You will see that Protestant Bibles have seven fewer books than Catholic ones. These are books that were in all Bibles from the 4th. to the 16th. century. They are: Tobias, Baruch, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, seven chapters of the Book of Esther, and 66 verses of the 3rd. chapter of Daniel, commonly called “The Song of the Three Children”. These were all cut out. Luther also wanted to put out the Letter of James, and said that Jude, Hebrews, and the Apocalypse of John were not of the same value for the Gospel as the other books.
Why did the Reformers – people like Calvin, Luther, for instance – not like the books they threw out? Because they did not suit their own teachings. For example, in 2 Maccabees 12:46 it says that it is a holy and devout thought to pray for the dead “so that they might be released from their sins”.
It is almost unbelievable that they received the Bible and then doctored it to suit their own opinions. Is this really a love of the Scriptures?
So, buy your Bibles from St. Paul’s, or, if you buy one from the United Bible Society, make sure it is a Catholic edition. It will say it clearly, and, if it does not, look for the books mentioned above to see if they are in the Bible you are thinking of buying. If they are not, do not buy it.
Have we got any of the original writings that make up the Bible?
The answer to that is, No. None.
What we have now is the printed Bible, but before the invention of printing in 1450, the Bible existed only in handwriting. The earliest copies we have date from about the 4th. century.
Well, there are several reasons.
1. Over and over again in various persecutions Christians were compelled to give over their sacred books, which were then burned.
2. Again, we must remember that the material for writing on was papyrus, which is frail and brittle. We have nothing left that was originally written on papyrus.
That should not upset us too much. Firstly, that is the way of life on earth, where, as Jesus said, “moth and rust corrupt”. Secondly, of course, we have no choice but to trust that the Church has handed down copies we can depend upon. Everybody, whether they are Catholic or not, has to do that, because only the monks of the Church were writing out the Bibles. No matter what sort of Christian you are – Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant – you have to trust the people who copied the Bible by hand for the first thousand years of Christianity. However, there is no need to be too worried, because there are known to have been many thousand copies of the New Testament in existence by the 3rd. century, and we know for certain there are 3000 existing today, ranging from the 4th. century downwards. More than that, even if the work of every inspired writer of the Old Testament down to St. John who wrote the last book of the New Testament had been lost, God has entrusted us to the living Church of God, his holy People, and this Church will not – cannot – mislead us concerning our salvation.