Didn’t the Catholic Church add to the Bible?

Didn’t the Catholic Church add to the Bible?

Full Question

A lot of people have accused the Catholic Church of adding unscriptural texts to the Bible. How true is this claim?


The first thing you need to know is that those seven books are called the deuterocanonical books. They are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, and Baruch.


Also, the label “unscriptural” was something the Protestant Reformers cooked up in the 16th century to appeal to people. Everyone has to have something for which they fight the Church if they want to break away, right? They hated these books because many portions of these books contradict elements of their doctrine—for instance, the direct mention of praying for the dead, which supports Catholic belief in Purgatory. So, there you go, that’s the excuse to eliminate these books from the canon.

These books are not unscriptural, well, unless they are misinterpreted. It is worth noting that the first-century Christians, including Jesus and the Apostles, effectively considered these books canonical. They have been known to quote from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures that contained these seven books. More importantly, the deuterocanonicals are alluded to in the New Testament.

“While the New Testament never directly quotes from or names these books, the apostles most frequently used and quoted the Septuagint, which includes them. Some say there is a correspondence of thought, and others see texts from these books being paraphrased, referred or alluded to many times in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline epistles, depending in large measure on what is counted as a reference”



Another point: the canon of the entire Bible was basically settled around the turn of the fourth century. Until then, there was disagreement over the canon, and some ten different canonical lists existed, none of which corresponded exactly to what the Bible now contains. 

There were no less than five different instances when the Church formally identified the canon: the Council of Hippo in 393, Synod of Rome in 382, Council of Carthage in 397, a letter from Pope Innocent I to Exsuperius in 405, and the Second Council of Carthage in 419. In all these cases, the canon was identical to what Catholic Bibles contain today. So, from the end of the fourth century on, in practice, Christians accepted the Catholic Church’s decision on this matter.

Over 1000 years

By the Reformation, Christians had been using the same 73 books we do for more than 1100 years – i.e., 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament – and thus considered them inspired. 

Then came Martin Luther, who decided, on his own authority, to drop the deuterocanonical books. Other protestants chose to follow his lead on the matter. This is so weird because they preach the unbiblical, ahistorical “sola scriptura,” – which means nothing can be added or removed from the Scriptures. Luther, with other protestants, clearly violate their own doctrine.

Didn’t the Catholic Church add to the Bible?

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  1. These books were written originally in Greek, not hebrew, and the reformers believed that a truly inspired, scriptural book would have been written in Hebrew by Hebrews…

    1. Fred, This is the position of two groups. The anti-Christian Jews who were seeing the Church as a threat to Judaism and their later allies in anti-Catholic thinking, the protestant reformers. These books could not possibly be inspired because of the language they were written in? If they were written in Hebrew, then they would be inspired? Why is that? I guess God couldn’t speak Greek? Seriously though, when the dead sea scrolls were found, it was discovered that lo and behold, they were written in Hebrew. So, by your argument, they must at least be legitimate candidates for inspired works. The fact that Jesus and the apostles used the Septuagint, which had these books, is good enough for me. Heck, if Greek writing excludes a writing from being inspired, please keep in mind that the entire New Testament was written in Greek. Do you reject the entire New Testament?

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