Why Did Protestants Remove Books From the Bible

Why Did Protestants Remove Books From the Bible?

The Bible is a sacred text revered by millions around the world, serving as a guide for faith, morality, and spirituality. However, not all Bibles are the same. Protestants, for instance, follow a version of the Bible that differs from the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. One notable difference is the removal of several books and portions of books, known as the Apocrypha, from the Protestant canon. The decision to exclude these texts from the Bible was not arbitrary but rather rooted in historical, theological, and interpretative differences. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the removal of books from the Bible by Protestants and address common questions related to this topic.

Historical Context:
The Protestant Reformation, which took place in the 16th century, led to significant changes in the Christian world. One of the key figures of this movement was Martin Luther, a German monk who challenged certain practices of the Catholic Church. Luther believed that the Bible should be the ultimate authority for Christians, rather than the Church hierarchy. As part of his efforts to reform the Church, Luther translated the Bible into German, making it accessible to the common people.

However, during this translation process, Luther also questioned the canonicity of certain books and sections within the Old Testament. He placed the Apocrypha, which includes books like Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and parts of Esther and Daniel, in a separate section, labeling them as “deuterocanonical” rather than “canonical.” Luther’s decision was not entirely unprecedented, as Jewish scholars and early Christian theologians also debated the inclusion of these texts in the canon.

Theological Considerations:
The removal of the Apocrypha by Protestants was primarily driven by theological concerns. Luther and other reformers questioned the authenticity and doctrinal consistency of these books. They argued that some of the theological teachings found within the Apocrypha were not in line with their understanding of Scripture. Additionally, the lack of Jewish recognition of these books further contributed to their skepticism.

For instance, Luther criticized the book of Tobit for promoting the idea of salvation through good works, which he believed contradicted the Protestant doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Similarly, the book of Wisdom, which contains passages that seem to support the concept of the immortality of the soul, clashed with the reformers’ emphasis on the final judgment and resurrection.

Interpretative Differences:
Another factor that influenced the removal of books from the Protestant Bible was the difference in interpretative methods. The reformers adhered to the principle of “sola scriptura,” which means that Scripture alone should be the basis for Christian doctrine. They believed that the Bible should be interpreted in light of clear and consistent teachings found within its pages.

In contrast, the Catholic Church relied not only on Scripture but also on Tradition and the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church) for doctrinal development. The inclusion of the Apocrypha in the Catholic canon was partly based on the use of these texts in liturgical practices and their endorsement by early Church fathers.

As a result, the reformers sought to establish a canon that aligned closely with the Hebrew Bible, which excluded the Apocrypha. They argued that these books lacked the same divine authority as the rest of the Old Testament, as they were not originally written in Hebrew and were not accepted by Jewish authorities.


Q: Are the removed books completely disregarded by Protestants?
A: Although these books are not considered canonical by Protestants, they are still valued for their historical and cultural insights. They can be found in some Protestant Bibles as an appendix or in separate editions.

Q: Do Catholics consider the removed books as Scripture?
A: Yes, the Catholic Church considers the Apocrypha as part of the canon and refers to them as “deuterocanonical” books. They are included in the Catholic Bible.

Q: Does the removal of the books affect the foundational teachings of Christianity?
A: The removal of the Apocrypha does not impact the core doctrines of Christianity, as these doctrines are primarily based on the books shared by all Christian traditions.

Q: Can we find similar discrepancies in the New Testament?
A: No, the New Testament canon is largely agreed upon by all Christian traditions, with no significant differences in the books included.

In conclusion, the removal of books from the Bible by Protestants was a result of historical, theological, and interpretative considerations. While it created differences between Protestant and Catholic canons, it does not undermine the foundational teachings of Christianity. It is essential to study and respect these differences while maintaining a shared commitment to the central message of the Bible.

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