Concerning 2 Maccabees

When discussing such matters as the supreme authority of the scriptures over tradition Catholic apologists love to ask, "Who gave you the canon of the Bible" .

While it is arrogant and presumptious for any Church or individual to claim to have given us the canon of Scripture, it also is a foolish argument. We know, or should know, that God gave the canon. He promised to preserve His word.

I have encountered Catholics who were willing to concede that, while God may have given us some of the Old Testament canon, Rome made it complete by the addition of apocryphal writings. Having created its improved canon of Scripture, the Magisterium now had a full set of tools for completing the work of revelation that God had only started. It is in 2 Macabbees, for example, that Rome finds support for the doctrines of purgatory and praying for the dead that God apparently forgot to include in the Old Testament Canon He delivered to His Chosen People.

Is 2 Maccabees canonical? In the introduction to this book in one Catholic Bible we read::

The author of 2 Maccabees states (2, 23) that his one-volume work is an abridgment of a certain five-volume work by Jason of Cyrene; but since this latter has not survived, it is difficult to determine its relationship to the present epitome. One does not know how freely the anonymous epitomizer may have rewritten his shorter composition, or how closely he may have followed the wording of the original in the excerpts he made.

The book is not without genuine historical value in supplementing 1 Maccabees, and it contains some apparently authentic documents (11, 16-38). Its purpose, whether intended by Jason himself or read into it by the compiler, is to give a theological interpretation to the history of the period. The author sometimes effects his purpose by transferring events from their proper chronological order, and giving exaggerated figures for the size of armies and the numbers killed in battle; he also places long, edifying discourses and prayers in the mouths of his heroes, and inclines to elaborate descriptions of celestial apparitions (3, 24-34; 5, 2ff; 10, 29f; 15, 11-16). -- New American Bible, Introduction to 2 Maccabees, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

For those interested in seeing for themselves how the Romish dreamworks is able to create doctrine founded on books that even it appears to view as the creations of man, the rest of the Introduction discusses briefly the theological importance of the author’s teachings, which include saying prayers and making supplication for the dead. As you read, ask yourself how a book understood to be of dubious origins can be considered to be a valid part of God's written revelation. The introduction acknowledges that the purpose of the work was “to give a theological interpretation to the history of the period.” This is a practice condemned by the Roman Church, for such interpretation is not, we are to believe, either sanctioned or done by the Magisterium.

We do not know who wrote 2 Maccabees, but we do know that it js an abridged version of a work by a man identified as Jason of Cyrene. By her own admission in the introduction, the Roman Church simply cannot know whether 2 Maccabees is an accurate rendering of the original work. Add to this the fact that the original author never claimed his work to be canonical, that the introduction admits to historical inaccuracies and the admitted creative liberties the author took in placing words in the mouths of characters in the book and you end up with nothing more than historical fiction. If we allowed the true canon of Scripture to be filled with works of such dubious merit it would be impossible for the church to convince anyone that the Scriptures were authentic. While 1 Maccabees was written in Hebrew, 2 Maccabees was authored in Greek. Were 2 Maccabees truly canonical then it would be either the only O.T. book written in Greek or the first N.T. book; written some 150-200 years prior to any other N.T. book (and before the birth of Jesus Christ!).

Yet, the Roman Church would have us believe that she and the early fathers have always considered these books (and the rest of the Apocrypha) as canonical. That this is a fabrication may be discovered in these example of patristic writings on the subject:

14. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, 1310 Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, 1311 the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, 1312 Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book 1313 ; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. 1314 From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.” Such are the words of Melito [of Sardis] -- Cited by Eusebius in Church History, Volume IV, Chapter 26

"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." - Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, 38

And what of that great doctor of the Catholic Church, Jerome? provides a clear insight into Jerome's view of the Apocrypha:

"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church. If any one is better pleased with the edition of the Seventy, there it is, long since corrected by me. For it is not our aim in producing the new to destroy the old. And yet if our friend reads carefully, he will find that our version is the more intelligible, for it has not turned sour by being poured three times over into different vessels, but has been drawn straight from the press, and stored in a clean jar, and has thus preserved its own flavor." - Jerome, Comments in his Preface to "Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs

Jerome made it crystal clear that he diod not consider the Apocrypha to have a place in the Old Testament canon:

"And so there are also twenty-two books of the Old Testament; that is, five of Moses, eight of the prophets, nine of the Hagiographa, though some include Ruth and Kinoth (Lamentations) amongst the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be reckoned separately; we should thus have twenty-four book of the old law…This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a "helmeted" introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which finally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon. The first book of Maccabees I have found to be Hebrew, the second is Greek, as can be proved from the very style. -- Jerome, Preface to The Books of Samuel and King

It appears that the Roman Church has declared 2 Maccabees (along with the rest of the Apocrypha) to be canonical only because they are the sole sources to which she can point to in support of some of her heretical beliefs and practices. Her wrongful doctrines can nowhere be found in the true canon of the Old Testament. Intelligent people likely would not base inportant decision on information as flimsy as that offered by Rome in support of her bad doctrine. I have to wonder why otherwise intelligent Catholics so readily swallow what Rome teaches concerning eternity. Lack of discernment? I reckon so.

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