Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rufinus' Commentary on the Creed: The Apocrypha

It's funny because my working motto has been "Yea let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom 3:4) when approaching the fathers. In other words, I've said, I want to respect the Tradition that has been passed down to me, but if it is the case that the fathers reject any doctrine I feel to be truly contained in the Scriptures then I will reject that fathers' teaching. But funnily enough, I've found more confirmation of Protestant beliefs in the fathers since I started reading them again.

I will not say what Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy says: namely, that the fathers teach our position alone. Such a case is necessary with the epistemic claims of both of those Traditions. However, Protestantism merely says, 'this is what the bible teaches' and in so much as the Church throughout the ages have confessed the bible, they have confessed this faith. For this reason, we only need to show how our doctrines are in the fathers, and need not prove that they are the only opinions in the fathers.

Regarding the issue of the canon, I found Rufinus' commentary on the Creed quite illuminating, and at one point I realized it was almost the exact same words as the 39 articles use, concerning the apocrypha. "And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine."

"But it should be known that there are also other books which our fathers call not "Canonical" but "Ecclesiastical:" that is to say, Wisdom, called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas, [and that] which is called The Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, but not appealed to for the confirmation of doctrine. The other writings they have named "Apocrypha." These they would not have read in the Churches.

These are the traditions which the Fathers have handed down to us, which, as I said, I have thought it opportune to set forth in this place, for the instruction of those who are being taught the first elements of the Church and of the Faith, that they may know from what fountains of the Word of God their draughts must be taken."-38

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