Here’s How We Know What Belongs in the Bible

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The South has a Biblical heritage.

Without understanding that fact, foreigners everywhere from Britain to California have misunderstood the character and the Faith of Southern people. Southerners should take pride in that truth.

What might be harder for many to swallow is that many of us have been fed lies about the Bible for most of our history. This is easy enough to believe when we rightfully criticize “deconstruction” and “higher criticism,” and the laughable archaeology of many apostate Protestant sects; what about when these criticisms are levelled at the devout?

Catholic Tradition has always been the sole and sure source of Faith for all Christians. The Bible was assembled under the supervision and jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome in AD 383; the Scriptures were first put between two covers by the Catholic Church, was printed in Latin, read in Latin, transcribed by Catholic monks, and all of what the layfolk knew of the Bible for over one-thousand-and-three-hundred years came from what was read to them at the Catholic Mass.

Historical facts stand behind the obvious: if you want to be Scriptural, you must be Traditional. It’s the most important tradition that the South defines herself by.

But how about we look closer at where our Biblical heritage was first set in stone?

From Fish Eaters:

“The canon of the Old Testament that Catholics use is based on the text used by Alexandrian Jews, a version known as the ‘Septuagint’ (also called ‘LXX’ or ‘The Seventy’) and which came into being around 280 B.C. as a translation of then existing texts from Hebrew into Greek by 72 Jewish scribes (the Torah was translated first, around 300 B.C., and the rest of Tanach was translated afterward).

It was a standard Jewish version of the Old Testament, used by the writers of the New Testament, as is evidenced by the fact that Old Testament references found in the New Testament refer to the Septuagint over other versions of the Old Testament. Let me reiterate: the then 300+ year old Septuagint version of Scripture was good enough for Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, etc., which is evident in their referencing it over 300 times (out of 350 Old Testament references!) in their New Testament writings- and the Septuagint includes 7 books and parts of Esther and Daniel that were removed from Protestant Bibles some 1,500 years after the birth of Christ.

The Septuagint is the Old Testament referred to in the Didache or ‘Doctrine of the Apostles’ (first century Christian writings) and by Origen, Irenaeus of Lyons, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Cyprian of Carthage, Justin Martyr, St. Augustine and the vast majority of early Christians who referenced Scripture in their writings. The Epistle of Pope Clement, written in the first century, refers to the Books Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, analyzed the book of Judith, and quotes sections of the book of Esther that were removed from Protestant Bibles.

Bottom line: the Septuagint was the version of the Old Testament accepted by the very earliest Christians (and, yes, those 7 ‘extra’ books were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls which date between 168 B.C. and A.D. 68, and which by the way, support both the Septuagint and the 6th- 10th c. A.D. Masoretic texts in various ways, but supporting the Septuagint on average.).

The deuterocanonical books were, though, debated in the early Church, and some Fathers accorded them higher status than others (hence the Catholic term for them: ‘deuterocanonical,’ or what St. Cyril of Jerusalem called ‘secondary rank,’ as opposed to the other books which are called ‘protocanonical’). But all the Fathers believed as did St. Athanasius, who, in one of his many Easter letters, names the 22 Books all Christians accept and then describes the deuterocanonicals as ‘appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness.'” (Read the whole thing here.)

Saint Jerome was the man tasked with gathering together those disparate and inspired texts which we now call the Sacred Scriptures. In spite of his own personal reservations about the Biblical canon, he obeyed the Church and gave mankind, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the Scriptures from which we derive so much spiritual fruit. Pray for his guidance, and go to the Scriptures, for as Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ!”