Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
Steve Ray Lets...Someone Else Respond (Updated--the Someone Else is Gary Michuta)
01/19/2008 - James WhiteOur main internet access is down today (I'm using my BlackBerry as a tethered modem to write this) so I will have to wait till Monday to provide a video blog, but Steve Ray just noted on his blog the posting of a video response to my documentation of his errors regarding Jerome being alone and unique in his rejection of the apocryphal books. Rush over to view this video response before it gets pulled! Why? Because it is that bad. If this is all Rome has to offer in defense of her allegedly infallible canon and her apologists like Ray, it is no wonder they have chosen to find a different way of spreading their message other than debate. The essence of the response plays games with the term "apocrypha." Instead of recognizing the real issue--Jerome's rejection of the deuterocanonicals as canon, which was the question Ray was allegedly responding to, this video tries to make it look like all Ray was saying was that Jerome used unique language no one else had ever used. It is one of the most pathetic attempts to defend an allegedly infallible system I've seen in a long time, which is why we need to grab it and save it before someone who knows better convinces the poster to pull it down. Documenting the errors of argumentation and simple logic on this one will be far too easy. For example, the poster doesn't even seem to understand the context of Cajetan's statement. He likewise helps out my cause by pointing out that after the split vote, where the apocryphal books carried only around 44% of the vote, as is the custom in Roman history, another vote was taken later, and that vote was unanimous. Well duh, of course it was, the decision had already been made. Time to look united! What an amazingly facile argument! "Hey, look, after Papal Infallibility was forced through Vatican I, those who had opposed it then supported it--and those who didn't left, so...it was unanimous!" This is apologetic argumentation? No wonder these folks don't put this kind of argumentation on display when cross-examination can be made! It is truly another banner day for documenting how poor has become the popular form of Roman Catholic apologetics.
Where are the serious Roman Catholic apologists these days? It is truly amazing.
Well, now I know who posted this video: none other than Gary Michuta himself. He joined YouTube just today to post this wonderful example of "As long as it is in the service of Rome, don't worry about the truth thing--it will all come out in the wash." Evidently he views it as his job to protect Steve Ray when Ray makes utterly absurd statements on CA Live. In any case, it is Michuta who now gets to own this mess of half-truths and deception, and own it he will. I already have a ton of citations exposing this very poorly argued video, but I will allow folks to take the time to watch it first. Save it to your hard drives, lest anyone forget. Note the ubiquitous "anti-Catholic" moniker it uses, too (always have to get that in there--that's part of the Roman Catholic apologist's handbook--union rules, even!). And while you are watching it, here are some quotes from the Jerome Bible Commentary to compare just for the fun of it:
But the writers of the Eastern church were more aware of the shorter scriptural canon drawn up by the Jews. Melito of Sardis (ca. 170) gives us our earliest Christian list of OT booksa list much like the one that eventually became the standard Hebr list (Est is omitted). Origen mentions that the Hebrews have 22 books; Athanasius, who had Jewish teachers, insists that the Christians should have 22 books just as the Hebrews have; and, of course, Jerome did his best to propagate the Hebr canon in the Western church. Some writers who favor the short canon nevertheless cite the deuterocanonical books.A distinction between canonical and ecclesiasticalwas proposed in order to classify the books, with the latter to be understood as works serving the Church for edification. Doubts about the deuterocanonical books keep recurring in the history of the Church among those who are aware of the Jewish canon. Those who prefer the shorter canon or express some doubt about the full canonical status of the deuterocanonicals include Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Epiphanius, Rufinus, Gregory the Great, John Damascene, Hugh of St. Victor, Nicholas of Lyra, and Cardinal Cajetan. (See A. C. Sundberg, CBQ 30  143-55.) [Brown, R. E., Fitzmyer, J. A., & Murphy, R. E. (1996, c1968). The Jerome Biblical commentary(2:523). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.]
Even at Trent, however, the Council Fathers did not specifically attempt to press the detail of Church usage back beyond the period of Jerome, for they used the Vg as the norm for Church usage, condemning anyone who does not accept these books in their entirety, with all their parts, according to the text usually read in the Catholic Church and as they are in the ancient Latin Vulgate (DS 1504). There are many difficulties here that demand investigation. First, in the period before the Vg therewas no consistent Church usage, as we have seen. Ironically, Jerome, the translator of the Vg, was very clear in his preference for the same short canon that Trent rejected in the name of the Vg. The Vg was introduced into the West over many protests (including that of Augustine) asserting that Jeromes translation from the Hebrew was an innovation against the Churchs usage of translating from the LXX. [Ibid., emph. added]
Oh, and I really should provide the entirety of Athanasius' 39th Festal letter, since this video specifically misrepresents it as can be seen in this graphic. Note how Athanasius does, in fact, specifically distinguish between the canonical, inspired texts, which are "fountains of salvation," and such works as the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Tobit, etc. Is Michuta so lacking in understanding of these materials that he thinks Athanasius' words, "a mention of apocryphal writings" (των αποκρυφων μνημη) is equal to "the Apocrypha"?? This is the author of a book on the topic that is being promoted by Catholic Answers? Did Michuta really think no one would actually read this stuff? It is truly hard to say.
1. They have fabricated books which they call books of tables, in which they shew stars, to which they give the names of Saints. And therein of a truth they have inflicted on themselves a double reproach: those who have written such books, because they have perfected themselves in a lying and contemptible science; and as to the ignorant and simple, they have led them astray by evil thoughts concerning the right faith established in all truth and upright in the presence of God.
2. But since we have made mention of heretics as dead, but of ourselves as possessing the Divine Scriptures for salvation; and since I fear lest, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians , some few of the simple should be beguiled from their simplicity and purity, by the subtlety of certain men, and should henceforth read other books--those called apocryphal--led astray by the similarity of their names with the true books; I beseech you to bear patiently, if I also write, by way of remembrance, of matters with which you are acquainted, influenced by the need and advantage of the Church.
3. In proceeding to make mention of these things, I shall adopt, to commend my undertaking, the pattern of Luke the Evangelist, saying on my own account: Forasmuch as some have taken in hand , to reduce into order for themselves the books termed apocryphal, and to mix them up with the divinely inspired Scripture, concerning which we have been fully persuaded, as they who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, delivered to the fathers; it seemed good to me also, having been urged thereto by true brethren, and having learned from the beginning, to set before you the books included in the Canon, and handed down, and accredited as Divine; to the end that anyone who has fallen into error may condemn those who have led him astray; and that he who has continued steadfast in purity may again rejoice, having these things brought to his remembrance.
4. There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.
5. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.
6. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. And He reproved the Jews, saying, Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me .
7. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings (των αποκρυφων μνημη). But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.