Why Did Martin Luther Remove 7 Books From the Bible

Why Did Martin Luther Remove 7 Books From the Bible?

The Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther in the 16th century, brought significant changes to the Christian world. One such change was the removal of seven books from the Bible, known as the Deuterocanonical books or the Apocrypha. This decision continues to raise questions and debates among scholars and believers alike. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind Luther’s removal of these books and address some frequently asked questions regarding this controversial topic.

I. Historical Context:
To understand Luther’s decision, we must first consider the historical context in which it took place. During the early years of Christianity, there was no universally agreed-upon canon of Scripture. Different Christian communities had different collections of books they considered authoritative. It was not until the late 4th century that the Councils of Hippo and Carthage confirmed the canon of the Old and New Testaments that most Christians accept today.

The Deuterocanonical books, however, were not universally accepted by all Christians. They were included in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible that was widely used in the early Christian Church. However, the Jewish community, from which Christianity emerged, did not consider these books as part of their Scriptures. This discrepancy led to debates and divisions within the early Church.

II. Martin Luther’s Concerns:
Martin Luther, a Catholic monk and theologian, played a crucial role in the Protestant Reformation. One of his main concerns was the corruption and abuse within the Catholic Church, including the sale of indulgences. Luther believed that the Church’s teachings and practices had deviated from the true teachings of the Bible.

Regarding the Deuterocanonical books, Luther expressed doubts about their canonicity. He argued that these books, which included Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, and First and Second Maccabees, lacked sufficient historical evidence and were not consistent with the rest of Scripture. Luther believed that these books contained teachings that contradicted his understanding of salvation by faith alone, a central doctrine of the Reformation.

III. Theological Considerations:
Luther’s decision to remove these books from the Bible was based on theological considerations. He believed in the principle of sola scriptura, meaning Scripture alone should be the ultimate authority in matters of faith and practice. Luther argued that the Deuterocanonical books did not meet the criteria of apostolic authorship, historical accuracy, or consistency with the rest of Scripture. Therefore, he considered them less authoritative than the other books of the Bible.

Additionally, Luther’s understanding of salvation emphasized the concept of grace through faith. He believed that the Deuterocanonical books contained teachings that supported a salvation based on human works, which contradicted his theological position. Luther’s desire to return to what he saw as the pure teachings of Scripture led him to question the canonicity of these books.


Q1. Did Martin Luther remove these books entirely from the Bible?
A1. No, Martin Luther did not remove these books entirely. Instead, he moved them to an appendix, separating them from the rest of the Old Testament books. This distinction highlighted his concerns about their canonicity.

Q2. Are these books completely ignored by Protestant Christians?
A2. While Protestant Bibles typically do not include the Deuterocanonical books as part of their Old Testament, they are still valued by some Protestant denominations. These books are often considered as valuable historical and devotional literature, although not equal in authority to the rest of Scripture.

Q3. Do these books contain any valuable teachings?
A3. Yes, the Deuterocanonical books contain valuable teachings on various topics such as wisdom, prayer, and moral instructions. Many passages in these books are widely quoted and referenced by theologians and scholars.

In conclusion, Martin Luther’s decision to remove the seven books from the Bible was driven by his concerns about their canonicity, theological consistency, and their potential to undermine his understanding of salvation by faith alone. While this decision has shaped Protestant Bibles, it remains a subject of debate among Christians. The Deuterocanonical books continue to be appreciated for their historical and devotional value, even if their inclusion in the biblical canon remains a point of divergence among different Christian traditions.

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