Who Decides What To Include Into Bibles?
Old Testament books that are included in the Bibles used by Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians, but not in the Bibles used by most Protestant Christians and Jews.
All Christians and Jews include the 39 books commonly known as the Old Testament in their Bibles. In addition, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians accept the authority of writings that are commonly known as the “apocrypha.” The word “apocrypha,” which means “hidden,” was applied to these books to show that their authoritative status was disputed. Another term for these writings is “deutero-canonical.” Some Bibles include these books at various points in the Old Testament, while others print the apocryphal books as a separate section or omit them altogether.
The books in the apocrypha are of Jewish origin but are not considered authoritative by Jewish readers. Many Christians in the centuries after Christ valued these books and came to consider them authoritative for Christian faith and life. During the Reformation in the sixteenth century, Protestants challenged the authority of the apocryphal books and eventually ceased including them in their Bibles.
The books of the Apocrypha include 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or Sirach, Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. There are Greek additions to Esther and several additional sections of Daniel, including the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon. Orthodox Christians also include 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Psalm 151.