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Manasses, I and II Maccabees. This is the list of the books as they stand in the old editions of the English Bible. Dr. Bissell, however, varies from this by omissions and additions, harmonizing his work with the Seventy.
That the Seventy translators intended to place these works on a level with the canonical books of the Old Testament may be justly inferred from the fact that they were not placed by themselves at the end of the Palestinian Hebrew canon, as in the old English Bibles, but mixed in with the undisputed books. For example, I Esdras comes before Ezra and Nehemiah, and Tobit and Judith immediately follow them, while the additions to Esther and Daniel are joined directly with those books. The Prayer of Manasses is inserted between the Psalms and Proverbs, while Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus follow the Song of Solomon. Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah are placed after Jeremiah, but before Lamentations; and the three books of Maccabees come in after Daniel. A fourth book of Maccabees appears in the Sinaitic and Alexandrian MSS., and also in some editions of the Septuagint.
Now while the Alexandrian Jews evidently designed to make these apocryphal works a part of the Hebrew sacred Scriptures, so far as their Greek version could effect this object, the Palestinian Jews had no part in the matter, and denounced them as human additions to the divine word. They say, “ Whoever introduces them into his house, introduces confusion.” And again, “ He who studies the uncanonical books will have no portion in the world to come.” But, as we have remarked, the great body of the early Gentile Christians, both people and clergy, having no knowledge of Hebrew, necessarily took their notions of what the Hebrew Bible was, from their Greek version ; and, finding these books associated with the canonical books, they were naturally led to regard them all as equally the inspired word of God. It was not until the matter came to be investigated by the scholars of the church, that the chaff began to be sifted from the wheat, and the line drawn between the Palestinian or Hebrew canon, and the additions of the Greek or Septuagint version.
And even then the line was not very sharply drawn, for these scholars found it difficult to disentangle themselves from the received opinions all at once. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, and others, quote these apocryphal books as “divine scriptures," cred writings,” and with the formula,“ as the Scripture saith,” or . Scripture teaches," while as critics, they reject them as authority in,
doctrine. But little by little, as critical learning grew up in the church, the distinction between the Hebrew canon and the Greek collection of sacred and ecclesiastical literature, began to be more clearly defined; and the first only were cited as authority in doctrine, while the additions to the second were recognized as useful only for instruction in morals, and as illustrations of duty, of the martyr spirit and patriotism, especially Ecclesiasticus and the Maccabees.
As early as the fourth century in the Greek church, the Hebrew canon was accepted as fixing the limits of authorative or inspired Scripture, even the public reading of the Apocrypha being in some cases forbidden. The Syrian church held the same ground in substance, and has continued, with the Greeks, to occupy this position up to the present time with the exception of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah, which they append to the book of Jeremiah, following the Septuagint. Augustine's inconsistent action in regard to the matter, greatly influenced the Western Latin church in its judgment and use of these books ; and although Rufinus and Jerome endeavored to establish and popularize the distinction between the canonical and uncanonical books, it became the custom to follow the lead of Augustine and the African Christians, in considering and using them all as one Old Testament, both in public and private worship. The Synods of Hippo and Carthage (A. D. 393, 397) number the apocryphal writings among the canonical books of
o Old Testament, and popes Innocent I and Gelasius, in their decretals, confirm these decisions."
This mixed and conflicting state of things continued for centuries, some of the fathers and authorities of the church siding with Origen, Jerome, and others against the Apocrypha as having any divine authority; and others accepting them as equally the word of God with the books of the Hebrew canon. And so, notwithstanding the decision of provincial or local councils, the real position and value of these books continued an open question down to the Council of Trent; the Apocrypha itself being a variable quantity, sometimes embracing more of them, and sometimes less. No æcumenical council up to this time had ever given a decision as to the limits of the canon of Holy Scriptures. But the Council of Trent (A.D. 1547-1563) took the matter up with the determination of settling the question by authority. The discussion which followed revealed the same differ
1 Nevertheless, Pupe (iregory the Great (A.D. 590–604) apologizes for adducing a proof text from I Maccabees, since it was not a canonical book; a significant illustration of papal infallibility.
ences of opinion and faith which existed iq' the time of Jerome and Augustine. . Some wished the books to be classed under two heads, , the Hebrew canon only to be accepted for doctrine, as of divine origin; the rest as of human authority, to be read 48 useful only for instruction in morals. Others desired that the perplexing problem should be left as it was ; that the council should simply give a list of the books as they stood in the Greek and Latiu versions, and leave the question of their relative value undecided. But the party which insisted that all the books should be pronounced of equal canonicity and authority prevailed at last, and the following vote was adopted :
“The holy, ecumenical and general council of Trent receives and venerates all the books of the Old and New Testaments, and also traditions concerning faith and conduct, with an equal feeling of devotion and reverence. If any one does not receive the entire books with all their parts, as they are accustomed to be read in the Catholic church and in the old Latin Vulgate edition, as sacred and canonical, let him be accursed."
In the list of the books as given by the council, contrary to an earlier resolution of the body to adopt the Augustinian arrangement which placed all the apocryphal books by themselves at the end of the Old Testament (as in our early English Bibles), they mixed them up with the canonical books, in the same manner as in the Septuagint, and thus obliterated all distinctions between them.
Perbaps the animus of this action of the Trent council may be found in the fact that the Apocrypha is made very useful in defence of some of the Catholic dogmas; as, for example, the intercession of angels, Tob. xii ; and of departed saints, II Macc. XV; the merit of good works, Tob. iv; purgatory and prayers for the dead, II Maec. xii. Tanner confesses that the apocryphal books were pronounced canonical because “ the church found its own spirit in these books."
At the opening of the Reformation the Protestant churches, under the lead of Erasmus and Luther, took ground against the Apocrypha which, in the first complete original edition of Luther's version, was placed at the end of the Old Testament as an Appendix, with the preface that they were “ books not held as equal to the Holy Scriptures, and yet are good and useful to read.” The French Bible of 1535 also makes an appendix :of these books, with the remark that though contained in the Vulgate translation we have not found them
in the Hebrew or Chaldee.” Calvin was the responsible editor of this work, which therefore shows his opinion.
The English church, while admitting that these books cannot be used to support any doctrine, uses them “for example of life and instruction of manners.” Passages from Tobit and Wisdom are quoted in the Homilies as Scripture. Baruch is even called a prophet, and quotations from Tobit are still retained in the communion service. A motion in convocation, 1689, to substitute for these passages from the canonical Scriptures was voted down. Coverdale, in his first edition, put Baruch among the canonical books; but in the second, among the apocryphal. During the present century the controversies among the Bible societies in England and on the continent, as to the propriety of printing the Apocrypha in any form in connection with the Old Testament, have finally led to its entire exclusion from all editions of the Scriptures issued by them; and so, as remarked, they are seldom read, or even seen, and are difficult to obtain by the people of this generation. Nevertheless, as the editor of the volume in
“ They fill the gap between the Old and New Testaments ; they explain the rise of that condition of the Jewish people, their society and religion, which we find at the time of Christ and his apostles, and they contain much valuable and useful information, relating to their history and religious opinions. They show how the Old Testament was interpreted and applied by the Jews themselves, during the period stretching nearly from the close of the canon to the coming of Christ; and what progress was made in the apprehension and development of important doctrines, especially those relating to the unseen world and the future state."
Of how much value they are in this respect our readers may easily learn by a perusal of the article of Dr. Ballou in the last volume of the Expositor for 1834, on “ The Opinions and Phraseology of the Jews concerning the Future State ; from the time ot Moses to their final dispersion by the Romans ;" one of the most valuable papers wbich our denominational literature bas thus far produced. In this article it is clearly shown that, even if the Jews in the time of Christ did believe in future endless punishment, the language in which they expressed their belief is entirely different from the language of tho New Testament which is supposed to teach it; and, therefore, that the Saviour in no way endorsed their error by the use of the terms "Geboena," “ Hadoo,” “ eternal damnation, etc., since this was not the phraseology in which they described the supposititious torments of the invisible world.”
On many other historical and theological questions these books furnish important and useful information. Being the only Jewish literature which remains to us from Malachi to Christ, the Apocrypha, including all the works of like character under this head, are the only sources of knowledge regarding the changes in Jewish beliefs and dogmas during this period of four huudred years prior to the New Testament. Historically, they show the dissensions and strifes of the Jews among themselves, and the persecutions and cruelties suffered at the hands of their conquerors and enemies; while theologically, they discover the sources from which they imported many of their superstitions and false doctrines, and show clearly the influence of Oriental and Greek philosophy on their national faith, especially in the case of the Egyptian Jews, among whom so many of these books seem to have originated.
In Tobit the angelology is carried to an extravagance that is both incredible and absurd, as in the case of Raphael and Asmodeus, the first of whom is made to fill the double office of guide and family physician to Tobias in his travels. God is not the author of death, which entered the world through envy of the devil ; God made man for immortality. The souls of the wicked will perish, be utterly destroyed, according to Wisdom, which also teaches the pre-existence and transmigration of souls (viii), which doctrine reappears in the New Testament, John ix. The fall of man is owing to the connection of the soul with the body. In this book also, says the editor, “is found the first intimation among all the biblical writings that heaven is the dwelling-place of the righteous ; or, in other words,that the common abode of the dead, Hades, is divided into two parts, assigned to the evil and the good respectively.” At this point we give the following from the Introduction to Ecclesiasticus, bearing on important kindred doctrines :
“ The passage which is sometimes adduced as showing what the son of Sirach thought on the doctrine of the future endless punishment of the wicked (vii : 17) seems to refer simply to the consuming
* The " Expositor" containing this paper was printed, as seen abovo, nearly a half century ago, and cannot now be obtained at any price. We have thought of reprinting the last half of it in which the argument enters upon the Apocrypha, that our clergy of to-day might have the benefit of its criticisms; but whothor wo do, or not, if within their reach we urge thom to give it a careful roading.