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!
I do not remember seeing the word “Catholic” in the Book of Acts or anywhere else in my KJV.
Which is fine. Keep in mind that the "English language" per se didn't exist until shortly before that time. (Try reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English if you don't believe me.)
Venerable Bede translated portions of the Scriptures into Anglo-Saxon back in the 8th or 9th Century.
Hebrews and Gentiles chosen by Christ to spread His Word.
Someone/thing is quite full of themselves.
Gosh, thanks, I guess.
but not your own history.
Okay. Likewise, I'm sure.
The Catholic Church murdered people who disagreed with its teachings.
And Protestants did the same. Take my namesake, St. Edmund Campion, for example, who was hung, drawn, and quartered by Protestants for saying Mass and hearing confessions.
Not to mention that Protestants killed other Protestants who disagreed with their teachings. There was a period of time in England when it was possible to be executed for refusing to deny the Pope's supremacy ... and to be accompanied to your execution by a fellow prisoner, condemned for rejecting transubstantiation!
I dont really want to get you started but if they werent Catholics what were they? Im truly curious.
Acts 11:26b "...And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
“Venerable Bede translated portions of the Scriptures into Anglo-Saxon back in the 8th or 9th Century.”
these were local attempts with no evidence of Papal authority. If you have a contemporaneous source, please share it.
The Church burned the Wycliff Bibles and Wycliff.
To this may be added Theodoret, as next to him, both for antiquity, and for learning. His words be these, "Every Country that is under the Sun, is full of these words (of the Apostles and Prophets) and the Hebrew tongue (he means the Scriptures in the Hebrew tongue) is turned not only into the Language of the Grecians, but also of the Romans, and Egyptians, and Persians, and Indians, and Armenians, and Scythians, and Sauromatians, and briefly into all the Languages that any Nation uses. (Theodor. 5. Therapeut.) So he. In like manner, Ulfilas is reported by Paulus Diaconus and Isidor (and before them by Sozomen) to have translated the Scriptures into the Gothic tongue: (P. Diacon. li. 12.) John Bishop of Sevil by Vasseus, to have turned them into Arabic, about the year of our Lord 717; (Vaseus in Chron. Hispan.) Bede by Cistertiensis, to have turned a great part of them into Saxon: Efnard by Trithemius, to have abridged the French Psalter, as Beded had done the Hebrew, about the year 800: King Alfred by the said Cistertiensis, to have turned the Psalter into Saxon: (Polydor. Virg. 5 histor.) Methodius by Aventinus (printed at Ingolstadt) to have turned the Scriptures into Slavonian: (Aventin. lib. 4.) Valdo, Bishop of Frising by Beatus Rhenanus, to have caused about that time, the Gospels to be translated into Dutch rhythm, yet extant in the Library of Corbinian: (Circa annum 900. B. Rhenan. rerum German. lib 2.) Valdus, by divers to have turned them himself into French, about the year 1160: Charles the Fifth of that name, surnamed the Wise, to have caused them to be turned into French, about 200 years after Valdus his time, of which translation there be many copies yet extant, as witnesses Beroaldus. Much about that time, even in our King Richard the seconds days, John Trevisa translated them into English, and many English Bibles in written hand are yet to be seen with divers, translated as it is very probable, in that age. So the Syrian translation of the New Testament is in most learned mens Libraries, of Widminstadius his setting forth, and the Psalter in Arabic is with many, of Augustinus Nebiensis setting forth. So Postel affirms, that in his travel he saw the Gospels in the Ethiopian tongue; And Ambrose Thesius alleges the Psalter of the Indians, which he testifies to have been set forth by Potken in Syrian characters. So that, to have the Scriptures in the mother tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up, either by the Lord Cromwell in England, (Thuan.) or by the Lord Radevile in Polony, or by the Lord Ungnadius in the Emperors dominion, but hath been thought upon, and put in practice of old, even from the first times of the conversion of any Nation; no doubt, because it was esteemed most profitable, to cause faith to grow in mens hearts the sooner, and to make them to be able to say with the words of the Psalms, "As we have heard, so we have seen." (#Ps 48:8)
“Acts 11:26b “...And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”’
You’re being disingenius. There were protestants even then called Christians.
Papal authority was never required; only the authority of the local ordinary.
Bede is a canonized saint, BTW.
The Church burned the Wycliff Bibles and Wycliff.
Wycliff died from a stroke. He was posthumously condemned for heresy and his body was burned. Wycliff's bibles were burned because they were full of heretical notes.
Now you're trying to have your own history.
And it was the bishop of Antioch, some 70 or so years later, who gives us the first recorded use of the term "Catholic Church" to describe the Christian community.
This is historically incorrect:
You may want to try a non-catholic source. There is no known version of the full Bible in English or it’s predecessors before Wycliff. There is evidence of small portions like Psalms and The Gospels being translated earlier, but not by order of the Church. The Church changed its dogma and policies repeatedly over the centuries, but when there were enough people able to read in English, the Church fought to destroy the Bibles.
Maybe to you. What else do you “add to” or “subtract from” the Word?
If you want to talk about “subtracting” from the Word, then you should look up Luther.
The premise of your question is false. It was Martin Luther, after all, who tore entire books out of the Bible.
“And it was the bishop of Antioch, some 70 or so years later, who gives us the first recorded use of the term “Catholic Church” to describe the Christian community.’
For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted. This changed after the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine legalized Christianity at the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. Later, in A.D. 325, Constantine called together the Council of Nicea, in an attempt to unify Christianity. Constantine envisioned Christianity as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire
“Now you’re trying to have your own history.”
unlike Roman Catholic, “protestant” does not signify an organized church but people who disagreed with the orthodoxy of the establishment. As a Catholic you would just have called them heretics.
Anybody care to comment?
That's an absolutely true statement when all the term are properly interpreted in light of what the Bible teaches.
"for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21)
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; " (Heb. 1:1,2)
Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, James, Luke, etc were all members of God's one holy covenant people (Catholic church).
The error, of course, is in believing the "catholic church" is limited to a particular sect with its headquarters in a certain Italian city.
“Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, James, Luke, etc were all members of God’s one holy covenant people (Catholic church).”
“From the time Jesus left earth (30 AD) until the second half of the second century (150 AD), there was a struggle between two factions. One was what one might call Pauline Christianity and the other Judeo-Christianity. It was only very slowly that... Pauline Christianity triumphed over Judeo-Christianity.”