Another Question Answered,
Your thoughts are invited below:
Is the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Bible all the same? If there are differences, what are they and why? How long have they been different?
The Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Armenian, Russian etc), Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Bibles are basically the same, with some differences. You can find a side-by-side comparison at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_the_Bible
This is a very complex topic but I'll try and give a brief account here. You can always write back for more details if you wish.
In general terms, Irenaeus (2nd-3rd century CE), bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, which is now Lyons, France, was given the task of determining which books would be included in the Christian cannon. When the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches (patriarchates) split a few changes were made, for instance the Eastern Church kept 2 Esdras while the Western Church did not.
When the Protestant Reformation took place (circa 1517 CE) the Reformers rejected the Apocrapha (ie the Books of Maccabees, the last chapter of Daniel -- Bel and the Dragon, etc.). Many of these were in the original 1611 Authorized King James but were later removed). Martin Luther also questioned the Book to the Hebrews (in part because it is anonymous), James, Jude and the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ to John (aka the Apocalypse) but these books remain within the official Protestant cannon and indeed have become very important to Protestant doctrine.
The first recognized Hebrew cannon ("Old Testament") was ratified in 400 BCE.
In 367 CE Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria listed the books of our present New Testament using the term "canonized" (kanonizomena) to do so. This did not establish the Catholic Canon, but it does show the presence and official acceptance of our New Testament as it now exists dating from at least that point. Prior to Emperor Constantine's third century declaration of the establishment of the Universal Roman Church (ie the "Roman Catholic Church") the followers of Jesus used a very wide and diverse range of writings as scripture (including of course the Tanakh (or "Old Testament"). Over the years several other Church authorities made lists including the same books. However the cannon did not become official until much later:
For Roman Catholicism, at the Council of Trent in 1546
For the Church of England (Anglicanism) in 1563
For Protestants at large "the Bible" was the 1611 Authorized King James Version.
For Calvinism (the Westminster Confession of Faith) in 1647
For the Greek Orthodox (and thence the other Christian Orthodox communions) at the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672.
BUT the canons were already generally accepted, these declarations simply made them "official."
However, within these accepted and authorized biblical texts and canons is a wide and at times conflicting diversity. Since the beginning, Christians have debated which Bible version and which books were sanctioned by God and the Church and which were merely the teachings of at best tradition and at worse heresy.
It is said that the Apostle Paul never traveled without his copy of the Book of Enoch. Consider this verse from Jude verse 14 and 15:
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Now contrast this biblical quote with Enoch 1:9:
"And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
According to Tertullian (circa 200 CE) the Book of Enoch was rejected by the Jews because it contained prophecies pertaining to the Messiah. Isn't it interesting that the Roman Church (and thence the Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant) rejected Paul's favorite book.
For Protestants, who brought the Bible to masses, the issue of which biblical source materials and which translation to rally around was largely resolved early on with the Authorized King James Version (although a couple of other good translations of the Textus Receptus (ie the "received biblical texts" most ancient versions were translated from) such as the Revised Standard Version came along hundreds of years later.
For Roman and Eastern Orthodox Christians there was the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic and Georgian translations as well as the Douay-Rheims and the Jerusalem Bible, but NO BIBLE VERSION in history had the impact or long life of the Authorized King James Version. For the past 1500 years the Authorized King James was THE Bible.
The KJV (of 1611) remained "the Bible" until our times. The historic Textus Receptus source material upon which Christianity was established is now being abandoned in exchange for less scholarly, less historically significant, recently unearthed texts of dubious origins, the copyrights of which are owned by secular book houses: "Follow the money honey."
These new bibles, such as the Good News For Modern Man, the New International Version, the Reader's Digest Bible, the New King James Version, the Inclusive Version etc. directly contradict the essential teachings of the Authorized King James Version (and the Textus Receptus from which it as most other ancient versions arise) countless times. It is not too much to say that these new bibles are creating a new christianity, one that is witnessing the Laodiciafication of the Christian religion (contrast Rev. 3:15-20). For examples of several of these doctrinal differences, see my http://www.allfaith.com/Religions/Christianity/kingjames.html where I contrast a few of the differences between the KJV and the NIV by referring various verses.
Hope this helps,
Write back any time,
John of AllFaith