Did you know that there are 7 more books in Catholic Bibles than in Protestant Bibles? Of course you did because I mentioned it in last week’s column! But did you know the reason why? In the first centuries of the Church, quite a few letters and gospels existed that Christians used for information and inspiration. It was the responsibility of the early popes and bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, to determine which of these books were truly inspired. Pope Damascus, at the Council of Rome in 382 AD, determined the official list of books, called the canon, that make up the Catholic Bible. At the time the list was considered complete, so no more books can ever be added or taken away.
The disagreement over the 7 additional books came about because there was an argument over whether to use the Greek or the Hebrew version of the Old Testament. The 7 books are included in the Catholic Old Testament, but not the Protestant. The Catholic Church used the Greek version, which contained the additional books of Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch. These books are sometimes called the “Apocrypha”; which is Greek for “hidden” or they are called the deuterocanonical books, which is Greek for “second canon”. During the Reformation/Counter Reformation of the 1500’s, the cry by Protestant reformers was “
” which means “Scripture alone”. The Protestant reformers felt that by appealing to Tradition, Catholic religious leaders were exercising a biased control over the Church, and the only truly objective source for God’s Revelation was the Bible.
So they rejected Sacred Tradition as a source of God’s Revelation and tried to make their case for the Bible alone. This disagreement over the source of Divine Revelation continues to be a major difference between Catholic Christians and many Protestant Christians yet today. But through patient dialogue, the different Christian churches are more tolerant and appreciative of one another than they have been in centuries.
In fact, many Protestant bibles now include the 7 books and call them “The Apocrypha”.
The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths about God’s saving plan for humanity and for all of creation. But it was written thousands of years ago in a culture very different from our own. Tradition is the living transmission of the message of the Gospel in the Church. The oral preaching of the Apostles and the written message of salvation are conserved and handed on as the “Deposit of Faith” through the Apostolic Succession in the church.
Both the living Tradition and the Bible have their common source in the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. So in our Catholic Faith, both the Bible and the Traditions handed down by the Apostles are the source of our faith!
See you soon!