12 February 2014

Why are Catholic Bibles Different from Protestant Bibles?

What follows is a very simplified timeline of the Canon of the Bible. It could be made much more complicated by adding a great deal of detail, but this serves as a basic overview:

13th? to 3rd Century BC

  • Development and acceptance of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)

3rd to 2nd Century BC

  • Hebrew Scriptures translated into Greek
  • Greek Books written and added to Old Testament: Tobias, Judith, I and II Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch (Tobias and Judith were written originally in Aramaic or perhaps Hebrew)

2nd to 1st Century BC

  • The Greek Septuagint became the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, included the Greek Books not found in Hebrew Scriptures
  • Hebrew Scriptures fell into disuse

1st century AD

  • Christian Scriptures written, which quote the Septuagint (e.g. in Isaiah 7:14, the original Hebrew, עַלְמָה, would translate as young woman, whereas the Greek Septuagint, παρθενος, would translate as virgin. Matthew 1:23 uses the Septuagint)

After 70 AD (Destruction of Jerusalem)

  • Jews reject the Septuagint because Gentile Christians use it (they rejected the books not in the Hebrew Scriptures)

2nd to 4th century AD

  • Early Church Fathers considered the Septuagint as inspired
  • Various canons of the New Testament develop

382 AD

  • Pope St. Damasus I convened a synod in Rome to resolve the problem of multiple New Testament Canons, commissioned St. Jerome to lead this discernment process
  • Pope St. Damasus commissioned St. Jerome to revise the old Latin translations; thus, producing the Latin Vulgate (always containing the Septuagint Canon of the Old Testament)

393 AD

  • Synod in Hippo (North Africa) confirms the Damasan Canon

397 AD

  • Synod in Carthage (North Africa) confirms the Damasan Canon

419 AD

  • Another synod in Carthage confirms the Damasan Canon

5th to 16th century AD

  • Greek fell into disuse in the West in favour of the Latin Vulgate (few copies of the Greek were made)

16th century

  • Luther removed the Greek books from the Old Testament, as well as Hebrews, James, Jude and the Apocalypse from the New Testament (not physically removed, but removed from their normal place in the Bible, calling them into question)
  • Council of Trent canonized the Damasan Canon and affirmed the Latin Vulgate as the authoritative text of Scripture
  • Luther’s successors replace the books removed from the New Testament, but continued to question the Greek books of the Old Testament, eventually not even placing them in the Bible