Comparison of the books of the Old Testament in various Christian traditions

Pages from the Apocalypse (Revelation) in a Russian/Ukrainian Slavonic Bible, after 1843. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Pages from the Apocalypse (Revelation) in a Russian/Ukrainian Slavonic Bible, after 1843. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

[Comparison table] [Why the difference?]

What are the differences between the Old Testament used by Protestants, Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Slavonic Bible used by the Russian Orthodox Church?

All of these Christian traditions use an identical New Testament consisting of the 27 books listed by Athanasius in his Easter Letter of A.D. 367 and confirmed by three subsequent Church Councils in North Africa in A.D. 393, 397 and 419. (The order of the New Testament books is, however, not universally the same; The Slavonic New Testament has its 27 books in a different order: see here.)

“In the historically Protestant United Kingdom we are accustomed to an Old Testament comprising the 39 books which are regarded as Holy Scripture by Orthodox Judaism. By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has an Old Testament which is longer by some twelve additional books or parts of books — the difference being known by Protestants as the Apocrypha, and by Catholics as the ‘Deuterocanonical’ books.”

The same cannot be said of the Old Testament. In the historically Protestant United Kingdom we are accustomed to an Old Testament comprising the 39 books which are regarded as Holy Scripture by Orthodox Judaism (although Orthodox Judaism counts these differently, numbering 24 books).

By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has an Old Testament which is longer by some twelve additional books or parts of books — the difference being known by Protestants as the Apocrypha (meaning ‘hidden’ or ‘spurious’[1]), and by Catholics as the ‘Deuterocanonical’ books (meaning ‘those which were brought into the canon a second time’).

The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church (which uses the Slavonic Bible) each use a still longer canon of the Old Testament, containing books not found in the Roman Catholic Old Testament such as 3 Maccabees.

Below I have summarized the different canons of the Old Testament in the four different traditions.

Comparison of the books of the Old Testament in various Christian traditions

BookProtestantRoman CatholicGreek BibleSlavonic Bible
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 Samuel(as 1 Kingdoms)
2 Samuel(as 2 Kingdoms)
1 Kings(as 3 Kingdoms)
2 Kings(as 4 Kingdoms)
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra(as 1 Esdras)
Nehemiah
1 Esdras(in Appendix)(as 2 Esdras)
Tobit
Judith
Esther
Additions to Esther
Job
Psalms
Psalm 151
Odes
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Letter of Jeremiah
Baruch
Ezekiel
Daniel
Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men
Susanna (Daniel ch. 13)
Bel and the Dragon (Daniel ch. 14)
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
3 Maccabees
Prayer of Manasseh(in Appendix)
2 Esdras(in Appendix)(as 3 Esdras)
4 Maccabees(in Appendix)

 

Sources for this table

Bibles

The Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version Anglicized Edition. Oxford University Press, 1995 (ISBN 0-19-107001-7). Contents: pp. v-vii.

The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books (Expanded Edition). Collins, reprinted 1995 (ISBN 0-00-533192-7). Contents: pp. xii-xiii.

Roman Catholic Bible

https://www.catholic.org/bible/books_bible.php
A link showing the number and order of the books in the Catholic Bible.

Eastern Orthodox Bible

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_the_Bible#Eastern_Orthodox
Lists the books accepted in the Eastern Orthodox canon which are not in the Roman Catholic canon.

Slavonic Bible

https://pomog.org/bible-en/
A link showing the number and order of the books in the Slavonic Bible.

Other sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Testament
Has a comparison chart showing the differences between the Jewish Bible (Tanakh), and the canon of the Old Testament as accepted by Protestantism, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

 

In our next post we will consider why the canon of the Old Testament is different in these different Christian traditions. Particularly we will examine why this is the case between the Protestant Old Testament and the Roman Catholic.

 

 

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[1] https://www.dictionary.com/browse/apocrypha?s=t

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