Questions about the Actual Apocrypha
#1
When I say Apocrypha, I mean books like 2 Esdras, 3rd and 4th Maccabees, Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh. 

Now, obviously these books are not Scripture, and the Church hasn't received them as such. But they have played a pretty influential role in Christian theology and devotion throughout the centuries, and from what I understand, Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh are used in Eastern Catholic liturgies.

I am wondering if a Christian can read these and use them with profit, and if there are any good guides to these books?
"Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 20
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#2
2 Esdras is used in the Roman Liturgy, as well.

2 Es 2:34-35 is paraphrased in the Introit of the Requiem Mass. 

The Introit of Pentecost Tuesday is from 2 Es 2:36-37. 

The Alleluia of the Vigil of Christmas is from 2 Es 16:52.

So the Church seems to have no issue with at least some of the Apocrypha, except to say that they are not inspired works which were meant to be part of the written part of Divine Tradition.

Certainly some, like the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas are very profitiable, and frequently used, but simply not considered inspired by God.

I'd see no problem using the non-Gnostic Apocrypha from imprimatured presentations of them.

As to guides, I'm not familiar with any.
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#3
The Gospel of Thomas is quite an interesting read, though I believe its authenticity is questionable.
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#4
Quote:So the Church seems to have no issue with at least some of the Apocrypha, except to say that they are not inspired works which were meant to be part of the written part of Divine Tradition.

Certainly some, like the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas are very profitiable, and frequently used, but simply not considered inspired by God.

I'd see no problem using the non-Gnostic Apocrypha from imprimatured presentations of them.


If they are not part of the written Divine Tradition (Sacred Scripture), are they part of the unwritten (Sacred Tradition)? Usage in Liturgy is pretty high praise.

And I have had trouble finding imprimatured editions of these books. The only I have two translations, The NRSV Oxford Annotated Bible (secular) and The Apocrypha translated by Edgar Goodspeed. 

The NRSV has a Catholic parallel, which I think lacks these books.
"Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 20
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#5
(07-25-2020, 08:31 AM)Matthew7-7 Wrote: The Gospel of Thomas is quite an interesting read, though I believe its authenticity is questionable.

The Gospel of Thomas, as well as several other Gnostic "gospels" are easily dated to the late 2nd-3rd century or even later.

The very fact that they can be definitively dated so late, yet seem to claim authorship by one of the Apostles, makes them of questionable value at best, except historically, to show how gnostics were operating then.

Several points demonstrate the Gnostic gospels are written much later, including their style and verbiage, but one study I recall reading in the last 10 years (but seem unable to track down with a quick search now) compared the names used in the texts, and demonstrated that the Gnostic gospels, like that "of Thomas," used names and words which were more common in the late 2nd-3rd century than were common in the early to mid-first.

That said, not all apocryphal gospels are the same or Gnostic. We do use some information from them that is reliable, but they are considered useful for their historical value and spiritual value, like the works of the Fathers (which are not canonical or inspired, but of value). For instance, we get the names Joachim and Anna as the parents of Mary from the Protoevangelium of James.

The key, as with all such literature, is to read Catholic versions of these things, and then only after one has familiarized themselves and properly studied the canonical scriptures. In general the Gnostic gospels should not be read, in my opinion, because they present, like any heretical or false literature, a danger for the Faith. For scholars and those experienced in exegesis, it's different, but for the average person, they should be avoided. When it comes to the non-canonical, but also non-Gnostic texts like the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, Psalm 151, 2 Esdras, etc. these are more easy to find in approved editions, but they are no often sold today in these edtions, because they are no profitable. Rather, the profit is where the interest and demand is, which is in the esoteric and Gnostic, unfortunately.
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#6
(07-26-2020, 04:13 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: The key, as with all such literature, is to read Catholic versions of these things, and then only after one has familiarized themselves and properly studied the canonical scriptures. In general the Gnostic gospels should not be read, in my opinion, because they present, like any heretical or false literature, a danger for the Faith. For scholars and those experienced in exegesis, it's different, but for the average person, they should be avoided. When it comes to the non-canonical, but also non-Gnostic texts like the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, Psalm 151, 2 Esdras, etc. these are more easy to find in approved editions, but they are no often sold today in these edtions, because they are no profitable. Rather, the profit is where the interest and demand is, which is in the esoteric and Gnostic, unfortunately.

Which is precisely my problem. The only editions I have would be Protestant or "ecumenical". 

I would have to ask: if the NRSV has a Catholic Edition, then what woukd substantially separate the Oxford Edition from Catholic Edition and make it evil to read this edition. 

When it comes to reading books, I understand why the Church demands imprimaturs, but it seems that this would be a matter of prudence.

Nota bene, I have no interest in Gnosticism, and as far as I am aware none of the works I would be reading make any use of those heretics.
"Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 20
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#7
MagisterMusicae, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the canon approved by Trent just the list of books that can be used liturgically, and the Church didn't define them as such until their authenticity was contested by the Protestants?

The Orthodox canon of the Old Testament includes 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh.  This is, by default, the canon of the Eastern Catholic churches as well.
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#8
(07-27-2020, 08:54 AM)Melkite Wrote: MagisterMusicae, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the canon approved by Trent just the list of books that can be used liturgically, and the Church didn't define them as such until their authenticity was contested by the Protestants?

The Orthodox canon of the Old Testament includes 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh.  This is, by default, the canon of the Eastern Catholic churches as well.

I'll second this question.

And correct me if I am wrong, Melkite, but isn't it true that there are some Orthodox who have actually held smaller canons, closer to the Rabbinical and Protestant enumeration, as well as larger canons? 

From everything that I have seen and heard so far about the matter, the Easterners and Orientals seem to have a very different idea of what is the canon and what constitutes scripture than we in the Latin tradition have.

For instance, I have heard that the Russian Orthodox would refer to what Catholics call deuterocanonical books as "non-canonical Old Testament Scriptures."
"Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius of Antioch, Eph. 20
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#9
(07-27-2020, 01:01 PM)Justin Tertius Wrote: And correct me if I am wrong, Melkite, but isn't it true that there are some Orthodox who have actually held smaller canons, closer to the Rabbinical and Protestant enumeration, as well as larger canons? 

For instance, I have heard that the Russian Orthodox would refer to what Catholics call deuterocanonical books as "non-canonical Old Testament Scriptures."

Not that I'm aware of. The Greeks and Antiochians are pretty adamant about the Septuagint as a seamless whole, in my experience. There may have been some Fathers who treated the proto- and deutero-canonicals as being of different natures, but I'm thinking particularly of St. Jerome on that one, so I've always thought that was more of a Latin viewpoint.

The Russians don't see the deuterocanonicals as non-canonical. In fact, they have an additional book, 2 Esdras (4 Esdras by Latin numbering, I think) beyond what the Greeks have.
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#10
(07-27-2020, 08:54 AM)Melkite Wrote: MagisterMusicae, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the canon approved by Trent just the list of books that can be used liturgically, and the Church didn't define them as such until their authenticity was contested by the Protestants?

The Orthodox canon of the Old Testament includes 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Psalm 151 and the Prayer of Manasseh.  This is, by default, the canon of the Eastern Catholic churches as well.

It doesn't look like Trent was only talking about the liturgy, but which books are to be considered inspired:

Quote:The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,–lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the Same three legates of the Apostolic Sec presiding therein,–keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament–seeing that one God is the author of both –as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one’s mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod. They are as set down here below: of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second. Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle. But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.
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