The Catholic Bible vs. the Christian Bible: Which one should you read?

As a seasoned pastor with years of ministry experience, I have always relied on the Bible for spiritual guidance and theological knowledge.

As Christians, we want to have a deeper relationship with God; the Bible is one way to do so. During a very intriguing Bible study, we discussed the distinctions between the Christian Bible and the Catholic Bible a few weeks ago.

The Bible study session turned into an enlightening debate about the Catholic Bible vs. the Christian Bible. So, what are the differences?

Some portions of the Catholic Bible and the Christian Bible are markedly different. The Apocrypha books featured in the Catholic translation do not appear in the Christian Bible. The Catholic and Christian versions of the Old Testament differ. The Apocrypha books Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, and Baruch are not included in the Christian Bible’s canon. The Christian Bible contains 66 books, while the Catholic Bible contains 73 books. The choice of canon varies by denomination, but the New Testament books are the same in both Bibles.

In this article, I will discuss what the Christian Bible is, what the Catholic Bible is, and the differences between the two to help you make an informed decision on which Bible to embrace on this exciting journey of learning Scripture as a Christian.

What is the Christian Bible?

The Catholic Bible vs. the Christian Bible
Christian Bible. Image source: Pixabay

The Christian Bible is a collection of sacred texts that we, as Christians, regard as authoritative and foundational to the Christian faith. It is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 illustrates that the Bible is the word of God, and Christians should use the Bible to teach, rebuke, correct, and train: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

It is suitable to satisfy all requirements in the life of a Christian.

The Old Testament is a collection of religious writings compiled and revered by ancient Israelites and later adopted by Christians. It encompasses a variety of literary genres, such as historical chronicles, legislation, wisdom literature, prophetic writings, and poetry. Genesis, Psalms, and Proverbs are among the well-known Old Testament books.

The New Testament is unique to Christianity, and it commences with the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which tell the story of Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection.

The Acts of the Apostles, as well as a collection of epistles or letters written by early Christian leaders such as Paul, are also included in the New Testament. The last book of the Bible is the Book of Revelation, a highly symbolic and apocalyptic text.

Quite interestingly, the Bible mainly talks about Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, the Old Testament depicts his coming, while the New Testament talks about his coming and the life he lived here on Earth.

This is an illustration of the importance of God’s love for mankind through salvation, as depicted in Romans 6:23 which notes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What is the Catholic Bible?

The Catholic Bible 
Catholic Bible. Image source: Pixabay

The Catholic Bible is the version of the Bible used by the Catholic Church. It includes all the books found in the Christian Bible but also contains additional books known as the deuterocanonical books or the Apocrypha, which are not included in the Christian Bible.

These are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, and the First and Second Maccabees. It also contains additional sections in the books of Esther and Daniel that are not present in Protestant Bibles.

These writings were included in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible that was widely utilized in the early Christian Church.

In reaction to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church officially accepted these writings as part of the canon at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.

Difference between Catholic Bible and Christian Bible

Understanding the difference between the two Bibles promotes education and awareness of the various Christian traditions.

Recognizing that the books included in different versions of the Bible differ gives a more comprehensive understanding of the biblical canon’s historical and theological evolution.

The table below compares the Catholic Bible and the Christian Bible, highlighting key differences in language, acceptance, books, relationships, development, and basis.


Catholic Bible

Christian Bible


The original languages were Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew, with translations in various languages.

The original languages were Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew, with translations in various languages.


Accepted by the Catholic Church

Accepted by most mainstream Christian denominations


Contains 73 books, including the Apocrypha

Contains 66 books


Considered authoritative by the Catholic Church

Considered authoritative by various Christian groups


Canon was officially defined at the Council of Trent.

Canon was largely accepted by consensus in the early Church.


Uses the Septuagint and Church traditions as the basis

Uses Church tradition and early consensus as the basis

Which is more accurate between, the Catholic Bible and the Christian Bible?

The Christian Bible
Catholic Bible vs the Christian Bible. Image source: Pixabay

In terms of shared substance, both the Catholic Bible and the Christian Bible attempt to faithfully convey the original teachings and messages of the biblical scriptures.

Translation and interpretation accuracy is a complex issue that varies based on the translation or version utilized. Different translations may use different procedures and approaches, and nuances or word choices may change.

The Catholic Church has its own approved Bible translations, such as the New American Bible (NAB) and the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSV-CE), which were developed under church leadership and reflect Catholic teachings and customs. Within the Catholic setting, these translations are regarded as accurate and reliable.

Apart from including the deuterocanonical books, the Catholic Bible is identical to the Christian Bible in many ways. However, following the teachings of the Bible, Christians learn through Scripture to pray to God directly, as depicted in Psalms 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

A lot of catholic teachings are not based on the Christian Bible. For instance, The Catholic Church teaches that salvation cannot be guaranteed.

However, 1 John 5:13 assures Christians of their salvation: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Furthermore, the Bible’s authors wrote all 66 books in the Christian Bible through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Can Catholics read the Christian Bible version?

Catholics do not approach the Bible in the same way as other Christians. Most Catholics are said to have little knowledge of the Bible itself due to how Catholicism is carried out. For Catholics, the Bible is not widely used for scripture study but for worship and prayer.

According to Hebrews 4:12, Scripture is the instrument through which God says he will change lives. The verse states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Therefore, not only can Catholics read the Christian Bible, but by doing so, the Bible serves as a ministry that ultimately wins the hearts of Christ.

The Bible itself illustrates that it has all that we need as it is “thoroughly” equipped. This is according to 2 Timothy 3:15-17 which reads, “And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

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