How many books are there in the bible? Well, if you ask different Christians, you will get different answers to this seemingly simple question. See, the Protestant bible has 66 books, while the Catholic bible has 73. Both groups have the same canon for the New Testament of 27 books. It’s in the Old Testament, the Jewish books, that there is a discrepancy. Protestants have 39 books, while Catholics have 46. There are also little bits and pieces of other books that Protestants have removed from their bible.
So how do we know what books should be in the bible and what shouldn’t be? Of course, it’s not like Jesus told us what books to put in the bible. If so, it would be a much easier question. I’ll keep it all pretty simple here. The Old Testament was kept as the Jews had it, as Jesus Himself said:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” -Matthew 5:17
And so the gospels and the early Christian letters were also added to the Old Testament to form the New Testament of the bible. I believe that all of these were written in the first century, but they were not officially compiled into one canon that was agreed on by the whole Church until late in the 4th century, largely thanks to the work of St. Jerome and St. Augustine. By the point, the whole canon of the bible was set. And it was set with the 73 books that Catholics are familiar with.
So why did Protestants remove 7 books from the bible? For the most part they must have had theological issues with the content. For example, in Maccabees, there is a passage which backs up prayers for the dead and purgatory very clearly. Another reason as far as I know is that they believed that the Old Testament should be the same books that the Jews have. The issue is that over time, the Jews removed these 7 “deuterocanonical” books from their scriptures. Therefore, the Catholic canon has the books that the Jews had at the time of Jesus, and the Protestant canon has the books that the Jews currently have.
The 7 missing books in Protestant bibles:
-and a few other odds and ends chapters in Daniel and Esther
One of the most powerful ways of proving that the deuterocanonical books are legit is by showing that Jesus quoted them Himself. Thanks to scripturecatholic.com, we have an entire list of all of the times that deuterocanonical books were referenced in the New Testament as well as by the Church Fathers.
Here are some examples:
Matt. 2:16 – Herod’s decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 – slaying the holy innocents.
Matt. 7:16,20 – Jesus’ statement “you will know them by their fruits” follows Sirach 27:6 – the fruit discloses the cultivation.
Matt. 9:36 – the people were “like sheep without a shepherd” is same as Judith 11:19 – sheep without a shepherd.
Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 – Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers.
John 5:18 – Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16.
Luke 21:24 – Jesus’ usage of “fall by the edge of the sword” follows Sirach 28:18.
Personally, I especially enjoy reading Wisdom and Sirach- they contain a lot of wisdom (haha). And Judith is an opportunity to read about a heroine in the bible.