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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



APOCRYPHA.

 

The third and fourth Books of Esdras, and the prayer of Manasses, (W.) are found in many Latin Bibles, (H.) and translated in that of Douay, (W.) as works of dubious authority.  Calmet also inserts the third and fourth books of Machabees.  H. --- Protestants class under the same head the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Machabees, (W.) with Baruch, and parts of Esther and Daniel, &c. H. --- They acknowledge that they are, "holy and worthy to be read in the Church, but not sufficient to prove points of faith."  The truth is, they find them too opposite to their creed; as S. Augustine (prædest. SS. C. xiv.) observes was the case with some heretics, who rejected the Book of Wisdom. W. --- The pretence that these Books were not admitted by many ancient Fathers, would equally strike out of the canon the Epistle to the Hebrews, those of S. James and S. Jude, the second and third of S. Peter, and of S. John, and the Apocalypse, the authority of all which was formerly warmly controverted, (H.) and only admitted by degrees: (W.) paulatim tempore procedente meruit auctoritatem.  S. Jerom, in Jacobo. ---  This holy doctor doubted (Prideaux) whether the book of Judith was canonical, till he found the decision of the Council of Nice.  The declaration of the Church is the only sure rule by which matters of this nature can be decided.  H. --- "I would not believe the gospel, unless I were influenced to do it by the authority of the Catholic Church."  S. Aug. c. ep. Fund. c. 5. --- This Church has spoken in favor of the controverted Books of the Old Testament, as much as for those of the New; so that the inconsistency of Protestants cannot pass unnoticed.  If they had asserted that they appealed only to the private spirit, they might have been acceptable at least to fanatics; but now they attempt to follow the Catholic rule, and yet reject it the next moment!  If we would relinquish all the parts 'of Scripture which have been called in question, what book would be safe?  Some have been indeed more universally admitted, and may therefore be styled protocanonical, while the deuterocanonical books were recognized rather later; and after all difficulties had been maturely discussed, as has been the case with other articles of faith.  But the declaration being promulgated sooner or later, does not alter the truth.  The will of God, notified to us by his Church, is our infallible guide.  This is the canon, or "rule," (H.) to regulate our imperfect knowledge.  S. Aug. c. Faust. xi. 5. and c. Crescon. ii. 32.  --- In this sense the Council of Carthage, (A. 419) styles these contested books, "canonical and divine:" and the ancient Popes, Innocent I. and Gelasius, as well as S. Aug. (Doct. ii. 8.) S. Isidore, (Etym. vi. 1.) and others, place them on a level with the other parts of Scripture, as has been done by the general Councils of Florence and of Trent.  If the Jews did not admit them into their canon, it was because they were not extant in the Hebrew language, (H.) or known when the canon was closed by Esdras, (Huet.  D.) or afterwards.  H. --- Besides, who sees not that the canon of the Church is preferable to that of the synagogue? W. --- Otherwise how shall we receive the New Testament.  H. --- Many of the Fathers referred only to the Jewish canon, when they gave catalogues of the sacred books.  C. --- We shall find that they generally admitted the authority of what the Protestants style Apocrypha, and that they were far from considering them (H.) as "romances," (Fagius) or inducements" to vice and superstitious practices, under the semblance of virtue," (Button) as some have now the boldness to assert.  They might well shew so much deference to the judgment of the majority of Christians, as to abstain from such censures. H.

 

 








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