them. So in reality, much of what you have written is someone else’s argument. But I digress…

“The majority of the church considered them good ecclesiastical reading but not inspired Scripture.”

It would be more accurate to say, “The vast majority …”, and that they agred they belonged in the canon.

“However, if they “continuously accepted and ratified” the books, they wouldn’t have been “hesitant” on their character. Obviously they were not convinced the books were inspired by God. This shows further evidence AGAINST “continuous” acceptance and ratification.”

The continuous acceptance and ratification means something other than “instant, universal and at all times”. Otherwise I would have said something like, “never did a Christian exist, who questioned, even for a moment, the 73 book canon…until Martin Luther came along”. What my actual statement means is that when the canon was considered by Councils and popes including while seated and teaching infallibly in the See of Peter, they have always declared the 73 book canon. Catholics are free to form our own opinion on matters of faith that have not been definitively settled by the magisterium (which are few and were even fewer back in the Middle Ages and earlier), but when we profess our faith, we profess that all the Church teaches as true, is true. And when the Council of Trent settled the canon once and for all in the 16th century, the question was closed. Those who disagreed wandered off with Luther. They then continued to wander off from each other until thousands upon thousands of denominations populated the earth, all of them claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it interesting that the one Holy Spirit has thousands of different and often conflicting messages to all these different denominations?

Puzzler

Now that is a puzzling question, isn’t it?

“You said, ‘Take for instance the Glossa’s Prologue (by St. Jerome) to Judith…’. I’m not sure how Jerome (who died in the 5th century) could have written a prologue to the Glossa Ordinaria, the earliest of which was from around the 12th century. He did write a prologue to Judith, and this is probably what you are referring to.”

In the Glossa Ordinaria, there is a prologue to Judith, written by St. Jerome. I read and referenced that very prologue and it does not say what Marie has been told it says. (Cutting and pasting from untrustworthy secondary sources is very troublesome that way.) I suggest that Marie looks up St. Jerome’s prologue. She can read the actual original source instead of reading what someone wrote about it (mischaracterizing it as they did). The original has been translated into English and is very easy to access and read.

“Jerome, however was clear in his writings that the book of Judith was among the apocrypha. You can find references to that in numerous places. You can find a reference to the apocryphal books as ‘not in the canon’ per the Glossa Ordinaria here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/alexander_a/canon.iii.v.html

I appreciate the opportunity to chase another dubious secondary source. But I’ll go with the actual translation of Jerome’s prologue so as not to allow anti-Catholic bias to creep in as it inevitably attempts to do in such biased publications. If you want to know what Jerome wrote, go to the document Jerome wrote, not an article or book containing a person’s opinion about what Jerome wrote. 

“You said, ‘I never said that the canon was infallibly declared in the 4th century’. No, but you did say ‘ALL CHRISTIANS’. How else can you get ‘all Christians’ without an infallible declaration? In any event, your original statement has obviously been proven false. Nearly ‘all Christians’ followed the judgment of Jerome and rejected the apocryphal books.”

I have already explained this statement above, so no need to do that again here. Marie can ask for clarifications if she doesn’t grasp the information provided.

“Regarding the work of Cardinal Ximenes, you said, ‘Actually, it appears that you have been severely misled.’ Nope. The same reference is found in different places. This link shows one written by B.F. Wescott: https://books.google.com/books?id=UtpUAAAAcAAJ… (and then click the link for p. 249)  To see the quote of Cardinal Cajetan, use this link: https://books.google.com/books?id=WK7yPBiP1GcC… And then click on the link for p. 48. The entire quote is there. It is also quoted here, along with information about Cardinal Ximenes separating the apocryphal books: https://books.google.com/books?id=VYArAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA321…”

Marie has uncovered more secondary sources that propose their “representation” of another document, but she fails to provide the actual translation of the original. It is always wise to go to the original document (or accurate translation thereof) so you can make sure it has been quoted accurately and so you can read the context. Maybe Marie can give this another shot, but I’m not going to waste my time on second, third, etc… repackaged Protestant interpretations of Catholic writings and teachings.

“You said, ‘Can you cite your sources for this broad conclusion? I see saints, popes, Councils and theologians who accepted the 73 books eventually declared (infallibly) at Trent.’ See the CCEL link provided above. Why don’t you start your list of sources by naming the OT books that Athanasius included?”

Athanasius is important in defining the canon, there is no argument there. However, Athanasius was essential in providing the 27 books of the New Testament (as I stated in my original post). It was Origen who had set forth the 46 books of the Old Testament in about 250 A.D. , which seems to be the burr under Marie’s saddle.

“You said, ‘Can you point out a heresy contained in the Deuterocanonicals? Please do the same on any historical inaccuracies that you would like to discuss. I’ll look them up and respond.’ I’ll give you one of each to start. Historical error: Judith mistakenly identifies Nebuchadnezzar as king of the Assyrians (Judith 1:1, 7) when in fact he was the king of Babylon (II Kings 24:1). Why do you believe the Holy Spirit would guide the author of the book of Judith into recording such an obvious error? The Catholic answer to this? ‘Judith isn’t history; it’s a parable!’ Wow. Even so, why would anyone include historical stupidities in a parable?”

Marie offers what she considers “the Catholic Answer”, but actually, it is simply the correct answer. Is the Bible a historical book? No. Genesis is certainly not written to convey accurate history or science. While many of the books in the canon (both the full canon and the abridged Protestant version) can be used to understand and learn about history, many of the books are written in different genres. Some are poetry, some are apocalyptic, some are historical and others are legal, narratives, etc… And over and over again, the Bible includes stories, verses and phrases that have many different meanings and interpretations based on (among others) the style of the writing, the circumstances of the subject, the circumstances of the writer and the applicability to our lives today. Just as we do not reject other books based on apparent or perceived contradiction, we do not reject Judith based on this one interesting sentence. The sentence may simply be alerting us to the fact that we are not supposed to consider this a historical book.

“Heresy: Tobit 12:9 states that ‘alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin.’ The truly inspired Scriptures, however, state that ‘the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7) and that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22).

Marie overlooks the fact that Tobit was written prior to Christ’s passion. If she rejects Tobit because it does not identify Christ’s death on the Cross as the Salvific act for all mankind, she has to reject Luther’s abridged canon as well. Maybe she has already done that but I hope not. Can someone call Marie and tell her that Tobit is in the Old Testament?

“Obviously, you will not find the blood of Jesus Christ in alms giving. In fact, there is no blood of any kind shed via alms giving. How can alms, then, ‘purge away all sin’? It cannot. Heresy.”

I wonder if Marie considers Jesus Christ to be a heretic. After all, Christ taught: “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Mt 19:21)

You said, ‘Prior to Luther, there was only one Christianity and it was Catholicism. Now we have thousands and thousands of Christian denominations, but no other Christian faith existed prior to Luther, except for the Catholic Church.’ LOL! Nice try, Bob. If the modern RCC was even remotely similar to the first century church of the apostles, an inspired history of which is provided to us in the book of Acts, you might have a point. Modern Rome, however, is a far cry from the true Church of antiquity.”

Says the one who cuts and pastes from Protestant sources to argue Catholic teachings… I suggest a more thorough reading of the Church Fathers that does not ignore St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin Martyr and all the other early Christians who show us that the early Church is strikingly similar to today’s Catholic Liturgy. Oh, and don’t forget the Didache, the valuable document which was likely written by and used by the apostles, was not even rediscovered until 1873. Until then, it was known to exist only because it was referenced in other Christian documents that were known and used by the Church. How about Marie’s method of practicing her faith? Is her “way” at all similar to that of the early Christians? If it is, she would be baptized in water and the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5), “assemble” with other Christians on Sunday (Heb 10:25), eat of the bread and drink the cup of the Lord at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23-28). Of course there is a lot more to it than this, but I wonder if Marie even observes these very basic practices. These are set out in Scripture and the Catholic Church has remained true to them, even in antiquity.

“You said, ‘Romans 3:2 is not persuasive on the Christian canon.’ It certainly is. The OT canon was entrusted by God to the Jews (Rom. 3:2); it is the Hebrew canon that we are therefore to accept as divinely inspired. The Hebrew canon was closed before the birth of Christ. The Church in the New Testament has no business adding to the canon of the Old Covenant Scriptures received by the Jews.”

The Catholic Church did not add anything to the OT canon. It has merely recognized the canon that was also recognized by many (but not all) Jews. In fact, if you want to select only those books recognized by the Jews, you will have a hard time deciding which Jews you want to follow. The Pharisees and Sadducees did not agree on their canon. Other Jews from other regions had different canons from the Jews in Jerusalem, etc… I know of some people today who consider themselves Christian, who only accept the Pentateuch as the inspired word of God (for purposes of the Old Testament. I think they accept all 27 books of the New Testament). So to claim that “The Hebrew canon was closed before the birth of Christ”, is to spew fiction as though it is truth. Naughty, naughty, Marie.

You said, ‘I think it is also very important, if not most important, to consider which OT canon Jesus and the apostles used. As I’ve said before, they used the Septuagint which includes the Deuterocanonical books. If it was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me.’ Jesus didn’t “use” a Bible, Bob. Jesus Christ WAS the Word! And I agree that we should use the OT Scriptures quoted by Jesus, which was the Hebrew canon that excluded the apocrypha (Luke 24:44).”

I’m not sure why Marie finds it necessary to misquote me. I suppose it gives her the feeling that she has caught me in a misstatement. But to be clear, I didn’t say Jesus used a Bible. What I actually said was important “to consider which OT canon Jesus and the apostles used.” 

As we all know, Jesus and the apostles did not have a New Testament at their disposal because the New Testament was just being written near the end of the apostolic era.

But we also know that when Jesus and the apostles referenced scripture, they commonly, if not overwhelmingly referenced from the Septuagint, which included the Deuterocanonical books. Instead of cutting and pasting from other sources, I’ll just point you to a recent article from Jimmy Akin again.

“Further, I have stated previously that it cannot be demonstrated from history that the original Septuagint included the apocryphal books. The use of the Septuagint made by scribes in the 4th century has no bearing whatsoever on what the original Septuagint might have included.”

Even Protestant preachers and Protestant Bible historians agree that the Deuterocanonical books were in the Septuagint in apostolic times (meaning that Jesus and His disciples accepted them because they used the Septuagint).  One example of a non-Catholic source is from Rev. Ken Collins

“We note, for instance, that Athanasius (c. 296-373), who was bishop of Alexandria (the city where the Septuagint was produced) did not include the Apocrypha as part of the OT canon.”

Actually “We” don’t note that. Maria does, but she only speaks for Maria. What I note is that Athanasius identified the Old Testament canon that was accepted by the Jews he knew. Athanasius did not declare what the Christian Old Testament canon was at the time. Origen had already set that out and all the Church Councils that followed, adopted Origen’s Old Testament canon and Athanasius’ New Testament Canon. It is worth repeating that Athanasius did include some Deuterocanonical content in his listing of the Old Testament books, so let us not forget that.  

“Cyril of Jerusalem, writing in the 4th century, catalogued the OT books which were canonical and which, he said, were translated by the Septuagint translators, and he also did not include the writings of the Apocrypha.”

This is not accurate. While Cyril did not appear to consider all of the Deuterocanonical books to be part of the Old Testament canon, he did include Baruch and in his writings, he references other Deuterocanonical books in order to teach the faith. We must also keep in mind that Trent took place about 1,200 years after Cyril of Jerusalem.

“This is seen also from the statements of Josephus who used the Septuagint but excluded the Apocryphal books from canonical status. Philo, who resided in Alexandria and used the Septuagint, did not cite the Apocrypha as canonical, but referred to a fourth class of books which were highly esteemed but not considered canonical.”

Both were Jewish. Since we are talking about the Christian Bible, we should stick to Christians or at least those ancient writers who commented on Christianity. I do conceeed, however, that Maria is an excellent resource on the Jewish canon. Well, at least one version of the Jewish canon.

“Moreover, the ancient manuscripts have no bearing upon what is ultimately canonical. Vaticanus, for example, does not include any of the Maccabean books. Sinaiticus included 4 Maccabees and Alexandrinus included 3 and 4 Maccabees.”

Maria confirms why the writings of Josephus and Philo are not strong arguments for her position.

“And since we know for certain that neither 3 nor 4 Maccabees is canonical, it is incorrect to imply that the ancient manuscripts offer any proof of canonicity.”

Hence the need for the Church Councils who met and defined the canon based on the entirety of Christian knowledge and tradition at the time.

“Finally, you said, ‘Actually, anathema is not a condemnation to hell. Anathema simply means that a person is not a member of the Catholic Church. It is certainly not a condemnation.’ Wrong: https://www.catholicculture.org/…/dictionary/index.cfm…  Also, per the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the formula for anathema ends with these words: ‘Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N– himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians, we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him CONDEMNED to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment.’ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01455e.htm  I would say that ‘CONDEMNED to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate’ is pretty clear. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Marie’s selected quote has a very Scriptural ring to it, doesn’t it? “… and as if present I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus,  you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.(1 Cor 5:4-5).

Anathema means to be separated from the Church, not that the Church has condemned a person to Hell. 

Also in Marie’s selected quote, the “so long as” really stands out. Marie doesn’t seem to notice the call to repentance at the end of the selected quote nor its similarity to Scripture. We all know that repentance is impossible once a soul is in Hell, so the condemnation is conditioned on whether or not the person repents. If he or she repents, he or she would be welcomed back into the Church. If he or she does not repent, well… they gamble with their own fate.

“Moreover, Pius IX would disagree with you: ‘Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is CONDEMNED by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.’ (Ineffabilis Deus)”

Marie overlooks the call to repentance again. She also overlooks the fact that it is the person who separates himself or herself from the Church. “Let him know and understand that he is condemned BY HIS OWN JUDGMENT.” See, I can use all caps too.

“I would also remind you that Rome teaches there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Removing a person from the church is therefore to condemn them to hell. There are no other options.”

Actually, that isn’t the teaching of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains the following on this issue under the heading, “Outside the Church there is no salvation”:

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.

Catholic apologist Jim Blackburn summarizes the teaching nicely: “God introduced salvation to the world through his chosen people, the Jews. God’s revelation to the Jews found its fulfillment in Christ, the Messiah, who established the Catholic Church. The grace necessary for salvation continues to come from Christ, through his Church. Those who innocently do not know and embrace this might still attain salvation but those who knowingly and willingly choose to reject it, reject salvation on God’s terms.”

The Church has all the means one needs in order to receive sanctifying grace. Therefore if someone within the Catholic Church follows Christ, he or she will naturally avail himself or herself of these means of grace, such as the sacraments, prayer, love of God, love of neighbor, guiding authority, popular piety, community, etc… But someone who is outside the Church may still love God above all else and love neighbor without ever receiving a sacrament (i.e. the Good Thief). It is much more difficult for the person outside of the Church to love God and neighbor because he or she is not receiving all the graces of the sacraments to strengthen him or her as time passes, but all things are possible with God, right?  

But back to the 73 book canon.

The funny thing about Maria’s argument is that she accepts 66 books of the Catholic canon without even stopping to consider the fact that she wouldn’t even have those 66 books if it were not for the Catholic Church. It was the Catholic monks who hand-copied the originals. It was the private Catholics as well as the monasteries who kept them hidden from pagan and Muslim raiders who sought to destroy them. It was Catholic priests and theologians who studied them and taught them. It was the Catholic pastors who read scripture to millions and millions of people who could not read it themselves because they were illiterate. And it was the Holy League, a Catholic military defense force, who repelled the Ottoman invasion of Europe in October, 1571. Had the Ottoman Empire won the Battle of Lepanto, Marie would be likely be reading a Qur’an right now instead of a Bible.

Of course, this was all 73 books over the centuries, but 66 of those are now used by a lot of Protestants who don’t realize that the Catholic Church is owed the credit for the existence of the Bible to this day.

So I say the Bible is 73 books, Marie says it is 66. But we all know it would be zero books if the Catholic Church had not declared it, protected it and distributed it.

So give the Catholic Church a little credit.