Bible Reviews Bible Reviews

Why Are There So Many Bible Versions?

Reason #2 - Bible Contents

Many people aren’t aware that different Bibles have different contents. That is: some Bibles have more “Bible books’ than others. The list of contents in a Bible is called a Bible canon. Some Christian sects use one Bible canon while others use a different Bible canon.

Among English-speaking Christians there are these major Bible canons in use:
  • 66-Book (Protestant)
  • Catholic (73 books)
  • “with Apocrypha” (75 books + 6 “chapters”)
  • Eastern Orthodox (77+ books)
There are tables listing the contents of the various Bible canons.
Three NRSV editions: 66-book, Catholic, with Apocrypha
Same translation, different contents!
So: there is an important and noticeable difference between (for example) a Catholic Bible and a 66-book Bible and a “with Apocrypha” Bible. Because different Bible canons are used by different Christian sects, we have things like:
  • The New American Bible, a Catholic-specific Bible (only available with a Catholic Bible canon).
  • The New International Version, a Protestant-specific Bible (only available with a 66-book Bible canon).
  • The New Revised Standard Version, which is available in 66-book, Catholic and “with Apocrypha” editions (so: three quite noticeably different editions of the same Bible translation).

Obviously the fact that there are different Bible canons used by different groups of Christians causes there to be more (many more) Bible translations than would be the case if all Christians used the same Bible canon.