Bible Catechism – Lesson 6

Lesson 6:
Canon Of Sacred Scripture

1. How many books does the entire Bible contain?

Seventy-two or seventy-four, depending on the way they are calculated

2. How do we know with certainty that the Bible contains only these books?

We know with certainty that the Bible contains only these books because the number is fixed by the “Canon of the Scriptures.”

3. What is meant by the word “Canon”?

“Canon” is a Greek word that means a standard or rule.

4. What is meant by the “Canon of Scriptures”?

Originally, the Canon of Scriptures meant the qualifications required of a book before admittance into the number of recognized inspired writings; now it means the very collection of these books recognized as inspired.

5. Who decides which books belong to the Bible and which do not?

The Catholic Church decides.

6. By what authority does the Catholic Church make this decision?

By that of Christ, Who has made her the infallible teacher of faith and morals by both the oral and the written word.

7. What special mark was required of a book before its admittance into the collection known as the Bible?

The special mark required was clear proof of its inspiration.

8. By whom was the first list of the books of the Bible drawn up?

Pope Damasus, at the Roman Council of 382 A.D.

9. By what name are those books, whose authenticity was never questioned, known?

They are known as the Proto-Canonical Books.

10. Why are they so called?

They are so called because from the beginning they were recognized as Scriptural; the Greek prefix “proto” has the signification “from the first” or “originally,” hence the use of the term “proto-canonical” to describe those books.

11. By what name are the disputed books known?

They are known as the Deutero-Canonical Books.

12. Why are they so called?

They are so called because their recognition as Scriptural came “afterwards”; the Greek word “Deutero” used as a prefix has the signification of “second” or “later.”

13. Name the Deutero-Canonical Books.

Tobias, Wisdom, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, Machabees (I & II), Judith, Esther (Ch X. v. 4 to end), Daniel (Ch. III, vs. 52-93). The Protestants call them “Apocryphal” Books.

14. Why did the Hebrews not admit these books as part of the Bible?

As a whole, the Hebrews stopped admitting these books after the second Century A.D., because they were written in languages other than Hebrew, or were of uncertain authorship.

15. Did the Hebrews ever formally rejected these books?

On the contrary, even if they did not accept these books as part of the Bible, they were always held in the greatest reverence by the Hebrews.

16. Under what guidance does the Church declare which books are canonical and which are not?

Under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

17. How do we know that she has this guidance?

We know that she has this guidance because Christ promised assistance to His Church until the end of times [Matthew 28:20].

18. Has the Church made use of human means in drawing up the Canon of Scriptures?

Yes; she investigated carefully whether the doctrine taught in the book was in harmony with Tradition and whether the book was of apostolic origin.

Bible Catechism – Lesson 5

Lesson 5:
The New Testament

1. How many books are there in the New Testament?

There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

2. When were these books written?

These books were written during a period extending from 35 A.D. to 93 A.D.

3. By whom were they written?

They were written mainly by the Apostles.

4. Why do we say “mainly”?

We say “mainly” because some books of the New Testament were written by men who were not the Apostles, i.e., St. Mark and St. Luke.

5. How may the books of the New Testament be classified?

Like those of the Old Testament, the books of the New may be grouped into three classes.

6. Name these three classes.

They are the same classes as with the Old Testament: Historical, Didactic, and Prophetical.

7. Name the Historical Books.

The Historical Books are the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

8. Name the Didactic Books.

The Didactic Books are all the Epistles.

9. Name the Prophetical Books.

There is only one Prophetical Book in the New Testament, namely, the Apocalypse of St. John.

10. What do we learn from the New Testament?

From the New Testament we learn the principal events in the Life of Christ, many Christian beliefs and practices, as well as much history of the early Catholic Church.

11. Was the New Testament written primarily to convert people?

No, conversion was done by preaching. The New Testament was written to strengthen the Faith of the people already converted.

12. Can we prove it?

Yes: “It seems good to me also, … to write to thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed” (Lc. I, 3-4). 

Bible Catechism – Lesson 4

Lesson 4:
The Old Testament

1. How many books does the Old Testament contain?

It contains from forty-five to forty-seven books, depending on how the books are divided.

2. Into how many classes may these books be divided?

Three.

3. Name these classes.

Didactic or Doctrinal, Historical, and Prophetic books.

4. Is there any reason for this classification?

Yes, the very matter contained in them suggests this classification.

5. What are the Didactic or Doctrinal books?

There are the books that contain the teachings of God to man.

6. How many Didactic books are there in the Old Testament?

Seven: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus.

7. Why are others called “Prophetical Books”?

Because they treat of the Messiah and His life, passion, and death in a prophetical manner.

8. Are all the Prophetical books of equal importance?

No; four of these books are called the Greater Prophets because they are greater in length and deal with more important matters, generally, than the other twelve which are called the Lesser Prophets.

9. Why are the remaining books classified as “Historical books”?

The remaining books are so classified because they narrate the history of the People of God and the history of our salvation. 

Bible Catechism – Lesson 3

Lesson 3:
Dates And Division Of The Bible

1. When was the Bible written?

The Bible was written during a period covering more than 1500 years.

2. When was the first book written?

The exact date is not known, but it must have been some fifteen hundred years before Christ, since its author was Moses.

3. When was the last book written?

The last book was written about the year 93 A.D.

4. What period of time does the Bible, as a book of history, cover?

As a history, the Bible covers a period of many thousands of years.

5. Name the event with which the Bible, as a book of history, begins.

The creation of the universe.

6. What events bring the Bible, as a book of history, to a close?

The life of Christ and early spread of Christianity.

7. How is the Bible divided?

The Bible is divided into the Old and New Testaments.

8. Is the division into Old and New Testaments suitable?

It is, since the Old Testament deals with the span of time before Christ’s first coming with the expectation for the future Savior, while the New Testament treats of His life and work in this world, or the realization of that hope.

Bible Catechism – Lesson 2

Lesson 2:
Inspiration Of The Bible

1. Must we believe in the inspiration of the Bible?

Yes, the inspiration of the Bible is an article of Faith which cannot be denied without sin.

2. What is meant by inspiration of the Bible?

Inspiration of the Bible means, in the first place, that those who wrote the Bible were impelled to do so by God.

3. What else is meant by inspiration of the Bible?

Principally that those who wrote the Bible were protected from error while writing what God impelled them to write.

4. Is there a special name for that protection of the writer from error?

Yes, it is called “biblical inerrancy.” It means that there are no errors in the Bible.

5. What proof have we that the Bible is inspired?

The Catholic Church, which is infallible, teaches us so.

6. Does not the Church itself rely on the Bible for proofs of its infallibility?

Besides those found in the Bible, the Church has many other proofs for its infallibility.

7. What general proof have we for the inspiration of the Bible?

Besides many others, we have Our Lord’s constant references to the Old Testament as the word of God, while the early Christian Church testifies to the inspiration of the New Testament.

8. Are all the parts of the Bible inspired?

“For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost …” (Leo the XIII in Providentissimus Deus, E.B. 124, 127)

9. Does the inspiration apply to the originals only, or to the translations also?

Both: It applies absolutely to the originals, and to the translations insofar as they are faithful to the originals.

Bible Catechism – Lesson 1

Lesson 1:
Bible Definitions

1. What does the word “Bible” mean?

The word “Bible” means “book.”

2. From what language is the word derived?
(Etymological definition)

From the Latin “Biblia,” which in turn comes from the Greek.

3. Is the Greek word for what we call the “Bible” in the singular or in the plural?

In the plural, which means that it should be translated “the books”.

4. Why did the Greeks use the plural form?

They used the plural form because the Bible is not one book but a collection of books.

5. Is the Latin word for what we call the Bible in the singular or in the plural?

It is in the singular and, therefore, should be translated “the book”.

6. Why does the Latin use the singular form?

Because the Bible is the most important book there is, since it is the Word of God.

7. What does the Bible contain?

The Bible contains chiefly a history of God’s Revelation to mankind.

8. What does the Bible give us in addition to the history of God’s dealings with mankind?

In addition, the Bible gives us instructions in faith and morals.

9. Does the Bible give other instructions?

Certain books give detailed instructions for the carrying out of religious worship in the Old Law.

10. Did the Bible, as some seem to think, fall from heaven?

No; the Bible was written by man.

11. If the Bible was written by man, why do we say it is the written word of God?

Though written by man, we can truly say it is the written word of God, because it was written under the inspiration of God.