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Ancient Jews Had Bible Differences


Bible Differences

Q: Frequently, I participate in a Jewish/Christian forum. We ask each other questions about our faiths. I have a question that no one has been able to answer. I have noticed that the Catholic Bible includes the Books of Tobias and Judith. Do you know why the Protestants excluded them from the King James Version?

    A: By the time of Jesus there were two collections of sacred books being used by the Jewish people. One collection was in Hebrew and was used by Palestinian Jews. The other was a Greek translation used by Greek-speaking Jews outside of Palestine.

    After the fall of Jerusalem (around 70 A.D.) Palestinian Jews established an official list (Jamnian Canon) of sacred books. Jews in Alexandria following the Greek Septuagint translation formed their own canon of holy books. That canon contained Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Maccabees and Baruch—books not in the Palestinian (Jamnian) Canon.

    Over the centuries Christians debated not just what books of the Jews were to be regarded as inspired but also what books written by Christians should be regarded as Scripture.

    When Martin Luther translated the Bible, he followed the Jamnian (Palestinian) Canon and omitted certain Old Testament books.

    The Council of Trent then definitively pronounced what books were to be held as inspired. Trent followed the Greek Septuagint translation (Alexandrian Canon), including those books not in the Jamnian Canon.

    At least some Protestant translations followed the lead of Luther in omitting the books not in the Jamnian Canon.

    The modern revision of the King James Bible, the Revised Standard Version (published in 1977), contains all the books called deuterocanonical found in Catholic Bibles, as well as those recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

    For more information on this, see Scripture From Scratch "Where Did We Get Our Bible?" by Elizabeth McNamer.

    How Did We Set the Time for Easter?

    Q: Could you tell me what determines the date Easter Sunday falls on or when Lent begins?

    A: The Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D., determined that Easter should be celebrated the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring.

    To determine the beginning of Lent, count back six Sundays before Easter. The Wednesday before the first of these Sundays is Ash Wednesday.

    When to Genuflect

    Q: When I was in grade school, the nuns taught us to double genuflect (both knees) when leaving church after Holy Thursday Mass.

    I took my children to all of Holy Week services. On Good Friday the sanctuary did not have the consecrated hosts in the tabernacle. The altar, of course, was bare. Do we genuflect anyway out of love and reverence to our Lord? Some parishioners did nothing upon entering the pew. What is right?

    A: The double genuflection at certain times of the pre-Vatican II liturgy is no longer required by the rubrics of the new liturgy.

    Some individuals or countries may continue it out of piety and devotion.

    According to Msgr. Peter J. Elliot in Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite (Ignatius Press), genuflection on one knee is reserved for: 1) Our Lord present in the Eucharist on the altar, in the tabernacle, monstrance or pyx; 2) the cross during its veneration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil; 3) a relic of the true cross exposed for veneration.

    A bow of the body (deep bow from the waist) is made to the altar if the Blessed Sacrament is not on it or behind it. A bow of the head is to be made at the mention of the three Divine Persons, at the names of Jesus and Mary and the saint in whose honor the liturgy is being celebrated.

    What Do We Know About Caleb?

    Q: Who was Caleb in the Old Testament? He was one of Moses' spies, as I understand. But is that all that is mentioned of him?

    A: You will find what we know about Caleb in the Books of Numbers and Joshua. Caleb was the son of Jephunneh of the tribe of Judah. Numbers lists him among the 12 Moses sent to reconnoiter the land of Canaan (Chapters 13—14). They were told to report on the population of the land, their military strength, the fertility of the soil, etc.

    All recognized the bounty of the crops. But none besides Caleb urged trying to take possession. The others were fearful and defeatist. Caleb urged going up to seize the land. When the people threatened revolt and rejection of Moses and Aaron, Caleb with Joshua urged fidelity to God and trust that God will be with Israel. The two were then threatened with stoning!

    Because of Caleb's "different spirit," God promised to bring him into the promised land along with Joshua while those rebelling wander in the desert without entering the land.

    In Joshua 14—15 Caleb reminded Joshua, who succeeded Moses, of God's promise. Joshua then gave Hebron to Caleb and Caleb drove out the Anakim people. Caleb then gave his daughter to Othniel for capturing Kiriath-sepher.

    Liturgical Rights and Wrongs

    Q: I moved into a new parish and the priests are using glass goblets for chalices. Since when has this been allowed? The priests also say daily Mass without a chasuble. When I worked at a veterans' hospital, I learned that all military and V.A. chaplains must wear a chasuble at every Mass. Why the difference?

    The priests at my new parish also stand in the center of the altar for the whole daily Mass. Is this common practice?

    A: I don't know what problems your daily Mass celebrants face, but the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Nos. 88-99) indicates the celebrant conducts the opening rite from the chair. He reads the Gospel (and other readings, if necessary) from the lectern (ambo).

    The homily is given from the lectern or chair. The priest also directs the prayer of the faithful from the chair or lectern.

    For the Eucharist, he takes his place at the altar.

    After Communion the celebrant may return to the chair.

    The Instruction states the celebrant is to be vested in alb, stole and chasuble. Outside a church (hotel, cruise, boat, etc.) he may use a chasuble-alb (chasalb, a one-piece vestment) with a stole.

    The Instruction states that liturgical vessels are to be made from solid (not easily breakable) and noble materials.

    Chalices should have a cup of nonabsorbent material (not wood, etc.).

    I can only suppose that your celebrants think the goblets they are using qualify as solid material, not easily breakable, and convey better the idea of a sacred banquet.

    I leave it up to them to explain the vestments they are using—and I presume they are wearing some kind of vestment.

    Welcome Home

    Q: I have recently returned to the Catholic Church after a long time away. I never lost God, only the rites and practices of the Church into which I was baptized and then confirmed. I am now attending Mass as often as I can. I am enjoying a new relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    My problem is this: When I left the Church during the early 60's, many of the practices and even prayers were not the same as they are now. I am feeling very inadequate and would be embarrassed to admit to my parish priest that I need instruction. I want desperately to become an active and contributing member of my parish and I am afraid that I will be thought of as a novice, or worse, a fraud. What suggestions do you have for me?

    A: Welcome home. We're glad to see you back.

    For information on many different topics, see our list of Catholic Updates in print. You can also see a catalog of all our publications.

    You could learn much by going through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process in your own or a nearby parish. You may find that you're not the only returning Catholic who feels lost. Four books that may be helpful to you come to mind. Faith Rediscovered: Coming Home to Catholicism, by Lawrence S. Cunningham (Paulist Press), has an appendix listing basic readings. Another is While You Were Gone: A Handbook for Returning Catholics, by William J. Bausch (Twenty-Third Publications). Another book from Paulist Press, by John J. Kenny, is Now That You Are a Catholic: An Informal Guide to Catholic Customs, Traditions and Practices. Finally, I recommend Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk's new book, Practicing Catholic (St. Anthony Messenger Press).




    The Wise Man welcomes your questions. If you have a question, please submit it here. Include your street address for personal replies enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, please. Some answer material must be mailed since it is not available in digital form. You can still send questions to: Wise Man, 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
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