Truth: Canonicity Part 6

This is Part 6 of 9 parts answering the basic and very important question, “What does Canonicity mean and why is it important?” Parts 7-9 will be posted on succeeding days.

What about the Apocrypha? Apocrypha, which means “hidden,” was hidden from the normally accepted writings of Scripture. But some churches believe these books should be included with Scripture (for example, the Catholic Church). There were actually four categories into which books were placed. The first category is the ”Homologoumena” which comprises 34 of the 39 books of the OT and were accepted by all as canonical, that is accepted as being part of the Divine Revelation of the Bible (Homo meaning the same as in the same writings).

The second category is the “Antilegomena” which were the disputed writings because of the character and/or claims which were brought into question by rabbis. For example, “The Song of Solomon” was considered too sensual and had erotic characteristics and therefore was considered to be too shocking to many religious types of people. But it portrays the beautiful aspect of romantic love between a man and woman in marriage. The danger is ascetic (prudish) interpreters, who should not be teachers of Scripture. There is no place for ascetics in the interpretation of Song of Solomon. Esther was questioned because the name of God was not mentioned anywhere in the text. Ecclesiastes was also questioned because it is so skeptical of life. But the spiritual conclusion of the book clearly brings the whole content into focus of what is important,

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (Ecc. 12:13-14 NKJ)

Ezekiel was called into question because chapters 1-10 seemed to exhibit a tendency toward Gnosticism and chapters 40-48 seemed to contradict the sacrificial system of the Mosaic Law. In reality, the first ten chapters were interpreted incorrectly and the last nine relate to the Millennium worship not the worship system of the time of Moses.

Proverbs was suspect because it appeared to contradict itself in Proverbs 26:4-5 where the exhortation was to answer a fool according to his folly and then not to answer a fool according to his folly,

4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Pro. 26:4-5 NKJ)

The Biblical answer here is that at times a fool should be answered according to his own folly, and other times he should not be given any answer. Sometimes it is better to ignore the fool in his folly.

A third category are didactical (teaching) books like 3 Maccabees; 4 Maccabees; Pirke Aboth, and the Story of Ahikar;” This would include a historical book in the Pseudepigrapha called the Fragment of a Zadokite work.

And a fourth category are poetic books like the Psalms of Solomon and Psalm 151.

The term Pseudepigrapha has been mentioned. We’ll look at Part 7 tomorrow.

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