Skip to comments.Friday Fast Fact: The Bible in English
Posted on 01/29/2010 4:41:16 PM PST by NYer
Did Martin Luther save the bible from the Roman Catholic Church? Was John Wycliff the first to translate the Bible into the English language in 1382 so the regular-Joe could read the Bible too?
Many people answer yes to these questions. The same people also commonly accuse the Catholic Church of things like “hiding the Bible from the people.” And not letting the laity read the Bible for themselves in fear that the people would learn how wickedly warped and un-biblical the teachings of the Catholic Church truly were. So, naturally, for these reasons the Catholic Church kept Bibles locked up, hard to find and in languages nobody could understand.
This absolutely ridiculous, academically inept, historically false and blatantly ignorant point of view oozes with irony. Here are just a few reasons why:
1) Throughout much of Church history, if you could read, you could read Latin. The Church translated the Bible into Latin in the first few centuries of its inception so that all who could read would be able to do so.
2) The Church distributed the Bible in every country it was in and in the common language of the people from the 7th down to the 14th century and beyond.
3) “626 editions of the Bible, in which 198 were in the language of the laity, had issued from the press, with the sanction and at the instance of the Church, in the countries where she reigned supreme, before the first Protestant version of the scriptures was sent forth into the world.” (Where We Got The Bible)
4) There were 27 versions of the Bible in the German language before Martin Luther’s version came out.
5) It was almost solely in those countries which have remained most Catholic that popular versions of the Bible had been published; while it was precisely Protestant countries (like England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway) that no bible existed when they embraced Protestantism (Dublin Review - Oct 1837). So there is no evidence that access to a Bible in the vernacular caused people to become more protestant. If anything, it made them become more Catholic. It was the spread of such “traditions of men” as private Judgment and Sola Scriptura which caused the spread of Protestantism and further division within the Body of Christ.
The reasons many people still didn’t have access to a Bible was not because of the Catholic Church (The Catholic Church supported access to it). One of the main reasons was the high cost and labor to produce and/or obtain one. That changed drastically with the printing press, of course.
So why then did the Catholic Church reject and forbid the use of protestant “bibles” such as the one published by John Wycliff? It was not because they were in English or another vernacular. It was not because they were being made available to the laity. It was because they were corrupt versions of the Bible. They were bad translations. And were often being used to spread false doctrine. It’s that simple.
If the Catholic Church had wanted to destroy or alter the Bible, it could have done so at just about any time in its long history. The Catholic Church is the reason we even have the Bible today. It is the institution that protected and preserved it. It would have been easy for those in the Church to destroy original documents and come up with something else if they didn’t like what the Bible taught. But they didn’t do that because of their love for Scripture and genuine desire to share it with the entire world.
If you can read, thank a teacher. If you can read a Bible, thank the Catholic Church.
“Not exactly. Much of the KJV was based on the DRV.”
Not hardly. 90% of the NT came from Tyndale. The versions used by the KJV didn’t include the DRV, although an individual MIGHT have compared it.
“Im forunate enough to have facsimile copies of the original DRV”
Cool. I find it hard to read English from that era, particularly in facsimile. The f, s, etc drive me nuts! Shoot, I have a facsimile copy of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”, and I can’t read it without stuttering and lisping for an hour!
“1 Though I spake with the tonges of me and angels and yet had no love I were eve as soundinge brasse: or as a tynklynge Cymball.
2 And though I coulde prophesy and vnderstode all secretes and all knowledge: yee yf I had all fayth so that I coulde move moutayns oute of ther places and yet had no love I were nothynge.
3 And though I bestowed all my gooddes to fede ye poore and though I gave my body even that I burned and yet had no love it profeteth me nothinge.
4 Love suffreth longe and is corteous. Love envieth not. Love doth not frowardly swelleth not dealeth
5 not dishonestly seketh not her awne is not provoked to anger thynketh not evyll
6 reioyseth not in iniquite: but reioyseth in ye trueth
7 suffreth all thynge beleveth all thynges hopeth all thynges endureth in all thynges.”
Makes my eyes bug out, but beautiful in its own way.
And an RSV2CE Ignatius Study Bible New Testament coming in 8 weeks!!!
I have the Navarre Bible RSV commentaries, but I haven’t bought the Ignatius Study Bibles so far.
The languages varied a bit more between common and high. In particular, what I’ve read of the German translations is that they were a courtly german, not shared by the common folks.
In England, the common tongue wasn’t all that common. Wycliffe and later Tyndale had to choose what version of words to use...and their works were so well distributed that, like Luther, they changed the language itself.
But I think my point, poorly expressed, is correct. The handful of copies made were not intended nor available to common people. When Wycliffe’s “Bible Men” traveled and read the portions of scripture they had, common folk listened and learned. To recite the Lord’s Prayer in common English was enough to prove heresy, since the only way a commoner could do it was thru Wycliffe.
Your comment regarding a medaeval history textbook and the authors of it, is something of a non sequitur. Unless, that is, you deem the work inaccurate? Is there some error?
As far as your other comments, which are undeservedly rather derogatory, additional detail and footnotes are available at the links provided.
“No one could be excommunicated simply for preaching against the sale of indulgences since the sale of indulgences was banned by the Church. Hus was excommunicated in 1410 for disobeying his archbishop. A sentence of excommunication was issued in 1411.”
Then why did Luther protest against it in 1517 - over 100 years later?
“In 1567 St. Pius V canceled all grants of indulgences involving any fees or other financial transactions.”
“Not hardly. 90% of the NT came from Tyndale.”
That still leaves plenty. Don’t forget the 1611 AV was DRAMATICALLY changed in 1769.
You might want to check this scholar’s work: http://books.google.com/books?id=FoEY0B59zq8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=carelton+the+part+of+the+rheims+in+the+making+of+the+english+bible&source=bl&ots=xg8vRo90gO&sig=gS3Sq3b4M9ppyeMlYAl8pVUhzt8&hl=en&ei=xKhjS5WoOIHWtgPOisGdAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=&f=false
The great Bible translator, Fr. Ronald Knox, noted some of the KJV oddities here: http://www.americancatholicpress.org/Msgr_Knox_Bible_Translation.html
. . . some translations were made, but they were for the elite, not the commoners . . .
Your 20th century outlook betrays you. For the first 10 centuries or so in Europe, only the elite COULD read. And they read mostly Latin. After the Roman Empire fell, there was nothing that could be called a middle class. You were a member of the royalty or nobility, a cleric or religious, or a peasant tied to the soil. The one exception was the development in England of a class of yeomen, who were farmers but independent rather than serfs. They were still mostly illiterate, though.
In England, King Alfred was a very public spirited person who thought that the Bible and other religious material should be translated into Anglo-Saxon, but this was still for the upper classes and the clerics because nobody else had the leisure time to learn to read. Alfred himself learned to read late in life, he could read fairly well but he never learned to write (according to his biographer Asser). There was a long-standing tradition of anti-academic feeling among the nobility, to the point that as late as the 16th century there were plenty of peers, quite well born ones, who took it as a point of pride that they LACKED learning. They felt it was beneath them. They could hire a secretary if something needed to be read.
They had a profound influence upon the young John Wesley, as well.
“”Lifted?” What are you talking about? There is a link to the article in its entirety,”
Maybe I missed it. Can you show me where? I see two links. One in “indulgences” and one in “Salem”. Which one links to the article about Huss? Is the article about Huss the same article as one of the other two?
“in addition to two other links to articles from the same author, one for “indulgence” and the other for a district of my hometown.”
I see TWO links. Can you show me the third one?
“Your comment regarding a medaeval history textbook and the authors of it, is something of a non sequitur. Unless, that is, you deem the work inaccurate? Is there some error?”
Tierney and Painter is not a bad highschool/college freshman textbook. At one time it was the best one out there. I don’t think I would rely on it for accuracy in all things, however.
“As far as your other comments, which are undeservedly rather derogatory, additional detail and footnotes are available at the links provided.”
The third link?
“Then why did Luther protest against it in 1517 - over 100 years later?”
For the same reason why people have protested against some of the same wrongs for century after century - people kept doing them.
In 1567 St. Pius V canceled all grants of indulgences involving any fees or other financial transactions.
Right. EXCHANGE. Not sales. They were always banned.
Not as much as you think. The Paris Bible in Latin, which was published in the 13th Century, was plentiful enough to have become a stock reference for the thousands of itirnerant friars who went about preaching to the masses. Small enough to fit into the pocket of their habits, it was one of the first books to look like the ones we are familiar with. The quality of printing is amazing. I saw a copy in a church museum in Dallas. More than 700 years old, it looked very modern. Hard to believe it was handwritten.
“Dont forget the 1611 AV was DRAMATICALLY changed in 1769.”
Below is an example of the dramatic revision:
1. Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I haue the gift of prophesie, and vnderstand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I haue all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines, and haue no charitie, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestowe all my goods to feede the poore, and though I giue my body to bee burned, and haue not charitie, it profiteth me nothing.
1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
“In these three verses, there are eleven changes of spelling, nine changes of typesetting, three changes of punctuation, and one variant text - where “not charity” is substituted for “no charity” in verse two, in the erroneous belief that the original reading was a misprint.”
More info can be found here:
I can’t say how accurate it is - I’m no KJV scholar.
Here is a side by side of part of Genesis 1:
The fact remains that large swathes of the English population found Bible translations from Wycliffe and Tyndale compelling, going back to the 12th century.
Argue all you want but how is it "dishonest"? Both "bishop" and "church" were established words meaning Christian overseers (bishop was never "elder" even in Greek) and Christian assemblies. If you start using "front-sitter" instead of "president" today, would I be dishonest if I prefer the word people know and understand to its back-formation from Latin roots? Who, exectly, would be "dishonest"?
"Repent" vs. "do penance" can, of course, be argued, but this is sneaking Protestant false theology into a linguistic dispute. It is clear from the scripture that St. John and Jesus Himself actually did something and not merely had penitent thoughts. St. John for example wore a hairshirt and fasted and so did Jesus. The modern meaning of that is that they "did penance". Judas, on the other hand, "repented" -- felt a regret. While either "repent" or "do penance" are adequate renderings of "metanoiete" linguistically, the Protestant version ignores the Christian context.
Let us not forget that Luther's translation had a deliberate lie in it, in Romans 3:28. This was done to insert into the Bible things that were never in it. Some "translation".
“The languages varied a bit more between common and high.”
What? Common and high what? Only some countries had such dialects.
“In particular, what Ive read of the German translations is that they were a courtly german, not shared by the common folks.”
Such as Luther’s. Luther wrote in a Saxon court dialect. That didn’t stop his from becoming the normative dialect.
“In England, the common tongue wasnt all that common.”
Yeah, actually it was - among the commoners. They just differed from region to region. They still do.
“But I think my point, poorly expressed, is correct. The handful of copies made were not intended nor available to common people.”
Wycliffe’s was really created for Lollards and not the ‘common man’.
“When Wycliffes Bible Men traveled and read the portions of scripture they had, common folk listened and learned. To recite the Lords Prayer in common English was enough to prove heresy, since the only way a commoner could do it was thru Wycliffe.”
OH, PLEASE!!! You are way off. The common people in England were ALWAYS taught the Our Father in the vernacular. ALWAYS. We have plenty of copies of the Pater Noster in the vernacular from centuries before Wycliffe. The idea that Catholics wouldn’t know how to say the most common prayer in Christendom in their own language is just stupidly wrong.
I suggest you read The Lord’s prayer: a text in tradition by Kenneth W. Stevenson starting at page 141, “Vernacular Material”. As Stevenson says, the research material is “potentially vast”!
A nice ecumenical brawl is an act of charity to heretics. The weekend is approaching.
Okay, so was this: http://latemiddleages.suite101.com/article.cfm/john_wycliffe_and_the_english_catholic_church
somewhere posted in that earlier post or not?
I’m just checking now. Was it there or not? I’m not seeing it there.
How about these:
Deuteronomy 26:1 which the Lord giueth vs. which the LORD thy God giveth
Joshua 13:29 tribe of Manasseh, by vs. tribe of the children of Manasseh by
Ruth 3:15 he went into the citie vs. she went into the city
Psalm 69:32 seeke good vs. seek God
Jeremiah 49:1 inherit God vs. inherit Gad
Matthew 16:16 Thou art Christ vs. Thou art the Christ
Mark 10:18 There is no man good vs. there is none good (note that now there is is marked as being added by the translators for clarity)
1 Corinthians 4:9 approued to death vs. appointed to death
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