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The Council of Trent. Decree regarding the Sacred Books and the Traditions that need to be received.

The Council of Trent

The Council of TrentThe Fourth Session

8 April 1546

Decree regarding the Sacred Books and the Traditions that need to be received

Paragraph numbering inserted by John Wijngaards for easy reference. Latin text in Enchiridion Symbolorum, Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Herder 1976, no 1501-1508.

§ 1. The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Council of Trent,--lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit, ---keeps this always in mind as its aim that, through the removal of errors, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church.

§ 2. This (Gospel), promised earlier on through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with his own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by his Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of both all saving truth and moral discipline.

§ 3. And seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, under dictation by the Holy Spirit, have come down unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand, (the Council) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament--seeing that one God is the author of both --as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.

§ 4. And it has thought it proper that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one's mind, which are the books that are received by this Council. They are as set down here below:

  • Of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemiah; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremiah, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, namely, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second.
  • Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle.

§ 5. But if anyone does not receive, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately despises the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.

§ 6. Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.



Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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