Thursday, June 16, 2011


Tonight my Bible in 90 Days group had our first meeting for discussion.  It was great!  But, I was caught off guard by questions about the Catholic Bible.  I hate it when I know the information in my head, but I have a hard time communicating it to someone.  Oh well, eventually I'll get it down.  Just like I have a definition of music therapy down cold. ;)

Here's some information that I should have been able to recall about the extra Catholic books of the bible.  Please note the references at the end.

"The Deuterocanonical books of the Bible are those books in the Catholic Old Testament that are not in the Hebrew canon, but were included in the Greek translation, the Septuagint, and taken over into the Latin versions.  The deuterocanonical books (and additions) are:  Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, and additions to Esther and Daniel."

And he continues... "It seems most proper to say that Sixtus of Sienna started using the term to denote those books whose place in the canon was denied by the Protestants, allegedly because of their absence from the Hebrew canon.  It would be fair, moreover, to suspect that Protestant rejection of these books was based on more than simply their absence from the Hebrew.  See for instance, the remarks of van den Born:"

"Although the complete canon of Scripture was at least implicitly held in the Church from the beginning and was semi-officially proclaimed by several early Popes and local Councils, it was not until 1546 that the Church, in the Council of Trent, issued it's dogmatic decree on the canon of Scripture, in which, after listing the books of the OT and the NT, it anathematized those who refused to hold as sacred and canonical these books "in their entirety, with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and are contained in the old common (vulgata) Latin edition.  Till the time of the Protestant Reformation no serious doubts were raised in the West about the deuterocanonical books..... In the 16th century the Protestants relegated the deuterocanonical books fo the OT as "apocryphal" works to an appendix in their Bible, partly on the authority of the few Fathers of the Church who had doubted about them, partly for the reason that some of these books offered passages opposed to Protestant tenents (e.g. 2 Mac, 12:43 on sacrifice for the dead; Tob. 4:10; 2:9; Sir 3:30; 29:11f on the merit of good works), and partly on the fact that these books are not in the Hebrew Bible, on which the Protestants based their new translations.  Sixtus of Sienna (1520-1569) introduced the terms 'protocanonical' and 'deuterocanonical,' to signify respectively the books of Scripture which were received by the entire church from the beginning as inspired... [and thus through Trent to the present day] ... and those whose inspiration was the object of doubt on the part of [the Protestant Reformers, among others].  This did not affect the belief of the Church as such, which received and used them as inspired.  This terminology is not very felicitous, inasmuch as it may wrongly give the impression that the Church had an earlier official canon that excluded certain books which were later included in a second ("deutero-") canon."

"In any case, in Catholic biblical studies, the term "deuterocanonical" refers to those books or portions of books in the OT (as defined by the Council of Trent) which are omitted from the Protestant scriptures, and to which Protestants attach the term "apocrypha."  It is specifically to this distinction that the term deuterocanonical has referred since the sixteenth century.  It is important that Catholic students of the bible keep two principles in mind, especially when using terminology in an ecumenical or apologetical setting:  First, the term "deuterocanonical" refers to the (fully inspired, and recognized by the Church from the beginning) OT books which are rejected by Protestants.  Second, the term "apocrypha" should never be used of the deuterocanonical books."

WHEW!  Did ya follow that?  Personally, anytime I'm reading something and someone uses "insomuch" I'm impressed.  Basically, the books of the bible that Protestants call "extra" were really always part of the bible the Catholic church used.  Only during the Protestant Reformation did they get eliminated from Protestant bibles.  Interesting, right?  You can read these books of the bible at the USCCB website.

David Twillman.  Coursebook from Ave Maria University. 2006.
A. Robert and A. Feuillet.  Introduction to the New Testament. Translated by Patrick W. Skehan et. al. New York: Desclee Company, 1965, p. 552.
Hartman, Louis F., C.SS.R. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible. A Translation of A. van den Born's Bibels Woordenboek Second Revised Edition.  1963. McGraw-Hill Book Company, INC., New York. (309, 310, 311, 314).

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