Bible Reviews Bible Reviews

What is a “Bible Canon”?

Simple Definition:
The contents of a Bible.
More Precise Definition:
A list of all of the documents that are officially deemed to be a part of the Bible.

A lot of people who read that are thinking: “But…all Bibles have the same contents, don’t they?” The answer to that question is: “No!”

There are three different traditional Western Bible canons in use. (There are several others traditional among Eastern Christians, not described on this page.) In order from smallest to largest:
  • 66-book - The Bible canon typically used by English-speaking Protestants.
  • Catholic - The Bible canon used by the Roman Catholic Church. It has 73 books. Note that two of those books (Daniel and Esther) have more chapters compared to the same books in 66-book and with Apocrypha Bibles! (Note that more than half of the World's Christians are Roman Catholic! So: worldwide this is the most common Bible canon.)
  • with Apocrypha - The Bible canon used officially by the Anglican Communion and some other groups (e.g. some Lutherans). In English, “with Apocrypha” Bibles typically have 81 separately-titled entries (75 books and 6 separately-titled chapters). There is one important English variation. A few “with Apocrypha” English Bible versions intended to be useful for both Western Christians and Eastern Orthodox Christians have 77 books and 7 chapters for a total of 84 separately-titled entries.
At this point you’re probably asking one of the following questions (depending on your point of view):
What has been “added” to those “other Bibles”?
What has been “removed” from those “other Bibles”?
We have the answers…
  • Text - paragraphs describing the differences between Western Bible canons.
  • Table - lists Bible books, including disputed books and chapters, for each Bible canon.