25 November 2010

Blessings from God are not of this World

This blog post originates from the response (mostly positive) to a message I wrote on Facebook about idolizing the rich and wrongly thinking they must be very holy and have many blessings from God.
Matthew 19:21:"Jesus said to him, "If thou at willing to be perfect, go and sell thy possessions, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and keep on following Me."
If you are very rich and live in extravagance, these are not the blessings of God. This is not the sign of a blessed person who is very good. This is what the televangelists of watered down "Christianity" will tell you, but this is because of their greed, love of money, and pride. Now should you think Christ's teaching on how to be perfect was only for that one rich man, let us continue on in to this chapter after the rich an had left being grieved.
Matthew 19:23-24:And Jesus said to His disciples, "Verily, I say to you, that a rich man, with difficulty, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens. "And again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
This has two meanings, the first very obvious, the second less so. As there was supposedly a gate in to Jerusalem called the "Needle's Eye" which would only allow a camel in with great difficulty after it unloaded itself of any people and every possession it carried. Not unlike what Christ told the rich man, eh?

So do not covet your neighbor's ass, your neighbor's wife, or any of his possessions, and do not think he is blessed or lives a holy life if he has any possessions, a huge house, or many entertainments. For these things show how much he is of this world, which as Christians, we are called not to be of.
1 Timothy 6:7-11: For we brought nothing into the world, and it is manifest that neither are we able to carry anything out; but having sustenance and coverings, we shall be satisfied with these. Now they who wish to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires, which sink men into destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evils, by which some, reaching out for themselves, were led astray from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But thou, O man of God, be fleeing these things; and be pursuing righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Being rich is not a sin, but neither is it necessarily a blessing, as it may lead to our perdition. Being a responsible rich person who does not live like the outlandishly rich, is a great thing, however. Let us give thanks for whatever we have, whether great or small!

To be continued at http://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2011/11/be-not-of-this-world-love-of-world-is.html

The text of the Orthodox Bible

As for editions or versions of the Old Covenant the principal ones are five in number, namely, the Greek, the Syriac, the Arabic, the Aramaic (formerly called “Chaldaic”), and the Latin (or Roman). The Greek is divided into four main versions. Of these the first and most ancient is that of the LXX (or LXXXII), commonly known as the Septuagint in English, which, in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, interpreted not only the Pentateuch, as mistakenly maintained by Scaligeros and other modernists, but the entire Old Covenant, as is attested by Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and others, before the times of the Maccabees, which is the same as saying 230 years before the birth of Christ. It was from that version, indeed, that the divine Apostles drew the predictions of the prophets. But if Bellarminus the Jesuit says that that version is incomplete as it now stands, citing as witnesses St. Jerome, who says in the preface to the Chronicles (or Paralipomena) that the ancient and genuine version was corrupted and that originals thereof were extant wherein it could be seen that they differed from one another, as well as Justin, who says in the Dialogue with Pryphon that Aristeus, an aide-de-camp of King Ptolemy, bears witness that the Septuagint Version agreed with the Hebrew originals, though by his time (the saint asserts in his own declaration) it had come to differ in many points from the Hebrew manuscripts. Nevertheless, let Bellarminus learn that the Septuagint Version (i.e., the text of the genuine LXX) was directly in the beginning judged by the Church to be genuine and authoritative; and the divine Apostles used it in testimony; and it was recognized by the whole Church—not only the Eastern, but also the Western—before the translation made by St. Jerome into the Latin. Even Philo the Jew praises the LXX, not only as interpreters of the Scriptures, but also as prophets inspired with divine Spirit. ... Both divine Justin and Tertullian say that each of the LXX interpreters translated the Scripture separately in separate houses, and, miraculous to relate! Not one of them was found to have added or to have omitted a single thing even of the slightest kind in the books that they had severally written, but, on the contrary, identically the same very words were found to have been written in all of them. So who can prefer any other version to this God-inspired version of the LXX? What if it does differ in some parts to some extent from the Hebrew originals? ... It must be said, however, that the Hebrew originals differ from the text of the version of LXX, because, as Syncellus notes, the Jews corrupted the Hebrew text of the Old Covenant. ... Again, Justin in his Dialogue with Tryphon declare that ...[it] was corrupted by the Jews ... even Rabbi Elijah says openly that the Hebrew text of the Old Covenant differs from the text of it now extant. So that Symelchus is right in saying that the LXX interpreted the Scripture from an old and uncorrupted copy of the Hebrew text. This, moreover, is plainly evident also from the following fact. The divine Evangelists quote the words spoken by Jesus in Hebrew from the Old Covenant in the very same words that were used in Greek to translate the Hebrew text by the LXX; since, as a matter of fact the Lord spoke them out of the true and uncorrupted original Hebrew text, as a God of truth and divine lawgiver, which proves that the LXX who translated these passages used the same true and uncorrupted original. That of all other versions that of the LXX is the most trustworthy, both because they translated the text of the Scripture before the birth of Christ, and because they were many and yet in agreement with each other, we need but the testimony of divine Chrysostom to verify, as he does in his Homily V on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and the confirmation afforded by Novel 146 of Justinian, and divine Epiphanius in his Haer. I. St. Chrysostom, in his Discourse XXVII to Judaizers ... says that the Scriptures which had been interpreted and translated in the time of Ptolemy were still in existence in the temple of Serapis at that time... If many of the Fathers when interpreting the Scriptures employed in the case of some words the interpretations given by Aquila, Theodotion, or Symmachus, they did so, not on the ground that they preferred those interpretations to the ones made by the LXX, but on the ground that certain passages interpreted by the LXX were thereby more clarified, since the LXX translated more in accordance with the meaning, and not in accordance with the words and expressions in the Hebrew text. Read also Dositheos... This concerns the version of the LXX. A second version was made by Aquila, who became converted from Christianity to Judaism during the reign of King Hadrian in A.D. 130. A third version was that of the Samaritan Symmachus, who became converted from Judaism to Christianity and embraced the heresy of the Ebionites in the reign of Commodus. A fourth version was that of Theodotion, who at first became a Christian, but later became a Marcionite (a sect of Gnostics opposed to Judaism), and interpreted the Scriptures in accordance with the teachings of the heresy to which he belonged, ... Origen collected these four versions together into a single volume ... the Tetrapla. But after writing next to these four versions the Hebrew text on one side ... he called the book the Hexapla. Lastly, combining with these six also the version found in Nicopolis, or in Jericho, in the time of Alexander Mammaias, and the sixth one found in Nicopolis adjoining Actii, after the persecution of Severus, he called the book the Octapla... Note, however, that there was also found a seventh version by Lucian, the great ascetic and martyr, published in Nicomedia during the reign of Emperor Constantine. The said Lucian read the previous versions and, having found the Hebrew original, added what was missing and corrected what was superfluous. As for the three versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, they were never regarded as authoritative and were never sanctioned by the Church, since those translators, being apostates, purposely left the passages prophesying about Christ unclear. ... This is much for the Greek versions. The Syriac, and the Arabic, and the Aramaic versions are also of benefit as aids to the comprehension of the Scriptures, and this is especially true of the Syriac version, which is the most ancient and approximates to the Hebrew. St. Basil praises it in his Hexaemeron, and the Church in Syria uses it on the ground that it is correct. The Aramaic version is called the Targum, a word meaning paraphrase, and it was produced by three Rabbis during the fifth century after Christ. However, it is not approved by the Church, because in many places it has some myths scattered here and there in the text. The Roman, or the Latin, version is praised as the fifth and last. The Roman was the most ancient, but it was the Latin one (the Vulgate) by St. Jerome ... It contains a great many errors, and much that is not in the Hebrew text. So that neither is it to be preferred to the version of the LXX (Septuagint). (Rudder, pp. 150-152)

As for the books of the New Covenant, these were all composed and written in Greek originally, with the sole exception of the Gospel according to St. Matthew and the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, which were composed and written originally in Hebrew or in Syriac. The Hebrew original, however, of the Gospel according to St. Matthew is not extant, nor is it quite clear who translated it into Greek. Some say that the translator was James the brother of God. As for the Epistle to the Hebrews, it was translated into Greek by either Luke, or Barnabas, or Clement of Rome. I said “Syriac” because the Arabic language prevailing at that time was mixed with Syriac. But if Cesare Baronius, the Jesuit chronographer, asserts that the Gospel according to St. Mark was composed and written originally in Latin, let him rejoice in his opinion, and let him take shame in our own Fathers, who assert that it was composed and written originally in Greek... But what should we say in regard to the cited verses of St. Gregory the Theologian, wherein it is said verbatim: “Mark Fourth in Italy; Luke in the land of the Achaians (i.e., Greece)”? Either that this passage is spurious and introduced from without by another hand, or that the vote of the majority ought to decide the issue. For if this were the genuine opinion of the Theologian, how is it that St. Jerome failed to notice it, who was his disciple and pupil... ? In this connection what is historically recorded by Nicholas Malaxus is noteworthy, to the effect that divine Luke wrote his Gospel in Mega Spelaion (meaning “Great Cave”), as is stated in the imperial “gold edict” (or “chrysoboulon”) of that Monastery. (Rudder, pp. 149-150)

So there you have it: the authoritative text of the Holy Scriptures is to be found in the Greek. This statement does not deny the importance of translations, it only means that the Greek provides the standard the others are based on; in particular, for the Orthodox Christian, the Greek text of the Septuagint (LXX) and not the Hebrew is used as Old Testament Scripture! This was well and good while the Byzantine Empire was around to encourage the maintenance and production of the Scriptures, which are, it is fair to say, reflected in codices of the so-called Byzantine text type—also Majority, Traditional, Ecclesiastical, Constantinopolitan, or Syrian—that has by far the largest number of surviving manuscripts.

But, alas, Byzantium was to succumb to pressures of the Moslem onslaught. The beginning of the end came when Emperor John VIII Paleologos (1392-1448) entered into a union with pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence in 1439 in hopes of thereby gaining Western military support for the defence of Constantinople (for an accurate account of the events surrounding this council, see "Saint Mark Evgenikos, Metropolitan of Ephesus" in The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy). Anti-unionists held sway in Constantinople, however, until the eve of the commemoration of St. Theodosia (29th of May) in 1453 when, after having endured the siege of Sultan Mehmet for five months, the majority of them joined with the Latins in what became the final liturgy in Aghia Sophia; it was then that a pitiful and ignominious union in fact took place (p. 521, Ibid.). After the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans and its subsequent rule by the Moslems (the so-called "Turkish yoke"), Bible publishing in Greek by the Orthodox was effectively halted—only in the West by non-Orthodox did its publication continue.

Aside: with the cessation of the flow of stabilized and consistent translations of the Bible from the Byzantines via the South Slavs to the Rus' in the north, it became desireable to establish and maintain a standard Slavonic Bible text. In the late 15th century the bishop of Novgorod and Pskov, Gennadius, complained about heretics who distorted the Scriptures "'in the Jewish way,' ostensibly to conceal the christological details inherent in them" (Cooper, Slavic Scriptures, 2003, p. 128). Thus began his monumental effort to compile the first complete and definitive Church Slavonic Bible (later followed by the Ostrog Bible in the 16th c., the "first to be printed" [in Moscow] Bible of the 17th c., and the so-called Elizabeth Bible of the 18th c. that continued to be reprinted in Russia every few years until 1914.

With Gutenberg's invention of a printing press and the subsequent publication of a 42-line Latin Bible ca. 1452-1456 came a flurry of Bible printings. Over the next sixty years or so, more than one hundred editions of the Latin Bible, three editions of the Hebrew Old Testament, several Greek Psalters, and many editions of the entire Bible in German, French, Italian, and other languages (but not Greek!) were produced with Latin as the base language from which translations were made.

Then in 1502 work began on an ambitious task of compiling a massive and complete polyglot of the Bible (Greek being one of the languages used) "to revive the languishing study of the Sacred Scriptures." The Roman Catholic scholars performing the work met in the city of Alcalá de Henares (in Latin, Complutum), and work continued there for fifteen years. The New Testament was completed and printed in 1514, and Old Testament was completed in 1517; however, publication was delayed until 1520 because a competing effort (Erasmus; see below) had obtained an exclusive four-year publishing privilege from Emperor Maximilian and Pope Leo X in 1516. The work is known as the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. Lest one get the idea that this polyglot was in some way an ecumenical endeavor, or was trying to be benevolent or even reconciliatory toward the Greek Orthodox, consider the layout of the Old Testament and the rationale given: the Latin Vulgate was placed between the Greek and Hebrew versions, and thus the synagogue and the Eastern church, as the preface explains it, are set like the thieves on this side and on that, with Jesus (that is, the Roman Church) in the midst!

Erasmus (ca. 1466-1536) was a humanist and Roman Catholic priest, and has been considered to have been the center of the literary movement of his time. One of his projects was to produce a critical edition of the New Testament in Latin: "My mind is so excited at the thought of emending Jerome’s text, with notes, that I seem to myself inspired by some god." His production of a parallel Greek New Testament was as a means to support his Latin: "There remains the New Testament translated by me, with the Greek facing, and notes on it by me. ... But one thing the facts cry out, and it can be clear, as they say, even to a blind man, that often through the translator’s clumsiness or inattention the Greek has been wrongly rendered; often the true and genuine reading has been corrupted by ignorant scribes, which we see happen every day, or altered by scribes who are half-taught and half-asleep." However, the Greek in his Novum Instrumentum omne of 1516 was produced on a minimal set of manuscripts (five or fewer 12th or 13th c., all but one of which were Byzantine texts) that were the ones most readily available to him, sufficient to cover the entire New Testament as best he could (the ending verses of the Apocalypse he had to translate into the Greek from Latin). His editing amounted to entering corrections directly in the manuscripts themselves (that is, he harmonized the Greek to match his Latin!), and sent them to the printer like any ordinary typesetter's copy. Over the next two decades Erasmus published four revised editions of his New Testament. The 2nd edition (1519) was used by Martin Luther in making his translation of the Bible. The 3rd edition (1522) was probably used by Tyndale for the first English New Testament (1526).

The overwhelming success of Erasmus' Greek New Testament completely overshadowed the Latin text upon which he had focused. Many other publishers produced their own versions of the Greek New Testament over the next several centuries. Rather than doing their own work, most just relied on the well-known Erasmian text as a starting point. For example, Robert I Estienne (aka Robertus Stephanus, Robert Stephens) produced four editions of the Greek New Testament in 1546, 1549, 1550, and 1551, the third of which is known as the Editio Regia (Royal Edition). The text of the editions of 1546 and 1549 was a composition derived from the Complutesian and Erasmian texts, while the 1550 edition followed the Erasmian fourth and fifth editions more closely. Estienne's 1550 edition was the first Greek New Testament to have a critical apparatus that was used to indicate variant readings from 15 Greek manuscripts he had collected, as well as of many readings from the Complutensian Polyglot. The fourth edition used exactly the same text as the third, without a critical apparatus, but divided the text into numbered verses for the first time in the history of the printed text of Greek New Testament. The 1550 edition was used by the translators of the so-called Authorized or King James Version (KJV) of the English Bible, while the 1551 had been used in producing the Geneva Bible.

Aside: In 1633 Bonaventure and Abraham Elzevir published an edition of the Greek New Testament that included the following statement (in Latin) in the preface: "so you hold the text (textum), now received (receptum) by all, in which nothing corrupt." Over time the two words textum and receptum were modified from the accusative to the nominative case to render Textus Receptus, which has been applied retroactively to the Greek text of Erasmus' editions, as well as the related textual family of derivative works thereof published by others.

Meanwhile, as might have been recalled after reading names like Luther and Tyndale, the Reformation and Counter-reformation were in full swing. One of the responses to Protestant critiques was that, at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Latin Vulgate was established as the standard Bible for the Roman church. However, the council also recognized the need for establishing a critical edition to serve as such a standard, and directed the restoration of the Vulgate text of St. Jerome. To support the revisers who were preparing the Latin Vulgate edition, a critical edition of the Greek Bible was prepared in 1586 (1587). Known as the Sixtine edition, it is considered by many to be the "Textus Receptus" of the Septuagint because of its importance behind editions of the LXX produced over the next three centuries such as, e.g, the London Polyglot (1654-1657), Holmes and Pearsons (1798ff.), Leander van Ess (1824 and later), the polyglot of Stier and Theile (1847-1855), the seven Leipzig editions of Tischendorf (1850 and 1887) and the two published after his death as revised by Nestle, the Clarendon Press edition (1875), and the four editions of Swete (Cambridge, 1887-95, 1901, 1909). Interestingly, the Sixtine edition was based principally on Codex Vaticanus, a 4th century edition of the Greek Bible that has been housed in the Vatican Library (founded in 1448) for as long as it has been known in the West, appearing in its earliest catalog of 1475 (with shelf number 1209). The manuscript came to the Italy—probably from Constantinople—at some point after the Council of Florence. We can imagine that it might have arrived there with the entourage of Emperor John VIII Paleologos, or perhaps it was carried away from someone fleeing the siege of Constantinople.

At this point the stage has been set for the current state of affairs in regards to the Greek text of the Bible. Three "set pieces" stand out clearly:

Old Testament and New Testament scholarship is divided into two camps. It is not at all clear (from an outsider's point of view) what level of communication or sharing of techniques takes place between these two. Also note that although it is generally recognized that the LXX is often quoted by the Apostles in the NT, and so it is of some interest for understanding the NT, the dominant concern seems to be focused in using the LXX as a tool to help in the creation of the original Hebrew "autographs" of the different books.

Most Old Testament and New Testament scholars appear to believe that older is better. That is to say, there is a preference to use the texts from Codex Vaticanus, supplemented with other 4th and 5th c. manuscripts such as Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus (all Alexandrian text-types except for the Gospels in Codex Alexandrinus, which are Byzantine), in producing "critical" texts of the Greek Testaments. Consider, for example, the Novum Testamentum Graece and the related editions produced by, e.g., Tregelles, Nestle-Aland, Tischendorf, and Westcott-Hort, or, for the LXX, the critical text of Rahlfs' Septuaginta and the Göttingen Septuagint.

In one (albiet small) camp are those who have followed the trend of Erasmus-Stephanus-Textus Receptus and promote the Majority Text as providing the best basis for a "critical" New Testament text; consider, for example, Frederick Henry Ambrose Scrivener of the 19th c., and recent versions of the Majority Text as edited by Hodges & Farstad, 1982 (bilingual edition, 2007), and Pierpont and Robinson, 1991. It does not appear that there is any similar effort toward producing a Byzantine-majority text of the Old Testament.

After the Greek war of independence (1821-1829) and recognition of Greece as an independent nation in 1832, some form of normalcy returned to the Greek Orthodox Church, including the ability to publish (or at least sanction publications); unfortunately it relied heavily on support from the West, as can be understood from the following. The first Greek Bible produced was in 1843; reportedly it was, for the most part, simply a transcription of Codex Alexandrinus (Daniel was from some other source), although the canon was rearranged, supplemented and censured to accord with Protestant sensibilities (SPCK was involved). Some books included in Alexandrinus were simply left out, while the so-called deutero-canonicals were put in a separate section, as was the Protestant custom of the time. In 1904 things improved with the release of a Greek New Testament by the Constantinople Patriarchate based on the Byzantine Majority Text (it can be surmised that it was based on the work of Scrivener, and thus is related to the Textus Receptus family). In terms of the Old Testament (the LXX), however, the situation is as follows. An LXX edition was undertaken in the early 20th century by the Zoe brotherhood which reportedly uses Rahlfs critical edition of the LXX with very slight textual modifications. Rahlfs critical edition is also printed in Greece by the Greek Bible Society (the Apostoliki Diakonia edition), with a few modifications to accommodate some (but not all) of the Church's liturgical readings. That is, as in the West (from whence the scholarship, etc., flows), the LXX versions published in Greece are based on the Alexandrian and not Byzantine Majority text types.

If, however, one is fluent only in English, what texts are available, and how do they relate to the Greek manuscript base?

1. Thomson, Charles, The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Covenant, commonly called the Old and New Testament: translated from the Greek. Philadelphia: Jane Aitken, 1808. "New Edition" by S.F. Pells. London: Skeffington & Son, 1904. Revised and enlarged by Charles A. Muses (Musaios). Indian Hills, CO: Falcon's Wing Press, 1954; 2nd printing 1960. A reprint of the Old Testament portion of Thomson's translation was made in 1999 by a Shekinah Enterprises, 172 Cherry Ave. Ext., New Hebron, MS 39140, Telephone: (601) 694-2368, Email: Shekinahent@aol.com; however, availability is unknown as attempts to contact them over the past year (2009) have been unsuccessful. An edition is also found listed online (availability not confirmed).

Pells' edition ("facsimile reprint, page for page, and line for line") reprinted Thomson's Old Testament only in 1904 and 1907 (with an introduction and editor's preface that includes various ancient accounts and references to the septuagint; errata follows at the end of Volume II). Thomson's "New Covenant" was later reprinted by Pell in 1929 (no e-version found).

Muses' revision (copies of which can often be found at used book sellers online such as abebooks.com): Like Pells, Muses edited and published a version of Thomson's Old Testament in 1954 (2nd edition 1960). Muses stated that he preferred Thomson's translation over Brenton's (see below) because of "the number of errors" the later contained. Muses did eclectically change Thomson's translation "where the facts of the text required it," with the Sinaitic and Alexandrine codices and Sistine text being consulted when Codex Vaticanus was lacking. Muses "restored" the material from the book of Esther that Thomson had deleted (although it does not include all of the additional material found in the KJV "Apocrypha"), which alone would seem make this edition preferable over the original (provided a copy is available!).

Thomson Volume I: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and I Kings—I Samuel.

Thomson Volume II: II Kings—II Samuel, III Kings—I Kings, IV Kings—II Kings, I Chronicles or Paralipomenon, II Chronicles or Paralipomenon, Ezra or Esdras, Nehemias, Esther, Job, Psalms, Psalm 151.

Thomson Volume III: Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Esaias, Jeremias, Lamentations of Jeremias, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonas, Micah, Nahum, Ambakum or Habakkuk, Sophonias, Haggai, Zacharias, Malachi.

Thomson Volume IV: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John, Jude, Revelation of John.

Pells Volume I: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Kings—I Samuel, II Kings—II Samuel, III Kings—I Kings, IV Kings—II Kings, and I Chronicles or Paralipomenon.

Pells Volume II: II Chronicles or Paralipomenon, Ezra or Esdras, Nehemias, Esther, Job, Psalms, Psalm 151, Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Esaias, Jeremias, Lamentations of Jeremias, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonas, Micah, Nahum, Ambakum or Habakkuk, Sophonias, Haggai, Zacharias, Malachi

Brief assessment of Thomson (as well as Pells edition): While Thomson provided no information regarding his Greek text, Pell indicates that, after checking various possibilities, Codex Vaticanus had been used (reportedly John Field's Cambridge Edition of 1665 and the Sixtine edition of 1587), and so Thomson's work represents a diplomatic edition of Codex Vaticanus. In terms of overall content, this codex matches that of Codex Alexandrinus except that none of the books of the Maccabees are present, and the 151 Psalms are found and not a Psalter (and so no text of the Prayer of Manasseh or Gloria... is present); the order of the Old Testament books is also different between the two codices. The extant New Testament of Vaticanus contains the following books as ordered here: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts of the Apostles, Iakovos (James), Peter (I-II), John (I-II-III), Jude, St. Paul to the Romans, Corinthians (I-II), Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians (I-II), Hebrews (through 9:14); thus it is clearly missing (presumably lost) Timothy (I-II), Titus, Philemon and Revelation (and with no way to determine if other books were attached as well, as in Codex Alexandrinus). Thomson did not remain true to the original in that he only translated that material deemed canonical in the Protestant tradition; i.e., missing is 1st Esdras, Wisdom, Sirach, Ioudith, Tobit, Barouch, and the Epistle of Ieremias. Furthermore, 2nd Esdras has been divided into Ezra and Nehemias, and both Esther and Daniel have had the "additions" removed, etc. Finally, the arrangements of the books of both Testaments have been altered to match the KJV. How much Thomson's Protestant views affected what he did translate has not been assessed.

2. Brenton, Sir Lancelot Charles Lee, The Septuagint version of the Old Testament, according to the Vatican text, translated into English: with the principal various readings of the Alexandrine copy, and a table of comparative chronology, in two volumes, London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1844 (vol. 1; vol. 2). Expanded edition published as The Greek Septuagint Version of the Old Testament according to the Vatican edition, together with the real Septuagint version of Daniel and the Apocrypha including the fourth book of Maccabees and an historical introduction, London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1851. After Brenton's death, a Greek-English diglot edition was published as The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament, with an English Translation and with Various Readings and Critical Notes, London: Samuel Bagster and Sons; New York: Harper and Brothers, 1870. The 1870 title was reprinted by Bagster in 1879 and 1884, and by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1971 (and possible later reprintings). The 1851 version was, according to the title page, reprinted as The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998 (and possible later reprintings), and can be found from various book sellers such as Amazon.com. Because of all of these reprintings, Brenton's translation is the most readily available version of the LXX in English. Brenton gives the Valpy edition of 1891 as his immediate source, which was based on the Sixtine edition, and so is a diplomatic version with Codex Vaticanus as the base; he did, however, include variants from Codex Alexandrinus.

Comments: The 1844 edition was English only, was arranged according to the KJV, and did not contain the "Apocrypha." According to the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies (IOSCS), the 1851 edition includes the "Apocrypha," but under separate pagination; the only digitized page available at the time of this writing indicates that the 1851 edition included both the Greek and English text, but on separate pages. Also according to IOSCS, the 1870 edition was the first to be formatted as a diglot. Thus it is not at all clear how (my) Hendrickson reprint (a diglot) can be a copy of the 1851 edition, as claimed (unless there were two, different 1851 editions); also note that while the preface in the Hendrickson reprinting states "This edition of the Septuagint, including Apocrypha, giving the complete Greek text along with a parallel English translation by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton... ," in fact the English of the Apocrypha is simply a copy of the Authorized Version of 1611 (aka KJV), with the exception that the additional chapters of Esther were not included, nor is the Prayer of Manasseh provided (since the original KJV only includes I and II Maccabees, it is not clear where Brenton's English for III and IV Maccabees is from—perhaps he translated these). An English compilation from what is stated to be the 1851 edition is available from Ernie Marsh; in terms of book order, rather than following Codex Vaticanus (his primary source), the arrangement follows the KJV for the most part (as in the 1844 edition), but has inserted: I Esdras between Ezra and Nehemiah; Tobit and Judith between Nehemiah and Esther; I-IV Maccabees between Esther and Job; Wisdom and Sirach between Song of Songs and Esaias; and Baruch (containing the Epistle of Jeremias as the last chapter) between Lamentations and Ezekiel.

3. Van der Pool, Charles, The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, Newport: The Apostolic Press, 1996. This is actually a Greek-English interlinear Bible after the Protestant tradition (no "Apocrypha"). The Greek used is an eclectic text formed originally from the Vaticanus-Sixtine text family, with selections from the Aldine text and Complutensian Polyglot variants (following the 1709 OT edition of Lambert Bos).

4. Gillquist, Peter E., editor, et al., The Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms, Thomas Nelson, 1993; currently being published by Conciliar Press, and remains available from bookstores such as Amazon.com. The Orthodox Study Bible:Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today's World (containing both Testaments) was released by Thomas Nelson in 2008. The text of the New Testament follows the New King James Version. The text of the Old Testament was "translated" from the Septuagint using the New King James Version "as a template;" draft texts were prepared by the academic community of St. Athanasius Orthodox Academy. For a review of the New Testament, see here. For a review of the Old Testament, see here. Contrary to the title, the reviewers linked here give a strong indication that this edition or revision of the "NKJV," along with the accompanying commentary, has tendencies toward Protestant theology (i.e., use with due care).

5. Holy Apostles Convent and Dormition Skete, The Orthodox New Testament, 1st ed. in two volumes, the Evangelistarion and Praxapostolos, 1999. Later editions include a single volume version. (See here.) The principal Greek text used was the authorized version of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, although a diligent comparison was made by the translators between this text and Textus Receptus. Includes selected commentary from the Church Fathers. This translation of the New Testament was produced to be faithful to Orthodox tradition.

6. Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds., A New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS), Oxford University Press, 2007 (a corrected, 2009 e-version is online, and due out in print). This edition used the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV, 1989) as its base; that is, for those Septuagint books which have extant counterparts in Hebrew (or Aramaic), NETS translators sought to retain the NSRV to the extent that the Greek text permitted, but without allowing it to interfere with faithfulness to the Greek text. Hebrew (Masoretic) texts were also consulted to help render the meaning of difficult passages. Where available, NETS used the Gottingen Septuagint, and Rahlfs' manual edition for the remainder of the books (although the different translators were given the flexibility to improve on their respective base texts). Some books are presented with both the Old Greek (LXX) and Theodotion versions (recall from the Rudder that Theodotion interpreted the Scriptures in accordance with the teachings of the heresy to which he belonged). It is fair to say that the NETS attempts to be a scholarly work, is clearly eclectic, and, at least as a whole, is not concerned for things ecclesiastical (nor Orthodox).

7. Papoutsis, Peter A., The Holy Orthodox Bible, 2008 (e-version online). Currently released: Volume I, The Pentateuch; Volume II, The Historical Books; Volume IV, The Minor Prophets; The Psalms. Based on Papoutsis' web site, he is associated with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. For the Greek text of the Septuagint, Papoutsis has used the Old Testaments published by Apostoliki Diakonia and by the Zoe Brotherhood, as well as various Orthodox liturgical texts. It is fair to say that Papoutsis is trying to produce a work that is consistent with Orthodox tradition. (No reviews available.)

So... for my two cents: (1) use the Orthodox New Testament from Holy Apostles Convent; (2) use the Holy Orthodox Bible from Peter Papoutsis for the Old Testament, supplemented as necessary (and with due caution) with the New English Translation of the Septuagint from Oxford University Press. If you need copyright-free material for the "Hebrew" canon, consult Thomson and Brenton. If you are trying to learn Greek, Van der Pool would be handy. The Orthodox Study Bible published by Thomas Nelson should probably be avoided unless great care is taken to avoid Protestant theology and other errors.

24 November 2010

The Canon of the Holy Bible

For Orthodox Christians, the canon of the Holy Bible (i.e., its content) is, by definition, the list of scriptures deemed venerable and holy as set forth by the Canons of the Orthodox Church (referred to as the Rudder elsewhere in these pages). It should be understood that, for the most part, the origin of approved scripture lists began with individual bishops and regional councils as they sought to combat the spread of heretical documents. However, it is likewise important to know that not all such local lists were ratified by ecumenical council. Nor is a book considered part of the Bible—or excluded from it—on the basis of manuscript evidence.

In all, there are six lists that collectively define what the Orthodox consider to be Holy Scripture: Canon LXXXV (85) of those handed down in the name of the Holy and Renowned Apostles; Canon LX (60) of the regional Council held in Laodicea ca. 364; Canon XXXII (32) of the regional Council of Carthageheld during the years ca. 418-424; the “39th Festival Epistle” of St. Athanasios the Great (+ 373), Archbishop of Alexandria; the “heroic verses” of St. Gregory the Theologian (+ 389), Archbishop of Constantinople; and the Verses of St. Amphilochios (+ ca. 403), Archbishop of Iconium, that were addressed to Seleucus.

In terms of ratification, the works containing all six of these lists were explicitly accepted and validated (the sources were listed by name) by Canon II (2) of the Holy and Ecumenical Sixth Council, except for the Apostolic Constitutions referenced by Canon LXXXV (85) of the Apostles “…into some of which certain spurious passages destitute of piety have been interpolated long ago by the heterodox to the detriment of the Church… .” Because Canon II (2) includes the phrase “…that the 85 Canons handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles, and as matter of fact accepted and validated by the holy and blissful Fathers preceding us…” it is fair to state that Canon I (1) of the Holy and Ecumenical Fourth Council also applies, to wit: “We pronounce it just and right that the Canons promulgated by the Holy Fathers, in each and every Council down to the present time, continue in full force and effect.” Likewise, Canon I (1) of the Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council states: “… we welcome and embrace the divine Canons, and we corroborate the entire and rigid fiat of them that have been set forth by the renowned Apostles, who were and are trumpets of the Spirit, and those both of the six holy Ecumenical Councils and of the ones assembled regionally for the purpose of setting forth such edicts, and of those of our holy Fathers.” Thus by the seal of these three Ecumenical Councils, the 4th, 6th and 7th, we can set forth the contents of Holy Scripture, as in the table below.

Because the six scripture source lists vary in book order and content, it was necessary to either choose a precedence in order to compare and integrate them, or choose some other approach. After considering various options, for the purposes herein, it was decided that the order presented in Codex Alexandrinus would be used. This manuscript is thought to date from the late 4th or early 5th century. (Codex Alexandrinus contains the "Epistle of Athanasius on the Psalms to Marcellinus," and so it cannot be dated earlier than A.D. 373, the year he died (terminus post quem). Furthermore, since the manuscript does not contain textual apparatus found in later manuscripts—such as the prefaces or chapter divisions in the Acts and Epistles which are attributed to Euthalius, Bishop of Sulci—it is likely to have been produced before the last half of the fifth century (terminus ad quem).) Of all the ancient Bible texts (cf. Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), it is the most complete in terms of both the Old Testament (LXX or Septuagint) and New Testament books.

Given this Bible Canon list, it is also a fair question to ask "what resources (e.g., printed Bibles) are available for the Orthodox who are only proficient at reading English?"

Iesous son of Naveyesyesyesyesyesyes
Routhyesyesnot listedyesyesyes
1st Basileionyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Basileionyesyesyesyesimpliedyes
3rd Basileionyesyesyesyesimpliedyes
4th Basileionyesyesyesyesimpliedyes
1st Paralipomenonyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Paralipomenonyesyesyesyesyesyes
Epistle of Ieremiasimpliedyesimpliedyesimpliedimplied
Estheryesyesyesprescribednot listedyes
Tobitnot listednot listedyesprescribednot listednot listed
Ioudithnot listednot listedyesprescribednot listednot listed
1st Esdrasyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Esdrasyesyesyesyesimpliedyes
1st Maccabeesyesnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed
2nd Maccabeesyesnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed
3rd Maccabeesyesnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed
4th Maccabeesnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed
Song of Songsyesyesyesyesyesyes
Wisdomnot listednot listedyesprescribednot listednot listed
Sirachpermissiblenot listednot listedprescribednot listednot listed
1st Peteryesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Peteryesyesyesyesyesyes
1st Johnyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Johnyesyesyesyesyesyes
3rd Johnyesyesyesyesyesyes
1st Corinthiansyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Corinthiansyesyesyesyesyesyes
1st Thessaloniansyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Thessaloniansyesyesyesyesyesyes
1st Timothyyesyesyesyesyesyes
2nd Timothyyesyesyesyesyesyes
Apocalypsenot listednot listedyesyesnot listedsome approve
1st Clementyesnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed
2nd Clementyesnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed
Psalms of Solomonnot listednot listednot listednot listednot listednot listed

1. "yes" means that the book was obviously referred to, even if not explicitly (i.e., a reference to the 14 epistles of St. Paul is understood as referring to the 14 epistles commonly accepted as being his, and not some mix of 14 others otherwise unknown or defined).

2. "implied" means that it has been interpreted that the author was using a collective title otherwise understood to include the works in a certain category (e.g., when St. Gregory refers to the "Acts of the Kings" under two books he is referring to 1, 2, 3, and 4 Basileion as explicitly evidenced in other authors, or when the prophet Ieremias (Jeremias) is referred to evidence suggests that this is inclusive of all his works).

3. "permissible" refers to the end of the Old Testament list of books in Apostolic Canon LXXXV where it states: "outside of these it is permissible for you to recount in addition thereto also the Wisdom of very learned Sirach by way of teaching your younger folks." This suggests that Sirach may be a different class of book from the rest of those called "venerable and sacred," but not explicitly so. Cf. note 8 below.

4. "prescribed" refers to the following statement of St. Athanasios made near the end of his Scripture list: "Nevertheless, for the sake of greater exactness, I add also this, writing as I do the fact as a matter of necessity, that there are also other books than these outside of the list herein given, which, though not canonically sanctioned, are to be found formally prescribed by the Fathers to be read to those who have just joined and are willing to be catechized with respect to the word of piety, namely: the Wisdom of Solomon; the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther, and Judith, and Tobias; and the so-called Didache (i.e., salutary teaching) of the Apostles, and the Shepherd."

5. "some approve" is a pointer to the statement made by St. Amphilochios that "As for the Book of Revelation of John again, Some approve it, but at least a majority call it spurious." Yet note that this statement is followed by “This should be a most truthful canon of the God-inspired Scriptures,” suggesting that he accepts the book. It might also be noted that St. Gregory eventually came to think of the Apocalypse with some regard, for "in the constituent address which he made to the one hundred and fifty bishops composing the Second Ecumenical Council he expressly mentioned it, saying 'For I am persuaded that other ones (i.e., angels) supervise other churches, as John teaches me in Revelation.'" (Rudder, p. 153)

6. Although the table index from Codex Alexandrinus presented above uses the word "Psalms," the codex actually contains a Psalter. Interestingly, two of the canon lists also make reference to a "Psalter" and not just "Psalms" (the Apostles and Carthage).

7. Codex Alexandrinus aligns up surprisingly well against the composite list provided above; only 4 Maccabees and the Psalms of Solomon are outside of the canonical scripture lists. However, this is not quite the whole story. The Apostles canon includes "the Injunctions addressed to you Bishops through me, Clement, in eight books, which ought not to be divulged to all on account of the secret matters they contain." To this could be added two of the "prescribed" books of St. Athanasios: "the so-called Didache (i.e., salutary teaching) of the Apostles, and the Shepherd." However, "As for the Injuctions of the Apostles, which are also called the Didache of the Apostles by St. Athanasius the Great, they were rejected by c. II of the 6th Ecumenical Council, on the ground that they had been garbled by heretics." (Rudder, p. 153) So while we might wonder why Codex Alexandrinus did not contain the Injunctions(e.g., was it already recognized that it had "been interpolated long ago by the heterodox" and so not included?), it is not important for purposes herein. In terms of the Shepherd, "this was a book which has not been preserved to our times." (Ibid.) There is extant a Shepherd of Hermas, or The Shepherd, from Codex Sinaiticus; however, it is not at all clear that this is one and the same document. The one referred to by St. Athanasius is apparently in some way related to a discouse by John of Climax, and is referred to by St. Maximus in his scholia on divine Dionysius. (Ibid.) The Rudder here also makes mention that this Shepherd is the work of Quartus, one of the seventy Apostles, and not Hermas as the title and the Muratorian fragment (2nd c. AD) give credit to. Until such confusion is sorted out (if it be possible), it is best to continue to consider that this book "has not been preserved" (the Shepherd of Hermasincludes heretical ideas such as those related to adoptionism).

8. The order of the New Testament books of the Evangleistarion and Praxapostolos as found in the Codex Alexandrinus follows that presented by St. Athanasios. It also follows that of Laodicea, with the exception of the addition of the Apocalypse. It does not, however, preferentially follow the order of books in the Old Testament of any of these references (basically, all of the Prophets have been shifted to follow after the historical books.

9. NONE of the books identified as Scripture by any of the six witnesses presented above (even if just "prescribed" or "permissible" like Sirach) should be identified as Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical as the Protestants or Latins are wont to do. Consider the words of St. Athanasios: "And yet, dear readers, both with those canonically sanctioned and these recommended to be read, there is no mention of the Apocrypha; but, on the contrary, the latter are an invention of heretics who were writing them as they pleased, assigning and adding to them dates and years, in order that, by offering them as ancient documents, they might have a pretext for deceiving honest persons as a consequence thereof." Yes, there are Apocryphal writings, and while they may include 4 Maccabees and the 18 Psalms of Solomon as found in Codex Alexandrinus, they do not include any of the other books found in the table above.

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