How did Orthodox Bibles come to have more books than Catholics Bibles?

I read Orthodox Bibles have all of the books Catholics do and also include books which were traditionally in the Septugint such as 1 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151; and also 4 Maccabees in an appendix to Greek Bibles, and 2 Esdras is found in Slavonic Bibles. Note the numbering I’m using for the Esdras is from modern English Bibles as I am aware the numbering is confusing even in the Catholic Church where they are called 3 and 4 Esdras traditionally,and is even different in the east as well.
My question is, if the east and west were united before the east west schism which most say was 1054 but I know it was actually more of a long and complicated event that began before that and probably was completely separated until 1204; but how did the canons which were set in the 4th century come to be different?


Really it’s nothing more than a difference in tradition from what I understand.

These canons were set during local Roman synods.



A reflection of this is that the Western Church has generally prioritised the Hebrew OT (Jerome wrote of the Hebraica Veritas, “The Hebrew Truth”), while the Eastern Church prioritised the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew OT).

But it’s a very messy historical situation, and God hasn’t allotted me sufficient years to learn enough textual scholarship to understand 1/10th of the background.

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You are right about that – the canon was first proclaimed officially by Damasus I. This was affirmed in various church synods (such as the Synod of Carthage in 397.)

The cannon proclaimed by Damasus was finally affirmed by the Council of Trent, over a thousand years later. In the East there were several Synods that “fine tuned” the canon, resulting in several different canons used in Eastern Churches.

Interestingly enough, the Catholic Canon does not include the Book of Enoch – but Enoch is quoted by Jude in the Epistle of Jude.

The proclamation of Damasus I and the preceding synods was for the Western Church because they were local Roman synod and not an ecumenical council.



That is correct – although Damasus was Bishop of Rome.

The point is to explain, as concisely as possible, why the canons of the Eastern Churches differ from the one we use.


Yah I believe the only church that does include it is the Ethiopian Orthodox Tawahedo Church which is part of the Oriental Orthodox communion. They include Enoch, Jubilees, among others, largest canon out of anyone actually

From what I understand, the Catholic Church does NOT claim that the books the Orthodox Churches recognizes are not inspired.

The Catholic Church only confirms that the ones we consider inspired to be inspired. Trent was in response to the Protestants removing what the Catholics consider the Deuterocanonical books (and the fact that Martin Luther almost removed books from the New Testament too). Trent did not address the books the Orthodox consider to be Scripture.


From what I understand the only council I’ve ever seen that listed 3 books of Maccabees was the Council of Trullo which is rejected by the Catholic Church.
With that said though, I’ve heard some writers say the truth of the matter is that Orthodox don’t have a legalistic approach to the canon or for that matter many things like we do. I think the Catholic Church was like that before the reformation as 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh were just integrated into the Old Testament for centuries prior. After Trent when they basically just compared the old canon lists, Pope Clement Vlll put those three in the appendix to the Vulgate because of their ancient usage.


Sometimes a video is helpful as long as it’s from a reliable source here’s one from catholic answers (this site) ,

Here’s what the EO Council of Jerusalem in 1672 said as to the EO canon:

Following the rule of the Catholic Church, we call Sacred Scripture all those which Cyril [Lucaris] collected from the Synod of Laodicea, and enumerated, adding to Scripture those which he foolishly and ignorantly, or rather maliciously, called Apocrypha; specifically, “The Wisdom of Solomon,” “Judith,” “Tobit,” “The History of the Dragon” [Bel and the Dragon], “The History of Susanna,” “The Maccabees,” and “The Wisdom of Sirach.” For we judge these also to be with the other genuine Books of Divine Scripture genuine parts of Scripture. For ancient custom, or rather the Catholic Church, which has delivered to us as genuine the Sacred Gospels and the other Books of Scripture, has undoubtedly delivered these also as parts of Scripture, and the denial of these is the rejection of those. And if, perhaps, it seems that not always have all of these been considered on the same level as the others, yet nevertheless these also have been counted and reckoned with the rest of Scripture, both by Synods and by many of the most ancient and eminent Theologians of the Catholic Church. All of these we also judge to be Canonical Books, and confess them to be Sacred Scripture.

The list of the Synod of Laodicia referenced is the following:

These are all the books of Old Testament appointed to be read: 1, Genesis of the world; 2, The Exodus from Egypt; 3, Leviticus; 4, Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, Joshua, the son of Nun; 7, Judges, Ruth; 8, Esther; 9, Of the Kings, First and Second; 10, Of the Kings, Third and Fourth; 11, Chronicles, First and Second; 12, Esdras, First and Second; 13, The Book of Psalms; 14, The Proverbs of Solomon; 15, Ecclesiastes; 16, The Song of Songs; 17, Job; 18, The Twelve Prophets; 19, Isaiah; 20, Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle; 21, Ezekiel; 22, Daniel.

And these are the books of the New Testament: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Acts of the Apostles; Seven Catholic Epistles, to wit, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon.

There is no mention of third and fourth Esdras or the Prayer of Manasseh. I’m pretty sure other than the Apocalypse/Revelation (which we both venerate) and the specific number of books intended by “the Maccabees” this is the same as the Catholic canon.

The Eastern Orthodox Old Testament is the Septuagint, a Greek translation of scripture used by the Essene Sect of Judaism. For many centuries, the authoritative Catholic Old Testament was the Vulgate, Jerome’s 4th century Latin translation of the Septuagint. By the 4th century, some doubt had been cast on the authenticity of some parts of the Septuagint and Jerome demoted four books to an appendix. These included 4 Esdras which has no equivalent in the Eastern Orthodox Bible - so it could be argued we have one more.

It was some 1,200 years later that the Council of Trent defined the canon of scripture as the books in the Latin Vulgate, but this was mainly to reaffirm the inclusion of the parts Luther had decided to omit. By that time, people had largely forgotten about the books relegated to Jerome’s appendix and they were omitted from subsequent Bibles.

The Oriental Orthodox Churches’ Old Testament is the entire Hebrew protocanon which includes the four books of Jerome’s appendix and three others. They are the only part of Christianity that uses the Book of Enoch, even though Luke 10:18 and Matthew 25:41 suggest that Jesus was familiar with it.

It is possible the Prayer of Manasseh would not be specifically named, such like how the three additional books in Daniel aren’t named in our lists, because in Orthodox Bibles the Prayer of Manasseh is an appended chapter 37 to 2 Chronicles.
Also, in eastern tradition, Ezra and Nehemiah are considered one book, B Esdras, or 2 Esdras would be the equivalent. What 3 Esdras is for us( more commonly known as 1 Esdras) is considered A Esdras or 1 Esdras in eastern traditions. The numbering of the books of Esdras is enough to make one crazy.

Maybe, but those at the end of Daniel were named (as was the Epistle of Jeremiah at Laodicia) and the prayer of Manasseh, like those, was opposed by the Calvinists (who Cyril Lucaris was favoring).

Yah. I’m just naming a plausible example of how this could have been passed over without specifically naming them is all.

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For the Catholic Church, what is the status of the definition of the canon at the Council of Florence? It seems to be the same as Trent while preceding it by a century or so, but I always see Trent cited as when the canon was finally defined. It’s interesting, because this was not in response to the Protestants, but rather was in relation to a (short-lived) union with the Copts.

It professes that one and the same God is the author of the old and the new Testament — that is, the law and the prophets, and the gospel — since the saints of both testaments spoke under the inspiration of the same Spirit. It accepts and venerates their books, whose titles are as follows.

Five books of Moses, namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, Esdras, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Job, Psalms of David, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, namely Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; two books of the Maccabees; the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; fourteen letters of Paul, to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, two to the Thessalonians, to the Colossians, two to Timothy, to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two letters of Peter, three of John, one of James, one of Jude; Acts of the Apostles; Apocalypse of John.

Well I know the Church technically considers 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh as apocrypha yet beneficial to read. As Pope Clement Vlll says in the appendix of the Clementine Vulgate. I believe before the Council of Trent they were actually just integrated into the Old Testament through the centuries and were not in the Canon of Trent but Pope Clement Vlll felt they still should be read and in the Vulgate.

The Prayer of Manasseh, as well as two books, which circulate under the name of the Third and Fourth Book of Ezra, are set aside in this place—that is, outside the series of canonical books, which the holy Tridentine Synod accepted, and determined should be taken up for canonical—lest they should perish completely, since they are sometimes cited by some of the holy Fathers, and they are found in some Latin books, both manuscript and printed.

Yes, and I believe the prayer of Manasseh at least is used in the Office.

Yep. And 4 Esdras is used in Requiem Masses. Eternal rest grant unto them oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them, that’s from 4 Esdras 2:34-35, Masses for the dead such as All Souls Day, and I believe as an entrance antiphon on the second Sunday of Easter as well.
This article is about the EF but is interesting regardless.

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Interestingly the original Douay Rheims included these three texts in an appendix to the Old Testament before the Challoner Revision also. And there were many annotations. Cardinal Allen said while writing about the canonical books

True it is that some of these books … were sometimes doubted of by some Catholics, and called Apocrypha, in that sense as the word properly signifieth hidden, or not apparent. So St. Jerome (in his prologue before the Latin Bible) calleth divers books Apocryphal, being not so evident, whether they were Divine Scripture, because they were not in the Jews’ Canon, nor at first in the Church’s Canon, but were never rejected as false or erroneous. In which sense the Prayers of Manasses, the third book of Esdras, and the third of Machabees are yet called Apocryphal. As for the fourth of Esdras, and the fourth of Machabees there is more doubt.

If interested in seeing the original Douay Rheims with these books present here is the link. If it doesn’t take you to the exact page it is at page 1970 I believe.

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