(Continued from page 331)
'Latin is the Divinely constituted and appointed language for Christianity' - how come 'infallible' John Paul II dumped the whole charade?!
Do all Roman Catholics believe 'Church Latin is the Divinely constituted and appointed language of Christianity'?
You write: The Bible was always widely disseminated and available since the beginning. However, the English people were not without the Bible in those early years, as the Latin Vulgate was widely disseminated and in daily use (Latin was the primary language in the modern world at the time and known by the English and civilized world). In addition, numerous paraphrases, translations, and commentaries of various Bible stories were well known through scop and gleeman, the popular storytellers of their day.
The Bible assumed the name 'Vulgate' before the people, which means the 'disseminated' or people's Bible. The Bible was in wide circulation and nobody believed in Sola Scriptura as you allege. Church Latin is the Divinely constituted and appointed language of Christianity. The idea that none of the English speaking peoples had the Bible in their language is a fantasy. Also, the first Bible in English was disseminated by Aidan, Bishop of Landisfarne [sic], who died in 651, encouraged his flock to read the Scriptures in their own tongue. Also, Bishop of Sherborne until his death in 709, translated the Bible into the Saxon language. Between 721 and 901 various writers, including Venerable Bede, Eadfrith, Alcuin, and King Alfred translated parts of all the Bible stories into Old English. English is a profane language and went through great periods of transitions as is wont to happen to profane languages. The translations made by Aelfric, Archbishop of Cantebury [sic] from 994 to 1005, were in circulation. There were many English translations in existence after and during his time. It was not until the 15thcentury that English emerged as a definite language. The alleged work of Wyclif in 1380, an English translation, was actually not his and he was not responsible for it and mush [sic] historical doubt has been cast on the work alleged to be Wyclif's. The translation was largely Catholic in tone and diction and most of the manuscripts of this version were found in the possession of notably Catholic families. There are over 150 manuscripts of this type, and the translation was made from the Vulgate. In 1582 the Douay Rheims Bible was translated by Catholic English Scholars who had fled to France from the virulent Anglican persecutions. The Bible in English was revised from time to time and brought up to date, since English is a changing language. Bishop Challoner of England undertook the task and published a complete revision of the Douay Rheims in 1750, and several less [sic - you forgot that you removed the word 'successful' from your source - see later!] revisions appeared between that time and the 20th century.
TCE: First, regarding your claims that 'The Bible was always widely disseminated and available since the beginning ... the English people were not without the Bible in those early years, as the Latin Vulgate was widely disseminated and in daily use (Latin was the primary language in the modern world at the time and known by the English and civilized world)' - you must know that this is utter fabrication and even the most ignorant reader of history will quickly find that:
1. hardly anyone had a copy of 'the Bible' - even after the printing press was invented - it cost a fortune for hand-written copies and was not cheap even when printing was invented;
2. in the whole history of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ the vast majority of the English-speaking world have never known Latin - never mind Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic - so it was essential that translations into English would be necessary;
3. your claim that 'the Latin Vulgate was widely disseminated and in daily use' is only true in that the minority of Latin-speaking people, out of the millions of Papal Roman Catholics through history, could ever have heard any part of Scripture, and that only occasionally when read by Rome's clergy - and, of course, always accompanied by Papal spin;
4. the Latin church never followed a completely consistent policy in permitting or forbidding the translation of the Scriptures for it was sometimes forbidden in one country while regarded with longanimity or permitted under authority in another (Addis and Arnold, Catholic Dictionary, London, 1884, article 'Bible') and the history of the translation and dissemination of the Bible in the different nations of Europe came about in many different and often tortuous ways.
It may be appropriate for Papal Roman Catholics to accept that 'numerous paraphrases, translations, and commentaries of various Bible stories ... well known through scop and gleeman, the popular storytellers of their day' could educate their disciples in what passes for the 'Word of God' in Rome, but true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ expect more than milk watered down with polluted water from 'entertainers', never mind getting their teeth into solid food (Hebrews 5:13-14, NASB: 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil)! Perhaps you would like to supply us with examples of the materials shared by 'scop and gleeman'?
For the sake of future readers of your material we will explain briefly:
During the early 'Anglo-Saxon' time period written literature did not exist. But poems and stories were spread around the country by 'Scops' (professional minstrels who played harps and other stringed instruments) who played while assisted by 'the Gleeman', some travelling from village to village reciting and performing. Some held permanent posts in the king's court or mead halls and performed for great feasts, celebrations, or the homecoming of soldiers from war. Their performances were usually short, but some contained many lines of verse and some celebrations, such as of a military victory, could be prolonged from anything from a number of hours to a number of days. In this time period the most common language spoken was "Old English" but, although most spoke it, the stories weren't written down until the famous work, Beowulf (over 3000 lines long), came along and was preserved as the most important heroic piece of all Anglo-Saxon works to be written in English.
But to try and compare such methods and materials with the incredible adoration with which the Jewish nation preserved the canon of the Old Testament, or the faithful copying of the equally inspired New Testament manuscripts by genuine Christians, is to compare a contemporary paperback novel with the genuine Word of God. It simply cannot be done!
We find your 'essential writing' is taken from the Fireside Personal Study Bible and can be read at the following address:
It is educational to check the text from an earlier point in the book, so we quote from the heading (we have highlighted your less than honest modifications in this colour, inherently dishonest or debatable sections (for a variety of reasons) in this colour, and our usual highlights of important facts in blue):
HISTORY OF THE BIBLE
NO ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS of the Bible have come down to us, due to the perishable material upon which they were written and the fact that the Roman emperors decreed the destruction of the manuscripts during the Christian persecutions. While none of the original manuscripts are known to exist, some very ancient transcriptions have survived the years.
TCE: We have already easily proven that Papal Rome continued the actions they learned from 'Roman emperors' and continued to destroy the Word of God outside of their control until very recent centuries!
ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS OF THE BIBLE
The oldest Hebrew manuscript known is a copy of the Book of Isaiah, written in Hebrew in the 2nd Century. It was found in 1947 in a cave near Jericho. The oldest Greek fragment known to exist is in the John Ryland Library in Manchester, England. This fragment is from the 2nd Century A.D. Several thousand other ancient Greek manuscripts have been found, the three most complete and important being the Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and the Codex Alexandrinus, all probably of the 4th and 5th Century after Christ. The Codex Vaticanus is in the Vatican library.
TCE: Regarding the quote that '... ancient Greek manuscripts have been found, the three most complete and important being the Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and the Codex Alexandrinus ...' there is no mention here that it is very probable that Jerome's Vulgate got off to a bad start from the beginning because it was based upon impure texts similar to these corrupt Vaticanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts so revered by many modern, liberal textual authorities - who have also identified them as two of the copies of the Greek New Testament made by Eusebius (another 'Church Father' of dubious qualities).
EARLY TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE
The most important early translations of the Bible were the Septuagint and the Vulgate. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, was begun about 250 B.C. and completed about 100 B.C. This translation was made for the Jews of Egypt so that they could read their sacred books in Greek, the only language that most of them understood at that time. Before long, the Septuagint was widely used in Palestine and distributed throughout the Greek-speaking peoples of the Mediterranean world during the time of Christ and for the 1st Century or longer of the Christian era. The Apostles of Christ used this translation in their teaching.
THE BIBLE IN THE FIRST TWO CENTURIES AFTER CHRIST
In the early days of the Church, the Scriptures were read at divine services in Greek. An early translation from Greek to Latin was needed for many of the Christians in the West could not understand Greek. Such translations, gathered together, made up the first Latin Bible. Prepared by so many different people of varying education, the translations were uneven and inaccurate. By the 2nd Century there were a number of Latin translations, the most widely circulated being the Old Latin, or Itala.
ST. JEROME AND THE VULGATE TRANSLATION
Because of the numerous variant readings of the Itala, due to the copyists, revisers, or translators, Pope Damasus requested St. Jerome to revise and correct the New Testament. St. Jerome, began his revision with the four Gospels and then revised the remaining books of the New Testament, but more hurriedly. The work was completed at Rome about A.D. 383-4. After the death of Pope Damasus, St. Jerome went to the Holy Land. He spent 34 years there, devoting his time to revising the Bible, to exegetical works, but mainly to the great work of his life - the translation of the protocanonical books of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin. This work extended over a period of fifteen years and it was a prodigious task, for the modern Vulgate is made up of: (a) the protocanonical books of the Old Testament, with the exception of the Psalter, translated from the Hebrew by St. Jerome; (b) the deuterocanonical books of Tobit and Judith from the Aramaic by St. Jerome; the deuterocanonical books of Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees from the Old Latin unrevised by St. Jerome; (d) the deuterocanonical parts of Daniel from the Greek of Theodotion and of Esther from the Septuagint; and (e) the New Testament revised from the Old Latin by St. Jerome.
THE VULGATE SUPERSEDES ALL OTHER VERSIONS
As St. Jerome's work on the Old Testament was a work of private enterprise, it met great opposition. He was accused of changing the text of the Bible, which was familiar to the people in the Itala or Old Latin. However, as time went on the great merits of his work were recognized. By the 9th Century, Jerome's version was universally accepted. In view of its general adoption, it gradually assumed the name of 'Vulgate,' the 'disseminated' or 'people's Bible'.
THE CHURCH APPROVES THE VULGATE
On April 8, 1546, the Church, in the Council of Trent, designated the Vulgate as the official Church translation. To this day the Vulgate remains the official version of the Church, and translations of it are found in practically every language in the world. However, it does not mean that it is to be preferred over the Septuagint or over original manuscripts, or that it was entirely free from error. On the contrary, the Church recognized certain limitations in the translation from the beginning, and ordered a revision. This revised version was published in 1592 under Pope Clement VIII.
THE VULGATE FROM JEROME TO GUTENBERG
Jerome's text suffered many vicissitudes throughout the ages. In assembling a complete Bible, copyists would take some of their readings, by misadventure, from the old Latin texts and some from the Vulgate; both texts were in circulation. A monk might have memorized several passages from the old version in school, then, in writing a copy of the Vulgate, subconsciously lapse into the old phrasing so familiar to him. Some of the transcribers were not exercising a critical sense and would incorporate texts from other manuscripts, parallel passages, and texts from the liturgy. The invention of printing only multiplied these problems for a time, but eventually scholars were able to print a text near to the text as it came from the hands of St. Jerome. While the Vulgate became the official version of the Western Church, it did not prevent other translations from being made. A Coptic version appeared in the 2nd Century; Ulfilas, an Arian bishop, made a Gothic translation in the 4th Century, and there were numerous Syrian, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, and Slavonic versions in the early centuries.
GUTENBERG AND THE FIRST PRINTED BIBLE
The invention and development of a practical printing process by Gutenberg in the 15th Century did more to revolutionize and modernize the world than any other invention. Prior to this, all manuscripts and books had to be copied by hand and only the very wealthy could ever afford to have one. At once the tedious work of the professional copyist was ended. Not only did it do away with the copyist, it eliminated the many human errors made in copying. By 1450 Gutenberg had developed the art of printing so well that he was ready to print his first book; the first book printed was the Bible, in the Latin Vulgate translation. About two years were spent in printing and binding the Bible, and it was completed in 1452. Over 200 copies were printed in the first edition
TCE: Your source makes the important point - which is devastating to your claims - that 'only the very wealthy could ever afford to have' a Bible - and commoners were therefore utterly at the mercy of the false interpretations of the clergy of Papal Rome!
What they do not mention is the utter hatred Papal Rome had for anyone calling themselves Christian but who refused to bend the knee and who were then persecuted or even burnt at the stake for daring to circulate Bibles to the laity - as we already detailed earlier.
Continuing from Fireside Personal Study Bible:
THE BIBLE IN PRINT
With the invention of printing, the Bible ran through edition after edition - 124 in the first 50 years, all sponsored by the Catholic Church. By the time Luther's New Testament appeared in 1522 there were 14 complete editions in German. Parallel with this in time was the appearance of 11 Italian translations, 10 French, 2 Bohemian, one Flemish, and one Russian.
THE BIBLE IN ENGLISH
The first complete English translation of the Bible appeared relatively late, probably not until the 14th Century. However, the English people were not without the Bible in those early years, as the Latin Vulgate was widely disseminated and in daily use. In addition, numerous paraphrases, translations, and commentaries of various Bible stories were well known through scop and gleeman, the popular storytellers of their day.
TCE: The truth about the Bibles translated ('124 ... editions ... in the first 50 years, all sponsored by the Catholic Church') is that they consisted of many variable versions in Latin - which hardly anyone outside the clergy read or spoke! All translations into other languages had been banned wherever Papal Rome held power (as we prove extensively on earlier pages and further in later pages) - as the existence of 'licences' from Papal Rome to even have any Bible in your possession prove irrefutably! This further supports our view that early English translations were not in existence as you claim (other evidence also shows that Papal Rome destroyed the versions of those they labelled heretics, such as the Waldensians) and it is clear that those who could afford to buy a Bible, and also understood Latin, were extremely few!
Real facts about early Bibles in English!
You wrote: The Bible was always widely disseminated and available since the beginning. ... The Bible was in wide circulation and nobody believed in Sola Scriptura as you allege. Church Latin is the Divinely constituted and appointed language of Christianity. The idea that none of the English speaking peoples had the Bible in their language is a fantasy.
TCE: In Anglo-Saxon there is no proof of the existence of any translation of the complete Bible, or even of the complete New Testament! Below, we see how you modified this work to try and prove your point - but the original text tells the true story of 'mystery', hopeful 'tradition' - and 'belief' that is not based on facts!
EARLY HISTORY NOT DEFINITELY KNOWN
Much of the earlier history of the Bible in English still remains a mystery. Tradition holds that Aidan, Bishop of Landisfarne, who died in 651, encouraged his followers to read the Scriptures in their own tongue. Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherborne until his death in 709, is said to have translated the Psalms into the Saxon language. Between 721 and 901 various writers, including the Venerable Bede, Eadfrith, Alcuin, and King Alfred, are believed to have translated parts of all of the Bible stories into Old English. In the 10th Century, a translation of the first seven books of the Bible and the Book of Job made by Aelfric, Archbishop of Canterbury from 994 to 1005, was in circulation. During the time between the death of Aelfric and the reputed work of Wyclif in 1380, other translations are reported to have existed. However, this was a period of great transition in the English language, and practically nothing remains of these writings. It was not until the 15th Century that English as we know it today emerged as a definite language.
The next important English version is the so-called Wyclif translation, of which over 150 manuscripts are extant. It is taken indirectly from the Vulgate. Much doubt has been cast recently on the theory that Wyclif was responsible for this pre-Reformation Bible in recent years, since the translation is largely Catholic in tone and diction and since most of the manuscripts of this version were found in the possession of notably Catholic families.
TCE: Again, check the actual quotes from the work you adjusted and you will find the clear testimony to the truth - that speculation abounds and you have tried to make it appear to be facts: 'Much of the earlier history of the Bible in English still remains a mystery ... Tradition holds ... is said to have translated ... are believed to have translated parts of all of the Bible stories into Old English ... a translation of the first seven books of the Bible and the Book of Job made by Aelfric, Archbishop of Canterbury ... was in circulation ... other translations are reported to have existed ... However ... practically nothing remains of these writings ...'.
Regarding the slandering of Wycliffe (aka Wyclif), few people doubt the influence of the Vulgate and Latin versions on his work, but the question of how far the 14th century translation was Wyclif's work is impossible to accurately verify at this distance in time. There is some uncertainty as to the exact share which Wycliffe had in the production of the work but we know that the translation of the New Testament was finished about the year 1380 and in 1382 the translation of the entire Bible was completed, the greater part of the Old Testament being the work of Nicholas Hereford, one of Wyclif's most zealous supporters at Oxford. The work was thorough, following sound principles of criticism and interpretation which are explained by John Purvey, one of Wyclif's most intimate friends during the latter part of his life, in the prologue to the new edition which was finished in 1388. Renowned authority, Sir Frederic George Kenyon, GBE KCB TD FBA FSA (15 January 1863 - 23 August 1952), who was a British palaeographer and Biblical and classical scholar who joined the British Museum in 1889 and rose to be its Director and Principal Librarian by 1909 (he was knighted for his services in 1912 and remained in this post until 1931) wrote this regarding Wycliffe's work:
'Other scholars assisted him in his work, and we have no certain means of knowing how much of the translation was actually done by himself. The New Testament is attributed to him, but we cannot say with certainty that it was entirely his own work' (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts, 200, 3rd edition, London, 1898).
This corresponds completely with the position taken up Forshall and Madden, the editors of the great Oxford edition of Wyclif's version (issued in 4 large quarto volumes in 1850) and undertaken to honour him and display England's indebtedness to the Reformer. These gifted and well-qualified editors spent 22 years upon this work which is recognized as scholarship and research of the highest order. In their thorough introduction they answer the greater part of the criticisms and claims put forth by Dr. Gasquet (Our Old English Bible and Other Essays, London, 1898; 2nd edition, 1908) who proposed that the work published in Oxford in 1850 was not Wyclif's at all but that of his bitterest opponents, the bishops of the English church who represented the party of Rome. Gasquet's arguments and statements are refuted by Kenyon (op. cit., p204-8) and the controversy was also addressed in The Age of Wycliffe, by G. M. Trevelyan (2nd edition, London, 1908) which reveals further thorough research supporting the view that Wyclif, with the named assistants above, was responsible for the Bible attributed to him. As Trevelyan concluded in his Appendix (361):
'Nothing can be more damning than the licenses to particular people to have English Bibles, for they distinctly show that without such licenses it was thought wrong to have them.'
So, again, every claim we have made for the transmission of the Bible and Papal Rome's opposition to people reading the true Word of God is proven while your claims are demolished!
The age of printing was still in the distant future, so 'The Wycliffe Bible' was issued and circulated in copies which were individually written by hand and about 170 copies still exist to form a striking proof of the facts above and the debt England and the world owe to the faith, courage and labour of John Wyclif and his 'poor priests.'
John Wyclif was born about 1324 near the village of Wyclif, Yorkshire, in the diocese of Durham and he became a distinguished scholar and professor at Oxford. The year 1378 saw Wyclif's distinctive career as a doctrinal reformer begin and two papal courts confirmed much that he had written by fulminating anathemas against each other, thus shaking confidence in the 'divine' origin of the papacy among the most ignorant! Via sermons, tracts and other more substantial writings, Wyclif utilised Scripture and clear logic to prove his points in such a way that they were easily understood by the general population as he spoke and wrote fluently and pointedly in Latin and English. Wyclif organised proclamation of the pure Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by discipling and sending out a body of itinerant evangelists from among the Oxford graduates, but included laymen who travelled on foot to preach far and wide (the Papal opposition nicknamed them Lollards, meaning 'mumblers'). Oxford authorities were coerced by archbishop and bishops to bring Wyclif before a court who condemned his assertions that the bread and wine remain after consecration, and that Christ's body is present only figuratively in the Eucharist. Wyclif rejected their attempts to refute his arguments and continued to preach and lecture at the university, appealing to the king's council but the Duke of Lancaster opposed Wyclif and forbade him from continuing to preach his Scriptural views while at Oxford. Despite pronouncements of heresy against other teachings of Wyclif, e.g. oral confession is not necessary for a soul prepared to die and his declaration that, after Urban VI's death, the English Church should acknowledge no pope but govern itself, the English 'Reformer' remained undeterred and continued to resist the heresies of Papal Rome.
When the Inquisition prevented Wyclif from preaching he retired to his rectory at Lutterworth and continued to work on translating the Bible. But he also revealed his nature by sending out polemic tracts, including the 'Cruciata', against Papal Rome and Urban V's attempts to attract gullible 'soldiers' by promising a plenary indulgence for a year to all joining the army. To this end Mass was said and sermons preached in the ekklesiae of England as large sums were collected for the Papal enterprise. The indulgence was then extended to the dead as well as to the living while Wyclif correctly declared the 'Crusade' an expedition for worldly mastery, and pronounced the indulgence 'an abomination of desolation in the holy place.' The resultant army gathered reached the Continent, but the expedition was a failure (despite the supposed power of the prayers and Masses of the Papacy) and Wyclif produced a theological treatise, 'The Trialogus', which pointed out the obvious Biblical principle that, where the Bible and the Church do not agree, we must obey the Bible, and where conscience and human authority are in conflict we must follow conscience!
To the joy of his enemies, Wyclif received a paralytic stroke two years before his death which seriously damaged his body but did not completely incapacitate him and he retained the vigour to reply to a Papal citation to answer his 'heresies' by replying that:
'of all men he was most under obligation to obey the law of Christ, that Christ was of all men the most poor, and subject to mundane authority. No Christian man has a right to follow Peter, Paul or any of the saints except as they imitated Christ. The pope should renounce all worldly authority and compel his clergy to do the same.'
He bravely stood his ground and maintained that, if in any of his views were found to be in error, he was willing to be corrected, even by death. He made it clear that he was willing to go to Rome to make his views clear if that was God's will and prayed that God might incline Pope Urban to imitate Christ in his life - and also teach his clergy to do the same! Before the Papacy could get their hands on Wyclif and bring him to the end that their evil leanings intentioned, God Mercifully allowed a more severe stroke to take the ''Protestant' rebel from earth while he was conducting the 'Lord's Supper' in church and he passed away two or three days after (29th December, 1384) - but not before he had 'lit a fire which shall never be put out.'
The sentiment of Papal Rome was probably exemplified by Walsingham, chronicler of St. Albans, who characterized the hated Wyclif in these words:
'On the feast of the passion of St. Thomas of Canterbury, John de Wyclif, that instrument of the devil, that enemy of the Church, that author of confusion to the common people, that image of hypocrites, that idol of heretics, that author of schism, that sower of hatred, that coiner of lies, being struck with the horrible judgment of God, was smitten with palsy and continued to live till St. Sylvester's Day, on which he breathed out his malicious spirit into the abodes of darkness.'
But the truth was out and the views of Wyclif took root even more powerfully outside England, even assuming an organized form under the name 'Wycliffism' and eventually gaining another zealous spokesmen, John Huss. Virulent persecution by the Jesuits meant Huss shared the same fate as Jerome of Prague and died at the stake at Constance for allegiance to the truth Wyclif had revealed. But their message spread far enough to be taken up by such believers as the Moravians of Herrnhut and the growing Christian resistance to the heresies of Papal Rome meant the days of Papal power over true believers was to be limited by degrees.
While, previous to 1500 AD, most of the countries of Europe had been supplied with a version of the Scriptures printed in the vernacular tongue, England had nothing but the scattered copies of the Wyclif manuscript version and, even if you could read, the cost was still prohibitive. Even the renowned printer, William Caxton, who avidly sought works to translate and to print and supplied many other 'Christian' works to priests and preachers, e.g. service-books and printed sermons, was too afraid of Papal Rome's persecutions to print the Scriptures. As a result of Papal Rome's intrusion into the spiritual affairs of Britain no printed English version, even of the New Testament, existed in Britain for close on half a century after Caxton's death, a circumstance largely due to the energy of the Tudor dictatorship and the severity of the decree of Arundel (known as the 'Arundelian Constitutions') enacted by Convocation at Oxford (in the year 1408) against Wyclif and his work meant the continued suppression and forbade 'upon pain of the greater excommunication the unauthorized translation of any text of the Scriptures into English or any other tongue by way of a book, pamphlet, treatise or the reading of such.' But the gradual introduction of popular works by Caxton, such as Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales', probably set the style for Middle English literature while introducing the populace to reading matter in an ever more affordable form. Ironically, Chaucer's book feigned spiritual things via the vehicle of a group of pilgrims ostensibly travelling from London to Canterbury Cathedral whiling away the time by telling tales which ranged from pious to comic, with erudite humour veering to the downright vulgar, but which encouraged the study of newly printed works of every kind including that of the original languages of Scripture. Though still generally resisted by the Papal clergy the invention of printing led to increasing promotion of Scriptural works, although printers still had to keep in favour with the aristocracy and 1483, which saw the second edition of the 'Canterbury Tales', also demonstrated this political side of the struggle for the Word of God when Caxton made sure he acknowledged the new king, Richard III, by dedicating the 'Ordre of Chyvalry or Knyghthode' to him.
The Lateran decree of February, 1413, ordered Wyclif's books burnt, and the Council of Constance formally condemned his memory and ordered his bones exhumed from their resting-place and 'cast at a distance from the sepulchre of the church' and also decreed the '... said John Wyclif to have been a notorious heretic, and excommunicates him and condemns his memory as one who died an obstinate heretic.' Constance could not content itself with slandering Wyclif's memory but had to maintain typically pointless Papal spitefulness by exhuming his body, burning his bones to ashes and then casting them into a nearby brook, the Swift, from whence historian Fuller describes: '... this brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wicliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed the world over.'
John Wyclif probably shares the company of few other men, perhaps on a par with John Latimer and John Wesley, as an English religious leader who remained devoted to his conscience and religious duty to ensure the best translation and exposition of the Word of God was available to his fellow man despite the constant threats from the Papacy. Wyclif was probably the leading Englishman of the Middle Ages and, despite the efforts of the popes, his work was the beginning of the end of worldwide Papal power and the Dark Ages they had trapped Europe in by hindering vernacular translations from being made and distributed, by bitterly persecuting any Christians who attempted to spread His Word, and by shrouding the Bible with false traditions and placing a false priesthood between the Bible and the people.
Regarding your un-Scriptural and unprovable claims that 'Church Latin is the Divinely constituted and appointed language of Christianity' we wonder how you think the findings of Vatican II support your claim? Out of the 2,908 churchmen of Papal Rome eligible to attend, 2,540 took part in the first public session (non-voting observers from all the major Protestant and Eastern Orthodox denominations were also present). This council enacted 16 texts and, of these, the most significant were on the nature of the church and revelation, the revision of the liturgy, the work of the clergy, the role of lay people, and the role of the church in the world today. But, incredibly for your claim, the most immediate result of Vatican II was the revision of the liturgy, which included changing the language of the liturgy from Latin to the languages of the people. How do you think the infallible popes and councils of Papal Rome could be so at odds with your claim? Perhaps 'Divinely constituted and appointed ...' does not mean what you think it means? Another prominent outcome of Vatican II was increased 'openness' to other religions and denominations and co-operation with them - and the resultant departure from the doctrines of traditional Papal Rome that John Paul II exhibited was one of the results!
Returning to your irrelevant and inaccurate views of the English language which, at the very least, has been used by true believers to accurately transmit God's truth we see, again, that your supposed authority also fails to support you. To continue from your chosen source, the Fireside Personal Study Bible:
THE DOUAY-RHEIMS TRANSLATION
The first complete and printed Catholic English translation that is definitely known appeared rather late, at the turn of the 16th Century. This is known as the Douay-Rheims version. It was a translation of the Latin Vulgate and was produced in France by English scholars who had fled the Catholic persecutions in England. The New Testament was published in Rheims in 1582 and the Old Testament in Douay in 1610. Since the Douay-Rheims translation, the English language has undergone continuous changes. It was necessary, therefore, to revise and bring the Bible up to date from time to time. Bishop Challoner of England undertook and published a complete revision of the Douay-Rheims in 1750, and several less successful (you carelessly omitted this word!) revisions appeared between that time and the 20th Century.
PROTESTANT BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP
Besides the Catholic versions of the Bible mentioned above, numerous Protestant versions of the Bible in English have appeared since the Reformation. William Tyndale (1484-1536) was one of the first Protestant translators of the Bible. His translation is especially noteworthy because he translated from the original Greek versions then available to him rather than from the traditional Vulgate. Miles Coverdale translated and printed a complete English Bible in 1535. Coverdale's translation was the first English edition of the Bible to separate the deuterocanonical books from the protocanonical books. The deuterocanonical books were put in the back of the regular Bible text. Between the publication of Coverdale's Bible and the King James or Authorized version, other less important translations took place. Noteworthy among these were the Taverner's Bible, the Great Bible, Cranmer's Bible, the Geneva Bible, and the Bishop's Bible.
THE KING JAMES BIBLE
When James I ascended the throne of England in 1603, numerous and variant Protestant Bibles were in circulation. In 1604 preparations were, therefore, made to undertake a revision of the Protestant Bible. A group of scholars was organized, and using the Bishop's Bible as the basis for their new translation, produced the King James version, which was published in 1611. While of great literary merit, Protestants themselves recognized many serious defects in the translation. In 1881-1885 a revision was made, and this is popularly known as the Revised Version. Many other modern versions are also published today, the most important, perhaps, being the Revised Standard Version published in 1952. More recently the New English Version, among others have been published.
ref. Fireside Catholic Publishing (2012-05-01). Fireside Personal Study Bible - NABRE (Kindle Locations 952-1054). Fireside Catholic Publishing.
TCE: Regarding your hapless claim that 'English is a profane language and went through great periods of transitions as is wont to happen to profane languages' you should have considered the fact that Greek was commonly known and spoken throughout most of the Roman empire during the first two or three centuries of the Christian era. It was only later that the power of the Roman Empire, through Constantine's 'conversion of convenience', brought about a Latin translation of the Scriptures. It has been postulated that the gospels and perhaps all of the New Testament might have been available in Latin in North Africa, and soon afterward in other parts of the empire, by the end of the second century. However, anyone thinking this is a great advert for Papal Rome should consider that fact that the manuscripts of the Old Latin versions differ so much among themselves that it is clear that Old Latin is not one version of the New Testament but numerous translations - in accordance with the statement made by Augustine that in those early days of the Christian era anyone who had a Greek manuscript and thought he knew both Greek and Latin was arrogant enough to attempt to make a Latin translation! Colloquialisms and unsophisticated expressions in these Old Latin translations support Augustine's statement and reveal that the works also originated among people who did not exhibit a fraction of the reverential care for the Word of God that His chosen people proved to have by their preservation of the Old Testament. This is another reason to accept the opinion of renowned historians such as Josephus over anyone from Papal Rome.
Your hopeful claim that 'Church Latin is the Divinely constituted and appointed language of Christianity' takes a further dive when it is so easily seen that Greek was the written language God chose to convey His New Testament to the world while the latter imposition of Latin on the world through the popes via Old Latin and the Vulgate, as well as in 'sacramental language', is shown to have been accompanied by multitudinous errors. And, of course, we have also shown how John Paul II dumped the whole charade anyway!
Roman dominion in Britain only ceased about 410 AD when the troops were withdrawn and the country was essentially left to govern itself. This led to a partial relapse into barbarism and a demoralizing weakening of the Christian church (including the Papal Rome version left behind without much protection). The barbarians of the North pressed heavily upon the Britons in the South and no records exist for the next ~150 years until Abbot Gildas informs us of the degeneracy of the clergy, the decay of religion, the introduction and suppression of the Pelagian heresy, and the mission of Palladius to the Scots in Ireland. There was bitter antagonism between the remnant of the old British church and the new church imported from Rome among the hated Anglo-Saxons, not just over doctrinal matters, but ritualistic and disciplinary issues too, e.g. the British, Irish, and Scottish Christians of the sixth and seventh centuries kept Easter on the very day of the full moon in March when it was Sunday, or on the next Sunday following and adhered to the older cycle of eighty-four years in opposition to the later Dionysian cycle of ninety-five years, which came into use on the Continent from the middle of the sixth century. Trivial nonsense, such as shaving the fore-part of their head from ear to ear in the form of a crescent, allowing the hair to grow behind, in imitation of the aureola, instead of shaving, like the Romans, the crown of the head in a circular form, and leaving a circle of hair, which was to represent the Saviour's crown of thorns, exemplifies the kind of un-Scriptural behaviour that permeated churches devoid of careful Biblical reading and teaching. But even the weakened Papal Rome version had become practically independent of Rome, and transacted their business in councils without referring to the pope.
It is true that the English language continues to change because it is probably the most versatile language in human history and this is one of the reasons it has proven to be so important as a means of spreading the Word of God over a huge portion of the earth while Latin has remained a dry, dull, dead language that has kept Papists in the vice-like grip of Rome. Since the earliest Bible translations into English the language has changed so much that the versions of 600 years ago are barely intelligible to the ordinary reader today. While it is true that the language is still changing, with new words and expressions coming into use and old ones becoming obsolete and, in time, unintelligible, it is a fact that the King James Version of the Bible can still be understood and believed by present-day people.
But the problem that exists in Bible translations began long before this in 'The Vulgate' which bears all the marks of the influences on Jerome's work, for its errors include the permeation of Augustinian views on predestination and the rejection of free will and, as Philip Schaff wrote, 'The Vulgate can be charged, indeed, with innumerable faults, inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and arbitrary dealing in particulars.' (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, II: p975-76, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., reprint 1959). Other experts who have examined Jerome's work expressed the same opinion, calling the Vulgate 'the most vulgarized and bastardized text imaginable' while Samuel Fisk pointed out the seriousness of errors, such as 'the whole system of Catholic 'penance,' drawn from the Vulgate's translation 'do penance'... when the Latin should have followed the Greek - repent. Likewise the word 'sacrament' was a mis-reading from the Vulgate of the original word for mystery. Even more significant, perhaps, was the rendering of the word presbyter (elder) as 'priest.' (ibid., p67).
Ref. Samuel Berger, Cambridge History of the English Bible, Vol. 3, S. L. Greenslade, ed., Cambridge, England: University Press, 1963, p414;
Samuel Fisk, Calvinistic Paths Retraced, Raleigh, NC: Biblical Evangelism Press, 1985, p67-68;
The fact that the Greek word for 'priest' is never applied to a New Testament leader in any way in the Greek manuscripts (BUT ONLY to the Lord Jesus Christ!) should have been apparent to Jerome and all the 'Church Fathers'. But it is clear that influences other than the truth of God's Word were the priority of these men.
Augustine even admitted the problem that led to the development of the Vulgate: 'In the earliest days of the faith, when a Greek manuscript came into anyone's hands, and he thought he possessed a little facility in both languages, he ventured to make a translation [into Latin].' (F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments, London: Pickering and Inglis, Ltd., 1950, p191). The consequence of these uninspired individual endeavours was noted by Professor Bruce: 'The time came, however, when the multiplicity of [Latin] texts [of Scripture] became too inconvenient to be tolerated any longer, and Pope Damasus ... commissioned his secretary, Jerome, to undertake the work' of revision to produce one authorized Latin version. Bruce also recognised that Jerome: 'was told to be cautious for the sake of 'weaker brethren' who did not like to see their favourite texts tampered with, even in the interests of greater accuracy. Even so, he went much too far for the taste of many, while he himself knew that he was not going far enough.' (ibid., p194-5). It is a fact that, for many centuries, the Vulgate remained the only Bible generally used and then, in the age of the Reformation, it continued to influence other popular versions, such as Luther's New Testament (in 1523) and, consequently, even the King James Authorized Version - unfortunately, never for the good.
This corrupt translation had an influence upon the Protestant churches in Europe and America and, fairly crucially, that influence carried over into the Geneva Bible as well as into other early versions of the English Bible, including the King James Version. The Vulgate's Augustinianisms were embraced and worked upon by the young John Calvin in his Geneva Bible and, consistent with his long background in Papal Rome, he included his often un-Scriptural views in the text as well as in voluminous notes. H. S. Miller's General Biblical Introduction states: 'It was a revision of Tyndale's, with an Introduction by Calvin ... the work of English reformers, assisted by Beza, Calvin, and possibly others.' J. R. Dore, in Old Bibles: An Account of the Early Versions of the English Bible, 2nd edition, wrote: 'almost every chapter [of the Geneva Bible] has voluminous notes full of Calvinistic doctrine.' Andrew Edgar, in The Bibles of England, declared: 'At the time the Geneva Bible was first published, Calvin was the ruling spirit in Geneva. All the features of his theological, ecclesiastical, political, and social system are accordingly reflected in the marginal annotations. ... The doctrine of predestination is proclaimed to be the head cornerstone of the gospel' (Samuel Fisk, Calvinistic Paths Retraced, Raleigh, NC: Biblical Evangelism Press, 1985, p70-75).
F. F. Bruce was more detailed in his assessment: 'The notes of the Geneva Bible...are, to be sure, unashamedly Calvinistic in doctrine. ... The people of England and Scotland... learned much of their biblical exegesis from these notes. ... The Geneva Bible immediately won, and retained, widespread popularity. It became the household Bible of English-speaking Protestants. ... This became the authorized Bible in Scotland and was brought to America where it had a strong influence.' (F.F. Bruce, The English Bible: A History of Translations, New York: Oxford University Press, 1961, p90-91). Butterworth affirms this: 'In the lineage of the King James Bible this [Geneva Bible] is by all means the most important single volume. ... The Geneva Bible...had a very great influence in the shaping of the King James Bible.' (Charles C. Butterworth, The Literary Lineage of the King James Bible, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1941, p163). Robinson was even more forceful in his assessment: 'A large part of its [Geneva Bible] innovations are included in the Authorized Version [KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE]. ... Sometimes the Geneva text and the Geneva margin are taken over intact, sometimes the text becomes the margin and the margin the text. Sometimes the margin becomes the text and no alternative is offered. Very often the Genevan margin becomes the Authorized Version text with or without verbal change.' (H. Wheeler Robinson, The Bible In Its Ancient and English Versions, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940, p186, 206-207).
Thus the influence from Augustine, through the Latin Vulgate and his writings, is established as far-reaching but, too often, un-Scriptural. This influence is often seen in Luther's theology but, even more, in John Calvin's, who embraced and passed on many of Augustine's major errors. Along with the writings of Augustine, the Latin Vulgate moulded Calvin's thoughts and this is clearly expressed in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Fluent in Latin, Calvin had long used that corrupted translation of the Bible, which, since its composition by Jerome at the beginning of the fifth century, was the official Bible of Roman Catholics. It was again so declared by the Council of Trent in 1546, when Calvin was 37 years of age. More than that, its influence reached into the Protestant movement: 'For one thousand years the Vulgate was practically the only Bible known and read in Western Europe. All commentaries were based upon the Vulgate text…. Preachers based their sermons on it.' (David Schaff, Our Father's Faith and Ours, p172; cited in Samuel Fisk, Calvinistic Paths Retraced, Raleigh, NC: Biblical Evangelism Press, 1985, p68). So there is clear evidence that the Vulgate corrupted the early translations into other languages but, fortunately, this situation did not remain unchanged outside of Papal Rome.
Calvin somehow invented doctrine that was nearer Islamic 'fatalism' than anything else, claiming that God not only predestined multitudes to eternal doom - while there was nothing they could do about it - but also deliberately deceived some of them into imagining that they were truly saved when they weren't! Like his former masters, the popes, Calvin failed to give any Biblical references to back up his claims and his sadistic reasoning takes some swallowing:
[E]xperience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them. ... Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption. Still … the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment. ... Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace; but that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never obtain to the full result or to fruition. When he shows himself propitious to them, it is not as if he had truly rescued them from death, and taken them under his protection. He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end. (Calvin, Institutes, III: ii, 11-12).
In a similar manner, Luther, in The Bondage of the Will, seemed to present a 'God' who was just as sadistic, 'deservedly taunting and mocking' (Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston, Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1957, 11th prtg. 1999, p153) the lost by calling upon them to come to Christ when they couldn't without the help He refused to give them! It is one thing to mock those who, having been given a genuine choice, have willfully rejected salvation and have persisted in their attempt to dethrone God. It is clearly 'another Gospel' (Galatians 2:5-9) when Calvin's and Luther's God, having created man without the possibility of repenting and believing the gospel, then mock him in regard to the doom to which he has been predestined!
This is not the loving, gracious, merciful God of the Bible but the God of Augustine, the premier 'saint' of Papal Rome, to whom not only Calvin and Luther looked as their mentor but whom so many leading 'evangelical Christians' praise highly to this day. So forget your attempts to pin your confused ideas of the definition of 'Protestant' - or 'Fundamentalist' - on us, for we reject error, no matter what its origin, and rely entirely on the Bible for our Gospel and Saviour. This is something that can never be claimed of Papal Rome, Calvinism, or Lutheranism!
The facts reveal that the Reformation was essentially a revival of Augustinianism and the slight threads in those ancient works that some 'Protestant evangelical Christians' grasped at, as if they alone had rediscovered a great truth (at least Luther recognised that Huss and other earlier believers - such as the Novationists, Waldensians, Lollards - were the true link to the Apostolic Age), is contrary to the truth which is that they had at last glimpsed a major portion of Biblical truth that Papal Rome had quashed for centuries - but they still failed to 'Reform' far enough (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1932, p367)
Regarding this book by Boettner, which 'proves' that Augustine was responsible for most of Papal Rome's doctrines and practices and was also the founder of Calvinism and 'evangelical Christianity' (despite the fact that the author also admits that early Christian leaders would have rejected Calvinism's view of predestination and that 'This cardinal truth of Christianity was first clearly seen by Augustine....') (ibid. Boettner, p365) should make all but the dullest student recognise the fact that accepting a major truth while clinging to a mass of error will never return Christianity to genuine Biblical truth!
The Roman Catholic Church hails Augustine as the 'Doctor of the Church' and many 'Protestants' accept him as a great 'Church Father', but the facts show that he was yet another confused and dangerous link to Papal Rome and the many errors that were promulgated by those who failed to genuinely check his writings against the Word of God (even if this was the corrupt Vulgate version!).
It is a considerable irony that, since Jerome's day, the manuscript discoveries have raised further questions about the Vulgate while only increasing the confidence orthodox Christians already had in the King James Bible. For example, how come Papal Rome - supposedly led by the Holy Spirit, 'Apostolic Succession', and 'Papal infallibility' - failed to find these manuscripts? We know they kept the Codex Vaticanus from 'Protestant' scholars for ~400 years (from 1475 AD until they produced a facsimile in 1890); perhaps the popes really knew that they had a flawed Codex in their hands and were more than slightly aware of the problems of the Vulgate?
What about the discovered manuscripts apart from the Vaticanus, i.e.:
(1) The Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph), discovered in 1844 in the monastery of St. Catherine, founded by the Emperor Justinian in 527 AD, in the Sinai peninsula by Constantin von Tischendorf (1815-1874 AD). This 4th century Greek manuscript of the New Testament contains most of the books and proved to be of immense interest to scholars debating the value as one of the three or four most important Greek manuscripts known.
(2) New Testament papyri, a series of fragments discovered in Egypt from 1895 are less important than the Aleph, but proved of great value.
(3) The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in caves near the Dead Sea beginning in 1947, provided an almost complete manuscript of the Hebrew text of Isaiah, another scroll of Isaiah somewhat less complete, and considerable portions of every book of the Old Testament (except Esther) - these works were shown to be extremely close to those already used by scholars who produced such Bibles as the excellent KJV. The Scrolls solidified scholars opinion concerning the Old Testament and have, in the minds of orthodox Christians, put bogus textual criticism in its place after many decades of listening to the unproven theories of men being presented as fact rather than hapless fiction. Most importantly, with these manuscripts predating the medieval period, we find the texts are in substantial agreement (approaching 100% accuracy) with the Masoretic text, as well as widely variant forms (such as the Alexandrian branch which, as we have proven, had been affected by careless and bigoted copyists).
Biblical scholarship has progressively advanced since Jerome's day - a factor that would not be true if Papal Rome had truly been led by the Holy Spirit, 'Apostolic Succession', and 'Papal infallibility'! Scholars of the present day have at their disposal resources which were unknown until 70 years ago but which have now been used to put unbelievers biased textual criticism in its place. The genuine text of a book or document is now established, as far as possible, by the use of scholarly procedures of great precision to determine which of existing variant readings is the authentic original and therefore correct one. This study has reached such a stage of precise accomplishment that, for all practical purposes, scholars have the correct original text of the Scriptures today. The small residue of readings about which uncertainty exists affects no basic doctrine of the Christian faith.
Philology has made great advances during the last 300 years and great progress has been made in the study of Hebrew and Greek as languages, while the study of cognate languages has also added to the understanding of the Scriptures. This is especially true of the study of classical Aramaic which is cognate to Biblical Hebrew and has often provided a key to the meaning of a Hebrew word occurring only once in the Old Testament. Other languages which have aided in understanding Biblical Hebrew are Akkadian (Babylonian-Assyrian) and especially Ugaritic (the extinct language of the Ras Shamra tablets). A wealth of knowledge is available from these and similar sources which was all but unknown 300 years ago.
Despite all of these facts the need for new versions is not as great as is often supposed, and it is often exaggerated, for the differences between the King James Version and the most accurate modern versions are comparatively slight. All the main teachings of the Bible are quite clear in the King James Version or almost any other version and, although the Vulgate is flawed, it still contains a considerable portion of the Word of God. It is the false doctrine introduced by Augustinian insertions, and those which Papal Rome includes in margin notes and commentaries, that lead the innocent and ignorant astray and which are hardly different from the methods used by the cult leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons.
Although the actions of deceivers and man's natural human sinfulness and enmity against God (Romans 1:28; 1 Corinthians 2:14 ) keep some from the truth, it is a fact that many in the past and today have discovered the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ despite Satan's best efforts - and none will have excuse when they come before the Judgement Seat of Almighty God (2 Corinthians 5:10; cf. Revelation. 20:4-5). Sinful man needs spiritual regeneration and enlightenment, not merely easy access to knowledge. It is not only that modern man is ignorant of the teachings of the Bible; it is rather that, even when he knows what those teachings are, he is opposed to them because they pronounce judgment on his sin, and they are contrary to the modern man-centred world-view.
While Papal Rome believes that the Word of God delivered by their priesthood should be sufficient for mankind, true believers believe the Bible exhortation to hide the true Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) so the importance of having the best possible contemporary version cannot be overstated. To make out that the Latin Vulgate is some kind of 'special holy language' is totally bogus and no one familiar with the facts will accept this claim for a second. The Bible is the message of God addressed to man and providing the best possible version in the language of the hearer will at least remove one of the semantic obstacles to faith and thus clear the way for the Holy Spirit's work of producing repentance, faith and commitment.
More evidence on the continued corruption of the Vulgate!
Regarding your claim that '... the first Bible in English was disseminated by Aidan, Bishop of Landisfarne [sic], who died in 651, encouraged his flock to read the Scriptures in their own tongue' the facts are rather different.
Firstly, Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne, founded the Celtic Christian church in northern Britain which competed with southern Roman Catholicism, planted by Augustine in 597, until Roman Catholicism prevailed at the Synod of Whitby in 663 (Bede's Ecclesiastical History). Priests and monks who came to Britain from Italy brought Latin books and the first archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the bishops of most of the Southern sees were foreigners, if not consecrated, at least commissioned by the pope, and they kept up a constant correspondence with Rome. But the Christian practices Aidan taught were those of the Celtic Church so, if he had encouraged his flock to read the Scriptures (and where is the written record to support this claim?), he would not have been teaching Roman Catholicism.
The claim that 'Bishop of Sherborne until his death in 709, translated the Bible into the Saxon language. Between 721 and 901 various writers, including Venerable Bede, Eadfrith, Alcuin, and King Alfred translated parts of all the Bible stories into Old English' has an element of truth, in that:
Aldhelm (640-709), Abbot of Malmesbury and Bishop of Sherborne, made a literal translation of the Psalms into Anglo-Saxon in about 706 AD to be used in the daily services of the church, but no copy of this work (which was the earliest translation of Scripture into Anglo-Saxon) still exists;
Bede of Jarrow, who lived less than seven centuries after the apostles and died in the year 735 might have translated other portions of Scripture, but the only certain record is that, with his dying breath he apparently completed the Gospel of John in Saxon, a precursor to the English language, according to one of his helpers, Cuthbert, who wrote an account that survived although no copy of this Gospel of John exists today;
Eadfrith of Lindisfarne (died 721) was Bishop of Lindisfarne (a monastery in Northumbria on the tidal 'Holy Island' off the north-east coast of England), probably from 698 onwards. A colophon added to the Lindisfarne Gospels in the tenth century states that Eadfrith was the scribe and artist responsible for the work. Not all historians accept that he was the scribe, arguing that he may have commissioned the work rather than creating it in person and that the association with him is an unreliable tradition. Modern scholars have worked out that the whole book was the work of one man, and that it might have taken him as much as ten years to produce it due to the astonishing artwork and calligraphy. The Lindisfarne Gospels are now part of the collection of Sir Robert Cotton, (d. 1631), in the British Library in London, where it is seen by visitors from all over the world. Made up of more than 250 leaves of high quality vellum, (i.e. calf skin), the manuscript contains the texts of the Four Gospels in Latin modelled on a copy of the Vulgate with appropriate introductory material, including a set of Canon Tables. A word by word translation into Old English (Anglo-Saxon) was added between the lines during the latter part of the 10th century by a priest named Aldred and this is the earliest surviving version of the gospels in any form of the English language;
Alcuin of York (late 8th century) translated the first five books of the Old Testament into Anglo-Saxon but, of course, only the nobility would have had the money and the ability to read this translation. In one of his sermons, Alcuin wrote: 'The reading of the Scriptures is the knowledge of everlasting blessedness. In them man may contemplate himself as in some mirror, what sort of person he is. The reading cleanseth the reader's soul, for, when we pray, we speak to God, and when we read the Holy Books, God speaks to us';
King Alfred (849-899 AD) prefaced his famous code of laws for his British subjects with his own Anglo-Saxon translation of the Ten Commandments and, in his preface to Pope Gregory's 'Pastoral Care' he stated that he longed for: 'all the free-born youth of my people ... may persevere in learning ... until they can perfectly read the English Scriptures.' He is generally thought to have been responsible for a translation of the first fifty psalms, complete with brief introductions explaining the origins and meaning of each psalm, as well as Augustine of Hippo's 'The Soliloquies'. But, according to one authority Eadie (History of the English Bible, I, 14, note) we should be aware that: 'The gloss was neither a free nor yet a literal translation, but the interlinear insertion of the vernacular, word against word of the original, so that the order of the former was really irrespective of idiom and usage' - i.e. the errors that came through the Vulgate were still perpetuated;
Aelfric (955-1020 AD), Archbishop of Canterbury, preached in the West Saxon language and wrote commentaries on some Bible books, composed a condensed version of the first seven books of the Old Testament ('Aelfric's Heptateuch') which was partly translated literally and partly paraphrased, apparently with the express intention of enabling his countrymen to read the Scriptures for themselves. In one of his sermons on the importance of reading the Bible he wrote: 'Happy is he, who reads the Scriptures, if he convert the words into action';
While it took many years for the opposition to Jerome's Vulgate (390-405 AD) to die away the Old Latin versions died hard and not without inflicting wounds on the Vulgate, e.g. his Psalter from the Hebrew never ousted the Gallican which continued to hold its place in the Vulgate. The Old Latin versions retained their place longest in North Africa - where most originated - but Britain proved the next most conservative and the old versions were never authoritatively deposed. Jerome's version grew slowly in popularity among scholars until, in the 5th century, there is evidence that Vincent of Lerins, Eucherius of Lyons, Sedulius, Claudianus Mamertus, and Prosper of Aquitaine used it widely. Although, in the next century, its use became almost universal except in Africa, where the Old Latin was retained by Junilius and Facundus, at the close of the 6th century Pope Gregory acknowledged that the new (i.e. the Vulgate) and the old were both equally used by the Apostolic See. Such evidence makes it clear that the Vulgate was at least on equal footing with the old Latin - and this is the view of a pope labelled 'Gregory the Great' by his own followers! However, even in the 7th century the Old Latin versions retained their popularity and traces of them survived into the Middle Ages, affecting and corrupting the Jerome version as 'mixed texts' and conflated readings arose as monks, familiar with the Old Latin versions in lectionaries and liturgies, introduced their own favourite readings into Jerome's already 'doctored' version. The New Testament suffered most severely, perhaps because it was used more in study and congregationally and therefore needed more regular replacement. Whatever the reason, the supposed history of Papal Rome's protection of the canon is far from convincing and the regular claims that popes and their monks were responsible for both giving 'the canon' to the Christian world and carefully preserving it is in serious need of correction!
That Jerome's Vulgate was in need of correction was clearly recognised in the 6th century when, of his own volition, Cassidorius undertook to revise part of it - but this personal effort barely affected the regular corruption that continued. At the close of the 8th century, Charlemagne commissioned Alcuin, abbot of Martin, Tours, to produce a revised text on the basis of the best Latin manuscripts but, sadly, without reference to the Greek text so that the text he produced was mainly based on manuscripts available in Britain and he presented the emperor with the resultant emended text (on Christmas Day, 801 AD). Alcuin's revision may have temporarily stayed the process of corruption and the best manuscripts of his recension do not differ widely from the 'pure' Hieronymian text (of Eusebius Hieronymus, aka 'St. Jerome'). But, while the authority conferred by the emperor Charlemagne briefly checked the spread of the interpolations, that situation was fairly temporary as the new revision was gradually deformed by the same processes that marred the previous Vulgate.
In the same era a Visigoth scholar, Theodulf, bishop of Orleans, made a revision from his Spanish family manuscripts together with those gathered from Southern France but his methodology inscribed variant readings in the margin and this increased the process of corruption, as before. Theodulf's text was prepared at enormous labour but considered far inferior to the authoritative version of Alcuin. Through the 9th century manuscripts based on the Alcuinian model by the school of Tours proliferated, but with continued carelessness and haste which led, once again, to a speedy degeneration of the text.
In the 11th century Lanfranc, bishop of Canterbury (1069-89 AD), attempted yet another correction but with little apparent success so that, about the middle of the 12th century, Abbot Stephen Harding of Citeaux produced a revision which is extant in manuscript in Dijon public library (number 9). This was followed by efforts from Lanfranc of Canterbury (AD 1089), Cardinal Nicolaus (AD 1150), and the Cistercian abbot Stephanus (about AD 1150). The increased demand for Bibles in the 13th century gave opportunity for further corruption of the text as both publishers and copyists showed equal indifference to the importance of the accuracy of the Word of God and manuscripts were chosen by the most arbitrary methods!
When did the English illiterate begin reading the Word of God for themselves?!
The University of Paris exhibited enormous activity in producing Bible manuscripts at this time, resulting in a type of text called by Roger Bacon, English scientist and Franciscan monk (famous for stressing the importance of experimentation and who first proved that air is required for combustion and was also the first to use lenses to correct vision, 1220-1292 AD), 'Exemplar Parisiense' in a scathing condemnation of the works.
As admitted at: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7470
'Its greatest critic was Roger Bacon, O.F.M. (d.1294), who wrote thus of it: 'Textus est pro majori parte horribiliter corruptus in exemplari vulgato, hoc est Parisiensi' [TCE meaning: 'The text, for the major part, had been terribly corrupted in the model commonly, this is (the) Paris (version)']. For this reason various 'Correctories' were made by the Dominicans and Franciscans, in which the corrected readings were collected. These attempts to restore the original Vulgate text were indeed laudable, but because of their limited influence, private authority and, at times, the incompetency of some copyists, they contributed very little to the emendation of the Vulgate. The confusion increased. ...'
In the same century attempts were made to create a standard text and to stay corruption by the drawing up of correctoria, i.e. books in which the readings of Greek and Latin manuscripts were weighed to decide a text, the authority of Fathers cited, etc., resulting in principal correctoria named:
Correctorium Parisiense known also as Senonense (considered to be one of the worst as it followed the Parisian type of text); Correotorium Vaticanum (considered to be the best); Correctorium Sorbonicum, in the Sorbonne; and Correctorium Dominicanum.
So, again, we see that the many variable and corrupt versions of the Latin Vulgate used in these corrections and the lack of thorough research for the best Greek and Hebrew manuscripts meant that Augustine and Jerome were still the chief sources and the Vulgate was merely corrupt Papal Rome treading water until scholars free of Vatican shackles and predominantly led by the Holy Spirit of God were freed to devote their time to the task and produce far more accurate translations!
An interesting New Testament was produced in Ireland in the early 9th century, the Book of Armagh, which contained portions of a non-Vulgate text of the New Testament and was written in a tiny, compressed and abbreviated, pointed insular minuscule, designed to fit as much text into a page as possible and written partly in Irish and partly in Latin. The Book of Armagh is the only surviving complete copy of the New Testament produced by the Irish Church.
But between 500-1100 AD no complete copy or translation of either the New Testament or Old Testament was made into the English language and the first attempt of which we have certain knowledge of anything like a paraphrase of Scripture in the Anglo-Saxon tongue to which a date can be assigned, is the work of Caedmon in the seventh century (The English Hexapla; Preface: An Historical Account of the English Versions of the Scriptures). Caedmon, a lay monk from Whitby, and described as 'the first Saxon poet,' composed a metrical version of large portions of Old Testament history (~670 AD - though this could hardly be reckoned a version of the Scriptures in the ordinary sense) and also composed material that dealt with the main facts of Jesus' life and the preaching of the apostles.
So, in conclusion, we see that the facts of history reveal that the claims you make, in accordance with Papal Roman Catholic teachings and the related matters, are sad fabrications.
England may have derived most knowledge of Greek from Archbishop Theodore, who was a native of Tarsus, educated in Athens and appointed by the pope to the see of Canterbury (AD 668). Theodore and his companion Hadrian, an Italian abbot of African descent, spread Greek learning among the clergy and Bede wrote that some of their disciples became as well versed in Greek and Latin as in their native Saxon. These included Aldhelm, bishop of Sherborne, and Tobias, bishop of Rochester (d. 726) and 'The Venerable Bede' (d. 735) revealed his Greek knowledge in commentaries, references to a Greek Codex of the Acts of the Apostles and, especially, in his book on the Art of Poetry. In France, Greek began to be studied under Charles the Great and Alcuin (d. 804) brought some knowledge of it from his native England, although his references may all have been derived from Jerome and Cassiodorus.
But, clearly, translations were for use in the monasteries and lay people did not have the Bible in their own languages until after the Middle Ages. Papal Rome's ecclesiastical resistance to translations in the vernacular was strong because of the already proven fact that popes thought that, if common folk read the Bible, they would get ideas about changing the social structure. The popes' fears that the Bible in the wrong hands could produce dangerous results resulted in never decreasing antagonism towards the courageous translators who were seen as controversial, rebellious, and heretical - and persecuted to their deaths!
Clearly any Scriptures in the English vernacular were translated from the many corrupt Latin versions (which includes Jerome's Vulgate) and we have few records, such as those from Abbot Gildas of Bangor in Wales, the oldest British historian (6th century) who wrote that 'when the English martyrs gave up their lives in the 4th century all the copies of the Holy Scriptures which could be found were burned in the streets.' (De excidio Britanniae conquestus, A picture of the evils of Britain at the time, Joseph Stevenson, London, 1838, English Historical Society's publications; and The Works of Gildas and Nennius translated from the Latin by J. A. Giles, London, 1841). Gildas left a shocking record of the barbarity of the Saxons who, on their arrival, destroyed the churches and murdered the clergy everywhere, including the massacre of the monks of Bangor, AD 586. This continued for centuries and the pagan Danes, who landed in different parts of Britain, both in England and Scotland, were repulsed for a while but, in AD 857, landed near Southampton and robbed and pillaged but also pointedly burned down the churches, and murdered the clergy, seemingly as revenge on those who considered them to be heathens of the lowest order. Soon after the same pattern was repeated in Fifeshire, in Scotland, and Leinster, in Ireland, and the resulting further corruption continued through the centuries with the main influence in Europe being the Papal Roman Catholic Church notable for its extreme errors and superstition, while the light of the Gospel of Christ was greatly eclipsed and darkened with human inventions, burdensome pointless ceremonies, and gross idolatry.
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer carried out young king Edward VI's decree and ensured that a reader was provided so that the illiterate could hear the Scriptures in their own language. Later editions of the Great Bible, published 1540-1541, included a preface by Cranmer, and became known as Cranmer's Bible. As the first translators of the scriptures into the English language were persecuted unto death by Papal Rome, so some of the chief (Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Ridley) of those who translated the Book of Common Prayer, published in 1548, were burnt alive by the same evil heretics of Rome. Archbishop Cranmer was ordered to sign a recantation of his works and beliefs or be burned at the stake and, at first, he refused, but then under threat of being burned as a heretic he signed the recantation. Later he realized he had betrayed the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and notified his executioners to start their fire and, at his own request, his hands were untied. Then he held his right hand in the fire and declared to the gathered crown so all could hear: 'This is the hand that wrote it, and therefore it shall suffer punishment first. This hand hath offended! Perish this unworthy right hand!' So Cranmer held the hand which had been employed in signing a recantation of his faith in the fire, until it was burned off, and dropped in the flames.
It is notable that, under the brief reign of young Edward VI (1547-1553), the 'Reformation' under men such as Cranmer was nearly as un-Biblically cruel as the example set by Papal Rome. Anabaptists were not tolerated and two who held 'heretical' views on the incarnation were burnt as obstinate heretics, Joan Bocher, commonly called Joan of Kent, May 2, 1550, and George Van Pare, a Dutchman April 6, 1551. Young king Edward VI refused at first to sign Joan's death-warrant, correctly arguing that the sentence was 'a piece of cruelty too like that which they had condemned in papists', but Cranmer persuaded him, arguing with him from the law of Moses against blasphemy (and revealing how little he knew of the Gospel of Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!) until he put his hand to the warrant with tears in his eyes and charged the Archbishop with the responsibility for the act if it should be wrong. Thus it was a severe irony when the reign of 'bloody Queen Mary' (1553-1558) brought about a fearful retaliation which sealed the doom of popery in Britain by the blood of Protestant martyrs, including the 'Reformers', Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley, who were burnt in the market place at Oxford.
Although there is some testimony to the existence of partial translations of the Holy Bible in the English tongue, fragments are all that can be clearly traced, such as Caedmon's versifications of an English translation (689); St. Cuthbert's Evangelistarium, which is a Latin translation with an interlinear English (689); St. Aldhelm's translation; Eadfurth's translation (720); King Alfred's (901); and Aelfric's (995). These were all made from the corrupt Latin versions and not from the original Hebrew, so they suffered this disadvantage every bit as much as Jerome's Vulgate. The Norman Conquest re-ignited the Papal grip on Britain and led to a stranglehold and mangling of the English language so that the not inconsiderable change led to these few old English Scriptures falling into disuse until they were practically unknown and only a few fragments remained.
Concerning 'The Rheims and Douay' Bible Version, the translation was apparently begun by Martin, Allen, and Bristow, refugees in Rheims in 1582 when they first published the New Testament and completed by the publication of the Old Testament in 1609 in Douay - thus also completing the name of the version. The obvious Roman Catholic viewpoint fails to disguise that it is the poorest rendering into English of any of the versions and the following examples of its literary style help to explain this view:
'Purge the old leaven that you may be a new paste, as you are asymes.' 'You are evacuated from Christ.' In Galatians 5:21-22 this version substitutes 'ebrieties' for 'drunkenness' 'comessations' for 'carousing,' and 'longanimity' for 'patience.' In Hebrews 9:23, for 'the copies of the things in the heavens,' the Douay has 'the exemplars of the celestials.' In Hebrews 13:16, 'and do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased,' the Douay reads, 'Beneficence and communication do not forget, for with such hosts God is promerited.'
By contrast 'The Authorized Version', also known as the 'King James Bible' from James I, by whose authority and support it was undertaken and completed after seven years labour (beginning in 1604 AD), was the work of forty-seven of the ablest scholars who each worked on a portion and finally reviewed the whole in a corporate endeavour. The work was planned to correspond to 'The Bishop's Bible' except where the original Hebrew and Greek made correction necessary and, apart from legendary printing errors that stood out so obviously that King James punished the printers with colossal monetary fines, the excellent result has stood the test of time for four centuries and, despite valiant efforts to supplant it with modern language versions (and some clearly heretical efforts, such as The Message!), it still holds its own.
Is there any point in a Papal Roman Catholic acolyte trying to attack Wyclif's Bible version? Not when the work stands by itself and the work which soon followed by Tyndale, patriarch of the Authorized Version and a true hero of the Christian faith, is considered. Tyndale is famous for responding, at the age of thirty-six (AD 1520), to the blasphemous words of a Papist ('We were better to be without God's laws than the pope's') by replying 'I defy the pope, and all his laws ... if God spares my life, ere many years a boy that driveth the plough will know more of the Scripture than he (the pope) did.' The history of Papal Rome bears out this truth, for only the most ignorant and unstable imagine the doctrines of the Papacy to be found in the Bible, or for her fake 'traditions' to overturn the Word of God.
Tyndale prepared himself for the work of translation by long years of labour in Greek and Hebrew. First he published the Gospels of the apostles Matthew and Mark and then, in 1525, printed the whole of the New Testament in quarto at Cologne, and in small octave at Worms. In England the ignorant pawns of Papal Rome denounced the work in typical fashion, and Tonstal, the bishop of London, asserted that there were at least two thousand errors in it, ordering all copies of it to be bought up and burnt. King Henry VIII, still working hard on his breakaway (from Papal Rome) Anglican cult, used an act of Parliament (35 Hen. VIII. cap. 1) to forbid the use of all copies of Tyndale's 'false translation'. The blustering of this adulterous king proved again the falseness of marrying church to state and the main product of his reign was the death of genuine believers, including any queen who failed to meet his expectations.
Despite the predictable opposition, Tyndale's translation appeared in repeated editions (the last appeared in 1535, just before his death) and his work proved to be the first example of a translation based on true principles which set the standard for later versions in terms of careful translation, exquisite grace and simple adherence to truthfulness.
So, far from your claim that 'The Bible was always widely disseminated and available since the beginning ... the English people were not without the Bible in those early years, as the Latin Vulgate was widely disseminated and in daily use' it is clear that the Dark Ages, brought about mainly by the controlling power of the Papal Roman Catholic cult, meant that very little Bible translation was attempted and there were only a few minor translations made of portions of the Bible into English and, for the clear reasons we have given, the Latin Vulgate was inaccessible to the vast majority of the worldwide population.
(Continued on page 333)