The Bible

Too many Catholics aren't comfortable reading and understanding the Bible. The Holy Bible is unrivaled in importance for learning about God, his plans for us, and how he has worked through human history for our salvation. The Bible gives us the way to forgiveness, God's plan for salvation, and Direction for life.

Pope John Paul II wrote: Sacred Scripture is truly divine, because it belongs to God truly and genuinely: God himself inspired it, God confirmed it, God spoke it through the sacred writers—Moses, the Prophets, the Evangelists, the Apostles—and, above all, through his Son, our only Lord, in both the Old and the New Testament.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church does not interpret the Bible. We explain it. Protestants tend to interpret the Bible.

There are the seventy-three books found in Catholic editions of the Bible.  There are forty-six in the Old Testament twenty-seven in the New Testament. Protestant copies usually lack the seven books Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach,  Baruch, First and Second Maccabees and parts of books Esther 10:4-16:24, and Daniel 3:24-90; 13:1-14:42. These were translated into Greek before the birth of Christ and are not found in the Jewish editions of the Old Testament.

The word Bible means "the book." Originally, the Bible was not one book but a collection of books - in fact, a whole library. It was only in about the fourth century that the seventy two books of the Bible were combined to form the volume.   While the human authors were many, the Divine Author is but one. The Bible is called "The Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16) and "Holy Scriptures" (Romans 1:2).

The titles Old and New Testament were used by St. Paul (2 Corinthians, 2:14). The term "testament," means a covenant, agreement, alliance between God and man. Man agreed to do certain things and God, in return, promised certain blessings. The Old Testament contains a record of the alliance between God and Abraham and between God and Moses. The New Testament is an account of the alliance between God and His creatures. Both the old and the new covenants were sealed by blood: The alliance between God and Abraham was sealed by the circumcision (Genesis 17); the alliance between God and the Jewish people, by the sprinkling of the people with the blood of animal victims (Exodus 24:7, 8); the alliance between God and men, by Christ's own blood (Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25).

Original Language Of The Bible
Two books of the Old Testament - Wisdom and II Maccabees - were written in Greek. The rest of the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language. The New Testament was written in Greek, with the exception of St. Matthew's Gospel which - according to the unanimous testimony of Christian antiquity - was written in Hebrew or Aramaic.

The Old Testament division:     

1) The Pentateuch books (Torah), The books contain a chronological and theological progression: The Law, or The Book of the Law. It has always been at the beginning of the Bible, not only because its events occurred first, but because it formed the rationale for the rest of the sacred books. (Genesis to Ruth);

2) Historical books, which are arranged not in the order in which they were written but according to the order of events in time (First Samuel to Second Maccabees);

3) Didactic or sapiential or moral books (The Wisdom Books), they instruct us especially about heavenly wisdom and principles of morality (Job to Sirach);

) The prophetical books, which contain God’s message to men, and predictions concerning the future (Isaiah to Malachi)

The New Testament division:

1) Historical books (the Gospels and the Acts);

2) Didactic writings or moral books (the fourteen Pauline Epistles and the seven Catholic Epistles written by James, Peter, John and Jude; (“Catholic” here means “general” and  has no doctrinal or ecclesiastical implication.

3) A prophetical book (the Apocalypse or Revelation).     

Versions of the Bible:

Versions of the Bible are translations of the Bible into other languages. The following are the most important versions or translations of the Bible.

1. Septuagint. The oldest Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament is known as the Septuagint, and was made between 300 and 130 B.C. It derives its name from the seventy or seventy two translators to whom it is attributed.

The Septuagint contains all the forty-five books of the Old Testament. It was used by the Apostles and early Christians and helped greatly in the spread of revealed truths among the Greek pagans. Many Jewish and pagan converts obtained their first knowledge of the Bible through the Septuagint.

2. Old Latin. Since the Christians of Rome and of the Roman Empire needed a Latin Bible for the Liturgy and for private reading, it is probable that as early as the first century the Greek Bible - both the Old and New Testaments - began to be translated into Latin.

3. Vulgate. The Latin "Vulgate" ("accepted" or "commonly used") text is the work of St. Jerome (383-405). The New Testament is St. Jerome's revision of the Old Latin text made with the help of ancient Greek manuscripts.  Most of the books of the Old Testament are a direct translation of the original Hebrew, while the rest are the Old Latin text. The Council of Trent made the Vulgate the official text of the Catholic Church, and our present edition was brought out by Clement VIII in 1592.

4. The Rheims-Douay Bible. The most widely used English Catholic translation (from the Latin Vulgate) of the Bible is the Rheims-Douay or Douay Version.

5. The Westminster Version of the Sacred Scriptures - was published in England. It is a new critical Catholic translation of the New Testament made directly from the Greek. It is a private and not an official version of the Bible.

6. The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine Edition of New Testament. This is not a translation but a revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version It aims to bring the language of Challoner's version into conformity with modern English and to render accurately the divine message in the language of our own day.


Protestant Versions:
The King James or Authorized Version (AV) was published in 1611 in the reign of King James I. The Authorized Version is not a new translation but a revision of an English Bible known as the Bishop's Bible and published in 1568.

The translation is often colored by anti-Catholic prejudice which in certain instances leads to outright falsifications of the text. The purity of its English, however, has made it the Bible of English Protestantism.

The Revised Version (RV) (1881-1885) is a modern critical revision.  In 1901 an American group brought out its own text of the Revised Version and this is known as the American Standard Version. (SV).

Old Testament
The  Pentateuch
The  Historical Books
The Wisdom Books
The Prophetical Books

New Testament
The Gospels
The Acts of the Apostles