The Greek Septuagint vs the Catholic Old Testament


So I always was under the assumption that the Catholic Old Testament was nearly identical to the Septuagint. Isn’t that the reason Protestants and Catholics differ on opinion because they only accept the Hebrew Old Testament albeit with differing of numbering of books?
However I recently bought the New English Teanslation of the Septuagint ( NETS) and was surprised there are some books in it that are not in our Old Testament. Was I wrong all this time thinking our scriptures were based off the Septuagint? In the RCIA video explaining our Bible they specifically say the Septuagint was used by early Christian’s and hence is why our Bibles have more books. This is the Table of Contents:


The fancy spelling is offputting: “Iesous” for Joshua, “Routh” for Ruth, and so on.
3 and 4 Maccabees were excluded from the Catholic canon.
“Psalms of Salomon” in unknown to me.
In Catholic Bibles, Bel and the Dragon usually appears as the last chapter in Daniel.
You can compare the books in your new translation with the standard Catholic Septuagint canon here:


And the story of Susanna appears in Daniel, as well.

I would say that they differ because the seven books that Reformation communities call the “Apocrypha” contain doctrine that contradicts their creeds.

However, we can say that they differ because Catholic Bibles utilize the Septuagint, whereas Protestant Bibles exclude it.


Now is it true Orthodox Bibles do accept more books than Catholics? I feel like in America it’s always why are Catholic Bibles bigger than Protestant, whereas the Orthodox though there is a decent amount don’t have a huge population in America so the topic never seems to be, why do Catholics have less than Orthodox?

You know?


Yah I did some research on the Psalms of Solomon. I guess they were pretty popular in early Christianity but only ever found any sort of acceptance in the Syriac tradition.


There was no hard fast canon for the Septuagint. Different collections included different books. These were written in Scrolls separately not combined in one volume prior to AD 400.

The church’s criteria was not whether or not the book was part of the Septuagint but rather what did the early church say as to which books belong in the Bible. See web page below 4 more.

Books of the Bible, part 2 of the Canon

Canon of the Bible : Determining its Certainty

I don’t know if the spellings are fancy or not but we should expect list that were written hundreds of years ago to use a different spelling then we would use today. There was no “J” in the early alphabets. As a later development the letter J was introduced to distinguish between the consonant and the vowel components of Iota or the letter i.
Notice how similar in construction the letters i and J are when written in small cursive.


1-4 Basileion = 1 and 2 Kings. 1-2 Supplements = 1-2 Chronicles. 1-2 Esdras = The Book of Ezra.

The only stuff accepted as Scripture by (some of) the Orthodox and not by us is 3 and 4 Maccabees, Clement, and the Psalms of Solomon. Those books are part of the Liturgy of the Hours, and are accepted as part of the Fathers; we just don’t take them as Sacred Scripture.

The Orthodox mostly take them as Scripture because some of the old Eastern patriarchies used them for Mass readings. There is a lot of discussion as to whether they had the right to do so; but Eastern churches that have reconciled with Catholicism have been allowed to keep those books in their canon. So teeechnically, they count as Scripture for us too, but not as Scriptures for Mass in the Latin/Roman Rite.


In the Septuagint it seems 1 Esdras is Greek Esdras, in the Vulgate appendix is known as 3 Esdras. 2 Esdras in the Septuagint is 1 and 2 Esdras combined( in most modern bibles known as Ezra and Nehemiah.) The numbering is confusing as most modern Bibles with the deuterocanonical books call 3 and 4 Esdras, 1 and 2 Esdras, but in the Vulgate they are 3 and 4 Esdras and Ezra and Nehemiah are 1 and 2 Esdras.
The Prayer of Manneseh is cited in the Liturgy of the Hours.
I know of noone who accepts the Psalms of Solomon as scripture. The closest after researching this more is the Syriac Orthodox Church aka the Antiochan tradition, who do not hold it as canon however it is included in manuscripts of the Peshitta, along with the apocryphal Psalms 151-155. Psalm 151 is in the canon of many eastern churches and cited in the Liturgy of the Hours once. 3 Maccabees is in the Canon of the Orthodox Church. 4 Maccabees is not Canon but appears in an appendix to the Greek Bible. 4 Esdras( 2 Esdras) is in the Slavonic Bible as 3 Ezra.
It just was interesting to me at first because I had always thought we followed the Septuagint completely.

It seems 3 and 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh were in the Vulgate traditionally but not affirmed as Canon by the Council of Trent but was put in an appendix by Pope Clement Vlll "lest they perish entirety ".


Protestants have their own interpretation even for the books of the Bible they share with Catholics.

The Canon is actually an interesting issue. As I understand there wasn’t really an official Hebrew Canon. Different Jewish groups held to different canons. Then Hebrew Canon of today was determined by the descendants of the Pharisees well after the birth of Jesus. That was it was determined by the Jews who rejected Jesus. The Jews who accepted Jesus were the foundation of the early Church,

By the way a challenge for Protestants is by what authority do they know the Bible contains all the books that should be in it and no books that should not be. The answer is they have no such authority. That is unless they want to borrow the authority of the Catholic Church.


The Hebrew Bible, in Jewish use, is divided into three sections. From what I’ve read, I believe the first two sections, known as the Law and the Prophets, were 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, of course, 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.


So really the Catholic Old Testament is the Jewish scriptures plus some Septuagint books.
How did the Church decide on say 1 and 2 Maccabees yet say no to 3 and 4 Maccabees when all of them are in the Septuagint? That confuses me somewhat. Like did St. Jerome just get a copy that excluded them? That would be interesting if thats how it worked out.


The reason is because with regard to the Apocrypha the Greek Septuagint differed one from another. So for example, one copy might have all the Hebrew books common to both the Catholic and Protestant Bibles, but maybe only 3 or 4 of the Apocryphal works. Another copy might have all the Hebrew books, but maybe 6 of the Apocryphal works. We find much the same thing going on in the New Testament where some copies might have the gospels and Pauline letters, plus maybe shepherd of hermas and barnabas, but the next copy might not have the latter two, etc. This is why there never was concensus over the apocryphal works being inspired.


I had a copy of an Orthodox Study Bible and the intro said that the Greek Orthodox haven’t canonized the books of the Bible as has been done in the Latin Rite, at least not in the same sense.

The books in the Orthodox Bible are accepted by tradition, which is a very big rule for them. That said, I think I also read that they didn’t use Revelation in their liturgies until the last 100 - 200 years or so.

The Septuagint was a 100% Jewish Bible, created for Jews outside Palestine who no longer understood Hebrew. So, in a very real sense, the selection of those books for inclusion, to me, anyway, suggests a strong vote for which were the important books for Jews to know. Since the first century, there have been arguments about how Christians have used the Hebrew Scriptures.

In the first and second centuries the Jewish rabbis decided which scrolls to recognize, and they were apparently biased towards the Masoretic text, which was, as someone said above, a different tradition within all of Judaism.

That study bible I read said that the number of councils which the Orthodox recognize omits those local councils where the canon of scripture in the West was settled. I think that they recognize only about six church councils in common with the West.


I believe the Eastern Orthodox accept the first seven. Most Oriental Orthodox only accept the first four.


Exactly right.

With the Jewish Wars in the 1st century after Christ, the rabbis in Israel found themselves marginalized and their traditions threatened. Their focus on scriptures, always strong, intensified with the destruction of the Temple and the virtual loss of the kingship. They emphasized the Scriptures that were actually written in Hebrew as their sacred text as a way to emphasize their cultural heritage.

This means 2 different “canons” were available for Jews, the Greek Septuagint and the Hebrew Tanakh. Christians continued using the Greek because their congregations and scholars contained a large number of Greek speakers with no attachment to Judaism. Jews preferred the Hebrew text as original and as a support for their threatened cultural heritage.


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