What did Luther remove/add/change?

Hello everyone,

Two Quick Questions:

Is there a great online resource that lists everything in scripture that Luther added / subtracted / manipulated ? I’m always interested in what he and other Protestants have changed, when and why.

Also, does his/others changing sacred scripture make it not sacred, or make their bibles not authentic bibles? I’m always confused when I see Catholics reading from Protestant Bibles, eg. NKJ.

Thank you for your help,

For an exposition that is not biased by catholicism (if you want a non-Catholic explanation of what Luther did),

try this:

cogwriter.com/luther.htm [cog = church of God]

When Luther was born, there were 73 books in the Bible. When he died, after his translated the Bible into German, he recognized only 66 as authoritative. He was a heretic (can’t mince words here) because he denied 2 Tim 3 (which is quoted in the above link).

As far as I can tell, ALL protestants use the Lutherist Bible (I made up that word so as not to confuse it with “Lutheran”) and follow Luther’s heresy, his denial of St. Paul.

What’s beneath 2 Tim 3 is this: Paul was writing in Greek to people who understood Greek (obviously) and they knew what Paul was referring to when he said “all scripture.” so, what was “all Scripture” to Paul – I can’t iimagine it is anything else but the Greek septuagint.

This was the Jewish translation of the Jewish bible, the works considered inspired, to be read by all the Greek-speaking Jews outside of Palestine, who did not know Hebrew.

so, the septuagint does a couple things: establishes what was considered inspired scripture (for Paul, certainly, and LONG before Luther came around). It also is a dictionary of sorts for the Hebrew scriptures. The translation of the oldest hebrew books is still a challenge. We take so much for granted when we open our modern Bibles and just read it.

Recall, Biblical Hebrew does not have vowels, punctuation, spacing (usually), footnotes, parentheses, upper/lower case, and so forth. It did not have chapter numbers and verse numbers.

Scribes made errors in translation along the way and sometimes they added words (testified by differences in ancient texts).

The oldest manuscript of the Hebrew scrolls dates from about 900 AD, but the septuagint dates back from 250 BC to 100 BC. It is much more reliable.

The modern Hebrew bible, which dates back to about 70 or 90 AD, was edited and manipulated to counter the scripture, translations, and interpretations of the early Christians. It is a very anti-Christian biased set of holy books.

The modern Jewish study Bible (Oxford) comments on Is 7:14, about the “young woman shall conceive and bear a son” saying what’s so special about that? Well, it is thought that the word “virgin” was manipulated to say “young woman” instead of “virgin” as does the Septuagint. etc.

Stay away from Protestant Bibles – let this be – God willing – a once-in-a-lifetime argument that you never forget. see next post of mine

I have been writing recently to my aunt, who is in her 80’s. She is and has been an Evangelical Christian all her life.

Inasmuch as Protestants are always saying that the Bible is their only authority, I asked her where Luther (I always want to say Hitler) got the authority IN the Bible, to remove those 7 Old Testament books.

Needless to say, she didn’t answer me. Her son-in-law is an Ev. pastor, and between them all, they could not answer about how Luther can override St. Paul, in 2 Tim 3.

There is a good list of some of the differences and complaints here, especially in the lower part of the page.

The really short version is that the early Protestants pared the collection back to what they considered to be the essentials.

Also, does his/others changing sacred scripture make it not sacred, or make their bibles not authentic bibles? I’m always confused when I see Catholics reading from Protestant Bibles, eg. NKJ.

This is trickier, because it is more about the translation than about the collection of texts, and there are some translations (e.g., the NIV) which were produced from a deliberately anti-Catholic perspective. As a result, I see a few Catholics here either advising Catholics not to use non-Catholic versions. While a version like the NKJ is not anti-Catholic, it is still (usually) short of a few of the books which will be read in your liturgy, and thus not so useful.

That last part is … complicated. The LXX (the Septuagint) shows signs of having been translated from a Hebrew text different to that commonly now used as the basis of the OT: the Masoretic text, which is generally felt to be a more accurate reflection of the earliest versions of the Hebrew. Further, the LXX was translated somewhat idiosyncratically in parts, by people whose Greek appears to have been limited: there are things in it which just do not make sense as Greek (q.v. putting νοσσιαι, “nests”, into the Ark in Gen 6:14). So, I am not sure that “reliable” is necessarily the right word.

Having said all of that, the LXX, not the Masoretic text, was the basis of the OT for the Early Church, and so the LXX is more truly the OT of Apostles.

Wow! All of you have given me quality resources! I’m very thankful. God Bless you

To be more precise:

(1) Yes, generally speaking the Septuagint (LXX) seems to have been translated from a Hebrew text different from the ancestor of the Masoretic text, the so-called ‘proto-Masoretic’ (proto-MT) or ‘proto-Rabbinic’ text, which became the standard among Jews from the 2nd century onwards - although it was already more or less the de facto standard in Palestine even earlier than that. (Palestinian Jews from early on have noticed the differences between the LXX and the proto-MT, and so they usually made ‘corrected’ versions of the LXX to conform it more to the Hebrew text they were using.)

In the case of some books, the Greek seems to be a translation of an earlier, shorter version: for example LXX Jeremiah (which may represent an earlier version) is one-sixth shorter than MT Jeremiah (which represents an expanded, ‘final’ version of the text). (Greek Ezekiel is a similar case: it’s about 4 to 5 percent shorter than the MT Ezekiel and places some material differently.) In other books, the Greek seems to have a ‘later’, expanded edition of the text: this is why Greek Esther and Greek Daniel are longer.

(2) ‘The Septuagint’ was not translated as a set - in others, there was really no fixed ‘canon’ to speak of. It was originally more like a loose collection of different Greek translations of Jewish writings (and at least a handful of original Greek writings) made at different periods starting from the 3rd century BC up to around the 1st century. In fact, the term ‘Septuagint’ originally just referred to the translation of the Torah (Pentateuch).

In other words it wasn’t a fixed collection, nor were all these translated books lumped together into a single catch-all category or even a single scroll/book (yet). One of the few things in common between them is simply that they were all in Greek.

(3) Because they were originally independent translations made by different translators, the quality of the translation varies from book to book: depending on the book, the translation can either be mechanically literal or in some cases, border into paraphrase. In other words, the Greek OT books are all across the spectrum between ‘formal equivalence’ (word-for-word) and ‘dynamic equivalence’ (thought-for-thought).

For example, Greek 2 Esdras is a woodenly-literal translation of Ezra-Nehemiah (it complements Greek 1 Esdras, which is essentially a combined version of Ezra, Nehemiah, and some original material). Greek Isaiah, on the other hand, is a mixed bag: in some places the translator can render the Hebrew faithfully, but in other places he felt free to introduce variety, to paraphrase and interpret if it suited his purposes (to the point that he can sometimes go on tangents that have little connection to the Hebrew, and at least at one passage (8:14), contradict what the Hebrew says).

Having said all of that, the LXX, not the Masoretic text, was the basis of the OT for the Early Church, and so the LXX is more truly the OT of Apostles.

Most of the early Church did use the LXX, that’s true. But in Syria the case is interesting: the Peshitta’s (2nd-3rd century) OT translation of the protocanonical books is generally made from the Hebrew (proto-MT) text. (Peshitta Sirach is also thought to be based on a Hebrew text.) The other deuteros were translated from Greek (of course); in fact, the LXX also influenced protocanonical books such as Isaiah, the Psalms, and the twelve minor prophets. In the early 7th century, a Syriac bishop did translate a version of the LXX into Syriac (the Syro-Hexaplaric version), but it never really became the standard.

These are my posts from another thread.

through the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls–so just the opposite. Most of the older Hebrew manuscripts that we have now (particularly the Masoretic Text) are pretty close to what was in use prior to the time of Jesus. Where there are differences between the Hebrew text and the Septuagint (Greek texts) the DSS follow the Hebrew Text about 75% of the time.

You also have to consider the context in which the early Christians claimed this. As most everyone knows, most early Christians used the Septuagint (or some deritative translation of it), many books of which are actually translated from a different Hebrew version than the one that eventually became the standard among the Jews, the so-called proto-rabbinic/proto-Masoretic text. (Both versions are attested among the DSS - which means that before a ‘standard’ text was established, there was textual diversity - but note: all in all we have more proto-Masoretic texts in the DSS than these other versions.) And then of course there’s the different translation methods, which vary from book to book, ranging from mechanically literal (say, Ezra-Nehemiah or Greek 2 Esdras) to bordering on interpretative (Septuagint Isaiah is an example).

In other words, it basically amounts to early Christians noticing the differences between the two texts and then saying, “Aha! You Jews have edited the Scriptures to take Jesus out!” (Part of this is based on fact: even before Jesus was born, Palestinian Jews have already noticed differences between the Greek translations and the (proto-Masoretic) Hebrew text that they were using, which led them to make ‘corrected’ Greek versions that stick closer to said Hebrew text.) And it’s not like Christians were the only ones who were doing this: the Jews, on their part, also claimed that during the process of the translation of the Torah into Greek, thirteen to fourteen passages were allegedly altered by the original translators.

I’d correct that to “an attempt to make the Septuagint seem superior in some sense to MT.” The Fathers were making this (admittedly poor) argument even before Jerome was born. (Another hole in this idea is: how were all Jews worldwide able to suddenly remove or obscure any prophecy about Jesus out of all the Hebrew texts available?)

I think it can be chalked up into some misunderstanding.

Hebrew Isaiah has almah ‘young woman’ (even the DSS Isaiah has almah - look it up), which the Greek Isaiah translates as parthenos ‘virgin’. Parthenos may not be a literal translation of almah, sure, but at the same time one needs to remember that Greek Isaiah is not so much a literal translation but a somewhat free one (to be more precise, the book is of uneven quality: sometimes the translator translates literally, but more often, the translator felt free to give a more loose rendering), so you gotta give the translator some slack. That doesn’t necessarily make the translation ‘wrong’ as some people would claim, only interpretative. I mean, c’mon, in those days many or most young maidens would have been virgins anyway, so I don’t think the issue is as big as people seem to make it.

What happened really was, in the Jewish translations of Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion almah was translated as neanis ‘young girl’ rather than parthenos (almah is translated by neanis in some other places in the Greek, cf. Exodus 2:8 or Psalms 68:25). There could be an anti-Christian bias behind this translation decision (the “almah doesn’t necessarily translate to parthenos” argument was already known back then), but then again, it could also simply be just an attempt to give a more literal translation of the Hebrew word. But whatever the real reason was, it rubbed Christians the wrong way: they thought the prophecy about the virgin birth was being obscured by the Jews. (Origen - he of the Hexapla - took a different tactic: he claimed that almah was used in the sense of parthenos ‘virgin’ in Deuteronomy 22:23-26. All well and good, but apparently somebody forgot to tell Origen that the word parthenos doesn’t translate almah in the Hebrew of Deuteronomy 22, but bethulah.)

A fair comment, but I would add that certain examples, e.g. Gen 6:14, are ‘formal equivalence for someone whose first language is not Greek’, much like someone using one of those dratted translating dictionaries today.

he can sometimes go on tangents that have little connection to the Hebrew, and at least at one passage (8:14), contradict what the Hebrew says).

What does Is 8:14 say in Hebrew, then? “If you believe in him, he will be a holy thing and you will be a stumbling block”?

Not “you” - “he.”

(Hebrew) “Yhwh of Armies - him you must sanctify, and he is your fear, and he is your dread, and he will be for a sanctuary, and for a stone of striking/tripping and for a rock of stumbling to the two houses of Israel, for a trap and for a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

(Greek - NETS) “Sanctify the Lord himself, and he himself will be your fear. And if you trust in him, he will become your holy precinct, and you will not encounter him as a stumbling caused by a stone nor as a fall caused by a rock, but the house of Iakob is in a trap, and those who sit in Ierousalem are in a pit.”

I’m guessing the Greek translator got into difficulty with the metaphor of God as a protective sanctuary (miqdash - rendered as agiasma “holy precinct”), which does not quite fit the negative mood that follows, so he added a negative to ‘correct’ it. (Frankly, some scholars do think there was a corruption in the text at this point: miqdash ‘sanctuary’ may have originally been moqesh ‘snare’: “he will become a snare, and stone to strike and a rock to stumble over…” But then again, you might say the sanctuary metaphor wraps up v. 13 as it is: “Sanctify Yhwh of Armies himself … and he will become a sanctuary; but [he will become] a stone of falling and a rock of stumbling to the two houses of Israel…”) Note the Greek translator also qualified the threat: “if you trust in him…you will not encounter him as a stumbling caused by a stone” whereas in the Hebrew, God will be a stumbling block for both houses of Israel.

You and anybody deserves an answer, hopefully it is what we individually and collectively the best that we can provide.

There is no upper limit to Bible knowledge. We can help each other get from one level to another and maybe to help switch from one perspective to another – all in charity to each other.

I’m glad someone mentioned the that there are different versions of the Hebrew scriptures. In Jewish commentaries, I think there are five versions that they refer to because of that very problem itself, of there being several “original” versions.

It’s altogether a different issue (maybe “problem”) that the received versions of the texts already combine a couple different traditions. For example, the Jewish commentaries say there are three intertwined versions of the story of Noah’s flood. Of course, that story falls in the section of the Bible is often labeled “pre-history.” Not only does it reflect that there were perhaps several written versions pre-existing, but more probably different verbal accounts. As a matter of reverence and respect, all the versions were thought to be included as to not slight any of them.

Just to add: if we’re talking about the deuteros here, Luther only ‘removed’ them in the sense that he put them in a separate section called “Apocrypha: These Books Are Not Held Equal to the Scriptures, but Are Useful and Good to Read” (he didn’t even translate them personally: his friends Philipp Melanchthon and Justus Jonas did the job). He personally didn’t chuck them out of the Bible altogether. (The only books he didn’t include were Latin 1 and 2 Esdras, which to be fair while found in copies of the Vulgate wasn’t accepted as canonical by Catholics anyway.)

For English Bibles, Puritans and printers are pretty much the ones to blame for the outright disappearance of the deuteros from Bibles. Most Protestant translations starting from Tyndale up to the KJV followed Luther’s example of placing the ‘Apocrypha’ in a section between the OT and the NT. It was only by the mid-17th century that the section started to disappear in some English Bibles, and only the 18th century onwards that the process became complete.

You had to remember that Protestants themselves don’t agree about the deuteros. While Lutherans held that these books were uninspired, they still valued them as supplements and encouraged their study. The Church of England insisted (and insists) that they be included in any Bible intended for public worship (private Bibles are another matter), and includes passages from them in the lectionary and the liturgy, but at the same time it holds, as per the Thirty-Nine Articles, that “And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.” (Note: the Thirty-Nine Articles lists Latin 1-2 Esdras). Puritans were really the ones who were against their inclusion in the Bible at all.

The KJV, as other Protestant Bibles at the time, originally included the Apocrypha in a separate section. (While the KJV was really born because when a new translation was proposed to King James in response to the perceived problems of earlier translations as detected by the Puritan faction of the CofE, and while there were Puritans among the translators, overall the translators were instructed to limit the Puritan influence on this new translation: hence the inclusion of the Apocrypha and the KJV’s choice to retain words like ‘church’, ‘baptize’ or ‘bishop’, to which the Puritans objected.) However, by 1644 - during the Puritan ascendancy - the Long Parliament forbade the reading of the books in church, followed by the 1646 Westminster Confession’s declaration that " the books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings."

During the Restoration of the monarchy of the 1660s, Bibles used for public reading in churches contained the ‘Apocrypha’, although at the same time, you had some private Bibles without the Apocrypha section.

It was only after 1769, when the KJV’s text was standardized, that things changed. The technological development of stereotype printing made it possible to produce Bibles in large-print runs at very low unit prices. Printers found out that omitting the Apocrypha section reduced the cost, while having increased market appeal to non-Anglican Protestants. In other words, more profit. It is with the rise of Bible societies that the Apocrypha section finally disappeared in many Bibles. The British and Foreign Bible Society withdrew subsidies for Bible printing and dissemination in 1826, under the following resolution:

“That the funds of the Society be applied to the printing and circulation of the Canonical Books of Scripture, to the exclusion of those books, and parts of books, which are usually termed Apocryphal; and that all copies printed, either entirely or in part, at the expense of the Society; and whether such copies consist of the whole or of any one or more of such books, be invariably issued bound; no other books whatever being bound with them: and further, that all money grants to societies or individuals be made only in conformity with the principle of this regulation.”

The American Bible Society adopted the same resolution. Both societies reversed these policies in the 1960s, but still, you can still feel the effects today in the lack of the deuteros in many non-Catholic Bibles.

Hi everyone,

I’ve skimmed through all these responses. It’s all very scholarly and full but also complex. In the spirit of dialogue I like to scale things back and simplify things. I also like to respond to answers like these from an apologetic perspective as opposed to a seminarian perspective. Not to take away from all that’s been said so far! Because I certainly couldn’t respond in such deep seminarian/theological way. However, in simplifying things we sometimes get what otherwise we’d miss. What I mean to say, sometimes when we make things more complicated we miss things but when simplifying we get the basic foundation making possible to glean the deeper theological understandings. So perhaps in my simplified response I could add to this discussion.

If I were to want to be able to communicate this with a Protestant believer I’d go to the one scripture verse that becomes the foundation and context for most dialogue encounters especially with folks closer linked to the “Reformers” like Lutheran, some Anglican, and Baptist folks… I went to a Pentecostal Bible College. Believe you me, there is intense debate on which translations carry a heavier weight of authority than others to the point where most Protestants who study scripture will also be well versed on what has been currently discussed and most wouldn’t argue against what has been said.

The biggest chunk of theological understanding that has shaped Protestants understanding of scripture is the following:

  1. Sola Scriptura. (scriptural authority)
  2. Sola Fide (faith alone)

My number one go to verse is James 2:24
“You are NOT justified by faith alone but by works…”

Martin Luther was actually more Catholic than what most “Reformers” would like to admit but that’s besides the point. At first Martin Luther wanted to subtract the book of James and Revelations but many fought against Martin Luther with that so James and Revelation continued to be part of the 66 books Protestants recognize. All that to say James 2:24 is hard for any Protestant who believes in Sola Scriptura teaching.

One of the biggest hang ups that most Protestants have is that they believe we’re saved by faith Alon Catholic understanding is faith plus works and that it’s more accurate to say by grace alone… That is, empowering grace that strengthens us to align our will to the will of God and turn away from sin first the grace to believe and the empowering grace to walk out our salvation cooperating with God in our salvation.

So Martin Luther added “faith alone” but the only place you ever see “faith alone” is in James 2:24.

I’ve got more to add…

So in order to understand what Martin Luther added, subtracted, and changed one must understand the basic objections that Protestants have with the basic Catholic teaching.

  1. Papal / Apostolic authority
  2. Not scripture alone but scripture plus tradition
  3. Catholic teaching on Mary
  4. Sacraments of the Catholic Church and more specifically Eucharist and Confession
  5. Salvation by faith plus works
  6. Praying to Mary and the Saints ie Communion of the Saints and purgatory.

But with Martin Luther specifically was his saved by “faith alone” teaching that is the big issue plus many Protestants don’t know that Martin Luther tried to subtract the book of James and Revelations but later decided, after much protest, kept these two books among the 66 Protestants accept.

Question re: sacredness of Protestant scriptures?

Why study from a Protestant translation when a Protestant translation has only partial truth? When I study from a Protestant translation it’s used for a point of reference but if I really want to understand then I’ll read from the NASB (Catholic Edition) Bible Gateway has both Protestant and Catholic literature resources. I won’t however rely on my own interpretation of scripture so as an added and most important resource is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One great author to consider is Scott Hann. He’s written a lot on topics like this and more specifically is a great resource for non-Catholic Christians wanting to understand Catholic teaching and especially good for Catholics who want to learn how to respond to Protestants.

One thing to add though, not every Protestant agrees with everything Martin Luther taught. Not all Protestants necessarily disagree with Catholic teaching although some Protestants especially fundamentalists are anti-Catholic. Because of the complex nature of what resulted with Martin Luther it’s important to first understand the basic Catholic teaching and then after you have a firm understanding on this venture into the various translations of scripture and then if you’re really wanting a challenge learn the basics of the ancient biblical languages and Latin but when you learn the basics Catholic Apologetics you’ll have a better understanding to what you’re looking for re: Martin Luther etc

Just one little thing to add :

Not sure if any of you know my background story etc I shared a little I think I had shared that I actually went to a Pentecostal Bible College. I had also been involved in various ministries over the years. I was involved in the more charismatic movement and taught to rely heavily on scripture or more specifically my own interpretation of scripture. I was never anti-Catholic but I know many Pentecostal / Charismatic people who are. Growing up in a Catholic family I had respect for the Catholic Church and as oppose to being anti-Catholic I had questions and eventually my questions were answered and that lead me home to Catholic Church. Never thought I’d ever be Catholic but here I am.

One major topic that came up was Martin Luther and I wasn’t necessarily wondering about the differing translations of scripture and I read from multiple translations including having studied some of the basics of Greek and Hebrew.

When I understood what Martin Luther taught with his sola fide teachings everything else began to fall into place. And it all began with that one bible verse James 2:24. Anyways… Where did Martin Luther get Faith Alone? It’s complicated because it’s not so much what Martin Luther added or subtracted but rather the problem with issues of authority or who finally has the authority to interpret scripture because it’s not so much what has been added or subtracted but what has been, over the years, poorly translated / interpreted.

Sorry, yes: I got distracted and dropped the “faced with” when typing that. :o

What is wrong with παρθενος as a rendering of ‘almah’? The Greek term refers to a young woman, who is generally, but not always, a virgin (q.v. Iliad 5.214; Aristophanes, Clouds 530; Strabo, Geography 1.3.21 et al., and also the longer Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, which adds αδμητη (“untouched”, sort of) to παρθενος): it implies, but does not assert virginity.

What did Luther add? His ego and self importance.
He was a coward who would not stay in the Church to help fix certain corrupt practices, not of the Church but of individual bishops and priests. He then made up his own beliefs and also thought he was the only person qualified to translate the Bible, and took books out of the Bible that according him were not inspired.
I wonder how many people over the past centuries have lost their salvation because of him.

Apart from the fact that this last comment seems rather doubtful under the forum rules regarding characterisation of people, I am really not sure that his behaviour does not demonstrate quite the opposite: in breaking from the Catholic Church, the largest and most influential organisation which anyone in his society knew, he was doing something which practically no one else dared.

Even if you disagree with the wisdom of his choice, he demonstrated considerable courage by striking out on his own.

Not in my opinion. He would have demonstrated courage if he stayed to fight what he saw or thought what wrong.

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