The Catholic bible has wisdom: And the seven other books removed by the reformers

As Catholics (as well as Eastern Orthodox), we are often faced with the question ‘Why does your Bible have more books?’ or more often than not we get the anti-Catholic version, ‘Why did the Catholic Church add seven books to the Bible?’ Well in this article I will show you why the real question is ‘why are protestants missing seven books from the bible?’

It is important we first clarify the books we are talking about, and they are known as the deuterocanon, or for protestants, as the apocrypha. These are essentially seven prophetic old testament scriptures that were used by Greek speaking Jews.

In order to answer this question we will look at the following in turn:

  1. What are these books?
  2. Where does the list of the Old Testament come from?
  3. Why the protestant bible (sometimes) has less books?
  4. Why the Catholic Bible is the full Bible.
  5. Why Catholics and Protestants cannot deny the deuterocanon without denying the entire New Testament.

What are these books?

The seven books that make up the deuterocanon are as follows:

  • Sirach
  • Tobit
  • Wisdom
  • Judith
  • 1 and 2 Maccabees
  • Baruch,
  • as well as longer versions of Daniel and Esther

These books make up what is known as the deuterocanon, the word deuterocanon is made from the word deutero- which means secondary, and canon- which to us Christians means inspired scripture. This word does not mean these scriptures are of any less value, we use this word because these books were contested in some circles, but long ago were made secure in the Old Testament.

Where does the list of the Old Testament come from?

At the time of Christ, the Palestinian Jews had not yet ‘closed’ the canon of the scripture. Although it is agreed the earlier books were decided upon, Genesis, the books of the Law, and the Major Prophets; the scriptures that were to make up the Minor Prophets had not been set in stone by Palestinian Jews.

Just like there are different groups of Christians today, there were different groups of Jews, one being the Hellenistic or Greek-speaking Jews who came from Alexandria. The Old Testament of the Alexandrian Jews is known as the Septuagint, and it contained the deuterocanocal texts, and become the canon of Jewish scripture for all Greek-speaking nations.

The Septuagint was first mentioned in about 275BC when Ptolemy II Philadelphus, King of Egypt, made a request to the High Priest of Jerusalem for the Jewish Scriptures in Greek in order to be in good graces with the Jews who made up almost two-fifths of the kingdom.

At the time of Christ the deteuterocanon were widely accepted as inspired books of scripture.

Why the protestant bible (sometimes) has less books?

In 90AD, the Jewish Council of Jamnia was held in order to settle the dispute on the Canon of Scripture for Jewish people. As we know at this time, the Alexandrian Jews regarded the deuteros as canon, and it has also been suggested by historians that before this time the Palestinian scriptures may also have included the deuteros. Either way the council ruled that these books were non-canonical.

It is suggested that once the early Christian Church had began treating the deuterocanon as inspired scripture, the Jerusalem scribes (Palestinian Jews who held the seat of authority) placed a ban on them, in an attempt to separate itself from the Hellenistic Jews largeness of spirt, and in this manner, distance themselves from Christians.

The question remains, how did the protestants end up with seven less books in the bible (when the early Church as shown in the next section included them)?

Skip to the 1500’s, a heretical monk known as Luther began to engage in discussion with faithful Christians, regarding Purgatory. In 1519, Luthers opponent Eck, cited a well known scripture in 2 Maccabees in proof of the doctrine of purgatory. In order to avoid the argument, Luther declared that 2 Maccabees was not canonical, even though the Church had previously declared otherwise. Luther decided that the Old Testament most likely used by Christ and the apostles, used by the early Church was wrong, and that he preferred to use the Canon determined by the same Jews who had Jesus put to death.

Later protestants didnt really know what to do with the deuterocanonical books, sometimes they were in their bible as an appendix, other times not at all. Some such as the Anglicans were using them in their liturgy, while other protestants rejected them outright.

Why the Catholic Bible is the full Bible.

All the deuteros are used in the works of the early Church Fathers in the first 3 centuries after Christ. Christ himself was a Greek speaking Jew and most likely used the Old Testament that contained the seven deuterocanonical books. As early as 380AD in a synod convoked by Pope Damasus, all the deuterocanonicals were declared inspired scripture, and again at the Council of Hippo in 393AD.

Either Christ, the apostles, the early Church fathers, and the Councils of the ealy Church got it wrong, and was wrong for 1500 years, or the alternative is true. They are canonical, and Christ, the early apostles, the early Church fathers, and the Councils of the early Church got it right.

Why Catholics and Protestants cannot deny the deuterocanon without denying the entire New Testament.

No where does the Bible tell us what books are to make up the Bible. At the time of the early Church which New Testament writings which would make up the Bible were disputed, it was undecided that of which of the scriptures were inspired by God. Until the synod convoked by Pope Damasus, and again at the Council of Hippo, when the Bishops gathered to determine which scriptures were inspired in the late 300’s. The same councils that declared the deuterocanon as inspired by God.

If we reject these councils and say that they were wrong in determining the deuterocanon was inspired, and hence were not infallible in determining inspired scripture, then the entire New Testament could be wrong.

We are left with two options:

  1. Either the Catholic Church was infallible, and was right in determining what scriptures were inspired, or;
  2. The Catholic Church was not infallible, and hence we have no way of knowing if the books in the Bible from the New Testament are meant to be there.

The answer is clear. The deuterocanonical books belong in the Bible.

I look forward to any comments or questions.

God bless.

For an in-depth look into this area see the New Advent Encyclopaedia article ‘The Canon of the Old Testament.

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15 Responses to The Catholic bible has wisdom: And the seven other books removed by the reformers

  1. Esjey says:

    Then what is apocrypha?

    • Hi Esjey, great to hear from you, and great question.

      Apocrypha means hidden, protestants use this word in order to degrade these books to non-canocical status and group them together with other non-canonical books which we also believe to be non-canonical.

      Difference is, we treat and view them how Christ treated them.

  2. Esjey says:

    I always thought Jesus spoke and taught in either Armaic or Hebrew? People of Judea’s predominant language of communication is Aramic, especially those of upper classes. Hebrew is also believed to be the language uses by the Jews for inquiry debates. But Greek was only after Alexander conquered the region and used by officials?

    • They spoke Greek as well. For example the majority (if not all) the NT was written in Greek. Greek was the main language of the region. As well as that when Jesus quotes scripture he is recorded as quoting from the LXX the Greek version of the OT.

      • Esjey says:

        Ohh I see. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture. Then what about the Greek words used for the siblings of Jesus? I’ve read that the Greek words used for the siblings refer to Jesus’ literal siblings as Greek itself has separate words for cousins. Some explained its because of the linguistic differences between natures of the Aramaic used to preach and the Greek used in translation. However, others explain that the literal siblings refer to Jesus’ step-siblings (2 sons of Joseph) from the protoevangelism. So what are your views?

  3. Esjey says:

    Why isn’t the didache canonized? It bears much resemblance with the gospels.

  4. Todd says:

    The Septuagint actually has 14 books. The original Bible had 80 books. You only mention 7 above. Where are Susanna, Bel & the Dragon, 3 and 4 Maccabees, 1 Esdra ( note 2 Esdra was actuall Ezra and Nehemiah), Prayer of Manasseh, Letter of Jeremiah and Prayer of Azariah?

    *EDIT added by poster:

    Clarify: The Septuagint had 39 Old Testament books and 14 Deuterocannon ( Apocrypha ).

    • The History of Susanna, the Prayer of Azarias and the destruction of Bel and the dragon are included in the Book of Daniel. While the Letter of Jeremiah is in Baruch.

      As I stated in the post the Jews did not authoritatively agree on a Canon, and as you know the apostles most likely used the LXX (most of the quotes in the NT come from the LXX). And the early Church adopted the use of the LXX from the apostles, and also did not universally define the Old Testament Canon. The Church founded by Christ, with the authority given to her through Peter and the Apostles authorised the Old Testament Canon in the 4th century.

      Book 3 and 4 Maccabees and the Prayer of Manasseh are excluded from the Bible because they were not divinely inspired. But they are still useful and valuable.

      Still leaves you with a choice, accept the deuterocanon as used by Jesus, the Apostles, the early Church, and divinely inspired. Or reject it, and accept the Canon from Messianic Jews in 90AD who rejected Christ (note Judaism as in the Old Testament died in 70AD when the temple was destroyed). And was later thrown out by a heretical monk (which had been accepted for 1500 or so years).

  5. Christopher says:

    Just to briefly reply, how do we know for sure which parts of the Bible are truly authored by the Holy Spirit if the selection process and the physical writings were all done by fallen man?

    • Gurye Smith says:

      I, too, questioned this until I had a dream that I later found in the book of Daniel (which I had not read yet). Divine inspiration is quite real. Until you’ve experienced it, you have to have faith … both in Him, and those that He has chosen to lead us. Whom did he choose to lead us? Peter: From the cross, Jesus reached out to Peter – Matthew 16:18-19
      18 And I tell you, you are Peter,[a] and on this rock[b] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

      Pray about it. He will guide you to your answers.

  6. Abigail Mensah says:

    I am a new member of the Catholic Church and so inspired by your explanations. So satisfying! Thank you so much.

  7. Joe Bigliogo says:

    There is so much bullshit sliced up and tossed around here one could spend all day ripping it to shreds. There is no way anyone could know with exact certitude details of history to do with early scripts, canonizations, translations and multiple languages with any degree of certainty. It’s a highly complex topic and many writings were tossed around and debated before the ones we know as the bible were rubber stamped by a council. Yes a council decided what was divine. There is no way of truly knowing what exactly what languages were spoke by whom because they were already translated in the earliest manuscripts we have. Jesus may have spoken Greek, he may not. Being a Jew it’s likely he didn’t. Jesus may also have never existed, the evidence is so flimsy with no contemporaries who mention him, not even prolific Jewish writers like Philo who journeyed the time and places Christ was supposed to live. The point is scholars debate this shit (and I do mean shit) all the time. Only dogmatic assholes (and churches) proclaim to know 100% what is true and what isn’t. Anyone who claims to know with certainty is exactly the person most likely to be full of shit. Even if Jesus did exist so much else in the bible stretches credibility. The resurrections, miracles, supernatural claims are all a mockery of science, of reason and of believability. The bible, it’s doctrines and absurd scape goat theology indoctrinated into children by way of fear and reward are what have sustained Christianity up to now. Remove childhood indoctrination and the hell threat and I predict the Christianity will be reduced to a fringe belief within two generations. They are what keeps this mind virus going.

    • Hi Joe,

      I think that we can know for certain particular details of history. Indeed, the writings that would make up the New Testament was determined at the Council of Nicea, who was composed of the Catholic Bishops who have the authority to do so given them by Christ through apostolic succession.

      It would have actually been rather odd if Jesus didn’t speak Greek as many Jews did at that time. Greek was one of the main languages for that region of the world.

      Now to say that Jesus Christ didn’t exist is nothing short of self-delusion. There are several documents (and here I am talking beyond Christian sources) that refer to Jesus and to Christians for example:

      Suetonius, writing around A.D. 121
      Tacitus, writing around A.D. 116
      Pliny the Younger, writing in A.D. 110 or 111
      The Emperor Trajan, writing back to Pliny in A.D. 110 or 111
      And Josephus, writing around A.D. 93

      I encourage to read more here: http://www.strangenotions.com/did-jesus-exist-an-alternate-approach/

      “Anyone who claims to know with certainty is exactly the person most likely to be full of shit.”

      Are you certain about that statement?

      Actually the miracles are not a mockery of science, science measures and makes theories of things pertaining to natural phenomena. If you ask me believing the Universe popped out of nowhere for no reason without any cause seems unreasonable to me.

  8. Jett Silverio says:

    The Grace of the Holy Spirit is in those who have Faith in Christ.
    About speaking Greek for Christ, when the Holy Spirit came down from Heaven and bestowed to the Apostles, they all worship God with different languages as it is one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. And we all knew that The Holy Spirit is in Christ, so its not impossible Jesus can speak Greek. as it said in Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    God Bless all Soldiers of God.

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