In this discussion I intend to focus on the Protestant/Catholic side of the debate rather than the Eastern Orthodox aspect. It is not that this isn't worth discussion, merely that so far the Protestant/Catholic aspect has proved difficult enough. The books in question are: Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and I and II Maccabees. I will call these either "the disputed books" or the "deuterocanonical books" (a term which originated in the 16th century and which means "second canon").
If the Jews recognized a canon and understood it to be closed (i.e. that no more books could be added to it) in the time before Christ, then it should remain fixed in the form they established.
This logically follows if you believe the Bible is inspired. It seems unthinkable that the text should be inspired, but that the canon should not also be God-given in whatever final form it comes to us. If this ability to discern the canon is God-given then Christians should regard a Jewish canon arising from the pre-Christian era as binding upon them, and should be no more able to change it than they are able to change the contents of the individual books.
On the other hand, if the Jews had not discerned or closed their canon before the time of Christ (i.e. determined that no more books could be added to it), if they only came to believe that the canon was closed only at a later date, then Christians should not be overly concerned with their conclusions -- for it would be logical to conclude that the Holy Spirit's inspiration now belonged to the Christians.
So the first question we must ask before determining what the proper canon should be is now this: Did the Jews of the... [continues]
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