The Catholic Defender: The Bible I choose is Catholic
It was Germany in 1988, operation Reforger was a major field training exercise. My unit had been training for this opportunity for months. I had recently been promoted to Sergeant and I was solidly in charge of the "Track Pack" in the Ambulance Platoon. In those days it was always a chore putting up cammo net as it would always get hung up on the track. There were a million places on the vehicle that always would tangle up. The crew usually would be a two man team consisting of a driver and a TC (someone who would keep an eye out for the driver). It was always demanding especially when you had to break track. That was always hard work and you have to watch what your doing. I was in really good shape, I would do about 20 chin ups every morning just because I could. I would always max my PT Test in the 19-21 year old age group, not bad for an over 30 guy. I worked hard to improve the readiness and proficiency of the track pack. It was a cold hard winter this year and the roads had snow and ice on the roads. We had orders to move our track through a village and into a prescribed place for medical support.
I was TC of our track and was sitting in the back hatch where it was cold. On our route, we were trying to make a trip down a large hill when the track became like a sled. My driver lost control of the vehicle as we began to move across the highway. We edged toward the other side of the road and began to turn over when we were saved by a tree. All we could do was to brace ourselves. If the track had turned over, we would have plummeted to our death falling down a gorge at least a hundred feet. When we were fully stopped the track was off the entire right side and the roof of the track had hit the tree. We had a fake casualty who was riding in the back on a litter who came out from the back throwing up as he thought his life was over. I thanked God for the tree! Episodes like this always reminded me of how thankful I was for my faith in Christ. That my faith was solid and my commitment to the Catholic Church was strong. I would always lead Soldiers in bible studies and there would always pop up questions about the bible, why there were different versions. I would always answer their questions such as the following question: How many books are in the Old and New Testaments? If your answer for the Old Testament is 39, you should know that you have given the 'Protestant’ answer. The Catholic Church maintains that there are actually 46 Old Testament books! One of the often-asked questions addressed to me regarding my faith is:
“Why have we added books to the Bible?” The bottom line is: We haven’t added any books; they’ve been there all along. The books that seem ‘added’ or ‘extra’ were removed from what is held as sacred by Protestants during the Protestant Reformation. It was Martin Luther who took these books out in 1534. In Jesus Christ’s day, the Jews living in Palestine spoke mostly Aramaic, but their sacred scriptures were written in Hebrew. Conservative Jews everywhere held to the Torah, their name for what is to Christians the first five books in the Old Testament. About 250 B. C., the Torah was translated into Greek. This translation is called the Septuagint, a Latin word meaning ‘seventy.’ The Septuagint became the major test used by the early church because Greek was the common language of use in that time. An evidence to this fact is taking a good look at the prophecies of the Old Testament refereed to in the New Testament. The New Testament reveals that the Lord and his Apostles quoted from the Septuagint. At the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came in the form of tongues of fire to the disciples, Jews from all over the Roman Empire were present due to the Passover celebrations. These people were familiar with the Septuagint!
The New Testament itself was written in Greek because of the geopolitical environment of the people. It was the one language that was understood by most people; for many individuals it was their ‘second’ language. (English is like that today. It is recognized as the language of choice around the world to be learned as a second language.) Christianity began in Palestine, and spread throughout the world. In the early years of the Church, a vast amount of literature was written. Some had the claim of apostolic authority, but others didn’t. So, a problem emerged. Which writings were truly inspired of God, and which were simply the writings of man?
St. Anthanasius composed a list of the biblical canon as early as 367 A.D. which became the 73 books of the complete bible. Ultimately, Pope Damasus (A.D. 384-399) called for a council, later named ‘The Council of Hippo’ to tackle this problem. There were three basic criteria that the Church prayed over the Canon.
The writings had to be associated with an Apostle
They had to have wide circulation in the Liturgy
They must have had consistency in theology
The men of God at the Council of Hippo examined hundreds of the known writings regarding the Church. Then, they compiled the list of inspired (God-breathed) books. The result, the inclusive books, became known as the New Testament.
In 397 at the Council of Carthage, the Bishops ratified the Council of Hippo, and again at the Council of Florence beginning in 1431 A.D. People will also ask me when the Bible was compiled. A Protestant answer is often noted that the King James version was finished in 1611 A.D. The Council of Hippo took place from 393-396 A.D. The books that were examined, but rejected as inspired, were called ‘Apocrypha,’ which means ‘not canonical.’ These books are excellent resources to be used to explore early church beliefs (e.g. The Didache, written around 50 A.D., explains the celebration of the Lord’s supper, the Eucharist), but this isn't considered part of the Biblical Canon of Scripture.
So, the differences in the Catholic and Protestant Bibles began in the 16th century with Martin Luther. When he left the Church and formed the Protestant movement, he removed these scriptures: seven complete Old Testament books; chapters 13 and 14 of Daniel and the prayer in Daniel 3; parts of Esther; and intended to toss out four New Testament books (James, Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation). He called the book of James a ‘gospel of straw’ because it states that faith without works is dead. (They later restored the four New Testament works with the King James version.) He removed both books of Maccabees because one of them states that it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead. As the Protestant Reformation branched throughout Europe, the need for an ultimate authority was recognized. Luther decided that his version, the Bible with the omissions, would be authority. Pope Julius II, however, considered the altered version to be unauthorized and heretical. When English King James ascended the throne in 1604, by 1607 he ordered 56 of his Protestant theologians to translate the scriptures from Latin to English. It was completed in 1611 A.D. The Protestant Bible were based from the Gutenberg, Cranium, Bishops, and Latin Vulgate translations. The workers of the King James version did restore the four omitted New Testament books of James, Hebrews, Jude and Revelation. They did not restore, however, the Old Testament books. They remain absent to this day from Protestant Bibles even though they were part of the original Bible of the church, and remained part of the Christian Bible for 1,200 years.
Many Protestants refer to the omitted books as ‘Apocrypha,’ as if they are a part of the list of the originally rejected writings in 4th century Council of Hippo. This is error. Christianity declared them inspired for 1200 years. How can they now be uninspired? But, because these books are now erroneously labeled ‘Apocrypha,’ people think they’ve been added, when in deed, they’ve been removed. According to the Bible Museum in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a certain apprentice wanted some revenge on a teacher who owned a printing press. This helper rearranged a number of verses, changing one to “Thou shall commit adultery.” He was beheaded for treason. The King James version has been revised four major times, and as recently as the 1980’s over 10,000 errors have been identified.
Beginning in 1545, the Council of Trent maintained the Catholic teaching on the Bible as the Council sought to give guidance in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. The latest topic in Bible revision is fairly recent. A few years ago a group called the CBT, the Committee on Bible Translation, and the Zondervan Publishing people tried to publish a new translation of the Bible called ‘gender-inclusive.’ People like Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, and editors of World magazine, a newsweekly published from the Christian world-view, recognized this translation for what it was: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Imagine these men’s shock and chagrin if they ever once realized that the first attempt at revision, Luther’s edition, DIDN’T get stopped. The Catholic Church is alive and well after almost 2000 years of reaching the world for Christ. The Protestant movement has fragmented into over 45,000 variations. Some Protestants try to respond to their division claim that the different "rites" of the Catholic Church and the various order of Religious like the Dominicans and the Franciscans are regarded as different denominations. That is not even close to being correct. It's like the Protestants are attempting to strike out like a blind snake in Autumn.
The religious book stores nowadays are lined with shelves of Bibles, all different versions. But the bottom line is this: The Catholic version started in the beginning and compiled in 396 A.D. with the original books. The Protestant version started 1200 years later with several glaring omissions. Which one will you choose to follow?