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I've noticed recently on this site there is a push to enforce the rule that, in one's questions, one ought to state "which Bible" one is interested in learning about--whether that is the "Catholic Bible", "Protestant Bible", "Mormon Bible", etc.

Although I knew there were many translations of "the" Bible, I didn't realize that the various denominations of Christianity were using different books. Sure, there must be appreciable overlap among them, but there must also be appreciable differences, too, for this rule to be in place.

So, questions in this vein might be:

  1. How many different Bibles do experts tend to agree there are?
  2. How do they differ? (provide a summary or key differences)
  3. In what ways do those differences matter to the adherents to those denominations?

By the way, I would not count The Book of Mormon as "part of" the Mormon Bible; I would see it as its own book in that denomination (but maybe that is wrongheaded in the Mormon tradition?).

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I don't think anyone would consider the Book of Mormon as part of the Bible. Nor the Doctrine and Covenants, for that matter. –  Richard Nov 3 '11 at 17:45
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Providing "a summary or key difference" of all the translations is far, far beyond the scope of this site. The same is true of question #3. –  Richard Nov 3 '11 at 18:00
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The main division is whether deuterocanonicals are included (i.e. Protestant vs. Catholic Bible). For more information on this, see Should a Protestant read the apocryphal books of the Bible? –  dancek Nov 3 '11 at 18:42
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There are also translational differences that result in doctrinal differences and we cannot ignore this fact. The Inspired Version and the New World Translation are two, off hand, that would not be accepted by most (for example) Protestants. –  Richard Nov 3 '11 at 18:52
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What "Mormon Bible" are you talking about? Mormons use the standard King James Bible (in English, at least, or whatever the standard traditional Bible is in other languages) with the same canon as any other KJV Bible. The term "Mormon Bible" is usually used ignorantly as a reference to the Book of Mormon, but apparently that's not what you mean here. –  Mason Wheeler Nov 3 '11 at 19:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There are two major variations in the Bible which has caused rifts over time: translation and canon.

Translation

It's important to not underestimate the value of translation. The New World Translation, for example, is a translation used exclusively by the Jehovah's Witnesses. This "Bible" can be considered the Jehovah's Witness Bible.

Other denominations have exclusive translations as well, such as the Inspired Version, which is a partial translation exclusive to Mormonism (although, being a partial translation, is not their primary Bible).

Canonization

There are also many, many canons of the Bible. See here for a list. Some of these were for doctrinal purposes, such as Luther's attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelations from the canon. Others were from political reasons, such as the Ethiopian Christians accepting a different canon from the Roman Catholics. Then there's the authentic reasons for excluding particular books.

Regardless how you come at it, these different canons have resulted in differences in Bibles. The Bible as used by Roman Catholics, for example, contains the Deuterocanonical books, which are not part of the Protestant Bible. The varying Orthodox canons include text that are not found in the Roman Catholic canon.

Summary

Unfortunately, there are many different "Bibles"--a separation caused by both the translation and canonization processes.

Historical translations and canons also broaden the spectrum to an extreme (such as Luther's canon).

If you're looking for a raw list, start with a list of canons and a list of English translations.

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I must reiterate that different translations are sometimes different "Bibles". Don't presume that just because it's a different translation with the same canon means that it's the same "Bible". –  Richard Nov 3 '11 at 18:10
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Thanks, that list from Wikipedia was great. One thing I noticed was that none of the denominations listed there differed in any way in the New Testament, only the Old. Interesting! –  Chelonian Nov 3 '11 at 20:35
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@Chelonian That is true, but it only lists the major, popular, modern canons. Of course, asking about the "Lutheran Bible" would still get you the standard Protestant Canon, since Martin Luther lost that war on Hebrew, James, Jude and Revelations... –  Richard Nov 3 '11 at 20:42
    
If this question was asked today, it would be considers a polling question. –  The Freemason Mar 28 at 16:45
    
No, not true. It's a question asking for a list of discrete items and an explanation for them, not for rating or valuating them. Polling questions get closed because they are "subjective and argumentative", which this question is not. –  Richard Mar 31 at 15:47

I'm going to ignore the part about the book of Mormon because I know absolutely nothing about it.

But as a short answer to a very big question, there are two ancient sources of scripture and the scripture tradition of all Christians are more or less built around them.

  1. Septuagint

    The translation of the Hebrew Bible in Greek which is the source informing the earliest Bibles (which incidentally would be Catholic Bible and once the Great Schism happened, the Orthodox Bible).

  2. Masoretic

    The Hebrew Old Testament, the canon of which apparently was approved at the council of Jamnia (a Jewish council which took place a few years after the Resurrection of Our Lord).

Moreover, you probably want to know which Bibles apply to which confessions. Well, the modern Catholic Bible which is approved by the Bishops relies on the Septuagint for its structure and canon (hence it is bigger). Translations of the Catholic Bible generally use both the Masoretic, Septuagint as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls for context and accuracy. But, approved translations for Mass (Like the New American Bible) reflect what's in the Latin (Vulgate) Bible (originally translated by St. Jerome in the 4th century). Protestants use the Masoretic text for the OT, but most translations include a bit of help from the dead sea scrolls I'd imagine (unless your a KJV only person). Orthodox on the other hand, use only the Septuagint.

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