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Ask A Franciscan: Books in the Catholic Bible

I have heard that there are seven Old Testament books that are not found in Protestant Bibles. The Second Book of Maccabees is the only one that I can name. What are the other six?

The seven books are 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom and Baruch. In addition, the Books of Daniel and Esther are slightly longer in Bibles used by members of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Why? Up until the 16th century, most Christians accepted the older Alexandrian canon (list of inspired books). When he translated the Bible into German, Martin Luther decided to follow the newer Palestinian canon, which includes only books originally composed in Hebrew or for which a Hebrew text was available in the late first century A.D. The King James version follows Luther on this matter.

After the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed, rabbinic Judaism as we know it took shape; the rabbis accepted as inspired only books written in Hebrew. The Alexandrian canon contains seven books written in Greek and parts of two others.

Some Protestant Bibles print these seven books under the heading “Apocrypha,” not recognizing them as inspired in the same sense as the other Old Testament books. Only in 1546, at the Council of Trent, did the Catholic Church decree that the longer list must be accepted and used.