History Of The Deuterocanonical Books

 Why are there seven extra books in the Roman Catholic Bible?

As some most especially the protestants would ask and use St. John’s words in the book of revelation which says: “I, John solemnly warn everyone who hears the prophetic  words of this book: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to their punishment the plagues described in this book” (Rev. 22:18), to justify their point.

They forget also its succeeding verse that says; “And if anyone takes anything away from the prophetic words of this book, God will take away from them their share of the fruit of the tree of life and of the Holy City, which is described in this book” (Rev. 22:19).

But neither verse even applies to this debate.
John was referring to the book of Revelation, and not the entire Bible because none of the apostles knew the Bible! The books that made up the Scripture were not canonized until centuries after Christ.
Even when that list was established in A.D. 382, the writings were not collected into a single book until after the printing press surfaced. Even Guttenburg’s Bible was published in more than one volume. Greece did not use “book” then but “scroll“. Hence, the book of Revelation was likely written on a scroll.

God’s written words were entrusted to the Jews, but he never provided them with an inspired table of contents. For that reason, there has been ample disagreement over the canon—especially among Jews.

It took about 1,000 years to compile the Old Testament, and the list of inspired books grew continuously as God’s words were revealed. This showed that the Jewish people felt no need for a static canon so, they remained open to further revelation.

They divided their sacred writings into three parts (which were canonized in that order):

The Law

The prophets

The Writings

By the time of Christ, the law and most likely the prophets—were set in number, but the writings were not yet closed.

During the time of Jesus, the Samaritans and Sadducees accepted the law but rejected the prophets and writings while the Pharisees accepted all three. Other Jews used a Greek version known as the Septuagint that included the seven disputed books, known as the deuterocanonicals. Still, other Jews used a version of the canon that is reflected in the Septuagint and included versions of the seven books in question in their original Hebrew or Aramaic.

Jews from a rabbinical school in Javneh met around year 80 and, among other things, discussed the canon when the Christians claimed that they had written new scriptures. They excluded the New Testament and the seven Old Testament works and portions of Daniel and Esther. This still did not settle the Pharisee canon, since not all Jews agreed with or even knew about the decision at Javneh. Rabbis continued to debate it into the second and third centuries. Even today, the Ethiopian Jews use the same Old Testament as Catholics.

One thing was certain, there was no common canon among the Jews at the time of Christ.

At the Council of Rome in 382, the Church decided upon a canon of 46 Old Testament books and 27 in the New Testament. This decision was ratified by the councils at Hippo (393), Carthage (397, 419), II Nicea (787), Florence (1442), and Trent (1546).

Martin Luther also included them in his first German translation. They can also be found in the first King James Version (1611) and in the first Bible ever printed, the Guttenberg Bible (a century before Trent). In fact, these books were included in almost every Bible until the Edinburgh Committee of the British Foreign Bible Society excised them in 1825. Until then, they had been included at least in an appendix of Protestant Bibles. It is historically demonstrable that Catholics did not add the books, Protestants took them out.

Luther had a tendency to grade the Bible according to his preferences. In his writings on the New Testament, he noted that the books of Hebrews, James, Jude, and Revelation were inferior to the rest. In 1519, this same attitude fueled his debate against Johannes Eck on the topic of purgatory. Luther undermined Eck’s proof text of 2 Maccabees 12 by devaluing the deuterocanonical books as a whole. He argued that the New Testament authors had never quoted from the seven books, so they were in a different class than the rest of the Bible.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button