Friday, August 31, 2007

Catholic Authority: Superior to Scripture

"It is the Church, the holder of Tradition, that gives life to the dead letter of Scripture. Experience shows that it is only in the life of the Church, the Bride of Christ, that Scripture, divinely inspired as it is, becomes 'living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword' (Heb 4:12)"

"In regard to these truth [faith and morals] the authority of Tradition and of the Bible is equal...Nevertheless, as we shall see later, the Church is superior to the Bible in the sense that she is the Living Voice of Christ, and therefore the sole infallible interpreter of the inspired Word, whenever an authoritative interpretation is required."

-A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture, 1951 (pg 2)
with imprimatur and acknowledgment of Pope Pius XII

Catholic Quotes on the Bible

"Then there is Sacred Scripture, which is read every Sunday at Mass. It presents a good opportunity to apply these teachings from the Old and New Testaments to our daily lives, which in turn will help us to get to heaven. For many Catholics it is the only time during the week that they will hear the Word of God." -Father John Carl Lombardi

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Catholic Authority: Trumping Scripture

More from A Full Catechism of the Catholic Religion:

"What then must the Catholic Christian generally believe?

He must believe all that God has revealed and the Catholic Church proposes to his belief, whether it be contained in Holy Scripture or not."

"Is the Infallibility of the- Pope the same as the Infallibility of the Church?

Yes, precisely. The Pope is the Supreme Pastor and Teacher, whose voice all the faithful, clergy and laity, 'lambs and sheep,' are commanded by Christ to hear and to follow. If he could teach error ex cathedra, the Church would then follow him into error, and would thereby fail; and so the promises of Christ would be falsified, which is impossible."

"Application: In matters of faith never trust your own judgment, but always humbly submit to the decisions of Holy Church; for when you believe what the Church teaches, you believe the Word of God."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pope on Salvation

Salvation is open to all, but the way is not easy, pope says:

"Salvation through Christ is open to all, but the way is not easy because it requires a real commitment to love and justice, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope, speaking Aug. 26 to hundreds of pilgrims at his summer residence outside Rome, said that when Christ told his disciples the gate to heaven was narrow he did not mean it was for the privileged few. "Christ's message goes in the opposite direction: Everyone can enter into (eternal) life, but for everyone the gate is narrow ... because it requires commitment, renunciation and mortification of one's own egotism," the pope said. Christ made clear that people will ultimately be judged on the basis of their works in this world, he said. "The evildoers will find themselves excluded, while those who have done good and sought justice through sacrifice will be welcomed. It will not be enough to declare oneself a friend of Christ," the pope said."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catholic Authority: Follow the Leader

I enjoy reading older Catholic materials as they are less likely to water-down Catholic beliefs in the name of ecumenism. And since it is claimed that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church never change, looking to older material cannot be considered inaccurate today.

A Full Catechism of the Catholic Religion from 1889 states the following:

"Why are Protestants so much prejudiced against the Catholic Church, and why is it so difficult to convert them? It is because from infancy the minds of their children have been impressed with a false view of the History of their Religion—a Religion that dates only from the beginning of the sixteenth century. Why should not Catholics with equal, and even greater, effect confirm our children in their attachment to the Church, by showing them how to trace her to the times of the Apostles, and even to the Creation of the world? Is it not, then, of the greatest importance to teach them, together with their catechism, the History of their Religion? History is a safeguard against internal doubts, and a bulwark against all external attacks. He who has, by this means, been fully strengthened in his conviction that the Catholic Church is from God, and that she is the Only True Church, cannot but love her and submit his intellect to her doctrine and his heart to her precepts, and thus remain all his lifetime faithful to her.

After this proof from History that the Catholic Religion is Divine, the Catechism proper commences, and teaches us that we must submit to its doctrine; namely, that we must, 1. Believe what the Church teaches; 2. That we must also practise, that is, do the will of God; and 3. That we can neither believe nor do the will of God without His grace, which we receive by means of the Sacraments and of Prayer."

First, I find it interesting that the proof of the Divinity of the Roman Catholic Church should be determined from history books rather than God's book.

Second, once one has submitted to history, he must submit his intellect to the Church, believe everything the Church tells him, and receive the sacraments through the Church to do the will of God.

No one comes to the Father except through the Roman Catholic Church?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Teresa: Works Without Joy

Mother Teresa’s “Crisis of Faith” is making the rounds on the news as some of her personal letters have been made public:

“A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, ‘neither in her heart or in the eucharist.’"

“Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'"

In addition to these newly publicized letter, Mother Teresa has said the following:

“We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation.” Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers; Pgs 81-82.

I am just posting a few excerpts, but it appears that Mother Teresa possessed a universalist-type faith that brought no joy. But despite Mother Teresa’s confusion over the basic gospel message and her decades of darkness in her “faith”, the Roman Catholic Church has declared her presence in heaven through her beatification in 2003.

I find that interesting.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Catholic Tradition and Purgatory

"I have more than once commented on the incorrectness of that method of arguing, which demands that we prove every one of our doctrines individually from the Scriptures. I occupied myself, during my first course of lectures, in demonstrating the Catholic principle of faith, that the Church of Christ was constituted by Him the depositary of His truths, and that, although many were recorded in His Holy Word, still many were committed to traditional keeping, and that Christ himself has faithfully promised to teach in His Church, and has thus secured her from error. It is on this authority that the Catholic grounds his belief in the doctrine of Purgatory: yet, not so but that its principle is laid down, indirectly at least, in the word of God."

-Cardinal Nicholas Patrick Wiseman

"There is not much in Scripture on Purgatory except that in Second Maccabees 12:45, Judas sends a collection to the Temple for those fallen in battle, found with amulets on, "that they might be freed from this sin." Luther saw so clearly that this referred to Purgatory--which he rejected--that he rejected this book too, declaring it not part of Scripture. Some have tried to see an implication of Purgatory in Matthew 12:32. There Jesus speaks of the sin against the Holy Spirit that will be forgiven "neither in this world nor in the next." But the expression quoted is known in Rabbinic literature, where it means merely "never." Still less could we deduce purgatory from First Corinthians 3:11-15. Paul means if the work of some Christian worker has been of such low quality that it burns down, he himself will be saved "as through fire." But the fire seems to mean the apocalyptic fire of the last day, not a fire of purgatory.

But our belief in Purgatory rests on the tradition and definitions of the Church, at the Councils of Lyons II, Florence, and Trent.”

-The Basic Catholic Catechism

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Canon: Fallible Certainty

Ellen has written a great post on the biblical canon - please read it.

The fallibility/infallibility argument is the smokescreen of Catholicism. In other words, Catholics cannot know with infallible certainty that the Roman Catholic Church is infallible. In the end, we are all making fallible decisions as fallible humans.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Catholic Bishops: Holy Disorder

I knew it would not be long before someone would complain that my post on the Catholic Bishop was not fair because he doesn’t faithfully represent the Catholic Church. While I would usually agree that individual beliefs are not always accurate representations of official Church teachings, claiming that the comments of an ordained Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church are not a reflection of the Church is just another example of the inconsistency of Catholic doctrines.

Read the quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church below. If what is claimed for the high level and power of a Roman Catholic Bishop are true, then how is it that they cannot be considered a fair representation of their Church? It seems that the “Catholic faithful” are to entrust their eternal salvation to the Bishops but not trust them to accurately portray the Catholic teachings in their behaviors or commentaries.

1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis: It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself (virtute ac persona ipsius Christi). Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ.

1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. In the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop is typos tou Patros: he is like the living image of God the Father.

1558 "Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. . . . In fact . . . by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative (in Eius persona agant)." "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors."

1560 As Christ's vicar, each bishop has the pastoral care of the particular Church entrusted to him, but at the same time he bears collegially with all his brothers in the episcopacy the solicitude for all the Churches: "Though each bishop is the lawful pastor only of the portion of the flock entrusted to his care, as a legitimate successor of the apostles he is, by divine institution and precept, responsible with the other bishops for the apostolic mission of the Church."

1581 This sacrament [holy orders] configures the recipient to Christ by a special grace of the Holy Spirit, so that he may serve as Christ's instrument for his Church. By ordination one is enabled to act as a representative of Christ, Head of the Church, in his triple office of priest, prophet, and king.

1585 The grace of the Holy Spirit proper to this sacrament is configuration to Christ as Priest, Teacher, and Pastor, of whom the ordained is made a minister.

1586 For the bishop, this is first of all a grace of strength…: the grace to guide and defend his Church with strength and prudence as a father and pastor, with gratuitous love for all and a preferential love for the poor, the sick, and the needy. This grace impels him to proclaim the Gospel to all, to be the model for his flock, to go before it on the way of sanctification by identifying himself in the Eucharist with Christ the priest and victim, not fearing to give his life for his sheep:

“Besides the power of order, bishops possess that of jurisdiction; they have the right to prescribe for the faithful the rules which the latter must follow in order to obtain eternal salvation. The power of jurisdiction is of Divine origin, in the sense that the pope is held to establish in the Church bishops whose mission it is to direct the faithful in the way of salvation. The bishops have then in their dioceses an ordinary jurisdiction, limited, however, by the rights that the pope can reserve to himself in virtue of his primacy. But this jurisdiction is independent of the will and consent of the faithful, and even of the clergy.” Catholic Encyclopedia

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Catholic Canon Missing a Book?

Pope John Paul II said the following regarding Muslims:

“Continuing our discussion of inter-religious dialogue, today we will reflect on dialogue with Muslims, who "together with us adore the one, merciful God" (Lumen gentium, n. 16; cf. CCC, n. 841). The Church has a high regard for them, convinced that their faith in the transcendent God contributes to building a new human family based on the highest aspirations of the human heart….

We Christians joyfully recognize the religious values we have in common with Islam. Today I would like to repeat what I said to young Muslims some years ago in Casablanca: "We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection"

One of the Catholic commenters on my post about the One True Church of Allah said:

“According to the Qu'ran. Allah is the God of Abraham, Issaac and Joseph.”

If the Catholic position is correct, that the Catholics and Muslims worship the same God, then it seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church is missing a large portion of their canon – the Qu’ran. Since Muslims believe that the Qu’ran is God’s revealed word and the Catholics believe in the same God, then the Roman Catholic Church needs to encompass this divine revelation as it’s own to be consistent.

If the Roman Catholic Church does not believe the Qu’ran is the inspired Word of God, then the Church is mistaken in its belief that the Muslims worship the God of Abraham since the source of that proclamation comes from the Qu’ran. It is inconsistent to state that Catholics and Muslims share the same one true God but dismiss the divine, written revelation made to the Muslims.

One has to wonder how a supposedly infallible organization could make such a blunder.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Early Canon Witness: Melito, Bishop of Sardis

Melito, Bishop of Sardis, identified the Old Testament canon around 180 AD as not including the deuterocanonicals (and also Esther). An extract of Melito’s letter regarding the OT canon was recorded by Eusebius, Bishop Caeserea in his Church History (IV, 22;).

“ ‘Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: Since you have often, in your zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Saviour and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavored to perform the task, knowing your zeal for the faith, and your desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou, in your yearning after God, esteemest these things above all else, struggling to attain eternal salvation.

Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to you as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.’ Such are the words of Melito.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One True Church of Allah?

Dutch bishop: Call God ‘Allah’ to ease relations

"A Roman Catholic Bishop in the Netherlands has proposed people of all faiths refer to God as Allah to foster understanding...Bishop Tiny Muskens, from the southern diocese of Breda, told Dutch television on Monday that God did not mind what he was named and that in Indonesia, where Muskens spent eight years, priests used the word "Allah" while celebrating Mass.

'Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him?'"

"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." Catholic Church Catechism, 841

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cajetan and the Oracles of God

"...the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God." Romans 3:2

"All Christians receive a double benefit by the apostacy and obstinacy of the Jews: one is, to know which are the true books of the Old Testament; for if all the Jews had been converted to the faith of Christ, then would the world have suspected that the Jews had invented those promises which are of Christ the Messiah: but, now, forasmuch as the Jews are enemies unto Christ, they bear witness unto us that there are no books canonical but those only which the Jews themselves acknowledged to be canonical."
-Cardinal Cajetan, source

"The papal legate, Cajetan, and Luther met face to face for the first time at Augsburg on 11 October. Cajetan (b. 1470) was "one of the most remarkable figures woven into the history of the Reformation on the Roman side . . . Surely no better qualified man could be detailed to adjust the theological difficulties."
-Catholic Encyclopedia

Catholic Quotes on The Bible

"As Catholics were responsible for writing the New Testament (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), the Catholic Church doesn't "interpret" the Bible. We explain it. Protestants can only "interpret", because they are not the author (guided by the Holy Spirit), and therefore, can only guess at the possible meaning of a chapter, passage or phrase, just as anyone can only guess at any author's intentions in any other book. As the author, the Catholic Church is the only proper authority to consult in matters pertaining to the Bible."

- Catholic Truth

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Canon Witness: Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem

Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the Church, identified the Old Testament canon as that of the 22 book Hebrew canon in his Catechetical Lecture (IV, 33) written around 350 AD (prior to the Councils of Hippo/Carthage and prior to Jerome’s Vulgate translation).

“Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why do you, who know not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble yourself in vain about those which are disputed?... Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than yourself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if you are desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave, and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament…But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by yourself, as you have heard me say.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Augustine and Councils: One Testimony

“The explicit testimonies to the canon of the Old Testament in the catalogues of Christian councils and Christian fathers of the first four centuries have now been examined. And it has been found that, with the exception of three catalogues at the close of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century, all the remainder, with slight and unimportant variations, unanimously and unambiguously sustain the Protestant canon. And the other three emanate from one region, and were issued under one influence; so that they are virtually one testimony, and this demanding an explanation which brings it, too, into harmony with the united testimony of the rest of the catalogues. There was a strict canon, limited to books inspired of God, which is witnessed to from all parts of the Church during these early ages, and is identical with the canon of Jews and with that of Protestants. But the term canon was also used in a more lax and wider sense by Augustin and the councils in his region, who embraced in it not only the inspired word, but in addition certain books which had gained a measure of sanctity in their eyes from their connection with the Greek and Latin Bible, and from their having been admitted to be read in the churches on account of their devotional character and the noble examples of martyrdom which they recorded. These supplementary volumes, however, were not put upon a level with the canon strictly so-called in point of authority. They were to be read and heard soberly in the exercise of Christian discretion, and with this caution they were commended to Christian people.”

William Henry Green(1898)
General Introduction to the Old Testament

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Catholic Quotes on the Canon

Pope Gregory the Great (604 AD) in quoting a passage from 1 Maccabees says:

"We adduce a testimony from books, though not canonical, yet published for the edification of the Church." Source

"Even in the sixteenth century, shortly before the assembling of the Council of Trent, Cardinal Ximenes, Archbishop of Toledo in Spain, in the preface to his Complutensian Polyglott, dedicated to Pope Leo X., and approved by him, states that the books of the Old Testament there printed in Greek only, viz., Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and the Maccabees, with the additions to Esther and Daniel, were not in the canon, but were received by the Church rather for the edification of the people than for confirming the authority of ecclesiastical doctrines." Source

"they are not in the canon; and that the Church readeth them rather for edification of the people than to confirm any doubtful points of doctrine; and that, therefore, they are not canonical." Cardinal Ximenes

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Catholic Quotes on The Bible

"We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith because they cannot, at any time, be within the reach of every inquirer; because they are not of themselves clear and intelligible even in matters of the highest importance, and because they do not contain all the truths necessary for salvation." -The Faith of Our Fathers

Monday, August 6, 2007

Augustine Canon Distinction

Roman Catholic apologists maintain that the canon of Scripture was decided on during the Councils of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage (397 AD) even though it wasn’t until the Council of Trent (1546 AD) that an infallible, binding decision was made for the Roman Catholic Church. The uncertainty over the exact canon of Scripture between the time of Hippo/Carthage and Trent goes against the assertion that the biblical canon, although not infallibly defined, was a consistent teaching in the Church that was only reaffirmed by Trent.

As the quote from Cardinal Cajetan shows, there appears to have been a dual-nature to the use of the word “canonical”. Cajetan maintains a difference between books which are to be used in confirming matters of faith and those which are simply to be read for edification. He goes on to say that understanding this distinction will help one to better understand the position of Augustine and the Council of Carthage.

In support of this idea we can look to Augustine’s own words with regards to the canon:
“Now, in regard to the canonical Scriptures, he must follow the judgment of the greater number of catholic churches; and among these, of course, a high place must be given to such as have been thought worthy to be the seat of an apostle and to receive epistles. Accordingly, among the canonical Scriptures he will judge according to the following standard: to prefer those that are received by all the catholic churches to those which some do not receive. Among those, again, which are not received by all, he will prefer such as have the sanction of the greater number and those of greater authority, to such as are held by the smaller number and those of less authority. If, however, he shall find that some books are held by the greater number of churches, and others by the churches of greater authority (though this is not a very likely thing to happen), I think that in such a case the authority on the two sides is to be looked upon as equal.

Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books…”
-Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book II, Ch. 8

It is interesting to note that prior to giving his list of canonical books, Augustine outlines how one should decide which books are canonical. There are three main issues here.

First, it does not seem that Augustine was establishing what IS canonical since he is providing a method to determine canonicity to the reader. Second, it appears there was not a consensus of canonicity at the time of Augustine’s writing since he is providing a method for determination of such. And third, after advising the reader how to determine canonicity, Augustine goes on to describe “the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised” (which is the canon lists of Hippo/Carthage) meaning that the canon list of those Councils is still up for discussion.

Taking the quotes of Cardinal Cajetan and Augustine together, it appears that the canon lists of the early councils led by Augustine were establishing a list of Scriptures from which the canonical Scriptures could be determined based on the consensus of Church usage (using the method outlined by Augustine). Effectively, Augustine and the Councils had narrowed the list of potentially canonical books without strictly defining the exact nature of the biblical canon. This would explain why discussion and doubts about the canonical books continued from the time of Augustine until the time of Trent.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cardinal Cajetan on the Biblical Canon

Cardinal Cajetan was a contemporary of Luther and held with high regard in the Roman Catholic Church.

"The papal legate, Cajetan, and Luther met face to face for the first time at Augsburg on 11 October. Cajetan (b. 1470) was "one of the most remarkable figures woven into the history of the Reformation on the Roman side . . . a man of erudition and blameless life" (Weizacker); he was a doctor of philosophy before he was twenty-one, at this early age filling chairs with distinction in both sciences at some of the leading universities; in humanistic studies he was so well versed as to enter the dialectic arena against Pico della Mirandola when only twenty-four. Surely no better qualified man could be detailed to adjust the theological difficulties."
-Catholic Encyclopedia

Writing prior to the canon decision at the Council of Trent, Cajetan wrote:

"Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage."
-Cardinal Cajetan (16th century)

Cajetan recognized that though the deuterocanonicals may be called canonical, they were not recognized as canonical in the same sense as the other Old Testament books.

Augustine on Scripture

"The faith will totter if the authority of the Holy Scripture loses its hold on men. We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled"

-Augustine of Hippo

Friday, August 3, 2007

Catholic Quotes on The Bible

"By pinning private judgment to the Bible the Reformers started a book religion, i.e. a religion of which, theoretically, law of faith and conduct is contained in a written document without method, without authority, without an authorized interpreter. The collection of books called "the Bible" is not a methodical code of faith and morals; if it be separated from the stream of tradition which asserts its Divine inspiration, it has no special authority, and, in the hands of private interpreters, its meaning is easily twisted to suit every private mind."
-Catholic Encyclopedia

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Catholic Scholars on the Trent Canon

Here is another excerpt from the Jerome Biblical Commentary on the canon decision at Trent. This touches on the inconsistency of using "historical church usage" as a method for determining the canon at Trent.

Even at Trent, however, the Council Fathers did not specifically attempt to press the detail of Church usage back beyond the period of Jerome, for the used the Vulgate as the norm for Church usage, condemning “anyone who does not accept these books in their entirety, with all their parts, according to the text usually read in the Catholic Church and as they are in the ancient Latin Vulgate”. There are many difficulties here that demand investigation. First, in the period before the Vulgate there was no consistent Church usage, as we have seen. Ironically, Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate, was very clear in his preference for the same short canon that Trent rejected in the name of the Vulgate. The Vulgate was introduced into the West over many protests (including that of Augustine) asserting that Jerome’s translation from the Hebrew was an innovation against the Church’s usage of translating form the LXX. Second, from Jerome's time on, the Vulgate has not been a perfect witness of Church usage, for it was several centuries before the Vulgate won acceptance in the Church. And even then, the Vulgate was a norm only in the Western church usage. Although Trent was an ecumenical council, the constituency of the Fathers was Western; and perhaps insufficient attention was given to the usage of the Eastern Churches. Third, if Church usage was the norm for selecting the books of the canon, then several books that had been used in the Church were omitted. For instance, 1 Esdras was used by the Fathers more than was canonical Ezr/Neh, and the requiem liturgy cites 2 Esdras. Copies of the Vulgate often contained 1-2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh – books not accepted at Trent. (pg 523-524)

More on the Esdras confusion in the future.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Catholic Scholars on the Canon

Here are some excerpts from the Jerome Biblical Commentary, a book produced by the contributions of a large group of Catholic scholars as outlined in the editor's preface:

"The question of the Catholic interpretation of the Bible constantly reappears. It seemed to the editors that the best way to expose the misunderstanding implicit in this question was to produce a commentary written entirely by Catholics. This would allow readers off all persuasions to see a representative group of Catholic scholars at work – not the isolated and allegedly liberal mavericks, but some fifty contributors teaching in the Catholic colleges and seminaries in the United States, Canada, and abroad."

The Jerome Biblical Commentary
Brown, Fitzmyer, and Murphy
Imprimatur: Lawrence Cardinal Shehan, Archbishop of Baltimore

In the section entitled Canonicity, the issues surrounding the acceptance of the deuterocanonicals into the canon is discussed:

"Doubts about the deuterocanonical books keep recurring in the history of the Church among those who are aware of the Jewish canon. Those who prefer the shorter canon or express some doubt about the full canonical status of the deuterocanonicals include Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Rufinus, Gregory the Great, John Damascene, Hugh of St. Victor, Nicholas of Lyra, and Cardinal Cajetan.

As mentioned earlier, the Council of Trent accepted definitively the deuterocanonicals, and it did so directly in opposition to the Protestant preference for the Jewish canon. Although as Catholics we accept the statement of the Council as binding in faith, it is wise for us to know some of the difficulties that surround this statement. Even on the eve of the Council the Catholic view was not absolutely unified, as the mention of Cajetan in the preceding paragraph clearly indicates. Catholic editions of the Bible published in Germany and in France in 1527 and 1530 contained only the protocanonical books. The Fathers of the Council knew of the 4th century African councils that had accepted the deuterocanonical books, and they knew the position taken at Florence; but at the time of Trent, there were insufficient historical tools to reconstruct the real picture of the canon in the 1st century." (pg 523)

As with the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the authors of The Jerome Biblical Commentary outline some of the uncertainty that existed within the Catholic Church throughout history with regards to the OT canon. They have also provided us with additional names to add to the list in the previous post: Gregory Nazianzen (4th), Hugh of St. Victor (12th) and Cardinal Cajetan (16th).

We will look at more excerpts from this book in the next post.

Canon Discussion: Terms and Definitions

I realized my posts on the canon use a lot of terms that people who are not familiar with the topic may find confusing. Below are some excerpts from Wikipedia to help define things – follow the link to Wiki for a full explanation.

-A biblical canon is a list of Biblical books which establishes the set of books which are considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular Jewish or Christian community. (Protestants and Catholics disagree on the biblical canon).

Deuterocanonical Books
-The Deuterocanonical books of the Bible are books considered by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Christianity to be canonical parts of the Christian Old Testament but are not present in the Hebrew Bible, which is often described as protocanonical….Protestant Christians usually do not classify any texts as "deuterocanonical"; they either omit them from the Bible, or include them in a section designated Apocrypha. (these books are the difference between the Catholic and Protestant bibles).

Council of Trent
-The Council of Trent is the Nineteenth Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. It was convened three times between December 13, 1545 and December 4, 1563 in the city of Trent (modern Trento, Alto Adige) as a response to the theological and ecclesiological challenges of the Protestant Reformation. It is considered one of the most important councils in the history of the Catholic Church, clearly specifying Catholic doctrines on salvation, the sacraments, and the Biblical canon.

Ecumenical Council
-An Ecumenical Council (also sometimes Oecumenical Council) or general council is a meeting of the bishops of the whole Church convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice. (only the decrees of an ecumenical council are infallible and binding)

-The Vulgate is an early 5th century version of the Bible in Latin which is largely the result of the labors of Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations. The Vulgate was a substantial improvement over these earlier translations. Its Old Testament is the first Latin version translated directly from the Hebrew Tanakh rather than from the Greek Septuagint. It became the definitive and officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.

Septuagint (LXX)
-The Septuagint, or simply "LXX", is the name commonly given in the West to the Koine Greek version of the Old Testament, translated in stages between the 3rd to 1st century BC in Alexandria. (The Septuagint was used by early Christians and contained the deuterocanonicals)

Masoretic Text (MT)
-The Masoretic Text (MT) is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private study. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent decades also for Catholic Bibles.

-The biblical apocrypha includes texts written in the Jewish and Christian religious traditions that either: 1) were accepted into the biblical canon by some, but not all, Christian faiths, or 2) whose canonicity or lack thereof is not yet certain, or are frequently printed in Bibles despite their non-canonical status.

I will add to this list as needed.