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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Economics, Calvinism, Bible Societies, & the Demise of the Deuterocanon in Protestant Bibles

These quotes were taken from the book "Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger: The untold Story of the Lost Books of the Protestant Bible" by Gary G. Michuta.

Eventhough there is a difference between the Roman Catholic Canon and the Eastern Orthodox Canons (also not all Orthodox like to use the word "Deuterocanon", some make no distinction between protocanon and Deutero), this book is still very helpful and informative when it comes to what happened in the western christian World.

Pages 285-286
"The Almighty And The Almighty Dollar

Puritan pressure was not the only reason today's Protestant bibles today usually omit the Deuterocanon; if it were, then the books would surely have returned to their accustomed place once Puritan influence subsided. No, strange as it may seem, the widespread demise of the Deuterocanon can be attributed to another influence as well-economics. Put simply, smaller bibles (such as those omitting the Deuterocanon), were cheaper to make. The prospect of higher profit margins wooed some printers into producing novelty bibles without the Deuterocanon. At first, these smaller bibles were illicit. In 1615, George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, went so far as to employ the power of the law to censure any publisher who did not produce the Bible in its entirety with the Deuterocanon as prescribed by the thirty-nine Articles. Nevertheless, economic incentives proved stronger than the threats of the Archbishop, and editions without the Deuterocanon were sporadically produced. In a sense, these versions were unauthorized Versions. Yet despite the growing number of Protestant bibles without them, bibles which included the Deuterocanon remained the norm. The books were too well known and too well integrated into European thought to be easily discarded. As Goodspeed notes:
".....[w]hatever may be our personal opinions of the Apocrypha, it is a historical fact that they formed an integral part of the King James Version, and any Bible claiming to represent that version should either include the Apocrypha, or state that it is omitting them. Otherwise a false impression is created."

Puritan influence continued long after the restoration under Charles II, and from then on, the tide began to run decidedly against the Deuterocanon. Anti-apocryphal tracts and pamphlets began to circulate, and in 1740, some actually proposed that a law should be passed to force printers to remove the Apocrypha appendix from its place between the two Testaments. This proposition and others like it had little effect other than to weaken the resolve of those Protestants who wished to include them. It was not until religious motivations and economic forces united that Protestant bibles uniformly excluded the Deuterocanon. Oddly enough, one of the chief factors in the demise of Protestant bibles containing the Deuterocanon came through an agency that was originally designed to propagate the Bible everywhere......" [1]

The agencies he was alluding to were the "Bible Societies". The Puritan ones eventually pressured the other protestant ones to stop producing them.

The Canstein Bible society was founded in Germany in 1710 and they printed the D.C.'s in their Bibles.

The British and Foreign Bible Society was formed in 1804 and it didn't print the D.C.'s but when some of it's branches started to print them in 1813 the Reformed protestants protested, and the Scotish societies passed a resolution in 1822 that allowed them to continue funding these Bible societies that printed the D.C.'s but those Bible Societies now had to pay out of their own pockets when it came to printing the D.C. appendix.

Eventually this compromise would change when the Puritans would economically pressure the other Bible societies to stop printing the D.C. appendix.

pages 290-296
"It was also argued that no Protestant community had the right to dictate what constitutes the Bible to other Protestant communities. On the other side, there were those who believed that the compromise had been a mistake to begin with and that all funding ought to be cut so as to discourage the printing of bibles containing the Apocrypha. Finally, the uneasy peace was breached when the boards of the Edinburgh Bible Society and the Glasgow Bible Society resolved to withold their support to the British and Foriegn Bible Society until all funding for such printing was cut. The Committee Notes of the Edinburgh Society make their reasons for doing so plain.

The Edinburgh Crusade

The Scottish societies saw the primary mission of the British and Foreign Bible Society as an evangelistic effort to spread the Protestant Faith throughout the World, not merely as a philanthropic effort to supply Scripture to those without it. The Society, in other words, sought to achieve the widest possible dissemination of bibles but only in a format that was conducive to their understanding of Protestantim. Their rationale may be examined in the Committee statements of the Edinburgh Bible Society. The statements record no effort on the part of the Scottish Society to provide the bona fides of the shorter canon or to explain by what authority the Edinburgh Bible Society sought to dictate to other Protestant communities what books are and are not canonical. The shorter canon was merely assumed to be true and self-evident. In the estimation of the Comittee, the mere presence of the so-called Apocrypha between the covers of a bible either unduly elevates those books or degrades the character of the Scripture as a whole. The committe continues by listing various doctrines which the Deutercanon was held by them to confirm (e.g. intercession of saints, purgatory, that almsgiving atones for sins, that good works justify, et al.). These things are said to "strike at the root of some of the fundamental truths which God has revealed for the instruction and salvation of man."
Notice that the common thread uniting this grab bag of doctrines is that all of them had been warred upon by the Puritans and Scotch Calvinists (mainstream Anglicanism allowed room for these teachings).
The Edinburgh Committee continues by candidly admitting something which many Protestant apologists of today hotly deny; that the Deuterocanonical writings actually present themselves as Scripture:

"Great indeed is the demerit of that book which contradicts the revealed will of God; but its demerit is unspeakably aggravated adds the blasphemous assumption of being itself a revelation of God's will. Now such is the Apocrypha. It pretends to a divine original. Some, it is true, have denied this, and published their denial. No one, however, who has read the Apocrypha can dail to perceive that the denial is founded in ignorance and inattention. So plainly does it affect to have the santion of heaven, that it actually apes the phraseology of inspiration. It contains messages to mankind which are sometimes represented as proceeding immediately from God himself, and sometimes as conveyed through the medium of angels. And frequently its declarations are introduced with that most awful and authoritative of all sanctions, 'Thus saith the Lord.

If the Deuterocanon sounds like Scripture and teaches Catholic doctrine (as the EBS has already stated), then it follows that those who read the Bible in its traditonal format may become Catholic.

"Again, if they are Protestant among whom the Apocrypha is to be dispersed, it does not on that account lose its qualities of falsehood, absurdity, and blasphemy.....we account it no sin to be instrumental in deliberately circulating that, which endangers the souls of men and insults the honour of God: And as sent to those who have been emancipated from the darkness and superstition of Poery [i.e. Catholic converts to Protestantism], it implies an endeaver on our part, not to perfect and perpetuate their emanipation, but to continue them in the errors that still envelope their minds, or to send them back to the thraldom from which they happily escaped."

The freedom to read the Scripture in the format of the earliest Christian codices was deemed too dangerous for Protestants and potential Catholics converts. It was feared that those who did read these bibles in the traditional format would abandon the Protestant Faith or that unsettled Catholics would decide against it.
They believed the dissemination of the Toulouse edition of Scripture confirmed this fear;
"With respect to the Protestants also, the circulation of the Apocrypha is inexpedient. Such of them in France.....even though they were better informed on the subject.....[They may] peruse it [the Deuterocanon] with some portion of those reverent impressions with which they peruse the inspired books; and, of course, not only to imbibe the erroneous notions which it inculcates, but to lose that exclusive submission to the word of God which is so dutiful and so becoming. An example of this is to be found in Mr. Chabrand's correspondence relative to the Toulouse edition of the Bible. He objected to the addition of the Aposcrypha because 'there was danger of the Protestant confounding the Apocryphal with the canonical books; and of their being thus led to adopt some of the errors of Poery, (particularly that of purgatory)....This is the natural, and will be the frequent, effect of circulating the Bible containing the Apocrypha....

The Committee Statement also adds:
..[T]hat practice judicious or wise, which, instead of confirming or improving the principles of those who have, in a Catholic country, embraced or been educated in the Protestant faith, threatens to darken what had been made light, to corrupt what had been reformed, and in any measure to pave the way for backsliding or Apostasy?......But the evil of circulating the Apocrypha as a part of the Scripture volume is not limited to those Protestants who get the book to peruse; it is also injurious to the minds of Protestants, who merely see or know that such a union and such a circulation are permitted.

According to the Edinburgh Society, the only bibles safe to disseminate are those that have been sanitized from the presence of these "popish" books. Clearly, it was too dangerous to leave it up to the individual reader to decide the merits or demerits of the Deuterocanon. Not only does this statement arrogate an enormous amont of authority to the Scottish Society, it also calls seriously into question the Westminster Confession's teaching on the perspicuity of Scripture. That Confession states:

All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed , and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

Would not the actions of the Edinburgh Society circumvent the believer's innate ability to recognize the "falsehoods of popish errors" in these books? Did not the Confessions often speak about an inner witness of the Holy Spirit that enables the believer to distinquish truth from error? The committee Statement argued that even the learned had difficulty separating the false from the true in the so0called Apocrypha; therefore, the task would be impossible for the unlearned.
At least the Committe of the Edinburgh Society may be credited with frankness: they disliked the doctrine they found taught in the Deuterocanon; they wished therefore, to have it censured. Plain and simple, without dragging in poor Jerome. This line of reasoning becomes especially clear in the following passage: sending them the Apocrypha, we are , in fact, abetting the Church ofRome in an impious attempt to establish the inspiration of that spurious document and seconding her efforts to compel those who acknowledge her spiritual dominion, to listen to its lying wonders as to the voice of the Almighty.

Anti-Catholics often charge Trent with being reactionary and claim that the Council added books to the Bible in an effort to subvert Protestantism. Is it not clear, however, that in this matter of the Edinburgh Society, the very reverse is true? Here we find a protestant Bible society waging a veritable crusade rather than to allow an unedited Bible to be examined by the common folk. In a clear, candid, and passionate manner, the Edinburgh Committee's notes advocate the removal of the Deuterocanon as a countermeasure against Rome-and specifically against the Council of Trent:" [2]

He is right about the Council of Trent not adding books to the Bible (In the sense of the Deuterocanon as never being embraced as scripture before that time) all one has to do is look at the western council of Florence(1439-1445), and see what books it embraced. They obviously embraced much of the D.C.'s as scripture. So to be honest, the council of Trent was just following statements made by ealier the synod of Sens(1528) and the Council of Florence(1439-1445). So it wasn't really adding books. Plus if one looks at the Canons embraced by the 6th Eucemincal Council (I know about the decrees being added later) .......then one will see that many of these books were already seen as scripture, so the idea of adding these books to the Bible is completely false, and ahistorical.

And now you know why the D.C.'s were eventually taken out of most Protestant Bibles. In America, Bible Societies were printing Bibles without them around the mid to late 18 hundreds.

Vincent Setterholm said something similar in his article of the Bible Study Magazine. As seen from The website:

"What's in Your Bible?

Jews and Christians throughout the centuries have produced bibles that vary in content and organization. This chart is a sampling of the different bibles used today.

Protestant Reformers like Martin Luther doubted the canonicity* Canon: (kanōn; κανών) comes from the Greek word for “reed” or “rod,” used as a straight edge or ruler for measurement. In biblical studies, when we talk about a canon, we mean that list of books that a community considers both authoritative and inspired. Canonical books form the standard against which other writings, doctrines and practices are measured. of the Apocrypha*Apocrypha: Jerome, the translator of the early Latin Bible, maintained a distinction between those books he considered canonical and the non-canonical books that should be read for the edification of the church. With some modification, this list of edifying books is sometimes called the “Apocrypha.” Other theologians, such as the influential Augustine, did not maintain this distinction, and were more inclusive in their canon lists. , but when Luther prepared his translation of the Bible into German, he did not remove the Apocrypha; he simply moved those books to an appendix. This tradition continues in many European bibles.

The English were the first group of people to remove the Apocrypha altogether. In 1599, an edition of the Geneva Bible was published without the Apocrypha. In 1615, during the reign of King James the First, George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the penalty for printing a Bible without the Apocrypha to be a year in prison! But over the next three centuries the growing influence of Puritans and Presbyterians over the populace, the government, and the British and Foreign Bible Society led to a strong tradition of printing bibles containing only 66 books.

The situation today reflects this bifurcation. The bibles used by many European Protestants, as well as the Anglican Church, still include the Apocrypha. Most other English-speaking Protestant churches have bibles without the Apocrypha."

Related Topics:
Early Protestant Bibles with 80 books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test)

BIBLE Study Magazine


[1] pages 285-286 [2] pages 290-296 from the book "Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger: The untold Story of the Lost Books of the Protestant Bible" by Gary G. Michuta. published by Grotto press 2007


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