Skip to comments.Dei Verbum (Catholics and the Bible)
Posted on 12/18/2007 1:52:09 PM PST by NYer
Some Christians believe that Catholics are not encouraged to read the Bible. In fact, the opposite is true...and why wouldn't it be, after all, the Bible is a Catholic book. What do I mean by that?
The Catholic Church, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote the Bible. The Catholic Church assembled the Canon (List) of books in the Bible, and the Catholic Church has safeguarded the Bible for 2,000 years. The Church treasures Sacred Scripture because it is the Word of God. The Church loves Holy Writ, so much so that she orders her prayer and worship around it.
First, let me dispel the idea that Catholics are not encouraged to read the Bible. On the contrary, we are exhorted to spend time in God's Word often. St Jerome, a famous Bible scholar (A.D. 342-420) and Catholic monk, wrote, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." He translated the Bible into Latin, the common tongue of the day, and his translation (Latin Vulgate) was the translation for 1,000 years. Far from withholding the Holy Book from the people, the Catholic Church ensured that the Bible would be available to anyone who wanted it by preserving the definitive translation of it.
Listen to what the Second Vatican Council says about Sacred Scripture: "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles" (Dei Verbum, #21).
Ah...I hear someone murmur from the back row...what about the Council of Trent? Didn't that council forbid Catholics to read the Bible? No, exactly the opposite. The Council Fathers wrote, "...the synod, 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 New Testament, seeing that one God is the author of both..." (April 8, 1546). What the Council forbade was the reading of unapproved translations of Sacred Scripture since they could not vouch for the authenticity of any version not reviewed by Biblical scholars guided by the Magesterium of the Church. To do otherwise would have given the "seal of approval" to potentially heretical books masquerading as the Bible and in the theological and political turmoil of 16th century Europe, there were plenty of "Bibles" out there that didn't measure up. (If you have ever taken a gander at the New World Translation, the "Bible" of Jehovah's Witnesses, you would understand how egregious doctrinal errors can be spread through a faulty translation.)
The Second Vatican Council, echoing the constant teaching of the Church, decreed the necessity for the Bible to be accessible to the faithful and ecumenical if possible: "Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful...But since the word of God should be accessible at all times, the Church by her authority and with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them" (DV #22).
Today, with the myriad of translations, the surest way to know that your Bible is trustworthy is to look for the imprimatur ("let it be printed") by a bishop on the inside cover.
Jesus Christ established the Church on Pentecost, under the leadership of the Apostles and the guidance of the Spirit. The Apostles and their followers are the ones who began to write the letters and books that would become the New Testament. Jesus didn't flip an armload of scrolls to His followers and tell them to "figure it out for yourself, you've got the Spirit"; He gave the Apostles the authority to teach and guide in His Name. Most of the books of the New Testament were written in the first 100 years after the Resurrection, by men who either met Christ in Person on earth, or by men who knew the Apostles. In other words, Catholics wrote the Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
How did the Church assemble Sacred Scripture into the Bible we know today? The Council of Trent (A.D. 1546) decreed the definitive list, but the canon of Scripture they promulgated was merely formalizing the decrees of earlier synods of bishops on the same subject. The Synod of Hippo (A.D. 393) and the three of Carthage (A.D. 393, 397, and 419), where St Augustine likely played a leading role, drew up the canon of Scripture that Trent later ratified. Frankly, it wasn't until the 16th century that a decree from Rome on the Canon was even necessary, since almost everyone used the Latin Vulgate anyway.
To appreciate how much the Church treasures Sacred Scripture, one need only spend a day in prayer with her. The hours of the day are marked with Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, where Psalms and Canticles are sung and passages from the Bible prayed over. Other times of the day are marked with the Angelus or Regina Caeli, prayers that recount the joy of the Gospel's Incarnation and Resurrection narratives. Most importantly, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass immerses us in Scripture as we participate in the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Most of the prayers and all of the four readings come from the Bible, a journey through salvation history at each celebration.
Finally, one last, and perhaps the most important, comment about the Bible. While it is true that the Church is immersed in Scripture, it is also true that Revelation is not confined to the 72 books of the Bible. The Bible itself records that Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book (Jn 20:30).
Because the Bible is the Church's book, it is not intended to be read apart from the Liturgy and Sacred Tradition of the Church.
Immerse yourself in the Bible...it's a very Catholic thing to do!
Exactly. I missed the part where John, Paul, Matthew et. al. were Catholics.
Don’t get me started.
“Most of the books of the New Testament were written in the first 100 years after the Resurrection”
More like by the time John wrote Revelation around 70AD they were all written. I guess he is counting the Gnostic gospels. He should try reading one if he wants to talk about it.
Perhaps they meant re-wrote it.
The average person couldn’t read at all at the time Latin or otherwise, but many years later, when Wycliff translated the Bible into english, people were killed by the Church:
One of Wycliffes followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffes ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffes manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed. Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. Foxes Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lords Prayer in English rather than Latin.
First, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is propaganda. More importantly, the issue wasn’t Wycliffe translating the Bible into English - it was his heretical teachings.
do you deny that the Church burned people at the stake for owning a non-latin bible?
do you deny that the Church burned people at the stake for owning a non-latin bible?
Anybody care to comment?
The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus. Of course his disciples were Catholic.
Anyone who was burned, was burned because they were convicted of heresy. "Owning a non-latin bible" is not a heresy and never was.
Do you deny that Catholics, with the approval of the Church, translated the scriptures into English and its predecessor languages beginning in the 8th century?
Do you deny that there were at least 14 Catholic editions of the Bible just in the High German language before Luther?
Do you deny that, in 1480, the Cologne Bible, one of those Catholic versions, contained this paragraph in its prologue:
"All Christians should read the Bible with piety and reverence, praying the Holy Ghost, who is the inspirer of the Scriptures, to enable them to understand . . . The learned should make use of the Latin translation of St. Jerome; but the unlearned and simple folk, whether laymen or clergy . . . should read the German translations now supplied, and thus arm themselves against the enemy of our salvation [i.e. Satan]."
Don't believe everything you've been told.
Make sure they comment on post number 13, as well.
You can have your own beliefs but not your own history.
The Catholic Church murdered people who disagreed with its teachings. This is because the Church had become corrupted and wanted to control the figurative keys to heaven. The Roman Church had interpreted their scripture to fit their narative, primarily to justify Peter as the foundation of the Church in the face of other claims.
It was this hubris that led to the Protestant reformation.
Or Moses for that matter.
I don’t really want to get you started but if they weren’t Catholics what were they? I’m truly curious.
Protestants murdered Catholics who disagreed with its teachings. Your point?
Although there were earlier attempts of an English translation of the Bible, the first whole translation of the Bible into the English language is ascribed to John Wycliffe (1384), who was an English theologian and religious reformer.
All of the Bible was written by Torah-observant Jews shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua
( except for the doctor Luke who was gentile)
under the guidance of the Ru'ach HaKodesh.