The Catholic and Protestant Bibles are almost identical, except for the use of several books known as “Apocrypha.”
At first glance, Catholic and Protestant Bibles look alike, with the same basic books brought together in one volume. However, on closer inspection, a Protestant Bible is missing several books that are included in a Catholic Bible.
Why is that?
First of all, Christians did not have a single volume of inspired texts for about the first 300 years. The creation and compilation of the Bible has been a long process. Early Church leaders sifted through many manuscripts and discerned, using several different historical, doctrinal, and theological criteria, which books should be preserved and included in canon, and which books should be set aside.
The Old Testament was largely based on a Greek translation of the Hebrew texts which has become widely accepted as a legitimate (and even inspired) translation. This is called the “Septuagint(From the Greek word for 70) and was particularly popular among Greek-speaking Jews.
Approval of books for inclusion in the New Testament began with the Council of Laodicea in 363, continued when Pope Damasus I commissioned Saint Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin in 382, and was finally settled during the Synods of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397).
The aim was to reject all the erroneous works that were circulating at the time and to tell local churches which books could be read at Mass.
As a result of these synods, the Bible remained unchanged until the Protestant Reformation.
After the 16th century, each major Protestant leader had different interpretations regarding the Christian faith and the role of the Bible. This led to a process where various books of the Bible were withdrawn due to their “incompatibility” with Protestant beliefs.
In addition, Protestants generally use a list of old testament books who were approved by Hebrew scholars at a later date, perhaps in the 2nd or 3rd century AD. Catholics, on the other hand, use the Greek Septuagint as the main basis for the Old Testament.
This means that Protestant Bibles only have 39 books in the Old Testament, while Catholic Bibles have 46. The additional seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobias, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach and Baruch. The Catholic canon also includes sections from the books of Esther and Daniel that are not found in Protestant Bibles.
Some Protestant Bibles still include these books, while others do not. As there are many Protestant denominations around the world, the list varies according to the practices of each Christian church.