|Pharos by Salvador Dali|
This lesson will be less "inspired" and more "historical", as we dig a little deeper into the history of the texts of the Old Testament and find out how the differences between the Catholic and Protestant Bibles arose. I hope this history won't be too dry!
I. The Legend of the Seventy
|Ancient synagogue at Sardis|
So the uniquely Jewish vision of one mighty Creator God along with the Hebrew Scriptures were spread about the known world. God was preparing the soil of the Gentile nations to receive the seed of the Word of God!
|Ptolemy II Philadelphus|
The Pharos was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. One of the tallest structures of the ancient world, with a height estimated to have been between 393 and 450 ft., it guarded the harbor entrance to Alexandria for over 1500 years. It was completed in the reign of Ptolemy II (which may be why it enters into the legend of the translation of the Septuagint). It sustained a lot of damage during two earthquakes in the 14th century, but portions of it stood until 1480, when it was finally destroyed by conquering armies.
II. The Septuagint and the Early Church Fathers
The Septuagint version of the Old Testament was the version usually quoted by the writers of the New Testament and by the early Church Fathers. In using the Septuagint, they were most likely following the lead of Jesus, whose quotes of the Old Testament mainly follow the Septuagint translation.
|Codex Sinaiticus (Septuagint)|
III. Why the Catholic and Protestant Bibles are Different
Once we learn about the Septuagint and the differing Hebrew canons, we can understand how differences between Catholic and Protestant Bibles arose. Here's what happened, step by step:
1. The Septuagint was the version used by Christ and the Apostles, and by the Fathers of the Church.
2. The Christian canon which was finalized at Carthage was based on the Septuagint and included ALL of the Old Testament books that were in the Septuagint. Therefore, the "deutero-canonical" books were part of the inspired canon as decreed by the authority of the Catholic Church (which, as we saw in this lesson on the canon, is really the authority of the Holy Spirit Himself acting through the Church Christ founded).
3. Much later on in history, in the year 1517, Martin Luther begins to question Church authority and to point out problems he sees in the Church. Unfortunately, difficulties which should have prompted only reform in the Church lead to a split which widens and deepens into a permanent divide between Protestants and Catholics.
4. Martin Luther not only challenges Church teaching, but also calls into question the authority of the Church to set the canon. He objects to some of the books of the Bible because they contradict his personal theological opinions. For example, 2 Maccabees specifically mentions prayers for the dead--not a popular idea with Luther!
5. Martin Luther decides to use the Hebrew (Masoretic) canon, which was actually set after the time of Christ and does not include any of the seven deuterocanonical books or the portions of Daniel and Esther that were in the Septuagint and also in the Catholic canon.
6. Martin Luther tries to remove James and possibly other New Testament books, but people object to this effort and all the New Testament books remain in the Protestant Bible.
|Main Altar, St. Peter's Basilica|
1. You are probably familiar with the New Testament, but you may want to just thumb through it to get an idea of the books contained in it.
2. Read Luke 1:1-4, Matthew 28:16-20, and 1 John 4:13. List the reasons these verses give for the writing of the New Testament.
3. Think about the preciousness of the gift of the Bible. Not all people have a Bible, or the ability to read it. Many Jews and Christians have sacrificed their lives throughout the course of history to defend and guard this sacred Book. How can you show reverence to the Word of God? Share with us here ways that you in your family reverence the Bible. Here's one thing we do: if a Bible falls on the floor, we immediately picked it up and kiss it.
Main Idea: The Catholic Church based her canon on the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible; later Protestants removed seven books and a little more from the authorized Old Testament canon.
Next lesson: The New Testament
(and a reminder: this is just a quick overview, we will be coming back to the individual books of the Bible in our next series...which is only a few more posts away!)
Do you wonder why I am posting this material using such a large text? I realized that many of the Moms among us are probably reading these posts with a baby or toddler in their laps, and it can be pretty tough to see the little font sizes if you are 4 feet from the screen so that your baby doesn't play with your keyboard...so a little accommodation for Moms! They deserve it!