Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean.
Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from the Bible. Here is his very helpful reply:
Why Protestants Reject the Deutero-canonical Books – Short Answer
By Gary Michuta
 The short answer is this: When Luther was cornered in a debate over Purgatory, his opponent, Johann Eck, cited 2 Maccabees against Luther’s position. Luther was forced to say that Second Maccabees could not be allowed in the debate because it wasn’t canonical. Later in the debate, Luther appealed to St. Jerome for rejecting Maccabees (the councils of Carthage, Hippo, and Florence all included Macabees as canonical Scripture). 
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 By appealing to Jerome, he also rejected all the other books Jerome rejected (Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, Judith, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Daniel 13, and sections of Esther).

From then on, Luther (and all Protestants) have been trying to justify this removal. Luther in 1534 thought Baruch was “too skimpy” and not lofty enough to be from the scribe of Jeremiah. He also had problems with certain historical elements in Baruch. But in the long run, it really came down to Jerome’s rejection.
 As a side note, Jerome rejected it because he thought that a Hebrew manuscript tradition, known as the Masoretic Text, was identical to the inspired originals and all other copies were made from this text. Since the Deuteros were not part of the MT, he rejected them as not being of the canonical Scripture. 
 What Jerome could not have known was that there were many different Hebrew manuscripts in circulation during the first century and that the Greek Septuagint, a translation made by the Jews around 200 BC, at least in parts, appears to be a very literal translation of a more ancient Hebrew text tradition that is now lost. 
This means that Jerome’s idea of “Hebrew truth” (I.e., only that which is found in the Hebrew MT is true) has been demonstrated to be an error. With Jerome’s position no longer tenable, Protestantism really doesn’t have a historical leg to stand on in regards to their OT canon.


This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Frank

    I developed this site to highlight a few key points about the development of the canon. My aim was to simplify things as much as possible but also draw out some facts that I was not aware of until i did some research e.g there was no universally accepted Hebrew canon when Jesus lived, the Council of Jamnia was a theory – not fact, etc.
    The site uses Adobie Flash so you will cannot open it in Apple products.

  2. Dan

    Frank, that is a very interesting site you’ve assembled. One thing that might be of interest are the dates when the books of scripture were divided into chapters and then, later, when the individual verses were determined and assigned numbers. I don’t know when these events occurred, but I believe I read that the chapters and verses were determined by monks as they copied the scriptures.
    However, I think the work you’ve done is very helpful and nicely presented. God bless you!

  3. David De Luna

    Well done. I enjoy finding short posts like these, although I know it’s challenging to do theology posts in less than 400 words. You to it here! I manage content for my parish FB page and I evangelize on my own so this is exactly what I look for. Thank you.

  4. Clifford Mainooh

    Wonderful piece of work, Frank. Kindly research into the quest of Dan; and please, send me a copy.

  5. Mike

    I gotta get a copy of this book! 🙂

  6. Daine

    This is an excellent short answer. I too need to get this book!

  7. Edelyn

    Pardon me, but what is MT?

    STEVE RAY HERE: MT is an abbreviation for Masoretic Text which was used in the sentence above.

  8. James

    I love this truth and I want more.

  9. jomafro

    STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks. For Catholics it is not a matter of scoring but a matter of authority. Someone has to close the canon – in other words, some authority has to say “these books are inspired and these books are not inspired.” It was the Catholic Church that made that determination. Without the authority of the Catholic Church, how does a Protestant know which books belong in the New Testament? Reformed theologian R. C. Sproul honestly admits that the Protestant position can at best claim “a fallible collection of infallible books” (Essential Truths of the Christian Faith [Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1992], 22).

    This chart is a representation and interpretation, "in sum," of the information that I have compiled in this infographic which I created ©2018 after much reading, particularly of F.F. Bruce’s “The Canon of Scripture.”*
    My position, based on the research presented here, is thus: both Protestant and Catholic Christians erred by adopting extreme positions relative to each other, spurred by the tension of the Counter-/Reformation. Catholics erred first, diverting from apostolic and church tradition, when they pronounced the deuterocanon inspired by God and suitable for doctrine. Similarly, Protestants erred by adopting anti-Catholic sentiment and removing the Apocrypha from the printed Bible entirely, diverting from 1600 years of church practice and abandoning the historical, liturgical, and edifying qualities of the deuterocanon. The church would do well to look at the example of Luther and Calvin to begin reassessing the status of the deuterocanon, who held in tension the edification and inspiration of books, since the early days of the church, adopted for use and instruction. My prayer is for the universal church, that it may find a way to reconcile a unified canon, based on Apostolic and traditional church practice, that neither over- or under-values, in doctrine and deed, those books since ancient times called Apocrypha.
    *A note about the chart and infographic: it is not meant to absolutely prove anything, but is useful to summarize and provide context for the conclusion I outline above. My scoring methodology awards +2 points when a source affirms the canonicity of one of the deuterocanon, -2 points for explicitly excluding the deuterocanon, and -1 point when a book is excluded by absentia (an implied exclusion based on the assumption that they left it off the explicit list for a reason). Care was taken not to over- or under-represent sources of inclusion or exclusion, especially in cases where information is not complete (i.e. fragmented codexes) or when an author lists a book (i.e. Daniel) but does not clarify if the additions are included as well.
    @onewordghost on twitter

  10. O

    Thanks for this! It is most helpful.
    Are there any (other) sources you can recommend on the history of Sacred Scripture? I am interested in how we got to this mess today.
    As someone who was raised in the Protestant camp, I have always found Protestant arguments to be annoying because of their stupid inconsistencies. For 1500+ years, these books were considered sacred, then all of a sudden a bunch of people rock up and think they know better. Well, let’s examine the logical consistency because consistency reveals/betrays one’s stupidity, or worse, dishonesty.
    The NT makes many allusions and references to the OT. These include allusions/references to the books which the Protestants reject. If one rejects Text X, then it logically follows that every subsequent work which sources Text X as if nothing is wrong should also be questioned if not rejected. Start at Matthew … there won’t be much of a NT left.
    Conclusion: Some people are just snobs who want to be different and would make up some pseudo-academic excuse to back it up. I am glad I was raised as some sort of Christian but I don’t appreciate being denied data by people who reject data without proper examination.

    1. Steve Ray

      Please check out Gary Michuta’s book “Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger”

  11. O

    Thanks and I will but I meant apart from that book.

  12. Joe Jersey

    Hi Steve. Always enjoy when you are a guest on Relevant Radio. Do you know of a good searchable on line bible that contains all the books that protestant omit? Thanks Steve.

    Joe, I am sorry but I don’t know of one off the top of my head, but I think if you search Google for “Catholic Bible on line” I think you will find plenty. God bless.

  13. Thomas J

    Hey Joe Jersey check out Youversion Bible app. They have many bibles and multiple catholic versions for free.

  14. Annacolleen

    Thank you for developing this site! It is a tremendous help to Catholics like me. I’ve been having a discussion with a Mormon, who seems to think that Catholics took books out of the Bible! I needed an answer, and you have given it. Thank you and God bless you!

  15. Monica Spicer

    To Joe Jersey,
    I recommend the Douey Rheims Holy Bible. It is the preeminent authorized Catholic Bible. It can be found on YouTube and free to download. I love it. Everything is there; from Genesis to the Book of the Apocalypse. God Bless

  16. Monica Spicer

    Dear Steve,

    I have just discovered your site — I’m very impressed with the size as well as the scope of information. A researcher’s dream! I have two questions I hope you can help me with.

    1. During Confession a few months ago, the priest and I ended up discussing the different orders in which a person might read the Bible as opposed to Genesis to Apocalypse. The priest suggested I read a book which promotes a specific order in which to read and explains why it helps people better understand it, historical and other contexts I’m guessing. He couldn’t remember the name, only that it was published by the Augustine Institute I believe. The priest himself found it so helpful that he recommends the book to all his parishioners. I’ve looked, and I can’t find it. If you (or anyone else) can identify this book for me I’d be very grateful. Thank you!

    2. For the majority of my career I’ve been a Writer/Editor. Due to health reasons, I am unable to work but on good days I’m able to write, as long as there is no time restriction. Hence this freelancing thing I’d like to try. Nothing is more important to me than my faith. God has given me the talent to write and I want to
    use it to write articles promoting and defending the Catholic faith.
    I wish to write articles about faith in this modern age within a sociological, psychological, and philosophical framework, as well as how political climates come into play and finally, to show readers what tradition and authority really mean, I hope to do this by, among many other things, making relevant again Pope Pius XII’s encyclical “Humani Generis,”
    Sorry to be long-winded but I want you to be well-informed on what I want to write and publish. My question to you is- Where? Can you recommend any magazines, papers, or journals that accept submissions on those topics? Do you know of, or have had experience with Catholic publishers that would be open to submissions from a relatively unknown writer?

    Thank you very much for your time! May God Bless you and your endeavors. Thank you again for this incredible website!

    Monica Spicer

    STEVE RAY HERE: I am not aware of the book that you’re referring to but I would suggest you contact Augustine Institute and ask them. I also don’t publish articles in magazines so I’m not aware of which ones do and don’t. Sorry I’m not of more help.

  17. Monica Spicer

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you for your suggestion to contact the Augustine Institute. I’m sure I can find out how to reach them online. I understand since you don’t write articles for print you aren’t familiar with that so I will continue to do research on that- no problem. I do appreciate you getting back to me and I definitely didn’t want to waste your time about which magazines to submit things to- I can research that, I just thought if you had experience with any magazines you could recommend them. So no problem at all and God Bless your work. You’re an inspiration to many people.
    Monica Spicer

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