Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 11, 1954

Is Our Bible Complete? What About Those Seven Missing Books?

Felix W. Tarbet, San Pablo, California

The Catholic Bible contains seven books generally not found in other Bibles. In a booklet with the title, "The Bible Is A Catholic Book" the Knights of Columbus Religious Information Bureau charges that non-Catholics have removed seven books from the Bible. One statement is: "The books conspicuous by their absence in modern non-Catholic Bibles, and which should be found in the Old Testament are the books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and the two books of Maccabees — and portions of the books of Esther and Daniel." (p. 20) Another statement is: "When a non-Catholic considers his Bible, it would be well for him to ask ... why were those seven books omitted? It is not justified by the authority of either the Jews or the early Christians." (p. 21)

It is generally admitted that Ezra (or Esdras as found in the Catholic Bible) first collected the Old Testament books about 500 B. C. His collection did not include Nehemiah and Malachi because they were not written till later. In the year 277 B. C. the Old Testament was translated into Greek from the Hebrew. This version is known as the Septuagint. The scholarship of the world is divided over whether or not the original Septuagint included these seven extra books. Catholic scholars, of course, contend that they were included.

It is well that we consider the following facts:

1. Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever quoted from any one of those seven books. The Septuagint is almost universally admitted to be the Old Testament that was used by Jesus and his apostles. Dr. Gigot (a Roman Catholic scholar) said, "They never quote them explicitly, it is true, but time and again they borrow ideas and expressions from them." (General Introduction to the Study of the Scriptures, 43)

2. In the second century A. D. the Alexandrian Jews who had been using the original Septuagint version "adopted Aquila's Greek Version of the Old Testament in lieu of their own, and it is known that Aquila's text excluded all of the Apocryphal books." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, 557) It is hardly likely that those Jews would have adopted a new version of the Old Testament that omitted seven books which they considered a part of sacred scripture.

3. Philo was an Alexandrian who flourished between 20 B. C. and 50 A. D. He did most of his writing while Jesus lived on the earth. He left behind him a voluminous literature. He quoted much from the Old Testament and marveled at its unchangeableness. He said concerning the law of Moses: "They have not changed so much as a single word in them. They would rather die a thousand deaths than detract anything from these laws and statutes." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I. 559) But even though Philo quoted many times from the Old Testament he never once quoted, or even mentioned, one of these seven missing books.

4. It should be noted that the original Old Testament included only twenty-two books. First and Second Samuel made one book, so did First and Second Kings and First and Second Chronicles; all of the twelve Minor Prophets made one book, and there were other combinations. Flavius Josephus, the celebrated Jewish historian, wrote in about 100 A. D.: "For it is not the case with us to have vast numbers of books disagreeing and conflicting with one another. We have but twenty-two, containing the history of all time, books that are justly believed in." (Contra Apionem, I, 8)

5. Jerome was charged by Pope Damascus I "to translate the Bible into Latin for the nations of the West." (The Bible Is A Catholic Book, p. 3) In Jerome's preface of his translation he enumerated the books contained in the Hebrew Canon and added: "This prologue I write as a preface to the books to be translated by us from the Hebrew into Latin, that we know that all the books which are not of this number are apocryphal; therefore Wisdom, which is commonly ascribed to Solomon as its author, and the book of Jesus the son of Sir, Judith, Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the Canon." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. II, 834) Dr. Gigot (mentioned above) very frankly wrote: "Time and again this illustrious doctor (Jerome) of the Lat church rejects the authority of the deutero-canonical books in the most explicit manner." (Gen. Intro. 56)

6. Augustine, the greatest of all Catholic scholars, respected these extra seven books and argued that they should be included in the Canon. Yet, in a debate, one of his opponents quoted from Second Maccabees in defense of suicide. Augustine did not attempt to show that his opponent had misused the passage but denied that Second Maccabees was authoritative because Christ had not quoted from it. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, 562)

So — we see that the omission of these books is justified by both Jews and early Catholics.