173: What Does the Term Deuterocanonical Mean? - CHS 173
There is some confusion today in certain Protestant circles as to what exactly the term “deuterocanonical” (i.e., pertaining to the second canon) means to Catholics. This question came up in a recently video I was watching where two Protestant scholars were discussing various views about the canon within the Christian world.
One of the Protestant scholars stated that Catholicism relegates the deuterocanonical books (i.e., 7 books accepted by Catholics among the canonical books not—i.e., 1-2 Maccabees, Judith, Tobit etc.) to a second class. The scholar asked whether Catholics believed that the deuterocanonical books were produced as a result of a second level of inspiration of sorts.
In this episode we briefly discuss what the term originally meant when it was coined by the sixteenth-century biblical scholar Sisto di Siena OP and why that meaning is still important for Catholics today.
We also discuss how Catholic ecumenical councils such as Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II have understood the inspiration and authority of the deuterocanonical books. We note that each of these councils did not demean the inspiration or authority of the deuterocanonical books but rather regardem them as possessing equal authority with the proto-canonical books (n.b., more on that term in the episode).
In the end, we conclude that it is of utmost importance for Catholics to know their history. History is often the key to answering such objections. Oftentimes, claims such as the ones noted above go unchallenged because the records of Catholic tradition are not well known.
Careful attention to the history, however, can better help Catholic Christians engage in dialogue with other members of Christian communities. With historical records better known, we can all get a better sense of why such terms as “deuterocanonical” were coined in the first place and what they have meant to Catholics since.
Join us today as we talk about the of the history of the term “deuterocanonical.” To access the show, download our free app on the iOS or Android stores. I look forward to hearing back from our audience.
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The Catholic Heritage Show is devoted to helping Catholic Christians better understand the history, teachings and culture of their Catholic faith so that they can better love and serve Christ, the Church and their neighbors. Dr. Erik Estrada is a Catholic scholar who holds a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and specializes in the history of Christianity and historical theology. He also completed a licentiate (S.T.L) in theology and patristic science at the Augustinianum Patristic Institute in Rome and a S.T.B. at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
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