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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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The collection of books accepted by Christian churches as the authentic, inspired record of the revelations made to mankind by God about himself and his will for men. It is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament to distinguish between the Jewish tradition and the Christian. In the New Testament, the Old is generally spoken of as "the Scriptures" or "the sacred writings" (Matthew 21:42). Gradually the word has been used in the singular and "Scripture" has become a synonym for the Bible (Acts 8:32). "Testament" has the meaning of "covenant" with reference to the two covenants God established with his people in each period of human history.


Texts, Translation, and Authenticity

The Catholic Church has more than once taught what books are to be regarded as inspired and therefore belong to the Bible. At the Council of Trent, in 1546, the biblical canon was solemnly defined and the Vulgate declared to be authentic:

"The council follows the example of the orthodox Fathers and with the same sense of devotion and reverence with which it accepts and venerates all the books both of the Old and the New Testament, since one God is the author of both, it also accepts and venerates traditions concerned with faith and morals as having been received orally from Christ or inspired by the Holy Spirit and continuously preserved in the Catholic Church. It judged, however, that a list of the Sacred Books should be written into this decree so that no one may doubt which books the council accepts. The list is here given.

"The Old Testament: five books of Moses, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon; the first book of Esdras and the second, which is called Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, Davis's Plaster of one hundred and fifty psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias with Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, that is Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of Machabees, the first and the second.

"The New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles, written by the Evangelist Luke; fourteen epistles of the Apostle Paul: to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two epistles of the Apostle Peter, three of the Apostle John, one of the Apostle James, on of the Apostle Jude; and the Apocalypse of the Apostle John. Moreover, if anyone does not accept these books as sacred and canonical in their entirety, with all their parts, according to the text usually read in the Catholic Church and as they are in the ancient Latin Vulgate, but knowingly and willfully contemns the traditions previously mentioned: let him be anathema.

"Moreover, since the same sacred council has thought that it would be very useful for the Church of God if it were known which one of all the Latin editions that are in circulation is the authentic edition, it determines and decrees that the ancient Vulgate, which has been approved in the church by the use of many centuries, should be considered the authentic edition in public readings, disputations, preaching, and explanations; and that no one should presume or dare to reject it under any pretext whatever" (Denzinger 1501-6).

Almost four centuries later (1943), Pope Pius XII in the encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, reconfirmed the biblical canon and the authenticity of the Vulgate. But he made some important declarations that gave the primary impetus to the publication of totally new editions of the Bible. They are new because they are based on Hebrew and Greek manuscripts beyond the Vulgate, and because new translations into the vernacular were made from the original languages and not merely from the Latin Vulgate.

According to Pius XII, "the Vulgate, as the Church has understood and does now understand, is free from all error in matters of faith and morals. Consequently, as the Church herself testifies, it can be safely quoted, without the least fear of erring, in disputations, public readings, and sermons. Its authenticity should not be called critical, but juridical. The authority the Vulgate enjoys in doctrinal matters does not by any means proscribe -- and in modern times it fairly demands -- that this same doctrine be corroborated by the original texts. Nor does it mean that the original texts cannot be continually used to help clarify and explain more and more the proper meaning of Sacred Scripture. Nor does the decree of the Council of Trent forbid that translations be made into the vernacular so that the faithful may use them and profit by them and understand more readily the meaning of the divine message. These translations may be made from the original texts" (Denzinger 3825).

A standard listing of the books of the Bible, according to the directives of Pope Pius XII, shows a number of variants in the titles of the books, their division and sequence, as follows:


Old Testament

Genesis (Gn)

Exodus (Ex)

Leviticus (Lv)

Numbers (Nb)

Deuteronomy (Dt)

Joshua (Jos)

Judges (Jg)

Ruth (Rt)

1 Samuel (1 S)

2 Samuel (2 S)

1 Kings (1 K)

2 Kings (2 K)

1 Chronicles (1 Ch)

2 Chronicles (2 Ch)

Ezra (Ezr)

Nehemiah (Ne)

Tobit (Tb)

Judith (Jdt)

Esther (Est)

1 Macabees (1 M)

2 Macabees (2 M)

Job (Jb)

Psalms (Ps)

Proverbs (Pr)

Ecclesiastes (Qo)

Song of Songs (Sg)

Wisdom (Ws)

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) (Si)

Isaiah (Is)

Jeremiah (Jr)

Lamentations (Lm)

Baruch (Ba)

Ezekiel (Ezk)

Daniel (Dn)

Hosea (Ho)

Joel (Jl)

Amos (Am)

Obadiah (Ob)

Jonah (Jon)

Micah (Mi)

Nahum (Na)

Habakkuk (Hab)

Zephaniah (Zp)

Haggai (Hg)

Zechariah (Zc)

Malachi (Ml)

New Testament

Matthew (Mt)

Mark (Mk)

Luke (Lk)

John (Jn)

Acts (Ac)

Romans (Rm)

1 Corinthians (1 Co)

2 Corinthians (1 Co)

Galatians (Ga)

Ephesians (Ep)

Philippians (Ph)

Colossians (Col)

1 Thessalonians (1 Th)

2 Thessalonians (2 Th)

1 Timothy (1 Tm)

2 Timothy (2 Tm)

Titus (Tt)

Philemon (Phm)

Hebrews (Heb)

James (Jm)

1 Peter (1 P)

2 Peter (2 P)

1 John (1 Jn)

2 John (2 Jn)

3 John (3 Jn)

Jude (Jude)

Revelation (Rv)


Old Testament

Amos Am

Baruch Ba

1 Chronicles 1 Ch

2 Chronicles 2 Ch

Daniel Dn

Deuteronomy Dt

Ecclesiastes Qo

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) Si

Esther Est

Exodus Ex

Ezekiel Ezk

Ezra Ezr

Genesis Gn

Habakkuk Hab

Haggai Hg

Hosea Ho

Isaiah Is

Jeremiah Jr

Job Jb

Joel Jl

Jonah Jon

Joshua Jos

Judges Jg

Judith Jdt

1 Kings 1 K

2 Kings 2 K

Lamentations Lm

Leviticus Lv

1 Maccabees 1 M

2 Maccabees 2 M

Malachi Ml

Micah Mi

Nahum Na

Nehemiah Ne

Numbers Nb

Obadiah Ob

Proverbs Pr

Psalms Ps

Ruth Rt

1 Samuel 1 S

2 Samuel 2 S

Song of Songs Sg

Tobit Tb

Wisdom Ws

Zechariah Zc

Zephaniah Zp

New Testament

Acts Ac

Colossians Col

1 Corinthians 1 Co

2 Corinthians 2 Co

Ephesians Ep

Galatians Ga

Hebrews Heb

James Jm

John Jn

1 John 1 Jn

2 John 2 Jn

3 John 3 Jn

Jude Jude

Luke Lk

Mark Mk

Matthew MT

1 Peter 1 P

2 Peter 2 P

Philemon Phm

Philippians Ph

Revelation Rv

Romans Rm

1 Thessalonians 1 Th

2 Thessalonians 2 Th

1 Timothy 1 Tm

2 Timothy 2 Tm

Titus Tt

The books of the Bible in Alphabetical order of abbreviations

Ac Acts

Am Amos

Ba Baruch

1 Ch 1 Chronicles

2 Ch 2 Chronicles

1 Co 1 Corinthians

2 Co 2 Corinthians

Col Colossians

Dn Daniel

Dt Deuteronomy

Ep Ephesians

Est Esther

Ex Exodus

Ezk Ezekiel

Ezr Ezra

Ga Galatians

Gn Genesis

Hab Habakkuk

Heb Hebrews

Hg Haggai

Ho Hosea

Is Isaiah

Jb Job

Jdt Judith

Jg Judges

Jl Joel

Jm James

Jn John

1 Jn 1 John

2 Jn 2 John

3 Jn 3 John

Jon Jonah

Jos Joshua

Jr Jeremiah

Jude Jude

1 K 1 Kings

2 K 2 Kings

Lk Luke

Lm Lamentations

Lv Leviticus

1 M 1 Maccabees

2 M 2 Maccabees

Mi Micah

Mk Mark

Ml Malachi

Mt Matthew

Na Nahum

Nb Numbers

Ne Nehemiah

Ob Obadiah

1 P 1 Peter

2 P 2 Peter

Ph Philippians

Phm Philemon

Pr Proverbs

Ps Psalms

Qo Ecclesiastes

Rm Romans

Rt Ruth

Rv Revelation

1 S 1 Samuel

2 S 2 Samuel

Sg Song of Songs

Si Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)

Tb Tobit

1 Th 1 Thessalonians

2 Th 2 Thessalonians

1 Tm 1 Timothy

2 Tm 2 Timothy

Tt Titus

Ws Wisdom

Zc Zechariah

Zp Zephaniah

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