Adapting to a new Bible - Catholic Courier

Adapting to a new Bible

To the editor:

For over 20 years I have been a St. Patrick’s Owego parishioner, and the only Bible I had was copyrighted in 1963, which had belonged to my late wife. Recently I started reading the daily passages as listed in each Sunday bulletin. Sometimes I was unable to locate the passages due to book name changes since 1963. Example: The Apocalypse is now called Revelation.

A fellow parishioner knew that I was having that difficulty and she went out of her way to buy me a new Bible. Now I can find the daily passages listed in the bulletin – with three notable exceptions. Those three exceptions are in our August 7 bulletin as follows:

1. The Book of Wisdom. This book is not listed in my new Bible. It is in the Old Testament of my 1963 bible.

2. The book abbreviated Ez. Ez could stand for either Ezra or Ezekiel, both in the Old Testament of my new Bible. It my 1963 Bible the only book starting with Ez is Ezekiel, which is in the Old Testament.

3. The book of Hebrews. There is no book of Hebrews in my new bible. In my 1963 bible the book of Hebrews is in the New Testament.

The above are just curious observations on my part.

Karl Tiemann


EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is a response to Mr. Tiemann’s question from Father George Heyman, president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry where he also is associate professor of Biblical Studies:

The Catholic canon, or list of books, was finalized at the Council of Trent in 1546. This list was challenged by the Reformers because it contained seven Old Testament books that were originally written in Greek, not Hebrew. Since that time, Bibles published for Catholics contain 46 books in the Old Testament (the Book of Wisdom being one of them), while Protestant Bibles contain only 39 books.

To compound confusion, although their content remains the same, some biblical books are now called by slightly different names than they previously were. For example, what we know today as the Old Testament books of Ezra and of Nehemiah at one time were called First Esdras and Second Esdras because they are combined into one book in the Jewish canon, or list. This also led to the abbreviation Es rather than Ez, which was reserved for the book of Ezekiel.

The New Testament canon has remained stable for nearly 1,600 years. However, for centuries it was thought that Hebrews was penned by St. Paul. Today, scholars believe this book was inspired and edited by an anonymous author. So in older Bibles you might find the "Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews," whereas today it is simply titled the "Letter to the Hebrews." It appears after the shortest of all Paul’s authentic works, the Letter to Philemon.


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