Protestant 66 books of old testament question?


While debating with a protestant he says the Catholic Church got it wrong, there are only 66 books in the old testament, instead of the 73 that Catholics have.

He says Jesus Himself affirmed the Jewish canon of the Old Testament. The Lord Jesus affirmed the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings and all that was written in them. (Matt. 15:16, Mark 7:13, Luke 3:2, 5:1, etc)

My understanding is that Jesus time the old testament Bible for the Jews included the 73 books which catholics have. Did the apostoles and Jesus, referenced it, or the “extra” books mentioned?


Ask why modern Jews don’t even agree on the Canon (Ethiopian Jews have a different canon than Palestinian Jews)


This is a good question, and one that is pretty complicated to answer.

At the time of Christ and the Apostles, the Jews had yet to decide on an authoritative canon of Scripture. Different groups within Judaism had vastly different canons. The Sadducees accepted only the five books of the Torah, and the Pharisees probably accepted something pretty close to the Old Testament that is used by Protestants and modern Jews.

However, there was a third group in all of this. There were the Greek Jews of Alexandria, and they had their own canon of Scripture which contained all of the books of the modern Catholic Bible, plus some more. This Bible was known as the Septuagint, and it is this Bible that was used by Christ and the Apostles. We know this because most of the times that the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament, the quotes are taken from the Septuagint.

As Christianity began to spread, the Kews realized that they had a problem on their hands. Several of the books that were only in the Greek Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bibles were often used and quoted by Christians because of their clear endorsement of key Christian doctrines and because of clear prophecies of Christ (see Chapter 2 of The Wisdom of Solomon). The Jews therefor decided on the modern Jewish Old Testament Canon, which is also used by Protestants.

However, the Catholic Church, in it’s God-given wisdom, decided on the current Canon in the fourth century. The Church fathers up until that point continued using the Suptuagint, and while some prominent wary Christians opposes this practice, it was nonetheless the practice of the Church. Not all of the books in the Septuagint made it into the Canon in the fourth Century, but those books that didn’t make it are still considered canonical by the Orthodox Christians as well as some of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

I hope this helps!


Thanks, this helped to clarify things.


Regardless of differences in the old testament canon by Jews over time, they all agreed on Maccabees. However, Luther took those out, why? just to decrease support for the doctrine of Purgatory.


The Hebrew Bible, in Jewish use, is divided into three sections. The first two sections, known as the Law and the Prophets, were apparently already set in canonical form in the Herodian period, before Jesus began his ministry. Only the third section, the Writings, was formally added many years later. That doesn’t mean, however, that individual books in that section were held to be unsuitable in any way. The first book in the Writings section is Psalms, frequently quoted in the NT, even though, as far as anyone knows, it had not yet been formally incorporated into the Biblical canon in the time of Jesus.

The Law (Torah): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

The Prophets (Nevi’im): Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve (the minor prophets from Hosea to Malachi)

The Writings (Ketuvim): Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and at the very end, 1 & 2 Chronicles.


Hmmmm. They got the OT wrong but the NT right? The same NT your protestant friend uses to reference that the OT is wrong?

This is hilarious!!!


Orthodox Judaism does not recognize any Maccabees book as canonical. Does not include it in the Jewish Bible. Luther recognized the same books in the Old Testament as Orthodox Jews recognize in the Jewish Bible, no more, no less. Maybe he also saw there are some contradictions between 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. Or that for example 1 Macc.8:16 had an error about the structure of the government of the Roman republic, claiming that every year they elected one man to rule them, when actually they elected two men, two consuls.


Luther seems to have had a very positive view of 1 Maccabees.

This is another book not to be found in the Hebrew Bible. Yet its words and speech adhere to the same style as the other books of sacred Scripture. This book would not have been unworthy of a place among them, because it is very necessary and helpful for an understanding of chapter 11 of the prophet Daniel."


Well, still, Luther ultimately decided 1 Maccabees is not scripture, is not inspired, and his followers went along with that, believing as he did that the Old Testament is the same as the Jewish Bible.


As one can tell by the quote, Luther didn’t consider it”his decision “. He considered it worthy of the canon.
And he wasn’t alone in his view of the deuterocanon, however. Cardinal Cajetan and others shared the view.
Were they right? On balance, the majority of the Church considered them canon, so I tend to value that view.


I would ask he to use the Bible, and the Bible alone, to show you where the Bible teaches the Bible alone. From there you can ask him how he knows that books in his Bible are inspired? There is no divine table of contents.



Since I don’t subscribe to that caricature of the principle of sola scriptura, I’ll refer you to someone who does.


You are correct that Orthodox Jews reject Maccabees. But other Jews don’t. My understanding is that the reason for rejection is that the available copies of the books were written in Greek, not because of any supposed contradiction. The contradiction is that those Jews who reject the books still celebrate Hanukkah.


Sure, the majority of Christians considers 1 Maccabees and the rest of the Deuterocanonical books to be canonical, but that is mostly because the majority of Christians is Catholic. The great majority of denominations agrees with Lutherans in considering those books not canonical. Not scripture.


So what modern Jews consider Maccabees scripture, besides Christian Jews in the few denominations that do consider them scripture? In general at least, Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Reconstructionist Jews, Karaite Jews, do not consider them scripture. If any of them consider them scripture, they are very unusual, not within the normal opinion of their Jewish denominations. Those Jewish denominations use the same Jewish Bible as the Orthodox Jews use. And then there are Jews who don’t believe in Judaism or any other religion, secular Jews, those don’t consider any books to be holy scripture.
Jews generally celebrate Hanukkah. That is the anniversary of the supposed miracle in the temple where they had oil for the menorah for only one day, but the menorah allegedly kept being lit for the whole duration of seven days. That alleged miracle incidentally is not mentioned in any of the Maccabees books.


Not what I meant. I was speaking of the majority of the Church throughout history. Prior to Trent, one had the liberty to question books of the canon.
There has always been some who have disputed the deuterocanon and the antilegomena of the NT.
The way you speak of scripture and canon isn’t exactly how Lutherans do, however. There is no statement in the Lutheran Confessions naming the canon, but they do speak of the deuterocanon as part of scripture.
Example from Apology:

Although concerning the saints we concede that, just as, when alive, they pray for the Church universal in general, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general, albeit no testimony concerning the praying of the dead is extant in the Scriptures, except the dream taken from the Second Book of Maccabees, 15:14.


To be fair, many of the Protestants we encounter day to day in real life do… Lutherans tens to be excluded from that category.
For my fundamentalist grandmother, Lutherans were nearly as bad as Catholics… and equally “unsaved”.


I know it does not make sense.


That doesn’t seem likely. If you mean all of the books including all of the Maccabees, etc, sure, of course they did, as well as books the Orthodox consider canon but the R-C Church considers canon.

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