Why the difference in Catholic/Orthodox Old Testaments?


I posted this in the “ask an apologist” forum, but have yet to recieve a response. My question is, why are there diferences between the Catholic and Orthodox Old Testaments? Both were one Church until the split in 1054 right? So what was the official Old Testament cannon before the split? If it was the Catholic OT, then when did the Orthodox churches “add” the additional books that is not in the Catholic OT? If it was the Orthodox OT, then when did the Catholic Church “remove” the books that are in the Orthodox OT?


I didn’t know there was a difference. :confused:


The Orthodox regard as canonical 3rd and 4th Maccabees and (I think) Psalm 151.

The difference between the Old Testament versions is not so much an outright deliberate rejection or affirmation of the books in question. Rather it evolved from the Greek manuscript sources used by the various regional churches which predated the Catholic/Orthodox split.

3rd Maccabees is found in the Alexandrinus and Venetus manuscripts of the Greek Bible, in the Syriac Peshitta, and in the Armenian Bible. 4th Maccabees not only is found in important Greek manuscripts, it was also circulated with the works of Josephus.

3rd and 4th Maccabees are not in the Vaticanus or Sinaiticus manuscripts, and consequently were not included in the Latin Vulgate by Jerome. But the Orthodox, who kept the scriptures and worship in their original language, have always included them.

Psalm 151 was known in its Greek version in the Syrian, Latin, and Ethiopic texts. It was unknown in Hebrew throughout most of the history of the Church, but was (re)discovered in Hebrew amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran.


The eastern churches also have a slightly differant notion of “Canon” and “Inspiration” than the west. In the west the canon is the list of inspired books. So If it is inspired it is canonical and if it is canonical it is therefore inspired. In the east the canon is the list of books to be read in Church. And in the east there are differant levels of inspiration.(that is not quite right but it is the best explaination I can give.) An example is that obviously the Gospels hold a greater place than … say Philemon. The west sees them as equal but in the east they do not. The Gospels are clearly more important. Therefore the “canon” (the books read in church regardless of “Inspiration”) can vary in the east. The Greek “canon” has already been mentioned. The Copts include Enoch while the Assyrian Church of the East excludes 2nd and 3rd John for example. It is not that the copts nessesarily think enoch is inspired or the Church of the East think 2nd and 3rd John are not inspired. They are “canon” or not simply by virtue of the fact that they are or are not read in Church.


i think Catholics were in Latin and Orthodox in Greek! Just kidding


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