Why Did Luther Remove Books From the Bible

Why Did Luther Remove Books From the Bible?


Martin Luther, the German theologian and key figure in the Protestant Reformation, is often associated with removing certain books from the Bible. This act has generated much debate and controversy throughout history. To truly understand Luther’s decision, we must delve into the historical context of his time, his theological beliefs, and the reasons behind his actions. In this article, we will explore why Luther removed books from the Bible and shed light on some frequently asked questions regarding this topic.

Historical Context

During Luther’s time, the Catholic Church held significant power and influence over the people. The Church’s teachings were based on the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, which included several books known as the Deuterocanonical books. These books, such as Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and parts of Esther and Daniel, were accepted as canonical by the Catholic Church, but not by the Jews or early Protestant reformers.

Luther’s Theological Beliefs

Luther’s beliefs were deeply rooted in his interpretation of Scripture. He emphasized the principle of “sola scriptura,” which means that Scripture alone is the highest authority for Christian faith and practice. Luther believed that the Bible should be accessible to everyone, and that it should be read and understood by the common people without the need for an intermediary, such as the Church hierarchy.

Reasons for Removing Books

There were several reasons why Luther questioned the canonicity of certain books and eventually removed them from his German translation of the Bible, known as the Luther Bible. Firstly, Luther believed that the Deuterocanonical books contained teachings and doctrines that were not in line with his understanding of the Gospel. He argued that some of these books promoted works-based salvation, which contradicted his belief in salvation by faith alone.

Secondly, Luther questioned the Hebrew origins of these books. He argued that since Jesus and the apostles primarily used the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament canon should align with the Hebrew Bible, which did not include the Deuterocanonical books. Luther considered the Jewish canon as the authoritative collection of texts and sought to align the Old Testament with this canon.

Thirdly, Luther believed that the Deuterocanonical books lacked sufficient historical evidence and were not referenced by Jesus or the apostles in the New Testament. He argued that these books did not possess the same level of divine inspiration as the rest of the Bible.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Did Luther entirely remove the Deuterocanonical books from the Bible?

No, Luther did not completely remove the Deuterocanonical books from the Bible. Instead, he moved them to an appendix within his translation of the Bible, indicating that they were not on the same level of authority as the rest of the books.

2. Did Luther’s removal of books influence other Protestant reformers?

Yes, Luther’s removal of books from the Bible had a significant impact on other Protestant reformers. His translation of the Bible and his views on canonicity influenced subsequent Protestant translations, such as the King James Version, which also placed the Deuterocanonical books in an appendix.

3. Do Protestant Bibles today include the Deuterocanonical books?

Most Protestant Bibles today do not include the Deuterocanonical books in their main canon. However, some Protestant denominations, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, still consider these books to be valuable for instruction and edification, even if they are not considered canonical.


Martin Luther’s decision to remove books from the Bible was driven by his theological beliefs, his interpretation of Scripture, and his desire to align the canon with the Hebrew Bible. While this act has been controversial, it must be understood within its historical context. The removal of the Deuterocanonical books by Luther had a lasting impact on Protestant Bibles, highlighting the ongoing debate regarding the canon of Scripture.

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