Many Christians are unaware that different denominations follow different versions of the Bible, and in this article, we’ll examine why the Catholic Bible contains 73 books, while the Protestant Bible (such as the King James Bible) only has 66 books.
Why the difference in Bibles?
The important thing to note is that the differences between Catholic and Protestant Bibles has to do with the content of the Old Testament.
The Protestant Old Testament contains 39 books, while the Catholic Bible contains 46 books.
The content of the New Testament for Catholics and Protestants is identical, each containing the same 27 books.
Two main biblical Canons
According to Catholic scholars, at the time of Christ, two main “canons,” meaning collections of books that were considered to be sacred and genuine, existed at the time of Christ.
The first collection of books is called the “Palestine Canon” and it is identical to what is used today in the Protestant version of the Old Testament.
The second collection of books is known as the “Alexandrian Canon” which is also known as the Septuagint. The Septuagint is the earliest translation of the original Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) from the Hebrew language into Greek (specifically, Koine Greek).
The “Alexandrian Canon” contains the books of the Jewish Bible, as well as various biblical Apocrypha and deuterocanonical books, some early church fathers called these books “apocryphal.”
Apocrypha means “hidden” and deuterocanonical means “second Canon.” In this article, we will use the terms Apocrypha/apocryphal/deuterocanonical interchangeably.
Catholics include the deuterocanonical books, as do the Eastern Orthodox Church is, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Assyrian Church of the East and others.
The 7 additional books of the Catholic Bible
Note that there are many more deuterocanonical books than the seven listed below that the Catholic church uses.
In fact, the three earliest Greek manuscripts don’t contain these exact seven listed below.
The seven additional books of the Old Testament in the Catholic Bible are:
- Wisdom (also called the Wisdom of Solomon)
- Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus)
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
Other difference in Catholic Bible: Books of Esther and Daniel
Additionally, it should be noted that in the books of Esther and Daniel within the Catholic Bible there are additional passages not included in the “Palestine Canon.”
Why do Catholics use a different Bible?
The reason for Catholics using the “Alexandrian Canon” or “Septuagint,” as that they say it is the version of the Bible that Christ and the apostles used.
The reasoning can be boiled down to simply this: “This is the version of the Bible that was good enough for Christ.”
Jesus and the apostles quoted deuterocanonical books
A strong argument for the inclusion of some deuterocanonical books stems from the fact that Jesus some of the apostles either directly quoted these books, or made allusion to Scriptures from them.
There are actually additional “second Canon” books
There are several additional deuterocanonical books that exist, beyond those that the Catholic Church uses. Some denominations do use these books, and have up to 84 books in their version of the Bible.
It is also worth noting that while the Catholic Bible recognizes the first two books of Maccabees, it rejects books three and four.
Those books are:
- 1 Esdras
- 2 Esdras
- Additional verses in Esther
- Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus)
- Epistle of Jeremiah (which appears as the last chapter in Baruch in Catholic Bibles)
- Song of the Three Children
- Story of Susanna
- Bel and the Dragon (additions to Daniel)
- Prayer of Manasseh
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- 3 Maccabees
- 4 Maccabees
- Psalm 151