Why do Catholics have a longer Bible?
You may be aware that there are two different versions of the Bible. They aren’t just different translations. They actually contain different books. The “Catholic Bible” has 73 books. The “Protestant Bible” has only 66. Why the difference?
The Deuterocanonical Books
The books in question are all from the Old Testament.
They are called the deuterocanonical (known by many protestants as the "apocryphal") books, and include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, along with parts of Daniel and Esther.
The question primarily comes down to language.
Greek Or Hebrew
The deuterocanonical books were written in Greek, while all other parts of the Old Testament were written in Hebrew. So why are the Greek books in the Catholic Bible but not in the Protestant Bible?
The problem goes back to the early centuries of the church. The early Christians knew that Jewish texts were inspired by God and part of Christian salvation history.
Early Church fathers quoted frequently from books now known as the Old Testament but at the time, the Jewish people had not yet quantified their canon of sacred texts.
The Tanakh and the Septuagint
Their holy books were passed down in two versions: the Tanakh was the Hebrew-only version of Jewish sacred texts, used among Jews who did not speak Greek. The Septuagint was the Greek texts that were considered to be “profitable reading.”
The early Christians were familiar with both the Tanakh and the Septuagint.
Early Church Fathers quoted from both.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
The Dead Sea scrolls contain portions of the Greek deuterocanonical books. The deuterocanonical texts were widely accepted as sacred inspired texts that complimented the Tenach.
This was true for the first few centuries of Church history.
It Wasn't The Christians
In fact, the deuterocanonical texts weren’t questioned by Christians for several centuries. They were challenged by the Jews starting sometime after 100 A.D. The Jewish people eventually decided not to include them in their canon…at councils during the 4th and 5th centuries.
But in 393 at the Council of Hippo, Christians made their own affirmation of which texts to include in the Bible.
Orthodox, Universal, Liturgical & Apostolic
Their qualifications were that a text be: orthodox (containing accepted Christian truths), universal (read throughout the worldwide Church), liturgical (texts used in Mass), and apostolic (quoted or written by the Apostles).
The Sacred Texts Are Confirmed
At the Councils of Hippo, Carthage and Rome in the 4th and 5th centuries, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Christians confirmed both the Hebrew books and the Greek books as part of the sacred canon.
The current Catholic Bible was confirmed by Pope Damasus I in the 4th century and goes back to the Church Fathers and Apostles.
The Bible Of Today
Today all Christians accept these Catholic Councils and the 27 New Testament books. Keep in mind, the only Christians at this time were Catholics since the Protestant Church has no history.
It wasn’t until Martin Luther in the 1500’s that any Christian challenged the inclusion of the Greek texts. He argued that since the Jews didn’t accept them in their canon, then Christians shouldn’t either.
So the Church once again reviewed scriptural canon at the Council of Trent starting in 1545. After almost 20 years of debate (seriously, look it up!) they agreed that the deuterocanonical and apocryphal texts were indeed inspired scripture worthy of inclusion in the Bible.
Protestants chose to leave these books out of the Bible during their reformation.
Reasons the Jews and Martin Luther rejected these books were because they were not in Hebrew. This reasoning fell apart after the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 which contained books in Hebrew.
Luther was scared to actually remove them so he put them in an appendix. Because the bible teaches in Revelations 22:18-19
"For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from these things that are written in this book."
The 7 Books Protestants are missing were finally removed in 1827 by the British and Foreign Bible Society. They rejected the Apostolic Tradition in doing so.
The bible teaches about following the Apostolic Tradition in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
The Catholic Bible Hasn't Changed
The Catholic Church never wavered or changed the sacred texts for 2,000 years. And that’s why there are more books in the Catholic Bible than the Protestant one.
Christ and the Apostles used these 7 books in the Alexandrian Canon (Septuagint), Martin Luther removed them.
Who do you follow regarding these 7 books of the Old Testament, Christ or Martin Luther? Please comment below. God bless.
Article written by Lizann Lightfoot for Christian Catholic Media.
Lizann Lightfoot is a Catholic military wife and mother who loves to share about her Catholic faith.