Monday, April 23, 2012

Article 6

Today's Article is Article 6 of the Anglican Articles of Religion. It is rather lengthy, but interesting in Christian discouse:

VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be. believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those Canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.
Of the Names and Numbers of the Canonical Books
GenesisThe First Book of Chronicles,
ExodusThe Second Book of Chronicles
LeviticusThe First Book of Esdras
NumbersThe Second Book of Esdras
DeuteronomyThe Book of Esther
JoshuaThe Book of Job
JudgesThe Psalms
RuthThe Proverbs
The First Book of SamuelEcclesiastes or Preacher
The Second Book of SamuelCantica or Songs of Solomon
The First Book of KingsFour Prophets the greater
The Second Book of KingsTwelve Prophets the less
And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:
The Third Book ofBaruch the Prophet
The Fourth Book ofThe Song of the Three Children
The Book of TobiasThe Story of Susanna
The Book of JudithOf Bel and the Dragon
The rest of the Book of EstherThe Prayer of Manasses
The Book of WisdomThe First Book of Maccabees
Jesus the Son of SirachThe Second Book of Maccabees
All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.

This article really begins the 2nd section of the Articles of Religion that deal with the Rule of Faith, or in other words what guides Anglicans in terms of what they believe in their faith. This article deals with the topic of what is Bible, or more properly, what books make up what we believe to be the "canon" of scripture for the Old and New Testament.

Despite what many might believe, the books that we have in the Bible were not found under a rock somewhere in the 1st Century. The Church discussed and debated what should be the canon of scripture for about 4 centuries. There were all sorts of Christian gospels and letters floating around in the 1st and 2nd Century, and this was largely not a major issue until the heretic Marcion in the 2nd Century decided to take it upon him to create a definitive "canon" of scripture. Marcion when way to far, basically only believe that the gospel of Luke, some of Paul's writings, and virtually none of the Old Testament should be in the Bible. He went so far as to argue that the God of the Old Testament was vengeful and evil but it was Jesus and the God of Peace in the New Testament that should worshiped and read about in the Bible. This went way too far, and the Church was forced to begin discerning what was truly inspired writ and what was not. 

Many of the Books of the Bible were largely agreed upon as being divinely inspired fairly early on in the debate. There was much debate about the Epistle of James, the Gospel of John, The Revelation of John, The Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistles of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and a few others. There were also some debate about the later Old Testament books, particularly those written only in later Greek and not Hebrew. Basically, anything clearly written after the era of the Apostles was excluded, which is a shame because some of the Epistles of Clement and Ignatius are truly brilliant pastoral theology. Had they been written about 20 years before, I think they may have been included in the New Testament, but such is life.

The Council of Carthage of AD 397 issued a canon of Scripture, which is very close to this list of Article 6. Basically when Jerome came out with the Latin Vulgate, his canon because it was so popular in liturgical use largely closed the matter for debate until the Reformation in the West.  

When the Protestants came on the scene, a very interesting thing happened. In their vehement debates with Rome, they claimed Sola Scriptura. To oversimply, that means that every doctrine has to be based on the bible (or at the very least not contradict what is taught in scripture) and not Tradition, though we have to rely on Tradition to tell us what the Bible is. Since there was much debate on ideas of praying for the dead and Purgatory, the Protestants found this cutesy way of circumventing Sola Scriptura by saying that since Rome was basing those doctrines largely on what they called the Books of the Apocrypha (largely the Greek books of the Old Testament not written in Hebrew), they decided to rip those books out of the bible. This led to charges by Rome that said they could not argue with Protestants on a Sola Scriptura level because they just rip the books out of the Scriptures that conflict with their doctrines. At which point, both sides labelled each other heretics and whores of Babylon, and bad things happened. This is why Protestant bibles have 66 books in the Bible, while Catholic, Orthodox, and most Anglican bibles have the books listed in Article 6. 

Anglicans, of course, fudged the issue, in Article 6 saying that the 66 books of the Protestant canon "containeth all things necessary for salvation" but did not completely chuck the "Books of the Apocrypha," and commended them to be read as "example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine..." Some say this was to appease the more Catholic element in the Church of England; some say it was to appease the Puritans who could basically dismiss them. 

Interestingly, the original 1611 King James Version contains the Apocrypha. These are somewhat hard to find because fundamentalists are largely the buyers of King James Version bibles, and they won't touch the Apocrypha. Humorously, though, their 66 book KJV bibles are not the original. The amended Protestantized King James Version did not come out for several years because it was forbidden by law at first to cut out the apocrypha from the King James Bible, in accordance with Article 6 of the Articles of Religion.

So, when you see someone arguing that the King James Bible was God's own bible, tell him his version is not the 1611 version. He has a newer edition. 

No doubt fireworks will follow. 


Mr. Mcgranor said...

Those Anglicans/Episcopalians that denounce the term Protestant, and fervently claim that they are Catholic, are on their way to Rome. Prayer beads and homosexual activism aside, the fruits of ecumenism are sour.

The Underground Pewster said...

We recently completed a Bible study and many were introduced to the Apocrypha. We certainly were illuninated by passages such as,

"Which done, he crept vnder the Elephant, and thrust him vnder and slew him: whereupon the Elephant fell downe vpon him, and there he died."
1 Maccabees 6:46 - King James Version (1611)

Nothing doctrinal there, but there certainly is a life lesson to be learned from that.

The Archer of the Forest said...

Not necessarily, Mr. Mcgranor. I know some who have left for Orthodoxy and some that are trying to stay and be faithful to the Catholic within Anglicanism.