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                                                                 The Missing Books                       

     
With the plurality of religions, it must be sadly admitted that Christianity is a fractured religion in the hands of men.  According to the World Christian Encyclopedia (2001) more than 33,000 denominations have been counted within Christianity.  The Cross as a Christian symbol seems quite splintered. 

      At the basis of much of this, must be the private interpretation of Scripture, this, in spite of warning of St. Peter about prophecy made by private interpretation and scriptures that some wrest to their destruction.  But another factor of this brokenness, may be traceable to the differing number of books contained in the Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments of the Bible, with Catholics recognizing 46 and Protestants, 39.  The seven books missing, as part of the Protestant text, are Judith, Tobias, Baruch, Sirach, Wisdom and 1 & 2 Maccabees.

      The Bible was written over a long period of time, stretching back it's said to the 1100's B.C.   St. John's Gospel was written in 97 A.D.   The canon or official list of New Testament writings wouldn't be set until near the end of the 4th Century.  The canon was fixed at the Council of Hippo in 393 and confirmed at the Council of Carthage in 397, the latter being three centuries to the year after St. John wrote.

      I've read an account1 that offers an explanation as to the historical reason behind the differing testaments and why we're cleft apart on this matter.   The account, which follows, comes from a publication of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists, a society of missionary priests founded by St. Alphonsus Maria Ligouri in 1732.  

     In the early days of the Church there were two versions of the Old Testament used by the Jewish people: the version in Hebrew used in Palestine, which lacked the seven books, and the version in Greek, used by Greek-speaking Jews outside of Palestine, which had the seven books.   This latter version, called the Septuagint
2, was translated about 150 years B.C.   An ancient tradition holds that it was done by 72 Palestinian Jews in 70 or 72 days.

      In the 4th Century St. Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, and he used the Septuagint. His translation was accepted by the Church as the official Latin translation of the Bible. In the 16th Century the Protestant reformers translated the Bible into German. Their Old Testament was from the Hebrew not the Greek version. So the Protestant version, like the Hebrew one, lacked the seven books contained by the Greek and Catholic Old Testament. Thus the explanation of the Redemptorist account.

      It may be the Protestant reformers thought the Hebrew was closer to the original language, and on the surface that would seem to make sense.  However, the tradition that says it was Palestinian Jews who translated the Old Testament, indicates an acceptance of these seven books within Palestine 150 years before Christ, according to the time frame previously mentioned.   Note that it said within Palestine.  Not only that, but a Douay Rheims version of the Holy Bible translated from the Latin Vulgate, says the Septuagint was the version used by Jesus and the Apostles, and the Church from the time of her infancy.  Hence the Septuagint had their approval, "who quoted it exclusively whilst on earth."    The Old Testament of this Bible was first published at Douay in 1609, and the New testament was first published at Rheims in 1582.
    
      Should a person not want to accept a Catholic source, then consider what a former Protestant minister, Paul Whitcomb had to say in The Bible Made a Catholic out of Me.   He said that the Septuagint was the version most popular with the Apostles: that of 350 quotations from the Old Testament found in the New, 300 were from the Septuagint. That's a little better than an 85%.   Accordingly, it can be said that the Apostles certainly didn't shy away from the Greek version.  To argue against the Septuagint, would be to argue against the Apostles.

     These missing books would help explain why some may have a problem with Purgatory.  Although it's not mentioned by name, it is referred to in 2 Maccabees 12:46: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins." But it is also referred to in Matthew 12:32: "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." 

      If something isn't specifically mentioned by name, it doesn't necessarily follow that it does not exist. Even in ordinary conversation one might forget the name of a person but refer to the person by describing what he looks like, etc. 

       One cannot conclude that purgatory doesn't exist simply because it isn't mentioned by name.  For that matter, neither is the Trinity mentioned by name in the Bible, but the three Persons of the Trinity are referred to in Matthew 28:19: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"
  ―the command and commission of Christ.

      In an effort to carry out His commission, it would be wonderful to be able to bring all the splinters of Christianity together, into one solid unita unity for the whole world to see: a togetherness of the way and truth that Christ taught.  Insofar as we are able, we should try.  
                                                                                             
John Riedell

     
1 From The Bible: Questions People Ask (copyright 1980).  This was a Redemptorist pastoral publication as was another consulted Bible Basics (copyright 1994).
       
2 In Latin, seven  is septem  and seventy is septuaginta.
      

                                        Briefs About the Missing Books

The Book of Judith.
     In it, the Assyrian general Holofernes attacked the Jews and laid seige to Bethulia. The Jews were in despair, but the heroine Judith saves them. She went to Holofernes, won his favor by her beauty, and cut off his head while he was asleep, with the result that the Assyrians flee. The book teaches that God protects his people.

The Book of Baruch
   
Baruch was Jeremiah's secretary. It was composed in Babylonia after the fall of Jerusalem. It gives unity to some writings (repentance, the Law as Divine wisdom, return from exile and idolatry) that originated in the Jewish communities outside Palestine, which tried to put into practice Jeremiah's ideals.

The Book of Sirach
   
The book is also called Ecclesiaticus not to be confused with Ecclesiastes.  Sirach wrote the book to set down his teachings on wisdom. It is a vast manual of piety, comprised of several collections of wise sayings. It was addressed to the many contemporaries of the author who were tempted to abandon the Jewish way of life for the Greek.

The Book of Wisdom
   
Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which dispose us to His inspirations and help us practice virtue.  This book deals with this gift: its excellence, how to obtain it and the happy fruits it produces. The book was written in Greek, in the person of Solomon, but by an author who's uncertain and who admonishes superiors to love and exercise justice and wisdom; who teaches that wisdom comes from God and is gained by prayer and a good life; and who shows the excellent effects of wisdom and justice, and their being useful.

The Book of Tobias
    
Tobias was of the tribe and city of Nephtali in upper Galilee. He and his wife Anna had a son "called after his own name," and from when his son was an infant, "he taught him to fear God, and to abstain from all sin."  Tobias the elder was a good man who fed the hungry, clothed the naked and buried the dead.  One day, wearied from burying the dead, he slept by the wall of his house.  And while he was asleep, hot dung from a swallow's nest fell upon his eyes, blinding him. 
      The blinded Tobias sends his son on a journey to collect a sum of money from a man named Gabelus in Rages, a city of the Medes.  The younger Tobias is guided by the Angel Raphael. 
      On the first night of their journey, Tobias goes to the Tigris River to wash his feet, when a monstrous fish threatens to devour him.  However, as told in 12:3, Gabriel delivers Tobias from being eaten.  The angel tells him to take the fish by the gill, draw him out, and take out his heart, gall and liver for medicines.  When a piece of heart is placed on coals, the smoke will drive away a devils.  The gall is for anointing eyes having a white speck, to effect a cure. 
     Gabelus has a daughter named Sara, who, whenever she married, the husband died, this happening seven times.  Raphael says to Tobias that he is to take Sara as a wife.  Tobias had heard of the seven husbands dying and that "a devil killed  them."  He's afraid of marrying her but the angel tells him what he must do: to lay the liver of the fish on the fire to drive the devil away, for three days keep himself continent from his wife and give himself to prayer with her. 
      Tobias asks Raguel to promise him his daughter.   When they marry Tobias lays the liver upon burning coals whereupon Raphael takes the devil and binds him in the desert of upper Egypt.  Tobias and Sara stay three days in prayer, joining themselves to God.  Raguel delivered Sara to him and half of his substance in servants, camels, cattle and kine, and much money.  Raphael had already collected the sum, for which Tobias had travelled to Rages.
     Upon his return from the journey, Tobias anoints his father's eyes with the gall of the fish. After a half hour a white skin started to come from the eyes like the skin of an egg.  He draws it from his father's eyes and immediately he recovers his sight.
     The Book of Tobias contains a wonderful and inspiring story.  It shows the importance of trusting in God, and man's need of divine help.  Raphael's advice in Chapter 12 is instructive.  He said in 12:7 it is "honourable to reveal and confess the works of God," and in 12:10, "...they that commit sin and iniquity, are enemies of their own soul."

The Books of Machabees
   
These are two books in Greek which give an account of the wars for religious liberty, under the leadership of Mathathias and his sons. The first book deals with of the revolt against the persecution of the Greek emperor Antiochus Epiphanes in the Second C
entury B.C. Forbidden under pain of death to practice their religion, many Jews apostasized, but a few, taking the name Maccabees (from their leader Judas Maccabeus), revolted and finally regained political independence for Judah.
      In the second book, the author tries to show how God protected the Temple of Jerusalem
.  

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