Why do Protestants not have 7 books
of the Old Testament?

Many times a Protestant will assert that the Deuterocanonical books of the Catholic Old Testament are not scripture because nowhere in the New Testament does it quote verbatim a deuterocanonical book (the 7 books in the Catholic Old Testament not found in the Protestant Old Testament).

The question in regards to the deuterocanonicals is useful but invalid in determining the canonicity of the Old Testament canon. If because a specific Old Testament book is not quoted in the New Testament, the book is not scripture, much of the Protestant Old Testament would not be scripture. The following books (almost 1/3rd of the books of the Protestant Old Testament) are NOWHERE quoted or even alluded to: Ecclesiastes, Esther, Song of Songs, Obadiah, Zephaniah, Judges, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Lamentations, Nahum. Besides that, there are quotations that Paul makes of the pagan poet Aratus, "We are his Offspring" (Acts 17:28). Paul even quotes Epimenides, a pagan poet in the same verse, "In him we live and move and have our being" Acts 17:28, and elsewhere calls this pagan a prophet (Ti 1:12). Jude quotes from 1st Enoch and the Assumption of Moses, nowhere recognized by anybody as scripture. So using this criteria, there should only be 27 books (instead of 39) in the Protestant bible, and pagan poets should be a part of scripture. Protestants are inconsistent in demanding proof of deuterocanonical quotation in the New Testament, but then accepting 12 books in their canon that are never quoted, and not accepting these pagan writings (even quoted as a prophet) as scripture.

Even with the invalid premise demanded of Catholics, we do have clear references to the Deuterocanonicals in the New Testament: This is taken from James Akin's work, which can be found here:

"But the apostles did not merely place the deuterocanonicals in the hands of their converts as part of the Septuagint. They regularly referred to the deuterocanonicals in their writings. For example, Hebrews 11 encourages us to emulate the heroes of the Old Testament and in the Old Testament "Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life" (Heb. 11:35).

There are a couple of examples of women receiving back their dead by resurrection in the Protestant Old Testament. You can find Elijah raising the son of the widow of Zarepheth in 1 Kings 17, and you can find his successor Elisha raising the son of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4, but one thing you can never find -- anywhere in the Protestant Old Testament, from front to back, from Genesis to Malachi -- is someone being tortured and refusing to accept release for the sake of a better resurrection. If you want to find that, you have to look in the Catholic Old Testament -- in the deuterocanonical books Martin Luther cut out of his Bible.

The story is found in 2 Maccabees 7, where we read that during the Maccabean persecution, "It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine's flesh. . . . [B]ut the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying, 'The Lord God is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us . . . ' After the first brother had died . . . they brought forward the second for their sport. . . . he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. And when he was at his last breath, he said, 'You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life'" (2 Macc. 7:1, 5-9).

One by one the sons die, proclaiming that they will be vindicated in the resurrection. "The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Though she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them . . . [saying], 'I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of man and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws,'" telling the last one, 'Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God's mercy I may get you back again with your brothers' (2 Macc. 7:20-23, 29)."

This clear citation shows that in the same verse where recognized scripture is clearly referred to (The first part of Heb 11:35 refers to 1 and 2 Kings), it also clearly refers to 2 Maccabees, the very book that refers to Purgatory (2 Macc. 12:44-46). Other clear allusions to deuterocanonicals include Wisdom 2:12-20, a clear prophesy fulfilled in the person of Jesus in Matthew 27:41-43. Wisdom 13:1- 5 is used by Paul in Romans 1:19-20, and Wisdom 12:24-25 is close to Romans 1:24-25. Jesus observes the Feast of Hannakkah (Jn 10:22-36), which is established in the books of 1 Maccabees 4:36-59 and 2 Macc. 10:1-8, when the Jews liberated the temple from pagan control. There are other allusions as well, but this is only a short defence of the Deuterocanonicals.

Protestant Douglas DeLacy has a commentary on Romans 1 in his Tyndale New Testament Lecture. He writes "More significant is the fact that Paul often alludes to or uses ideas parallel to and apparently drawn from certain apocryphal books, notably the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus (Also known as Sirach)." In footnote 19 he writes "Compare Romans 1:18 and following with the Book of Wisdom 13:1-5." 'Image and Incarnation in Pauline Christology', vol. 30, Tyndale Bulletin, 1979, pp. 3-28.

The apostles and Jesus quoted most often from the Septaguint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, 75-80% of the time. The Septaguint included all the Deuterocanonicals. Nowhere does Jesus or any of the apostles ever point the deuterocanonicals out and say, "these books are invalid."

The early church used the Septaguint, which included all of these books. J.N.D. Kelly, a very respected Protestant Patristic scholar, whose book 'Early Christian Doctrine' is standard fare in many Protestant seminaries, admits in that book that the Deuterocanonicals were commonly accepted by the early church as scripture (pages 53-55). Kelly writes:

"It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and morecomprehensive than the [Protestant Old Testament] . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or deutero-canonical books. The reason for this is that the Old Testament which passed in the first instance into the hands of Christians was . . . the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. .. . most of the Scriptural quotations found in the New Testament are based upon it rather than the Hebrew.. . . In the first two centuries. . . the Church seems to have accept all, or most of, these additional books as inspired and to have treated them without question as Scripture. Quotations from Wisdom, for example, occur in 1 Clement and Barnabas. . . Polycarp cites Tobit, and the Didache [cites] Ecclesiasticus. Irenaeus refers to Wisdom, the History of Susannah, Bel and the Dragon [i.e., the deuterocanonical portions of Daniel], and Baruch. The use made of the Apocrypha by Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian and Clement of Alexandria is too frequent for detailed references to be necessary" (Early Christian Doctrines, 53-54).

Arnold C. Sundberg, a Lutheran scholar, likewise confirms that the early church accepted the deuterocanonicals, in his book "The Old Testament canon of the Early Church", Harvard Divinity School. Sundberg writes:

"The criteria that Protestants use to exclude these books (the deuterocanonicals)from scriptures are completely useless because they would exclude other books that Protestants accept as canonical. There were some doubts by Jerome on the canonicity of the deuterocanonicals in his report to Pope Damasus. Pope Damasus' response was to consult the tradition of the churches, and the answer came back with a resounding unanimity by that point in the history of the church (late 4th century) that the churches scattered throughout the Roman empire had a constant tradition of including these books in their lectionaries and that they insisted that the apostles themselves had cited these books as scripture in their preaching and in their catechesis of the early church. On that basis Pope Damasus requested Jerome to include them in the Vulgate and Jerome as a faithful Catholic submitted his individual, personal opinion to the judgment of the church meeting in Council and included them." Luther revived the Jewish desire to exclude these books from the canon for purely doctrinal and apologetical reasons. He was losing the debate on the issue of whether purgatory was taught in scripture or not. When his opponents hammered relentlessly away at him with the verse from Sacred Scripture 'It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' (2 Macc. 12:46), Luther as a DESPERATE DODGE grasped at the straw of the ancient Jewish caveat against the inclusion of these works." Luther set a precedent that Protestants have followed ever since, In order to rob the Roman Catholic Church a powerful and undeniable proof text for purgatory. That is not responsible, intellectually honest scholarship.

We thus see that the main reason that Luther rejected these books was purely doctrinal reasons. Even a Protestant scholar calls the rejection of the deuterocanonical books as dishonest. Others have piggy backed upon Luther and tried to create reasons to reject these books, but we know at the core the reason that Luther rejected these books.

When church councils met in Carthage in 393 AD, Hippo, 397, and decided on the content of both Old Testament and New Testament canon, all the books of the Deuterocanonicals were confirmed as scripture. Akins notes this in his article:

The canon of Scripture, Old and New Testament, was finally settled at the Council of Rome in 382, under the authority of Pope Damasus I. It was soon reaffirmed on numerous occasions. The same canon was affirmed at the Council of Hippo in 393 and at the Council of Carthage in 397. In 405 Pope Innocent I reaffirmed the canon in a letter to Bishop Exuperius of Toulouse. Another council at Carthage, this one in the year 419, reaffirmed the canon of its predecessors and asked Pope Boniface to "confirm this canon, for these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in church."

All of these canons were identical to the modern Catholic Bible, and all of them included the deuterocanonicals.

This exact same canon was implicitly affirmed at the seventh ecumenical council, II Nicaea (787), which approved the results of the 419 Council of Carthage, and explicitly reaffirmed at the ecumenical councils of Florence (1442), Trent (1546), Vatican I (1870), and Vatican II (1965).

So we can see that when Trent defined the extent of the canon, Trent was only affirming what had long been held and decided by prior church councils. Now there was never one church council that came up with an Old Testament canon that was the same as the Protestant canon. Now it was true, there were individual Church Fathers who had doubts about the deuterocanonical books' authenticity but in fact there were many New Testament books' canonicity that was in doubt until the Church Councils met and decided (such as Revelation, Jude, 2&3 John, Hebrews, James, 2nd Peter.

Why should we accept Luther's decision to reject these books, over the constant tradition of the church? He called James 'an epistle full of straw...for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it.' (Preface to the New Testament in Luther's Works, Vol. 35, p. 362). He also questioned the canonicity of Jude, Revelation, and Hebrews. Other Protestants saw they would lose all credibility if they threw out these ones, so they prevailed upon Luther to leave these New Testament books in the bible. Since he threw out Maccabees, he felt obligated to throw the other deuterocanonicals out as well. The Protestants have piggybacked upon Luther. I choose to follow the church that Christ established, not someone who throws out scripture on whims to suit their doctrine.

Following are citations from the early Church Councils and Fathers attesting to the scriptural authority of the Deuterocanonicals. This confirms even further, that it was the Protestants who threw away these 7 books (Wisdom, Sirach, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Baruch, Judith) from God's Word in the 16th century. This is in direct violation of the injunction of taking away from God's Word (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:19):

(Note: Some books of the Bible have gone under more than one name. Sirach is also known as Ecclesiasticus, 1 and 2 Chronicles as 1 and 2 Paralipomenon, Ezra and Nehemiah as 1 and 2 Esdras, and 1 and 2 Samuel with 1 and 2 Kings as 1, 2, 3, and 4 Kings--that is, 1 and 2 Samuel are named 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Kings are named 3 and 4 Kings. This confusing nomenclature is explained more fully in Catholic Bible commentaries.)

The Didache - "You shall not waver with regard to your decisions [Sir. 1:28]. Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to receive but withdraws them when it comes to giving [Sir. 4:31]" (Didache 4:5 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas - "Since, therefore, [Christ] was about to be manifested and to suffer in the flesh, his suffering was foreshown. For the prophet speaks against evil, `Woe to their soul, because they have counseled an evil counsel against themselves' [Isa. 3:9], saying, `Let us bind the righteous man because he is displeasing to us' [Wis. 2:12.]" (Letter of Barnabas 6:7 [A.D. 74]).

Pope Clement I - "By the word of his might [God] established all things, and by his word he can overthrow them. `Who shall say to him, "What have you done?" or who shall resist the power of his strength?' [Wis. 12:12]" (Letter to the Corinthians 27:5 [ca. A.D. 80]).

Polycarp of Smyrna - "Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood [1 Pet. 2:17]. . . . When you can do good, defer it not, because `alms delivers from death' [Tob. 4:10, 12:9]. Be all of you subject to one another [1 Pet. 5:5], having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles [1 Pet. 2:12], and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed [Isa 52:5]!" (Letter to the Philadelphians 10 [A.D. 135]).

Irenaeus of Lyons - "Those . . . who are believed to be presbyters by many, but serve their own lusts and do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts, but conduct themselves with contempt toward others and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat [Matt. 23:6] and work evil deeds in secret, saying `No man sees us,' shall be convicted by the Word, who does not judge after outward appearance, nor looks upon the countenance, but the heart; and they shall hear those words to be found in Daniel the prophet: `O you seed of Canaan and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you and lust perverted your heart' [Dan. 13:56]. You that have grown old in wicked days, now your sins which you have committed before have come to light, for you have pronounced false judgments and have been accustomed to condemn the innocent and to let the guilty go free, although the Lord says, `You shall not slay the innocent and the righteous' [Dan. 13:52, citing Ex. 23:7]" (Against Heresies 4:26:3 [A.D. 189]; Dan. 13 is not in the Protestant Bible).

Irenaeus of Lyons - "Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left on the earth, should both be under the rule of the saints and to minister to this [new] Jerusalem and that [his] kingdom shall be in it, saying, `Look around Jerusalem toward the east and behold the joy which comes to you from God himself. Behold, your sons whom you have sent forth shall come: They shall come in a band from the east to the west. . . . God shall go before with you in the light of his splendor, with the mercy and righteousness which proceed from him' [Bar. 4:36-5:9]" (ibid. 5:35:1; Baruch was often reckoned as part of Jeremiah, as it is here).

Hippolytus - "What is narrated here [in the story of Susannah] happened at a later time, although it is placed at the front of the book [of Daniel], for it was a custom with the writers to narrate many things in an inverted order in their writings. . . . [W]e ought to give heed, beloved, fearing lest anyone be overtaken in any transgression and risk the loss of his soul, knowing as we do that God is the judge of all and the Word himself is the eye which nothing that is done in the world escapes. Therefore, always watchful in heart and pure in life, let us imitate Susannah" (Commentary on Daniel [A.D. 204]; the story of Susannah [Dan. 13] is not in the Protestant Bible).

Cyprian of Carthage - "In Genesis [it says], `And God tested Abraham and said to him, "Take your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the high land and offer him there as a burnt offering . . . "' [Gen 22:1-2] ... Of this same thing in the Wisdom of Solomon [it says], `Although in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality . .. .' [Wis. 3:4]. Of this same thing in the Maccabees [it says], `Was not Abraham found faithful when tested, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness'" [1 Macc. 2:52; see Jas. 2:21-23] (Treatises 7:3:15 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage "So Daniel, too, when he was required to worship the idol Bel, which the people and the king then worshipped, in asserting the honor of his God, broke forth with full faith and freedom, saying, `I worship nothing but the Lord my God, who created the heaven and the earth' [Dan. 14:5]" (Letters 55:5 [A.D. 253]; Dan. 14 is not in the Protestant Bible).

Council of Rome - "Now indeed we must treat of the divine Scriptures, what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she ought to shun. The order of the Old Testament begins here: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book; Leviticus, one book; Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Joshua [Son of] Nave, one book; Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; Kings, four books [that is, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings]; Paralipomenon [Chronicles], two books; Psalms, one book; Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book; Ecclesiastes, one book; Canticle of Canticles, one book; likewise Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus, one book . . . . Likewise the order of the historical [books]: Job, one book; Tobit, one book; Esdras, two books [Ezra and Nehemiah]; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; Maccabees, two books" (Decree of Pope Damasus [A.D. 382]).

Council of Hippo - "[It has been decided] that besides the canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. But the canonical Scriptures are as follows: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the Son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the Kings, four books, the Chronicles, two books, Job, the Psalter, the five books of Solomon, the twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, two books, Maccabees, two books . . .." (canon 36 [A.D. 393]).

Council of Carthage III - "[It has been decided] that nothing except the canonical Scriptures should be read in the Church under the name of the divine Scriptures. But the canonical Scriptures are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, Paralipomenon, two books, Job, the Psalter of David, five books of Solomon [Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach], twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, two books of Esdras, two books of the Maccabees . . ." (canon 47 [A.D. 397]).

Augustine - "The whole canon of the Scriptures, however, in which we say that consideration is to be applied, is contained in these books: the five of Moses . . . and one book of Joshua [Son of] Nave, one of Judges; one little book which is called Ruth . . . then the four of Kingdoms, and the two of Paralipomenon . . . . [T]here are also others too, of a different order . . . such as Job and Tobit and Esther and Judith and the two books of Maccabees, and the two of Esdras . . . . Then there are the Prophets, in which there is one book of the Psalms of David, and three of Solomon. . . .. But as to those two books, one of which is entitled Wisdom and the other of which is entitled Ecclesiasticus and which are called `of Solomon' because of a certain similarity to his books, it is held most certainly that they were written by Jesus Sirach. They must, however, be accounted among the prophetic books, because of the authority which is deservedly accredited to them" (Christian Instruction 2:8:13 [A.D. 397]).

Augustine - "God converted [King Assuerus] and turned the latter's indignation into gentleness [Es. 15:11]" (The Grace of Christ and Original Sin 1:24:25 [A.D. 418]; this passage is not in the Protestant Bible).

Augustine - "We read in the books of the Maccabees [2 Macc. 12:43] that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even if it were found nowhere in the Old Testament writings, the authority of the Catholic Church which is clear on this point is of no small weight, where in the prayers of the priest poured forth to the Lord God at his altar the commendation of the dead has its place" (The Care to be Had for the Dead 1:3 [A.D. 421]).

The Apostolic Constitutions - "Now women also prophesied. Of old, Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron [Ex. 15:20], and after her, Deborah [Judges. 4:4], and after these Huldah [2 Kgs. 22:14] and Judith [Judith 8], the former under Josiah and the latter under Darius" (Apostolic Constitutions 8:2 [A.D. 400]).

Jerome - "What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:24-90], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they are wont to make against us. If I did not reply to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly the remark, for I said, `This is not the time to discuss such matters'" (Against Rufinius 11:33 [A.D. 401]).

Pope Innocent I - "A brief addition shows what books really are received in the canon. These are the things of which you desired to be informed verbally: of Moses, five books, that is, of Genesis, of Exodus, of Leviticus, of Numbers, of Deuteronomy, and Joshua, of Judges, one book, of Kings, four books, and also Ruth, of the Prophets, sixteen books, of Solomon, five books, the Psalms. Likewise of the histories, Job, one book, of Tobit, one book, Esther, one, Judith, one, of the Maccabees, two, of Esdras, two, Paralipomenon, two books . . ." (Letters 7 [A.D. 408]).

The African Code - "[It has been decided] that besides the canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture. But the canonical Scriptures are as follows: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the Son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the Kings, four books, the Chronicles, two books, Job, the Psalter, the five books of Solomon, the twelve books of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Ezra, two books, Maccabees, two books . . .. Let this be sent to our brother and fellow bishop, [Pope] Boniface, and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, of these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in church" (canon 24 [A.D. 419]).


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