Monday, May 4, 2009

Bible Myth #76: Once the Bible was compiled, everyone had one

The canon, or list of books, in the Bible was finally settled around 400 AD. At that time, it had to be written by hand on vellum (animal skin) and it took three years to write on. Consequently, it also, cost about three years’ wages to buy one.

A house today costs roughly three years’ wages (or more for a lot of people) and I doubt they offered Bible mortgages back then. So how many people do you suppose had a family Bible before the printing press was made?

Not many. That’s why the Catholic Church devised the Lectionary. This little device is a schedule of readings to ensure the entire Bible is read in three year cycles. So if you go the Catholic Church daily for three years, you’ll hear virtually the entire Bible; plus many important verses are repeated yearly so you’ll get extra doses of those. This was done so everyone could hear the Bible with nothing left out.

Plus, up to the time of the printing press, literacy rates were very low. Owning a Bible wouldn’t guarantee you could even read it. I know I’d never buy a house I couldn’t live in, when I could get the same benefit from the Church for free.

The idea that a person could be “saved” by the Bible alone and outside the Catholic Church was unheard of until the fifteenth century. Not because of Catholic oppression, but because Bibles were scarce, expensive, few people could read, and it was faithfully read at Mass every day.


dave ruiz said...

Dan, Tell me,what is the difference if Adam tells Abel, "In the beginning God.... or if I read to my son, "In the beginning God...." or if a preacher on the street corner shouts out, "In the beginning God....." or if one is alone in a hotel and opens up the Gideon Bible and reads, "In the beginning God...". The word of God remains constant in its power and place in man's destiny yesterday, today and tomorrow. Whether you can read or not, whether you have a bible or not, "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God"......Your last paragraph is interesting because once people had the bible, in their own language (because of martyred souls-translators ,and the printing press) ,many did leave the Catholic church. There was oppression to keep them "catholic". Put it this way, if you taught salvation outside the Catholic church (obviously coming up with another scriptural view of salvation)you were definitely oppressed if not killed (France). The "east" was to big to "conquer", and it was not till German princes protected "Lutheranism" that freedom and choice became possible,as it was in the beginning .

Dan said...

The Internet is an amazing thing. You can find someone who will render history however you want it.

Interesting that the first Bible to come off the printing press was the Catholic-approved Gutenberg Bible; so much for the Evil Catholic Church censoring the printing press.

Also interesting that there “ In total, there were at least eighteen complete German Bible editions, ninety editions in the vernacular of the Gospels and the readings of the Sundays and Holy Days, and some fourteen German Psalters by the time Luther first published his own New Testament translation”. Your claim that people had Bibles in their own language because of martyred souls is ridiculous. The Catholic Church printed bibles in nearly every language long before the Reformation.

Certainly the Catholic Church has censored some Bible translations but to say people couldn't get the Bible in their language without martyred souls (supposedly martyred by the Catholic Church) is simply not true.

A note about those poor, innocent, Lutherans who only wanted religious freedom from the tyranny of the Evil Catholic Empire. Do some homework on sites other than anti-Catholic ones. Where do you think these benevolent Lutherans worshiped? Did they build their own churches? No, according to Luther's Doctrine of Two Kingdoms they were justified in seizing the local Catholic church an running the priest out of town (or worse). A simple review of the Reformation shows Catholic and Protestant swords were just as deadly.

Certainly the Catholic Church did things we condemn today; but don't make the Reforms out to be innocent of all the blood that flowed.

dave ruiz said...

Dan Upon a little further research ,I stand corrected. was surprised to see many protestants have the same error. So ,my apologies, Germans did have other vernacular bibles before Luther. It is my understanding they were not sanctioned by Rome ,however, nor were they hindered. I would encourage anyone to read or google "contested history of a book-german" It deals with bible translations between 1450 and 1519 - many in Latin, some German, Italian and 1 French..There were enough copies for clerics, nuns and lords (20,000)in Germany. Topics covered are ,"No German Bible Before Luther ?", "Scarce Bibles-Origins and Explanations,Price and Accesibility etc.. You will like that there is evidence for vernacular bibles. You will not like that there was a distrust of putting them in laymans' hands (even though most "trouble" came from learned men). Other than England, ecclesiastical bans of making or owning a vernacular bible was generally a local matter and temporary(1442-Archbishop of Mainz or 1199 the Pope against Waldeneses(?).Charles the 5th (Emperor) did prohibit also. Again ,this is only middle ages we are talking about here (the 18800,s had three decrees against bible societies and vernacular reading by Popes)...... In England is where you have a martyr for the cause -Tyndale by the king of England (Henry the 8th ((Wycliffe,s body was exhumed and burned as a heretic by Pope)-both giving us english translations. From 1410 to 1550 church ordinances made it difficult to to posses or read an english bible."...on the continent "there was never a general prohibition on the possession or reading of vernacular scriptures - just a kind of loose licensing regime that tried to keep Scripture out of the hands of those who,from a contemporary ecclesistical perspective,could not but misunderstand it to their detriment".....possession of vernacular bible could be "illegal dangerous and ultimately fatal for many in 15th century England and for some on the continent",depending on the ability to enforce and and centralized vs uncentralized governments. to be continued and will leave it for now that our freedoms and church practices are not what they were back then,thank God.It is better today.

Dan said...

Agreed. Thank God it's better today.