Why Protestants Reject 7 Books of the Bible – the Short Answer

by Steve Ray on April 30, 2014

Gary Michuta is an expert on the canon of Scripture, especially in regards to the Deutero-canonical books, what the Protestants call the Apocrypha. You can read his book Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger to see what I mean.

Recently a friend asked Gary for the short answer as to why the Protestants removed seven books from the Bible. Here is his very helpful reply:

Why Protestants Reject the Deutero-canonical Books – Short Answer

By Gary Michuta

 The short answer is this: When Luther was cornered in a debate over Purgatory, his opponent, Johann Eck, cited 2 Maccabees against Luther’s position. Luther was forced to say that Second Maccabees could not be allowed in the debate because it wasn’t canonical. Later in the debate, Luther appealed to St. Jerome for rejecting Maccabees (the councils of Carthage, Hippo, and Florence all included Macabees as canonical Scripture). 

 By appealing to Jerome, he also rejected all the other books Jerome rejected (Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Tobit, Judith, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Daniel 13, and sections of Esther).

From then on, Luther (and all Protestants) have been trying to justify this removal. Luther in 1534 thought Baruch was ”too skimpy” and not lofty enough to be from the scribe of Jeremiah. He also had problems with certain historical elements in Baruch. But in the long run, it really came down to Jerome’s rejection.

 As a side note, Jerome rejected it because he thought that a Hebrew manuscript tradition, known as the Masoretic Text, was identical to the inspired originals and all other copies were made from this text. Since the Deuteros were not part of the MT, he rejected them as not being of the canonical Scripture. 

 What Jerome could not have known was that there were many different Hebrew manuscripts in circulation during the first century and that the Greek Septuagint, a translation made by the Jews around 200 BC, at least in parts, appears to be a very literal translation of a more ancient Hebrew text tradition that is now lost. 

This means that Jerome’s idea of “Hebrew truth” (I.e., only that which is found in the Hebrew MT is true) has been demonstrated to be an error. With Jerome’s position no longer tenable, Protestantism really doesn’t have a historical leg to stand on in regards to their OT canon.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank June 6, 2013 at 9:51 AM

I developed this site to highlight a few key points about the development of the canon. My aim was to simplify things as much as possible but also draw out some facts that I was not aware of until i did some research e.g there was no universally accepted Hebrew canon when Jesus lived, the Council of Jamnia was a theory – not fact, etc.

The site uses Adobie Flash so you will cannot open it in Apple products.

http://Www.scripturehistory.com

Dan June 10, 2013 at 10:59 PM

Frank, that is a very interesting site you’ve assembled. One thing that might be of interest are the dates when the books of scripture were divided into chapters and then, later, when the individual verses were determined and assigned numbers. I don’t know when these events occurred, but I believe I read that the chapters and verses were determined by monks as they copied the scriptures.

However, I think the work you’ve done is very helpful and nicely presented. God bless you!

Dan

David De Luna May 3, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Well done. I enjoy finding short posts like these, although I know it’s challenging to do theology posts in less than 400 words. You to it here! I manage content for my parish FB page and I evangelize on my own so this is exactly what I look for. Thank you.

Clifford Mainooh May 3, 2014 at 4:08 PM

Wonderful piece of work, Frank. Kindly research into the quest of Dan; and please, send me a copy.

Mike November 30, 2014 at 6:20 PM

I gotta get a copy of this book! :)

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