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Catholic And Protestant Bibles

The Old Testament

The Protestant Old Testament omits several entire books and parts of two other books. To explain how this came about, it is necessary that we go back to the ancient Jewish Scriptures. The

Hebrew Bible contained only the Old Testament and from its Old Testament it excluded seven entire books - namely, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, First and Second Machabees - and parts of Esther (10:14 to 16:14) and Daniel (3:24- 90; 13; 14).

These books which are missing in the Jewish Bible came to the Catholic Church with the Septuagint, a pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament. In the Septuagint Version they are placed among and given equal rank with the other Old Testament books as in our Catholic Bible today. Since the Hebrew is older than the Septuagint Bible, the list of books in the former is called the first canon or collection while the catalog of books in the latter is called the second canon or collection. The seven additional books are found only in the second collection and always associated with it.

Jewish opposition to the additional books of the second collection was due to the circumstances in which the Jews lived and to the spirit of the times. During the last centuries which preceded the coming of Christ the Jews - because of the captivities, persecutions and antagonisms from outside nations became more and more conservative and looked with increasing suspicion on anything that was new. Since the additional books were of comparatively recent origin and since some of them were written in Greek - the language of paganism - they naturally aroused the opposition of the Jews. The fact, too, that the early Christians used the Septuagint in their controversies with the Jews only served to confirm the latter in their opposition to this translation of the Old Testament.

The Protestants of the sixteenth century objected to the additional books because of the doctrinal teachings of these books. The Second Book of Machabees, for example, contains the doctrine of purgatory, of prayers and sacrifices for the dead (12:39-46). The book of Tobias teaches the importance in the eyes of God of good works. The Protestants could not reject some without excluding all of the additional books. Hence, in drawing up their list of Old Testament books they went back to the first collection of Biblical books of the Palestinian Jews. They removed the additional books, which had been in the Bible up till 1517 and placed them at the end of the Bible in a special appendix. In addition, they labelled them as "apocryphal" (spurious, uninspired), a designation which helped to lower them in the estimation of Protestant readers.

The Lutheran and Anglican Bibles still carry these books in the appendix or give them at least a secondary place. But the other Protestant churches reject them entirely. In 1827 the British and Foreign Bible Society decided not to print or handle Bibles that contained the additional books and not to aid financially companies that published Bibles containing them. As a result these books have practically disappeared from Protestant Bibles.

The Catholic Church has always considered these books as inspired and of the same rank as the other Old Testament books. Her attitude is based upon the following facts:

1) The Apostles and New Testament writers quoted principally the Septuagint. In fact, of the three hundred and fifty Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament, about three hundred are taken from the Septuagint.

2) Some of the New Testament writers made use of the additional books themselves, particularly of the Book of Wisdom, which seems to have been St. Paul's favorite volume. The Epistle of St. James - to take another example - shows an acquaintance with the Book of Ecclesiasticus. If the Apostles and New Testament writers used some of the additional books, did they not thereby approve the entire Septuagint collection?

3) The additional books were accepted in the Church from the beginning. The Epistle of Pope Clement, written before the end of the first century, makes use of Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom, gives an analysis of the book of Judith, and quotes from the additional sections of the book of Esther. The same is true of other early Christian writers.

4) The oldest Christian Bibles in existence (Codex Vaticanus, etc.) contain the additional books intermingled with the rest, just as we find them in the Catholic Bibles today.

5) The oldest Christian lists of Biblical books contain the additional books. In 382 Pope Damasus in a Roman Council issued a formal list of Old and New Testament books and the list contains the same books as we have in our Bibles.

6) Finally, Christian art of the first four centuries - especially that found in the catacombs and cemeteries - furnishes among others the following illustrations from the additional books: Tobias with the fish (Tobias 6), Susanna (Daniel 13), Daniel and the dragon (Daniel 14), the angel with the three children in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:49), Habacuc and Daniel in the lion's den (Daniel 14:35).

In conclusion, let us point out that since they follow the synagogue in their rejection of the additional books of the Old Testament, the Protestants should in all logic follow it in its rejection of the New Testament and of Christ Himself.

The Apocryphal Books

The Protestants often designate as "apocryphal" those seven books and those sections which their Bibles omit from the Old Testament. The Catholics object to this title. These books are regarded by the Church as inspired. They formed a part of the Bible of united Christendom before the Protestant revolt, and Christian antiquity was practically unanimous in regarding them as of divine origin.

But what, then, do Catholics mean by "apocryphal" books? The word "apocryphal" is derived from the Greek "apokryphos" and means something hidden or secret. The religious books of ancient pagans were called Apocrypha because they were kept carefully concealed in the temple and shown only to full-fledged members who were wholly initiated into the mysteries of religion. Books forged by magicians were also called Apocrypha because they were thought to contain hidden secrets.

Gradually, however, the word "apocryphal" came to have a very specific meaning. It came to be applied to a class of books, which pretended to possess divine authority and Scriptural rank but which never succeeded in obtaining a place among the books of the Bible. These Books were composed during the last two centuries before Christ or during the early centuries of the Christian era. The authors remained unknown or wrote under a fictitious name. Some of these books contain false and heretical doctrines, others aim at satisfying a foolish curiosity about Biblical personages, others strive to edify. Their value lies in setting forth, by contrast, the superior character of the inspired books and in furnishing to the Biblical scholar interesting information about the customs and conditions of the times.

The apocryphal books are divided into two groups - into the Old and the New Testament apocrypha. a) The Old Testament apocrypha supplement the inspired Old Testament books with fictitious stories about some patriarch or prophet, forged Messianic prophecies, or pious exhortations and precepts. Examples of this group are the Assumption of Moses, Apocalypse of Abraham, Ascension of Isaias, etc. b) The New Testament apocrypha strive to supplement and amplify matters either briefly mentioned in the inspired books or omitted entirely. Their favorite topics are the Infancy of Our Lord and His sojourn on earth after the Resurrection. They contain much that is silly, legendary and dis-edifying. The portrait of Our Lord contradicts in many respects that of the Gospel, and their accounts of Him contain much that is doctrinally unsound and heretical. As many as fifty Gospels, twenty- two Acts, and many Epistles and Apocalypses were known to have belonged to this group at one time.

The New Testament

The Protestant New Testament contains the same books as the Catholic New Testament. Although Luther showed great hostility to St. James's Epistle because of its doctrine of the necessity of good works and contemptuously called it an "epistle of straw," he clearly saw that he had no more reason for excluding that book than he had for rejecting the other books of the New Testament. The differences between the Protestant and Catholic New Testament arise from changes in specific passages in various books of the New Testament.

In the passage from I Corinthians 11:27, "Whosoever shall eat this bread OR drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord," the Authorized Version (AV) of King James replaced "or" by "and." Inspired by doctrinal and anti-Catholic bias, the editors purposely changed the text in order to remove the argument for communion under one kind. Today all Scriptural scholars agree that "OR drink the chalice" is the correct reading. Modern critical Protestant editions of the Bible - the Revised Version and the Standard Version - have rejected the reading of the Authorized Version and restored the old or Rheims-Douay reading.

A further deliberate change in the interest of the Protestant doctrine on original sin is introduced into several passages. The Reformers, as we know, maintained that human nature was essentially corrupted by the Fall. Man's intellect is positively darkened and his free will destroyed.

In I Corinthians 7:9 where the Rheims-Douay Version reads: "If they do not contain themselves, let them marry"; the Authorized Version changed the passage to read: "But if they cannot contain, let them marry." The same Authorized Version changes "do not" to "cannot do" in Galatians 5:17: "For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary to one another, so that you do not the things that you would." The aim of the editors in both instances was to introduce into the Scriptures the false Lutheran doctrine concerning the total depravity of human nature because of original sin. St. Paul is made to affirm that a Christian cannot lead a stainless virtuous life. The critical editions of the bible, however - the Revised and Standard Versions-refused to adopt this reading and returned to the reading of the Rheims-Douay.

To the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13, the Authorized Version adds the doxology or the long ending: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." The Revised Version, however, as well as all critical editions, omit this doxology - and correctly so. The doxology is not a part of the Lord's Prayer. It is not found in St. Luke's version of the Our Father.

In St. Matthew's Gospel, the intimate connection between verses 13 and 14 shows that the original text had no clause between the two verses. The long ending is not found in two of the oldest extant Bibles - namely, the codex Sinaiticus and the codex Vaticanus. In the course of time, however, the doxology began to appear on the margin or was written in the text with red ink, until finally in some later manuscripts it becomes a part of the Bible. According to the almost unanimous opinion of scholars the doxology is an interpolation which worked its way into some Bibles from the early Christian liturgy.

The King James Version (AV) also adopted the Protestant form of the Gloria in excelsis Deo in Luke 2:14. Before considering the intrinsic merits of this reading, let us compare it with the reading in the Revised Version (RV) and Standard Version (SV) and in the Rheims-Douay Version (RD):

AV - "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."

RV and SV - "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom He is well pleased."

RD - "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will."

These quotations show that the reading of the Revised and Standard Versions and that of the Catholic Bible are substantially the same. Hence we need consider only the AV reading and the RD reading. The Protestant version of the Angelic hymn consists of three clauses, the Catholic version of two clauses. The Catholic version is better attested because it is found in the oldest and best extant Bibles. Internal reasons likewise favor the RD reading. In the Protestant version we should expect ant "and" before the third clause. The RD version gives us two parallel clauses, each containing three ideas parallel to the other:

In the highest . . . glory . . . to God.

On earth. . . peace . . . to men of good will.

Opinions are divergent as to the interpretation of the phrase, "men of good will." Does "good will" signify a disposition or quality of the soul? If it does, the angel announces his tidings of peace to the well-disposed among men. This view is open to two objections: first, nowhere in the New Testament is the Greek original of "good will" used to signify the state of men's will in relation to God; second, this interpretation robs the message of its grand, comprehensive mercy. Christ died for all men and sent a message of peace to all men. God by the giving of His Son has shown His mercy to the whole world. The good will of God as it proceeds from God is universal, for He wishes all men to be saved. In every sense, therefore, the message of peace was to all men. Men are called "men of goodwill" in the sense that they are. men enjoying the benevolence of God, the objects of God's redeeming will, or of His will - to save them all.

Discussion Aids

Set I
     1. What seven books, and parts of two others, were not found in the Hebrew Old Testament?
     2. When were these seven books added to the Greek Old Testament?
     3. Why were the Jews opposed to these seven books?
     4. Why did the Protestants of the sixteenth century object to these books?
     5. When did these books definitely disappear from Protestant Bibles?
     6. Give five reasons why the Catholic Church accepts these books.

Set II
     1. Were the Protestants justified in labelling these books as "Apocryphal"?
     2. What was the meaning of the word "Apocryphal"?
          a) in ancient times?
          b) in the last two centuries before Christ?
     3. Discuss the author, purpose and value of the apocrypha.
     4. Describe the Old Testament apocrypha; New Testament apocrypha.
     5. When is the term "apocryphal" used in an objectional manner?

     1. Why was Luther opposed to St. James's Epistle?
     2. What change did the King James Bible introduce into I Corinthians 11:27?
     3. What changes introduced by the King James Bible were inspired by the Reformers' doctrine on original sin?
     4. Was the long ending, which Protestants today add to the Lord's Prayer, contained in the first and oldest Bibles?
     5. What is the correct division and interpretation of the Angelic Hymn, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will"?

Religious Practices

     1. I will always be grateful to the Catholic Church for preserving for me the priceless treasures of truth contained in the additional books of the Old Testament.
     2. I will imitate Tobias by manifesting outwardly through good works the faith that is within me.
     3. I will heed the lesson of II Machabees 13:46 and pray frequently for the dead.