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Catholic Bible

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The Catholic Bible has existed for over half a millennium. It's been debated and revised over the ages. A compendium by which 1.3 billion people get their ideals and values is worth taking a look.

The Catholic Bible is a compilation of all the books in the Catholic canon and the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic canon is a group of texts that the Roman Catholic Church accepts as law or authoritative literature. The deuterocanonical books are a collection of texts which are part of the Greek Septuagint but absent from the Hebrew Masoretic collection. The word “deuterocanonical” is of Greek origin, meaning “belonging to the second canon.” It was coined in 1569 by the Jewish theologian Sixtus Senensis. Sixtus regarded portions of both the Old and New (bible book of Esther and the last chapter of the Gospel book of Mark) as deuterocanonical books. These books gained acceptance among members of the early church and were always found in varying degrees among surviving books of early Bibles. 

It is believed in some quarters that deuterocanonical books were part of the Catholic canon until around 100 AD when Jews began to challenge their authenticity. As of the 4th and 5th centuries, deuterocanonical books were still being published by Regional councils of Western Christianity as part of the official Catholic canon. The Catholic Church recognizes only one canon of the Old Testament, and it is based on the Septuagint. This recognition is because the early apostles and Christians used the Septuagint in the propagation of the Gospel. In the compilation of the Catholic Bible, the Catholic Church did not accept every part of the Septuagint as being inspired of God. This rejection led to the removal of some of the books by the Council of Rome in 382. 

The Catholic authority has a system of legal principles and codes set out to regulate the organization and all that pertains to the Catholic Church. These codes are collectively known as canon law of the Catholic Church. The Catholic canon law is the first and oldest surviving system of laws in the Western world. The church hierarchy prepares and implements canon law, but divine revelation, in the form of the New Testament, is regarded as the source of canon law. The Catholic Bible is published per the provisions and dictates of the Catholic canon law. Regarding the publication of Scripture, the Canon 825 of the 1983 code of canon law states:

"Books of the sacred scriptures cannot be published unless the Apostolic See or the conference of bishops has approved them. For the publications of their translations into the vernacular, it is also required that they be approved by the same authority and provided with necessary and sufficient annotations. With the permission of the conference of bishops, catholic members of the Christian faithful in collaboration with separated brothers and sisters can prepare and publish translations of the sacred scriptures provided with appropriate annotations."

Forty-six books from the Old Testament and 27 books from the Old Testament make up the Catholic Bible.

The Old Testament books of the Catholic Bible are divided into the Torah, historical, wisdom, and prophetic books. The New Testament books of the Catholic Bible comprise the Gospels, Pauline epistles, General epistles, and the book of Revelation. 

The Catholic Bible differs from the Protestant Bible in the number and order of books present. The Martin Luther-led Reformation in the 16th century led to the rejection of seven books of the Catholic bible by Protestant Christians. These rejected books make up the deuterocanonical books. They are the books of Tobit, Judith, First and Second Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, and Baruch. The Greek Orthodox church accepts the book of Maccabees as four but places the fourth book of Maccabees as an appendix. The church also regards Psalm 151 as part of the book of Psalms. 

Other Bibles like the Bible of the Tewahedo Churches (Ethiopia) have different points of divergence from the Catholic Bible. They differ in the naming, order, and division into chapters and verses of some of the books. The Ethiopian Orthodoxy has more books (81) in its “narrow” biblical canon than the Greek orthodox church. These include the Old Testament books in the Septuagint accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church – more in number than the deuterocanonical books of the Catholic Bible and the 27 New Testament books. Also included are three books of the Ethiopian Maccabees – different from the Catholic Maccabees – and the books of Jubilees, First and Second Esdras, Rest of the Words of Baruch, and the book of Enoch. 

All English versions of the Catholic Bible usually have an imprimatur granted by a Catholic Bishop. There are over 24 English versions of the Catholic Bible currently available. Below is a list of the available English versions of the Catholic Bible:

• Douay-Rheims Bible

• Douay-Rheims Bible Challoner Revision

• Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

• New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

• Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition

• The Living Bible Catholic Edition

• Knox Bible

• Confraternity Bible

• Westminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures

• Christian Community Bible

• New Jerusalem Bible

• Jerusalem Bible

• Revised New Jerusalem Bible

• New Living Translation Catholic Edition

• English Standard Version Catholic Edition

• New American Bible Revised Edition

• Good News Translation Catholic Edition

• Message Bible Catholic Edition

• New Community Bible

• New American Bible

• Kleist-Lilly New Testament

• Spencer New Testament

• Catholic Youth Bible

• Catholic Truth Society (CTS) New Catholic Bible

The listed versions of the Catholic Bible are available for research or bible study. They are obtainable in print, audio, or digital formats from an online Catholic Bible app

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