Why Are Catholic Bibles Different?

The Catholic New Testament canon is identical to that of the Protestants other than some minor translation differences. Our difference lies in the contents of the Old Testament where we have Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and additions to Esther and Daniel. These books were called apocryphal by the Protestants and deuterocanonical (Second canon) by the Catholics. This has its roots among the Jews back in the three centuries before the beginnings of the Christian Church.

There were two groups of Jews in those days. The Palestinians who worshipped in the temple, used the Hebrew Scripture (Masoretic text), and maintained a separatist religion in which contact with gentiles and Samaritans was prohibited. They had distilled 613 laws from the Torah which governed their conduct.

The other group, a majority, were the Hellenized Jews of the diaspora who lived away from Palestine. The largest centers were found in Rome, Babylon, and Alexandria, Egypt and other major cities of the Mediterranean basin. They were Greek speaking, worshipping in synagogues, and had reduced the law into three demands: circumcision, observing the Sabbath, and abstention from pork. However they also had developed a high moral code centered in the ten commandments.

Origin of the Septuagint (LXX)

During the second temple period more and more of the Diaspora had abandoned the use of Hebrew in their synagogues using Greek instead. Three centuries BCE the Jews at Alexandria asked and received permission from the high priest in Jerusalem to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek. This was done over the next centuries and finally included the deuterocanonical books as well which they revered and read in their synagogues. This Greek Bible used by the Jews of the Diaspora was called the Septuagint (LXX).

It is most interesting that the codices of the LXX do not isolate the deuterocanonical books as a group but mixes them in with the prophets and the writings indicating that there was no awareness that they were thought to be later or foreign to an already existing Hebrew canon. It is also significant that some of these books were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran.

In the early second century the LXX was, like the Church thrown out of the synagogue and Greek speaking Jewish Orthodoxy was supplied with a different text minus the deuterocanonicals, and was subservient to the authority of the Hebrew text and the Pharisaic scribes and Rabbis.

The Church adopts the Septuagint

When Christianity moved out of its Palestinian matrix into the Greek speaking pagan world the LXX became its Bible. Paul’s letters and other New Testament writings show quotes from the LXX. In the fifth century when Jerome made his Latin translation (Vulgate) he noted that the deuterocanonical books were not used by the Jews.

However the great doctor of the Church, Augustine, argued that on the basis of usage the majority of the Churches including the most emminent ones, accepted the Greek additions as canonical. His great stature tended to close the discussion. This reaffirmed the canonical lists of the Western Councils of Hippo (393), Carthage III (397), and Carthage IV (419) and the letter of Pope Innocent I (405) which included the Greek books.

The Reformation

Luther argued in his debates (1519) that the Bible was superior to the authority of the Church (sola Scriptura). It was while arguing against the doctrine of purgatory that this came back to haunt him. He was confronted with 2 Maccabees 12:46:

“He made atonement for the dead that they may be delivered from their sins.”

Thus pressed he argued that the Church had no right to decide matters of canonicity. He held that the internal worth of a book was the factor. He pointed out that Jerome had questioned the status of these books because the Jews didn’t use them. This was no valid argument because the Jews obviously do not use the 27 Christian books either. He refused to accept that the Church through usage and the guidance of the Holy Spirit had selected them.

In his German translation of the New Testament he relegated Hebrews, Revelation, Jude and James which he called a “strawy” epistle to the appendix. His followers later restored them to their proper place in the canon.

What is the value of these books?

First of all they are part of our Christian heritage. Our forebearers used them for sixteen centuries. These books give us an in-depth view into the religious and secular culture of those times.

Tobit and Judith are fascinating stories that enjoyed popularity in both Jewish and Christian circles.

Maccabees give us the history of the war for freedom and the pious practice of prayers for the departed.

Sirach or Ecclesiasticus meaning “Church Book” was widely used to give moral teaching to the catechumens.

Readings from Wisdom are used at funeral because of its clear teaching on immortality. This was in dispute among the Jews of the first century (Pharisees vs. Sadducees).

In response to the reformers the Council of Trent (1546) declared as inspired by the Holy Spirit those 73 books with all their parts.

26 thoughts on “Why Are Catholic Bibles Different?”

  1. Speaking of particular obsessions, the bibe is pretty clear about how we should regard marriage —

    6 1-8 When any of you has a grievance against another, aren’t you ashamed to bring the matter to be settled before a pagan court instead of before the church?

    Yet Catholics are obsessed with the idea that we have to go to a judge to get permission to make love.

    Paul goes on to say that Christians should only resolve their differences within the church. In the bibe, there’s No need for earthly judges to sanctify love. In fact, we’re commanded not to recognize their civil authority in our Christina relationships at all.

    What gives, Catholics? Your rules about rutting got us thre plague, and we thank you, but they’re nowhere in your book.

    1. To clarify, marriage is a matter of civil law. It’s a tacit agreement that a judge, in the event of a conflict, will resolve that conflict on the couples behalf. Paul says: No!

      Later, this is what he says about divorce:

      If they don’t want to be with you, let them go.

      im looking and looking in the book, and the only kind of marriage that ever really has “sacramental” qualities.

      Look at what Jesus said right before he made wine at a wedding feast (I’m parapaphrasing, but anyone can look it up, thanks to gods plan to bring literacy and reason to the world through the protests reformation:

      Jesus says, basically, “why the wine and song celebrating this Union on earth. My time ( second coming) hasn’t arrived yet.

      You’d think he would have had Peter with him to perform the wedding so we’d see how it’s done. Instead, he rolls his eye at the whole party, but, but being understanding of our limited human desires, went ahead and made the wine anyway.

      Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the pagan institution of marriage in the NT, Catholics. You have to actually read the book. The catechism is just a bunch of scholastic footnotes.

      1. Y’all seem to forget how many times Paul tells us the law is a stumbling block. I wonder if that very important concept is quoted in the catechism.

      2. Now, I want you to imagine a medieval woman telling a medieval priest that Paul revealed that her desired divorce was acceptable because her husband was unrepentantly non-Christian and wanted to leave her.

        That is why gods plan for Christian literacy undermined the Roman empires fading church.

  2. The thought .. “what would Jesus think, say and do?” … appears to be appropriate to all of [the preceding] our ideas, interpretations and beliefs. We [will] continue to find a way(s) to allow ourselves to disassociate ourselves from the central, universal and simple messages given to guide our way through this [our] common and personal existence.

    Jesus help us.

    1. Jesus would make wine at a wedding but not think the wine or wedding were very important. We know how Jesus regarded marriage because that’s what he did.

      Are you following Jesus or the catechism?

  3. Margaret Pauley

    It is important to understand that the “dead” are those who have not been cleansed by the Word of God nor baptized by the Holy Spirit in this life. The dead are those who continue in sin. When we turn to Jesus and accept Him…this is the first death. The word “dead” is not referring to those who have suffered the second death…because it has been clearly stated that the second death, the physical death has no power over us and that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
    Our Eternal Dwelling
    …7 for we walk by faith, not by sight– 8we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.…2 Corinthians 5:7-9 Our lord said that clearly that the flesh counts for nothing…it is the Spirit we focus on…so we must “hear” what He is saying when He says “the dead.”

  4. Read the Catholic Catechism about Hades, Sheol, Purgatory. It was clearly part of early Jewish and Christian beliefs. In Luke, the description of purgatory is given, with the good going to the Bossom of Abraham while the bad are separated by an impassable chasm and are at the gates of hell.

    Further reading on the subject can be read online, Josephus concerning hades. This literature was later believed to be written by early church father Hippolytus. The narrative was believed at the time of Christ. Hades, Sheol, Purgatory are part of the story of Catholic, Christian, Jewish story.

  5. Who were the first passengers at purgatory? I bet from your argument it should have included;-
    Stephen etc.
    If any of the above went through it and it’s in the bible, then kindly preach as much concerning purgatory. If none, we cannot rely on a line written by a remote Jew, to mislead the masses. How can we believe on a one liner! Strange!

  6. I don’t quite agree, not one reference of these other books were ever mentioned by Jesus or the disciples, I do agree that they may be good for historical reasons if they agree with the rest of scripture I’ve read a little bit into some of these books such as bel and the Dragon and wisdom but the picture I got from bel and the Dragon did not agree with scripture nor did it sound as if God was speaking, I understand that throughout Maccabees you may learn a lot of Jewish history such as the origin of Hanukkah and where the Pharisees came from but at the same time you must realize that this time is part of the silent years therefore it should not be used for doctrine such as you use it for for purgatory, please give me cross references to purgatory because it is very dangerous to make doctrine from one verse, as for you mike, nothing against you but I won’t take any man’s words over the bible including a pope, priest, pastor, or preachers word, if they don’t match up with scripture I will not agree with them, if you don’t have a standard you say whatever you please and have it be true which is what many people do today. As for tradition everyone has them but they must be done decently and in order again if they are against the bible they should not be a tradition that should be followed. I wish that everyone believed the same way but the fact is people can make the bible say whatever they please but in all actuality there is no private interpretation of scripture the bible says what it says and means what it means. I believe that the bible is clear that by believing on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross is the way of salvation and there is no other work or type of suffering we may endure to pay for or make any sin right.

    1. I agree with you. And it’s impossible for a person to understand the Word of God without His precious Holy Spirit.

  7. As I read through all the vital comments and arguments on the catholic faith of Purgatory and the death of the Christ on the cross, it gives me a mixed feelings. however, as a catholic I would like to share my view to all denominations; no matter what denominations we are in, to go to haven the only way through is non other than through JESUS CHRIST, HE IS THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE(John 14.6). when it comes to purgatory and Death on the cross, we were sinners before we were born,we are sinners today thus, Jesus suffering on the cross was to cleanse us from our past sins intending for us to be God abiding citizens through God’s Commandments after his death. However, in our every day life no body is capable of escaping sinful acts of all nature, thus we are sinning every moment everywhere; Hence, God is a just and MERCIFUL God and haven is for holy people only so how can one enter haven if he continues to sin after Jesus Suffering on the cross, all of us need to suffer the consequences based on the magnitude of our own sin prior to entering the holy place. Thus I believe, there is a PURGATORY existing.

    1. The Blood of Christ made you Holy when you were born again and received the Holy Spirit to live inside you, therefore when this corrupt mortal flesh is laid aside, you will be “even as he is.”

      Recall that God told Paul, “my grace is sufficient.”

      The grace of God was imparted to us through the blood of Christ, which was shed for us on the cross.

      Therefore, there is no need for a place called purgatory. This is the invention of people who cannot fully comprehend the transformative power of God’s grace. Christ’s atonement can not be added to or taken away from. We have nothing to suffer, because Christ suffered it for all time upon the cross. Nothing I suffer can ever pay for my sins — Christ has already paid the price in full.

      It is sufficient that Christ wash our feet — that is, that he remove from us the things touching the Earth. When this body passes away, recall Paul’s words, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” And also remember that it is written, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

      Purgatory is a made up place, but heaven is for real.

      Rev. Varon K Cook

      1. so you mean if you are a born again and you committed sins everyday, still it is okey and you are sure to enter heaven?what if you committed mortal sins like homicide? you are still clean?

        1. When I was born again I saw things so different I understood things so different I had the “peace that surpasses understanding” and I had such a strong desire to stay in His Word to live my life as Christ like as humanly possible. Yes I sin because I’m not perfect and I’m not Jesus but I recognize my sin quicker and sincerely asked for forgiveness and strive to not commit that sin again. And then there’s joy. I try to always in all things to be obedient to Him and its so amazing awesome how He blesses me to abundance.

          1 Timothy 6:11-12New International Version (NIV)

          Final Charge to Timothy
          11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

    2. give me any “word” or statement that says you only believe in the Bible! and tell me where you can find the word bible? Your argument will also defend the purgatory if you will stick to it! Believe and you will see the truth! faith is a gift from God! ask for it! because you cannot win a fight if you will insist that argument!


        2 Thessalonians 2:13-15
        “….God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and FAITH IN THE TRUTH. It was for this He called you through OUR GOSPEL, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, either by our spoken word or by our letter..…”

        Did not apostle Paul say “..stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, either by our spoken word or by our letter”?? Apostolic traditions and their written letters differs??? Their traditions are completely written in the scripture.

        Beyond bible where you can find the Truth??????? “for salvation (comes) through sanctification by the Spirit and FAITH IN THE TRUTH..”. The Truth is completely written in the bible.

        Apostolic traditions from the scripture does not show another purifying place(purgatory), because Apostles preached the powerful Savior, who could deliver the whole humankind by His blood, which He did at once for all.

        If you believe that Jesus’s blood alone could not deliver you from all sins, what confidence is there that the purgatory could cleanse the remaining sins completely???
        When Jesus could not cleanse you completely, how could purgatory could cleanse the remaining sins of yours completely?? As per your weak faith on Jesus blood, will not purgatory also leave you cleansed with some amount of sins????

        2 Thessalonians 3:6
        “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.”

        1Corinthians 4:6
        “…. learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.”
        So, you cannot find The Truth that leads to eternal life outside the bible, because “Nothing Beyond what is written”. The Truth is the Gospel and this Gospel is only in the bible.

        Salvation comes through FAITH IN THE TRUTH or ANY FAITH???
        SALVATION COMES THROUGH “FAITH IN THE TRUTH ALONE”, but not any kind of faith.

        If you have any kind of faith, like the faith in purgatory, why don’t you have faith in qaran, which angel gabriel spoke to mohammed?? why don’t you have faith in mormon’s prophet book??? Any kind of Faith leads to salvation????. Your rituals and evil traditions on so called some faith cannot free you from your sins.

  8. I did some reading on those books and found this, ‘The Roman Catholic Church did not officially canonize the Apocrypha until the Council of Trent (1546 AD). This was in part because the Apocrypha contained material which supported certain Catholic doctrines, such as purgatory.’ Why weren’t the official before that?

    1. They were. This is one of five most common myths addressed on this link: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1521346/posts. And the Church isn’t Roman. The Vatican’s never been part of Rome, but always surrounded by it. The Church has four marks by which we may know Her: She’s One ’cause all her members agree in one Truth and Faith, have all seven Sacraments, and are united under Christ as the Head and the Pope as His Visor; She’s Holy ’cause Christ founded Her, She teaches a Holy Doctrine, offers to all Her members the means of holiness, and is distinguished by the eminent of so many thousands of Her members; She’s Catholic ’cause She subsists in all ages, teaches to all people of all cultures of all nations, and is the Ark of Salvation for all; and She’s Apostolic ’cause she holds the Doctrines and Traditions of the Apostles, and She derives Her priestly Holy Orders from Her Popes, Bishops, and Pastors though their unbroken succession.

  9. I am converting to Catholicism and wanted a good explanation of the differences between the Protestant and Catholic Bible. This was the clearest explanation I have found. Thank you so much! I’m preparing for my RCIA this year. So excited!

    1. Sheryl, You are now part of God’s True Church!
      and for all the people who only believe in the bible and disregarded the teaching of the Holy Church, keep this in mind! If you only believe in the bible, why do you listen to your pastor or minister in you service every Sunday? isn’t against your belief? he saying things from the bible with his interpretations! It should not be like that! because if you only believe in the bible, you should be faithful to it and you will only take word by word. with no less and with no interpretation! wake up brother and sisters in Christ! the true church that was founded by Christ is the Holy Catholic Church! and if you will question the name Catholic Church and you will say that it is not in the bible, then think again! because the word bible is not even in the bible! I am not against the bible, and i believe in the bible but Christ entrusted the Church to Peter! not Martin Luther, Calvin, Henry, or whoever. Believe and you will see!

      1. Protestants only have a bible because the one true church founded by Christ, the church mention all through the schriptures, the church that still upholds the teachings and authority given to the apostles by Jesus, that church they despise so much gave it to them?
        Like it or not it is the only church that’s been here since Christianity began and it will be the last one standing. Protestants have over 30,000 denominations why, because no one can agree and no one has any respect for authority, not even the authority instituted by Christ himself. If they did they would follow his teaching no matter how hard any of it may be. Still even today Christians turn away from Christ’s teachings why, because they are hard.
        A thousand years from now we willstill be one Apolstolic and Catholic Church and there will be 1 billion+ PROTEST ant denominations, eachbwith it’s own doctrines, picking and choosing what they want to obsess over and what they wish to ignor.
        The big question about the bible you have to ask yourself is: If something took place, who would you want to believe, those who saw it or those who came thousands of years later and told what happened?”

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