What’s in Your Bible?

Author Vincent Setterholm

Jews and Christians throughout the centuries have produced bibles that vary in content and organization.

Canon Comparison Chart

Protestant Reformers like Martin Luther doubted the canonicity* of the Apocrypha*, but when Luther prepared his translation of the Bible into German, he did not remove the Apocrypha; he simply moved those books to an appendix. This tradition continues in many European bibles.

The English were the first group of people to remove the Apocrypha altogether. In 1599, an edition of the Geneva Bible was published without the Apocrypha. In 1615, during the reign of King James the First, George Abbot, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared the penalty for printing a Bible without the Apocrypha to be a year in prison! But over the next three centuries the growing influence of Puritans and Presbyterians over the populace, the government, and the British and Foreign Bible Society led to a strong tradition of printing bibles containing only 66 books.

The situation today reflects this bifurcation. 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.

See a complete chart that compares the canons of different church traditions at BibleStudyMagazine.com/Canon.


Apocrypha:Jerome, the translator of the early Latin Bible, maintained a distinction between those books he considered canonical and the non-canonical books that should be read for the edification of the church. With some modification, this list of edifying books is sometimes called the “Apocrypha.” Other theologians, such as the influential Augustine, did not maintain this distinction, and were more inclusive in their canon lists.

Canon: (kanōn; κανών)comes from the Greek word for “reed” or “rod,” used as a straight edge or ruler for measurement. In biblical studies, when we talk about a canon, we mean that list of books that a community considers both authoritative and inspired. Canonical books form the standard against which other writings, doctrines and practices are measured.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Logos Bible Software. Originally published in print, Vol. 1 No. 1.