OT: What was the popular bible?

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Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Dec 18 2016 9:38 AM

I am reading The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church by Beckwith. What Bible is he referring to when he uses the term "popular bible" in this quote?  Is he referring to the Latin Vulgate?

From the other point of view, the canon was a narrow one, consisting simply of the books of the Jewish Bible, which scholars like Melito, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Gregory of Nazianzus and Jerome took the trouble to distinguish from the rest as alone acknowledged to be inspired, though they too used the others for edification, and their distinction seems often to have been ignored. However, not only in patristic times but throughout the Middle Ages a learned tradition persisted which excluded the Apocrypha from the Old Testament, though the popular Bible embraced them.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 18 2016 3:58 PM

Beckwith at this particular point appears to be very unnuanced and is ignoring the multiple senses in which "canonical" is used. By "popular Bible" he means just that e.g. German Bibles include the Letter to the Laodiceans which was not in the "official" Vulgate.

A more nuanced approach avoids the argument over which meaning of "canon" is meant and divides the books found in Bible manuscripts as follows:

  • protocanonical - used as readings in church services and as basis of doctrine
  • deuterocanonical - used as readings in church services but not as the sole basis of doctrine
  • tritocanonical - not used as readings in church services or as a basis of doctrine (Revelation is often an example)
  • cobound to avoid loss - in no way considered Biblical (Letter to the Laodiceans in German Bibles)

Using these categories allows one to bypass many misreadings of early texts and different text traditions.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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