Why there are seven extra books in the Catholic Bible is one of the major Bible controversies. For many Historians, scholars, and Bible readers, everything else about the Bible is straightforward. But why are there 7 extra books in the Catholic Bible?
The answer to this question is that Protestants removed the 7 books that had been generally accepted as Christian canon twelve centuries earlier, but the Catholics did not. The 7 books are still intact in the Catholic Bible.
A popular belief exists that the Catholic Church added 7 books to its Bible. However, this accusation is not valid. Read on to learn more about the number of books in the Catholic Bible!
What are the 7 extra books in the Catholic Bible?
The seven extra books in the Catholic Bible are Baruch, Sirach, Judith, Wisdom, Tobit, 1st Maccabees, and 2nd Maccabees. Collectively, these texts are called deuterocanonical books. The books are found in the Catholic version of the Old Testament, commonly referred to as the Septuagint. This is the version of the Bible that Jesus and his followers would have been familiar with.
After the destruction of the Second Temple by Roman general Titus’ army in A.D. 70, in a revolt against the Romans, Jewish leaders chose to remove the deuterocanonical books from their version of the Bible (Scripture). Jesus had been crucified approximately 40 years before the invasion of Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Second Temple. During the 16th Century Reformation (Protestant Reformation), the reformers adopted the updated Jewish Scripture as their version of the Old Testament.
The Catholic Church maintains that since the version of the Old Testament adopted by the Jews and the Reformists was not the version that the earliest Christians and Jesus used, Modern Christians should not be persuaded into believing that it was the correct version of the Bible. Therefore, pre-Reformation Christians and Catholics continue to use the same version of the Old Testament that Jesus would have used.
This version includes the deuterocanonical books (Baruch, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees), which, as I mentioned, were removed from the Jewish Scripture after the Jewish Revolt. Therefore, deuterocanonical books are excluded from the Protestant version Bible because they were not part of the updated Jewish Scriptures.
Where did the deuterocanonical books come from?
Bishop Cyril compiled the Canonical Christian Bible in 350 C.E. This version of the Bible was confirmed by the Council of Laodicea in 363 C.E. In 367 C.E., Athanasius of Alexandria came up with an updated version of the Bible. The Synod of Hippo approved the new version of the Christian Bible in 393 C.E. This version contained the Septuagint Books. The Councils of Carthage also approved the new version of the Bible in 397 C.E. and 419 C.E.; the councils acted under Augustine Hippo’s command.
Therefore, the version of the Bible containing the deuterocanonical books, which can be traced back to the 4th century, is the same version that the Catholic Church uses today.
After the destruction of their Temple in A.D. 70, Jews saw it fit to rethink their way of life. As a result, an authoritative council of Jewish leaders met in Jamnia and decided, among other things, the limit of their Scripture/canon. According to the Romans, the decisions made by the Jewish leaders during their meeting in Jamnia were non-binding.
According to the Romans, Jews had rejected Jesus, the Son of God; therefore, God renounced them in return. The authority to alter the Holy Scriptures lay in the hands of the Catholic Church, not the Jews; Jews had no right to dictate what could or could not be included in the canon. According to the records the Roman Catholic Church keeps, one of the decisions made in Jamnia was to leave some books out of the Scripture.
Roman Catholic Church, the dominant Church then, did not accept the updated version of the Jewish Scriptures. Instead, the Catholic Church continued to include the deuterocanonical books in its Scripture.
In the 16th century, citing corruption and the sale of spiritual privileges, reformists such as Martin Luther and John Calvin staged a massive campaign against Catholicism. As part of their Revolt, the Protestants adopted the Bible version that Jews had adopted after the Revolt. This version of the Bible did not contain the deuterocanonical books. Doctrinal reasons drove this move.
In response, a council of Roman Catholic leaders was held at the City of Trent, and in the meeting, certain statements were made regarding the canon. The council announced that deuterocanonical books were an integral part of the canon of Scripture. Divine curses (Anathemas) were directed at those who opposed the announcement.
In their final argument about the inclusion of deuterocanonical books in the Bible, Roman Catholics state that by lightly studying and understanding the seven books, one will see that they are consistent with the teachings of the other books in the Bible and the teachings of the Church. For this reason, the Church considers these integral books part of the canonical Scripture. Roman Catholic followers are expected to believe and obey things that the books teach.
Why are the extra catholic books not included in the modern Bible?
The extra Catholic books are not included in the modern Bible because the Protestants removed them. This move was borrowed from the move made by Jews after the invasion of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman general Titus’ army; not long after this attack, Jewish leaders met and decided to make a few changes to their way of life.
One of the changes recommended during the meeting was to remove the deuterocanonical books from their version of the Holy Scriptures. By taking this action, the Jews aimed to distinguish themselves from Christians, their arch-enemies. The Jews were aware that Christians used the Greek version of the Bible, which included the deuterocanonical books. These books supported the idea of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, which Jews were against. Therefore, they decided to go away with the seven books and keep the 39 inspired books.
Similarly, in the Renaissance period, a function of the Church led by the famous Martin Luther and John Calvin propagated a religious revolution against the dominant Church (Roman Catholic). As part of their Revolt, the Protestant reformists chose to adopt the version of the Bible that Jews had adopted as a way of revolting against the Romans. This version of the Bible did not include deuterocanonical books.
Over time, many Protestant Churches were born. All these churches continued to use the version of the Bible proposed by the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. This version of the Bible is the most popular around the world.
Currently, even Catholic followers use them because they are the most common. Also, deuterocanonical books are rarely quoted, even in Catholic Church masses. This is why deuterocanonical books are not included in the modern Bible.
Did ancient Christians and Protestants agree with the deuterocanonical books?
Deuterocanonical books were part of the Holy Bible until 1519. Before the 16th century Reformation, there existed only one Church-Roman Catholic. Therefore, before 1519, all Christians agreed with the books.
However, after the Reformation, those that joined the Protestant movement started disagreeing with the seven books. To differentiate themselves from the Roman Catholics, Reformation leaders Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others decided that their Protestant version of the Bible would not include the deuterocanonical books. According to Martin Luther, the books support offering sacrifices and prayers for the dead.
Therefore, ancient Christians did agree with deuterocanonical books. On the other side, Protestants have never agreed with the books because these books set their Church from the Roman Catholic Church.
Deuterocanonical books – deuterocanon (second canonical books) – old testament – holy Bible < saint takla haymanot website. Deuterocanon Bible | Second Canonical Books | Deuterocanonical Books. (n.d.).
Dhabliwala, F. N. (2018, November 20). Why do catholic bibles have “extra” books? St. Catherine.
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Reformation. Encyclopædia Britannica.
Felix Just, S. J. (n.d.). The deuterocanonical books of The old testament. Deuterocanonical Books: Study Materials.
Stewart, D. (2018). Why does the Roman Catholic Church accept the books of The old testament apocrypha (the deuterocanonical books) as holy Scripture? by Don Stewart. Blue Letter Bible.
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