Catholic Trivia: the Bible

We play Catholic Trivia over on Instagram each month. These are the questions and answers to this month’s #4thFridayTrivia game.

It’s time to see how much you know about the Bible.

Catholics are (half-jokingly) notorious for our lack of knowledge about the Bible, so if this is a tough round of Trivia for you, you’re not alone.

Though I would argue, we do know our Bible. We know the message and the stories. Any one of us could probably spout off a list of parables a mile long.

But technical details and memorization facts? Not so much.

Now is your chance to learn a little more of that! I’m not going to lie, I included some of these questions simply because I learned them recently and figured other people might want to learn them, too!

However, if you’re a Bible scholar or something, and you got these facts down pat, then give yourself a high five!

Thanks to our Sponsors:

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Time for Trivia!

Okay, it’s time to see if you can answer these 10 questions about the Holy Bible! When you’re done, scroll ALLLL the way down to dig into the answers

1. What is the name for the collection of books accepted by Catholics as part of the canon of the Bible, but considered non-canonical by Protestants?

A. Deuterocanonicals

The Bible says: “If any man respondeth to question #1 with Apocrypha, let him be anathema.”

Insert totally kidding font. Read with great amounts of jokingness. All the cry-laughing emojis. The Bible does not say any such thing.

According to Fr. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, the Apocrypha are “a well-defined class of literature with scriptural or quasi-scriptural pretensions, but lacking genuineness and canonicity.”

Protestants use this term to denote the books of the Bible that were removed from their translations of Scripture during the Reformation. However, we would consider that an improper use of the word, since Apocrypha means that these books would be outside the canon of the Bible.

But these books have been part of the canon of the Bible since it was established in the 3rd century.

Catholics would use the term “deuterocanonical” (meaning second canon) to denote these books. The deuterocanonical books are those that had a bit of controversy surrounding them before the canon of the Bible was defined, early in Christian history.

The difference between the terms is really how they reflect the speaker’s attitude towards whether the books indicated are a legitimate part of the divinely inspired books of Scripture.

To say that some books are “apocryphal” means that the speaker considers them to be highly religious, but not the inspired Word of God.

To say that the books are “deuterocanonical” implies that the speaker recognizes there was some disagreement about whether the books were divinely inspired, but that we accept the authority of the Church in infallibly defining their place in the canon of the Bible.

The deuterocanonical books are:

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • First and Second Maccabees
  • Wisdom
  • Sirach
  • Baruch

There are also some parts of the books of Esther and Daniel that are considered deuterocanonical.

For more about the canon of the Bible (a very in-depth more) check out The Canon of Holy Scriptures on Catholic Answers.

2. How many New Testament epistles are attributed to St. Paul?

A. Thirteen (Fourteen?)

In the New Testament, we find the Pauline Epistles immediately following the Acts of the Apostles. There are thirteen of them, in a row, that we know were written by St. Paul to various Christian communities.

Then there’s the letter to the Hebrews.

Then the rest of the epistles by various authors.

But, back to Hebrews.

The letter to the Hebrews doesn’t say who wrote it. Its authorship is debated. When we’re talking about the author, we usually just say, “the inspired author of the Hebrews,” and leave it at that.

However, it’s a commonly held view that St. Paul (or some other very close apostle of St. Paul) was the author. That he probably was at least indirectly the author of the letter to the Hebrews, in some manner.

So you could say Paul wrote 13 or 14 epistles. Either answer would fly in my book.

3. How many books of the Bible were written by St. John the Evangelist?

A. Five (Four?)

Let’s start with the obvious one: the Gospel of John. He wrote it.

Next up: the three epistles: First, Second, and Third John. He wrote them, too.

Here’s an interesting commonality between the Gospel of John, and his three epistles:

It cannot be by accident that in both documents we find the ever-recurring and most distinctive words light, darkness, truth, life, and love; the strictly Johannine phrases “to walk in the light”, “to be of the truth”, “to be of the devil”, “to be of the world”, “to overcome the world”, etc.

Catholic Answers: Epistles of St. John

Finally, there’s the book of Revelation. Here’s the kicker.

Common Catholic tradition (small t) says that John the Apostle is the author of Revelation. But apparently some Biblical scholars think otherwise. Even the Church Fathers were divided on this.

Someone named John definitely wrote it. But is it the same John?! Pffft, I don’t know.

So once again, I’d take either answer.

Catholic Trivia can be so complicated.

4. Who wrote the Acts of the Apostles?

A. Luke

Finally, a straightforward answer.

The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were written by the same author.

In forms of expression the third Gospel and the Acts reveal an identity of authorship. Many of the expressions usual in both works occur but rarely in the rest of the New Testament; other expressions are found nowhere else save in the third Gospel and in the Acts.

Catholic Answers – Acts of the Apostles.

In fact, Luke’s Gospel and Acts are often considered parts 1 and 2 of a complete work, with Acts being a continuation of the Gospel.

5. Which Gospels contain the Infancy Narrative?

A. Matthew and Luke.

Matthew starts off with the genealogy of Jesus. Then he moves on to the birth story. I think it’s powerful how St. Joseph plays a prominent role in Matthew’s infancy narrative.

He covers the Wise Men, the Escape to Egypt, and the Massacre of the Innocents.

Luke starts off with a few prophecies: the births of Jesus and John the Baptist foretold.

Luke’s version of the infancy narrative is very Marian. He introduces us to the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told Mary she was going to conceive the Son of God, of her Magnificat, the prophecies surrounding Jesus’ presentation in the temple, and even some of Mary’s innermost thoughts.

With his words, Luke paints a beautiful, though at times certainly very painful, image of Jesus’ youth.

6. What are the first 5 books of the Old Testament called, collectively?

A. Pentateuch

These five books are also referred to as the Torah by the Jewish community. However, the word Torah has different meanings, relating to Jewish law and Scripture.

Catholics refer to the first five books of the Bible as the Pentateuch. The word literally means “5 books” in Greek.

The Pentateuch includes:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy

To learn more, see this very in-depth article about the Pentateuch from the Catholic Encyclopedia, listed on New Advent.

7. What’s the other name for the book of Sirach?

A. Ecclesiasticus

When I asked this question on Instagram, I got a variety of answers from Wisdom, to Ben Sira, to Ecclesiastes.

Though Sirach holds the title “Wisdom of Sirach” I would hesitate to shorten it simply to Wisdom, as the book “Wisdom of Solomon” usually holds that common nickname.

I had to look into the “Ben Sira” answer, though, and found that it’s another translation of the name Sirach (the author of the book) – cool!

Ecclesiastes is close to the answer I was looking for, but missing just a few letters needed in order to be correct. Ecclesiastes is in fact a different book of the Bible.

Sirach is known by the alternate name Ecclesiasticus. This word means “of or belonging to the church” – which summarizes the contents of this book: it’s a book of teachings.

The name comes from the fact that the book, filled with maxims grouped together by topic, was a resource heavily relied on for catechesis.

8. What are the four winged symbols for the Gospel writers?

A. Winged man, lion, ox, eagle.

  • Matthew is the winged man.
  • Mark is the winged lion.
  • Luke is the winged ox.
  • And John is the eagle. With wings, of course.

Apparently these specific four winged creatures are mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelation, so St. Irenaeus likened them to the four Gospel writers.

You have to check out this article on Catholic Exchange to see how the symbols line up with the themes of the four Gospels.

9. What are the three books of the Bible named after women?

A. Ruth, Judith, and Esther.

Out of these three, the book of Esther is the one that’s probably familiar to most Bible readers. Ruth comes in next in line. And then Judith is the third, and it seems to be the one that slips the mind.

Perhaps because it’s one of the deuteros? (See question 1).

I included this question because one popular tagline used against the Church is the claim that it is “anti-woman.”

Besides the fact that Mary is the most highly revered human ever (other than Jesus, and he is God), the Church’s high esteem of women is evidenced – right from the Old Testament, through the New, and even its modern teachings.

Back to these Old Testament women – they were fierce! And bold. And so brave.

Judith was spunky enough to speak out against the Israelite rulers.

She single-handedly freed her people from oppression by the Assyrian army by working her way into the enemy king’s confidence, alluring him with her beauty, getting him drunk, and chopping off his head with his own sword when he passed out.

If you haven’t read the story of Judith, you have to at least check it out.

10. What is the symbolic meaning of the number 40 in the Bible?

A. A completed amount of time.

Once again, there are probably several different acceptable answers to this Catholic Trivia question. That’s because to some extent, the precise meaning of symbols (and language in general) differs depends on who is using it!

But let’s cover the basic meaning.

Generally, the number 40 represents a significant (as in important) amount of time that passed. It also often gives the impression of a long time.

It often is used to indicate an interval of testing. For example:

  • Noah’s ark: it rained 40 days and nights
  • The Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness before they entered the promised land
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert.

One of the things to note about the number 40in the Bible, is that when it’s used, it indicates the completion of an event. In this sense, 40 could also be considered a symbol of the fullness of time.

Let me know when the next round of Trivia is happening!

Did you enjoy testing your knowledge of the Bible and learning a few new things?

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