The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Jul 24, 2017

Trying to Solve a Canonical Mystery: The Anabaptists and Wisdom of Solomon

Though the connection between German, Swiss, and Dutch Anabaptists and the 16th-17th century English Separatist Baptists is not quite crystal clear, most of us who definitely trace our lineage to the latter also see some kind of affinity to the former (who, after all, taught believer's baptism, the authority of Scripture alone, and separation of church and state). Consequently, I'm excited that for the first time in my life I'm doing serious research on the Anabaptists in preparation for presenting a paper at the Bible Faculty Summit.

I am actually trying to solve a mystery that's been bothering me for about 9 years! In 2008, my first full class for the ph.d. at Southeastern was "NT Canon" with L. Scott Kellum. In the process of writing my paper (on a more-or-less unrelated subject), I noticed that the Anabaptists actually continued to quote from the Apocrypha while their "colleagues" from the "less-radical" Reformation had long left the Apocrypha in the dust.  This is not sporadic, either; the Apocrypha seems to be quoted as Scripture across quite a broad swath of Anabaptist characters, not just the main players, but also many of the lesser known characters that were martyred or at least imprisoned. For the former, see for example Conrad Grebel, his "Letter to M√ľntzer" (Zurich, September 5, 1524), where he argues that children below the age of accountability are saved and makes his defense "on the basis of the following Scriptures," followed by a list that includes Wisdom 12 (by which he means Wisdom 12:19). For the latter, Lenart Plovier (1560), in "A Testament," uses the formula "it is written" to introduce a direct quote of Wisdom 11:1. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Quoting Apocrypha as Scripture was quite common for the Anabaptists.

So what's with this canonical anomaly? So far I've only come across one other article anywhere on the topic (and it was on the Anabaptists and 4 Esdras), so this seems like an fruitful avenue of research. I have a theory, which will be tested today as I research at the Mennonite Historical Library at Goshen College.