Just Who Did Change The Ten Commandments?

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Part 1, written by Bob Stanley, 26 July 1998
Part 2, written by Stephen Korsman, 17 July 1998
… presenting two equally valid (and non-competitive) views on the topic of the sequence of the Decalogue


Part 1

Here is an actual question I received, written by a Seventh-day Adventist.

“NIV, KJV, NKJV, RSV etc. have all Gods Commandments intact. HOWEVER, the Catholic Catechism has totally deleted the 2nd commandment, and split the 10th into 2 to make up 10 commandments. They CHANGED Gods Law!!!!”

Now let us just see who really are the ‘they’ who ‘CHANGED God’s Law’…

Protestant sources of their charges that the Catholic Church changed the Ten Commandments…

  1. KJV…..first appeared on the scene in 1611, a product of Protestantism.
  2. NIV…..first appeared on the scene in 1978.
  3. NKJV…first appeared on the scene in 1982.
  4. RSV…..first appeared on the scene in 1946

Catholic sources of our defense to the baseless charges of Catholics changing the Ten Commandments…

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) appeared on the scene in 1992.
    It lists the Ten Commandments as they were before Christ.
  2.  NJB…first appeared on the scene in 1985. The NJB supports the CCC.
  3. NAB…first appeared on the scene in 1970. The NAB supports the CCC.
  4. JB……first appeared on the scene in 1966. The JB supports the CCC.
  5. RSV-CE…first appeared on the scene in 1965. The RSV-CE supports the CCC.
  6. NCE…first appeared on the scene in 1954. The NCE supports the CCC.
  7. CE…first appeared on the scene in 1948. The CE (Confraternity Edition) supports the CCC.
  8. Challoner-Rheims…first appeared on the scene in 1749. The Challoner-Rheims supports the CCC.
  9. Douay-Rheims…first appeared on the scene in 1592-1609. The Douay-Rheims supports the CCC.
    Note that the date for this Bible predates any Protestant Bible by at least 2 years.
  10. The Latin Vulgate…first appeared on the scene in 404. The Latin Vulgate supports the CCC.
    Note that the date for this Bible predates any Protestant Bible by over 1200 years.
  11. The Septuagint…first appeared on the scene about 148 B.C. This is the Bible that was used by the Apostles.
    The Septuagint supports the CCC. Note that the date for this Bible predates any Protestant Bible by over 1700 years.

Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to prove that the Ten Commandments could not possibly have been changed by the Catholic Church which did not even exist for almost 200 years after the Septuagint was written. Add to that the fact that ALL Catholic Bibles, ALL the way back to 148 B.C.,are in agreement, and yet Protestant Bibles which did not even appear on the scene until 1611, list the commandments in the ‘different’ order.

So…WHO really did change the Ten Commandments?

Please, if you are going to make charges against the Catholic Church,then do it with real evidence (if you can find any) and not by personal opinions.

We are all looking for the truth and not trumped up charges.


Part 2 – Has anyone really removed anything from the 10 Commandments ?

Again, here is that ridiculous quote we got from that Seventh-day Adventist:

“NIV, KJV, NKJV, RSV etc. have all Gods Commandments intact. HOWEVER, the Catholic Catechism has totally deleted the 2nd commandment, and split the 10th into 2 to make up 10 commandments. They CHANGED Gods Law!!!!”

Actually, that is far from true. The 2nd commandment was not deleted – it’s still very much there. The words that the Protestants call the 2nd commandment, are found in the first commandment of the Catholics. Let me go into a bit more detail here. A quick word before that – go and look at your 1st commandment – it says “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me.” That command to have no other gods includes, obviously, carved gods, painted gods. Why must Protestants split this up into 2 commandments ? I’ll tell you why.

If you want to split up the commandments into the smallest commandments possible, there are at least 11 commandments:

1. No other gods.
2. No idols.
3. No blasphemy.
4. Keep the Sabbath holy.
5. Honour your parents.
6. Do not kill.
7. Do not commit adultery.
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not lie.
10. Do not covet your neighbour’s wife.*
11. Do not cover your neighbour’s goods.*

Logically 10 and 11 can be fused into one commandment – “Do not covet.” Logically 1 and 2 can be fused into one commandment – “no false gods, including idol gods which are also false gods.”

*(10 and 11 are joined together in Exodus, but listed separately in Deuteronomy.)

Here is a quotation from the KJV showing exactly how Catholics divide up the commandments:

Commandment #1
Exod 20:2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exod 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exod 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exod 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Exod 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Commandment #2
Exod 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Commandment #3
Exod 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

So we can also have 11 commandments, or 9 commandments. It is interesting to note that the number 10 was given in the Bible, but not precisely which words went with each number. The Jews used a version of the commandments that listed 10 and 11 together, while the early Christians chose to use a different list used by another Jewish minority. Both lists came from Judaism, the one was just more popular than the other. Both, however, contained the full text of the commandments, not leaving any out.

Later the Catholic Church was divided on the issue. Origen used the “Protestant” set, while Augustine favoured the “Catholic” set. Mainstream Judaism even adopted their own different numbering system not used by Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants. Everyone kept the same commandments, though.

Later, the Catholic Church decided to adopt BOTH versions as official versions, and that is still the case today … something not many people know, but which can be verified by doing research into the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. To simplify things, it is the western (Latin) part of the Catholic Church that uses the “Catholic” or “Western” ten commandments, and the eastern part of the Catholic Church that uses the “Protestant” or “Eastern” ten commandments … long before any Protestants came along. Both parts of the Catholic Church – east and west – fall under the authority of the pope – they are one denomination, although different patriarchates. It is thus only in the west that Protestants have become upset by the different order of the ten commandments. In the east, Catholics and Protestants and Orthodox use exactly the same sequence of commandments !!!

So, no, we did not change God’s law, we just list the wording differently to what you do. And also, not all Catholics do that. Many Catholics use EXACTLY the same ten commandments as you Adventists and Protestants do!  In fact, Martin Luther, and most Lutherans today, use the same numbering system as Catholics in the west!

Not one of the ten commandments has been edited, rejected, or changed by the Catholic Church. However, for the sake of making memorisation of the crux of the commandment easier, the longer ones have been abbreviated. I have seen SDA listings of the 10 commandments, including the 4th one – most of them read “Keep the Sabbath day holy” or something like that. They do NOT list the full 4th commandment, so it is very unfair and hypocritical to expect the RCC to do what is not expected of the SDA Church.


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