How many Books are in the Bible?

Quick Answer - The Protestant Bible has 66 Books while the Catholic version of the Bible has 73 Books. All differences in the two versions are in the Old Testament as both use the same 27 Books in the New Testament. 

Most early Bibles contained 73 Books, 27 in the New Testament and 46 from the Old Testament. When the Protestant Reformation began in 1517 the Protestant leaders decided to remove certain books form the Old Testament. These books, known as the Apocrypha Books, were found to be worthy of study but were not considered Holy Scripture. The seven books in question were removed, thus creating the separate Bibles. The Books removed were;

  • Baruch
  • Wisdom -or- Wisdom of Solomon
  • Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus)
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • Tobit
  • Judith
(Ecclesiasticus should not be confused with the Book of Ecclesiastes which is included in the Old Testament Canon of both versions of the Bible, Protestant and Catholic.)

For a period of time most Protestant Bibles contained a total of 80 Books, not the standard 66 we know today. This is because the church leaders included the Apocrypha Books. The church felt it best to include not just the seven Books removed from the original Bible, but seven additional Apocrypha Books. This does not mean they felt all eighty books were Holy Scripture, they simply included all of the books for reference and study. Again, it should be mentioned the Protestant church does not find the Apocrypha Books to be false or pagan, they simply do not consider them Holy Scripture and thus they are excluded from the Biblical canon but were included in earlier versions.  

In addition to the seven Apocrypha Books listed above, the following seven were included in the earlier versions of the Bible to create a total of 80 books.

  • 1 Esdras
  • 2 Esdras
  • Rest of Esther
  • Song of the Three Children
  • Story of Susanna
  • The Idol Bel and the Dragon
  • Prayer of Manasseh
Many of the Apocrypha books come from what is known as the "Time Between the Testaments". This is the approximately four hundred years between the last profit from the Old Testament (Malachi) and the preaching of John the Baptist. This is also known as the Intertestamental Period. While the actual Bible is silent about these four hundred years, the historical gap is filled by the Apocrypha Books. Many feel the events and peoples covered by these books are critical to understanding how the world and people were uniquely prepared for the coming of the Messiah. 

Both churches use the same 27 Books of the New Testament. Theses books include the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Luke also wrote Acts of the Apostles. These are followed by the letters of the Great Missionary, Saint Paul. These include - Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and Hebrews. These are followed by the Epistles which include - James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude. The final book of the New Testament is Revelation, written by Saint John.

The Old Testament Books used by both versions of the Bible can be broken down into five separate categories. The first of these is the Pentateuch which consists of the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These are followed by the Historical Books which include Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Next are the Wisdom books. Included here are Job, Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

The Bible then moves into the Books of the Prophets beginning with the Major Prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel. The Old Testament concludes with the Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets which includes Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

The Wisdom Books are often associated with natural theology. Some see this as a major difference between the two theologies of the churches. The Protestant Church is generally seen as the stricter of the two when it comes to accepting natural theology and often rejects it. The Protestant Church believes all faith in revealed truths come from the Holy Scripture. The Catholic church believes these revealed truths come from both the Holy Scriptures as well as Tradition and both should be accepted as authoritative.

[Natural Theology - is the knowledge of God based on observed facts rather than divine revelation.] 

There is a great deal of controversy and misinformation on who and why books were removed from the Bible. Most of the controversy stems from people looking to create a divide or to promote their own agenda against a certain group or groups of people. It must be remembered that both the Protestant and Catholic Bible contain the same 27 books of the New Testament which covers the life and teachings of Jesus. While both do not share all of the same books in the Old Testament, the vast majority of the Books used are the same. For the extra books, or missing books, depending on your viewpoint, both churches feel the books are worthy of study and neither considers them to be false teachings.

The two churches do have real differences in teachings and beliefs. These include Salvation and Grace, Justification, the veneration of Saints and more. However, any controversy over the difference between the Protestant and Catholic Bible is largely unfounded. All Books used in both versions are considered truthful and useful to the believer. In the end, this should be all we are truly concerned about.

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