Today in Catholic History – The Bible Canon and the Council of Trent

In its fourth session, on 8 April 1546, the Council of Trent by a vote of 24 for versus 15 against with 16 abstentions approved the Canon or list of books presently contained within the Roman Catholic Bible. These books included what are commonly called the 12 Deuterocanonical books. The Deuterocanonical books were not added to the Bible, rather the Council of Trent reaffirmed earlier lists of authoritative scriptures in 382, 393, and 397 which contained the Deuterocanonical books. Martin Luther had placed these books into a separate section of his Bible called the Apocrypha and gave them a lesser status to the other Old Testament texts, in part because the Deuterocanonical texts could be used to support Catholic teaching which Luther opposed such as the doctrine of Purgatory.

The Books of the Bible were:

Of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second.

Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle.

The Council of Trent also placed an anathema on any who did not accept as valid the scriptures contained in the Latin Vulgate Bible – made the authoritative version of the Bible; prohibited interpretation of the Scriptures contrary to that of the Catholic Church; and prohibited printing of Bibles or commentaries on the Scripture without permission of local Ordinaries.

The Decrees of Trent on the Sacred Scriptures


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