Canon of Scripture
Roman Catholics complain that Protestants have 'removed' books from the canon of scripture.
This hue and cry has even been taken up by Muslim apologists like
Ahmad Deedat. But it is more accurate to say that the sixteenth century Council
of Trent added books to the canon, than to complain that Protestants ever
removed any. Protestants adopted the early church's canon of scripture:
"This then is the Holy Ghost,
who in the Old Testament inspired the Law and the Prophets,
in the New the Gospels and the Epistles. Whence also the Apostle
says, 'All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable
for instruction.' And therefore it seems proper in this place
to enumerate, as we have learnt from the tradition of the Fathers,
the books of the New and of the Old Testament, which, according
to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been
inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have been handed down to the Churches of Christ.
"Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of
all there have been handed down five books of Moses,
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then Jesus
Nave, (Joshua the son of Nun), the Book of Judges together with
Ruth; then four books of Kings (Reigns), which the Hebrews reckon
two; the Book of Omissions, which is entitled the Book of Days
(Chronicles), and two books of Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah), which
the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the twelve (minor)
Prophets, one book; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book.
"Solomon gave three books to the Churches,
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles. These comprise
the books of the Old Testament.
"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
(Rufinus (late fourth century), Commentary on the
Apostles' Creed, 37-38, ECF 2.03).
"The Old Testament, then, consists of all together twenty-two books in number,– which also, I have
heard, is traditionally the number of written characters used
by the Hebrews,– the order of which, and the name of each, being
as follows: first, there is Genesis; then Exodus; then Leviticus;
and after this is Numbers; and then Deuteronomy; and following
these is Jesus son of Nave [Joshua]; and Judges; and after this
is Ruth; and again, following after these are four books of
Kingdoms, of which the first and second are counted as one [1
and 2 Samuel], and the third and fourth likewise as one [1 and
2 Kings]; and after these there is a first and second of Paralipomenon
[Chronicles], likewise counted as one; then Esdras, a first
and second in one [Ezra and Nehemiah]; and after this is a book
of Psalms; and then one of Proverbs; then Ecclesiastes; and
Song of Songs; and besides these, there is Job; and then the
Prophets, the twelve counted as one book [minor prophets]; then
Isaias; Jeremias, and along with it, Baruch, Lamentations, and
the Letter; and after these, Ezechiel; and Daniel. It is of
these so far enumerated that the Old Testament consists...
"These are the fountains of salvation at which they who thirst may be satisfied with the words they
contain. Only in these is the teaching of piety proclaimed.
Let no man add to these, nor take away from them....For the
sake of greater clarity I must necessarily add this remark also:
there are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however,
are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers
to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed
in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom
of Sirach [Ecclesiasticus]; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias;
and the Teaching attributed to the Apostles [Didache]; and the
Shepherd. Those which I mentioned earlier, beloved, are included
in the canon, while these latter are but recommended for reading."
(Athanasius, Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter, 367 A.D., 791, pp.
341-342, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1, William A. Jurgens).
"Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: As you
have often, prompted by your regard for the
word of God, expressed a wish to have some extracts made from
the Law and the Prophets concerning the Savior, and concerning
our faith in general, and have desired, moreover, to obtain
an accurate account of the Ancient Books, as regards their number
and their arrangement, I have striven to the best of my ability
to perform this task: well knowing your zeal for the faith,
and your eagerness to become acquainted with the Word, and especially
because I am assured that, through your yearning after God,
you esteem these things beyond all things else, engaged as you
are in a struggle for eternal salvation.
"I accordingly proceeded to the East, and went to the very spot where the things in question
were preached and took place; and, having made myself accurately
acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, I have set them
down below, and herewith send you the list. Their names are as follows:
"The five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth,
the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of
the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the
Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books
of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in
a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made
my extracts, dividing them into six books."
(Melito of Sardis, c. 177 A.D., Book of Extracts, pp. 1496-1497, ECF 0.08)
"When expounding the first Psalm, he [Origen] gives a catalogue of the sacred Scriptures of the
Old Testament as follows: 'It should be stated that the canonical
books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two;
corresponding with the number of their letters.'" (Origen, quoted
in Eusebius, Church History, Book 6, Chapter 25).
"On the contrary, the translation [the Septuagint] was
effected by the Holy Spirit, by whom the Divine Scriptures were
spoken. Of these, read the twenty-two books; but have nothing to
do with the apocrypha. Study diligently those only which we read
publicly in the Church. Far wiser than you, and much more pious,
were the Apostles and bishops of old, the rulers of the Church
who handed down these books. You, therefore, being a child of
the Church – infringe not on its statutes. Of the Old Testament,
as we have said, study the twenty-two books; and if you happen
to be desirous of learning, strive to remember them by name as I
recite them. Of the law, the first five are the books of Moses:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Next,
Jesus the Son of Nave; and the Book of Judges together with
Ruth, counted as the seventh.
"Of the others, the historical books, the first and
second book of Kingdoms are counted by the Hebrews as one book;
and as one book also, the third and the fourth. LIkewise, with
them, the first and second Books of Paralipomenon are accounted
as one book; and the first and second of Esdras are reckoned as
one. The twelfth book is Esther. And these are the historical
"Those, however, which are written in verses are five:
Job, the Book of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of
Songs, which is the seventeenth book. After these there are the
five prophetic books: of the twelve prophets, there is one book;
of Isaias, one; of Jeremias, one, along with Baruch*,
Lamentations, and the Letter*; next, Ezechiel; and the Book of
Daniel is the twenty-second book of the Old Testament.
"Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are
the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And,
pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dost thou,
who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble
thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine
Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these
that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters. [...]
"Of these read the two and twenty books, but have
nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly
these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and
more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of
old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these
books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not
upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said,
study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of
learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of
the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of
Nave, and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as
seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second
books of the Kings are among the Hebrews one book; also the
third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and
second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and
second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book;
and these are the Historical writings. But those which are
written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and
Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the
seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books:
of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one,
including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel,
and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.
"Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels
only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The
Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being
tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the
souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve
Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles
of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all,
and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of
Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And
whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by
thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these
(Cyril of Jerusalem, The Catechetical Lectures, 4:33-36).
"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." (Jerome, Prefaces to the Vulgate Old Testament).
"As, then, there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew all
we say, and the compass of the human voice is contained within
their limits, so we reckon twenty-two books, by which, as by
the alphabet of the doctrine of God, a righteous man is instructed
in tender infancy, and, as it were, while still at the breast.
The first of these books...to which we give the name Genesis.
The second...which bears the name Exodus; the third, ...that
is Leviticus; the fourth,...which we call Numbers; the fifth,...which
is entitled Deuteronomy. These are the five books of Moses,
which they properly call Thorath, that is law. The second class
is composed of the Prophets, and they begin with Jesus the son
of Nave, who among them is called Joshua the son of Nun. Next
in the series is...the book of Judges; and in the same book
they include Ruth, because the events narrated occurred in the
days of the Judges. Then comes Samuel, which we call First and
Second Kings. The fourth is Malachim, that is, Kings, which
is contained in the third and fourth volumes of Kings. And it
is far better to say Malachim, that is Kings, than Malachoth,
that is Kingdoms. For the author does not describe the Kingdoms
of many nations, but that of one people, the people of Israel,
which is comprised in the twelve tribes. The fifth is Isaiah,
the sixth Jeremiah, the seventh Ezekiel, the eighth is the book
of the Twelve Prophets,...
"To the third class belong the Hagiographa, of which the first book begins with Job, the second
with David, whose writings they divide into five parts and comprise
in one volume of Psalms; the third is Solomon, in three books,
Proverbs, which they call Parables, that is Masaloth, Ecclesiastes,
that is Coeleth, the Song of Songs...; the sixth is Daniel;
the seventh,...Words of Days, which we may more expressively
call a chronicle of the whole of the sacred history, the book
that amongst us is called First and Second Chronicles; the eighth,
Ezra, which itself is likewise divided amongst Greeks and Latins
into two books; the ninth is Esther.
"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. And these the Apocalypse
of John represents by the twenty-four elders, who adore the
Lamb, and with downcast looks offer their crowns, while in their
presence stand the four living creatures with eyes before and
behind, that is, looking to the past and the future, and with
unwearied voice crying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
who wast, and art, and art to come.
"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." (Jerome,
Prefaces to the Vulgate Old Testament, ECF 2.06)
"These are the books of the Old Testament which ought to be read:
1. Genesis of the World;
2. Exodus from Egypt;
6. Jesus of Nave [Joshua];
7. Judges, Ruth;
9. First and Second of Kingdoms [1-2 Samuel];
10. Third and Fourth of Kingdoms;
11. First and Second of Paralipomenon [Chronicles];
12. First and Second Esdras;
13. Book of One Hundred and Fifty Psalms;
14. Proverbs of Solomon;
16. Song of Songs;
18. Twelve Prophets;
20. Jeremias and Baruch*, Lamentation and Letters*;
(Canon 60, Council of Laodicea, p. 318, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1, William A. Jurgens).
The books marked with an asterisk (*) are not included in the
consensus Protestant canon. This fact: that while there is broad
agreement, there are also small differences, amongst these early
church lists, is presented by Roman Catholic apologists as if it
were an insuperable obstacle to accepting any of these lists as
relevant to the canon of scripture. Far from being an insurmountable
obstacle, it is not even a real difficulty. Confronted with broad
consensus incorporating small anomalies, proceed as follows: drop
the outliers. There is some variability around the margins of the
early church's canon, but those small differences 'average out.'
Dropping the outliers, you have a very good, and very solid, canon
of scripture, to which any believer can say 'Amen.' And certainly
adopting a late, minority viewpoint is no solution to the absence of
"These are all twelve of the historical books
Of the most ancient Hebrew wisdom.
First there is Genesis, then Exodus, Leviticus too.
Then Numbers, and the Second Law.
Then Josue and Judges. Ruth is eight.
Ninth and Tenth the Acts of Kings,
And Paralipomenon. Last you have Esdras.
The poetic books are five: Job being first,
then David; and three of Solomon,
Ecclesiastes, Canticle and Proverbs.
And five prophetic, likewise inspired.
There are the twelve written in one book:
Osee and Amos, and Micheas the third;
Then Joel, and Jonas, Abdias
And Nahum, and Habacuc, and Sophonias,
Aggeus, and Zacharias, Malachias.
All these are one. The second is Isaias.
Then the book called Jeremias, of the New-born Babe.
Then Ezechiel, and Daniel's gift.
I reckon, therefore, twenty-two old books,
Corresponding to the number of the Hebrew letters.
(Gregory of Nazianzus, p. 42, 1, 1, 12, 1020, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 2, William A. Jurgens)
"I will review for you each gift of these
Divinely inspired books; and that you may clearly know,
I will first review those of the Old Testament.
The Pentateuch has Creation, then Exodus,
And Leviticus, the middle book,
After which is Numbers, then Deuteronomy.
Add to these Josue, and Judges.
Then Ruth, and of Kingdoms four
Books, and Chronicles yoked together.
After these, Esdras, one and then the second.
Then will I review for you five in verse:
Job, crowned in the contests of many sufferings,
And the Book of Psalms, soothing remedy for the soul,
Three of Solomon the Wise, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Canticle of Canticles.
Add to these the Prophets Twelve,
Osee first, then Amos the second,
Micheas, Joel, Abdias, and the type
Of Him who three days suffered, Jonas,
Nahum after those, and Habacuc; and ninth,
Sophonias, Aggeus and Zacharias,
And angel twice-named Malachias.
After these prophets learn yet another four:
The great intrepid Isaias,
Jeremias, ready to sympathize, and mysterious
Ezechiel, and Daniel last,
Most wise in his deeds and words.
To these some add Esther."
(Amphilochius of Iconium, pp. 65-66, Apud Greg. Naz. Carm. 2, 2, 8,
1078, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 2, William A. Jurgens).
Two councils, Carthage and Hippo, loom large in the
Roman Catholic retelling of the history of the canon:
"What books constitute the Bible? Catholics can
repair to the decisions of the Church, most clearly formulated at
Trent and at the fourth-century councils at Hippo and Carthage;
these produced lists of books that are to be accepted as inspired on
the authority of the infallible Church." (Karl Keating, Catholicism
and Fundamentalism, p. 130).
There is this difference between local and ecumenical councils: an ecumenical council seeks
to gather together the whole household of faith to ascertain the
mind of the church, while local or regional councils cherish smaller ambitions. This
same Catholic apologist who calmly assures us that Carthage and
Hippo decided the canon can hardly conceal his disgust at the
Protestant accusation that the medieval Roman Catholic Church
forbade the laity from reading the Bible, on the evidence that
various local medieval councils did so mandate. Whereas earlier local
councils had accepted the Protestant and Jewish canon, these
two councils, Hippo and Carthage, under the influence of the great Western
theologian Augustine, reportedly did accept the canonicity of the apocryphal
works, even realizing the difficulties with their authorship and
provenance. This remained however a minority view; even beyond the early
church period, as late an author as John of Damascus presents the
standard twenty-two book canon of the Old Testament:
"Observe, further, that there are two and twenty books of the Old
Testament, one for each letter of the Hebrew tongue. For there are
twenty-two letters of which five are double, and so they come to be
twenty-seven. For the letters Caph, Mere, Nun, Pe, Sade are double. And
thus the number of the books in this way is twenty-two, but is found to
be twenty-seven because of the double character of five. For Ruth is joined
on to Judges, and the Hebrews count them one book: the first and second
books of Kings are counted one: and so are the third and fourth books of
Kings: and also the first and second of Paraleipomena: and the first and
second of Esdra. In this way, then, the books are collected together in four
Pentateuchs and two others remain over, to form thus the canonical books.
Five of them are of the Law, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers,
Deuteronomy. This which is the code of the Law, constitutes the first
Pentateuch. Then comes another Pentateuch, the so-called Grapheia, or as
they are called by some, the Hagiographa, which are the following: Jesus
the Son of Nave, Judges along with Ruth, first and second Kings, which
are one book, third and fourth Kings, which are one book, and the two
books of the Paraleipomena which are one book. This is the second
Pentateuch. The third Pentateuch is the books in verse, viz. Job, Psalms,
Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of Solomon and the Song of Songs of
Solomon. The fourth Pentateuch is the Prophetical books, viz the twelve
prophets constituting one book, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then
come the two books of Esdra made into one, and Esther. There are also the
Panaretus, that is the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Jesus,
which was published in Hebrew by the father of Sirach, and afterwards
translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus, the Son of Sirach. These are
virtuous and noble, but are not counted nor were they placed in the ark."
(John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 4, Chapter 17, Concerning Scripture).
The reader today who encounters the voice of God in the Bible
finds great encouragement in sharing the consensus of the early,
spirit-filled church, who gathered together these treasures. Can not
the same Holy Spirit who inspired the works also be counted upon to recognize
them? Ascertaining the inspiration of a given work is, and has ever been, a quest to find the
"We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Eliezer said: The
Book of Esther was dictated by the Holy Spirit, as it is written
[Esther, v. 16]: 'And Haman said in his heart;' and if it were not
by the Holy Spirit, how could we know what he said in his heart? R.
Aqiba said: 'Esther was dictated by the Holy Spirit because it is
written [ibid. ii. 15]: "And Esther found favor in the eyes of all
those that beheld her" (this also could not be known, but for the
Holy Spirit). R. Meir said 'Esther was dictated by the Holy Spirit,
because it is written [ibid. 22]: "And the thing became known to
Mordecai" (and who told him? We must say that it was the Holy
Spirit)." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson,
Volume VIII, Tract Megilla, Chapter 1, Kindle location 33580).
A daunting task indeed. The canonicity of the Book of Esther was
questioned, and so the agenda was, to look for the Holy Spirit. The
unfortunate side-effect of the Roman Catholic way of looking at
things leaves the impression that works authored
by the Spirit are clay to be made, at the discretion of the molder,
variously into a pot or an idol. Inspiration is an on/off, 1/0 condition: the Holy
Spirit either authored, or did not author, this material.
then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision?
Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were
committed the oracles of God." (Romans 3:1-2).
The twenty-two book Old Testament canon (as the reader will note, the count is artificial)
referenced above by early church writers is and was
the Hebrew canon of scripture:
"For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among
us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two
books, which contain the records of all the past times; which
are justly believed to be divine. . .and how firmly we have given
credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we
do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has
been so bold as either to add anything to them or take anything
from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural
to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem
those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them,
and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them." (Josephus, 'Against Apion,' Book I, 8.).
This is not a coincidence. Contrary to what some Roman Catholics
seem to think, no books were ever 'removed' by the Jews at any time. It is biblically
difficult to understand the church's Old Testament canon as differing from the Hebrew
canon, because the Bible says that the oracles were entrusted to the
Hebrews. Some of these books, like 'Wisdom,' do not even have Hebrew
exemplars. What was ever "committed" to the Hebrews, as Paul
says, in a book not even written in their language?
The Deuterocanonical books fall into the void between the two
testaments. They are not the oracles delivered to the Hebrews, but
nor do they testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ; they are
neither New, nor Old, Testament.
Inspiration of God
Bible believers who talk to contemporary Roman Catholics
are used to hearing them debunk the Bible, claiming that it teaches the earth is flat and
other gross errors. It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn of the respect in which
Catholic authors of old times held sacred scripture:
"But it [sacred doctrine] properly uses
the authority of the canonical Scriptures as a necessary argument, and the authority of the
doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, though merely as probable. For our faith
rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets, who wrote the canonical
books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors.
Hence Augustine says (Epist. ad Hieron.): 'Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical
have I learnt to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing
them. But other authors I so read as not to deem anything in their works to be true merely on
account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and
learning.'" (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part Question 1, Article 8).
Thomas Aquinas thought that the Bible was inerrant: "I
answer that, The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning not by
words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves. . .Hence it is plain that nothing false
can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Writ." (Summa Theologica, First Part Question 1, Article 10).
The same high view of scripture is taken in the Summa Contra Gentiles:
"The authority of St. Augustine also agrees with this. He writes as follows: 'That which truth will reveal cannot in any way be
opposed to the sacred books of the Old and the New Testament.' [St. Augustine, De genesi ad litteram, II., c. 18]." (Thomas Aquinas,
Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One, Chapter 7, ).
"The sole way to overcome an adversary of divine truth is from the authority of Scripture —
an authority divinely confirmed by miracles. For that which is above the human reason we believe only because
God has revealed it." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One, Chapter 9, ).
As late as this author, burned at the stake, it was still possible for Catholics to take a stand upon the Bible:
"When we take into account the
differences of times and circumstances, of language and
of authors, the extraordinary uniformity which exists
between the Old and the New Testaments would not be
possible, were they not the work of one mind. A mind
that knows all that has taken place at all times.
"This uniformity cannot be
explained by pure chance, since there is no discord or
lack of harmony between the two Testaments, but perfect
agreement between them, even in the smallest
particulars. What is obscure in one passage is explained
in another; and the Scripture interprets itself.
Although those who have not studied the Bible may be
ignorant of this fact, the truth of what I say will be
acknowledged by all who examine Holy Scripture with
faith, humility and purity of heart.
. . ."I also speak from personal
experience. At one time (in order to demonstrate the
profundity of Holy Scripture to pretentious people188
who possessed only superficial knowledge) my preaching
centred on subtle points of philosophy. I found that the
people who heard me were left daydreaming. But as soon
as I devoted myself to the exposition of the Bible, I
found all eyes were riveted upon me. My audience were so
focussed on my words, that they might have been carved
out of stone.
"I also found that when I put
theological questions to one side, and confined myself
to explaining Holy Scripture, my hearers were
enlightened and my preaching resulted in the conversion
of men to Christ and to transformed lives. For, Holy
Scripture contains that marvellous gospel word, which is
more effective than a two-edged sword, in piercing
men's hearts with love. This message has clothed the
world with goodness, and over-thrown idolatry,
superstition, and numberless errors. This proves that it
has come from God."
(Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross, Book
2, Chapter 8).
The people of the present day who agree with Thomas and Augustine
on this point are not Roman Catholics, who have wandered altogether
off the reservation, but fundamentalists: