Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.
Fabrications in the Old Testament
The boldest, daring and of greatest consequence of this type was to attribute to the spirit and dictation of God all the writings of the Old and New Testaments.
The bibles of the world and some peculiarities of the Christian Bible
The ‘book of books’ of Christians is the Bible. The German translation Bibel appears for the first time in the moral poem ‘The runner’ of Bamberg’s school teacher and verse builder, Hugo von Trimberg (born around 1230, he was also the author of a collection of homiletic fables and about two hundred hagiographic almanacs). The term coined by Hugo derives from the Latin biblia, which in turn has its origin in the neutral plural ta biblia (the books).
The Bible is a ‘sacred’ scripture and texts. Books and sacred writings form, in the history of religions, part of the trade, of the business on which it depends closely and not only the monetary but also the political and, ultimately, anyone sheltered by the human heart.
The bibles of mankind are therefore numerous: the three Vedas of ancient India, for example, the five Ching canonical books of the Chinese imperial religion, the Siddhanta of Jainism, the Typitakam of Theravada Buddhism, the Dharma of Mahayana Buddhism in India, the Tripitakam of Tibetan Buddhism, the Tao-tea-ching of Taoist monks, the Avesta of Persian Mazdaism, the Qur’an in Islam, the Granth of the Sikhs, the Gima of Mandeism. There were many sacred writings in the Hellenistic mysteries, which were already referred to in the pre-Christian era simply with the word ‘writing’, or with the formula ‘is written’ or ‘as written’. In Egypt the sacred writings go back to the most ancient times and a sacred text has already been cited in the 3rd millennium BC, Words of God (mdw ntr).
Of course, we know that the Bible is not just a book among other books but the book of books. It is not, therefore, a book that can be equated with Plato’s, the Qur’an or the old books of Indian wisdom. No, the Bible ‘is above them; it is unique and unrepeatable’ (Alois Stiefvater). In its exclusivity, the monotheistic religions insist with emphasis—and that is precisely why they are, so to speak, exclusively intolerant! ‘Just as the world cannot exist without wind, neither it can without Israel’ says the Talmud. In the Qur’an it is said: ‘You have chosen us from among all the peoples; you have raised us above all the nations’. And Luther also boasts: ‘We Christians are bigger and more than all creatures’.
In short, the Bible is something special. But Christianity did not have its own ‘Sacred Scripture’ in its first 150 years, and for that reason it assimilated the sacred book of the Jews, the Old Testament, which according to the Catholic faith precedes ‘the Sun of Christ’ as the ‘morning star’ (Nielen).
The name Old Testament (Greek diathéke, covenant) comes from Paul, who in 2 Cor. 3:14 talks about the Old Covenant. The synagogue, which naturally recognizes no New Testament, does not speak of the Old but of Tanakh, an artificial word formed by the initials of Torah, nevi’im and ketuvim: law, prophets, and remaining writings.
The Old Testament, as they were transmitted by the Hebrews are, to date, the Holy Scriptures of the Jews. The Palestinian Jews did not establish the final received texts until the Council of Jamnia, between the 90s and 100 AD: twenty-four texts, the same number as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. (The Jewish bibles of the 15th century were the first that proceeded to a different division and gave rise to thirty-nine canonical books.) In any case, God, to whom these Sacred Scriptures refer and from which they come, needed more than a millennium to compile and finalise the Bible.
The unique thing about the Christian Bible is that each of the different confessions also has different bibles, which do not coincide as a whole; and what some consider sacred, to others seem suspicious.
The Catholic Church distinguishes between Protocanonical writings, that is, never discussed, and Deuterocanonical writings whose ‘inspiration’ was for some time ‘put into doubt’ or was considered uncertain. This Church has a much wider Old Testament than that of the Jews, from which it proceeds. Besides the Hebrew canon, it collected within its Holy Scriptures other titles. In total, according to the Council of Trent in its session of April 8, 1546, confirmed by Vatican I in 1879: forty-eight books, that is, in addition to the so-called Deuterocanonics, Tobias, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and letters of Jeremiah, Maccabees I and II, Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Holy Children (Vulgate, Daniel 3:24–90), Story of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14; Septuagint epilogue), Esther 10, 4-16, 24.
On the contrary, Protestantism, which gives authority exclusively to the books that appear in the Hebrew canon, does not consider as canonical or manifested by God, the Deuterocanonics added by Catholicism. It grants them little value and calls them ‘apocryphal’, that is, that what Catholics call books never had canonical validity.
Luther, in defining what belonged to the canon, relies on the ‘inner spiritual testimony’ or the ‘internal sense’. He eliminates, for example, the second book of the Maccabees because Luther was disturbed by the passage on the purgatory, whose existence he denied. On that same book and also on that of Esther, Luther opined that ‘they have too many Jewish and pagan remnants’. Nevertheless, he considered the Deuterocanonical writings to be ‘useful and good to read’ although were not inspired by God, in any case by the ‘internal sense’ of the reformer.
An early German translation by Martin Luther.
His translation into the vernacular was highly influential.
In the Synod of Jerusalem, the Greek Church included, in 1672, among the divine word four other works that did not appear in the Council of Jamnia: Wisdom, Ecclesiastical, Tobias, and Judith.
Much broader than the Old Testament was the canon of Hellenistic Judaism, the Septuagint (abbreviated: LXX, the translation of the seventy men). It was elaborated for the Jews of the Diaspora in Alexandria by various translators in the 3rd century BC: the book for the Greek-speaking Jews, the oldest and most important transcription of the Old Testament into Greek, the language of the Hellenistic period, and the official Bible of Diaspora Judaism. It became part of the synagogue.
The Septuagint, however, collected more writings than the Hebrew canon and more also from those later considered valid by Catholics. The quotations of the Old Testament that appear in the New (with the allusions 270 to 350) come mostly from the Septuagint and it constituted for the Fathers of the Church, who used it with insistence, the Old Testament or Holy Writ.
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