One of the most enduring Protestant Myths is that in 1546, at the Council of Trent added to the Sacred Canon the books which are commonly termed the Apocrypha, or more recently, the Deuterocanon. In fact, contrary to this myth, what the Council did was to affirm what had been the Traditional Canon since the early Church.
The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,–lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the Same three legates of the Apostolic Sec presiding therein,–keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament–seeing that one God is the author of both –as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ’s own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one’s mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod. They are as set down here below: 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. But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church. (read the rest here)
If you read the early canon lists of Christianity, you will note that it varied from time to time, including the books which Protestants usually dismiss as ‘Catholic.’
- The Muratorian Fragment (c. 170).
- Melito (c. 170).
- Origen (c. 240).
- Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 324).
- Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 350).
- Hilary of Poitiers (c. 360).
- The Cheltenham List (c. 360).
- Council of Laodicea (c. 363).
- Letter of Athanasius (367).
- Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 380).
- Amphilocius of Iconium (c. 380).
- The “Apostolic Canons” (c. 380).
- Epiphanius (c. 385).
- Jerome (c. 390).
- Augustine (c. 397).
- Third Council of Carthage (397).
- Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 400).
- Codex Claromontanus (c. 400).
- Letter of Innocent I (405).
- Decree of Gelasius (c. 550).
- Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (c. 550).
- John of Damascus (c. 730).
Further, you will note that a wide range of Christian branches, use the Deuterocanon,
It is mainly the American church which no longer has a place for the Deuterocanon,
The bibles used by many European Protestants, as well as the Anglican Church, still include the Apocrypha. Most other English-speaking Protestant churches have bibles without the Apocrypha.
One of the greatest errors that we can do to these books is to ascribe to them ‘Catholic.’ It prevents them from being read by many, and being used for many more. There is deep value in some of these books, spiritual and theological, and in others, historical and moral. For some, they will never carry the same weight as the Common Canon. For others, it builds up their faith. These are not Catholic books, but Christian books.
Two of the silliest notions about these books are:
- The Jews don’t accept them
- They teach unChristian doctrines
To number one, I say, and? The Jews don’t accept the New Testament books either. Further, the Jewish canon wasn’t settled until after the New Testament was written – until after the Temple was destroyed.
And number two? So does Leviticus.