Monday, August 9, 2010

When Did Rabbinical Jews "Officially" Reject the Deuterocanon?

For those that don't know what the term "deuterocanon" mean. It's the historical ussage for what many puritan protestants and some secularists call "Apocrypha". These books weren't really called "Apocrypha" by most Christians in the past. It is true that some did call these books apocrypha, but this is mostly seen in the west from the 5th century on. Before the time of Jerome these books were never called "Apocrypha".

The word "deuterocanon" simply means "secondary". Or the secondary order of books. The historical title for the other set of books is "protocanon". Which means, "primary", or the Primary order of books. Some Orthodox Scholars prefer not to use the term "Deuterocanon" because that is a western Roman Catholic term. But whatever the case, in varying degrees, the Church has always embraced at least some of these books as scripture.

So when did the nonbelieving Jews officially reject the "Deuterocanon"?

Well, in 135 A.D. "Akiba ben Joseph" was made head of the Academy of Jamnia. It was under his influence that the Jews "officially" rejected the Deuto-canon.

He supported "Bar kochba" by calling him the Jewish Messiah. The christians refused to see him as the Messiah and thus the hatred for the Deuto-canon and New Testament books. According to Wiki....and no....I don't really like wicki, and I reject their cynicism in thinking Akiba didn't really support Bar Kocka in the rebellion.....but one thing they did include was his dislike for Christianity and the D.C.'s

As quoted from wicki:
"He has, however, no objection to the private reading of the
Apocrypha, as is evident from the fact that he himself makes frequent use of
Ecclesiasticus (W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 277; H. Grätz, Gnosticismus, p. 120).
Akiba stoutly defended, however, the canonicity of the Song of Songs, and Esther
(Yad. iii.5, Meg. 7a). Grätz's statements (Shir ha-Shirim, p. 115, and Kohelet,
p. 169) respecting Akiba's attitude toward the canonicity of the Song of Songs
are misconceptions, as I.H. Weiss (Dor, ii. 97) has to some extent shown. To the
same motive underlying his antagonism to the Apocrypha, namely, the desire to
disarm Christians—especially Jewish Christians—who drew their "proofs" from the
Apocrypha, must also be attributed his wish to emancipate the Jews of the
Dispersion from the domination of the Septuagint
, the errors and inaccuracies in
which frequently distorted the true meaning of Scripture, and were even used as
arguments against the Jews by the Christians."

And in Michuta's book he says:
"The first revolt(of 70 A.D.) was a national uprising; this
second Revolt(around 135 A.D. or maybe 150 A.D.) would be a messianic movement.
By means of Akiba's work, a large number of jews joined in the rebellion. Even
Samaritans and pagans joined Bar Cochba in his revolt. However, there was one
Jewish sect which refused to join: that obstinate tribe known as christians. The
Christians, a majority of whom were still ethnically jewish, were pressed to
join in this life and death struggle with Rome, but they refused. To accept bar
Cochba as Messiah, as Akiba insisted, would have been nothing short of Apostasy;
and because of their refusal to do so, Christians were treated by the Jews as
heretics and traitors. It is this same Rabbi Akiba who is the very first writer
to explicity and forthrightly reject the inspiration of both the christian New
Testament and the books of the Deuterocanon. Akiba's declaration is found in
Tosefta Yahayim 2:13 which reads;

"The Gospel and heretical books do not
defile the hands. The books of Ben Sira and all other books written from then
on, do not defile the hands."

Two outstanding points must be drawn from
this impious declaration: first, it must have been common knowledge even at this
early date that the christians accepted the Deutercanon and used it as Scripture
(along with the Gospels), otherwise, there would have been no need to rule
against them; secondly that at least some jews must also have shared that
acceptance, otherwise Akiba's decree would have been superfluous."
Here we
have a hostile witness confirming through his actions that the earliest
christians accepted both the Gospels and the Deuterocanon as inspired and sacred
Scripture. It was in this watershed event- the naming of the false Messiah Bar
Cochba and the Anathematizing of those who rejected him- which occasioned the
very first unquestionable rejection of the Deuteros by a single, widely
recognized Jewish authority. It was under Akiba's tenure that a single textual
tradition of the Old Testament was first adopted; before this time (as we have
a variety of different texts were in use among the jews. It was here,
sometime in the middle of the second Christian century, that Judaism first
adopted an official normative text(i.e. the Masoretic Text or the MT).

pages 68-70 from the book "Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger: the untold Story of the lost books of the Protestant Bible" by Gary G. Michuta

Alot of christians in America don't know this particular theory or interpretation of history. I know I didn't until a few years ago. Before then I was told that a Jewish rabbinical council of Jamnia of either 70 A.D. or 90 A.D. rejected these books. But it seems as if officially such a thing probably didn't happen until some decades later. The truth is, the Jews didn't have church councils in the way that Christians did. So there was never really a Jewish council of Jamnia. Jamnia was a Jewish school. A type of rabbinical Academy, so it would be more accurate to call it, the Academy of Jamnia. The first person to call it a "synod" was the Jewish historian H. Graetz(1817-1891). Some christians who read his work speculated it was a jewish version of a christian church council.

And this is where the whole "council of Jamnia of 90 A.D." comes from. It comes from speculation. The sources that we do have about that time never mentions anything about any books being taken out of a canon. Most of the debates was around the Book of Ecclesiastes and maybe the Song of Songs. This Jamnia assembly didn't lay down the limits of the Old Testament canon.

Therefore, in regards to Jamnia, it is more accurate to point to what happened around 135 A.D. for this is when the Jamnia rabbinical school officially rejected not only the deuteros, but also the christian Gospels.



Jnorm said...

If there is anything inaccurate please feel free to let me know.


maximus said...


My man you are bringin' it! Not to be partisan but I am black and Orthodox and I must tell you that your work on this site and Ancient Christian Defense has been quite edifying to me. Thank you very, very much and may Christ our God continue to bless your endeavors. Jnorm of North America, Apostle to the African diaspora. Great stuff brother!!!!!!!

Jnorm said...

Thanks Marlon! Hey, guess what? I just found that what we call the D.C.'s. We call them the Anagignoskomena.

That's a word I'm gonna have to learn to well as get use to.


biblelighthouse said...

I agree that the Deuterocanon is Scripture. For example, the book of Wisdom is the inspired Word of God:

biblelighthouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Albert said...

Dear jnorm , iam asking about the translation of the Deuterocanon ,were they translated from Hbrew to Greek by the seventy Rabbis or they were written in Greek

George Albert said...

Dear jnorm , iam asking about the translation of the Deuterocanon ,were they translated from Hbrew to Greek by the seventy Rabbis or they were written in Greek

Jnorm said...

George Wadie, good questions. We now know that some of the D.C.'s were in Hebrew or Aramaic. But at this point in time all we know is that was only for some of the D.C.'s.

Unknown said...

The Protestant appeal to the Council of Jamnia has no historical foundation. Historical evidence suggests the Jews were actively hostile to the Christians, as described in the book of Acts. (Acts 13:43-50; 14:1-5,19; 19:33) Moreover, it has been suggested that the Hebrew canon was restricted in an attempt to remove support for the Messiahship of Jesus.[1] Justin Martyr argues forcefully that the Jews artificially truncated their canon of Scripture to eliminate passages that demonstrate that Jesus was the promised Messiah.[2] This process was once thought to have begun with the school of Jewish law founded by Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai in the city of Jamnia. Late 19th to mid-20th biblical scholarship suggested the existence of a Council of Jamnia which decided on a definitive Jewish canon.
In his book The Canon of Scripture, F.F. Bruce describes the makeup and work of the Council of Jamnia;[3] however, it is no longer certain that such a council took place. The myth of Jamnia appears to have been created by a single Jewish Historian, Heinrich Graetz, who presented his "novel thesis", yet provided no evidence whatsoever.[4] Therefore, Protestant appeals to a Council of Jamnia as support for their truncated canon of Scripture are unsupported and invalid.

[1] For example, Baruch 3 can be interpreted as supporting the identification of Wisdom with Christ, especially as regards the Incarnation.
[2] Schaff, Philip. 1884. ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Vol. 1. 10 vols. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Chapters LXXI and LXXII
[3] Bruce, F. F. 2010. The Canon of Scripture. Kindle Edition. Downers Grove: IVP Academic.
[4] Aune, D. E. 1991. "On the Origins of the "Council of Javneh" Myth." Journal of Biblical Literature (The Society of Biblical Literature) 110 (3): 491-493. Accessed January 30, 2014.





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