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Rupert, a learned man of the twelfth century, expressly rejects the book of Wisdom from the Canon.
Peter MAURITIUS, after giving a catalogue of the authentic Scriptures of the Old Testament, adds the six disputed books, and says, “ They are useful and commendable in the church, but are not to be placed in the same dignity with the rest.”
HUGO DE S. VICTORE, a Saxon by birth, but who resided at Paris, gives a catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, which includes no others but the two-and-twenty received from the Jews; and of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, and Judith, he says, “ They are used in the church, but not written in the Canon.”
RICHARD DE S. VICTORE, also of the twelfth century, in his Books of Collections, explicitly declares, “ That there are but twenty-two books in the Canon; and that Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, and the Maccabees, are not esteemed Canonical, although they are read in the churches."
PETER LOMBARD, in his Scholastic History, enumerates the books of the Old Testament thus—Five books of Moses, eight of the Prophets, and nine of the Hagiographa, which leaves no room for these six disputed books; but in his Preface to Tobit, he says expressly, “ That it is in no order of the Canon;" and of Judith, “that Jerome and the Hebrews place it in the Apocrypha.” Moreover, he calls the story of Bel and the Dragon a fable; and says that the History of Susannah is not as true as it should be.
In this century also lived John of Salisbury, an Englishman, a man highly respected in his time. In one of his epistles, he treats this subject at large, and professes to follow Jerome, and undoubtedly to believe that there are but twentytwo books in the Canon of the Old Testament, all which he names in order, and adds, “That neither the book of Wisdom, nor Ecclesiasticus, nor Judith, nor Tobit, nor the Pastor, nor the Maccabees, are esteemed Canonical.”
In the thirteenth century, the opinion of the learned was the same, as we may see by the Ordinary Gloss on the Bible, in the composition of which many persons were concerned, and which was highly approved by all the doctors and pastors in the Western churches. In the Preface to this Gloss, they are reproached with ignorance who hold all the books put into the one volume of scripture in equal veneration. The difference between these books is asserted to be as great as between certain and doubtful works. The Canonical books are declared “ to have been written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; but who were the authors of the others is unknown.” Then it is declared, “That the church permitteth the reading of the Apocryphal books for devotion and instruction, but not for authority to decide matters of controversy in faith. And that there are no more than twenty-two Canonical books of the Old Testament, and all besides are Apocryphal.” Thus we have the common judgment of the church, in the thirteenth century, in direct opposition to the decree of the Council of Trent in the sixteenth. But this is not all; for, when the writers of this Gloss come to the Apocryphal books, they prefix a caution, as-“ Here begins the book of Tobit, which is not in the Canon;"_“Here begins the book of Judith, which is not in the Canon,” and so of every one of them; and to confirm their opinion, they appeal to the Fathers.
Hugo, the cardinal, who lived in this century, wrote commentaries on all the Scriptures, which were universally esteemed; in these he constantly keeps up the dictinction between the Canonical and Ecclesiastical books; and he explicitly declares that “Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees, are Apocryphal,—dubious,—not Canonical,—not received by the church for proving any matters of faith, but for information of manners.
THOMAS AQUINAS, also, the most famous of the schoolmen, makes the same distinction between these classes of books. He maintains that the book of Wisdom was not held to be a part of the Canon, and ascribes it to Philo. The story of Bel and the Dragon he calls a fable; and he shows, clearly enough, that he did not believe that Ecclesiasticus was of Canonical authority.
In the fourteenth century, no man acquired so extensive a reputation for his commentaries on the Bible as NICHOLAS LYRA, a converted Jew. In his preface to the book of Tobit, he says, “That having commented on all the Canonical books, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, his intention now. was, to write on those books which are not Canonical." Here he enumerates Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, and the Maccabees; and then adds, “ The Canonical books are not only before these in time, but in dignity and authority."- And again, “ These are not in the Canon, but received by the church, to be read for instruction in manners, not to be used for deciding controversies respecting the faith; whereas the others are of such authority, that whatever they contain is to be held as undoubted truth."
The Englishman, William Occam of Oxford, accounted the most learned doctor of his age, in his Dialogues acknowledges, “That that honour is due only to the divine writers of Scripture, that we should esteem them free from all error.” Moreover, in his Prologues, he fully assents to the opinion of Jerome and Gregory, “That neither Judith, nor Tobit, nor the Maccabees, nor Wisdom, nor Ecclesiasticus, are to be received into the same place of honour as the inspired books; for,” says he, “the church doth not number them among the Canonical Scriptures.”
In the fifteenth century, THOMAS ANGLICUS, sometimes called the angelical doctor, on account of his excellent judgment, numbers twenty-four books of the Old Testament, if Ruth be reckoned separately from Judges, and Lamentations from Jeremiah.
Paul BURGENSIS, a Spanish Jew, who, after his conversion to Christianity, on account of his
superior knowledge and piety, was advanced to be Bishop of Burgos, wrote Notes on the Bible, in which he retains the same distinction of books which has been so often mentioned.
The Romanists have at last, as they suppose, found an anthority for these disputed books in the Council of Florence; from the Acts of which they produce a decree, in which the six disputed books are named, and expressly said to be written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Though this Canon were genuine, the authority of a council, sitting in such circumstances as attended the meeting of this, would have very little weight; but Dr Cosin has shewn, that in the large copies of the acts of this council, no such decree can be found, and that it has been foisted into the abridgement by some impostor, who omitted something else to make room for it, and thus preserved the number of Canons unchanged, while the substance of them was altered.
ALPHONSO TOSTATUS, Bishop of Avila, who, on account of his extraordinary learning, was called the wonder of the world, has given a clear and decisive testimony on this subject. This learned man declares, “ That these controverted books were not Canonical, and that the church condemned no man for disobedience who did not receive them as the other Scriptures, because they were of uncertain origin; and it is not known that they were written by inspiration.” And again, “ Because the church is uncertain whether heretics have not added to them." This opinion he repeats in several parts of his works.
Cardinal XIMENES, the celebrated editor of the Complu
tensian Polyglot, in the preface to that work, admonishes the reader that Judith, Tobit, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, with the additions to Esther and Daniel, which are found in the Greek, are not Canonical Scripture.
John Picus, the learned Count of Mirandula, adhered firmly to the opinion of Jerome, and the other Fathers, on the subject of the Canon.
FABER STAPULENSIS, a famous doctor of Paris, acknowledges that these books are not in the Canon.
Ludovicus Vives, one of the most learned men of his age, in his Commentaries on Augustine’s “City of God,” rejects the third and fourth books of Esdras, and also the history of Susannah and Bel, as Apocryphal. He speaks also in such a manner of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as to shew that he did not esteem them Canonical; for he makes Philo to be the author of the former, and the Son of Sirach of the latter, who lived in the time of Ptolemy, about an hundred years after the last of the prophets; and of the Maccabees, he doubts whether Josephus was the author or not; by which he sufficiently shews that he did not believe that they were written by inspiration.
But there was no man in this age who obtained so high a reputation for learning and critical skill as ERASMUS. In his exposition of the Apostle's Creed and the Decalogue, he discusses this question respecting the Canonical books; and, after enumerating the usual books of the Old Testament, he says, “ The ancient Fathers admitted no more;” but of the other books afterwards received into ecclesiastical use (naming the whole which we esteem Apocryphal), “it is uncertain what authority should be allowed to them; but the Canonical Scriptures are such, as, without controversy, are believed to have been written by the inspiration of God.” And in his Scholia on Jerome's preface to Daniel, he expresses his wonder that such stories as Bel and the Dragon should be publicly read in the churches. In his address to students of the Scriptures, he admonishes them to consider well, “ That the church never intended to give the same authority to Tobit, Judith, and Wisdom, which is given to the five books of Moses, or the four Evangelists.
The last testimony which we shall adduce to shew that these books were neither universally nor commonly received, until the very time of the Council of Trent, is that of Cardinal CAJETAN, the oracle of the church of Rome. In his Commentaries on the Bible, he gives us this as the rule of the church“ That those books which were Canonical with Jerome, should
be so with us; and that those which were not received as Canonical by him, should be considered as excluded by us.” And he says, “ The church is much indebted to this Father for distinguishing between the books which are Canonical and those which are not, for thus he has freed us from the reproach of the Hebrews, who otherwise might say that we had framed a new Canon for ourselves.” For this reason, he would write no commentaries on these Apocryphal books, for, says he, “Judith, Tobit, Maccabees, Wisdom, and the additions to Esther, are all excluded from the Canon as insufficient to prove any matter of faith, though they may be read for the edifying of the people.”
From the copious citations of testimonies which we have given, it is evident that the books in dispute are Apocryphal, and have no right to a place in the Canon; and that the council of Trent acted unwisely in decreeing, with an anathema annexed, that they should be received as divine. Surely no council can make that an inspired book which was not written by inspiration. Certainly these books do not belong to the Canon while the Apostles lived, for they were unknown both to Jews and Christians. Sixtus SINENSIS, a distinguished Romanist, acknowledges that it was long after the time of the Apostles that these writings came to the knowledge of the whole Christian church. But while this is conceded, it does not terminate the controversy; for, among the many extraordinary claims of the Romanist church, one of the most extraordinary is, the authority to add to the Canon of Holy Scripture. It has been made sufficiently manifest that these Apocryphal books were not included in the Canon during the first three centuries; and can it be doubted whether the Canon was fully constituted before the fourth century ? To suppose that the Pope, or a Council, can make what books they please Canonical, is too absurd to deserve a moment's consideration. If, upon this principle, they could render Tobit and Judith Canonical, upon the same, they might introduce Herodotus, Livy, or even the Koran itself.