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Was the Council of Trent inconsistent in its treatment of the deuterocanonical books?


I read in a Protestant book recently that the Council of Trent was inconsistent because it accepted some “apocryphal” books—such as 1 and 2 Maccabees—as canonical but did not accept others, such as 1 and 2 Esdras. How do you respond?


Trent simply reaffirmed the historic canon of the Bible after it had been challenged by Protestants. The same books Trent affirmed had been affirmed by councils and popes prior to Trent. The first council recorded as dealing with the canon was the Council of Rome, which convened in A.D. 382 under Pope Damascus. Later councils, such as Hippo (393) and Carthage (397), and the ecumenical council of Florence (1438) reaffirmed the canon issued by the Council of Rome.

At all these councils the canon that was proclaimed included the seven deuterocanonical books—1 and 2 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Baruch, Wisdom, and Sirach—and rejected 1 and 2 Esdras. Far from being inconsistent; Trent reaffirmed what the Church had taught since the earliest centuries.

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