Some believe that some books were removed from the bible in an effort to make it more popular among the masses. Other people believe that some of these texts were known only to a small group of people and therefore were not relevant to the majority. There are many theories regarding this matter, including conspiracy theories. It is difficult to say what actually happened, but there are a number of possible explanations.
There is a long history of apocrypha and other books of the Old Testament being removed from the Bible. Protestants and Catholics alike regard these books as non-canonical, but Jerome’s list is not the only example of this problem. For example, the book of Daniel was excluded from the Bible, and Jerome considered the Letter of Jeremiah and Baruch non-canonical. But later editions of the Vulgate included these books.
In addition to the books removed from the Bible, Jerome also excluded other books. Among the rejected books were Baruch, Sirach, Wisdom, and Tobit. He also excluded the first and second Maccabees and portions of Esther. Although these books were removed from the Bible, many Protestants tried to justify their exclusion. Martin Luther, for example, said Baruch was too light and did not convey the message of the Gospels.
Later, the Council of Trent ruled that the Latin Vulgate was the authoritative text of the Bible. The Vulgate also included the prologues by St. Jerome, and he also surveyed the entire Old Testament. His prologues also stated that the Greek translations of apocryphal books are not included in the canon.
Protestants have attempted to distort the patristic evidence in favor of the deuterocanonicals. For example, some Protestants have claimed that the deuterocanonicals were added to the Bible at the Council of Trent, but these books had been in the Bible for a long time before the canon was settled. By contrast, Catholics believe that the historic Bible of the Church is the Bible, referring to Jerome’s Vulgate as the standard edition.
The Protestant Apocrypha (the books of the Bible that are not part of the Hebrew Scripture) has a long history of controversy. Luther and the Reformers both rejected the inclusion of these books in the canon. In the debate between Luther, Johann Eck cited the Second Maccabees as a Protestant case against Luther, claiming that the book was “canonical.” But both Luther and St. Jerome rejected the book as apocrypha.
During Jesus’ time, the Bible did not include the books of the prophets, but they were included in copies of the Septuagint that Christians in the West had translated. Jerome recognized that they were not Scripture and categorized them as interesting but non-canonical. Over time, people began to read them in the Septuagint, and eventually they made their way into the official list of Scripture.
Martin Luther’s list
To understand why some people believe that books like Apocrypha should be removed from the Bible, we need to first look at the Protestant Reformation. This was a world-shaking event, and it challenges us to think about our normal religious beliefs. Thankfully, the Catholic Church prevented any snipping of the canon by defining the canon at the Council of Trent and Florence.
The Reformation was not the only factor that caused the list of books to be separated from the Bible. In fact, these books had been the subject of intense debate from the time of Jesus. They were not considered Scripture by the Jewish people and many of the early churches did not include them. They weren’t included in the Catholic canon until 1547, when Luther began the Protestant Bible.
Another major change was the removal of the Epistle of James. This was seen as a controversial move, as Luther wanted to retain James in the New Testament. In fact, he held a two-level view of the New Testament, and James was removed from the top tier. His position was criticized by a number of theologians, who felt James should remain in the Bible.
The Protestant Reformation brought about a major change in church doctrine. The Reformers believed that the Bible was God’s voice speaking directly to creatures. This belief changed the way Christians thought about their identity. In their view, a Christian is a person who has received divine grace through Christ. God’s Word made the world, and His Word created the new man in Christ. When we reject the Word of God, we are guilty of sin.
The Catholic Church accepts some books in the Bible and rejects others. The Old Testament contains Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Joshua, and a few books of the prophets like Isaiah and Job. The New Testament also contains books that teach Catholic doctrine.
After studying the Latin Vulgate Bible, Luther became aware of its deficiencies. As a result, he began his investigation into the Greek text. The result was the first edition of the Luther Bible, which was published in 1534.