Why Is My Neighbor’s Bible Thicker Than Mine?

February 23, 2010

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” – Proverbs 30:5-6

Turn with me to 2 Maccabees, Chapter 12. If you are new to Bible study, you’ll find it as the last book in the Old Testament. What? You say you can’t find it? Well, that’s probably because it’s not in your Bible; you can only find 2 Maccabees in the Orthodox and Catholic Bibles. So, you may be wondering, if different groups of Christianity have different books in their Bibles, which one is right?

Here’s the story: In the Protestant Reformation (that was led by a Catholic monk, Martin Luther), there was a call for theological, moral, and Biblical reform. The Protestant Reformation demanded that the church get back to Scripture alone. Several books had been added to the Old Testament; these books were called the apocrypha. The Reformation sought to return to the original Old Testament. When I asked Rabbi Shalom Lewis about the apocrypha, he said, “The Jewish people see the books of the apocrypha as sacred, but not binding, and not on the level of the Bible.”

Since the Protestant Reformation was all about bringing us back to the place where we relied on Scripture alone, then you understand why the Protestant Reformers left the books of the apocrypha out of the Bible we have today. Do not let this alarm you. The apocrypha is sacred writings of the Jews, not the Holy Word of God. But the 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament are all the same in the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Bibles. This means the story of Jesus Christ remains identical, universal, and eternal for all.