Friday, September 05, 2003

Cardinal Avery Dulles speaks well on the subject of true and false reform HERE. Definitely a recommended read by your blog host for those interested in this subject.

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"It's Just a Temporary Thing" Dept.

As my lycos email account has been inaccessible for the past three days, anyone who has emailed me there, please understand that I cannot access the account and will not be able to for at least another day. In the interim, I spent some time this morning cleaning out my old angelfire account and removing the heavy filter so that it could be used as a temporary email account. So for the next week or so, please disregard the "email contact" link at the top of this weblog and send all email to "ismac" but instead of "lycos" followed by .com, please send it to "angelfire" followed by the .com prefix. There are some interesting things from early blog and even pre-blog days which are stored at that email account. I may blog some of them depending on either the subject or on my mood - including one which is from an October 2002 circular email which may be among my next blog entries.


Thursday, September 04, 2003

"Serendipity on Ice" Dept.

Life is short and we either spend our limited musing time (i) pontificating in an overly rigid or dogmatic tone about how others need to except every jot and tittle of our own personal weltanschauung (ii) aping those who strive to hive off into Donatist-like enclosures separated from the "unwashed masses" and refusing to contribute positively to societal development{1} or (iii) aping Woodward and Bernstein with "breaking stories" and focusing on the new and novel to the detriment of past wisdom. And of course there is also (iv) striving to more patiently take in various threads of a subject and seeking to evaluate them and (if possible) take what is of value in them and strive towards convergence. (Taking a response that is neither dismissive nor contemptuous of either the past or the present.)

Now undeniably all four of these to some extent affect everyone depending on the particular subject of discussion. This is of course fine and dandy provided that the defacto setting of the individual is not towards any of the first three points. There is a time for dogmatism, a time for Donatism, and a time for "new things" if you will. But the predominent view - for many reasons I shant elaborate on here - should be the one outlined in point four.

I note all of this to precede what was originally (as of this morning) going to be a kind of "commercial" to announce a planned commentary this weblog writer intended to compose on Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint. For you see, sudden (re)discoveries have altered that plan in unexpected ways.

Contrary to how it may appear at times, though I do set out to cover topics either differently than others or which are overlooked by others, there is another side of the equation that does not often go reported. And that is that it really pleases me when I discover that an idea I had has either substantially been taken up and accomplished well by another - or they want to undertake it and leave me one less idea to focus to extensively on.{2} And in doing a quick check of hastily bookmarked links, the following piece from The Ecumenical Review came up and I read it with interest:

Ut Unum Sint and Catholic Involvement in Ecumenism

I could take issue with a few more technical points of this piece - and indeed I probably will - however, the work on a whole is so well done and extensive that I wanted to first post it here for readers to look at. Oh and if SAM or Tim E. could contact a certain quickbeam of fangorn and email him this weblog link{3} - or post it to where he can see it - it would be appreciated.


{1} This is not in any way a disparagement of monastic or mendicant orders - all of which have a specific role to play in the universal church and to whom a certain degree of isolation is required to fulfill their vocation.

{2} An example of this was my long-planned essay on the Deuterocanonical Books and the Fathers who "rejected" them - a subject a friend of mine wrote on a couple years ago and to whom I helped in some ways viz. sources, structure, and other behind the scenes stuff. Compared to writing it myself this was quite easy and the end result was good as well. (See Matt1618's website link in this weblog margin for details.)

{3} The reason I say the weblog link and not the essay link is because (i) the weblog link contains the essay link and (ii) We at Rerum Novarum do plan to take issue with a few points of the material at the link which he may find of interest.


It is common for people of weblogs to let others know what books they are reading. I tend to read many books and have many in various states of incompletion; hence I do not tend to as a rule go that route. However, there are occasionally exceptions to the rule as any longtime reader to this weblog is aware of. There are a few books though that are on my list for reading and/or rereading which I figured listing in order would perhaps be of use. I also plan to write reviews for a couple books and a CD or three in the coming months over at Amazon. Here is a sampling of some of the books I have been musing over as of late and/or plan to reread or review:

Fast Food Nation. This is a book I started two days ago and am about half through. Written from a liberal standpoint{1} I take issue with some of the authors political and economic assumptions; however I do not thus far disagree with his core thesis. The side of me that contemplates starting a Distributionist collective is getting plenty of ammunition at the moment, let us just leave it at that for now. (It is not a comfortable read.)

St. John of the Cross: Dark Night of the Soul. I am currently about to start rereading the first book of this two book compendium for the fourth time. The more I read it the clearer my own imperfections become and that is never a comfortable thing. However, if we are not at times put on edge then we run the risk of being lost as I see it; therefore recourse to this great theologian and mystic who also heavily influenced Pope John Paul II{2} seems in order at this time.

G. Mollet: The Popes of Avignon. I plan to reread this book mainly because (i) Tim Enloe is now blogging and (ii) I want to brush up on my "Avignon chops" if you will in order to do that subject proper justice should we delve into it. (I have not discussed it in quite some time.) This book is well detailed and is a fair sketch of the popes of that period, their policies both religious and secular, and many other elements that went into the often unjustly ridiculed Avignon period.{3}

Alexander Hamilton/James Madison/John Jay: The Federalist Papers. I am both reading these and also scanning them to continue the series I mentioned wanting to do - and which was started HERE.

Kenneth Woodward: Making Saints. I plan to write a review for this book at some point. As a result I had to brush up on some of its content to be able to do the author due justice.

Ann Coultier: Treason. I plan to write a review for this book hopefully before the general elections this year.


{1} The name of the author of this book escapes me at the moment.

{2} For those who do not know, JP II as Fr. Karol Wojtyla wrote his doctoral thesis at the Angelicum on St. John of the Cross - author of the Dark Night.

{3} This is not to say that there are not points to criticize about this period of course - the author himself does this very thing - but most criticisms I have encountered are of a superficial nature arguably originating in anti-French bias. This is basically three books in one.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Some more fuel for SAM's response on the kneeling debate can be read HERE.

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Americans who are gung ho about national health care can review this thread from the Envoy Encore weblog. Interesting to read that those opposed to the idea are Canadians like my friend Pete "Canonicus Majorus" Vere. Or at the very least other Canadians such as Mark Cameron have compromise solutions but on the whole come out in favour of the American system over that of the Canadian one. Your humble servant is opposed to nationalized health care for many reasons. And while Rerum Novarum will weigh in later to touch on points that may not be adequately covered if necessary, at the moment this writer is content to let those on the thread outline the case against it.

On another note, it is interesting that Mark Cameron claims to be an ex-liberal. This explains his current stance of a predominently "traditionalist" outlook quite well as I see it. After all, one extreme often begets another. Oh balance, wherefore art thou???

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Brief Correction:

Originally I posted another "points to ponder" segment here; however on second thought, there is enough to muse over in the section from Tim's weblog quoted in the last installment to justify posting later on what I originally planned to post at this time.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Enloe Files Now On DVD Weblog!!!

It is good to see that one of my old sparring partners of the Reformed outlook now has a weblog. I have sparred with many apologists who are categorized by that revealing yet concealing term "Protestant." Admittedly most of the time I have not been too impressed but Tim Enloe is one of a handful who are truly a cut above in my view. I say this not only in reference to the general quality of his arguments but also in the manner whereby he discusses them.

Tim's entry into the blogosphere will give me the opportunity to create a separate category for non-Catholic weblogs of a more general nature{1} - something I have had in mind doing for a long time. Right now I have a couple of these sprinkled into the mix as well as some others which I have monitored on and off for some time. However, I would need a specific category to list them all in without the "death by a thousand nuances" which in the current format of how I categorize my weblogs would be required.

In short, it is an idea I intend to utilize - particularly since Tim's entry into the blogosphere gives me a bonafide weblog to build my idea around. But of course if I mention my idea now, others may implement if before me and thus in a sense "scoop" me. I do not like to be ahead of the curve as a rule but at the same time I do not like to be scooped. So the new format idea will have to wait until the next update which will be a minor one basically conforming to the additions I mentioned during the last weblog update.

PS to Tim: I would recommend going with Haloscan comments boxes if you want to utilize comments boxes at your weblog. More people can access them than other formats. I used enetation and shoutout formats on my Lidless Eye weblog but both had too many problems with the software so I had to remove them. When I readd boxes to that weblog, they will be of the Haloscan variety.


{1} As readers of this weblog know, Bryan Preston of the JunkYard BLOG is among the favourites of Rerum Novarum in this area. Bryan Preston is a Calvinist but the JYB seldom touches on theological subjects. Instead the focus is on political and social subjects predominently. And in this area there is a substantial convergence of opinion between Bryan Preston and your humble servant when it comes to primary subject matter - and even on many ancillary subjects - within those parameters.

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The Rules of Politics, Chapter 5 by Joshua Claybourn.

To sum up the link in four words: right on the money!!!

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On Albert Pujols:
(Joshua Claybourn vs. Rerum Novarum)

Joshua Claybourn has claimed that Albert Pujols is having the best first three years (cumulatively) in the history of baseball. Frankly I cannot dispute this assertion but at the same time, baseball is a sport that has a way of catching up with you. After all, even the greats of the sport fail 70% of the time: essentially what a "batting average" is.{1}

The triple crown (which means leading in batting average, RBI's and home runs for the league in a single season) has not been won for thirty years but Pujols is leading in batting average and is in second in RBI's and a close third in home runs. He is also second in hits and second in doubles - in August he was leading in these categories and also was second in home runs as well as a closer second in RBI's. He is in short having a remarkable season and is my vote for the MVP. However, to some extent this is dependent on the play of others on the team since St. Louis is first in team batting. And other than the solo home run, it is darn difficult to garner RBI's if the other players are not getting on base somehow and into scoring position. But enough on that point for now.

There is also the question about what happens if in say the fourth and fifth seasons there is a decline from what he achieved in the first three seasons. Say for a moment that Pujols has a decreased output in his fourth season and a further decrease in his fifth seasons. At that point, many pundits may start speculating that he "peaked" in his third year or that "his best baseball may be past him now."

For the record, I hope Pujols wins not only the NL MVP but also the triple crown this year. However, Joshua should not be too quick to canonize Pujols. The man has had a heck of a career thus far but demons such as injuries have a way of slowing that down - to say nothing about the very humbling nature of baseball as a game. Albert Pujols still has quite a ways to go before we can start putting him amongst the greats of all time. Some of today's players who are not having the year Pujols is having are candidates for that ranking - based not on a few seasons but many seasons of overall excellence.

Factors favourable and unfavourable can shift from season to season. We need to see if Pujols can produce impressive numbers if his team is not helping him out. (And further, not produce them in a manner that are a detriment to his team the way some statistics seekers do.)

As good as he has been thus far, the mark of greatness is responding to adversity. We need to see what Pujols will do after he has a less than stellar season - and all the greats had them on occasion - before mentioning him amongst the greatest to have ever played this game. In short, the jury is still out on Pujols in my book.


{1} I personally believe that on base percentage is a more important indicator than batting average - much as runs batted in is more important than home runs.

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Points to Ponder:

"Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." [Jaroslav Pelikan]


Monday, September 01, 2003

Briefly on the "St. Pius X Webring" Idea:

After musing some more on the concept earlier today, it seems appropriate to chose another patron for the weblog which would be more of an ecumenical gesture towards other Christians who may express an interest later on in joining such a ring. Nothing against St. Pius X but I would not want to dissuade other Christians from joining this webring format.

For that reason, without prejudice to the previously proposed patron, the new proposed patron for the "lovers of the leaf" webring is G K Chesterton. The name of the ring I have thought about is the "GK Chesterton Leaf Lover's Webring." Fellow lovers of the leaf/imbibers of the brier feel free to email me about this proposed alteration of the previously proposed web ring format.

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"One From the Vault" Dept.
(Musings on the Ordinary Magisterium)

Note: The material in this entry is from a discussion list thread posted on April 15, 2003. The part about the "next planned essay" is no longer true - as the long planned essay on the ordinary magisterium has again been shelved in favour of working on another long-planned essay first. The reasons for this I may mention at a later date but not at this time. - ISM


This is actually the subject of my next planned essay.{1} I will therefore take the opportunity of this question to not only give you an answer but also to provide more material for that upcoming work.

[Here's something I never really understood. I understand that some teachings are part of the universal and ordinary Magisterium.]


[Since the publication of the latest catechism, I never really worry so much about what is or is not part of the universal and ordinary magisterium-- the Catechism has everything the average Catholic needs to know, and all those "pesky" UO (Universal and Ordinary) Magisterium teachings, and the pope declared the catechism a sure guide for the faith.]

I would say that the Catechism is comprehensive but not exhaustive. It is nonetheless adequate for covering the faith as a harmonic whole. I reference it a lot in discussions and sometimes in my essays.

[However, there will come a time when I will have to do some research on one of these issues. At one point does a teaching become infallible or at the very least, binding?]

When it has been set forth authoritatively, it is binding. That really is all that is important on the practical level.

[For instance, if the pope addresses the whole Church in a document, not really stating its status (e.g. as an encyclical or apostolic letter) how do we know that what he teaches becomes infallible and/or binding. And how do we know this?]

Well, the fact that it is put out at all indicates that it deserves obedience. If it is clear that the universal church is being addressed either explicitly or tacitly, that is additional weight. But just because a teaching is not handed on universally does not mean that it is not per se binding.

As far as infallibility goes, there are three kinds of qualifications if you will - any one of which is sufficient to manifest the intention to teach definitively. As long as that intention can be reasonably ascertained, it can be affirmed that said teaching is definitively set forth. (And is to be properly understood as such.) I will focus briefly on each of these criteria - any one of which is sufficient. Remember, the intention is what is important. These are simply ways which that intention can be reasonably discerned.

The first is the type of document used.

The popes tend to use Constitutions and Apostolic Letters chirographum{2} for setting forth teachings they intend to be definitive. Apostolic Exhortations tend to be longer form and are usually the fruit of consultation with the episcopate. They also tend to be used less for making definitive judgments and more for either (i) reaffirming important teachings anew or (ii) for setting out a teaching in a form that is not as authoritative. This does not mean that they are not binding of course, only that the pope in issuing them is usually committing himself with a lessor degree of his authority if you will. Thus while not all apostolic/encyclical letters or exhortations are not themselves definitive documents, there is still the possibility of participating in the handing on of a teaching or certain principles definitively.

Allocutions are of the papal variety the lowest authority of utterance. And if the pope speaks through a Sacred Congregation, that is generally indicative that he desires to speak of a lessor authority still. And iff the pope confirms a document from a Sacred Congregation, it is considered to be binding and a form of the magisterium even though it is not in and of itself infallible. (Though it can participate in infallibility much as allocutions or other pronouncements can.)

Generally speaking, if the pope issues an allocution, it is meant to be seen as authoritative but not definitive in the event of an utterance on a new subject of discussion. However, if the pope in his allocution is reiterating a teaching already taught definitively, that would make for a more authoritative utterance. Which brings us to the second criteria for definitive teaching.

The frequent repetition of a teaching.

I believe this is an important and often overlooked element. It is also perhaps historically the most important because the popes I believe have taught infallibly by repetition at least as much as they have any other means out there. (And arguably much more so.) The reiteration of a teaching by ecumenical councils, by several popes, or by papal dicasteries in and of itself indicates that the teaching is probably meant to be definitive.

If you have a document of great authority coupled with repetition, it would provide even stronger evidence that the manifested will of the teaching authority is to make a definitive statement.{3} This is also where elements such as encyclical epistles (addressed to part of the church) or documents of the Congregations like the CDF play a role in infallibility. Let me use the recent CDF Declaration Dominus Iesus to illustrate this point.

On the face of it, DI as a Declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is not in and of itself infallible. (Meaning formally infallible.) However, in some respects it is materially infallible in that it reiterates the teachings of the dogmatic symbols of the earliest ecumenical councils, symbols of the medieval councils (such as Florence and Trent), Pope Boniface VIII's Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctum, and pronouncements of the more recent magisterium.{4} Thus DI in this manner participates in the infallible magisterium and is not as easily dismissed as so-called "progressives" would want to do with it -to say nothing about 'traditionalists' like Christopher Ferrara, Squ.

Repetition in short is how the magisterium can transmit teachings definitively through a succession of reiterations from documents that in and of themselves are not definitive. This is why when some people dismiss Benedict XIV's Encyclical Epistle Vix Pervinet on usury because "it was only addressed to the bishops of Italy", they are ignoring a key dynamic. For even in such encyclical epistles to a portion of the Church, the magisterium can transmit infallible truths previously taught.{5} These would contribute to the diachronic witness which is usually accompanying a definitive pronouncement of the supreme magisterium when recognizable form of utterance is lacking. (For indeed the ordinary and universal magisterium does not require any form of solemnity to hand on a teaching definitively.) That brings us to the third criteria.

The manner in which the doctrine is formulated.

Many people presume erroneously that it is the only criteria. When there is recognizable form to the teaching it is the intention to teach that truth definitively. This is the clearest of all indicators without a doubt. But strictly speaking it is not necessary. And it is extremely rash to presume that if this criteria is not there that a teaching is not definitive. But that brings us to what is really important here, not "is it infallible" but "is it magisterial".

If the teaching can be reasonably discerned to be magisterial, then it requires at least exterior obedience - and usually internal submission as well. In my opinion, the attitude of rendering religious submission in the event of any doubt viz a teachings precise qualification is adequate enough.

[It seems to me that you can't just resolve to a number "three times and it's infallible!". On the other hand, saying something once, in passing, does not have a lot of weight to me.]

I would say that three times is a good number to base one's inquiry on as a norm. Three times by a single pope is particularly important. The key though is ascertaining the legislators intention. It is also important to remember that prudential judgments are not infallible, historical facts are not infallible except as they appertain directly to doctrine,{6} and the pope's personal opinions are not infallible.

In summary, the focus should be on is it magisterial. (The infallibility or non-infallibility is an ancillary subject best left to theologians.) To some extent we can excuse the non-Catholics for not understanding these principles but too many Catholics do not understand them either.


{1} Most of the notes and materials for it were written and hammered out in messsage board dialogues in early 2002. Fortunately I saved them at angelfire.

{2} Chirographum is a form whereby the pope usually drafts and/or signs the document. (Wheereas Simplex is where the document is drafted in the name of the pope by a member of the Curia.) This can apply to letters issued with doctrinal content to them (i.e. the Apostolic Letters Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Unam Sanctum) or matters of legislation. With legislative laws they are styled Motu Proprio if they are of the Pope's own initiative and are issued without direct consultation of others. (If he consults with others they are not issued in this form.)

Generally speaking, the shorter form utterances are styled as "Apostolic Letters" and longer form utterances are styled as "Encyclical Letters" or "Apostolic Exhortations" with the Encyclical being the more solemn form of the longer form utterance than an Exhortation which is usually more pastoral.

{3} I have come to believe that just as no doctrine is to be understood as infallibly defined without manifest demonstration (cf. Can 749 §3) that all teachings are to be presumed definitive unless manifestly the contrary. This is particularly if they are embodied in a document of high authority such as a dogmatic constitution, an encyclical letter (or other form of apostolic letter chirographum), or a decree from an ecumenical council promulgated to the universal church. (Not all decrees from ecumenical councils have been universal in scope which is why I add this qualification.)

Taking this approach I believe removes the temptation of those who look wrongly to infallibility as the criterion for the truth or irreformability of a teaching.

A teaching is not true because it is infallible. (Nor is a teaching false because it is not infallible.) The latter is a theological qualification only. It is not the criterion for obedience to a teaching and they make shipwreck of the faith who presume that it is. And most of those who would presume to disobey under the erroneous pretext of appealing to conscience frankly do not know what they are talking about ninety-five plus percent of the time if not more. But I digress...

{4} Such as the Dogmatic Constitutions of Vatican I, the Dogmatic Constitutions, Declarations, and Decrees of the Second Vatican Council, some encyclicals of Pope John Paul II, Pope Paul VI's landmark Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, and the CDF's very important 1973 Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae to name a few significant ones of note.

{5} Ironically enough, those who would do this with Benedict XIV's encyclical epistle on usury tend to embrace Pius IX's encyclical epistles Singulari Quidem and Quanto Conficiamor Moeore where the pontiff expounds upon "extra ecclesia nulla salus" in the first magisterial pronouncement of the popes on how implicit faith can be salvific. And of course the Feeneyites ignore Pius IX and promote Benedict XIV without paying any attention to the nuances of Benedict's encyclical as per their standard fundy weltanschauung. Honestly if Michaelangelo chisled his statues the way these kinds of people try to reason, every hammer blow would be a pulverizing one and they would ultimately destroy the sculpture in short order.

{6} And in this case it has to be central such as "X was a valid pope" or "Z was an ecumenical council". To name a couple of examples, (i) Pope John Paul II's reference in Evangelium Vitae to the Didache as "the oldest non-Scriptural writing" is of course a matter of debate. Likewise (ii) his view that modern prison systems are adequate enough to render the death penalty application to being "rare if non-existent" is of the same categorization as just war theory application. It is important to focus - particularly in an encyclical letter which is a very long form of utterance - on precisely what is proposed as teaching and what constitutes the segues or offhand comments if you will. Only the former is strictly speaking binding.

There is a tremendous need to weigh every word in a statement carefully and not to read into it what someone wants to be there - rather than what actually is. It is a truism that teachings are proposed or proscribed only in the sense intended, not in any sense that the individual reading the text imposes onto it.

And of course it should go without saying that the magisterium deserves the benefit of the doubt at all times. Cardinal Newman noted that "to be a true Catholic a man must have a generous loyalty towards ecclesiastical authority." I like to say that you can tell apart the true Traditionalist from the false 'traditionalist' by observing how they go about applying this principle.

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Often Catholics in trying to explain the proper understanding of faculty of private judgment in religious investigation put themselves into an unnecessary conundrum as a result of not making a few key distinctions. Is it just me who senses this or do the "traditionalists" in particular who understand this concept correctly but who gripe about religious liberty as declared by Vatican II not understand that many of the same restrictions on the concept (in the Catholic understanding of the term) exist as they do with the use of private judgment???

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Briefly on the Canon of Scripture:

This is a response to a thread on a discussion list I participate in.

I was in the used book section of a local thrift store when I can accost a book on the development and canonization of the Bible by a "Protestant Scholar" (sorry I don't remember the title or the author.) After claiming that the "Hebrew canon" was "set" by 200 BC, he moved on to the New Testament, which he claims was "set" by Jesus and the Apostles.


My guess is that it was Roger Beckwith - often quoted as authoritative by partisans of the Hebrew canon amongst Protestants. Unfortunately for them, I do not accept Beckwith as authoritative; instead relegating him to the same category as I do Michael Davies amongst the so-called "traditionalist Catholics."

For if the Hebrew canon was set by 200 BC (something that scholars of the Beckwith mould have claimed), then the debates about including certain books in the late first-early second century would have been superfluous because they would have amounted to debating about including books in the canon that were already rejected two centuries previously. Usually the appeal is made to Josephus as an authority on the matter but Josephus was no innocent bystander by any means.

I remember Dr. Art Sippo referring a few years ago to AC Sundberg's Harvard doctoral thesis where the subject of the canon was discussed. (Sundberg was a significant contributors to the subject of the Old Testament canon in the Church in the latter half of the twentieth century.) For some reason, this triggered me to do a word search at Google a few years ago where I discovered the following piece from Sundberg where he revisits and updates his previous thesis.{1} I recommend reading the entire aforementioned piece but the following quotes get to the heart of the subject you are referring to:

During the tenth decade of the nineteenth century C.E. a scholarly consensus was reached regarding the canon of the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament of Protestant Christianity. It was agreed that the formation of that canon was an historical process which took place over the centuries in three steps that came to form the tripartite Hebrew (or Palestinian) canon1 of Law, Prophets and Writings. The first collection to be canonized consisted of the first five books of the Bible and was variously called: the Law (Hebrew, Torah), the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses. This collection was canonized about 400 B.C.E. The second collection canonized was the Prophets (Hebrew, Nabim), which was canonized about 200 B.C.E. Writings (Kethûbim, Greek, Hagiographa) were canonized about 90 C.E. This last canonization was understood as ratifying a commonly used, complete collection since the second or first century B.C.E...

Following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and the consequent disorganization of Judaism, rabbinical schools began to come into prominence as a remaining form of Jewish organization. After his escape from besieged Jerusalem, Rabbi Johanan ben Zakki asked the Roman general for and gained permission to moved his school to Jamnia (Jabneh, Javneh) where it became the leading school (Lewis 1964 and Leiman 1976:120-124). Many of its decisions came to be accepted throughout Judaism. Johanan was succeeded as Nasi (head of the school) by Gamaliel II (80-117 C.E.). Gamaliels term was interrupted when Eleazar ben Azariah was appointed as Nasi. The school had consisted of seventy-two rabbis but at Azariahs accession the school became open to all. Many decisions came to be attributed to "on that day," the day Gamaliel was replaced. Topics discussed at Jamnia about 90 C.E., related to Jewish religious books: outside books, what books rendered the hands unclean, the storing up of books, disputes about certain books, e.g., Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Esther, Sirach, decisions about "on that day," etc...

Another important consideration is the canonical situation reflected in the so-called Kaige Recension,48 which case is made by Cross. Discussing Josephus statement about the canon (Apion 1.37-42), Cross (1992:153f.) writes:

Thinly concealed behind Josephus Greek apologetics is a clear and coherent theological doctrine of canon that must stem, we believe, from the canonical doctrine of Hillel (70 B.C.E.[?]-10 C.E.[?]) and his school.

We cannot press the date of the fixation of the Pharisaic canon earlier than the time of Hillel, as an occasional scholar has attempted to do. Our evidence comes from the so-called Kaige Recension. . . . The Kaige Recension, at the end of the first century B.C., revised the Greek Bible to accord with the protorabbinic text, not with the later fixed Rabbinic Recension. Similarly, the revision embodied in the Kaïge [sic.] Recension extended to the book of Baruch and the longer edition of Daniel, works excluded from the Rabbinic Recension. This effort to update Baruch and the longer edition of Daniel would be most difficult to explain if at the same time of the preparation of the Kaige Recension, the book of Baruch and the additions to Daniel had already been excluded from the Pharisaic canon. Since the recensional labors in the Kaige Recension can be dated to about the turn of the Common Era, and its Pharisaic bias is clear, it follows that as late as the end of the first century B.C., an authoritative, canonical list had not yet emerged, at least in its final form, even in Pharisaic circles.

Thus, the revisions to Baruch and the extended Daniel in the Kaige Recension in Alexandria provides another firm piece of evidence that the Writings were not yet, at the turn of the era, formed into a fixed collection either in fact, i.e., canonized, or de facto." [Albert C. Sundberg: "The Old Testament of the Early Church" Revisited excerpts (c. 1997)]

In short, there is no real credibility whatsoever to the thesis that the entire canon was definitively closed prior to 200 BC. The Deuters for the most part fall into the realm of the Kethûbim or "writings" - a section which was still in flux after the death of most of the Apostles. With regards to the Deuterocanonical books{2} there was a general acceptance of the Deuters though there was a variation in how they were utilized. My friend "Matt1618" goes over this in this essay to which I contributed both as a consultant as well as some Patristic citations and a couple of external links.{3}

Then he goes on to state that, "Although there where many important early Christian writings such as the Epistles of Clemet to the Corinthians, these writings where never considered to be part of the canon of the New Testament." This is the kind of cheesy-wheesy scholarship that I see a lot in Protestant circles.

Indeed. No respectable scholar would make these later assertions. The truth is, there were other books considered as canonical by some in the Church after the time of Jesus and the Apostles. Among those that immediately come to mind are the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, 1 Clement, and the Epistle of Barnabas.

The above four are the most common of the additional works which were accepted in some circles but not in others.{4} In summary, there is no truth whatsoever to the notion that the NT was settled in its contents by Jesus and the Apostles. Only someone ignorant of Church history or profoundly disingenuous could make such claims.

While technically this statement is true, before the canon was established at Rome, Hippo and Carthage, a large portion of the western Church did consider Clemet's Epistles as Scripture. It is also interesting that in his discussion of the formation of the canon of the New Testament he never once mentions a single Church council. This is what is known my brothers and sisters as playing to the ignorance of your audience.

Indeed. This kind of ignorance only propagates more ignorance. Frankly I wish everyone simply admitted that there was a complexity to this issue that is not well served by the often facile assertions made by some representatives of all the parties in the debate (Catholics included).{5}


{1} The original doctoral thesis was published in 1957 and caused a paradigm shift in the manner whereby the "Alexandrian canon" thesis of the previous couple of centuries came to be disregarded. The above link is the author revisiting it thirty years later with additional insights.

{2} A term that became common in the Counter-reformation period.

{3} I also recommended that the section on St. Jerome be bulked up and moved to the end of the sequence as St. Jerome's oft-misunderstood position was the minority view held by some in the Church throughout the Middle Ages - particularly the Fathers who had regular contact with the Jews and thus used the Hebrew Bible in their evangelization efforts.

{4} Though Clement of Alexandria also accepted the Apocalypse of Peter. There was also a text called the Third Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. This work was considered scripture by Syrian Fathers such as Aphraat the Sage and Ephraem the Syrian - both of whom died in the fourth century prior to the synod of Rome in 382 AD. (Where the first list of books we now recognize as canonical was set forth.)

{5} For more reading on the deuterocanonical books, please click HERE.


Sunday, August 31, 2003

Speaking of the Cork's...

I did not think it was possible on the Myers-Briggs test to be 100%-0% on any of the indicators but Bill's brother Jim somehow succeeded in doing this. I was unaware it was possible to be 0% extrovert but then again Myers-Briggs are the "experts" so I guess we should uncritically accept their opinions right???

Another link of interest is Jim Cork's musings on "hippie liturgies and southern comfort hospitality which can be read HERE.


I found this post from Bill Cork on church hymnals to be quite interesting. The Church that Mark Shea and I attend in Seattle (Blessed Sacrament Parish and Dominican Priory) uses two hymnals. One is the familiar Oregon Catholic Press book which is a mixed bag. The other one used for the more Traditional liturgies - both the Latin Pauline liturgy at noon on Sundays and during the weekday and Saturday masses - is an old missal from GIA. Bill refers to the GIA Worship III in his post.

The GIA missal we use at Blessed Sacrament is the GIA's Worship II which has a 1975 copyright. I quite like this hymnal and have long thought that this missal or one like it should be the mandatory missal for all masses in the North America continent. It has a mixture of newer (read: post 1962) stuff but most of the songs are older hymns from various Christian traditions. (All of which are theologically sound btw.) There are Latin hymns as well in this missal particularly older ones like Ave Verum Corpus (my late fathers favourite hymn) and of course the base songs such as the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and others.

This hymnal contains the kind of core uniformity of hymns that I think would be beneficial while at the same time with three hundred songs there is enough variety for different parishes to have their own customary hymns. Further still, there is enough solid meat in the hymns that one does not feel like they are on Sesame Street singing as is sometimes the case with the more so-called "progressive" hymns from the OCP. Which reminds me of something else as well.

While there is certainly room for improvement, I have noticed that the masses where the singing is best are when the hymns are chosen from the Worship II. This is probably because there is a set of "standards" which are defaulted to from that missal - something difficult to do with the OCP "Mr. Potato Head" missals where the contents change every three months or so.

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