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I read at carm.org:

Paul tells us that the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. This means that they are the ones who understood what inspired Scriptures were, and they never accepted the Apocrypha.

From the sentence above, my English understanding is that no Jews (including Jesus, the apostles and the rest of the Jews) accepted the books of

  • Tobit or Tobias
  • Judith
  • Esther with additions
  • 1 and 2 Maccabees
  • Wisdom or Wisdom of Solomon
  • Sirach or Ecclesiasticus
  • Baruch
  • Letter of Jeremiah
  • Daniel with additions
  • 1 Esdras
  • 3 and 4 Maccabees
  • Psalm 151
  • Prayer of Manasseh
  • Psalms of Solomon

This list is from Wikipedia on the Septuagint.

What I don't understand is as follows:

The Translation of the Seventy', derives from the story recorded in the Letter of Aristeas that the Septuagint was translated at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–247 BCE) by 70 Jewish scholars (or, according to later tradition, 72: six scholars from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel).
Source ibid.

My question:

According to Reformed theology, why did the 70 Jewish scholars include the list above (the Apocrypha), "bundling" them together with the non-apocrypha into one book and then call this one book Scripture - while they themselves never accepted the list?

  • @Autodidact should your comment read ... never quote from the apocrypha? – SLM Jun 25 '19 at 1:26
  • Correct in terms of these listed apocrypha they were never quoted word for word. Thank you. @SLM – Autodidact Jun 25 '19 at 2:36
  • Josephus quotes from these Apocrypha multiple times - Antiquities of the Jews 12.5.1-3 quotes 1 Maccabees 1:10-64, Antiquities 11.8.7 quotes 1 Maccabees 1:1-9, and Antiquities 11.6.6 quotes additions to Esther (chapter 13). – emeth Jun 25 '19 at 10:06
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    One might even better ask why the Olivetan Bible (with preface by Calvin himself!) included the Apocrypha. – user43409 Jun 25 '19 at 11:11
  • Non-Hellenistic Judaism never considered them particularly relevant, inasmuch as they were mainly aimed at the preservation of ancestral piety among the Diaspora, as mentioned in my answer to this question. – Lucian Dec 6 '19 at 1:40
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The Translation of The 70 was only of the first 5 books of the Bible. That original translation is no longer extant (it has been lost). At some point afterward it became a term of art to call any translation of any book in the Bible from Hebrew to Greek by the name "Septugiant", even though these later translations were often done by non-Jews and had no connection to the original 70 Jewish elders. No version of "The Septugiant" currently in our hands had/has any significance to ancient/medieval/contemporary Jewish scholars.

  • I'm trying to elaborate your answer. At first, there are Scriptures in Hebrew language. Later on, the 70 translate only the first 5 books of the Scriptures. So now there are two kind of Scripture ---> one Scripture is in Greek contains only the first 5 books and the other Scripture is in Hebrew, the original one, contains fully. Please correct me if I'm wrong. – karma Dec 4 '19 at 5:21
  • As I said, that original Septugiant, translated by the 70, has been lost. The first 5 books were translated again, but by different people, not necessarily Jewish, and not ending up with the same translation. Other people also translated the rest of the books of the Hebrew scripture. – JoelFan Dec 4 '19 at 5:33
  • I understand about you said that original Septuagint, translated by the 70, has been lost. What I mean "now" in _ So now there are two kind of Scripture ---> one Scripture is in Greek contains only the first 5 books and the other Scripture is in Hebrew, the original one, contains fully_ is right after the 70 finish translating that first 5 book only. I don't mean that the "now" is this December 2019 :). Thank you for the explanation, JoelFan. – karma Dec 8 '19 at 6:38
  • btw, I just realized your first 2 sentences in your answer. (1) The Translation of The 70 was only of the first 5 books of the Bible. Me: so, this is the original translation, Greek Scripture which contains 5 books only translated by the 70. (2) That original translation is no longer extant (it has been lost). I wonder : IF (2) the original transalation is no longer extant, then how one knows that (1) the original translation contains only 5 books ? Please CMIIW. – karma Dec 8 '19 at 6:44
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    JoelFan, I'm sorry as I didn't notice your comment about the Letter of Aristeas before but your second comment which has wiki link about Septuagint. I mark your answer as the accepted one as by your answer I know that my question is already doesn't fit because the rest of the books is not translated by the 70. Thank you JoelFan. – karma Dec 10 '19 at 18:55
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It is true that the Jews ultimately did not accept the apocryphal books you listed in their canon, in a gradual process over several centuries at least spanning 1st century BC and 1st century AD. There was no definitive answer, but a lot of pointers showing the development, shown in the BIBLE CANON article of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. Especially after the 1st century AD, in opposition to Christian usage of the Greek Septuagint to prove the truths of Christianity (such as how Septuagint translated Hebrew word almah into virgin in Isa 7:14 which the Christians used as one proof of Jesus's divinity), the Rabbinic Jews (whose precursor was the Pharisees) preferred the older Hebrew of the Old Testament, thus abandoning the use of Septuagint.

The early Christians who became more and more gentile in demographics and who understood only Greek (not Hebrew), understandably adopted the Septuagint more and more because they needed the prophetic background as a proof of their "New Testament" beliefs, so in ANOTHER gradual process completely separated from the Rabbinic Jews, the apocryphal books increasingly became part of their canon. But as this excellent article shows, the acceptance of the apocryphal books were not unanimous among the Church Fathers.

Starting with the Reformation, as a reaction to some abuses in the Catholic church making use of the apocryphal books to support the doctrines which the Reformers opposed (indulgences, purgatory, prayers to saints, etc.), as well as the earlier influence of Renaissance Humanism's ad fontes movement, Protestant communities started to create new editions of the whole Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew sources instead the Latin of the Vulgate, translated into their national languages such as English and German. Critical self reflection of the canon, coupled with the Protestant movement ethos to go back to the original theology of Christianity, thus formed the background on why the apocryphal books were rejected by the reformers.

The short Introduction to the Old Testament essay by the renowned Bible scholar Bruce M Metzger included in the 1962 Oxford Annotated Bible (RSV) is quite valuable to give us a contextual narrative of how the OT books were edited and became Scripture over several hundred-year period and how the apocryphal books were treated differently. The Preface to the Revised Standard Version is also very helpful to serve as a short history of the Bible in the English language (started with Tyndale's project in 1535). Archive.org has a clean pdf of all the essays plus the 39 OT books (without the apocrypha).

As you can see from the articles I referenced above, the list of canonical books varies according to various criteria: holiness (inspired by God), what counted as "Scriptures", what are edifying, what can be used as a source of theology, etc. Consider also the different communities, whose identity development over centuries played into the making of the list: those who produced the Septuagint, Early Christians, Rabbinic Jews, Catholics, Protestants, etc. each understandably had varying interpretation of what the apocryphal books meant for their communities.

So by 1561, mere decades from Martin Luther's famous 95 theses, the Reformed Theology "fathers" already enshrined the "new canon" excluding the apocrypha in their Belgic Confession Articles 4-6 with the following reasons:

ARTICLE 4: We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes of the Old and New Testaments. They are canonical books with which there can be no quarrel at all. In the church of God the list is as follows:

In the Old Testament, the five books of Moses— Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth; the two books of Samuel, and two of Kings; the two books of Chronicles, called Paralipomenon; the first book of Ezra; Nehemiah, Esther, Job; the Psalms of David; the three books of Solomon— Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song; the four major prophets— Isaiah, Jeremiaha, Ezekiel, Daniel; and then the other twelve minor prophets— Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

In the New Testament, the four gospels— Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the fourteen letters of Paul— to the Romans; the two letters to the Corinthians; to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians; the two letters to the Thessalonians; the two letters to Timothy; to Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews; the seven letters of the other apostles— one of James; two of Peter; three of John; one of Jude; and the Revelation of the apostle John.

a “Jeremiah” here includes the Book of Lamentations as well as the Book of Jeremiah.

ARTICLE 5: We receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith. And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them— not so much because the church receives and approves them as such but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God. For even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in them do happen.

ARTICLE 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones, which are the third and fourth books of Esdras; the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch; what was added to the Story of Esther; the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace; the Story of Susannah; the Story of Bel and the Dragon; the Prayer of Manasseh; and the two books of Maccabees.

The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.

  • Thank you for your explanation, GratefulDisciple. You wrote : Especially after the 1st century AD, in opposition to Christian usage of the Greek Septuagint to prove the truths of Christianity (such as how Septuagint translated Hebrew word almah into virgin in Isa 7:14 which the Christians used as one proof of Jesus's divinity), the Rabbinic Jews (whose precursor was the Pharisees) preferred the older Hebrew of the Old Testament, thus abandoning the use of Septuagint. ... (continue) – karma Jul 17 '19 at 17:05
  • regarding my quotation in the question : so, did the article mean that on a much later time, The Rabbinic Jews (not the Christian Jews) finally never accepted the books (Apocrypha) I listed in my question (?) – karma Jul 17 '19 at 17:05
  • That's correct. The Hebrew Bible canon was fixed late 1st century (see wikipedia). An easier to read treatment of the apocryphal books can be read in another wikipedia article. I believe nowadays the same Hebrew text is the source of translation for both Christian Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh. And in the scholarly circles I see OT scholars and Hebrew Bible scholars regularly collaborate, but of course differ in Messianic interpretation. – GratefulDisciple Jul 17 '19 at 18:49
  • GratefulDisciplie, you wrote : "The Hebrew Bible canon was fixed late 1st century". I'm sorry I don't quite understand, do you mean that before it was fixed "ok this is Scripture", it's not Scripture yet in their point of view ? – karma Dec 4 '19 at 5:03
  • @karma Designating a book as scripture is a community decision, and could change over time (it's a process). Canon by definition is an authoritative collection of scripture, and again, it's for the community to decide which book is in or out. The purpose of canonization is to discern (usually over a long period of time) which books are considered authoritative to be used to elucidate the community's faith for themselves and for their descendants. It's not necessarily binary (Scripture or non-Scripture), see the Jewish Ency. article for detail on how the community treated each book. – GratefulDisciple Dec 4 '19 at 13:51

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