Q. My friend’s Bible has different chapters from mine. Why are they different?
A. First of all, let me say that it is always a blessing to know that someone is interested in the Bible! I think that many Bibles just collect dust on our book shelves. I hope that you and your friend keep up your interest in the Bible and read it often.
It’s true that since the early 1500s there has been disagreement among Christians on which books of the Bible should actually be in the Bible. But as early as 382 A.D., the Catholic Church explicitly named the books of the Bible as we have them today.
And for the three centuries earlier than that, the books we accept today were commonly accepted — and used as authentically inspired by God — by saints, popes and so many of the early Church fathers.
Today’s difference in Bibles is that the Catholic Church accepts seven additional Old Testament books of the Bible (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Baruch, First and Second Maccabees) and parts of two others (Esther 10:14 to 16:14; and Daniel 3:24- 90; 13; 14).
Some Christian denominations completely reject these additional books and some put them together in the back of the Bible naming them the “apocryphal” books (meaning “doubtful” or “uninspired”).
So what’s the problem? Why the difference? The essential difference is this: those books that were challenged and called into question in the 1500s are Old Testament books that we have no Hebrew translation for. The only early pre-Christian copies that we have of those books are in Greek and were therefore primarily used by Greek-speaking Jews prior to the time of Jesus. All of the other books in the Old Testament also have early copies in Hebrew and were used by many other Jews prior to the time of Jesus. I hope that makes sense.
And, please, keep reading that Bible! And if you bump into a friend with a Bible containing different chapters than yours, you may want to use that as an opportunity to look at those different chapters together. This would be a great way for each of you to learn and grow in your faith together!