Books removed by Martin Luther and the Palestinian Canon: Coincidence?


Is it just a coincidence that Martin Luther removed the exact same Old Testament books that were not included in the Palestinian Canon?


I cannot cite a source, so please take this response with a “grain of salt,” but I believe he was following the lead of the Early Christians’ Jewish contempories when he deleted these books and parts of books.

As the Jewish Council of the time did so inorder to cement the break between them and the Early Christians, Luther did so to cement the break between him and the Church Christ founded.

There is ample evidence of the deutero-canonical books being used by Jesus and the authors of Holy Scripture. “The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith,” by John Salza (OSV Press) cites the many many examples.


Thanks. If that’s true, it seems he didn’t think that through. Jesus and the Apostles did not use the Palestinian Canon. They used the Alexandrian Canon (Septuagint.) Luther would have also been following the lead of a Jewish Council (Jamnia) that denied that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, since this was the same council that determined the Palestinian Canon.


Remember that Martin Luther had fallen to the role of the Cafeteria Believer. Pick and Choose as you would.


He also wanted to remove Esther (plus Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the NT) but he couldn’t persuade people to go along with it


Martin Luther did not remove any books unless you would want to point to the Epistle to the Laodiceans found in many if not most copies of the Vulgate and 3 and 4 Esdras.

Other than that, Luther’s translation contained every book and indeed he agreed with both the Vulgate and the Roman Catholic experts of his day on exactly what was scripture authoritative for doctrine and what wasn’t.

Luther and Lutherans continued to use the Apocryphal books for reading but not for doctrine just as the Orthodox Church does not use them for doctrine and indeed, even the Roman Catholic Church does not use them for doctrine despite people who today try.



That’s correct. He also had much appeal to Jerome, who appealed to the Hebrew canon (even though Jerome subordinated his own opinion to that of the Church). There is a fairly exhaustive account of this matter in Gary Michuta’s Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger, one of the best historical/apologetic books of the century so far, in my opinion!


Many knowledgable Dr.s of the church also believed the same thing, that is, the apocrypha was a second tier canon, good for reading but not for doctrine.

Cardinal Cajetan also believed this at Luthers time.


Which doctors of the Church rejected the Deuterocanon as divinely inspired?


Melito of Sardis
Athanasius of Alexandria
Cyril of Jerusalem
John of Damascus,
**Pope Gregory, **
Nicolas of Lyra
Walafrid Strabo
Anastasius of Antioch,
John of Damascus
Rabanus Maurus
Adam Scotus
Peter Blensensis
William of Ockham
Cardinal Cajetan opponent of Luther in the sixteenth century

There are more, but that is a good smattering of the more learned doctors of the Church.


What do you mean by this?


No belief that Roman Catholics are required to believe relies on the Deuterocanonicals such dogmas come either from the authoritative scriptures or from the church, not from the Deuterocanonicals…

But many people try to point for instance to Maccabees as proof of purgatory and prayers for the dead. The Catholic Church has not made any sort of pronouncement concerning that though. If you follow the historical indulgence controversy, Maccabees was not pointed to as the authority for such until some people have recently started to do so. Instead, the keys and the binding and loosing was pointed to.

Probably a wise thing since those who died in Maccabees were guilty of idolatry so saying they can be freed from their sin after death by prayers and giving offerings would mean that idolatry is not a mortal sin.



Well, not all those are doctors of the Church, but, for example. Jerome earlier considered them uninspired but later didn’t and ultimately submitted to the authority of the Church.

And just sampling Origen out of the rest, for instance, he said the following:
"But that we may believe on the authority of holy Scripture that such is the case, hear how in* the book of Maccabees**, where the mother of seven martyrs exhorts her son to endure torture, this truth is confirmed; for she says, ’ ask of thee, my son, to look at the heaven and the earth, and at all things which are in them, and beholding these, to know that God made all these things when they did not exist’[2 Maccabees 7:28]." Origen, Fundamental Principles, 2:2 (A.D. 230).*There are other specious names in your list as well. I would recommend you read “Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger” by Gary Michuta for a treatment on most Church Fathers on this matter. There is a lot of faulty info going around out there about early rejection of the Deuterocanon. For those who cite Pope Gregory for instance, the difficulty often has to do with using a modern definition of ["]the term “canon”](",%20Pope,%20[590-604,%20A.D.) and applying it to the earliest centuries in the same way. Thus, many ECFs were taken out of context when they clearly cited the Deuteros as divinely inspired. Michuta also goes into this in great detail.

Many other errors made are when someone would quote early Jerome and not be giving their own examination.

For any lurkers out there, there is no infallible statement on the canon that does not include the Deuterocanon in the history of the Church.


Whether or not the Maccabees passage is considered a semantic “proof” text or not, the Catechism clearly cites it when explaining Purgatory (CCC#1032).

In addition, the Canon was defined by the ordinary magisterium in the 4th century and following, then by Pope (I forget his name) in the 8th century or so, and definitively at Florence in the 15th century, and even more forcefully at Trent…so I think rejecting that would be rejecting a defined teaching.


Many of them have actually quoted from the Dueterocanonical Books:

Check out this link and you will see that many on your list have quoted from the Dueterocanonical Books.


Offcourse quoting from the apochrypha does not mean they thought the books were among the fully inspired tier 1 canon as opposed to the duetero canon (second class) which was good for reading in church, but not used for doctrine.

I would suggest reading this excellent treatise


And i would suggest this book since it refutes most of the misconseptions of that treatise.


Melite of Sardis accepted Wisdom of Solomon and possibly Baruch (which along with Lamentations was considered part of Jeremiah in the early Church) but rejected Esther. Many of the others named were the same or similar


Pope Damasus in AD 382, prompted by the Council of Rome, wrote a decree listing the present OT and NT canon of 73 books. The Council of Hippo in AD 393 approved the present OT and NT canon of 73 books. The Council of Carthage in AD 397 approved the same OT and NT canon. Pope St. Innocent I in AD 405, approved the 73 book canon and closed the canon of the Bible.

Maybe some early Church Fathers did have objections to the Dueterocanon, but they put there personal judgment aside and accepted the authority of the Catholic Church.

Catholics have the same canon that was approved by three different Councils beginning with the Council of Rome. The authority of the Church given by Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit put together the Bible as we know it. Under what authority Martin Luther declared these books uninspired, I do not know. However, he himself says, “We are obliged to yield many things to the Papist (Catholics) - that they possess the Word of God which we received from them, otherwise we should have known nothing at all about it” (Commentary on St. John, Chapter 6).


Were these ecumenical councils? Did they have the charism of infallibility?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit