Q. I heard recently that the Catholic Bible contains 7 more books than does our own Bible. I wonder why there is a discrepancy. Were they originally included but removed later by Protestant reformers? Or were these extra books added by the Catholic Church after the original compilation of the Bible? Do they have any value to Bible believing Christians or should they be avoided as uninspired and possibly flawed? Thank you so much for your intellectual and spiritual generosity. Your ministry is a continual blessing in my life.
A. The extra books in the Catholic Bible are called The Apocrypha. They were written after the Canon of the Hebrew Bible was complete – about 425 B.C. The word apocrypha means “hidden, or secret”. Due to their doubtful authenticity the word has come to mean “fraudulent, or forged” by some scholars.
Although some feel there are many more, The Apocrypha is normally made up of fourteen books which are found in Greek and Latin translations but never in the Hebrew Old Testament. When Jerome translated the Old Testament into Latin he refused to include them within the body of the book and established a separate section he named “The Apocrypha”. Only 11 of these are included in the Catholic Bible Today but all 14 can still be found in the Orthodox Bible.
The Apocrypha was removed from the Protestant Bible altogether at the time of the Reformation. Here are several reasons why many Christian authorities reject the writings of the Apocrypha:
1. The Apocrypha was never in the Hebrew Canon.
2. Neither Jesus Christ, nor any of the New Testament writers, ever quoted from the Apocrypha. (Jude mentioned Enoch, but Enoch was not the author of the books that bear his name.)
3. Josephus(a well-known historian from the Biblical era) excluded them from his list of sacred scripture. He felt they were lacking authenticity or validity in essence or origin.
4. During the first four centuries there was no mention made of the Apocrypha in any catalogue or canonical book. They were believed to be slipped in during the fifth century. There are reputed to be 263 quotations and 370 allusions to the Old Testament in the New Testament and not one of them refers to the Apocryphal writings.
5. The books of the Apocrypha were never asserted to be divinely inspired or to possess divine authority in their contents.
6. No prophets were connected with these writings. Each book of the Old Testament was written by a man who was a prophet.
7. These books are replete with historical, geographical and chronological errors. In order to accept the Apocrypha one would have to reject the Old Testament narratives.
8. The Apocryphal doctrines and practices are contrary to the Canon of Scripture.
There is some historical insight to be gained from the Apocrypha, since they were written in the time between the Old and New Testaments. But extreme caution must be exercised. These books weren’t written by the people whose names are mentioned in their titles, and they are neither theologically nor historically accurate. You should test the things they say against other reliable sources before accepting them as valid.