Should Catholic Bibles have 73 or 76 books?

Hey all. I have a question and was wondering if someone could help me. My grandfather passed away a couple months ago. God rest his soul.
Anyways, he had a Latin Vulgate from the 1930s, and since I am taking Latin my mom told me to take it. It’s a very beautiful Bible for sure.
So the books are in the same older order that the Douay Rheims Bible uses( version I prefer), but I noticed after the New Testament there are three more texts and beforehand it says:
“Oratio Manassa, necnon Libri duo, qui sub libri Tertii & Quarti Esdrae nomine circumferuntur, hoc in loco, extra scilicet seriem canonicorum Librorum, quos sancta Tridentina Synodus suscepit, & pro Canonicis suscipiendos decreuit, sepositi sunt, ne prorsus interirent, quippe qui a nonnullis sanctis Patribus interdum citantur, & in aliquibus Bibliis Latinis tam manuscriptis quam impressis reperiuntur.”
Which I translated as:
“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.”

I was just wondering, is this normal? My grandfather was Catholic and the Bible is a Biblia Sacra so it must be Catholic. I just never realised the Vulgate actually included more books at the end? Anyone know anything about this?

Those books are apocryphal, but as it states, were included in the Vulgate and subsequent bibles so that they would not be lost to time. It was a work of charity to their composers, and a preservation of Christian history, realizing that they are not considerd to be inspired.

At some point they were omitted, as they had been preserved elsewhere. My guess is at some point after the advent of the Gutenberg printing press.


Yes, they’re in a lot of the old Catholic BIbles. po18guy gave you the explanation.

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I do not know if it is worth confusing you about this. Wikipedia has a helpful chart at Esdras for understanding 3 & 4 Esdra.

These books were included in most very early bibles, though not the Masoretic text. St Jerome chose not to include them in the Vulgate, but they crept back into editions because they were cited by some Fathers.

Trent did not list them as canonical, but Pope Clement VIII included them in a supplemental section of the Vulgate he approved. The Clementine Vulgate became the standard Latin edition until recently, after V2. They are in that edition, but not as canonical works. The Nova Vulgata, the current standard, does not include them.

If that is not confusing enough, 3 & 4 Esdra got that designation from Clement VIII. Elsewhere they are known as 1 & 2 Esdra. Not to be confused with Ezra, which mostly is the same story as 3 Esdras. Greek Old Testaments include 3 Esdra and Ezra and call them 1 Esdra and 2 Esdra. And it gets more complicated from there…


Thank you for that chart! Makes sense now. I own an RSV that actually includes 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. So those Esdras are the same as 3 and 4 Esdras in the Vulgate. How confusing. But that makes sense how they ended up in the standard “apocrypha” of Protestantism, I believe they were all in the original KJV with the Catholic deuterocanonical books.
I wonder why the Church didn’t accept them but they accepted all the other deuterocanonical books. I’m sure it’s an interesting history. I’m gonna research it some. Thanks for a great starting point though!

Off topic: my Bible was published by many ecumenical councils. It is the Revised English Bible with Apocrypha.

I often struggle with the page numbering. I love the wording and everything about my Bible. It’s so special to me.

I was listening to catholic answers before going to bed yesterday and jimmy Akins touched on the subject if you fast forward to 28.40

As far as the Prayer of Manasseh goes, I’m Byzantine Catholic so I don’t know this for sure, isn’t it part of the office of readings? I believe it is also used in the Extraordinary Form in the the Roman Breviary?


Yah the Prayer of Manasseh I guess after looking it up is used in a Responsory after the first reading from 2 Samuel; along with Psalm 51 on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
It is used much more frequently in the EF in the weeks following Trinity Sunday.
For a reference of their use in the EF this is a good article:

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