Did you know there are two different types of Bibles available? I don’t mean the different brands, but Bibles that have different books and translations in them. The two different types are Protestant and Catholic.
When the Protestant reformers established their own churches in centuries past, they adopted the Jewish books, which make up the Old Testament, that were re-established by the Synod of Jewish Rabbis in 100 A.D. The Synod had reviewed all the books their people were using and determined that several had been incorporated over the centuries that were not part of the original books the Jewish people were given as sacred scripture. So they removed those books.
After the Synod, the Catholic Church determined to continue with the same books that previously made up the Old Testament. Their rationality was that these were the same books from which Jesus taught; so, they must have been correctly included.
There are seven (7) books in the Catholic Old Testament that do not appear in the Protestant Old Testament. They are:
- First Book of Maccabees
- Second Book of Maccabees
- The Book of Wisdom
- Ecclesiasticus (also called The Wisdom of Sirach, for the author Ben Sira)
- The Book of Baruch
But There’s More …
In addition to having seven additional books, the Catholic Old Testament also has longer versions of The Book of Daniel and The Book of Esther.
The books are the same in both Protestant and Catholic New Testaments; however, the way certain words were translated into English from the original language in which they were written can provide different meanings. When my daughter and I talk faith, we’ll both pull out our Bibles. We occasionally run into problems, since she is Protestant and I am Catholic. She’ll read me a passage from the New Testament, and I’ll say, “Okay, that’s not what mine says. It says …..” This makes for an interesting discussion. Here’s a sample of what I’m referring to:
Catholic Bible: The New Jerusalem Bible
“Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife — I am not speaking of an illicit marriage — and marries another, is guilty of adultery.”
Protestant Bible: The New International Version
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
This difference in the passage above is why the Catholic Church doesn’t allow for divorce, except under certain conditions. Their Bible version of this passage does not allow for divorce for unfaithfulness (note: an illicit marriage is the sin of fornication between two unmarried persons, which could be two people living together and/or having intimate relations. Therefore, two people who have not made an honest and correct marriage bond/commitment – even though married in a civil ceremony, for instance – would be considered two single people living in sin).
Which is correct — that is not for me to say. I can only say which is correct for me. I just wanted you to see that there is a difference between the Bibles. So, ensure you purchase the right Bible for your belief system; otherwise, you may feel lost when reading along with your pastor in church or trying to make sense of his homily afterwards.