It is my understanding that most Protestant groups recognise a 66 book canon which is entirely a subset of the Roman Catholic canon and which was developed by removing the so-called apocrypha from the Latin Church's Old Testament. Are there any Protestant denominations which started from a non-Roman canon when developing their Bible?

For example, some Orthodox churches organize their Bibles to include some or all of the following works the Catholic Church does not include in her canon. Do any Protestant denominations include any of these in their Bibles, or specifically reject these books in the formation of their canon in the same way some Protestant groups specifically reject Tobit and Baruch?

  • 1 Esdras
  • 2 Esdras
  • 3 Maccabees
  • 4 Maccabees
  • Prayer of Manasseh
  • Psalm 151
  • Psalms 152–155
  • Jubilees
  • Enoch 1–3
  • Meqabyan
  • 2 Baruch

Protestant in this sense should be taken to be used in the broader meaning: Any western non-Catholic non-Orthodox church founded during or after the Reformation, especially those founded in the United States of America.

(List from Wikipedia)

  • 1
    Mormons aren't protestant.
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 24, 2015 at 21:33
  • @curiousdannii check the Wikipedia articles on biblical canons. The various Orthodox churches have sometimes very different canons than Catholic or Protestant. Mar 24, 2015 at 21:49
  • 1
    @curiousdannii There isn't just one; I mean ANY of them. Here. are. a. few. Or, you know, any other Bible (e.g. gnostic). Orthodoxy was just an example. Mar 24, 2015 at 21:57
  • 2
    The thing is, the 66-book OT canon is a subset of the Catholic canon. other canons overlap with it, they are neither subsets nor supersets of the canon. The question is essentially whether any Protestant canons contain books not in the Catholic canon. Mar 24, 2015 at 21:59
  • @thedarkwanderer So are you trying to ask why Protestants base their choice about the canon on the Catholic canon rather than based on the Orthodox canon?
    – curiousdannii
    Mar 25, 2015 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


Many of the Reformation confessions (statements of belief) mention an Apocrypha, but most do not explicitly give a list of non-canonical books. Two do however, which I have quoted below. Most of those non-canonical books are in the Catholic canon, but three are not: the Prayer of Manasseh and 3rd and 4th Esdras (sometimes confusingly called 1st and 2nd Esdras). What marks these books out is that they were included in the Vulgate. So I think the debate over the Protestant canon was not so much about revising the Catholic canon, but evaluating the books that were well known in Europe.

I haven't found any modern statements of belief that explicitly list excluded books. Although Protestant academia is of course aware of the other canons and I'm sure you could find detailed arguments for why each book is excluded, in general there is little debate now over any of the OT apocrypha. Now the debate is over why the Pseudepigrapha were excluded.

I found one more interesting statement in the Helvetic Consensus, which I will quote last: it says that only the Hebrew of the OT is to be accepted, and that it should not be corrected (i.e. through textual criticism) by the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch etc. This is a position which would be rejected by most Protestants today, and most Bible translations do frequently prefer the Septuagint over the Masoretic text. This is significant for this question because most of the books rejected by the Western church were not written in Hebrew. As the Eastern church emphasised Greek texts and preferred the Septuagint over the Hebrew, there would've been little issue with accepting additional books written in Greek. This is probably the ultimate reason why the Orthodox churches accept so many more books than the Western churches.

Dutch Reformed: The Belgic Confession (1566)

Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books

We distinguish between these holy books and the apocryphal ones,

which are the third and fourth books of Esdras;
the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch;
what was added to the Story of Esther;
the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace;
the Story of Susannah;
the Story of Bel and the Dragon;
the Prayer of Manasseh;
and the two books of Maccabees.

The church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion. Much less can they detract from the authority of the other holy books.

Anglicanism: The 39 Articles (1571)

Article VI

Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.

Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books

The First Book of Samuel
The Second Book of Samuel
The First Book of Kings
The Second Book of Kings
The First Book of Chronicles
The Second Book of Chronicles
The First Book of Esdras
The Second Book of Esdras
The Book of Esther
The Book of Job
The Psalms
The Proverbs
Ecclesiastes or Preacher
Cantica, or Songs of Solomon
Four Prophets the greater
Twelve Prophets the less

And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:

The Third Book of Esdras
The Fourth Book of Esdras
The Book of Tobias
The Book of Judith
The rest of the Book of Esther
The Book of Wisdom
Jesus the Son of Sirach
Baruch the Prophet
The Song of the Three Children
The Story of Susanna
Of Bel and the Dragon
The Prayer of Manasses
The First Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees

All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.

Swiss Reformed: The Helvetic Consensus (1675)

Canon II:

But, in particular, The Hebrew original of the OT which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Hebrew Church, “who had been given the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired by God. It thus forms, together with the Original of the NT the sole and complete rule of our faith and practice; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, eastern or western, ought to be applied, and wherever they differ, be conformed.

Canon III:

Therefore, we are not able to approve of the opinion of those who believe that the text which the Hebrew Original exhibits was determined by man’s will alone, and do not hesitate at all to remodel a Hebrew reading which they consider unsuitable, and amend it from the versions of the LXX and other Greek versions, the Samaritan Pentateuch, by the Chaldaic Targums, or even from other sources. They go even to the point of following the corrections that their own rational powers dictate from the various readings of the Hebrew Original itself which, they maintain, has been corrupted in various ways; and finally, they affirm that besides the Hebrew edition of the present time, there are in the versions of the ancient interpreters which differ from our Hebrew text, other Hebrew Originals. Since these versions are also indicative of ancient Hebrew Originals differing from each other, they thus bring the foundation of our faith and its sacred authority into perilous danger.


As far as I know, all Protestants adhere to the five solas, including sola scriptura, meaning that the Bible alone is the final and highest authority, the Bible being the 27 books of the New Testament and the 39 books of the Old Testament. Protestants consider this the final and complete revelation, so they wouldn't be adding any books to it.

The Protestant Bibles (as in Luther Bible and King James Version) are translated from the Received Text (Textus Receptus), namely the New Testament. The Old Testament is a translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Latin Vulgate was translated by Jerome probably from the same text line as Protestant Bibles. Nevertheless, Vulgate differs from the Received Text sometimes. The Council of Trent in 1545 added to the Romish canon many books, which Protestants don't consider inspired. This makes the Romish and Protestant canons significantly different.

Some Protestant printings include an intertestament, which isn't considered God's word, and is there just for a historical value. It usually contains the books that were added to the Romish Bible.

Btw, Mormons and Watchtower people aren't Protestants, because they necessarily reject the salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone.

Edit: For the strict definition of Protestantism, my answer is no, because you seem to count the Hebrew Bible + Received Text as a subset of the Romish canon. But the broad definition of Protestantism makes it impossible to give a negative answer. "Western non-Catholic non-Orthodox churches" spring up like mushrooms in the rain.

  • 1
    It is false to say that "... the Council of Trent in 1545 added to the Romish canon many books..." since the list of books in Catholic canon can be traced to the acts of the Synod of Hippo Regius in AD 393. The Fathers at Trent merely re-stated the by then already millennary Canon in opposition to the Reformers' attempts to impeach part of it.
    – Wtrmute
    Feb 8, 2017 at 14:24

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