The Bible is important to the Catholic and Lutheran branches of the Christian faith. Historically, both traditions read Scripture regularly, base their teaching and theology on it, and read and preach from it during times of corporate worship. Yet the Lutheran and Catholic Bible isn’t exactly the same.
The Catholic Bible includes books in the Old Testament that the Lutheran Bible doesn’t called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings. These writings consist of individual books (e.g. The Wisdom of Solomon) as well as additions to accepted books (e.g. Bel and the Dragon as the 14th chapter of Daniel).
Why does the Catholic Bible contain the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical writings while the Lutheran Bible doesn’t? Who decided to include those books in the Catholic Bible but not in the Lutheran one? Keep reading to learn more.
What is the Apocrypha or the Deuterocanonical literature?
Catholic scholars prefer the term “deuterocanonical,” which means “second canon,” to the term “Apocrypha.” The term Apocrypha, from the Greek word for “hidden,” has negative connotations that Catholic scholars dislike. (Also see What Bible Translation Do Lutherans Use?)
In some contexts, “Apocrypha” is synonymous with terms like false and fictitious. Protestants often use the term Apocrypha over deuterocanonical, because they don’t believe the writings are canonical.
Key term | canon: The word “canon” describes the officially accepted list of books that belong in the Bible. The term canon refers to a measuring rod and to be in the canon implies that a book passed the test or was successfully measured and considered worthy of inclusion.
|Meaning: from Latin, meaning “second canon”||Meaning: from Greek, meaning “hidden”|
|Refers to: certain books written between the Old and New Testament that are included in the Septuagint (i.e. the Greek Old Testament) and the Catholic Bible||Refers to: certain books written during the intertestamental period that are included in the Septuagint and the Catholic Bible; the term “Apocrypha” is also used to describe certain books written in the 2nd century after Christ, which aren’t included in the New Testament|
|Term: preferred by Roman Catholicism||Term: used by Protestants|
Key term | Septuagint: The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, i.e. the Christian Old Testament. The translation was produced in the 3rd century before Christ. The prefix “Sept” refers to 70, which, according to tradition, is the number of translators who worked on the project. The Apocrypha or deuterocanonical books were included in the Septuagint, but they weren’t part of the Hebrew Bible.
|The Books of the Apocrypha|
|Baruch (including the Epistle of Jeremiah)|
|Wisdom of Solomon|
|1 and 2 Maccabees|
|additions to Esther|
|additions to Daniel|
When were the Apocryphal books added to the Catholic Bible?
The Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books trace their origin to the Septuagint, which is a Greek translation of the Old Testament that a group of scholars wrote around the 3rd century BC in Egypt.
Though the early church rejected these writings, the scholar Jerome translated the Apocrypha and the Old and New Testament into Latin in the 4th century A.D. Jerome’s translation is called the Vulgate.
Jerome was one of the first to translate directly from the Hebrew Masoretic text instead of from the Septuagint. Although he included the books of the additional writings in his translations, he did not consider the books to be canon. (Also see Do Lutherans Speak in Tongues?)
The Catholic Church has decided that the updated version of Jerome’s translation is the only official translation of the Bible. In Latin-only services, this is the version that the priests and congregants use in their liturgy. However, services in English utilize several different English translations, such as the New American Bible, the Jerusalem Bible, and the Catholic version of the New Revised Standard Version.
These different versions employ a range of translation philosophies, but they all include the additional seven books from the Apocrypha. The Greek Orthodox Church, which has many similarities to Roman Catholicism, includes other books from the Apocrypha as well.  (Also see Lutheran vs Non-Denominational: What’s the Difference?)
Why didn’t Martin Luther accept the extra books?
Martin Luther did not accept any of the extra books as Scripture, for similar reasons that other church leaders throughout history have rejected them. (Also see What Do Lutherans Believe About Mary?)
Before Luther: The earliest records of Christianity, with a few exceptions, show the early church did not view the books of the writings as Scripture. In the third and fourth centuries, other theologians weighed into the conversation. Augustine, and some others accepted some of the writings as Scripture and used them in establishing theology.
Another factor is that in Luther’s time, only Greek translations existed of the Apocryphal books. In fact, people assumed, perhaps rightly for the majority of the books, that the authors wrote these them originally in Greek. (Also see Why Do Lutherans Make the Sign of the Cross?)
Because of this, many Christians viewed these books as late additions. Although more recent scholarship has placed the date of these books closer to the other books of the Old Testament, a gap of time still exists. (Also see Do Lutherans Believe You Can Lose Your Salvation?)
Yet, even for Protestants, Bibles were regularly printed with the additional writings until the 19th century:
“So when and where does the Protestant Bible of 66 books show up? This practice was not standardized until 1825 when the British and Foreign Bible Society, in essence, threw down the gauntlet and said, ‘These 66 books and no others.’ But this was not the Bible of Luther, Calvin, Knox, or even the Wesleys, who used the Authorized Version. Protestants had long treated the extra books as, at best, deuterocanonical.” 
The theology of the extra books
The Apocryphal books include verses that undermine some of the important doctrines that Luther sought to champion. This includes passages that indicate the importance of praying for the dead. Because of these reasons and others, Luther included the writings in his German translation, but with a note that says that while the books are useful for reading, they are not equal to that of holy Scripture. 
Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, contends that the seven additional books of the Catholic Bible are not actually additions, but instead draw support from early church history. They point out that the leaders of the early church used many of the books of the Septuagint (including the Apocrypha) to support the spread of Christianity.
Many Catholics also contend that several books of the Bible quote the Apocrypha, while some Protestants would counter by pointing out that Jesus himself does not quote from any of these books.  (Also see Do Lutherans Pray the Rosary?)
What Bible do Lutherans use?
Lutherans have the freedom to use any English translation of the Bible. Many Lutheran denominations encourage its members to use the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The NRSV follows the translation principles of “formal equivalence,” which means scholars translated the original-language texts word-for-word, though there are some instances of paraphrasing. (Also see Lutheran vs Baptist: The Ultimate Comparison)
The NRSV values faithfulness to the meaning of the text in the original languages with accessibility so modern readers can understand it. Many Lutherans believe that this translation philosophy aligns with how Luther approached translating the Bible into German. He wanted common people to be able to read and understand the Bible as the original authors intended.
Lutheranism doesn’t believe the Apocryphal books are the inspired word of God, but they don’t hold that they are without value altogether. In contrast to many other translations, the NRSV is a multi-tradition project, utilizing both Protestant and Catholic scholars and translators. The Catholic Church supports its use in scholarship and personal study, although in the United States the Catholic Church most often uses the New American Bible in its lectionary.
Daniel Isaiah Joseph
Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.
Do Lutherans Believe You Can Lose Your Salvation? Get the Facts
Salvation is one of the most important doctrines in the Lutheran tradition. Jesus Christ died on the cross to save people from sin (1 John 2:2). Some people wonder: Can a person lose their salvation...
How does a Catholic Bible differ from a Lutheran Bible? ›
Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament. Thus, the differences between their Bibles concerns the boundaries of the Old Testament canon. In short, Catholics have 46 books, while Protestants have 39.
Lutherans view Christ as the head of the church and have two formal holy sacraments. The Catholic church believes that good works must go hand in hand with faith in God to bring salvation. Whilst the Bible is still valued, Catholics also believe in the authority of the Pope, as head of the church, to create doctrine.What Bible does Lutheran Church use? ›
|Evangelical Heritage Version|
|Translation type||Optimal equivalence|
|Publisher||Northwestern Publishing House|
Bibles used by Catholics differ in the number and order of books from those typically found in bibles used by Protestants, as Catholic bibles retain in their canon seven books that are regarded as non-canonical in Protestantism (though regarding them as non-canonical, many Protestant Bibles traditionally include these ...Do Lutherans pray to Mary? ›
Modern Lutheran synods usually reject or at least do not actively recommend the practice of directly addressing Mary and other saints in prayers of admiration or petition as part of their religious worship of God.Do Lutherans pray the Hail Mary? ›
The Hail Mary is the central part of the Angelus, a devotion generally recited thrice daily by many Catholics, as well as broad & high church Anglicans, and Lutherans who usually omit the second half.Which three beliefs made Lutherans different from Catholics? ›
Which three beliefs made Lutherans different from Catholics? Lutherans believed that salvation can be attained through faith alone. Lutherans believed that the Bible contained the only truth, not the church. Lutherans allowed members of the clergy to marry.Do Lutherans do confession? ›
The Lutheran Church practices "Confession and Absolution" [referred to as the Office of the Keys] with the emphasis on the absolution, which is God's word of forgiveness. Indeed, Lutherans highly regard Holy Absolution. They, like Roman Catholics, see James 5:16 and John 20:22–23 as biblical evidence for confession.Can a Catholic and Lutheran marry? ›
Technically, marriages between a Catholic and a baptized Christian who is not in full communion with the Catholic Church (Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc.) are called mixed marriages.What is the Lutheran Bible called? ›
There is no such thing as a “Lutheran Bible.” There is a German Bible (called the Luther Bible) translated by Martin Luther and printed in 1534. And there are Bibles with study notes written from a Lutheran perspective. But there is no official Lutheran Bible or specifically Lutheran translation.
Which Bible do Catholics use? ›
The New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE) is a Bible translation approved for use by the Catholic Church, receiving the imprimatur of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1991.Do Lutherans think Jesus is God? ›
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod believes Jesus is exactly who He said He is. Along with the ancient Church, we confess that Jesus is true God and true man in one person. He is the Son of God who was crucified and raised from the dead for the salvation of all who trust in Him.What books does the Catholic Bible have that others don t? ›
Did you know that the Catholic Bible contains seven books that are not included in the Protestant Bible? These special books of the Bible—Sirach, Wisdom, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, Judith, additions to Daniel, and Esther—contain harrowing stories of family, resurrection, and prayer.Why do Catholics pray to Mary? ›
Catholics do not pray to Mary as if she were God. Prayer to Mary is memory of the great mysteries of our faith (Incarnation, Redemption through Christ in the rosary), praise to God for the wonderful things he has done in and through one of his creatures (Hail Mary) and intercession (second half of the Hail Mary).Does the Catholic Church change the Bible? ›
Since then, all Protestant groups that came to, or were founded in America have used Bibles without the Apocrypha. Catholic bibles, however, have not varied since the original canon was approved at the Council of Hippo in 397 AD.How do Lutherans believe you get to heaven? ›
A Lutheran believes in “Grace Alone.” That is, a Lutheran believes that on the basis of God's Holy Word that a person is forgiven and enters heaven by God's grace alone.What are the 3 beliefs of the Lutheran Church? ›
Theologically, Lutheranism embraces the standard affirmations of classic Protestantism—the repudiation of papal and ecclesiastical authority in favour of the Bible (sola Scriptura), the rejection of five of the traditional seven sacraments affirmed by the Catholic church, and the insistence that human reconciliation ...Can Lutherans have a rosary? ›
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Many Lutherans and Lutheran congregations use crucifixes. Crucifixes are used in the chapels of both of our seminaries and our International Center. Lutheranism has always considered the crucifix to be a powerful reminder of the sacrifice our Lord Jesus made for us and our salvation, on the cross.Do Lutherans use the Lord's prayer? ›
Lutherans acknowledge and respect the tradition that includes the concluding ascription of praise in the text of the Lord's Prayer. Most important, they recognize that it is perfectly consistent with what the Holy Scriptures teach throughout concerning the nature, purpose, and importance of Christian prayer.
Can Lutherans go to heaven? ›
Lutherans believe that whoever has faith in Jesus alone will receive salvation from the grace of God and will enter eternity in heaven instead of eternity in hell after death or at the second coming of Jesus.What are the 7 extra books in the Catholic Bible? ›
Did you know that the Catholic Bible contains seven books that are not included in the Protestant Bible? These special books of the Bible—Sirach, Wisdom, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, Judith, additions to Daniel, and Esther—contain harrowing stories of family, resurrection, and prayer.Which Bible version does Catholic Church use? ›
The New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (NRSV-CE) is a Bible translation approved for use by the Catholic Church, receiving the imprimatur of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1991.Can a Lutheran take Catholic communion? ›
Catholics believe these become the body and blood of Christ; some Protestants, notably Lutherans, say Christ is present in the sacrament. Protestants are currently allowed to receive Catholic communion only in extreme circumstances, such as when they are in danger of death.Is King James Bible Catholic? ›
No. The King James Version of the Bible, also known as the Authorized Version, is a Protestant translation of Scripture into English that was commissioned and promulgated by James I of England for use in the Anglican church.Did the Catholic Church change the 10 Commandments? ›
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis didn't say that God had told him to revise the Ten Commandments as claimed in a widely shared story. Francis never made the purported comments and has not changed or added to the Ten Commandments.Where is purgatory in the Bible? ›
Roman Catholic Christians who believe in purgatory interpret passages such as 2 Maccabees 12:41–46, 2 Timothy 1:18, Matthew 12:32, Luke 23:43, 1 Corinthians 3:11–3:15 and Hebrews 12:29 as support for prayer for purgatorial souls who are believed to be within an active interim state for the dead undergoing purifying ...What is the easiest Bible to read and understand? ›
The New International Reader's Version (NIrV)
It uses easier words than the NIV. It also explains harder words. This makes it a good beginner Bible for adults who find reading hard. You can read the NIrV online at biblegateway.com and on the Youversion Bible app.
- New International Version.
- English Standard Version.
- New Living Translation.
- King James Version.
- Christian Standard Bible.
A more literal Bible translation is not necessarily more accurate, especially if it's difficult to understand, leading modern readers to misinterpret it. For daily reading and Bible study, we recommend using a Bible translation that emphasizes the importance of being both literal and readable, such as the CSB or NIV.
Can a Lutheran go to confession? ›
Lutheran confession (in the same manner as confession in the Catholic Church) can be done in the church chancel with the penitent kneeling at the altar rail and the pastor sitting in front of them, in the privacy of the pastor's office, or sometimes in a confessional.What are the 3 beliefs of the Lutheran church? ›
Theologically, Lutheranism embraces the standard affirmations of classic Protestantism—the repudiation of papal and ecclesiastical authority in favour of the Bible (sola Scriptura), the rejection of five of the traditional seven sacraments affirmed by the Catholic church, and the insistence that human reconciliation ...Do Lutherans say Mass? ›
The term Mass is commonly used in the Catholic Church, Western Rite Orthodoxy, Old Catholicism, and Independent Catholicism. The term is used in some Lutheran churches, as well as in some Anglican churches. The term is also used, on rare occasion, by other Protestant churches.What are the 7 books removed from the Bible by the Protestants? ›
During the Reformation, for largely doctrinal reasons Protestants removed seven books from the Old Testament (1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith) and parts of two others (Daniel and Esther), even though these books had been regarded as canonical since the beginning of Church history.What Bible do Jehovah Witness use? ›
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King James Version (KJV), also called Authorized Version or King James Bible, English translation of the Bible, published in 1611 under the auspices of King James I of England.