Question about Deuterocanonical Books


What are some reasons that Protestants reject the Deuterocanonical books?

I know it’s probably a somewhat goofy question because I would think the answer(s) would be (A) There are things in the Deuterocanon that Protestants do not agree with; in other words, doesn’t fit with their interpretations of scripture (such as praying for the souls of the dead); (B) Since the Catholic Church uses the Deuterocanon, Protestants should not (anything associated with the Latin Church=“popish”); and/or © the Deuterocanon were not written in Hebrew.

I’m asking because in a book I have written by Evangelicals, it claims that the Deuterocanon are not accepted by Protestants for the same reason that they are not accepted by the early Rabbis: because they were not written in Hebrew. We know that the Jews used the Greek Septuagint up until a certain time period and that they also read the Deuterocanonical books. However, I am not too familiar with how Jews chose their own “canon,” if they ever did to begin with. The Greek Septuagint obviously fell out of use among Jews but I am not sure if they chose to “reject” the Deuterocanon because they were not written in Hebrew? Again, not sure how or if the Jews chose to put together their canon for the Hebrew Bible.


An interesting paradox and irony about the Protestant canon is that they accept the canon of those who reject Christ as messiah.

The Protestants rejected the deuterocanonical writings on the basis that they didn’t fit their theological standpoints. For instance, prayers for the dead and intercession of the saints are in II Maccabees. It is true that the Rabbis applied the criteria that only writings originated in Hebrew and in Israel would be accepted, but the Catholic Church rejects those criteria as arbitrary, and so accepts the deuterocanon on the basis of Apostolic Tradition.

Martin Luther also wanted to reject the New Testament writings. The book of Revelation, the Letter of Jude, the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Letter of James all were on the chopping block. He called the Letter of James, “The Epistle of Straw.”

The Protestants could find no precedent to exclude these books, so that didn’t happen.



Yes, they do reject the Deuterocanonical books because some of the material in them does not fit into their interpretation of Scripture. And yes, they also reject them because they were not written in Hebrew, they were placed into the Greek Septuagint.

The Jews decided to put together the Old Testament at the Council of Jamnia, which took place at the end of the 1st century mainly in reaction to the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Council decided what books would be placed in the Hebrew Bible and what order they be in. They used the following criteria.

  1. They had to be written in compliance to the laws of the Torah.
  2. They had to be written before 400 B.C.
  3. They had to be written in Hebrew
  4. They had to be written in Palestine.

According to the Council, many of the Deuterocanonical books did not fit into the 2nd or 3rd or 4th rule. So modern day Jews and Protestants, adopted the criteria set forth by this Council.

Of course, the early Christians did not follow this Council, knowing it was not inspired by the Holy Spirit. That is why there where still debates over what books should be placed into the Old Testament (and even the New Testament) in the first four century’s. It wasn’t until 397 A.D in the Council of Carthage, a Council that was inspired by the Holy Spirit, when the Church decided what books were to be placed into the Old Testament, and even the New Testament. Protestants today still follow the criteria of what books should be placed in the New Testament, prescribed by this Council. But they decide to follow a criteria prescribed by a Jewish Council that didn’t even believe Jesus as the Messiah, and had no inspiration from the Holy Spirit, for what books should be placed into the Old Testament.

Just goes to show how Protestantism is false and the Catholic Church is the One True Church!

P.S. Most scholars agree Jesus used the Greek Septuagint containing many of the Deuterocanonical books. They know this because it was widely used in his area at the time, and he quotes out of the Septuagint in the Gospels. We know this because when he quotes out of passages from the Old Testament, their writing style is the same as the Septuagint’s writing style.

God bless! :smiley:


Originally, the Tanakh matched the Protestant OT. (With a few differences, like lumping the minor prophets into a single book, and Ruth being among the prophets) Over time, a few Greek books got added to form the Septuagint (LXX). At Carthage, the Church decided to use the LXX as a model for the OT. Simultaneously, Jewish leaders at the time eschewed the Greek additions, wanting to use only those books with original Hebrew sources.

Cut to the 1600s and the Reformation. Luther attempts to remove the Greek parts of the OT, the epistles of James and Jude, and Revelation. He got away with the first, but the NT remained intact. (And thankfully so. Where would we be in the faith v works debate without James?) However, he still considered them worth reading, and still published them alongside his Bibles.

Cut to later reformers. Since they weren’t considered Biblical, people just stopped printing the Apocrypha. Note the capital A. As a proper noun, the Apocrypha refers to deuterocanon, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1/2 Esdras. People still read it; it’s just not published in their Bibles any more.

I suppose the two main reasons, though, that they were rejected are:

  1. They disagree with their theology.
  2. They weren’t originally in Hebrew.

The irony, though. IIRC, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we got original Hebrew sources for a few deuterocanonical books. (Baruch, Sirach, and Tobit, going by Wikipedia)


What many may not realize is that there are also several deuterocanonical books of the New Testament. From the Catholic Encyclopedia as printed in the 1967 Papal Edition of the Confraternity Bible:

Those books of the bible whose divine inspiration was, at one time or another, doubted or disputed. The deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament are Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Baruch, First and Second Books of Machabees; the deuterocanonical books of the New Testament are the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistle of St. James, the Second Epistle of St. Peter, the Second and Third Epistles of St. John, the Epistle of St. Jude, and the Apocalypse. They are all accepted by the Church as being inspired by God and are of equal authority with the other books of the Bible.

Those deuterocanonical NT books are in protestant bibles mainly because Philipp Melanchthon convinced Martin Luther to include them in the bible which bears his name.

The common protestant objection is that Saint Jerome doubted their canonicity. While he did indeed have reservations about them, he never pronounced them to be not inspired. As well, he translated them under obedience to his Pope and relied on them in his writings. Of course, those who agree with Jerome here then turn around and drop him like a hot potato as regards the Papacy, Sacraments, priesthood, etc.


As you can read in many threads here (or on Wikipedia for that matter), the “Council of Jamnia” is a fiction of an overly imaginative 19th century Bible “scholar”.

Also, the Greek Septuagint contains books that the Catholic canon excludes.


Evidence, please.


Originally C, then B and A.

The Jewish system for canonization excluded a few books which early Christians included. When Jerome was commissioned to produce a Latin Bible, he said that the only books which ought to be included were the ones which the Jews included; since Christianity had already formed its own traditions separate from Judaism, his objection was not accepted by Pope Damasus, and so Jerome translated the other books but included prefaces complaining about those books.

When the early Protestants split from the Catholic Church, their rallying cry was reliance upon the Scriptures rather than Tradition, and so they followed Jerome’s view and dumped whatever was not in the Jewish Tanakh canon. However, they kept the NT, because they had no compelling reason for complaint against it.

As part of this ‘reliance upon the Scriptures’, they set about dumping beliefs and doctrines which they could not sufficiently prove from the canon which they had thus define, and that is where the ‘popish Apocrypha’ / ‘books of heretical doctrine’ come in.


Philipp Melanchthon wrote an apology harmonizing James and Paul for the purpose of convincing those against James (primarily Luther) that it was indeed canonical. This is nothing new, and caused great disputes as the reformation was progressing.


This is a Lutheran view, not a generally-Protestant one. From an Anglican point of view, the whole of the NT is one group, one canon, with the Tanakh list of the OT, meaning that only the OT ‘apocrypha’ are deuterocanonical.


Since Luther’s era was one of profound and rapid change, I would imagine that the unity of the Catholic canon - even if not yet officially set in stone - made Anglican scriptural matters far less traumatic than they were for the Lutherans. That was a proper mess.


Anglicans do seem to manage to be more relaxed. :stuck_out_tongue: Reformation history is not my speciality, but there have been some wobbles in the Anglican reception of the deuterocanon.

It seems that the early Anglicans were very happy to settle for the Athanasian Canon of the NT (the common one) and for the Vulgate Canon OT: apparently, the Abp of Cant. made the printing of Bibles without the Apocrypha illegal in 1615.

Thirty years later, however, the Puritan-influenced Westminster Confession of Faith dismissed everything outside of the Tanakh/Athanasian Canon as utterly uninspired and worth no more than any other human book.

Nonetheless, we still have readings from ‘deuterocanonical’ books in our services.


The Deuterocanon is being re-evaluated these days, it seems. A point which I find interesting is that Daniel is considered by more and more scholars to be a Deuterocanonical time frame writing of 165 BC +/-. This makes sense as Daniel is the first to mention the resurrection and eternal life. Yet, if written at the time of the Babylonian captivity (587 BC), why did no other inspired author mention it until 450 years later in 2 Maccabees? Very odd. And, Daniel seems to know a lot of details about the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Seleucid King who in power at the time of the Maccabean revolt. A “late date Daniel” would pretty much force a re-consideration of the Deuterocanon.

As a side note, there are revelations in the Deuterocanon that man could not have known. 7 angels appearing before the throne of God, for example (Tobit). The clear prophecy of Christ in Wisdom 2 another example. Resurrection and eternal life in 2 Maccabees. All Israel delivered by the action of a single woman (Judith). It goes on.


I’m not finding anything in your evidence links (many of which are not primary sources anyway) that supports your assertion about Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Luther. Perhaps you could point more specifically to where my request is addressed.


Philipp Melanchthon’s apology regarding James and Paul is evidence by itself. Why would he, during a very busy period, take the time and expend effort to write an apology harmonizing James with Paul? And ML claimed that Melanchthon had failed in his apology. James had been in use and in the canon for !,500+ years by the time that ML decided he didn’t like it. No one else translated their own bible and “hated” James. No one else called it an epistle of straw. Melanchthon was the co-founder of the rebellion and Luther’s closest ally. Since the people were not questioning James, and I have found no evidence that anyone in the world except ML was questioning it, what other reason would Melanchthon have for doing what he did?

Do you know of a plausible explanation for Melanchthon’s actions? Remember that he was the meek and mild half of the two rebels. Yet, James remained in Luther’s bible. Did ML contradict himself on this, suddenly changing his mind - thus calling all of his actions and beliefs into question?

I seriously doubt that either ML or PM wrote down “I convinced him/he convinced me to leave James in the New Testament.” If it existed, that document would be found in the same file with others which authorized ML to found a church bearing his name and based on his personal desires.

This must be inferred from the documents and actions of each man. No rational alternative has been put forth.


Two things. First, I think you’re misunderstanding Luther’s theology of the biblical canon. Luther judged books by what he perceived as their value in conveying information about salvation–the extent to which they “bare Christ.” Some books in his view are sort of “five star” books (Gospels–especially John, Galatians, Romans) and some are “one star” or “no star” books (James, or Maccabees). Luther did not believe that all parts of the Bible were of equal value. Some portions (like the genealogies) were of historical merit in his view but were of little or no value for salvation. But he didn’t believe that parts that were not meritorious should somehow be removed from the canon. They are still part of the Bible, valuable or no.

If, for example, one reads Luther’s introduction to Revelation, he clearly states that he’s giving you his opinion of the book (which is low) but that the reader needs to make up his own mind and reach his own conclusions. Luther tells you what he thinks, but does not try to amend the canon–which he easily could have done. Now you certainly don’t need to agree with Luther’s theology of canon, but that’s the way he approached it. All-in-all, ALL the books (good, questionable, apocryphal) were included in his translation of the “Entirety of Scripture,” plus the Prayer of Manasseh. The easiest way to verify this is to simply look at a copy of his completed translation of the Scriptures–1553. They are all included in “The Bible.”

Catholic apologists who claim that Luther “tried” to remove books but was unsuccessful simply don’t know much about Martin Luther’s personality. Luther didn’t bow to anyone else’s opinion, nor to some editorial board about what would or would not be included in HIS translation. The fact that Phillip Melanchthon would have had a higher view of James would have had absolutely no bearing about whether the book would or would not appear in the canon, that’s not something that was at issue–however I’m sure they would debated its relative value in the extent to which the book is informative toward salvation.

Second, you’re presenting what you imagine or surmise to have happened between Luther and Melanchthon as historical fact, without indicating that it’s an extremely tentative supposition on your part. You are free to surmise things, but to present them as verified history, in my view is misleading. To me, that’s a problem–and an approach shared by too many Catholic apologists, which is extremely unfortunate.


You say so.


I still see no plausible explanation for Melanchthon’s efforts “harmonizing” James with Paul other than to persuade Luther - whom Melanchthon encouraged/convinced to translate the Bible into German. Melanchthon’s apology does not appear in the Luther bible. Melanchthon had no problem with James - ML did. Just whom was that apology meant to influence? Have a read of page 85 of (first image below).

As to ML, a very interesting chapter in Dissent from the Creed describes his mental state, which was confirmed by none other than Melanchthon (second image below).


Please help with sources! I am in an online debate with a protestant about these books. He claims my version of history where Jews only rejected them after the Jamniah council is the Rome version and I should read Jewish sources, not Roman. What credible historical sources can I use to show: 1) that the deuterocanon was used by Jews prior to jamniah council?


You are fighting a correct, but losing battle. We are Christian, not Jewish. If he chooses to follow the canon of the Pharisees (read Matthew 23 to see what Jesus had to say about them), that is his concern. The Church, (read Acts 15) by her authority, has declared the canon and it is set for all time. If your friend doubts the Church and her authority, then advise him to seek out a Rabbi with a scalpel ASAP!

Those books were read and used by faithful Jews since before Christ. Both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches have used those books consistently in the mass/divine liturgy for almost 2,000 years. 497 years ago, a certain psychologically challenged European expressed doubts about them, but nevertheless left them in the bible that he attached his name to. Your friend’s bible does not have those books. You might ask him why.

In truth, you are wasting your time. His heart is hardened and his heels are dug in. No document, no words that any of us can say will ever convince him. Many of us have tried this and failed.

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, will convict him of the truth. You have planted the seed. I suggest disengaging and praying for him.

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