Extra books in Bible?

Question: The Catholic Bible contains the Books of Maccabees, but the King James version does not. Why?

Robert Bonsignore, Brooklyn, New York

Answer: The original 1611 version of the King James Bible did have these, plus other disputed Old Testament books in it. Later, they were removed.

In addition to the issue related to the Books of Maccabees, there are a number of other omissions that make Protestant Bibles shorter. The following Old Testament books were deleted from Protestant Bibles: Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom, Sirach, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. There are also sections of the Book of Esther and Daniel that are omitted.

Why these differences exist is complex, but the central facts focus on ancient Christian tradition and the departure from this by Martin Luther.

The Fathers of the Church often referred to disputed books, and the Book of Sirach was widely used in the early Church as a first book of instruction for catechumens and converts to the Faith.  

By the mid-fourth century, the Church settled on the definitive list of Sacred Scripture, which now included the New Testament books. Three Synods (or Councils) of Bishops at Carthage, Hippo and Rome largely settled debates about the New Testament books and also included the Old Testament list from the Septuagint, which contained the disputed books and passages the Protestant Bibles later removed. And thus, we see that the Bible emerging from antiquity is the Bible that Catholics still have today.

In the 16th century, Martin Luther removed a number of books from the Bible. He also wanted to remove New Testament books such as James and 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, but they were left untouched.

But he did remove the books listed above largely because they supported a number of Catholic teachings that he rejected, such as praying for the dead, etc. He claimed that the Jewish bibles of his day did not contain most of these passages. And that is largely true. However, it is a serious matter that set aside 1,500 years of Christian tradition, rooted in apostolic authority, in favor of the opinions of Jewish rabbis of his time.

From this perspective, therefore, Protestant Bibles are deficient by failing to include significant sections of the Old Testament that nourished the Jewish people of Jesus’ time and have been part of the Christian Bible for 2,000 years now.

Intrusive pastor?

Question: I overheard a Baptist coworker explaining to his wife that the pastor was requiring him to submit his W-2 form so that his tithe could be properly monitored. Is this right?

K. Tanty, Enterprise, Alabama

Answer: Tithing — that is, giving 10 percent of one’s income to the church — is commendable and rooted in Scripture. But for a pastor to insist on tax documents seems far too intrusive. It is not something that would be tolerated in the Catholic Church.

Not only is the pastor intruding into private matters of a congregant, but it also manifests a lack of trust wherein a pastor ought to assume that a parishioner has discerned their proper level of giving with God. Accountability has its place, but intrusive investigations rooted in suspicion rather than trust seemed wholly out of place in any Christian denomination.

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at blog.adw.org. Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to msgrpope@osv.com. Letters must be signed, but anonymity may be requested.