What is the difference between the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible?

Many Christians are surprised to learn that the Catholic Bible is different from the Bible used by Protestants. While all 66 books found in Protestant Bibles are also found in the Catholic Bible, the Catholic Bible also contains other books, and additions to books. The Catholic Bible contains a total of 73 books, 46 in the Old Testament (Protestant Bibles have 39) and 27 in the New Testament (the same as Protestant Bibles).

The additional books in the Catholic Bible are known as the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha or 2nd Cannon. They are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch. The Catholic Bible also includes additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. There was significant debate in the early Christian church, with a majority of the early church fathers rejecting the idea that the Apocrypha belonged in the Bible.

However, under tremendous pressure from Rome, Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate, included the Apocrypha, despite Jerome’s insistence that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible. The Latin Vulgate became the dominant and officially sanctioned Catholic Bible, and remained that way for around 1200 years. Thus, the Apocrypha became a part of the Catholic Bible.

The Apocrypha was not formally/officially made a part of the Catholic Bible, until the Council of Trent held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent Italy, in response to the Protestant Reformation. The early Protestant Reformers, in agreement with Judaism, determined that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible, and therefore removed the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles.

The most popular English translations of the Catholic Bible today are the New American Bible, the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, and the New Jerusalem Bible. Aside from the inclusion of the Apocrypha, each of these Bible translations is reasonably good and accurate in how it renders the biblical text into English.

In summary, the Catholic Bible is the version of the Bible promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and used by the majority of the world’s Catholics.

Aside from the inclusion of the Apocrypha, the Catholic Bible is identical to Protestant Bibles in terms of the canon (the books belonging in the Bible).

However, the 1611 King James Bible does have the Apocrypha in it. In 1604, King James I of England authorized a new translation of the Bible into English to be started. It was finished in 1611, just 85 years after the first translation of the New Testament into English appeared (Tyndale, 1526).

In the preface to the 1611 edition, the translators of the Authorized Version, or King James Version, state that is was not their purpose “to make a new translation . . . but to make a good one better.” The King James Version quickly became the standard for English-speaking Protestants. Its flowing language and prose rhythms have had a profound influence on the literature of the past 400 years.

The King James translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from the Textus Receptus (Received Text) series of the Koine Greek texts.

The Old Testament was translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha was translated from the Greek Septuagint (LXX), except for 2 Esdras, which was translated from the Latin Vulgate. In 1769, the Oxford edition, which excluded the Apocrypha, became the standard text and is the text which is reproduced almost unchanged in most current printings.

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