In New Martyr Daniel Sysoev’s book “The Law of God” he lists a 66 book canon and states the following:
In addition to these books, which are called canonical, i.e. standard, Scripture also has noncanonical books: [Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, 2 Ezra, 3 Ezra, 1-3 Maccabees]…These books contain all that is necessary for salvation. Someone asked Saint Anthony, ‘What should I do to please God?’ ‘What I command you, this keep faithfully,’ the elder replied. ‘Wherever you may go, always have God before you. Whatever you may do, have a witness to this in Holy Scripture’ (p. 14-15).
For more on the Orthodox view of the canon, I recommend seeing the article on Ancient Insights.
I often get asked what the “official position” of the Orthodox Church is on the so-called deuterocanon (i.e. the Wisdom of Solomon, Judith, Tobit, Bel and the Dragon, the History of Susanna, 1st & 2nd Maccabees, and the Wisdom of Sirach), because it’s popularly assumed that we hold the exact same position on these books as the Roman Catholic Church does, however I don’t think that’s the full picture. Below I have excerpted what I think are the most authoritative and definitive statements of the Orthodox Church on this question, and I think one can deduce the following conclusions from them:
First, the deuterocanon is part of Holy Scripture, meaning it is inerrant. This is very clear from the Council of Jerusalem +1672, which says quite plainly about the books in the deuterocanon, “we also judge [these] to be Canonical Books, and confess them to be Sacred Scripture.” However, the…
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This article is quite good, and these conclusions have been noted by many Orthodox commentators. I had a friend forward me a video by, well, you know who, who claimed that the Orthodox are divided on the canon of scripture (when? by who? who is in conflict over the canon? no names given)
The two of the greatest canonists of the Church, Sts Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Nikodemos Milas are both fully aware of the different lists of canonical books of the Bible. The explanation is that they are all ‘canon’ if we recognize the deuterocanonical books as part of the ‘greater canon’. Fr Michael Pomazansky, who the character referred to above as contradicting 1672, is but echoing what these two saints said. However, this is ALSO the answer of Metropolitan Macarius (Bulgakov) (no, not the sophianist), which St. Philaret is nearly quoting word for word in his catechism.
I also had a big hoot when he tried to say that there was a conflict between St. Philaret’s catechism and 1672. St. Philaret cites it 3 times! He is unaware that what the Russian Church refers to as the “Epistle to the Eastern Patriarchs, 1723”, that is the decrees of the Council of Jerusalem 1672 that were sent to the Russian Church!
These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority…, nor simply because they contain revelation without error [inerrant], but because, being written under the INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.
First Vatican Council
Fortunately, the canon of Athanasius the Great, which also presents a closed Canon of the Books of Holy Scripture does not contradict Canon 24/32 of the Council of Carthage, despite the fact that it includes a different (lesser) number of books. This contradiction is avoided because Athanasius the Great’s canon speaks chiefly and especially about the divinely INSPIRED books of Holy Scripture, while that of Carthage speaks more generally of the divine books of Holy Scripture. That is to say, the Carthagensian canon refers to those books that are simply divine, unerring, divinely overseen, but are NOT divinely INSPIRED, i.e., they do not contain “divine revelation”, they are not “sources of salvation”.
Click to access 2007_2_5_Boumis.pdf
Dear Craig, I think you are wrong in your analysis of the orthodoxy of these books. The title you gave them was “inerrant and inspired”, but many prominent men said that they could not be used to discuss points of faith and doctrines, nor to substantiate it, like Jerome, so why are they inspired if they cannot be used to discuss doctrines and points of faith?, there are many testimonies that they are not inspired, Jerome says in his commentary on the book of Daniel, that additions to the book of Daniel were not considered authoritative Scripture by several Greek fathers, as Eusebius, Origen, etc… there is a clear distinction between them and the Bible indeed, but one of the oldest testimonies I know of a denial of their inspiration comes from Tertullian, who in one of his comments on the passage from 1 Samuel 28: 15 says that it could never be Samuel who was invoked by the witch, but in Sirach 46:19-20 it is said that the witch did indeed invoke Samuel’s soul, Tertullian says:
“Many attempts were also wrought against the apostles by the sorcerers Simon and Elymas, but the blindness which struck (them) was no enchanter’s trick. What novelty is there in the effort of an unclean spirit to counterfeit the truth? At this very time, even, the heretical dupes of this same Simon (Magus) are so much elated by the extravagant pretensions of their art, that they undertake to bring up from Hades the souls of the prophets themselves. a lying wonder. For, indeed, it was no less than this that was anciently permitted to the Pythonic (or ventriloquistic) spirit — even to represent the soul of Samuel, when Saul consulted the dead, after (losing the living) God.” A Treatise on the Soul, Chapter LVII.
Therefore, considering that Tertullian was an assiduous reader of Scripture, as were the early apologists, do you think he simply missed the statement in Sirach 46?, is almost impossible.
They were also called apocrypha by many, which is a connotation of dubious writing obviously, apart from what I don’t know if you’ve noticed, in one of the quotes from Athanasius that you put they are placed next to the writing of “shepherd of hermas”, just as Jerome also puts it, which is not in the orthodox canon, proving their apocryphal nature.
We see some old comments:
Peter Mauritius, French theologian (year 1179)
“The Jews relegate this story (Tobias) to the Apocrypha, but Jerome says in his prologue that it should be in the Hagiographies, and in any case, if it were there, it would be in the third order of the Old Testament canon. As it is not in any order, we would say that this is because Jerome accepts many things as hagiographies, to the point of including Apocrypha as well.” (Peter Mauritius (Venerabilis), Historia Scholastica, Historia Libri Tobiae. Incipit praefatio in historiam libri Josue. Patrologia Latina 198:1432)
“The story of Susanna, which in Hebrew is not the book of Daniel. And he calls it a fable, not because the story itself is corrupt, but the part about the stoning of the two priests is false, whom Jerome says was burned, and because they claim it was written by Daniel, when it was written by some orator. Greek.” (Peter Mauritius (Venerabilis), Historia Scholastica, Historia Libri Danielis, Cap. XIII, De Sussana, Patrologia Latina 198:1466)
Philip of Harveng, a monk and theologian (year 1183):
“In fact, Jerome translated from Hebrew into Latin all the scriptures that were kept among the Hebrews in the canon. In them it cannot be found that Solomon offered branches to the scribes that he might be defeated [excerpt contained in Ecclesiasticus]. His remaining scriptures are apocryphal whose authority is not adequate to confirm the things that might be in dispute. Whence also the book of Jesus the son of Sirach, Judith, Tobias and the first Maccabees are counted by them among the APOCRYPHA, since they are not kept in their canon (…) Solomon did not write Ecclesiasticus as Augustine in the tenth book. of the City of God and, before him, Jerome said in many places.” (Responsio De Damnatione Salamonis. Patrologia Latina 203:659)
Alonso Tostado, Spanish theologian, Bishop of Avila (1410):
“However, no one is necessarily obliged to believe what is to be obtained there; as is the book of the Wisdom of Solomon, and of Ecclesiasticus, and of the Book of Maccabees, and of Judith and of Tobias.” (Episcopi Abulensis, Commentariorum in Sanctum Iesu Christi Euangelium secundum Matthaeum, Praefatio, Quest 1, 2, 3)
“n a way, because it is not certain of these writers, whether they wrote under the dictates of the Holy Spirit;”(Episcopi Abulensis, Commentariorum in Sanctum Iesu Christi Euangelium secundum Matthaeum, Praefatio, Quest 1, 2, 3)
Both quotes are taken from Alonso’s original commentary, which appears here:
“Neminem tamen obligat ad necessario credendum id, quod ibi haberur: ficut est de libro Sapientiae Salomonis, & de Ecclesiastico, & de libro Machabaeorum, & de Judith, & de Tobia.”
“Uno modo,quia non constat de corum scriptoribus, an Spiritu Sancto dictante scripseint, & etiam on constat de omnibus, quae in eis habentur, an vera fint.”
Alcuin of York, eighth-century monk (735):
“While the testimony that corresponds to your error failed in its perversity in the prophets of God, you set yourself up to speak of a new prophet… But you left the God who delivered you and forgot your Redeemer. In the book of Jesus the son of Sirach one reads this above-mentioned idea, which the blessed Jerome and Isidore doubtless judged to be among the apocrypha, that is, doubtful scriptures. (Alcuin, Adversus Elipandum Toletanum, Liber Primus XVIII. Patrologia Latina 101:254)
What do you have to say about 8th century Christians saying that the deuterocanonicals are apocryphal and that you can’t be sure they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, Craig?
I believe it is unnecessary to talk about Jerome, you must have read his prefaces where he clearly says that these books cannot be used to support doctrines of faith…if that is so, they cannot be the Word of God
Greetings from a Protestant
We have Orthodox sources that say that no point of doctrine hinges solely on the Deuterocanon. I can think of one book that says such published by St Tikhon’s in Waymart PA. That being said, this does not mean they are meaningless. It may help if you watch this: