40 Myths About the Catholic Church–The Catholics Added Books to the Bible

To deal with this popular myth, we have to look at a little history.  In the early days of the Church, there was no Bible.  Everything was handed on by word-of-mouth.  Because the early Christians generally believed that Jesus was coming back sooner rather than later, nobody saw the need to write anything down.  As time passed the folks decided that maybe there should be some written documentation of Jesus’ life.  Unfortunately, many of the people who wrote about Jesus and His Church weren’t divinely inspired, kind of like bloggers today.

The Bible as we know it today is a collection of those writings that were divinely inspired.  This includes both Old Testament and New Testament books.  The books in question are all from the Old Testament.  It was the Catholic Council of Hippo in 393 A.D. that decided which books to include.  Without getting into a long-winded dissertation on what books came from where, suffice it to say that the Council of Trent confirmed the canon with the seven so-called deutercanonical books in 1543.    The seven books are:

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Part of Esther
  • Wisdom
  • Sirach
  • Baruch
  • Part of Daniel
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

Since it was the Catholic Church that originally declared what books make up the Bible, it’s hard to see how anyone could think the Church added books.  The fact is that the Church added all the books.  So, what happened?

It’s fairly simple.  The books in question didn’t support some of Martin Luther’s ideas.  So, when he published his protestant Bible he left them out.  It was the protestants who changed the books of the Bible, not the Catholics.  Biblical scholars can point out any number of New Testament passages that cite the seven books in question.  James Akin gives an excellent explanation of all this in his article, Defending the Deuterocanonicals.    I recommend it to anyone looking for a more in-depth explanation.

Remember that it wasn’t until 500 years ago that any of this became an issue.  From 393 A.D. until the 1500s, there was no question of what books belonged in the Bible.  It was those wacky protestants, particularly Martin Luther, who started the kerfuffle.

Coming up…Why do we need all those “man-made” rules?  Isn’t the Bible enough?

40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #22 We Have the WHOLE Bible

In 382 AD, Pope Damasus laid out the books of the Old and New Testament.  The same listing was promulgated at the Synod of Rome in 382, and again, at the regional councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419).  There were, and still are, 46 books in the Old Testament.  When Martin Luther published his German translation of the Bible in 1517, he left out seven books.  Why would he do that?  Because the books in question didn’t line up with his new theology.  At the Council of Trent in 1546 the Church reiterated her position on which books belonged in the Old Testament.  Some protestants will point to Trent and claim that the Church added books in 1546 which just isn’t true.

The books missing from Luther’s Bible were:  Baruch, Sirach, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom.  There’s an excellent article at Catholic Answers that goes into more detail about who did what and when, but the bottom line is that many of our protestant brothers and sisters are missing some pretty good stuff.  Tobit is one of my favorite books of the Old Testament.

We Catholics refer to the seven books as deuterocanonical, a good word to know for trivia night.  It means books that weren’t included in Hebrew Scripture but that are part of the Septuagint (The Greek version of the OT).  Some of our non-Catholic brethren refer to them as apocryphal, a more negative term that means “of doubtful authenticity.

The Catholic Church has recognized all of the books of the Old Testament since at least 382.  Your Bible is complete.  Nothing is missing.

That’s very cool!