Protestant 66 books of old testament question?


I was the one who asked that question at the beginning of Lent this year. Silly or not, it resulted in a gratifyingly lively and informative thread.

Do “Sola Scriptura” Protestants observe Lent? If so, why? It isn’t biblical

I hope you don’t misunderstand. I wasn’t trying to insult. Note, please, that I meant from my Lutheran perspective.
Apology if I offended.



You certainly didn’t offend, Jon. On the contrary, on looking back through that old thread I notice that you contributed many useful and entertaining comments.


The Prayer of Manessah and 1 and 2 Esdras are in the 1611 KJV. They also are in an appendix to the Clementine Vulgate. They are all used in liturgy too. However in traditional Catholicism 1 and 2 Esdras are called 3 and 4 Esdras as Ezra and Nehemiah are 1 and 2 Esdras in the Vulgate.
They were in the Vulgate but when it came to the Council of Trent reaffirming books considered scripture since the earliest Councils and Florence, these three were not part of it, but because of their history in the Church Pope Clement Vlll put them in an appendix to the Vulgate in 1592 ; also they were in Douay Rheims Bibles appendix until 1752. Personally I think they should still be appended to Catholic Bibles. Only one i know of published today is the side by side Douay Rheims and Clementine Vulgate English and Latin published by Baronius Press.


I was aware of the information in your first paragraph, but the rest is very interesting.
Thanks for the informative post.


Yah. Prior to the Council of Trent they were just in the Old Testament. Prayer of Manessah followed 2 Chronicles; 3 and 4 Esdras( 1 and 2) followed Ezra and Nehemiah. It is why in traditional Protestant “Apocrypha” they are also with the other deuterocanonical books. Some have asked me why the Church accepted all but those three and the simple reason is because the Vulgate just became liberal in the middle ages. Even Psalm 151 and 3 Maccabees had been included in some versions in the middle ages. The Church never was questioned about the Canon like it was during the Protestant Revolution and ultimately at Trent it had to remove anything that was not in the ancient lists. But all three texts are used in Liturgy and are beautiful books. I always liked 2 Esdras a lot for it’s apocalyptic literature. It actually has many parallels with Revelation with the use of like the eagle and animals representing the evil ones. Probably the closest book to have Uriel named as an archangel as canon as well; although he is also in 1 Enoch and some other texts. Some scholars actually believe all three were considered scripture during the middle ages; St Ambrose cited 4 Esdras and Thomas Aquinas cited the Prayer of Manessah in Summa Theologica. Also that there was a missing section that has since been recovered and added as verses in chapter 7 seems to indicate a page in an ancestor of the vulgate had been lost, and the interesting thing is it is a section that can be interpreted as praying for the dead having no purpose. It is a theory but interesting.


Oh and Prayer of Manessah and 1 Esdras are canonical in the Eastern Orthodox Church. 2 Esdras is in the Slavonic Orthdox Churches. Also 3 Maccabees and Psalm 151. And 4 Maccabees is in an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible.


Great posts.
One of the things your posts point out is that the Church has never really had a consensus on the canon, and I always feel like we are throwing Church Fathers and the like under the bus when we insist on a canon without regard to their views, for or against.


Yes, the church never really had a consensus on the canon. Well, then the delegates to the council of Trent felt it is better to have a doctrine on what the canon is than just to continue as it was, with different opinions and no doctrine on what is the canon. After all, some Protestants already started having a doctrine that the canon has 66 books. So the council of Trent must have felt it is advantageous for the Catholic church to have a doctrine on the canon too. Whatever doctrine they chose, whichever books they chose, for some of the books they would be in disagreement with some Church Fathers and agreement with other Church Fathers. Well, that is inevitable when you come up with a doctrine on which there had been no consensus. The Protestants who came up with the canon of 66 books of course also disagreed with many Church Fathers. But they too felt it is better to have a doctrine about it than not to have any. And with their doctrine of sola scriptura they certainly felt that it is important to have a doctrine about the extent of the canon, so people could know what books they should rely on. The Catholic church for many centuries did not feel the need for a canon doctrine, because when in doubt about some doctrine, they could rely on their holy tradition for some explanation, so they were not reliant on scripture alone. So they did not feel such a need to know whether for example 4 Esdras is inspired or not.


I don’t disagree with any of this. As I said in my post, it seems to me that a 66 book canon disregards the Fathers as much as the the 73 book canon.
I don’t see any particular solution to that issue. Just an observation


It was recognized as the Bible at the time when it was translated.


What was?..


The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Bible (aka Old Testament) It was the Bible of the Hebrews and was translated into Greek at the request of the king of the Egyptians before the time of Christ.


Okay. Thanks. I just couldn’t connect you post to what you were responding to.
Of course, that doesn’t discount the variancein acceptance of particular books among the Fathers.


It’s more than just a translation. Some of the books in the Septuagint were not translated from a Hebrew original but were written in Greek by Jewish authors, for instance Wisdom and 2 Maccabees.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

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