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The Short History of the Bible by Ken Kitchfield


The Bible is the collection of books that the Catholic Church decided could be read at Mass. It is a collection of books written by different authors with different writing styles over thousands of years for different audiences. It is not a manual on how to run a religion or build a church. Those things already existed before the Bible was assembled. The Didache is the earliest manual on how to run a Church. In modern times the Catholic Church is governed by Canon Law and the Catechism which are based on Scripture.

At the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, that taught and worshiped at the Temple in Jerusalem, considered only the 5 books of Moses to be the word of God. The Pharisees and Rabbis that taught and worshiped in the Synagogues, considered the 5 books of Moses, the writings of the Prophets, the Psalms, and some of the historical writings as Scripture grouped in sets of 22 or 24 books.

Jews living outside of Jerusalem used a Greek Translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. This translation has the 46 books of the Catholic Canon of the Old Testament in it, and various others that did not make it into the Catholic Old Testament. The 7 books that are in the Catholic Old Testament but not the Protestant Old Testament are 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom, Baruch, Sirach, Tobit, and Judith. The Early Christians considered the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew writings as Scripture. The New Testament usually quotes from the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. All the books that made it into the New Testament were written in the first century. This is a basic history of the Bible.

After the Bar Kokhba revolt, in 136AD, the Jews declared that the 7 books, which are in the Catholic Old Testament, were not to be considered scripture because they were used by the Christians. The Hebrew Masoretic Text of 24 books was established as their Scripture. The current Protestant Old Testament of 39 books is a reorganization of the 24 books of the Masoretic Text.

The oldest list of the New Testament books is on incomplete scrap of parchment known as the Muratorian fragment from around 170AD. It lists the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Romans, Philemon, Titus, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Jude, 1st and 2nd John, Wisdom of Solomon, Revelation of John, and Revelation of Peter as scripture.

In 360AD the Council of Laodicea listed a canon of scripture that had 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament leaving off the Book of Revelation.

In 367AD Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria listed the 27 books of the New Testament in his Easter letter sent to his Churches.

In 382AD Pope Damasus at the Council of Rome listed the 27 books of the New Testament and 46 books of the Old Testament as the Canon of Scripture for use in Churches.

In 383AD Pope Damasus commissions St. Jerome to make a Latin translation of the New and Old Testament Scriptures. Jerome used the Hebrew Masoretic texts for his Old Testament translation and Greek writings for the New Testament translation. The Masoretic texts didn’t include the 7 books that we have in our Old Testament that Protestants don’t because the Jews had rejected them. Jerome made a Latin translation of these books after they were confirmed by the Councils of Hippo and Carthage.

In 386AD the Council of Hippo came up with the same list of 46 OT and 27 NT books.

In 397AD the Council of Carthage again under Augustine came up with the same list and sent it to Rome for approval.

In 405AD Pope Innocent I listed the 27 books of the New Testament and 46 books of Old Testament in his Easter letter to the Bishop of Lyon in France.

In 787AD the Second Council of Nicaea accepted the decrees of previous smaller Councils. This included the Canon of Scripture determined in 397 by the Council of Carthage.

In 1441 the Council of Florence approved the list of books accepted by the Councils of Rome, Hippo and Carthage.

In 1550 the list of 46 OT books and 27 NT books were made official at the Council of Trent.

This is why there is a difference today between the Protestant and Catholic Bibles. It wasn't until the end of the 300s that the New Testament Scriptures were established. The Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, 1st Clement to the Corinthians, and the Epistle of Barnabas were read in many early Churches. The Book of Revelation, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, James and the Book of Hebrews were considered questionable by many.

The Catholic Church that teaches that baptism forgives sins, that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and that the Bishop of Rome is the head of the Church, is the Church that decided which books are the divinely inspired words of God. No other church can claim that. The Bible contains divinely inspired writings. But they need to be interpreted. The thousands of different protestant churches have different interpretations of these divinely inspired writings. The Catholic Church has the oldest and original understanding of these writings. The Pope is the successor of the minister that Jesus left behind to feed His sheep and tend His flock. This same Jesus promised to be with His Church to the end of time (Matt28:20). Jesus didn't leave us a book to put our trust in, He left us a Church to teach us what He taught the Apostles. We put our trust in the Church Jesus founded not a book or a man. No other church claims to have developed the list of the books in the Bible, they all inherited it from the Catholic Church.

The Long History of the Bible by Ken Litchfield.

The Bible is the collection of books that the Catholic Church decided could be read at Mass. It is a collection of books written with different writing styles over thousands of years by different authors, for different audiences.  It is not a manual on how to run a religion or build a church. Those things already existed before the Bible was assembled. The Didache is the earliest manual on how to run a Church. In modern times the Catholic Church is governed by Canon Law and the Catechism based on Scripture.

At the time of Jesus, the Sadducees that taught and worshiped at the Temple in Jerusalem considered only the 5 books of Moses; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy to be the word of God. This is because in Deuteronomy 4:2 it says “In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I am commanding you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.” At the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, that taught and worshiped at the Temple in Jerusalem, considered only the 5 books of Moses to be the word of God. 

The Pharisees in Jerusalem, that taught and worshiped in the Synagogues, considered the 5 books of Moses, the writings of the Prophets, the Psalms, and some of the historical writings as Scripture. Although the Synagogues had the same core texts, they had different overall collections of writings. These collections of various writings were grouped in sets of 22 or 24 books. 

Jews living outside of Jerusalem used a Greek Translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint because it was allegedly assembled and translated by 70 Hebrew Scholars.  This translation has the 46 books of the Catholic Canon of the Old Testament in it, and various others that did not make it into the Catholic Old Testament. The 7 books that are in the Catholic Old Testament but not the Protestant Old Testament are 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom, Baruch, Sirach, Tobit, and Judith. The Early Christians considered the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew writings as Scripture. The New Testament usually quotes from the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. All the books that made it into the New Testament were written in the first century, but some first century books didn’t, these are the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, First Clement, and the Epistle of Barnabas. 

This is a basic history of the Bible.  About 100 years before the birth of Christ a Jewish historian named Josephus wrote in his work against Apion that there are three groups of writings that total up to 22 books. This canon may be very close to the 24 books of the later Masoretic Text. 

About 100 years before Christ the Jews started translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Aramaic during worship services. Some of this was written down and the collection came to be known as the Targum 

In 80AD the Pharisees in Jamnia met to discuss what whether Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes should be considered Scripture. They decided they are.  

In 115AD Polycarp wrote a cover letter for the 7 letters of Ignatius of Antioch to the Church in Philippi. In his letter, he quotes from all of the books that later became the New Testament. He specifically quotes the book of Tobit where it says “Alms cover a multitude of Sins”   

In 136AD, after the Bar Kokhba revolt, the Jews declared that the 7 extra books of Alexandrian Canon were not to be considered scripture because they were used by the Nazarenes. The Jews called the Early Christians Nazarenes because they followed Jesus of Nazareth. 

Around 140AD the Jews established the Hebrew Masoretic Text as their Scripture. It contained 24 books that are equal to the 39 books of the current Protestant Old Testament. 

In 144 AD Marcion, who was the son of the Bishop of Sinope, proposed a list of books that should be considered Scripture. Marcion’s teachings were rejected by other Catholic Christian Bishops for many reasons including his teaching that there are two Gods. Marcion taught there was a mean God in the Old Testament and a nice God in the New Testament. Marcion’s Canon of Scripture didn’t include the Old Testament Scriptures of the “bad” God, but it contained the Gospel according to Luke, Galatians, I Corinthians, II Corinthians, Romans, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, Ephesians (which Marcion called Laodiceans), Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. 

In 150 AD Justin Martyr describes the liturgy of the early Christians. He writes that first the writings of the Prophets are read and then the Memoirs of the Apostles. At this time the writings of the Apostles were considered important but not the same as Scripture. 

The oldest list of the NT is on incomplete scrap of parchment known as the Muratorian fragment from around 170AD. It lists the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts, 1st and 2nd  Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, 1st  and 2nd Thessalonians, Romans, Philemon, Titus, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Jude, 1st and 2nd John, Wisdom of Solomon, Revelation of John, Revelation of Peter as scripture. 

In 180AD Irenaeus lists that there are 4 Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.   

In 330AD the Codex Sinaicticus (Book of Sinai) is assembled. This is the oldest book form of the Bible we have. Some of it is missing and parts of it are in 4 Libraries around the world. It still contains most of the Old Testament in Greek, the Deuterocanonical books, the New Testament and the writings Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. The letters are all capital letters and the letters are all next to each other. 

In 330AD Codex Vaticanus was also assembled. It is likely a Greek copy of the Bible made at the same time as Codex Sinaicticus. It has been in the Vatican Library since the 1400s. It contains most of the Greek Old Testament except 1-4 Maccabees. Most of the New Testament has survived but 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and the Book of Revelation are missing. Over the centuries the missing books were added in and some of the faded writing has been written over. This makes some people think that the text is somewhat unreliable. 

In 360AD the Council of Laodicea listed a canon of scripture that had 26 of the 27 books of the New Testament leaving off the Book of Revelation. 

In 367AD Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria listed the 27 books of the New Testament in the Easter letter sent to his Churches. 

In 382AD Pope Damasus at the Council of Rome listed the 27 books of the New Testament and 46 books of the Old Testament. 

In 383 Pope Damasus commissions St. Jerome to make a Latin translation of the New and Old Testament Scriptures. Jerome used the Hebrew Masoretic texts for his Old Testament translation and Greek writings for the New Testament translation. The Masoretic texts didn’t include the Deuterocanonical books because the Jews had rejected them. Jerome made a Latin translation of these books after they were confirmed by the Councils of Hippo and Carthage. 

In 386AD St. Augustine at the Council of Hippo came up with the same list of 46 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books.   

In 397AD the Council of Carthage again under Augustine came up with the same list and sent it to Rome for approval. 

In 405AD Pope Innocent I listed the 27 books of the New Testament and 46 books of Old Testament in his Easter letter to the Bishop of Lyon in France. 

700’s – St. Bede did a complete translation of the Bible into Anglo Saxon.

In 787AD the second Council of Nicaea accepted the determinations of previous smaller Councils. This included the Canon of Scripture determined in 397 by the Council of Carthage.   

In 1228s the Bible was separated into chapters to make it easier to locate sections of the books in the Bible by Steven Langton, a professor at the University of Paris and future Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1382 John Wycliffe supervised many unauthorized Middle English versions of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate. These translations included the Deuterocanonical Books.

Genesis Chapter 1

Latin Vulgate: Dixitque Deus fiat lux et facta est lux

Early Wycliffe: And God seide, Be maad li?t; and maad is li?t

Later Wycliffe: And God seide, Li?t be maad; and li?t was maad

Douay-Reims: And God said: Be light made. And light was made

Modern English: And God said: Let there be light. And there was light.

The familiar verse of John 3:16 is rendered in the later Wycliffe version as:

Later Wycliffe: For God louede so the world, that he ?af his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.

King James Version: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

In 1441 at the Council of Florence approved the list of books accepted by the Councils of Rome, Hippo and Carthage. 

In 1466 the Mentel German translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible is provided by the Catholic Church.    

In 1456 Gutenberg invents movable type and the Catholic Church starts providing printed copies of the Vulgate Bible. 

In 1515 the text was separated into verses by Robert Estienne a German printer so that he could double check the verses as he were setting the type. This later caused confusion because people now quote individual verses to prove doctrine instead of using the teaching of the Whole Bible. 

600 – 1066 – Parts of the Bible were translated into Anglo Saxon by five different translators. 

1066 - ~1266 - Partial translations of the Bible were made in French Norman and Anglo Saxon. 


 
PRIOR TO THE REFORMATION: 600 Catholic editions existed, 200 were in common languages. There were copies in Italian, French, Flemish, Bohemian, Spanish, German, Norwegian, Hungarian, Russian, Polish and Danish before the Reformation


 
In 1516 Textus Receptus Latin and Greek version of the New Testament was published. This Greek translation was created by a Catholic Priest named Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus used six different Greek texts from the 1100s or later to create this translation, so the accuracy of the translation is considered suspect. The Textus Receptus had the Latin and Greek writing side by side to allow readers to understand the assumed original Greek text and Latin translation. The Latin used was more modern and a higher level than the Latin in the Vulgate Bible. When Erasmus was making his translation he didn’t have any original Greek texts of the last 6 verses of the Book of Revelation so he translated the Latin back into Greek. This caused him to create an unusual version this part of the Bible. The Textus Receptus was used as the base translation for Luther’s German Bible, Tydale’s English Bible, The King James Bible, most Reformed Church Bibles as well as a Spanish and Russian translation 

In 1525 William Tyndale made a Middle English translation of the New Testament. He later revised it in 1536 and 1537 to correct some of his errors. 

In 1534 Martin Luther finished his first translation of the Bible into German. He separated the deuterocanonical books from the OT but left them in. He separated the books of James, Jude, 2 and 3 John, 2 Peter and Hebrews as questionable and put Revelation after the index because he didn't think it belonged at all. Martin Luther rejected certain tenets found in the Alexandrian Canon: He denied the doctrine of Purgatory, which is found in 2nd Maccabees, free will, which is found in Sirach, and the efficacy of good works, which is found in Tobit. He could not just remove these books from the Bible. So he rejected the entire canon of Scripture used by the Church for 1,500 years and substituted the Jewish Palestinian canon.

He took the seven books that were contested and he called them apocryphal, which means false or spurious. He sandwiched them between the Old and New Testament in his Bible and claimed that they were worthy of study, but not divinely inspired. 

In 1539 an English translation of the Bible commissioned by Henry VIII called the Great Bible is completed. 

In 1550 the list of 46 Old Testament books and 27 New Testament books were made official at the Council of Trent. 

In 1560 the Geneva Bible was created in Geneva Switzerland. This English translation was done by Protestant scholars that fled England during the reign of Queen Mary. This translation was heavily influenced by John Calvin and John Knox. This was the preferred translation of the Puritans.  

In 1568 Queen Elisabeth commissions the Church of England to develop the Bishops Bible for use in their churches.

In 1610 the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible was completed. It is an English translation of the Bible provided by the Catholic Church with margin notes explaining the translation from Hebrew, Greek, and Vulgate texts. 

In 1611 the King James translation of the Bible was completed. It used 5 different English texts including the Bishops Bible and Tyndale’s translations, the Textus Receptus Greek translation, and the Hebrew Masoretic texts as sources. It was purposely written to provide smooth, flowing and poetic sounding English. 

This translation still included the Deuterocanonical Books of 1st and 2nd Maccabees, Wisdom, Baruch, Sirach, Tobit, and Judith. In 1769 the Deuterocanonical Books were dropped after the revision by an Oxford Professor. 

In 1826, these books were removed from all Protestant Bibles, because it was cheaper to publish the Bible without them. 

In 1945 the New Testament section of the Knox Bible was published. It was an English translation based on the Latin Vulgate, Greek and Hebrew texts. 

In 1950 the Old Testament translation was completed. This translation was done by Ronald Knox for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. It became more popular than the 1610 Douay Rheims English translation.

The Knox Bible and the Confraternity Bible were used for the Lectionary readings in English speaking countries from 1965 to the early 1970s. 

In 1946 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. This set of writings was from a Jewish community that existed from about 200 years before the time of Christ. Their writings included a Hebrew copy of Isaiah that more closely followed the Septuagint version of Isaiah than the Hebrew Masoretic text developed later. This Jewish community also had Hebrew copies of Tobit, Sirach and Wisdom. 

Today the Church uses New American Bible translation in the Lectionary in English speaking churches. Other good modern English translations are: New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE), Ignatius Study Bible, New International Version (NIV), New King James (NKJ) 

Based on number of verses

Catholics get 6% of Old Testament and 42% of New Testament read to them at Sunday Mass

If Catholics attend daily Mass and Sunday Mass they get 18% of Old Testament and 72% of New Testament.

Catholics get some from all of the New Testament books and a little from almost all of the Old Testament books at Mass 

Only in the past 500 years has it been practical to have your own Bible, read yours to get big picture. The Bible is a Catholic book. We need to know the whole story. 

So essentially this is why there is a difference today between the Protestant and Catholic Bibles. It wasn't until the end of the 300s that the New Testament Scriptures were established. The Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, 1st Clement to the Corinthians, and the Epistle of Barnabas were read in many early Churches. The Book of Revelation, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, James and the Book of Hebrews were considered questionable by many. The Catholic Church that teaches that baptism forgives sins, that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, and that the Bishop of Rome was the head of the Church, is the Church that decided which books are the divinely inspired words of God. No other church can claim that. 

The Bible contains divinely inspired writings. They need to be interpreted. The thousands of different protestant churches have different interpretations of these divinely inspired writings. The Catholic Church has the oldest and original understanding of these writings. The Pope is the successor of the minister that Jesus left behind to feed His sheep and tend His flock. This same Jesus promised to be with him to the end of time Matt28:20. Jesus didn't leave us a book to put our trust in, He left us a Church to teach us what He taught the Apostles. We put our trust in the Church Jesus founded not a book or a man. No other church claims to have developed the list of the books in the Bible, they all inherited it from the Catholic Church. 

Recommended Versions: Ignatius Study Bible

New Revised Standard Version Catholic edition (NSRVCE) used in Catechism

New American Bible used in Lectionary. 

Books about the history of the Bible:

Which Came First, the Bible or the Church?  by Matthew Arnold

Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger by Gary Michuta

The Case for the Deuterocanon by Gary Michuta

Where we Got the Bible by Henry Graham

You Can Understand the Bible by Dr. Peter Kreeft

Inside the Bible by Fr. Ken Baker

Does the Bible Really Say That by Patrick Madrid

A Pocket Guide to the Bible by Scott Hahn

The Catholic Bible Study Handbook by Jerome Kodell

Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths by Dave Armstrong

The Catholic Verses by Dave Armstrong

Bible Basics for Catholics by John Bergsma