If one would say that God directly handed over the complete Bible, it is wrong. In fact, we believe that over the centuries, God inspired the human authors of various Books of the Bible, to put in written word what God revealed to His people in history. “Inspired” means, God is the Principal Author, preserving the human author from doctrinal error. Besides the truly inspired Books, there were a number of uninspired books, which caused confusion among the people of the ancient Church. Hence, the Church formed what was known as “Canons of the Bible”, a set of norms in 382, when Pope Damasus convoked a Synod. Based on these Canons, the Church Fathers declared officially the authentic Books of the Sacred Scripture.
In the 16th century, when Luther and his followers of the Reformation protested against the Catholic Church, they did not want to accept some of the Books in the Bible. Thus, the Bible used by the Protestant Churches became incomplete according to the standard of the Catholic Church.
When the Catholic Church defined the authentic Books of the Bible, they classified into three categories: Protocanonical, Deuterocanonical and Apocryphal.
- Protocanonical Books were those that were accepted by all ancient Christians as inspired Books of the Scripture.
- Deuterocanonical Books were those about which there was some debate about their authenticity. The Catholic Church accepted them as inspired and included them in the Bible. These Books in the Old Testament are: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Baruch, 1st & 2nd Maccabees, chapters 10-16 of Esther, Daniel 3:2490 (Song of the Three Young Men), Daniel 13 (the story of Susannah), and Daniel 14 (Bel & the Dragon). These Books were later not accepted by Luther and his followers in the 16th century as inspired Books. Hence these Books are not found in the Protestant Bible.
- Apocryphal Books were those, which were considered false and non-inspired Books. Hence, they were rejected by the Church and were not included in the Bible. There were dozens of Gospels and Letters, which were considered apocryphal.
We must remember that originally the Old Testament Books and the Gospels were transmitted orally and were written down only later. During the transition from oral to written tradition, there were many Books, from among them, the early Church had to identify their authenticity. We believe that God speaks to us through the written Books of the Bible and reveals His love for us.