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.
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
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 Septuagint2,
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
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
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."
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 unit―a
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.
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.
From The Bible: Questions People Ask
This was a Redemptorist pastoral publication as was another consulted
Bible Basics (copyright 1994).
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
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
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 Century 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.