Questions regarding the Biblical Canon (Specifically regarding the LXX)
This subject has come up before and I (as Erick M) contributed to it a couple of years ago. This ties in with the authority of the apocrypha thread. I was hoping to add further examples of problems with the Masoretic text. There's a little history just for those who need it; otherwise scroll to my questions at the bottom.
Not many Christians realize that the canon as we know it has gone through a number of changes since the early Christian centuries.
This is by no means an exhaustive history. I'm trying to keep it somewhat short. I think it's a worthwhile study and I am open to any improvements/criticisms as to the information I am presenting. Questions will follow.
In the centuries prior to the first Nicene councils, most of the books that now make up the Bible were considered authoritative but there were divisions on a number of books.
Regarding the NT:
The Revelation of John was controversial. Some churches used it some didn't. Some theologians, such as Dionysius Of Alexandria, did not believe it was written by the Beloved Disciple. It seems that there were a number of Apostolic figures named John in the first century.
2 & 3 John and 2 Peter were largely rejected before the first Nicene councils. They did not have the support of the earliest apostolic witnesses.
Hebrews was not used universally. There was a lot of mystery in regards to authorship as there still is. The Muratonian canon, which predates the first councils, is missing 3 John, Hebrews and James.
A book called the Apocalypse of Peter was used by some churches. So was the Shepherd of Hermas.
The council of Laodicea, Hippo and Carthage accepted all the 27 books that now make up the New Testament.
The Old Testament is the really tricky aspect of the canon.
The earliest councils accepted all the books that now make up the OT but...
IT IS NOT THE OLD TESTAMENT THAT THE MAJORITY OF CHRISTIANS USE IN THE WEST TODAY.
It is the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), the Greek version of the Old Testament. It included books that are now called "the apocrypha" by Protestants and "deutero-canonical" by Catholics. Most of the quotations of the OT in the NT are from the LXX. The LXX was translated from Hebrew and Aramaic sources in the first couple of centuries before Christ; some books in the apocrypha were composed originally in Greek. The LXX was used by most of the Diaspora or Hellenistic Jews. It later came into disuse among Hellenized Jews and Targumic/Aramaic translations and a Greek translation by a Jewish Proselyte named Aquila were commonly used instead.
Supposedly, a council of Pharisees met around 100 AD and decidedly rejected the books that make up the Apocrypha.
Around the time Jerome translated the Vulgate there was a renewed Christian interest in using the Hebrew version of the OT. Origen had translated a Hebrew text previously.
The version that eventually came to be the standard canonical text used by Jews was the Masoretic text. It was compiled by Rabbis between the 7th and 10th centuries. These Rabbis compiled versions of scripture that were largely chosen from a bias that was spurred on by their theological run-ins with Christians.
Since Luther's decision to use the Masoretic text in his canon, almost all Christian Bibles in the West use it. The only church that uses the LXX is the Eastern Orthodox church. They still consider the apocrypha authoritative/inspired as well.
Other than a few messianic readings from the LXX, our OT is largely the work of Rabbis that had it out for Christian interpretations.
How is it that this is the OT that has become standard for Christians?
What do we ultimately respond to as authoritative canon in theological discussions?