Why not the Protestant Bible

Because Protestant Bibles only have 66 books and they should contain 73. To understand this it is helpful to define 3 big words: apocryphal, deuterocanonical and septuagint.

- APOCRYPHAL = When the original Hebrew Old Testament of the Jews was translated into Greek 7 books were added to the Old Testament Canon of Scripture. Jews and Protestants dispute this, claiming these 7 books are not canonical. Jews and Protestants have an Old Testament of 39 books, while the Catholic Old Testament contains 46. Protestants call the "extra" 7 books in the Catholic Old Testament "apocryphal" meaning doubtful or not genuine.

- DEUTEROCANONICAL = (meaning second list) is the name given to the 7 books lacking in the Protestant Old Testament. It is the Catholic word for what Protestants call the "apocrypha." They consist of: Tobit, Judith, 1 " 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and parts of Esther and Daniel. These books were preserved in Greek, not in Hebrew or Aramaic. Some were originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic but were not preserved in those languages. In reaction to Protestant doubts about them, the Council of Trent (1545 " 63) declared them sacred and canonical.

- SEPTUAGINT = is the principal Greek version of the Old Testament, including what Protestants call the Apocrypha, believed to have been translated by 70 Hebrew scholars, hence the word 'septuagint' meaning 70 in Greek. This is the Greek translation of the Old Testament made by the Jews before Christ, which became the commonly accepted Bible of the Early Church. The Early Church used the Septuagint and hence the Deuterocanonicals " AS DID JESUS. How so? Because the New Testament writers (some being Apostles who lived with Jesus) would have used the Scripture that Jesus favoured. For example, in John 10: 22-36 Our Lord and the Apostles observed the key Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah), which celebrates events only recorded in 1 and 2 Maccabees.

The Protestant Reformers desired to translate their Bibles from the original languages of Aramaic and Hebrew. They refused to accept the Deuterocanonical books because they were not available in Hebrew or Aramaic, despite the fact that they were all used by the Early Church. The guiding principle for acknowledging canonical Scripture in the Catholic Church has always been the long and universal use of books in the Church for public reading. For more than 1,000 years Christians the world over had used the 7 Deuterocanonical books. Canonised Scripture is that collection of books of which the authority of the Church has agreed to bind itself because it has recognised in them God's inspired Word. For more than 1,000 years Christians everywhere agreed to submit to the divinely instituted authority of the Church as regards the entire Bible including the Deuterocanonicals.

The Deuterocanonicals became known to the Christians through the Septuagint. The Septuagint was not a Christian creation, it came from the Jews. The Deuterocanonicals were written much closer to Jesus' time than many books of the universally accepted Old Testament, and they contain instances of outlooks and ideas that Jesus clearly accepted. [eg both Maccabees and Wisdom testify to life after death.] Next to the Psalms, Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) was the Old Testament book most used by the Church Fathers, for they found in it a mine of ethical teaching that could be of service for Christian instruction.

It was the Catholic Church that canonised Scripture. It was the Catholic Church that sifted through the other real apocrypha such as Enoch, Jubilees, IV Ezra, and the Gospel of Thomas. It was the Catholic Church that stated at Church Councils (eg Hippo 393 AD and Carthage 397 AD) what was from God and what was not, as regards inspired Scripture. The Church's acceptance of 7 books which were not in the original Jewish canon in no way precludes their inclusion into the canon of God's Scripture which we know today as the Catholic Bible. The Holy Spirit guides His Church free from error in matters of Scripture. The Deuterocanonicals are infallibly canonised.

The first Protestants threw out the Deuterocanonicals also because they did not fit in with their new doctrines [eg the support for Purgatory in 2 Macc 12: 42 " 46]. Just because there is no explicit quote of the Deuterocanonicals in the New Testament in no way disqualifies them from the canon. Nowhere in the Bible is such a standard established whereby because some section of the Old Testament has no explicit New Testament quote it cannot be canonical. Nehemiah, Esther, Ruth, Nahum, Song of Songs and others are canonical, yet are not quoted in the New Testament. Of the 350 or so quotes from the Old Testament appearing in the New Testament, about 300 show more affinity with the Septuagint [the Greek text] than the Hebrew text. Remember, it is the Septuagint which includes the Deuterocanonical books. So, given the dependence of the New Testament on the Septuagint, and the fundamental trust the New Testament writers had in the Septuagint, it makes sense that the whole of the Septuagint be regarded as canonical. It is not logical to deduce that the New Testament writers would trust the Septuagint only partly. That pick and choose attitude is properly said of the original Protestant Reformers, not of the Catholic Church. Revelation 22: 19 ... 'if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy [and by inference any other book of the Bible], God will take away that person's share in the tree of life.'

Protestants claim the Hebrew Scriptures were the sole source of Scripture, yet it can be strongly argued that the Greek translation of the Bible (Septuagint) is used in the New Testament. THE TABLE BELOW DETAILS DEUTEROCANONICALS THAT APPEAR TO BE USED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT [eg Wisdom 5: 17 " 20 concerns putting on God's armour using such words as breastplate, helmet, shield and sword; and Ephesians 6:13 " 17 concerns the exact same theme using the exact same words] :

Old TestamentNew Testament

2 Maccabees 6: 18 " 7: 42

Hebrews 11:35

Wisdom 3: 5 " 6

1 Peter 1: 6 " 7

Wisdom 13: 1 " 9

Romans 1: 18 " 32

Wisdom 5: 17 " 20

Ephesians 6: 13 " 17

To sum up. Since we are staking our salvation on the truth of God's word, we need to know infallibly which books contain divine truth. We need an authoritative list (canon) of the inspired books of the Bible that only the infallible Catholic Church instituted by God can give. Greek was the common language of the entire Mediterranean world by the time of Christ and so it is not surprising that the Septuagint was the translation used by Jesus and the New Testament writers (remember, the New Testament was written in Greek). For 16 centuries the Greek canon was a matter of uncontested faith. Each of the 7 books rejected by Protestantism is quoted by the early Church Fathers as "Scripture" or as "inspired", right along with the undisputed books. And research into the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran has discovered ancient Hebrew copies of some of the disputed books, making their rejection unsupportable on those grounds. So, which Old Testament would you rather use " the Old Testament used by Jesus, the New Testament writers and the early Church, or the Old Testament used by the Jews who rejected Christ and persecuted Christianity? If your Bible includes the 7 so-called "apocryphal" books, you follow Jesus and the early Church. If your Bible omits these 7 books, you follow Martin Luther (the first Protestant Reformer) " a man who wanted to throw out even more books (James, Esther, Revelation), and who deliberately added the word "alone" to Sacred Scripture in his German translation of Romans 3: 28. Revelation 22: 18 … 'if anyone adds to them [the words of the Bible], God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.' Apart from the Catholic Church, we simply have no way of knowing a) which books belong to the Bible and b) that all that is in the Bible is inspired. As St Augustine said, "I would put no faith in the Gospels unless the authority of the Catholic Church directed me to do so." It is contradictory for Protestants to accept the Bible and yet reject the authority of the Catholic Church.

Sources: Frs John Echhert, Raymond Brown, Richard P. McBrien, doctrinal concordance accessed from catholicpages.com; Fr F Chacon and J. Burnham, San Juan Catholic Seminars; R. Haddad, Lumen Verum Apologetics

* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.