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Twent y- second Print ing Nihil Obst at et I m prim at ur JOANNES RI TCHI E, Vic. Gen. Glasguae. Originally published by B. Herder Book Co., St . Louis, Missouri. TAN BOOKS AND PUBLI SHERS, I NC. P.O. Box 424 Rockford, I llinois 61105 Dedicat ed t o all lovers of t he w rit t en word. ’I n which are cert ain t hings hard t o be under st ood, which t he unlearned and unst able wrest , as t hey do also t he ot her script ures, t o t heir own dest ruct ion.’ 2 Pet er iii. 16 ’I w ould not believe t he Gospel unless m ov ed t her et o by t he aut horit y of t he Chur ch.’ - St . August ine ( Cont ra Epis. Manich., Fund., n. 6.) CON TEN TS Preface I nt r oduct ion Chapt er I . Som e Er rors Rem oved Chapt er I I . The Making of t he Old Test am ent Chapt er I I I . The Church Pr ecedes t he New Test am ent Chapt er I V. Cat holic Church Com piles t he New Test am ent Chapt er V. Deficiencies of t he Pr ot est ant Bible Chapt er VI . The Originals and t heir Disappearance Chapt er VI I . Variat ions in t he t ext Fat al t o t he Prot est ant Theory Chapt er VI I I . Our Debt t o t he Monk s Chapt er I X. Bible Reading in t he ’Dar k Ages’ Chapt er X. Where t hen ar e all t he Mediaeval Bibles? Chapt er XI . Abundance of Vernacular Script ures befor e Wycliff Chapt er XI I . Why Wy cliff was Condem ned Chapt er XI I I . Tyndale’s Condem nat ion Vindicat ed by Post erit y Chapt er XI V. A Deluge of Er r oneous Ver sions Chapt er XV. The Cat holic Bible ( Douay) Chapt er XVI . Env oi
PREFACE TO TH E FI RST ED I TI ON This lit t le book about t he Bible grew out of lect ures which t he writ er delivered on t he subj ect t o m ixed audiences. The lect ur es wer e aft er wards expanded, and appear ed in a series of art icles in t he Cat holic press 1908- 9, and ar e now wit h slight alt erat ions
reprint ed. Their origin will sufficient ly account for t he colloquial st yle em ployed t hroughout . Ther e is, t her efor e, no pret ence eit her of pr ofound scholarship or of eloquent language; all t hat is at t em pt ed is a popular and, as far as possible, accurat e exposit ion along fam iliar lines of t he Cat holic claim hist orically in regar d t o t he Bible. I t is candidly cont rov er sial wit hout , howev er , let us hope, being uncharit able or unfair. Friends had m ore t han once suggest ed t he reissue of t he art icles; and it appeared t o t he writ er t hat at last t he pr oper m om ent for it had com e when t he Pr ot est ant world is j ubilat ing over t he Tercent enar y of t he Aut horised Version. Am idst t he flood of lit erat ure on t he subj ect of t he Bible, it seem ed but right t hat som e st at em ent , howev er plain and sim ple, should be set fort h fr om t he Cat holic side, wit h t he obj ect of bringing hom e t o t he average m ind t he debt t hat Brit ain, in com m on wit h t he rest of Christ endom , ow es t o t he Cat holic Church in t his connect ion. Pr obably t he m ot ive of t he pr esent publicat ion will be best underst ood by a perusal of t he following let t er from t he writ er which appear ed in t he Glasgow Herald, 18t h March, 1911: — TH E BI BLE CEN TEN ARY AN D TH E CATH OLI C CH URCH . AMI D t he general j ubilat ion over t he t hr ee hundredt h anniversary of t he appearance of King Jam es's v er sion of t he Bible, I t hink it would be a pit y if we did not m ak e m ent ion of t hat gr eat Church t o which, under God, w e ow e our possession of t he sacr ed Script ures—I m ean of course, t he Rom an Cat holic Church. Wit hout st riking one single j arring not e, I hope, in t he universal chorus, y et I feel it would be rat her ungener ous, and indeed hist orically unj ust , did we not t urn our ey es at least in passing t o t hat venerable figure st anding in t he backgr ound sur veying our celebrat ions, and, as it wer e, saying, 'Rej oice over it , but rem em ber it was from m e you got it '. As a Scot sm an, who cannot forget t hat it is t he Bible t hat has m ade Scot land largely what she is t oday, I yield t o no one in venerat ion of t he inspired Script ures and in adm irat ion of t he incom parably beaut iful Aut horised Ver sion. St ill, honour t o whom honour . We shall only be awar ding a j ust m eed of praise and grat it ude if we frankly and t hankfully recognise t hat it is t o a council ( or councils) of t he R.C. Church t hat w e ow e t he collect ion of t he separat e books int o our pr esent Canon of t he New Test am ent , and t hat t o t he loving care and dev ot ed labour of t he m onks and scholars of t hat Church all t hrough t he ages w e are indebt ed, not only for t he m ult iplicat ion and dist ribut ion of t he sacred volum e am ong t he fait hful when as yet no print ing press exist ed, but ev en for t he preservat ion of t he Book from corrupt ion and dest ruct ion. I t is, t hen, undoubt edly t rue t o say t hat , in t he pr esent order of Providence, it is owing t o t he Rom an Cat holic Church t hat we have a Bible at all. And no one will be a bit t he wor se Christ ian and Biblelover if he r em em bers t his not able year t hat it is t o t he Mot her Church of Christ endom he m ust look if he w ould behold t he r eal preserv er , defender , and t ransm it t er of t he 'Word t hat endur et h for ev er.'— HENRY GREY GRAHAM.
I N TROD UCTI ON
I F all were t rue t hat is alleged against t he Cat holic Church in her t reat m ent of Holy Script ure, t hen t he pr oper t it le of t hese papers should be ‘How we got ', but 'How w e have not got t he Bible'. The com m on and r eceived opinion about t he m at t er am ong non- Cat holics in Brit ain, for t he m ost part , has been t hat Rom e hat es t he Bible- t hat she has done all she could t o dest r oy it —t hat in all count ries wher e she has held sway she has k ept t he Bible from t he hands of t he people—has t ak en it and burned it whenev er she found anyone r eading it . Or if she cannot alt oget her pr event it s publicat ion or it s perusal, at least she r enders it as nearly useless as possible by sealing it up in a dead language which t he m aj orit y of people can neit her r ead nor underst and. And all t his she does, ( so w e are t old) , because she know s t hat her doct rines ar e absolut ely opposed t o and cont r adict ed by t he let t er of God's w rit t en Word—she holds and propagat es dogm as and t r adit ions which could not st and one m om ent 's exam inat ion if exposed t o t he sear ching light of Holy Script ure. As a m at t er of fact , is it not known t o everybody t hat , when t he Bible was for t he first t im e brought t o t he light and print ed and put int o t he peoples' hands in t he sixt eent h cent ury , suddenly t here was a gr eat rev olt against t he Rom an Church—t here was a glorious Reform at ion? The people eagerly gazing upon t he open Bible, saw t hey had been befooled and hoodwinked, and been t aught t o hold 'for doct rines t he com m andm ent s of m en', and fort hwit h t hrowing off t he fet t er s, and em ancipat ing t hem selves from t he bondage of Rom anism , t hey em br aced t he pure t r ut h of t he Word of God as set fort h in Prot est ant ism and Prot est ant Bibles. I s not t his t he t ale t hat hist ory t ells about Rom e? Has she not always waged a cruel and r elent less war against t he Holy Book—issued prohibit ions and fram ed decr ees against reading it , or having it in t he house—som et im es even in her deadly hat red going t he lengt h of m aking bonfires of heaps of Old and New Test am ent s, as Tunst all, Bishop of London, did t o William Tyndale's? Has she not burned at t he st ak e, or at least banished from t heir hom e and count r y, servant s of t he Lord like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale for no ot her crim e t han t hat of t ranslat ing and print ing and put t ing int o lay folk's hands t he sacr ed t ext of t he gospel of Jesus Chr ist ? Who does not know inst ances, ev en in our own days, of pious old wom en ( especially in I r eland) chancing t o light upon a Bible ( which t hey have nev er seen befor e) and r eading it ( especially St John's Gospel iii, 16) , and going t o t he priest about t he new light t hey had received t hrough t he blessed words, and t hen t he priest snat ching it out of t heir hands and t hrowing it int o t he fire? This is not at all uncom m on ( it is said) in Cat holic lands, w her e t he poor people som et im es chance t o get a copy of God's Word t hrough t he dev ot ed labours of Bible- wom en and t ract - dist ribut ors. A Scot ch lady in Rom e, now happily a Cat holic but t hen a m em ber of a Pr ot est ant congregat ion t here which support s a Bible— dist ribut or, once infor m ed m e of t he account t hat t his gent lem an grav ely relat ed t o a m eet ing of t he congr egat ion, as t o how an old wom an in a sm all I t alian t own, accept ing one of his Test am ent s and being illum inat ed by t he Gospel of St John ( which she nev er saw befor e, of course, t hough part of it is read ev er y day at Holy Mass) , st raight way w ent and confut ed her priest and silenced him , so t hat he had no word t o say in r eply. This I repeat , is t he com m only accept ed idea about Rom e and her at t it ude t owards Holy Script ure am ong t he m asses of non- Cat holic people. I hav e said advisedly 'am ong t he m asses', for happily t here are now a goodly num ber of enlight ened and im part ial persons, and of scholars who hav e st udied t he m at t er fairly for t hem selves, m en, for exam ple, of t he st am p of t he lat e Dr S. R. Mait land, am ong whom t he idea is quit e exploded. And one m ay not blam e t he m asses t oo sev er ely for ent ert aining t he not ion abov e alluded t o: how indeed, we m ay ask, could t hey possibly t hink ot herwise in face of t he t radit ion handed down t o t hem fr om t heir forefat hers since t he 'Reform at ion', by m inist er, t eacher , and parent s, t hr ough serm on, cat echism , newspaper, books of t rav el, fict ion, and
hist ory? They have believed t he t radit ion as nat urally as t hey believed t hat t he sun rose in t he east and set in t he west ; or t hat m onast eries and convent s wer e sinks of iniquit y and dens of cor r upt ion; or t hat t here was once a fem ale Pope called Joan; or t hat Cat holics pay m oney t o get t heir sins forgiven. You cannot blam e t hem alt oget her, for t hey had, hum anly speaking, no opport unit y of knowing anyt hing else. The Prot est ant account of pre- reform at ion Cat holicism has been largely a falsificat ion of hist or y. All t he fault s and sins t hat could possibly be rak ed up or invent ed against Rom e, or against part icular bishops or priest s, wer e present ed t o t he people of t his unhappy land, and all her best act s m isconst rued, m isj udged, m isr epr esent ed, and not hing of good t old in her fav our. She has been paint ed as all black and hideous, and no beaut y could be seen in her. Consequent ly people cam e t o believe t he t radit ion as a m at t er of cour se, and accept ed it as hist ory, and no m ore dream ed of enquiring whet her it was t rue or not t han t hey dream ed of quest ioning whet her Mary wrot e t he Casket Let t er s or blew up Darnley at Kirk o’ Field. Add t o t his t he furt her fact t hat , Cat holicism being alm ost t ot ally wiped out in Scot land, t he people had no m eans of m aking t hem selves per sonally acquaint ed wit h eit her it s doct rines or it s pract ices, and being ver y im perfect ly educat ed t ill t he beginning of t he ninet eent h cent ury , w er e as incapable of arriving at a t rue knowledge of t he int erior life of t he Cat holic Church as of t he int ernal organism of an ant ediluvian t adpole. Hence one can easily underst and how it cam e about t hat , am ong t he m ass of t he people in Bible- loving Scot land, t he Pope was r ecognised as t he Ant i- Christ for et old by St John, and Rom e herself, t hat sit t et h upon t he seven hills, ident ified as ’Babylon, t he Gr eat , t he m ot her of harlot s, and abom inat ions of t he eart h’, and t he ’w om an drunken wit h t he blood of t he saint s’. The st or y goes t hat one day t he Mer ry Monar ch, Charles t he Second, pr opounded t o t he learned and scient ific m en about t he Court t he following profound pr oblem : How is it t hat a dead fish weighs less t han a living one? The learned and scient ific m en discussed t he grav e difficult y and wr ot e elaborat e t r eat ises on it t o please t he Royal enquirer, but cam e t o no sat isfact ory conclusion. Finally it occurr ed t o one of t hem t o t est whet her it really was, as t he King had said; and of course he discov er ed t hat t he t hing was a j oke; t he fish weighed exact ly t he sam e dead as living, and all t he t im e t he Mer ry Monarch had been ’having t hem on’. People hav e been act ing m uch in t he sam e way in regard t o t he assert ion so glibly m ade t hat Rom e hat es t he Bible, and persecut es it , and t ries t o blot it out of exist ence. But nowaday s m any are enquiring—I s it really so? Ar e w e sure of our fact s? Ar e w e not building up m ount ains of abuse and calum ny on a false supposit on? Just as all have com e t o know t hat t he sun, as a m at t er of fact , does not rise or set but st ands st ill, t hat t here never was a Pope Joan but his nam e was John, t hat m onast eries and convent s are hom es of learning and sanct it y and charit y, and t hat no Cat holic ever pays or ev er could pay a single fart hing t o get his sins rem it t ed—and all t his t hrough t he spr ead of knowledge and educat ion and enlight enm ent and st udy—so also I v ent ure t o t hink t hat people will now be right ly consider ed ignorant and blam ewort hy, and at t he least behind t he t im es, if t hey do not learn t hat t he not ion I have alluded t o abov e about t he Cat holic Church and t he Bible is false and nonsensical—hist orically false and inherent ly nonsensical. By a calm considerat ion of t he fact s of hist ory and a m ind open t o convict ion on genuine evidence, t hey will be driven by sheer force of honest y t o t he conclusion t hat t he Cat holic Church, so far from being t he m onst er of iniquit y t hat she is paint ed, has in very t rut h been t he par ent , t he aut hor and m aker under God, of t he Bible; t hat she has guarded it and defended it all t hrough t he ages, and pr eser ved it from er ror or dest ruct ion; t hat she has ever held it in highest venerat ion and est eem , and has grounded her doct rines upon it ; t hat she alone has t he right t o call it her book; t hat
she alone possesses t he t rue Bible and t he whole Bible, and t hat copies of t he Script ures exist ing out side of her pale, ar e part ly incorr ect and part ly defect ive, and t hat what ever in t hem is t rue, is t rue because derived fr om her who alone possesses t he Book in it s fulness and it s t rut h. I f t hey w er e Cat holics, t hey would love God’s Holy Word m ore and m or e; t hey w ould underst and it bet t er; t hey would ador e t he Divine Providence t hat t ook such a wise and sur e m eans of preserving and perpet uat ing it ; and t hey would profoundly adm ire t he Cat holic Church for her ceaseless vigilance, unt iring zeal, and unswerving fidelit y t o t he com m ission ent rust ed t o her by Alm ight y God.
CH APTER I . Som e Er r or s Re m ove d
Now, in order t o underst and properly t he w or k of t he Cat holic Church in cr eat ing and defending and perpet uat ing t he Holy Script ures, we m ust say a few prelim inary words as t o t he hum an m eans used in t heir product ion, and as t o t he collect ing of t he Book s of t he Bible as w e hav e it at present . There ar e som e com m on er roneous ideas which we would do w ell t o clear away fr om our m inds at t he v ery out set . 1. To begin wit h, t he Bible did not drop down fr om Heaven ready- m ade, as som e seem t o im agine; it did not suddenly appear upon t he eart h, carried down fr om Alm ight y God by t he hand of angel or seraph; but it was writ t en by m en like ourselves, who held in t heir hand pen ( or r eed) and ink and parchm ent , and laboriously t raced every let t er in t he original languages of t he East . They wer e divinely inspired cert ainly, as no ot hers ev er have been before or since; nev ert heless t hey w er e hum an beings, m en chosen by God for t he w or k, m aking use of t he hum an inst rum ent s t hat lay t o t heir hand at t he t im e. 2. I n t he second place we shall do well t o rem em ber t hat t he Bible was not w rit t en all at once, or by one m an, like m ost ot her books wit h which we ar e acquaint ed, but t hat 1500 years elapsed bet w een t he w rit ing of Genesis ( t he first Book of t he Old Test am ent ) and t he Apocalypse or Rev elat ion of St John ( t he last Book of t he New) . I t is m ade up of a collect ion of differ ent books by differ ent aut hor s, for m ing, in short , a library inst ead of a single work , and hence called in Gr eek, ‘Biblia', or t he Book s. I f you had lived in t he day s im m ediat ely succeeding t he deat h of Moses, all you would have had given t o you t o r epresent t he Bible w ould have been t he first five book s of t he Old Test am ent , writ t en by t hat pat riarch him self; t hat was t he Bible in em bry o, so t o speak —t he lit t le seed t hat was t o gr ow subsequent ly int o a great t ree, t he first st one laid on which was gradually t o be erect ed t he beaut iful t em ple of t he writ t en Word t hr oughout t he cent uries t hat followed. Fr om t his we can see t hat t he pr eacher ext olling t he Bible as t he only com fort and guide of fait hful souls was slight ly out of his reck oning when he used t hese w ords: 'Ah, m y br et hr en! what was it t hat com fort ed and st r engt hened Joseph in his dark prison in Egypt ? What w as it t hat for m ed his daily support and m edit at ion? What but t hat blessed book, t he Bible! ' As Joseph exist ed befor e a line of t he Old Test am ent was penned, and about 1800 years befor e t he first of t he New Test am ent book s saw t he light , t he wort hy evangelist was guilt y of what w e call a slight anachronism .
3. Nor will it be out of place t o rem ark here t hat t he Bible was not w rit t en originally in English or Gaelic. Som e folks speak as if t hey believed t hat t he Sacr ed Book s w ere first com posed, and t he incom parable Psalm s of David set fort h, in t he sweet English t ongue, and t hat t hey w er e aft erwards render ed int o barbarous language such as Lat in or Greek or Hebr ew, for t he sak e of inquisit ive scholars and crit ics. This is not corr ect ; t he original language, br oadly speaking, of t he Old Test am ent was Hebr ew; t hat of t he New Test am ent was Greek . Thus our Bibles as w e hav e t hem t oday for reading are ’t ranslat ions’—t hat is, ar e a r endering or equivalent in English of t he original Hebrew and Gr eek as it cam e fr om t he pen of pr ophet and apost le and evangelist . We see t his plainly enough in t he t it le- page of t he Prot est ant New Test am ent , —which reads 'New Test am ent of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ , t ranslat ed out of t he original Greek.' 4. A last point m ust always be k ept clearly in m ind, for it concerns one of t he great est delusions ent er t ained by Prot est ant s and m akes t heir fier ce at t acks on Rom e appear so silly and irrat ional—t he point , nam ely t hat t he Bible, as w e hav e it now, was not print ed in any language at all t ill about 1500 y ear s aft er t he birt h of Christ , for t he sim ple reason t hat t here was no such t hing as print ing known before t hat dat e. We hav e becom e so accust om ed t o t he use of t he print ing press t hat we can scarcely conceive of t he ages when t he only books known t o m en w er e in handwrit ing; but it is t he fact t hat , had w e lived and flourished befor e Mr. John Gooseflesh discover ed t he art of print ing in t he fift eent h cent ury , w e should have had t o r ead our Test am ent s and our Gospels fr om t he m anuscript of m onk or friar, from t he pages of par chm ent or v ellum or paper covered wit h t he handwrit ing, som et im es v er y beaut iful and ornam ent al, of t he scribe t hat had undert aken t he slow and laborious t ask of copying t he Sacred Word. Prot est ant s in t hese day s send shiploads of print ed Bibles abroad, and scat t er t housands of Test am ent s hit her and t hit her in every direct ion for t he purpose of evangelising t he heat hen and conv ert ing sinners, and declare t hat t he Bible, and t he Bible only, can sav e m en's souls. What , t hen, cam e of t hose poor souls who lived befor e t he Bible was print ed, befor e it was ev en writ t en in it s present form ? How w er e nat ions m ade fam iliar wit h t he Christ ian religion and convert ed t o Christ ianit y before t he fift eent h cent ury? Our Divine Lord, I suppose, wished t hat t he unnum ber ed m illions of hum an creat ures bor n befor e t he year 1500 should believe what He had t aught and save t heir souls and go t o Heav en, at least as m uch as t hose of t he sixt eent h and t went iet h cent uries; but how could t hey do t his when t hey had no Bibles, or wer e t oo poor t o buy one, or could not read it even t hough t hey bought it , or could not underst and it even if t hey could read it ? On t he Cat holic plan ( so t o call it ) of salvat ion t hrough t he t eaching of t he Church, souls m ay be saved and people becom e saint s, and believe and do all t hat Jesus Christ m eant t hem t o believe and do,—and, as a m at t er of fact , t his has happened— in all count ries and in all ages wit hout eit her t he w rit t en or t he print ed Bible, and bot h befor e and aft er it s product ion. The Pr ot est ant t heor y, on t he cont r ary, which st akes a m an's salvat ion on t he possession of t he Bible, leads t o t he m ost flagrant absurdit ies, im put es t o Alm ight y God a t ot al indifference t o t he salvat ion of t he count less souls t hat passed hence t o et ernit y for 1500 y ears, and indeed ends logically in t he blasphem ous conclusion t hat our Blessed Lord failed t o provide an adequat e m eans of conveying t o m en in every age t he knowledge of His t rut h. We shall see, as we pr oceed, t he ut t er im possibilit y of t he survival of Christ ianit y, and of it s benefit s t o hum anit y, on t he principle of 't he Bible and t he Bible only'. Meanwhile we can account for t he fact t hat int elligent non- Cat holics have not awak ened t o it s hollowness and absurdit y only by supposing t hat t hey do not sufficient ly r ealise, 'r ead, m ark , learn, and inwardly digest ' ( as t he English Prayer- Book say s) t his single it em of hist ory —t he Bible was not print ed t ill at least 1400 years aft er Christ .
CH APTER I I . The M a k ing of t he Old Te st a m e nt
Now, looking at t he Bible as it st ands t oday, w e find it is com posed of 73 separat e book s—46 in t he Old Test am ent , and 27 in t he New . How has it com e t o be com posed pr ecisely of t hese 73 and no ot hers, and no m ore and no less? Well, t aking first t he Old Test am ent , w e know t hat it has always been divided int o t hree m ain port ions—t he Law, t he Prophet s, and t he Writ ings. ( I ) The Law, as I rem ark ed befor e, w as t he nucleus, t he earliest subst ant ial part , which at one t im e form ed t he sole Book of Script ure t hat t he Jew s possessed. Moses w rot e it , and placed a copy of it in t he Ark; t hat was about 3300 y ear s ago. ( 2) To t his wer e added, long aft er wards, t he Prophet s and t he Writ ings, form ing t he com plet e Old Test am ent . At what dat e pr ecisely t he volum e or 'canon' of t he Old Test am ent was finally closed and recognised as com plet ed for ev er is not absolut ely cert ain. When was t he Old Test am ent com piled? Som e would decide for about t he y ear 430 B.C., under Esdras and Nehem iah, r est ing upon t he aut horit y of t he fam ous Jew, Josephus, who lived im m ediat ely aft er Our Lor d, and who declar es t hat since t he deat h of At ax erx es, B.C. 424, 'no one had dar ed t o add anyt hing t o t he Jewish Script ures, t o t ake anyt hing from t hem , or t o m ake any change in t hem .' Ot her aut horit ies, again, cont end t hat it was not t ill near 100 B.C. t hat t he Old Test am ent volum e was finally closed by t he inclusion of t he 'Writ ings'. But whichever cont ent ion is cor rect , one t hing at least is cert ain, t hat by t his last dat e—t hat is, for 100 y ears befor e t he birt h of Our Blessed Lord—t he Old Test am ent exist ed pr ecisely as w e hav e it now. Of course, I have been speaking so far of t he Old Test am ent , in Hebr ew, because it was w rit t en by Jewish aut horit y in t he Jewish language, nam ely, Hebrew, for Jew s, God's chosen people. But aft er what is called t he 'Dispersion' of t he Jews, when t hat people was scat t ered abroad and set t led in m any ot her lands out side Palest ine, and began t o lose t heir Hebr ew t ongue and gradually becam e fam iliar wit h Gr eek, which was t hen a universal language, it was necessary t o furnish t hem wit h a copy of t heir Sacr ed Script ures in t he Gr eek language. Hence arose t hat t ranslat ion of t he Hebr ew Old Test am ent int o Gr eek known as t he Sept uagint . This word m eans in Lat in 70, and is so nam ed because it is supposed t o hav e been t he w or k of 70 t ranslat ors, who perform ed t heir t ask at Alexandria, where t here was a large Gr eek- speaking colony of Jews. Begun about 280 or 250 y ears befor e Christ , we m ay safely say t hat it was finished in t he next cent ury; it was t he acknowledged Bible of all t he 'Jews of t he Dispersion' in Asia, as w ell as in Egypt , and was t he Version used by Our Lord, His Apost les and Evangelist s, and by Jew s and Gent iles and Christ ians in t he early days of Christ ianit y. I t is from t his Version t hat Jesus Christ and t he New Test am ent writ ers and speakers quot e when referring t o t he Old Test am ent . But what about t he Christ ians in ot her lands who could not underst and Gr eek? When t he Gospel had been spread abr oad, and m any people em braced Christ ianit y t hrough t he labours of Apost les and m issionaries in t he first t wo cent uries of our era, nat urally t hey had t o be supplied wit h copies of t he Script ures of t he Old Test am ent ( which was t he inspired Word of God) in t heir own t ongue; and t his gave rise t o t ranslat ions of t he Bible int o Arm enian and Syriac and Copt ic and Arabic and Et hiopic
for t he benefit of t he Christ ians in t hese lands. For t he Christ ians in Africa, wher e Lat in was best underst ood, t her e was a t ranslat ion of t he Bible m ade int o Lat in about 150 A.D., and, lat er, anot her and bet t er for t he Christ ians in I t aly; but all t hese w er e finally superseded by t he grand and m ost im por t ant ver sion m ade by St Jer om e in Lat in called t he ’Vulgat e’—t hat is, t he com m on, or cur rent or accept ed Ver sion. This was in t he fourt h cent ury of our era. By t his t im e St Jer om e was born, t her e was great need of securing a corr ect and uniform t ex t in Lat in of Holy Script ure, for t her e was danger, t hrough t he variet y and cor rupt condit ions of m any t ranslat ions t hen exist ing, lest t he pur e script ure should be lost . So Jer om e, who was a m onk, and perhaps t he m ost learned scholar of his day, at t he com m and of Pope St Dam ascus in 382 A.D., m ade a fresh Lat in Version of t he New Test am ent ( which was by t his t im e pract ically set t led) corr ect ing t he exist ing ver sions by t he earliest Greek MSS. he could find. Then in his cell at Bet hlehem , bet ween ( approxim at ely) t he y ear s 392404, he also t ranslat ed t he Old Test am ent int o Lat in direct ly from t he Hebrew ( and not fr om t he Gr eek Sept uagint ) —except t he Psalt er, which he had pr ev iously revised from exist ing Lat in Versions. This Bible was t he celebrat ed Vulgat e, t he official t ext in t he Cat holic Church, t he value of which all scholars adm it t o be sim ply inest im able, and which cont inued t o influence all ot her v ersions, and t o hold t he chief place am ong Christ ians down t o t he Reform at ion. I say t he 'official' t ext , because t he Council of Trent in 1546 issued a decree, st am ping it as t he only recognised and aut horit at ive Ver sion allowed t o Cat holics. 'I f anyone does not r eceive t he ent ire book s wit h all t heir part s as t hey ar e accust om ed t o be r ead in t he Cat holic Church, and in t he old Lat in Vulgat e Edit ion, as sacr ed and canonical ... let him be anat hem a.' I t was r evised under Pope Sixt us V in 1590, and again under Pope Clem ent VI I I in 1593, who is responsible for t he present st andard t ext . I t is from t he Vulgat e t hat our English Douai Ver sion com es; and it is of t his sam e Vulgat e t hat t he Com m ission under Cardinal Gasquet , by com m and of t he Pope, is t rying t o find or rest ore t he original t ext as it cam e fr om t he hands of St Jerom e, uncor rupt ed by and st ripped of subsequent adm ixt ures wit h ot her Lat in copies.
CH APTER I I I . The Ch ur ch Pr e ce de s t he N e w Te st a m e nt
So far, we have been dealing wit h rat her dry m at erial. We hav e seen how t he Old Test am ent book s cam e t o be collect ed int o one volum e; now it rem ains t o see how t he Cat holic Church also com posed and select ed and form ed int o anot her v olum e t he separat e books of t he New Test am ent . 1. Now y ou will rem em ber what I said before, t hat t he New Test am ent was not , any m or e t han t he Old, all writ t en at one t im e, or all by one m an, but t hat at least 40 years passed away bet ween t he w rit ing of t he first and t he w rit ing of t he last of it s book s. I t is m ade up of t he four Gospels, 14 Epist les of St Paul, 2 of St Pet er, I of St Jam es, I of St Jude, 3 of St John, t oget her wit h t he Apocalypse of St John, and t he Act s of Apost les by St Luke, who also wr ot e t he t hird Gospel; so t hat w e hav e in t his collect ion works by at least eight different w rit er s, and from t he year t hat t he earliest book was com posed ( pr obably t he Gospel of St Mat t hew) t o t he y ear t hat St John com posed his Gospel about half a cent ury had elapsed. Our Blessed Lor d Him self never, so far as w e know, w rot e a line of Script ure—cert ainly none t hat has been preserv ed. He never t old His Apost les t o w rit e anyt hing. He did not com m and t hem
t o com m it t o writ ing what He had delivered t o t hem : but He said, ’Go y e and t each all nat ions’, ’pr each t he Gospel t o ev er y cr eat ur e’ , ’He t hat hearet h you hear et h Me’. What He com m anded and m eant t hem t o do w as pr ecisely what He had done Him self, viz.—deliver t he Word of God t o t he people by t he living voice—convince , per suade, inst ruct , conv ert t hem by addr essing t hem selves face t o face t o living m en and wom en; not int rust t heir m essage t o a dead book which m ight perish and be dest r oy ed, and be m isunderst ood and m isint er pret ed and cor rupt ed, but adopt t he m or e safe and nat ural way of present ing t he t r ut h t o t hem by word of m out h, and of t raining ot hers t o do t he sam e aft er t hey t hem selves wer e gone, and so by a living t radit ion, preserving and handing down t he Word of God as t hey had r eceived it , t o all generat ions. 2. And t his was, as a m at t er of fact , t he m et hod t he Apost les adopt ed. Only five out of t he t welve wr ot e dow n anyt hing at all t hat has been pr eserv ed t o us; and of t hat , not a line was penned t ill at least 10 y ear s aft er t he deat h of Christ , for Jesus Christ was crucified in 33 A.D., and t he first of t he New Test am ent books was not w rit t en t ill about 45 A.D. You see what follows? The Church and t he Fait h exist ed befor e t he Bible; t hat seem s an elem ent ary and sim ple fact which no one can deny or ev er has denied. Thousands of people becam e Christ ians t hrough t he work of t he Apost les and m issionaries of Christ in various lands, and believ ed t he whole t rut h of God as w e believe it now, and becam e saint s, befor e ev er t hey saw or r ead, or could possibly see or r ead, a single sent ence of inspired Script ure of t he New Test am ent , for t he sim ple reason t hat such Script ure did not t hen exist . How, t hen, did t hey becom e Christ ians? I n t he sam e way, of course, t hat Pagans becom e Cat holics nowadays, by hearing t he t rut h of God fr om t he lips of Christ 's m issionaries. When t he t welve Apost les m et t oget her in Jerusalem , and port ioned out t he known world am ong t hem selves for purposes of evangelisat ion, allot t ing one count ry t o one Apost le ( such as I ndia t o St Thom as) , and anot her t o anot her , how did t hey pr opose t o evangelise t hese people? By pr esent ing each one wit h a New Test am ent ? Such a t hing did not exist , and, w e m ay safely say, was not ev en t hought of. Why did Our Lord prom ise t hem t he gift of t he Holy Ghost , and com m and t hem t o be 'wit nesses' of Him ? and why, in fact , did t he Holy Ghost com e down upon t he Tw elve and endow t hem wit h t he pow er of speaking in various languages? Why but t hat t hey m ight be able t o 'pr each t he Gospel t o every cr eat ur e' in t he t ongue of every creat ur e. 3. I hav e said t hat t he Apost les at first nev er t hought of w rit ing t he New Test am ent ; and neit her t hey did. The book s of t he New Test am ent wer e pr oduced and called fort h by special circum st ances t hat arose, w er e writ t en t o m eet part icular dem ands and em ergencies. Not hing was furt her fr om t he m inds of t he Apost les and Evangelist s t han t he idea of com posing works w hich should be collect ed and form ed int o one volum e, and so const it ut e t he Holy Book of t he Christ ians. And we can im agine St Paul st aring in am azem ent if he had been t old t hat his Epist les, and St Pet er's and St . John's, and t he ot hers would be t ied up t oget her and elevat ed int o t he posit ion of a com plet e and exhaust ive st at em ent of t he doct rines of Christ ianit y, t o be placed in each m an's hand as an easy and infallible guide in fait h and m orals, independent of any living and t eaching aut horit y t o int erpr et t hem . No one w ould have been m ore shock ed at t he idea of his let t ers usurping t he place of t he aut horit at ive t eacher —t he Church, t han t he gr eat Apost le who him self said, 'How shall t hey hear wit hout a preacher? how shall t hey pr each unless t hey be sent ? Fait h com et h by hearing, and hearing by t he Word of Christ .' The fact is t hat no r eligion yet known has been effect ually propagat ed am ong m en ex cept by w or d of m out h, and cert ainly everyt hing in t he nat ural and spirit ual posit ion of t he Apost les on t he
one hand, and of t he Jews on t he ot her , was ut t erly unfavourable t o t he spr ead of Christ ianit y by m eans of a writ t en r ecord. The Jewish people w er e not used t o it , and t he Gent iles could not have underst ood it . Ev en Prot est ant aut hor s of t he highest st anding ar e com pelled t o adm it t hat t he living t eaching of t he Church was necessarily t he m eans chosen by Jesus Christ for t he spr ead of His Gospel, and t hat t he com m it t ing of it t o w rit ing was a lat er and secondar y dev elopm ent . Dr . West cot t , Bishop of Durham , t han whom am ong Anglicans t here is not a higher aut horit y, and w ho is reck oned, indeed, by all as a st andard scholar on t he Canon of Script ure, say s ( The Bible in t he Chur ch, —pp. 53 and seqq.) : —'I n order t o appr eciat e t he Apost olic age in it s essent ial charact er, it is necessary t o dism iss not only t he ideas which are drawn fr om a collect ed New Test am ent , but t hose also, in a great m easure, which sprung from t he sev eral groups of writ ings of which it is com posed. The first wor k of t he Apost les, and t hat out of which all t heir ot her funct ions grew, was t o deliver in living words a per sonal t est im ony t o t he cardinal fact s of t he Gospel—t he Minist ry, t he Deat h and t he Resur r ect ion of Our Lor d. I t was only in t he course of t im e, and under t he influence of ext ernal circum st ances, t hat t hey com m it t ed t heir t est im ony, or any part of it , t o writ ing. Their peculiar dut y was t o pr each. That t hey did, in fact , perfor m a m ission for all ages in perpet uat ing t he t idings which t hey delivered was due, not t o any conscious design which t hey form ed, nor t o any definit e com m and which t hey received, but t o t hat m y st erious pow er ', et c. 'The repeat ed experience of m any ages has ev en y et hardly sufficed t o show t hat a per m anent r ecord of His w ords and deeds, open t o all, m ust co- exist wit h t he living body of t he Church, if t hat is t o cont inue in pure and healt hy vigour.' And again: 'The Apost les, when t hey speak, claim t o speak wit h Divine aut horit y, but t hey nowhere pr ofess t o give in writ ing a syst em of Christ ian Doct rine. Gospels and Epist les, wit h t he ex cept ion, perhaps of t he writ ings of St John, wer e called out by special circum st ances. There is no t race of any designed connect ion bet ween t he separat e book s, ex cept in t he case of t he Gospel of St Luk e and t he Act s ( also by St Luke) , st ill less of any out ward unit y or com plet eness in t he ent ire collect ion. On t he cont rary, it is not unlikely t hat som e Epist les of St Paul have been lost , and t hough, in point of fact , t he book s which rem ain do com bine t o form a perfect whole, y et t he com plet eness is due not t o any conscious co- operat ion of t heir aut hors, but t o t he will of Him by whose pow er t hey wrot e and w rought .' What a cont rast t her e is, in t hese clear w ords of t he gr eat scholar, t o t he com m on delusion t hat seem s t o have seized som e m inds—t hat t he Bible, com plet e and bound, dropped down am ong t he Christ ians from Heaven aft er t he day of Pent ecost : or , at t he least , t he Twelv e Apost les sat down t oget her in an upper room , pens in hand, and wr ot e off at a sit t ing all t he Books of t he New Test am ent ! And allow m e t o give one m or e shor t quot at ion t o drive hom e t he point I am labouring at , t hat t he w rit t en New Test am ent could never hav e been int ended as t he only m eans of pr eaching Salvat ion. 'I t was som e considerable t im e aft er Our Lord's Ascension,' ( w rit es t he Prot est ant aut hor of Helps t o t he St udy of t he Bible, p. 2) , 'before any of t he book s cont ained in t he New Test am ent w er e act ually writ t en. The first and m ost im port ant work of t he Apost les was t o deliver a personal t est im ony t o t he chief fact s of t he Gospel hist ory. Their t eaching was at first oral, and it was no part of t heir int ent ion t o cr eat e a perm anent lit erat ure.' These, I consider, ar e valuable adm issions. 4. But now, y ou m ay say, 'What was t he use of writ ing t he Gospels and Epist les t hen at all? Did not God inspire m en t o w rit e t hem ? Are you not belit t ling and despising God's Word?' No, not at all; we ar e sim ply put t ing it in it s proper place, t he place t hat God m eant it t o have; and I would add, t he Cat holic Church is t he only body in
t hese days which t eaches infallibly t hat t he Bible, and t he whole of it , is t he Word of God, and defends it s inspirat ion, and denounces and ex com m unicat es anyone who would dare t o im pugn it s Divine origin and aut horit y. I said befor e, and I r epeat , t hat t he separat e books of t he New Test am ent cam e int o being t o m eet special dem ands, in r esponse t o part icular needs, and w er e not , nor are t hey now, absolut ely necessary eit her t o t he pr eaching or t he perpet uat ing of t he Gospel of Christ . I t is easy t o see how t he Gospels ar ose. So long as t he Apost les wer e st ill living, t he necessit y for writ t en r ecords of t he words and act ions of Our Lord was not so pressing. But when t he t im e cam e for t heir r em oval fr om t his world, it was highly expedient t hat som e cor rect , aut horit at ive, r eliable account be left of Our Lord’s life by t hose who had know n Him personally, or at least w ere in a posit ion t o hav e first hand, uncor rupt ed infor m at ion concerning it . And t his was all t he m or e necessar y because t her e w er e being spr ead abr oad incor r ect , unfait hful, indeed alt oget her spurious Gospels, which were calculat ed t o inj ure and ridicule t he char act er and w ork of Our Divine Redeem er . St Luk e dist inct ly declares t hat t his was what caused him t o undert ake t he w rit ing of his Gospel—'For as m uch as m any have t aken in hand t o set fort h in order a narrat ion of t he t hings t hat have been accom plished am ong us' ( I ., i.) . He goes on t o say t hat he has his inform at ion from eye- wit nesses, and has com e t o know all part iculars fr om t he very beginning, and t herefor e considers it right t o set t hem down in writ ing, t o secur e a corr ect and t rust wort hy account of Christ 's life. So St Mat t hew, St Mark , St Luk e, and St John, penned t heir Gospels for t he use of t he Church, t he one supplying oft en what anot her om it s, but y et none pret ending t o give an exhaust ive or per fect account of all t hat Jesus Christ said and did, for if t his had been at t em pt ed, St John t ells us, 't he whole w orld would not have cont ained t he book s t hat w ould be writ t en' about it . The Gospels, t hen, are incom plet e, and fragm ent ary, giving us cert ainly t he m ost im port ant t hings t o know about Our Saviour's eart hly life, but st ill not t elling us all we m ight know, or m uch we do know in fact now and under st and bet t er , t hr ough t he t eaching of t he Cat holic Church, which has preserv ed t radit ions handed down since t he t im e of t he Apost les, fr om one generat ion t o anot her. These Gospels w er e read, as t hey are now am ong Cat holics, at t he gat herings of t he Christ ians in t he earliest days on t he Sunday s—not t o set fort h a schem e of doct rine t hat t hey knew already, but t o anim at e t heir courage, t o excit e t heir love and devot ion t o Jesus Christ , and im pel t hem t o im it at e t he exam ple of t hat Beloved Mast er, Whose sayings and doings wer e read aloud in t heir ears. Well, now, what I said about t he Gospels is equally t rue of t he Epist les, which m ake up pract ically t he whole of t he rest of t he New Test am ent . They wer e called int o exist ence at various t im es t o m eet pr essing needs and circum st ances; wer e addressed t o part icular individuals and com m unit ies in various places, and not t o t he Cat holic Church at large. The t hought furt hest fr om t he m ind of t he w rit er s was t hat t hey should ever be collect ed int o one volum e, and m ade t o do dut y as a com plet e and all- sufficient st at em ent of Christ ian fait h and m orals. How did t hey arise? I n t his nat ural and sim ple way. St Pet er , St Paul, and t he r est went fort h t o various lands, preaching t he Gospel, and m ade t housands of convert s, and in each place founded a church, and left priest s in charge, and a bishop som et im es ( as e.g., St Tim ot hy in Ephesus) . Now t hese priest s and convert s had occasion m any a t im e t o consult t heir spirit ual fat her and founder, like St Paul, or St Pet er, or St Jam es, on m any point s of doct rine or discipline, or m orals; for w e m ust not im agine at t hat dat e, when t he Church was in it s infancy, t hings wer e so clearly seen or under st ood or form ulat ed as
t hey ar e now. I t was, of course, t he sam e Fait h t hen as always; but st ill t her e w er e m any point s on which t he newly m ade Christ ians wer e glad t o consult t he Apost les who had been sent out wit h t he unct ion of Jesus Christ fresh upon t hem —point s of dogm a and rit ual and gov ernm ent and conduct which t hey alone could set t le. And so we find St Paul writ ing t o t he Ephesians ( his convert s at Ephesus) , or t o t he Corint hians ( his conv ert s at Corint h) , or t o t he Philippians ( his conv ert s at Philippi) , and so on t o t he rest ( 14 Epist les in all) . And for what reason? Eit her in answer t o com m unicat ions sent t o him from t hem , or because he had heard fr om ot her sour ces t hat t here wer e som e t hings t hat required corr ect ion in t hese places. All m anner of t opics ar e dealt wit h in t hese let t er s, som et im es in t he m ost hom ely st yle. I t m ight be t o advise t he convert s, or t o reprove t hem ; t o encourage t hem or inst ruct t hem ; or t o defend him self from false accusat ions. I t m ight be, like t hat t o Philem on, a let t er about a privat e person as Onesim us, t he slave. But what ev er t he Epist les deal wit h, it is clear as t he noonday sun t hat t hey w er e w rit t en j ust at part icular t im es t o m eet part icular cases t hat occurr ed nat urally in t he course of his m issionary labours, and t hat neit her St Paul, nor any of t he ot her Apost les, int ended by t hese let t ers t o set fort h t he whole t heology or schem e of Christ ian salvat ion any m ore t han Pope Pius t he Tent h int ended t o do so in his Decr ee against t he Modernist s, or in his Let t er on t he Sanct ificat ion of t he Clergy. The t hing seem s plain on t he face of it . Leo XI I I writ es t o t he Scot ch Bishops on t he Holy Script ures, for exam ple; or Pius t he Tent h t o t he Eucharist ic Congr ess in London on t he Blessed Sacram ent , or publishes a Decree on Frequent Com m union; or, again, one of our Bishops, say, sends fort h a let t er condem ning secret societ ies, or issues a Past or al dealing wit h t he new Marriage Laws—ar e w e t o say t hat t hese docum ent s are int ended t o t each t he whole way of salvat ion t o all m en? t hat t hey pr ofess t o st at e t he whole Cat holic cr eed? The quest ion has only t o be asked t o expose it s absurdit y. Yet pr ecisely t he sam e quest ion m ay be put about t he posit ion of St Paul's Epist les. True, he w as an Apost le, and consequent ly inspired, and his let t er s are t he w rit t en Wor d of God, and t herefor e ar e a final and decisive aut horit y on t he various point s of which t hey t r eat , if properly underst ood; but t hat does not alt er t he fact t hat t hey nowhere claim t o st at e t he whole of Christ ian t rut h, or t o be a com plet e guide of salvat ion t o anyone; t hey already pr esuppose t he knowledge of t he Christ ian fait h am ong t hose t o whom t hey ar e addr essed; t hey ar e w rit t en t o believer s, not t o unbeliever s; in one word, t he Church exist ed and did it s work befor e t hey were writ t en, and it would st ill have done so, even t hough t hey had never been writ t en at all. St Paul's let t er s ( for we ar e t aking his m erely as a sam ple of all) dat e from t he year 52 A.D. t o 68 A.D.; Jesus Christ ascended t o Heav en leaving His Church t o evangelise t he w orld, 33 A.D.; and we m ay confident ly assert t hat t he v ery last place we should expect t o find a com plet e sum m ar y of Christ ian doct rine is in t he Epist les of t he New Test am ent . Ther e is no need t o delay furt her on t he m at t er . I t hink I hav e m ade it clear enough how t he various books of t he New Test am ent t ook t heir origin. And in so explaining t he st at e of t he case, w e are not undervaluing t he writ t en Word of God, or placing it on a level inferior t o what it deser ves. We ar e sim ply showing t he posit ion it was m eant t o occupy in t he econom y of t he Christ ian Church. I t w as w rit t en by t he Church, by m em ber s ( Apost les and Evangelist s) of t he Chur ch; it belongs t o t he Church, and it is her office, t her efore, t o declare what it m eans. I t is int ended for inst ruct ion, m edit at ion, spirit ual reading, encour agem ent , dev ot ion, and also serv es as pr oof and t est im ony of t he Church's doct rines and Divine aut horit y; but as a com plet e and ex clusive guide t o Heaven in t he hands of ev ery m an—t his it never was and never could be. The Bible in t he Church; t he Church befor e t he Bible—t he Church t he Maker and I nt erpr et er of t he Bible—t hat is right . The Bible above t he Church; t he Bible independent of t he Church; t he Bible, and t he Bible only, t he
Religion of Christ ians—t hat is wrong. The one is t he Cat holic posit ion; t he ot her t he Prot est ant .
CH APTER I V . Ca t h olic Ch ur ch Com pile s t h e N e w Te st a m e nt
Now we know t hat t he Gospels and Epist les of t he New Test am ent w er e read aloud t o t he congr egat ions of Christ ians t hat m et on t he first day of t he w eek for Holy Mass ( j ust as t hey ar e st ill am ong our selves) , one Gospel here, anot her t her e; one Epist le of St Paul in one place, anot her in anot her; all scat t er ed about in various part s of t he world where t her e w ere bodies of Christ ians. And t he next quest ion t hat nat urally occurs t o us is, when w er e t hese separat e w ork s gat her ed t oget her so as t o form a volum e, and added t o t he Old Test am ent t o m ake up what we now call t he Bible? Well, t hey were not collect ed for t he best part of 300 y ear s. So t hat her e again I am afraid is a hard nut for Prot est ant s t o crack, viz.—That t hough w e adm it t hat t he separat e work s com posing t he New Test am ent wer e now in exist ence, yet t hey w er e for cent uries not t o be found alt oget her in one volum e, w er e not obt ainable by m ult it udes of Christ ians, and even w ere alt oget her unknown t o m any in different part s of t he w orld. How t hen, could t hey possibly form a guide t o Heaven and t he chart of salvat ion for t hose who had nev er seen or r ead or known about t hem ? I t is a fact of hist ory t hat t he Council of Cart hage, which was held in 397 A.D., m ainly t hrough t he influence of St August ine, set t led t he Canon or Collect ion of New Test am ent Script ures as we Cat holics have t hem now, and decr eed t hat it s decision should be sent on t o Rom e for confirm at ion. No Council ( t hat is, no gat hering of t he Bishops of t he Cat holic Church for t he set t lem ent of som e point of doct rine) was ev er consider ed t o be aut horit at ive or binding unless it was approv ed and confirm ed by t he Rom an Pont iff, whilst t he decisions of ev ery General Council t hat has r eceived t he appr oval of Rom e ar e binding on t he consciences of all Cat holics. The Council of Cart hage, t hen, is t he first known t o us in which we find a clear and undisput ed cat alogue of all t he New Test am ent books as w e have t hem in Bibles now. I t is t rue t hat m any Fat hers and Doct ors and w rit ers of t he Chur ch in t he first t hr ee cent uries fr om t im e t o t im e m ent ion by nam e m any of t he various Gospels and Epist les; and som e, as we com e near er 397, ev en r efer t o a collect ion already exist ing in places. For exam ple, we find Const ant ine, t he first Christ ian Em per or , aft er t he Council of Nicea, applying t o Eusebius, Bishop of Caesar ea, and a gr eat scholar, t o pr ovide fift y copies of t he Christ ian Script ures for public use in t he churches of Const ant inople, his new capit al. This was in 332 A.D. The cont ent s of t hese copies ar e known t o us, perhaps ( according t o som e, ev en pr obably) one of t hese v ery copies of Eusebius' handiwork has com e down t o us; but t hey ar e not precisely t he sam e as our New Test am ent , t hough ver y nearly so. Again, we find list s of t he book s of t he New Test am ent drawn up by St At hanasius, St Jer om e, St August ine, and m any ot her great aut horit ies, as wit nessing t o what was generally acknowledged as inspired Script ure in t heir day and generat ion and count ry; but I repeat t hat none of t hese corr esponds perfect ly t o t he collect ion in t he Bible t hat we possess now; w e m ust wait t ill 397 for t he Council of Cart hage, befor e we find t he com plet e collect ion of New Test am ent book s set t led as we have it t oday, and as all Christ endom had it t ill t he sixt eent h cent ury , w hen t he Reform er s changed it .
You m ay ask m e, however, what w as t he differ ence bet w een t he list s of New Test am ent book s found in various count ries and differ ent aut hors befor e 397, and t he cat alogue drawn up at t he Council of t hat dat e? Well, t hat int roduces us t o a very im port ant point which t ells us eloquent ly of t he office t hat t he Cat holic Church perform ed, under God t he Holy Ghost , in select ing and sift ing and st am ping wit h her Divine aut horit y, t he Script ures of t he New Law ; and I m ak e bold t o say t hat a calm considerat ion of t he par t t hat Rom e t ook in t he m aking and drawing up and preserving of t he Christ ian Script ures will convince any im part ial m ind t hat t o t he Cat holic Church alone, so m uch m aligned, we owe it t hat we know what t he New Test am ent should consist of, and why pr ecisely it consist s of t hese books and of no ot her s; and t hat wit hout her we should, hum anly speaking, have had no New Test am ent at all, or, if a New Test am ent , t hen one in which wor ks spurious and wor ks genuine would have been m ixed up in ruinous and inext ricable confusion. I hav e used t he w ords ’spurious’ and ’genuine’ in regard t o t he Gospels and Epist les in t he Christ ian Church. You are horrified, and hold up your hands and exclaim : ’Lord, sav e us! her e we have a Higher Crit ic and a Modernist .’ Not at all, dear r eader; quit e t he r ev erse, I assure you. Observ e, I hav e said in ’t he Christ ian Church’—I did not say 'in t he Bible' for t her e is not hing spurious in t he Bible. But why? Sim ply because t he Rom an See in t he fourt h cent ury of our era prevent ed anyt hing spurious being adm it t ed int o it . Ther e w er e spurious books float ing about 'in t he Christ ian Church', wit hout a doubt in t he early cent uries; t his is cert ain, because we know t heir ver y nam es; and it is precisely in her rej ect ion of t hese, and in her guarding t he collect ion of inspired writ ings fr om being m ixed up wit h t hem , t hat we shall now see t he gr eat w or k t hat t he Cat holic Church did, under God's Holy Spirit , for all succeeding generat ions of Christ ians, whet her w it hin t he fold or out side of it . I t is t hrough t he Rom an Cat holic Church t hat Pr ot est ant s have got t heir Bible; t here is not ( t o paraphrase som e w ords of Newm an) a Prot est ant t hat vilifies and condem ns t he Cat holic Church for her t reat m ent of Holy Script ure, but owes it t o t hat Church t hat he has t he Script ure at all. What Alm ight y God m ight have done if Rom e had not handed down t he Bible t o us is a fruit less speculat ion wit h which we hav e not hing what ever t o do. I t is a cont ingent possibilit y belonging t o an order of t hings which has nev er exist ed, except in im aginat ion. What we are concerned wit h is t he order of t hings and t he sequence of hist ory in which we ar e now living, and which we know , and which consequent ly God has divinely disposed; and in t his provident ial arrangem ent of hist or y it is a fact , as clear as any ot her hist orical fact , t hat Alm ight y God chose t he Cat holic Church, and her only, t o give us His Holy Script ures, and t o give us t hem as w e hav e t hem now, neit her great er nor less. This I shall now proceed t o pr ov e. ( i) Befor e t he collect ion of New Test am ent book s was finally set t led at t he Council of Cart hage, 397, w e find t hat t here wer e t hr ee dist inct classes int o which t he Christ ian writ ings wer e divided. This we know ( and ev ery scholar adm it s it ) from t he work s of early Christ ian writ ers like Eusebius, Jer om e, Epiphanius, and a whole host of ot her s t hat we could nam e. These classes wer e ( I ) t he books 'acknowledged' as Canonical, ( 2) book s 'disput ed' or 'cont r ov ert ed', ( 3) books declared 'spurious' or false. Now in class ( I ) i.e., t hose acknowledged by Christ ians ev ery where t o be genuine and aut hent ic, and t o hav e been w rit t en by Apost olic m en, w e find such books as t he Four Gospels, 13 Epist les of St Paul, Act s of t he Apost les. These were r ecognised east and w est as 'Canonical', genuinely t he work s of t he Apost les and Ev angelist s whose nam es t hey bor e, wort hy of being in t he 'Canon' or sacr ed collect ion of inspired writ ings of t he Church, and read aloud at Holy Mass. But t her e was ( 2) a class—and Pr ot est ant s should part icularly t ake not ice of t he fact , as it ut t erly
underm ines t heir Rule of Fait h ‘t he Bible and t he Bible only'—of books t hat wer e disput ed, cont r ov ert ed, in som e places acknowledged, in ot hers r ej ect ed; and am ong t hese we act ually find t he Epist le of St Jam es, Epist le of St Jude, 2nd Epist le of St Pet er; 2nd and 3rd of St John, Epist le t o t he Hebrew s, and t he Apocalypse of St John. Ther e w er e doubt s about t hese w ork s; perhaps, it was said, t hey wer e not really writ t en by Apost les, or Apost olic m en, or by t he m en whose nam es t hey car ried; in som e part s of t he Christ ian world t hey wer e suspect ed, t hough in ot hers unhesit at ingly received as genuine. Ther e is no get t ing out of t his fact , t hen: som e of t he books of our Bible which we, Cat holic and Prot est ant alike, now r ecognise as inspired and as t he writ t en Word of God, w ere at one t im e, and indeed for long, viewed wit h suspicion, doubt ed, disput ed, as not possessing t he sam e aut horit y as t he ot hers. ( I am speaking only of t he New Test am ent books; t he sam e could be prov ed, if t here w er e space, of t he Old Test am ent ; but t he New Test am ent suffices abundant ly for t he argum ent .) But furt her st ill—what is ev en m or e st r iking, and is equally fat al t o t he Pr ot est ant t heor y—in t his ( 2) class of 'cont r ov ert ed' and doubt ful book s som e w ere t o be found which are not now in our New Test am ent at all, but which were by m any t hen considered t o be inspired and Apost olic, or wer e act ually read at t he public worship of t he Christ ians, or wer e used for inst ruct ions t o t he newly- convert ed; in short , ranked in som e places as equal t o t he w orks of St Jam es or St Pet er or St Jude. Am ong t hese w e m ay m ent ion specially t he 'Shepherd' of Herm as, Epist le of Barnabas, t he Doct rine of t he Twelve Apost les, Apost olic Const it ut ions, Gospel according t o t he Hebr ew s, St Paul's Epist le t o t he Laodiceans, Epist le of St Clem ent , and ot her s. Why are t hese not in our Bible t oday ? We shall see in a m inut e. Last ly ( 3) t her e was a class of books float ing about befor e 397 A.D., which were nev er acknowledged as of any value in t he Church, nor t r eat ed as having Apost olic aut horit y, seeing t hat t hey wer e obviously spurious and false, full of absurd fables, super st it ions, puerilit ies, and st ories and m iracles of Our Lord and His Apost les which m ade t hem a laughing- st ock t o t he world. Of t hese som e hav e survived, and we have t hem t oday , t o let us see what st am p of w rit ing t hey w er e; m ost hav e perished. But we know t he nam es of about 50 Gospels ( such as t he Gospel of Jam es, t he Gospel of Thom as, and t he like) , about 22 Act s ( like t he Act s of Pilat e, Act s of Paul and Thecla, and ot her s) , and a sm aller num ber of Epist les and Apocalypses. These w er e condem ned and rej ect ed wholesale as 'Apocry pha'—t hat is, false, spurious, uncanonical. ( ii) This t hen being t he st at e of m at t er s, you can see at once what perplexit y arose for t he poor Christ ians in days of per secut ion, when t hey wer e r equired t o surr ender t heir sacr ed books. The Em peror Dioclet ian, for exam ple, who inaugurat ed a t er rible war against t he Christ ians, issued an edict in 303 A.D. t hat all t he churches should be razed t o t he ground and t he Sacred Script ures should be delivered up t o t he Pagan aut horit ies t o be burned. Well, t he quest ion was what was Sacred Script ure? I f a Christ ian gave up an inspired writ ing t o t he Pagans t o sav e his life, he t hereby becam e an apost at e: he denied his fait h, he bet ray ed his Lord and God; he saved his life, indeed, but he lost his soul. Som e did t his and wer e called 't radit ores', t r ait ors, bet ray ers, 'deliverers up' ( of t he Script ures) . Most , how ev er, pr efer r ed m art yrdom , and refusing t o sur render t he inspired writ ings, suffer ed t he deat h. But it was a m ost perplexing and harrowing quest ion t hey had t o decide—what r eally was Sacr ed Script ure? I am not bound t o go t o t he st ak e for r efusing t o give up som e 'spurious' Gospel or Epist le. Could I , t hen, safely give up som e of t he 'cont r ov ert ed' or disput ed book s, like t he Epist le of St Jam es, or t he Hebr ews, or t he Shepherd of Herm as, or t he Epist le of St Barnabas, or of St Clem ent ? Ther e is no need t o be a m art yr by m ist ake. And so t he st r ess of per secut ion had t he effect of m aking st ill m or e urgent t he necessit y of deciding once and for all what was t o form t he New Test am ent .
What , definit ely and precisely, were t o be t he book s for which a Christ ian would be bound t o lay down his life on pain of losing his soul? ( iii) Her e, as I said before, com es in t he Council of Cart hage, 397 A.D., confirm ing and approving t he decr ees of a pr evious Council ( Hippo, 393 A.D.) declaring, for all t im e t o com e, what was t he exact collect ion of sacr ed w rit ings t hencefor t h t o be reck oned, t o t he exclusion of all ot hers, as t he inspired Script ure of t he New Test am ent . That collect ion is precisely t hat which Cat holics possess at t his day in t heir Douai Bible. That decree of Cart hage was never changed. I t was sent t o Rom e for confirm at ion. As I have already rem ark ed, a Council, even t hough not a general Council of t he whole Cat holic Church, m ay yet have it s decr ees m ade binding on t he whole Church by t he approval and will of t he Pope. A second Council of Cart hage ov er which St August ine presided, in 419 A.D., r enew ed t he decr ees of t he form er one, and declared t hat it s act was t o be not ified t o Boniface, Bishop of Rom e, for t he purpose of confirm ing it . Fr om t hat dat e all doubt ceased as t o what was, and what was not ’spurious’, or ’genuine’, or ’doubt ful’ am ong t he Christ ian writ ings t hen known. Rom e had spok en. A Council of t he Rom an Cat holic Church had set t led it . You m ight hear a voice her e or t her e, in East or West , in subsequent t im es, raking up som e old doubt , or r aising a quest ion as t o whet her t his or t hat book of t he New Test am ent is r eally what it claim s t o be, or should be where it is. But it is a voice in t he wilderness. Rom e had fixed t he ’Canon’ of t he New Test am ent . Ther e are hencefor ward but t wo classes of book s—inspired and not inspired. Wit hin t he cov ers of t he New Test am ent all is inspired; all wit hout , known or unknown, is uninspired. Under t he guidance of t he Holy Ghost t he Council declared 'This is genuine, t hat is false'; 't his is Apost olic, t hat is not Apost olic'. She sift ed, w eighed, discussed, select ed, r ej ect ed, and finally decided what was what . Her e she rej ect ed a w rit ing t hat was once v ery popular and reck oned by m any as inspired, and was act ually r ead as Script ure at public service; t here, again, she accept ed anot her t hat was v er y m uch disput ed and viewed wit h suspicion, and said: 'This is t o go int o t he New Test am ent .' She had t he evidence befor e her; she had t radit ion t o help her; and above all she had t he assist ance of t he Holy Spirit , t o enable her t o com e t o a right conclusion on so m om ent ous a m at t er. And in fact , her conclusion was r eceived by all Christ endom unt il t he sixt eent h cent ury , when as w e shall see, m en arose r ebelling against her decision and alt ering t he Sacred Volum e. But , at all event s in regard t o t he New Test am ent , t he Reform ers left t he books as t hey found t hem , and t oday t heir Test am ent cont ains exact ly t he sam e books as our s; and what I wish t o drive hom e, is t hat t hey got t hese book s from Rom e, t hat wit hout t he Rom an Cat holic Church t hey would not hav e got t hem , and t hat t he decr ees of Cart hage, 397 and 419 A.D., when all Christ ianit y was Rom an Cat holic—reaffir m ed by t he Council of Flor ence, 1442, under Pope Eugenius I V, and t he Council of Trent , 1546—t hese decrees of t he Rom an Church, and t hese only are t he m eans and t he channel and t he aut horit y which Alm ight y God has used t o hand down t o us His writ t en Word. Who can deny it ? The Church exist ed befor e t he Bible; she m ade t he Bible; she select ed it s book s, and she pr eser v ed it . She handed it down; t hrough her w e know what is t he Word of God, and what t he word of m an; and hence t o t r y at t his t im e of day, as m any do, t o overt hrow t he Church by m eans of t his very Bible, and t o put it above t he Church, and t o revile her for dest r oying it and corrupt ing it —what is t his but t o st rike t he m ot her t hat rear ed t hem ; t o curse t he hand t hat fed t hem ; t o t urn against t heir best friend and benefact or; and t o r epay wit h ingrat it ude and slander t he v er y guide and prot ect or who has led t hem t o drink of t he wat er out of t he Saviour's fount ains?
CH APTER V. D e f icie ncie s of t he Pr ot e st a nt Bible
( I ) THE point t hat we have ar rived at now , if y ou r em em ber, is t his—The Cat holic Church, t hr ough her Popes and Councils, gat hered t oget her t he separat e book s t hat Christ ians venerat ed which exist ed in different part s of t he w orld; sift ed t he chaff from t he wheat , t he false from t he genuine; decisively and finally form ed a collect ion—i.e., dr ew up a list or cat alogue of inspired and apost olic writ ings int o which no ot her book should ever be adm it t ed, and declared t hat t hese and t hese only, were t he Sacr ed Script ures of t he New Test am ent . The aut horit ies t hat wer e m ainly responsible for t hus set t ling and closing t he 'Canon' of Holy Script ure w er e t he Councils of Hippo and of Cart hage in t he fourt h cent ury, under t he influence of St . August ine ( at t he lat t er of which t wo Legat ees were pr esent from t he Pope) , and t he Popes I nnocent I in 405, and Gelasius, 494, bot h of whom issued list s of Sacred Script ure ident ical wit h t hat fixed by t he Councils. From t hat dat e all t hrough t he cent uries t his was t he Christ ian's Bible. The Church never adm it t ed any ot her; and at t he Council of Florence in t he fift eent h cent ury, and t he Council of Tr ent in t he sixt eent h, and t he Council of t he Vat ican in t he ninet eent h, she renew ed her anat hem as against all who should deny or disput e t his collect ion of books as t he inspired word of God. ( 2) What follows fr om t his is self- evident . The sam e aut horit y which m ade and collect ed and pr eser ved t hese book s alone has t he right t o claim t hem as her own, and t o say what t he m eaning of t hem is. The Church of St . Paul and St . Pet er and St . Jam es in t he first cent ur y was t he sam e Church as t hat of t he Council of Cart hage and of St . August ine in t he fourt h, and of t he Council of Florence in t he fift eent h, and t he Vat ican in t he ninet eent h—one and t he sam e body—growing and dev eloping, cert ainly, as every living t hing m ust do, but st ill preserving it s ident it y and rem aining essent ially t he sam e body, as a m an of 80 is t he sam e person as he was at 40, and t he sam e per son at 40 as he was at 2. The Cat holic Church of t oday , t hen, m ay be com pared t o a m an who has gr own fr om infancy t o y out h, and from y out h t o m iddleage. Suppose a m an w r ot e a let t er set t ing fort h cert ain st at em ent s, whom w ould you nat urally ask t o t ell what t he m eaning of t hese st at em ent s was? Surely t he m an t hat wrot e it . The Church w r ot e t he New Test am ent ; she, and she alone, can t ell us what t he m eaning of it is. Again, t he Cat holic Church is like a person who was pr esent at t he side of Our Blessed Lord when He walked and t alked in Galilee and Judea. Suppose, for a m om ent , t hat t hat m an was gift ed wit h perpet ual yout h ( t his by t he way is an illust rat ion of W. H. Mallock 's, 'Doct rine and Doct rinal Disrupt ion', chap. xi.,) and also wit h perfect m em ory, and heard all t he t eaching and explanat ions of Our Redeem er and of His Apost les, and r et ained t hem ; he w ould be an invaluable wit ness and aut horit y t o consult , sur ely, so as t o discover ex act ly what was t he doct rine of Jesus Christ and of t he Tw elve. But such undoubt edly is t he Cat holic Church: not an individual person, but a corporat e personalit y who lived wit h, indeed was called int o being by, Our Divine Saviour; in whose hearing He ut t er ed all His t eaching; who list ened t o t he Apost les in t heir day and generat ion, repeat ing and expounding t he Saviour's doct rine; who, ev er y oung and ev er st rong, has persist ed and lived all t hrough t he cent uries, and cont inues ev en t ill our own day fr esh and k een in m em ory
as ever, and able t o assure us, wit hout fear of forget t ing, or m ixing t hings up, or adding t hings out of his own head, what exact ly Our Blessed Lord said, and t aught , and m eant , and did. Suppose, again, t he m an we are im agining had writ t en down m uch of what he heard Christ and t he Apost les say, but had not fully report ed all, and was able t o supplem ent what was lacking by personal explanat ions which he gave fr om his perfect m em ory: t hat , again, is a figure of t he Cat holic Church. She wrot e down m uch, indeed, and m ost im port ant part s of Our Lord’s t eaching, and of t he Apost olic explanat ion of it in Script ure; but nevert heless she did not int end it t o be a com plet e and exhaust ive account , apart fr om her own explanat ion of it ; and, as a m at t er of fact , she is able from her own perpet ual m em or y t o give fuller and clearer account s, and t o add som e t hings t hat are eit her om it t ed fr om t he writ t en report , or are only hint ed at , or part ially recorded, or m ent ioned m erely in passing. Such is t he Cat holic Church in relat ion t o her ow n book , t he New Test am ent . I t is hers because she w rot e it by her first Apost les, and preserv ed it and guarded it all down t he ages by her Popes and Bishops; nobody else has any right t o it what soever, any m or e t han a st ranger has t he r ight t o com e int o y our house and break open y our desk, and pilfer your privat e docum ent s. Therefor e, I say t hat for people t o st ep in 1500 year s aft er t he Cat holic Church had had possession of t he Bible, and t o pr et end t hat it is t heirs, and t hat t hey alone know what t he m eaning of it is, and t hat t he Script ures alone, wit hout t he voice of t he Cat holic Church explaining t hem , are int ended by God t o be t he guide and rule of fait h—t his is an absurd and gr oundless claim . Only t hose who are ignorant of t he t rue hist ory of t he Sacr ed Script ures—t heir origin and aut horship and preservat ion—could pret end t hat t here is any logic or com m onsense in such a m ode of act ing. And t he absurdit y is m agnified when it is rem em ber ed t hat t he Prot est ant s did not appr opriat e t he whole of t he Cat holic books, but act ually cast out som e from t he collect ion, and t ook what rem ained, and elevat ed t hese int o a new 'Canon', or volum e of Sacr ed Script ure, such as had nev er been seen or heard of befor e, fr om t he first t o t he sixt eent h cent ury , in any Church, eit her in Heav en above or on eart h beneat h, or in t he wat ers under t he eart h! Let us m ake good t his charge. ( 3) Open a Pr ot est ant Bible, and you will find t her e are sev en com plet e Books awant ing—t hat is, seven book s few er t han t her e are in t he Cat holic Bible, and seven few er t han t her e w er e in ev er y collect ion and cat alogue of Holy Script ure fr om t he fourt h t o t he sixt eent h cent ury. Their nam es are Tobias, Baruch, Judit h, Wisdom , Ecclesiast icus, I Machabees, I I Machabees, t oget her wit h sev en chapt er s of t he Book of Est her and 66 v er ses of t he 3rd chapt er of Daniel, com m only called 't he Song of t he Thr ee Children', ( Daniel iii., 24- 90, Douai version) . These w er e deliberat ely cut out , and t he Bible bound up wit hout t hem . The crit icism s and rem ark s of Lut her, Calvin, and t he Swiss and Germ an Reform er s about t hese sev en book s of t he Old Test am ent show t o what dept hs of im piet y t hose unhappy m en had allowed t hem selves t o fall when t hey broke away fr om t he t rue Church. Even in r egard t o t he New Test am ent it required all t he power s of r esist ance on t he part of t he m or e conservat ive Reform er s t o prev ent Lut her fr om flinging out t he Epist le of St . Jam es as unwort hy t o r em ain wit hin t he volum e of Holy Script ure—'an Epist le of st raw ' he called it , 'wit h no charact er of t he Gospel in it '. I n t he sam e way, and alm ost t o t he sam e degree, he dishonour ed t he Epist le of St . Jude and t he Epist le t o t he Hebr ew s, and t he beaut iful Apocalypse of St . John, declaring t hey w er e not on t he sam e foot ing as t he r est of t he book s, and did not cont ain t he sam e am ount of Gospel ( i.e., his Gospel) . The presum pt uous way, indeed, in which Lut her, am ong ot hers, poured cont em pt , and doubt upon som e of t he inspired writ ings which had been acknowledged and cherished and v enerat ed for 1000 or 1000 y ear s w ould be scar cely cr edible were it not t hat we have his very w ords in cold print , which cannot
lie, and m ay be r ead in his Biography, or be seen quot ed in such books as Dr. West cot t ’s The Bible in The Chur ch. And why did he im pugn such book s as w e hav e m ent ioned? Because t hey did not suit his new doct rines and opinions. He had ar rived at t he principle of privat e j udgm ent —of picking and choosing religious doct rines; and whenev er any book, such as t he Book of Machabees, t aught a doct rine t hat was repugnant t o his individual t ast e—as, for exam ple, t hat 'it is a holy and wholesom e t hought t o pray for t he dead t hat t hey m ay be loosed fr om sins', 2 Mach. xii., 46— well, so m uch t he w orse for t he book; 't hrow it ov erboard', was his sent ence, and ov erboard it went . And it was t he sam e wit h passages and t ext s in t hose books which Lut her allowed t o r em ain, and pronounced t o be w ort hy t o find a place wit hin t he boards of t he new Reform ed Bible. I n short , he not only cast out cert ain books, but he m ut ilat ed som e t hat wer e left . For exam ple, not pleased wit h St Paul's doct rine, ‘we ar e j ust ified by fait h', and fearing lest good work s ( a Popish super st it ion) m ight creep in, he added t he word 'only' aft er St Paul's words, m aking t he sent ence run: 'We are j ust ified by Fait h only', and so it r eads in Lut heran Bibles t o t his day. An act ion such as t hat m ust sur ely be reprobat ed by all Bible Christ ians. What surprises us is t he audacit y of t he m an t hat could coolly change by a st roke of t he pen a fundam ent al doct rine of t he Apost le of God, St . Paul, who w rot e, as all adm it t ed, under t he inspirat ion of t he Holy Ghost . But t his was t he out com e of t he Prot est ant st andpoint , individual j udgm ent : no aut horit y out side of oneself. How ev er ignorant , howev er st upid, how ev er unlet t ered, you m ay , indeed y ou ar e bound t o cut and carv e out a Bible and a Religion for y our self. No Pope, no Council, no Chur ch shall enlight en you or dict at e or hand down t he doct rines of Christ . And t he r esult we have seen in t he corrupt ion of God's Holy Word. ( 4) Yet , in spit e of all reviling of t he Rom an Church, t he Reform er s w er e forced t o accept fr om her t hose Sacr ed Script ures which t hey ret ained in t heir collect ion. What ev er Bible t hey have t oday, disfigured as it is, was t ak en from us. Blind indeed m ust be t he evangelical Christ ian who cannot r ecognise in t he old Cat holic Bible t he quarry fr om which he has hewn t he Test am ent he loves and st udies; but wit h what loss! at what a sacrifice! in what a m ut ilat ed and disfigured condit ion! That t he Reform er s should appropriat e unabridged t he Bible of t he Cat holic Church ( which was t he only volum e of God's Script ure ev er known on eart h) , even for t he purpose of elevat ing it int o a false posit ion—t his we could have underst ood; what st aggers us, is t heir deliberat e ex cision from t hat Sacred Volum e of som e of t he inspired Books which had God for t heir Aut hor , and t heir no less deliberat e alt er at ion of som e of t he t ext s of t hose books t hat were suffered t o r em ain. I t is on considerat ion of such point s as t hese t hat pious per sons out side t he Cat holic fold would do w ell t o ask t hem selves t he quest ion—Which Christ ian body r eally loves and r ev er es t he Script ures m ost ? Which has pr ov ed, by it s act ions, it s love and v enerat ion? and which seem s m ost likely t o incur t he anat hem a, recorded by St John, t hat God will send upon t hose who shall t ake away fr om t he words of t he Book of Life? ( Apoc. xxii., 19.)
CH APTER VI . Th e Or igin a ls, a n d t h e ir D isa ppe a r a nce I . Now, you m ay nat urally enough ask m e: 'But how do y ou know all t his? Wher e has t he Bible com e fr om ? Have you got t he original writ ings t hat cam e fr om t he hand of Moses, or Paul, or John?' No, none of it , not a scrap or a let t er, but we k now from hist ory and t radit ion t hat t hese w er e t he books t hey w rot e, and t hey have been
handed down t o us in a m ost w onderful way. What we hav e now is t he print ed Bible; but before t he invent ion of print ing in 1450, t he Bible exist ed only in handwrit ing— what we call m anuscript —and we have in our possession now copies of t he Bible in m anuscript ( MS.) , which wer e m ade as early as t he 4t h cent ury , and t hese copies, which you can see wit h your own ey es at t his day, cont ain t he book s w hich t he Cat holic Bible cont ains t oday, and t hat is how w e know w e are right in receiving t hese books as Script ure, as genuinely t he wor k of t he Apost les and Ev angelist s. Why is it t hat we have not t he originals writ t en by St . John and St . Paul and t he rest ? Well, t here ar e several reasons t o account for t he disappearance of t he originals. ( I ) The per secut or s of t he Church for t he first 300 years of Christ ianit y dest r oy ed ev eryt hing Christ ian t hat t hey could lay t heir hands on. Ov er and over again, barbar ous pagans burst in upon Christ ian cit ies, and villages and churches, and burned all t he sacr ed t hings t hey could find. And not only so, but t hey especially com pelled Christ ians ( as w e saw befor e) t o deliver up t heir sacr ed books, under pain of deat h, and t hen consigned t hem t o t he flam es. Am ong t hese, doubt less, som e of t he writ ings t hat cam e from t he hand of t he Apost le and Evangelist perished. ( 2) Again, we m ust r em em ber, t he m at erial which t he inspired aut hors used for writ ing t heir Gospels and Epist les was very easily dest r oy ed; it was perishable t o a degr ee. I t was called papyrus, ( I shall explain what it was m ade of in a m om ent ) , very frail and brit t le, and not m ade t o last t o any gr eat age; and it s delicat e qualit y, no doubt , account s for t he loss of som e of t he choicest t r easures of ancient lit erat ure, as w ell as of t he original handwrit ing of t he New Test am ent writ ers. We know of no MS of t he New Test am ent exist ing now, which is writ t en on papyrus. ( 3) Furt herm or e, when in various chur ches t hr oughout t he first cent uries copies w er e m ade of t he inspired writ ings, t her e was not t he sam e necessit y for preserving t he originals. The first Christ ians had no super st it ious or idolat rous v enerat ion for t he Sacr ed Script ures, such as seem s t o pr evail am ong som e people t oday; t hey did not consider it necessar y for salvat ion t hat t he very handwrit ing of St . Paul or St . Mat t hew should be preser ved, inspired by God t hough t hese m en were; t hey had t he living, infallible Church t o t each and guide t hem by t he m out h of her Popes and Bishops; and t o t each t hem not only all t hat could be found in t he Sacr ed Script ures, but t he t rue m eaning of it as well; so t hat we need not be surprised t hat t hey w er e cont ent wit h m er e copies of t he original works of t he inspired writ ers. So soon as a m or e beaut iful or cor r ect copy was m ade, an earlier and r ougher one w as sim ply allowed t o perish. Ther e is not hing st range or unusual in all t his; it is j ust what holds good in t he secular w orld. We do not doubt t he t erm s or provisions of t he Magna Chart a because w e hav e not seen t he original; a copy, if w e ar e sur e it is cor rect , is good enough for us. I I . Well, t hen, t he originals, as t hey cam e from t he hand of Apost le and Evangelist , have t ot ally disappeared. This is what infidels and scept ics t aunt us wit h and cast in our t eet h: 'You cannot produce,' t hey say, 't he handwrit ing of t hose from whom you derive your r eligion, neit her t he Founder nor His Apost les; your Gospels and Epist les are a fraud; t hey wer e not writ t en by t hese m en at all, but are t he invent ion of a lat er age; and consequent ly we cannot depend upon t he cont ent s of t hem or believe what t hey t ell us about Jesus Christ .' Now, of course, t hese at t acks fall harm lessly upon us Cat holics, because w e do not pr ofess t o r est our r eligion upon t he Bible alone, and ar e independent of it , and would be j ust as w e are and what we are
t hough t here wer e no Bible at all. I t is t hose who hav e st aked t heir ver y exist ence upon t hat Book, and m ust st and or fall wit h it , t hat are called upon t o defend t hem selves against t he crit ics. But I shall only rem ar k her e t hat t he argum ent of infidel and scept ic would, if logically applied, discr edit not only t he Bible, but m any ot her books which t hey t hem selves accept and believe wit hout hesit at ion. Ther e is far m or e evidence for t he Bible t han t here is for cert ain books of classical ant iquit y which no one dream s of disput ing. There ar e, for exam ple, only 15 m anuscript s of t he work s of Her odot us, and none earlier t han t he 10t h cent ury A.D.; y et he lived 400 years before Christ . The oldest m anuscript of t he work s of Thucydides is of t he 11t h cent ury A.D.; yet he flourished and wr ot e m or e t han 400 y ears befor e Christ . Shall we say, t hen, ’I w ant t o see t he handwrit ing of Thucydides and Her odot us, else I shall not believe t hese ar e t heir genuine work s. You hav e no copy of t heir writ ings near t he t im e t hey lived; none, indeed, t ill 1400 years aft er t hem ; t hey m ust be a fraud and a forgery ’? Scholars wit h no religion at all would say we w er e fit for an asylum if we t ook up t hat posit ion; yet it would be a far m or e r easonable at t it ude t han t hat which t hey t ake up t owards t he Bible. Why? Because t here ar e known t o have been m any t housand copies of t he Test am ent in exist ence by t he 3rd cent ury— i.e., only a cent ury or t wo aft er St . John—and we know for cert ain t here ar e 3000 exist ing at t he present day, r anging from t he fourt h cent ury downwar ds. The fact is, t he wealt h of evidence for t he genuineness of t he New Test am ent is sim ply st upendous, and in com parison wit h m any ancient hist ories which are r eceived wit hout quest ion on t he aut horit y of lat e and few and bad copies, t he Sacr ed Volum e is founded on a r ock. But let us pass on; enough for us t o know t hat God has willed t hat t he handiwork of every inspired writ er, from Moses down t o St . John, should have perished fr om am ongst m en, and t hat he has ent rust ed our salvat ion t o som et hing m ore st able and enduring t han a dead book or an undecipherable m anuscript —t hat is, t he living and infallible Church of Christ : ubi Ecclesia, ibi Christ us. Now I wish t o dev ot e w hat rem ains of t his chapt er t o say som et hing about t he m at erial inst rum ent s t hat were used for t he w rit ing and t ransm ission of Holy Script ures in t he earliest days; and a brief review of t he m at erials em ploy ed, and t he dangers of loss and of cor rupt ion which necessarily accom panied t he work, will convince us m ore t han ev er of t he absolut e need of som e divinely prot ect ed aut horit y like t he Cat holic Church t o guard t he Gospel fr om er r or and dest ruct ion, and preserv e 't he Apost olic deposit ' ( as it is called) from sharing t he fat e which is liable t o ov ert ake all t hings t hat are, as says St Paul, cont ained in 'eart hen vessels'. I I I . Various m at erials wer e used in ancient t im es for writ ing, as, e.g., st one, pot t ery , bark of t rees, leat her , and clay t ablet s am ong t he Babylonians and Egy pt ians. ( I ) But befor e Christ ianit y, and for t he first few ages of our era, Papyrus was used, which has given it s nam e t o our 'paper'. I t was form ed of t he bar k of t he r eed or bulrush, which once gr ew plent ifully on t he Nile banks. First split int o layers, it was t hen glued by ov erlapping t he edges, and anot her layer glued t o t his at right angles t o pr ev ent split t ing, and, aft er sizing and drying, it form ed a suit able writ ing surface. Thousands of rolls of papy rus hav e been found in Egypt ian and Babylonian t om bs and beneat h t he buried cit y of Her culaneum , owing t heir preservat ion probably t o t he v er y fact of being buried, because, as I said, t he subst ance was very brit t le, fr ail, and perishable, and unsuit ed for rough usage. Though pr obably m any copies of t he Bible w er e originally writ t en on t his papyrus ( and m ost likely t he inspired writ er s used it t hem selves) , none hav e survived t he w reck of ages. I t is t his m at erial St . John is referring t o when he says t o his corr espondent in I I Epist le, verse 10; 'Having m or e t hings t o writ e t o y ou, I would not by paper and ink'. ( 2) When in t he cour se of t im e,
papyrus fell int o com par at ive disuse fr om it s unsuit ableness and fragilit y, t he skins of anim als cam e t o be used. This m at erial had t wo nam es; if it was m ade out of t he skin of sheep or goat s, it was called Parchm ent ; if m ade of t he skin of delicat e y oung calves, it was called Vellum . Vellum was used in earlier day s, but being very dear and hard t o obt ain, gave place t o a large ext ent t o t he coarser par chm ent . St . Paul speak s about t his st uff when he t ells St Tim ot hy, ( I I . Tim . iv. 13) t o ’br ing t he books, but especially t he parchm ent s’. Most of t he New Test am ent m anuscript s which we possess t oday are writ t en on t his m at erial. A curious consequence of t he cost liness of t his subst ance was t his, t hat t he sam e sheet of vellum was m ade t o do dut y t wice ov er, and becam e what is t erm ed a palim psest , which m eans ’rubbed again’. A scribe, say , of t he t ent h cent ur y, unable t o pur chase a new supply of v ellum , would t ake a sheet cont aining, perhaps, a writ ing of t he second cent ury , which had becom e worn out t hr ough age and difficult t o decipher; he would wash or scrape out t he old ink, and use t he surface ov er again for copying out som e ot her w or k in which t he living generat ion felt m or e int erest . I t goes wit hout saying t hat in m any cases t he writ ing t hus blot t ed out was of far gr eat er value t han t hat which replaced it ; indeed, som e of t he m ost pr ecious m onum ent s of sacr ed learning are of t his descript ion, and t hey w er e discover ed in t his way. The pr ocess of erasing or sponging out t he ancient ink was seldom so per fect ly done as t o pr ev ent all t races of it st ill rem aining, and som e st rokes of t he older hand m ight oft en be seen peeping out beneat h t he m ore m odern w rit ing. I n 1834 som e chem ical m ixt ure was discov ered which was applied wit h m uch success, and had t he effect of r est oring t he faded lines and let t ers of t hose venerable records. Cardinal Mai, a m an of colossal scholarship and unt iring indust ry, and a m em ber of t he Sacr ed College in Rom e under Pope Gr egory XVI , was a per fect expert in t his branch of r esearch, and by his ceaseless labour s and fer ret like hunt s in t he Vat ican library, brought t o light som e r em ar kable old m anuscript s and som e priceless w or ks of ant iquit y. Am ong t hese, all st udent s have t o t hank him for r est oring a long lost wor k of Cicero ( De Republica) t hat was known t o have exist ed pr eviously, and which t he Cardinal uneart hed from beneat h St August ine’s Com m ent ary on t he Psalm s! The m ost im port ant MS. of t he New Test am ent of t his descript ion is called t he Codex of Ephraem . About 200 years ago it was not iced t hat t his curious looking vellum , all soiled and st ained, and hit hert o t hought t o cont ain only t he t heological discourses of St . Ephraem , an old Syrian Fat her, w as showing dim t races and faint lines of som e older w rit ing beneat h. The chem ical m ixt ure was applied, and lo! what should appear but a m ost ancient and valuable copy of Holy Script ures of handw rit ing not lat er t han t he fift h cent ur y! This had been coolly scrubbed out by som e im pecunious scribe of t he t w elft h cent ury t o m ake room for his favourit e work , t he discourses of St Ephraem ! Let us charit ably hope t hat t he good m onk ( as he pr obably was) did not know what he was scrubbing out . At all ev ent s, it was brought int o France by Queen Cat herine de Medici, and is now safely preserv ed in t he Royal Library at Paris, cont aining on t he sam e page t w o w or ks, one writ t en on t op of t he ot her wit h a period of 700 years bet w een t hem . I hav e t old you about t he sheet s used by t he earliest writ er s of t he New Test am ent : what kind of pen and ink had t hey ? ( I ) Well, for t he brit t le papyrus, a reed was used, m uch t he sam e as t hat st ill in use in t he East ; but of course for writ ing on hard t ough parchm ent or vellum a m et al pen, or st ylus, was r equired. I t is t o t his St . John refers in his t hird Epist le ( verse 13) when he say s, ’I had m any t hings t o writ e unt o t hee, but I w ould not by ink and pen writ e t o t hee’. The st rok es of t hese pens m ay st ill be seen quit e clearly im pressed on t he parchm ent , ev en t hough all t race of t he ink has ut t erly vanished. Besides t his, a bodkin or needle was em ployed, by m eans of which, along wit h a ruler, a blank leaf
or sheet was car efully divided int o colum ns and lines; and on nearly all t he m anuscript s t hese lines and m arks m ay st ill be seen, som et im es so firm ly and deeply drawn t hat t hose on one side of t he leaf hav e penet rat ed t hr ough t o t he ot her side, wit hout , howev er, cut t ing t he vellum . ( 2) The ink used w as a com posit ion of soot or lam pblack or burnt shavings of ivory , m ixed wit h gum or winelees or alum ( for all t hese elem ent s ent er ed int o it ) . I n m ost ancient m anuscript s, unfort unat ely, t he ink has for t he m ost part t urned r ed or brown, or becom e v er y pale, or peeled off or eat en t hrough t he vellum , and in m any cases lat er hands have rut hlessly ret raced t he ancient let t ers, m aking t he original writ ing look m uch coarser . But w e know t hat m any colour ed inks w er e used, such as red, gr een, blue, or pur ple, and t hey are oft en quit e brilliant t o t his day. ( 3) As t o t he shape of t he MSS., t he oldest for m was t hat of a r oll. They w ere generally fixed on t w o r ollers, so t hat t he part r ead ( for ex am ple in public worship) could be wound out of sight and a new port ion brought t o view. This w as t he kind of t hing t hat was handed t o Our Lord when He w ent int o t he synagogue at Nazar et h on t he Sabbat h. ’He unfolded t he book’, and r ead: and t hen ’when He had folded t he book , he r est or ed it t o t he m inist er’ ( St Luke iv., 17- 20.) When not in use t hese rolls wer e kept in round box es or cylinders, and som et im es in cases of silver or clot h of great value. The leaves of parchm ent wer e som et im es of considerable size, such as folio; but generally t he shape was what w e know as quart o or sm all folio, and som e wer e oct avo. The skin of one anim al, especially if an ant elope, could fur nish m any sheet s of parchm ent ; but if t he anim al was a sm all calf, t hen it s skin could only furnish ver y few sheet s; and an inst ance of t his is t he m anuscript called t he Sinait ic ( now in St Pet ersburg) whose sheet s are so large t hat t he skin of a single anim al ( believed t o have been t he youngest and finest ant elope) could only provide t wo sheet s ( 8 pages) . ( 4) The page was divided int o t wo or t hr ee or four colum ns ( t hough t he lat t er is ver y rar e) . The writ ing was of t wo dist inct kinds, one called uncial ( m eaning an inch) , consist ing ent irely of capit al let t ers, wit h no connect ion bet ween t he let t er s, and no space bet w een words at all; t he ot her st yle, which is lat er, was cur sive ( t hat is, a running hand) like our ordinary handwrit ing, wit h capit als only at t he beginning of sent ences; and in t his case t he let t er s are j oined t oget her and t her e is a space bet ween w ords. The uncial st yle ( consist ing of capit als only) was pr evalent for t he first t hree cent uries of our era; in t he fourt h cent ury t he cursive began and cont inued t ill t he invent ion of print ing. ( 5) Originally, I need hardly say, t her e was no such t hing in t he MSS. as divisions int o chapt ers and verses, and no point s or full st ops or com m as, t o let you know wher e one sent ence began and t he next finished: hence t he reading of one of t hese ancient records is a m at t er of som e difficult y t o t he unscholarly. The div ision int o chapt er s so fam iliar t o us in our m odern Bibles was t he invent ion eit her of Cardinal Hugo, a Dom inican, in 1048, or m or e probably of St ephen Langt on, Ar chbishop of Cant erbur y, ( d. 1027) ; and it is no calum ny upon t he reput at ion of eit her of t hese great m en t o say t hat t he division is not v ery sat isfact ory . He is not happy in his m et hod of split t ing up t he page of Script ure; t he chapt er s ar e of v ery unequal lengt h, and frequent ly int errupt a narrat ive or argum ent or an incident in an inconvenient way, as any one m ay see for him self by looking up such passages as Act s x xi. 40; or Act s iv. and v.; or I Corint hians xii. and xiii. The division again int o verses was t he w ork of one Robert St ephens, and t he first English version in which it
appear ed was t he Geneva Bible, 1560. This gent lem an seem s t o have com plet ed his perform ance on a j ourney bet w een Paris and Ly ons ( int er equit andum , as t he Lat in biographer phrases it ) , probably while st opping ov ernight s in inns and host els. ’I t hink,’ an old com m ent at or quaint ly rem ark s, ’it had been bet t er done on his knees in t he closet ’. To t his I would vent ure t o add t hat his achievem ent m ust shar e t he sam e crit icism of inappropriat eness as t he arr angem ent int o chapt ers. ( 6) The m anuscript s of t he Bible, as I befor e r em ark ed, now known t o be in exist ence, num ber about 3000, of which t he vast m aj orit y ar e in running hand, and hence ar e subsequent t o t he fourt h cent ury. Ther e are none of cour se lat er t han t he sixt eent h cent ur y, for t hen t he Book began t o be print ed; and none hav e y et been found earlier t han t he fourt h. Their age, t hat is, t he precise cent ury in which t hey wer e writ t en, it is not always easy t o det erm ine. About t he t ent h cent ur y t he scribes who copied t hem began t o not ify t he dat e in a com er of t he page; but befor e t hat t im e we can only j udge by various charact erist ics t hat appear in t he MSS. For exam ple, t he m or e sim ple and upright and regular t he let t ers are, t he less flourish and ornam ent at ion t hey have about t hem , t he near er equalit y t here is bet ween t he height and breadt h of t he char act ers—t he m or e ancient we m ay be sure is t he MS. Then, of course, w e can oft en t ell t he age of a MS. appr ox im at ely at least by t he kind of pict ures t he scribe had paint ed in it ; t he illust rat ions he had int roduced, and t he ornam ent ing of t he first let t er of a sent ence or on t he t op of a page; for w e know in what cent ury t hat part icular st yle of illum inat ion prevailed. I t w ould be im possible t o give anyone who had nev er seen any specim ens of t hese wonderful old m anuscript s a proper idea of t heir appearance or m ak e him r ealise t heir unique beaut y. Ther e t hey ar e t oday, perfect m arv els of hum an skill and wor km anship; m anuscript s of ev ery kind; old parchm ent s all st ained and wor n; book s of faded purple let t er ed wit h silver, and t heir pages beaut ifully designed and ornam ent ed; bundles of finest vellum , yellow wit h age, and bright even y et wit h t he gold and verm ilion laid on by pious hands 1000 years ago—in m any shapes, in m any colours, in m any languages. Ther e t hey are, scat t ered t hroughout t he libraries and m useum s of Eur ope, challenging t he adm irat ion of every one t hat beholds t hem for t he ast onishing beaut y, clearness, and r egularit y of t heir let t ering, and t he incom parable illum inat ion of t heir capit als and headings; st ill at t his day, aft er so m any cent uries of change and chance, charm ing t he eye of all wit h t heir soft yet brilliant colours, and defying our m odern scribes t o produce anyt hing t he least approaching t hem in loveliness. Ther e lie t he sacred r ecords, hoar y wit h age, fragile, slender, t im e- worn, bearing upon t heir front clear proofs of t heir ancient birt h; yet wit h t he bloom of yout h st ill clinging about t hem . We sim ply st and and wonder; and we also despair. We speak glibly of t he 'Dark Ages' and despise t heir m onks and friars ( and I shall, wit h your leave, speak a lit t le m or e about t hem im m ediat ely) , but one t hing at least is cert ain, and t hat is, t hat not in t he wide world t oday could any of t heir crit ics find a craft sm an t o m ake a copy of Holy Scr ipt ure w ort hy t o be com pared for beaut y, clearness, and finish wit h any one of t he hundreds of copies pr oduced in t he conv ent s and m onast eries of m ediaev al Europe.
CH APTER VI I . V a r ia t ions in Te x t Fa t a l t o Pr ot e st a nt The or y.
I HAVE m ent ioned m onast eries, and j ust ly so, for t her e is no doubt t hat t he vast m aj orit y, indeed pract ically all, of t hese v enerable pages, were t raced by t he hand of som e ecclesiast ic. The clergy wer e t he only per sons who had learning enough for it . What car e, what zeal, w hat loving labour was spent by t hese holy m en in t heir wor k of t ranscribing t he word of Script ure we can j udge by viewing t heir handiwork. Yet t he work was necessarily v ery slow and liable t o err or; and t hat er r ors did creep in we know fr om t he sim ple fact t hat t her e ar e about 200,000 variat ions in t he t ext of t he Bible as w rit t en in t hese MSS. t hat we have t oday. This is not t o be wonder ed at , if you r em em ber t hat t her e are 35,000 verses in t he Bible. Consider t he various ways in which cor rupt ions and variat ions could be int roduced. The variat ions m ight have been ( a) int ent ionally int roduced or ( b) unint ent ionally. ( a) Under t his class we m ust unfort unat ely r eck on t hose changes which were m ade by her et ics t o suit t heir part icular doct rine or pr act ice, j ust as, for exam ple, t he Lut her ans added t he w ord ’only’ t o St . Paul’s w ords t o fit in wit h t heir new fangled not ion about ’j ust ificat ion by fait h only’. Or again, a scribe m ight really t hink t hat he was im proving t he old copy from which he was t ranscribing by put t ing in a word here or leaving out a word t here, or put t ing in a different w ord, so as t o m ake t he sent ence clearer or t he sense bet t er . But ( b) it is sat isfact ory t o be assur ed ( as w e ar e) t hat t he vast m aj orit y of changes and variet ies of r eadings in t hese old MSS. is ent irely due t o som e unint ent ional cause. ( i) The scribe m ight be t ired or sleepy or exhaust ed wit h m uch writ ing, and m ight easily skip ov er a w ord, or indeed a whole sent ence; or m iss a line or r epeat a line; or m ake a m ist ake when he cam e t o t he end of a line or a sent ence; he m ight be int errupt ed in his wor k and begin at t he wrong word when he recom m enced. Or he m ight ( ii) have bad eyesight ( som e lost it alt oget her t hrough copying so m uch) ; or not know r eally what was t he pr oper division t o m ake of t he words he was copying, especially if t he copy he was busy wit h was one of t he old Uncials, wit h no st ops and no pauses and no division bet ween w ords or sent ences; or he m ight , if he wer e w rit ing at t he dict at ion of anot her, not hear very w ell, or pick up a word or phrase w rongly, as, for exam ple, t he wom an did when she wr ot e ’Sat an died here’ for a m illiner’s shop, inst ead of ’Sat in dyed her e’. Or ( iii) he m ight act ually em body and copy int o t he sacr ed t ext of t he Gospels words or not es or phrases which did not really belong t o t he Gospel at all, but had been writ t en on t he m argin of t he par chm ent by som e pr evious scribe m er ely t o explain t hings. These ’glosses’, as t hey ar e called, undoubt edly have crept in t o som e copies and t he Pr ot est ant s ar e guilt y of repeat ing one ev ery t im e t hey say t heir form of t he Lord’s Prayer, wit h it s ending ’For t hine is t he kingdom and t he pow er and t he glory forever. Am en.’ Such an addit ion was not ut t ered by Our Lord; Cat holics consequent ly do not use it . These are som e ( and not all) of t he way s in which you could easily see t hat differences could arise in t he various copies m ade by old scribes. Put six m en t oday t o r eport a speech by any orat or; t her e will be considerable variet y in t heir report s, as one can pr ov e by com paring differ ent new spaper account s of t he sam e speech any m orning. I do not say t hat t he differences will always signify m uch or subst ant ially alt er t he speak er ’s m eaning; yet t her e t hey ar e, and som et im es t hey m ay be serious enough; and if t hese t hings happen daily, ev en now wit h all our advanced and highly developed m et hods of print ing, how m uch m or e w ould t hey happen in t he old days befor e print ing, when hand and brain and eyesight and hearing could m ake so m any blunders? One single let t er changed w ould conceivably reverse t he m eaning of t he whole sent ence. I shall not alarm you by flaunt ing specim ens fr om t he Gr eek or Hebr ew , but shall m ake plain enough what I m ean by recording an inst ance occur ring in our own day s in our own t ongue. An old Provost of a cert ain East Lot hian t own had died and been duly buried, and a headst one had been er ect ed bearing t he fit t ing inscript ion from St . Paul’s 1st Epist le t o t he
Corint hians ( xv. 52) . ’And we shall be changed.’ I t was finished on t he Sat urday; but a deed of darkness was done befor e t he ’Sabbat h’ m orning. The m inist er had a son who loved a pract ical j oke. He got accom plices for his sham eful deed; t hey hoist ed him up, and in cold blood he t ook put t y and oblit erat ed t he let t er ’c’ in ’changed’. On t he ’Sabbat h’ t he godly, passing around, wit h long faces, Bibles, and whit e handkerchiefs, t o view t he old Pr ov ost ’s t om bst one, learned for t he first t im e t hat t he Apost le t aught ’And we shall be hanged’. You see what I m ean? Well, t he Bibles, befor e print ing, are full of variet ies and differences and blunders. Which of t hem all is cor rect ? Pious Pr ot est ant s m ay hold up t heir hands in horror and cr y out , ’t here ar e no m ist akes in t he Bible! it is all inspired! it is God’s own Book! ’ Quit e t rue, if you get God’s own book , t he originals as t hey cam e fr om t he hand of Apost le, Prophet , and Ev angelist . These, and t hese m en only, w er e inspired and prot ect ed from m aking m ist akes: but God never prom ised t hat ev er y individual scribe ( perhaps sleepy- headed, or st upid, or her et ical) who t ook in hand t he copying out of t he New Test am ent w ould be infallibly secur e from com m it t ing err or s in his work. The original Script ure is free fr om err or , because it has God for it s aut hor ; so t eaches t he Cat holic Church; and t he Cat holic Bible, t oo, t he Vulgat e, is a corr ect version of t he Script ure; but t hat does not alt er t he fact t hat t here ar e scor es, nay t housands, of differ ences in t he old m anuscript s and copies of t he Bible t hat wer e writ t en before t he day s of pr int ing; and I should like any enquiring Prot est ant s t o ponder ov er t his fact and see how t hey can possibly reconcile it wit h t heir principle t hat t he Bible alone is t he all- sufficient guide t o salvat ion. Which Bible? Are you sur e y ou hav e got t he right Bible? Ar e you cert ain t hat your Bible cont ains exact ly t he words, and all t he words and only t he words, t hat cam e fr om t he hands of Apost le and Evangelist ? Ar e y ou sure t hat no ot her words hav e cr ept in or t hat none hav e been dropped out ? Can y ou st udy t he Hebr ew and Gr eek and Lat in m anuscript s and versions, page by page, and com pare t hem , and com pile for yourself a copy of Holy Script ure ident ical wit h t hat writ t en by t he inspired aut hors fr om Moses t o St . John? I f y ou cannot —and y ou see at once t hat it is im possible—t hen do not t alk about 't he Bible and t he Bible only'. You know perfect ly well t hat you m ust t rust t o som e aut horit y out side of y our self t o give y ou t he Bible. The Bible you ar e using t oday was handed down t o y ou: y ou have, in fact , allowed som e t hird part y t o com e bet w een you and God, a t hing quit e repugnant t o t he Pr ot est ant t heory . We Cat holics, on t he ot her hand, glor y in having som e t hird part y t o com e bet w een us and God, because God Him self has given it t o us, nam ely, t he Cat holic Church, t o t each us and lead us t o Him . We believe in t he Bible I nt erpr et ed for us by t hat Church, because God ent rust ed t o her t he Bible as part of His word, and gav e her a prom ise t hat she would nev er err in t elling us what it m eans and explaining t o us t he 'm any t hings hard t o be underst ood', which St Pet er t ells us ar e t o be found wit hin it . Though t her e wer e as m any m illion variat ions as t here ar e t housands in t he differ ent copies of t he Bible, we should be st ill unm oved, for w e hav e a 'Teacher sent from God', above and independent of all Script ure, who, assist ed by t he Holy Ghost , speaks wit h Divine aut horit y, and whose v oice t o us is t he Voice of God. I t m at t ers not t o us when a Christ ian m ay have lived on eart h; whet her before any of t he New Test am ent was writ t en at all, or befor e it was collect ed, int o one volum e, or before it was print ed, or aft er it has been print ed; no m at t er t o us whet her t her e are 1,000 or 1,000,000 variat ions in t ext s and passages and chapt er s of ancient copies of which our m odern Bibles ar e com piled; we do not hazard our salvat ion on such a pr ecarious and unreliable support . We rat her t ak e t hat Guide who is 'y est erday and t oday and t he sam e for ev er ', and who speaks t o us wit h a living voice, and who can nev er m ak e a m ist ake; who is nev er uncert ain or doubt ful or wav ering in her ut t erances, nev er denying t oday what she affirm ed
yest erday, but ev er clear, definit e, dogm at ic; enlight ening what is dark and m aking plain what is obscur e t o t he m inds of m en. This is t he Cat holic Church, est ablished by Alm ight y God as His organ and m out hpiece and int erpr et er, unaffect ed by t he changes and unshak en by t he discoveries of ages. To her w e list en; her w e obey; t o her w e subm it our j udgm ent and our int ellect , knowing she will never lead us wr ong. I n her we find peace and com fort , sat isfact ion and solut ion of all our difficult ies, for she is t he one infallible Teacher and Guide appoint ed by God. This is a logical, consist ent , clear, and int elligible m et hod of at t aining and preser ving t he t rut h, a perfect plan and schem e of Christ ianit y. I t is t he Cat holic plan; it is Chr ist ’s plan. What plan have any ot her s t o subst it ut e for it t hat can st and a m om ent ’s analysis at t he bar of r eason, hist or y, com m onsense, or ev en of Holy Script ure it self?
CH APTER VI I I . Ou r D e bt t o t he M onk s
THUS far we have been speaking of t he Bible as found w rit t en in t he old m anuscript s, m ost ly in t he v er y early cent uries of Christ ianit y. Now t he next quest ion aft er set t ling how t he Bible was m ade and collect ed and com m it t ed t o writ ing, is, how was it preserv ed and m ult iplied and diffused t hroughout t he cent uries previous t o t he invent ion of print ing? For you will bear in m ind t hat we are as y et a long way off t he day when t he first print ing press was invent ed or set up. Did t he people at large know anyt hing at all about t he Sacr ed Script ures befor e it was print ed and put int o t heir hands? Her e w e are suddenly plunged int o t he Middle Ages; what was t he hist ory of t he Holy Book during t hat t im e which people in t hese count ries generally call ’Dark ’? I f y ou hav e pat ience wit h m e for a lit t le I shall prov e t o y ou t hat , j ust as t he Cat holic Church at t he v er y beginning wrot e and collect ed t oget her t he sacr ed books of t he New Test am ent , so by her m onk s and friars and clergy generally she preserv ed t hem fr om dest r uct ion during t he Middle Ages and m ade t he people fam iliar wit h t hem ; and, in short , t hat it is t o t he Rom an Church again under God t hat w e owe t he possession of t he Bible in it s int egrit y at t he present day . Now of course, t his will sound st range and st art ling in t he ear s of t hose who hav e im bibed t he com m on not ions about t he Middle Ages. As I said t her e was a t radit ional Prot est ant delusion about t he Cat holic Church and t he Bible in general, so t her e is a t radit ional opinion which ev er y good Pr ot est ant m ust adopt about t hose Ages of Fait h, as w e Cat holics prefer t o call t hem . The general idea is t hat t hey wer e cent uries ( from t he eight h cent ury t o t he end of t he fourt eent h) of pr ofound ignorance, oppr ession, super st it ion and of univer sal m isery—t hat t he m onks were debauched, gr eedy and lazy—t hat t he people in consequence w ere illit erat e and im m oral, only half civilised, and always fight ing—t hat t he whole of Eur ope was sunk in barbarism and darkness, m en's int ellect s enslaved and t heir wills enervat ed, and all t heir nat ural energies paralysed and benum bed by t he blight ing yoke of Rom e— t hat ( in t he com prehensive language of t he Church of England Hom ilies) 'lait y and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sect s and degr ees of m en, w om en and children, of whole Christ endom , had been alt oget her drowned in dam nable idolat ry, and t hat by t he space of 800 y ear s and m or e'. That is fairly sweeping. How t hey can reconcile t hat alleged st at e of t hings wit h t he uncondit ioned prom ises of Our Blessed Lord t hat 't he gat es of hell should never pr evail against t he Church' and t hat He
would ’be wit h her always t o t he end of t he wor ld’, and t hat t he ’Holy Ghost w ould lead t hem int o all t he t r ut h’—is t o m e a m y st er y. But let t hat pass. We are ask ed t hen t o believe t hat during t he Middle Ages t rue Christ ianit y was overlaid and buried beneat h a m ass of Popish fables and t radit ions, and t hat of course t he Bible in consequence was unknown ex cept t o a very few ; was neglect ed and ignor ed and kept out of sight , because it would have dest r oyed Popery if it had been known. Only when t he light of t he Refor m at ion shone out did t he Holy Book appear openly in t he world, and becom e fam iliar t o t he fait hful of Chr ist as t hat which was t o 'm ake t hem wise unt o salvat ion'. Now, I am not going t o ent er int o a general defence of t he condit ion of t hings in t he Cat holic world during t hese Ages of Fait h, t hough, if t im e perm it t ed, not hing would be m or e congenial t o m e. I would m erely r em ar k in passing, howev er , t hat perhaps m en of t he t w ent y- first or t w ent y- second cent ury will t ake t he v ery sam e view of t his age of ours as som e people do now of t he Middle Ages, and will look back wit h horr or upon it as a t im e when t he world was desolat ed by fam ine, pest ilence, and war— when nat ions of t he ear t h am assed huge arm ies and built im m ense navies t o slaught er each ot her and plunder each ot her 's t er rit ories—when t he condit ion of t he poor was har sher and cr ueller t han ev er before in t he hist ory of t he w orld since Christ was born—when t here w er e on t he one side som e hundreds or t housands of capit alist s, wit h som e m illionaires am ongst t hem ; and on t he ot her, m any m illions of t he labouring classes in deepest want and m iser y; m ult it udes on t he v er y v erge of st arvat ion, w ondering how t hey w er e t o k eep a roof ov er t heir heads or get a bit of food for t hem selves and for t heir children. People in ages t o com e will, m ayhap, regard t his cent ury wit h it s boast ed progr ess and civilisat ion, and t his land wit h 350 years of Pr ot est ant ism behind it as an age and a count r y wher e drunk enness and dishonest y and im m oralit y and m at rim onial unfait hfulness and ext ravagance and unbelief and yout hful excesses and insubordinat ion and barbarit y of m anners were so univer sally and so deeply root ed t hat t he aut horit ies of t he kingdom wer e sim ply helpless t o cope wit h t hem . I am one of t hose who hold t hat t he 'Dark Ages' wer e ages full of light in com parison t o t hese in which we are now living. The ages which built t he gorgeous Cat hedrals and Abbeys whose ruins st ill st and as silent but eloquent wit nesses of t heir past glory and beaut y, and st ill delight t he eye and capt ivat e t he adm irat ion of ev en t he m ost unsy m pat het ic beholder—t hose ages could not at least hav e been sunk in ignorance of archit ect ure, or been insensible t o t he beaut iful and t he art ist ic, or been niggardly or ungener ous in t heir est im at e of what was a wort hy t em ple for t he m aj est y of t he God of heav en and eart h and a dwellingplace fit t ing for t he Lord of Host s. Again, t he ages which cov er ed t he face of Eur ope wit h universit ies and schools of learning, which produced philosopher s and t heologians like St . Thom as Aquinas and St . Bonav ent ure, and Albert us Magnus and Scot us and Bacon, and which built up t he scholast ic syst em —a sy st em which, for logical acut eness and m et aphy sical accuracy, for subt ilt y and unit y and com plet e consist ency, has never been equalled, and which st ill st ands unshaken by all at t acks and t rium phing ov er all it s rivals t hat 'have t heir day and cease t o be'—t hat age, I say , could hardly have been int ellect ually dark or barr en. Once m or e: an age which produced saint s like Dom inick and Francis and Bernard, and w as fruit ful in bringing fort h Order s of m en and wom en for assist ing our poor hum anit y in ev er y form and st age of it s exist ence—t eaching t he ignorant , caring for t he sick and t he afflict ed, and even redeem ing capt ives from t he y ok e of slavery —t he age, besides, which wit nessed t he Crusades, t hose m agnificent out burst s of Christ ian chivalry and of loyalt y t o Jesus Christ Our Lord—when m en, kings, and princes, and subj ect s, seizing t he Cr usader 's cr oss, went cheerfully t o lay
down t heir lives in m yriads on t he burning plains of Sy ria in t heir glorious at t em pt s t o r escue t he Holy Sepulchre fr om t he hand of Turk and infidel—t hat age, I say , cannot have been alt oget her devoid of t he love of Him who Him self gave His life for m en, and Whose feet had t rod t hose sacr ed places in t he days of His Flesh. People speak glibly nowadays of t he ignorance of t hese far- back t im es; but it seem s t o m e t hat no m an who is really gr ounded in t he t rut h of Christ ianit y, who knows his Pat er Nost er , Av e, Cr eed, t he Ten Com m andm ent s, and t he Sev en Sacram ent s, and put s t hem int o pract ice, can ev er be said t o be t ruly ignorant . He m ight not have been able t o build a m ot or car or ev en t o drive one—t o t urn out a st eam ship or a flying m achine or speak t he w eird language of Esperant o. Neit her could St . Pet er or St . Joseph, for t he m at t er of t hat . Nev ert heless t he pract ical t eaching t he people of t hose ages r eceived fr om priest and m onk in church and school was, I subm it , of far m or e real m oral and int ellect ual value t han t he hash of scraps of hygiene and science, Fr ench and cookery, civics and art which is cram m ed int o t he unwilling brain of our t w ent iet h cent ury public school children. Generally speaking, t he m ediaevalist s, so despised, had t he knowledge of God and of t he world t o com e; and t hat was r eally t he best knowledge t hey could have. ( See preface t o Dr . Mait land's Dark Ages.) But I am afraid I hav e been guilt y of a serious digression; what we m ust do now is t o confine our selves t o t he single point as t o how t he Script ures w er e preser ved and m ult iplied and m ade known t o t he people in t he Middle Ages. ( I ) I shall first pr ov e t hat t he Bible was m ult iplied and preser ved by t he m onk s and priest s. All m ust now adm it t hat it was really in m onast eries t hat m ult it udes of copies of t he Holy Script ures w ere m ade. Monast eries were cent r es of learning in t hose t im es ev en m or e t han t hey ar e t oday, because educat ion was not so widely spread. An indispensable part of t he out fit of every m onast er y was a library. 'A m onast er y wit hout a library,' writ es a m onk of t he t welft h cent ury t o anot her m onk, 'is like a cast le wit hout an arm oury.' And he goes on t o declare t hat t he gr eat defence in t he m onast ic arm oury should be t he Bible. Som et im es t he libraries wer e ver y large, and we read of Em perors and ot her gr eat people borr owing from t hem . The m onks w er e t he m ost learned m en of t hose day s, and wer e by pr ofession scholars, m en who had renounced worldly pursuit s and pleasures, and dedicat ed t hem selves t o a r et ired life of pray er and st udy; and one of t he principal part s of t heir scholast ic act ivit y was t he copying and t ranscribing of t he Sacr ed Script ures. For t his purpose t here was a large room called t he Script orium in which a dozen or m ore m onk s could be engaged at one t im e but t here wer e also m any m onks em ploy ed, each in his own cell, which cont ained all t he necessary apparat us for lit erar y work . These cells wer e so arranged around t he cent ral heat ing cham ber t hat in wint er t heir hands would not get benum bed wit h so m uch writ ing. Day by day , y ear aft er year, t he m onks w ould per severe in t heir holy labours, copying wit h loving care ev er y let t er of t he sacr ed t ext from som e old m anuscript of t he Bible, adorning and illum inat ing t he pages of vellum wit h pict ures and illust rat ions in purple and gold and silver colouring, and so producing real work s of art t hat ex cit e t he envy and adm irat ion of m odern generat ions. Som e Bishops and Abbot s w r ot e out wit h t heir own hands t he whole of bot h t he Old and t he New Test am ent s for t he use of t heir churches and m onast eries. Ev en nuns—and t his point I w ould bring under special not ice—nuns t ook t heir shar e in t his pious and highly skilled labour. We r ead of one who copied wit h her own hands t wo whole Bibles, and besides m ade six copies of sev eral large port ions of t he Gospels and Epist les. Ev er y m onast ery and chur ch possessed at least one, and som e possessed m any copies of t he Bible and t he Gospels. I n t hose ages it w as a com m on t hing t o copy out part icular part s of t he Bible ( as w ell as t he whole Bible) ; for exam ple, t he Gospels, or t he Psalm s, or Epist les, so t hat m any who could not afford
t o purchase a com plet e Bible, wer e able t o possess t hem selves of at least som e part which was specially int erest ing or popular. This cust om is t ruly Cat holic, as it flourishes am ongst us t oday. At t he end of our pray er books, for inst ance, w e hav e Gospels and Epist les for t he Sundays, and various publishers, t oo, hav e issued t he four Gospels separat ely, each by it self, and t he pract ice seem s t o m e t o harm onise ent irely wit h t he very idea and st ruct ur e of t he Bible, which was originally com posed of separat e and independent port ions, in use in different Chur ches t hr oughout Christ endom . And so we find t hat t he m onks and clergy oft en confined t heir wor k t o copying out cert ain special port ions of Sacr ed Script ure, and nat urally t he Gospels wer e t he favourit e part . The w or k, we m ust r em em ber, was very slow, and expensive as well. Dr. Mait land reck ons t hat it would require t en m ont hs for a scribe of t hose days t o copy out a Bible; and t hat 60 or 70 [ pounds] w ould have been required if he had been paid at t he rat e t hat lawst at ioner s pay t heir writ er s. Of course, wit h t he m onk s it was a labour of lov e, and not for m oney; but t his calculat ion of Dr Mait land only refers t o t he work of copying; it leav es out of account t he m at erials t hat had t o be used, pen and ink and parchm ent . Anot her aut horit y ( Buckingham ) has m ade a m or e det ailed calculat ion, and assum ing t hat 427 skins of par chm ent w ould have been needed for t he 35,000 v erses, running int o 107,000 folios, he r eckons t hat a com plet e copy of Old and New Test am ent s could not have been purchased for less t han 218 [ pounds] . Yet Prot est ant s st ar e in ast onishm ent when y ou t ell t hem t hat not ever ybody could sit by his fireside in t hose days wit h a Bible on his knees! Som e princes ( am ong t hem , I t hink, Charlem agne) gave t he m onks perm ission t o hunt for deer in t he Royal forest s, so as t o get skins t o m ak e int o parchm ent for copying work. I hav e no space t o give elaborat e proof of m y assert ion t hat , as a m at t er of cour se, all m onast eries and churches possessed copies of t he Script ures in t he Middle Ages. I t st ands t o r eason t hat t hose who m ade t he copies w ould keep at least one for t heir own use in t he m onast ery, and anot her for t he public services in t he church. We r ead of one convent in I t aly which had not m oney enough for t he bare necessaries of life, yet m anaged t o scrape up 50 [ pounds] t o pur chase a Bible. Dr Mait land, in his m ost valuable book The Dark Ages—he was a Pr ot est ant , librarian t o t he Archbishop of Cant erbur y, a gr eat st udent , and a m ost im part ial scholar—gives page aft er page of inst ances, t hat cam e under his own not ice in his r esear ches, of religious houses t hat had Bibles and Test am ent s in t heir possession. Of course t hese ar e but casual specim ens; t he t hing was so com m on t hat t her e was no need t o chr onicle t he fact any m ore t han you w ould chr onicle t he fact t hat A or B had a clock in his parlour in t he ninet eent h cent ur y. Kings and Princes and Popes oft en present ed beaut iful copies of t he Bible t o Abbot s and Priors for use in t heir m onast er y, som et im es gloriously em bellished wit hin wit h paint ing and illum inat ions, w rit t en in let t ers of gold and silver, and bound in golden casing set wit h gem s. We fr equent ly read of such gift s. And not only t he Bible, but ot her books used in t he ser vice of t he Chur ch, such as copies of t he Missal or Psalt er or Gospels, all cont aining great port ions of Holy Script ure, w ere oft en pr esent ed as gift s by great per sonages in Church or St at e, bound in gold or ivor y or silver of t he ut m ost purit y, and m arv ellously adorned and st udded wit h pearls and precious st ones. Not hing was consider ed t oo cost ly or t oo m agnificent t o lavish on t he sacr ed v olum e. But I suppose t hat when w e find Popes like Leo I I I , and Leo I V, and Em per or s like Henr y I I , and Lewis t he Debonnaire, and Bishops like Hincm ar of Rheim s, and Dukes like Hugh of Burgundy, and Bishops like Ralph of Rochest er, and num berless Abbot s and Prior s in t he eight h and nint h cent uries causing copies of t he Sacr ed Script ures t o be m ade and gift ed t o m onast eries and churches t hroughout Eur ope, t his m ust be t aken as ev idence of Rom e's hat red of t he Word of God, and her fear of it s becom ing known or r ead or
st udied! Yet t hat t his was t he com m on cust om for hundreds of y ears is a fact of hist ory t hat is quit e bey ond t he region of doubt . Moreov er , t he Sacred Script ures wer e a fav ourit e subj ect of st udy am ong t he clergy; and a popular occupat ion was t he writ ing of com m ent aries upon t hem , as all priest s at least ar e awar e, fr om having t o recit e port ions of t hem ev ery day, ranging from t he age of St Leo t he Gr eat and St Gr egory , down t o St Bernard and St Anslem . ( 2) Now one could go on at any lengt h accum ulat ing evidence as t o t he fact of m onks and priest s r epr oducing and t ransm it t ing copies of t he Bible from cent ur y t o cent ury , befor e t he day s of Wycliff and Lut her; but t here is no need, because I am not writ ing a t reat ise on t he subj ect , but m er ely adducing a few pr oofs of m y assert ions, and t rying t o show how ut t erly absurd is t he cont ent ion t hat Rom e hat es t he Bible, and did her best t o k eep it a locked and sealed book and even t o dest r oy it t hroughout t he Middle Ages. Sur ely not hing but t he crassest ignorance or t he blindest pr ej udice could support a t heor y so flat ly cont radict ed by t he sim plest fact s of hist or y. The real t rut h of t he m at t er is t hat it is t he Middle Ages which have been a closed and sealed book t o Prot est ant s, and t hat only now, owing t o t he honest and pat ient resear ches of im part ial scholars am ongst t hem , are t he t reasur es of t hose grand cent uries being unlocked and br ought t o t heir view. I t is t his ignorance or prej udice which explains t o m e a feat ur e t hat w ould be ot herwise unaccount able in t he hist ories of t he Bible w rit t en by non- Cat holics. I hav e consult ed m any of t hem , and t hey all, wit h hardly an ex cept ion, eit her skip ov er t his period of t he Bible’s exist ence alt oget her or dism iss it wit h a few off- hand refer ences. They j um p right ov er fr om t he inspired writ ers t hem selves, or perhaps from t he fourt h cent ury , when t he Canon was fixed, t o John Wy cliff, ’The Morning St ar of t he Reform at ion’, leaving blank t he int erm ediat e cent uries, plunged, as t hey im agine, in worse t han Egypt ian darkness. But I ask—I s t his fair or honest ? I s it consist ent wit h a love of t rut h t hus t o suppress t he fact , which is now happily beginning t o dawn on t he m ore enlight ened m inds, t hat it was t he m onks and clergy of t he Cat holic Church who, during all t hese ages, pr eser ved, m ult iplied, and perpet uat ed t he Sacr ed Script ures? The Bible on it s hum an side is a perishable art icle. I nspired by God t hough it be, it was yet , by t he Providence of God, w rit t en on perishable parchm ent wit h pen and ink; liable t o be lost or dest royed by fir e, by nat ural decay and cor rupt ion, or by t he enem ies, whet her civilised or pagan, t hat wast ed and rav aged Christ endom by t he sword, and gave it s chur ches and m onast eries and libraries t o t he flam es. Who, I ask, but t he m en and w om en, consecrat ed t o God by t heir v ows and dev ot ed t o a life of pray er and st udy in m onast eries and convent s, rem ot e from w orldly st rife and am bit ion— who but t hey sav ed t he writ t en Word of God fr om t ot al ext inct ion, and wit h loving and reverent car e repr oduced it s sacred pages, t o be known and r ead of all, and t o be handed down t o our own generat ion, which grudges t o acknowledge t he debt it owes t o t heir pious and unrem it t ing labours?
CH APTER I X . Bible - r e a ding in t h e ‘D a r k Age s’
BUT perhaps som e obj ect or m ay say: ’Yes, t hey copied t he Script ure, t hese m onks and priest s, but t hat was all; t hey did not know anyt hing really about it , did not underst and it ; t heir wor k was m er ely m echanical.’ Now, I shall show t hat t he v er y cont rary was t he fact ; t hey had a profound knowledge and under st anding of t he
Bible, and it was t heir const ant com panion. ( I ) I n t he first place, t he Bishops and Abbot s required all t heir priest s t o know t he Scr ipt ures. We find const ant ly in t he old Const it ut ions and Canons of differ ent dioceses t hat t he clergy were bound t o know t he Psalm s, t he Epist les, and Gospels, besides, of cour se, t he Missal and ot her Church ser vice book s, ( t ake for exam ple, t he Const it ut ions of Belfric or of Soissons) . And t hese rules w er e effect ive; t hey had t o be observ ed, for w e find Councils like t hat of Toledo, for inst ance ( in 835) , issuing decr ees t hat Bishops w ere bound t o enquire t hroughout t heir dioceses whet her t he clergy w er e sufficient ly inst ruct ed in t he Script ure. I n som e cases t hey w er e obliged t o know by heart not only t he whole Psalt er, but ( as under t he rule of St . Pachom ius) t he New Test am ent as w ell. I suppose m ost m inist ers of t he Kirk could st and t his t est quit e easily. Then t he clergy were cont inually m edit at ing on various port ions of t he Script ures, and writ ing about t hem in hom ilies and com m ent aries, and ev er r ecit ing t hem in t heir services, so t hey could not help but know t hem well. Som e of t he saint s of t hose days, like St . Anslem and St . Hubert , act ually knew t hem off by heart , and could answer every quest ion, however difficult , about t he m eaning of t hem . And not only saint s, but m ult it udes of ordinary priest s and Bishops const ant ly had t he Script ures on t heir lips. Wulst an, Bishop of Wor cest er, for exam ple, had a cust om , which would be decidedly t rying t o m ost clergy in our days, of r epeat ing t he whole Psalt er along wit h his at t endant priest s when j ourneying; and we ar e t old t hat ’lying, st anding, walking, sit t ing, he had always a Psalm on his lips, always Christ in his heart .’ Again, we know of Abbot s ( like him of Cologne) who ’caused t he whole of t he Old and t he New Test am ent s t o be r ead t hr ough ev ery y ear .’ Besides, t he Script ures wer e r ead daily during m eals in m onast eries. And if furt her proof were required t hat t he clergy wer e int im at ely fam iliar, not only wit h t he words, but wit h t he m eaning and t eaching of Holy Script ure, w e hav e only t o dip int o t he serm ons, happily preserv ed, which t hese m en pr eached t o t heir flock s, and we shall find t hem sim ply full t o overflowing wit h quot at ions from every part of t he Bible, far fuller, indeed, t han t he serm ons of Pr ot est ant clergy in t he t went iet h cent ury. I shall give only one exam ple, and w e hav e no r eason t o t hink t hat it is at all except ional. I t is t he serm on of a m onk called Bardo in Germ any, who was about t o be appoint ed Archbishop of Ment z. He preached, how ev er, first befor e a gr eat m ult it ude at Christ m as about t he year 1000, t he Em peror being present . His t ext w as Psalm xvii, 13. —I hav e not seen t he whole of his serm on, but only about eight print ed pages of it . I have count ed t he r efer ences and quot at ions from t he Old and New Test am ent s, and I find t here ar e exact ly 73. The audience enj oyed t he serm on, under st ood t he references, and t he m onk was m ade Archbishop. I hope I have shown now how really prepost erous is t he idea t hat t he m onks did not know t he Bible. What m an in his senses can have pat ience t o list en t o t he silly legend t hat Mart in Lut her first discovered by accident t he Script ures—a book w hich, as a friar, he was bound t o have known and st udied and learned and recit ed for y ears? The sim ple fact , as is now pr ov ed by irrefut able evidence, is t hat t he clergy of t hose 'dark ages' had a knowledge of and fam iliarit y wit h t he writ t en Word of God which m oder n m inist ers cannot equal; and what is no less im port ant , t oget her wit h t heir knowledge t hey had a deep v enerat ion and lov e for it , guarding it j ealously from corrupt ion and er ror, believing what t hey t aught , hum bly accept ing it s Divine aut horship and aut horit y—an at t it ude in st riking cont rast t o present day crit ics, who t r eat t he Bible like a com m on book , and pick holes in it and im pugn it s genuineness and it s accuracy, and in general at t em pt t o elim inat e t he supernat ural elem ent fr om it alt oget her.
( 2) But , again, I t hink I hear t he v oice of t he obj ect or, who will not believ e all t his if he can possibly help it —'Yes; w ell, perhaps t he clergy did know t he Bible, but nobody else did; it was a closed and sealed v olum e t o t he poor lay people, because, of cour se, it was all in Lat in.' Now, leaving aside t he quest ion of Lat in for a m om ent ( for I shall com e back t o t hat im m ediat ely) , it is ut t erly false t o say or suppose t hat t he lay folks were ignorant of t he Script ures. They wer e t hor oughly well- acquaint ed wit h t hem so far as t hey r equired t o be in t heir st at e of life. I t is t rue, of course—and how could it be ot herwise?—t hat ecclesiast ics being t he r eading m en and wr it ing m en, in short , t he only well- educat ed per sons of t hose days, nat urally have left behind t hem m or e evidence t han m ost lay people could do of t heir fam iliarit y wit h t he Sacr ed Word; but it is yet t he fact t hat t he lit erat ur e of t hose ages, out side clerical docum ent s alt oget her , which has com e down t o us, is st eeped and per m eat ed t hrough and t hrough wit h Script ure. Conv ersat ions, for exam ple, corr espondence, law deeds, household book s, legal docum ent s, hist orical narrat ives—all ar e full of it ; full not only of t he ideas, but oft en of t he very words of Script ure. How m any lawyer s and doct ors and pr ofessor s and ordinary lay folks nowadays, I wonder, would be found quot ing from t he Bible in t heir writ ings? The r eason, of course, w as t hat books wer e scarce in t hose days, and expensive, and t he Bible was t he m ost com m on and popular and accessible; it was t he m ost fam iliar t o kings and princes, t o soldiers and lawyers, t o business m en and t radesm en, labourers and art isans. They all knew it and underst ood it , and enj oy ed t he num berless quot at ions and refer ences t o it in serm ons and addr esses, and could oft en r epeat port ions of it from m em ory . 'The writ ings of t he dark ages'—says Dr . Mait land in chapt er 27 of his m ost valuable and ent ert aining book, The Dark Ages—'t he writ ings of t he dark ages are, if I m ay use t he expr ession, m ade of t he Script ures. I do not m erely m ean t hat t he writ ers const ant ly quot ed t he Script ures, and appealed t o t hem as aut horit ies on all occasions as ot her w rit ers hav e done since t heir day; but I m ean t hat t hey t hought and spok e and w r ot e t he t hought s and w ords and phrases of t he Bible, and t hat t hey did t his const ant ly and habit ually as t he nat ural m ode of expr essing t hem selves. They did it , t oo, not exclusively in t heological or ecclesiast ical m at t ers, but in hist ories, biographies, fam iliar let t ers, legal inst rum ent s, and docum ent s of ev ery descript ion. I do not know t hat I can fully expr ess m y m eaning, but perhaps I m ay render it m ore clear if I repeat t hat I do not so m uch refer t o direct quot at ions of Script ure as t o t he fact t hat t heir ideas seem t o have fallen so nat urally int o t he words of Script ure t hat t hey w er e const ant ly r efer ring t o t hem in a way of passing allusion which is now very puzzling t o t hose who ar e unacquaint ed wit h t he phraseology of t he Vulgat e.' We can t hus see fr om t he t est im ony of such a st udent of t hat period as Rev . Dr. Mait land how t he language and ideas of t he Bible had passed int o t he cur rent language of t he people. Som et im es persons car r ied copies of t he Gospels about wit h t hem , j ust as Cat holics t oday car ry about t hem a Gospel of St John, out of venerat ion. ( 3) But how, it m ay be asked, could t he people who w ere unable t o r ead ( and t hey wer e adm it t edly a large num ber) becom e acquaint ed wit h t he Bible? The answ er is sim ple. They w er e t aught by m onk and priest , bot h in church and school, t hrough serm on and inst ruct ion. They w er e t aught by sacr ed plays or dram as, w hich represent ed visibly t o t hem t he principal fact s of sacred hist ory, like t he Passion Play of t oday at Oberam m er gau. They w er e t aught t hrough paint ings and st at uary and fr escoes in t he chur ches, which port rayed befor e t heir ey es t he doct rines of t he Fait h and t he t rut hs of Script ure: and hence it is t hat in Cat holic count ries t he walls of churches and m onast eries and conv ent s, and even cem et eries, ar e cov er ed wit h pict ures r epr esent ing Script ural scenes.
’Paint ing is t he book of t he ignorant ’. St ained glass windows m ay be m ent ioned in t he sam e cat egory; and so m ay popular hym ns, and poet ry , and sim ple dev ot ional book s for t he poor, all of which, along wit h t he cerem onies and funct ions of t he Church, serv ed t o im print on people’s m em ories and under st andings t he gr eat ev ent s in God’s dealings wit h His creat ur es since t he beginning of t he world. We m ust r em em ber , t oo, t hat , for t hose who could not afford t o pur chase a Bible or a copy of t he Gospels, t he Sacr ed Volum e was oft en chained t o a st one in som e public place about t he church for ev ery one t o st udy; and wealt hy persons in t heir wills wer e known t o leave m oney enough t o provide for such a t hing. The sim ple t rut h is t hat t he Cat holic Church adopt ed every m eans at her disposal in t hese old days t o bring a knowledge of God’s Wor d t o t hose who could not read, as w ell as t o t hose who could. Bibles were not print ed because t her e was no print ing press; but whose fault was t hat ? I s t he Church t o blam e for not invent ing print ing sooner ? But why did God not invent print ing Him self if he wished t he Bible t o be in everybody’s hand? Nero had no m ot or car, nor had Julius Caesar a m axim gun, nor William Wallace a flying m achine—wer e t hese m en consequent ly ignorant and behind t he t im es and wort hy of cont em pt ? Ther e w er e no railway t rains in Lut her's day; nor did John Knox invent chloroform , or Oliver Cr om well elect ricit y—are t hese m en in consequence t o be consider ed as illit erat e, st upid, barbarous, sunk in m ent al degradat ion? The Cat holic Church, t hen, had t o do t he best she could in t he circum st ances; and I subm it she did all t hat any organisat ion on eart h could possibly have done for t he spread of Script ure knowledge am ong her children. Vast num bers could not read; I adm it it ; t he Church was not t o blam e for t hat . Lat in was t he universal t ongue, and you had t o be rat her scholarly t o r ead it . But I pr ot est against t he out rageous not ion t hat a m an cannot know t he Bible unless he can r ead it . Can he not see it repr esent ed before his ey es? Can he not hear it read? Do y ou not know and under st and one of Shakespear e's plays m uch bet t er by seeing it act ed on t he st age t han by r eading it out of a book ? Do t he visit ors t o Ober am m ergau, wit nessing t he 'Passion Play', not com e t o under st and and realise t he st ory of t he Passion and Deat h of Our Lord m or e vividly by seeing it enact ed before t heir eyes t han if t hey r ead t he cold print of a New Test am ent ? You hear a Board School child rat t ling off t he t en plagues of Egypt and t he nam es of all t he Kings of I srael and Judah, and divers chapt er s of t he Bible: but does t hat child necessar ily know what it is recit ing? Does it underst and and appreciat e and realise? I t m ay or it m ay not ; t her e is no necessar y connect ion bet ween t he t wo t hings. Ther e is such a t hing as lit eral idolat ry, w or shipping t he let t er and neglect ing t he spirit ; a super st it ious, grov elling subser viency t o t he m ere t ext of t he Bible. A boy or girl m ight know whole passages of t he Bible by heart , and only use t hem for t heir own m oral ruin. I am cont ending for t he genuine, real, pract ical working knowledge of t he Bible am ong t he generalit y of Cat holics in t he Middle Ages: and, whet her t hey could read or not , I do not hesit at e t o assert t hat , wit h few except ions, t hey had a per sonal and int elligent knowledge and a vivid realisat ion of t he m ost necessary fact s in t he Sacr ed Script ure and in t he life of Our Divine Lord t o an ext ent which is sim ply not t o be found am ong t he m illions of our nom inal Christ ians in t hese islands t oday. What ev er ignorance t here was—t his at least all im part ial scholars m ust concede—t he Church was in no way t o blam e for it . Wher e, I ask, is t he pr oof of t he Church's hat red of t he Bible, of any at t em pt t o hide it , t o dest roy it , t o dishonour and belit t le it ? I cannot do bet t er t han give you her e t w o or t hree sent ences from t he work of t he learned and honest Prot est ant st udent , som e of whose w ords I have quot ed befor e: 'I m ust add t hat I have not found anyt hing about t he art s and engines of host ilit y, t he blind hat red of half- barbarian kings, t he fanat ical fury of t heir subj ect s, or t he reckless ant ipat hy of t he Popes ( in regard t o t he Bible) . I do not r ecollect any
inst ance in which it is recorded t hat t he Script ures, or any part of t hem , were t r eat ed wit h indignit y, or wit h less t han pr ofound r espect . I know of no case in which t hey wer e int ent ionally defaced or dest royed ( ex cept as I have j ust st at ed for t heir rich cov ers) , t hough I have m et wit h, and hope t o produce several inst ances, in som e of which t hey were t he only, and in ot her s alm ost t he only, books which wer e preserv ed t hr ough t he r ev olut ions of t he m onast eries t o which t hey belonged, and all t he rav age of fire, pillage, car elessness, or what ev er else had sw ept aw ay all t he ot her s. I know of not hing which should lead m e t o suppose t hat any hum an craft or power was ex er cised t o prev ent t he r eading, t he m ult iplicat ion, t he diffusion of t he Word of God.’ We m ay fit t ingly conclude t his part of our paper s wit h t he w ords of t he Quart erly Review, Oct ober, 1879: ’The not ion t hat people in t he Middle Ages did not read t heir Bibles is probably exploded except am ong t he m or e ignorant of cont r ov er sialist s. The not ion is not sim ply a m ist ake; it is one of t he m ost ludicrous and grot esque blunders.’
CH APTER X. W he r e t h e n a r e a ll t he M e die v a l Bible s?
BUT let us r et urn for a m om ent t o t he popular obj ect ion ( hint ed at above) ; ’St ill t he Bible was in Lat in; you cannot deny t hat . The Church kept it in Lat in so as t he people should not read it . She was afraid of put t ing it int o t he com m on language of t he people.’ Ther e is som e t rut h in t hese st at em ent s; but t her e is m or e unt rut h. That t he Script ures w ere for t he m ost part in Lat in is t rue; t hat it was because of t he Chur ch’s dread of her people get t ing t o know t he Bible and so abandoning t heir Cat holic fait h is, of cour se, false. ( I ) Bible in Lat in. Adm it t ing for t he m om ent t hat t he Bible was in Lat in during t he Middle Ages, what follows? That nobody but priest s could read it ? Nonsense. Ther e wer e j ust t w o classes of people t hen: t hose who could read, and t hose who could not read. Now, t hose who did read could read Lat in, and, t her efore, w er e perfect ly cont ent wit h t he Script ures in Lat in. Those who could not r ead Lat in could not read at all. I ask, t her efor e, what eart hly need was t here of a t r anslat ion of t he Bible from Lat in int o t he language of t he com m on m ult it ude? What good w ould it have done? At t his point we m ay expect t o hear our friend indignant ly giving vent t o som e such obj ect ion as t his: ’The people, t hen, w er e hor ribly illit erat e; t hey could not writ e t heir own nam es; t hey could not r ead; t hey wer e half barbarian and savage; t hey w er e really fearfully ignorant , you know, and degraded. Just com par e t hem for one m om ent wit h our present - day School Board children in t he m at t er of reading and writ ing and general int elligence.’ Soft ly now, I answ er; one t hing at a t im e. We are not discussing t hat at present , and do not m ean t o discuss it , because it is beside t he quest ion. The Chur ch was not t o blam e for t he people’s ignorance of let t ers; but let t hat pass, or even grant , if you like for t he sak e of argum ent , t hat t he Chur ch was blam ewort hy; t he point I am insist ing on is only t his—grant ed a m an cannot r ead, what on eart h is t he use of put t ing a Bible in his hand in any language under Heav en, whet her Gr eek or Hebr ew , or Lat in, or English, or Arabic? That m an, if he is t aught t he Bible at all, m ust be t aught it in ot her ways and by ot her m eans, as we have seen he was in t he 'Dark Ages'. So t hat we ar rive at t his point , t hat eit her t he Lat in Bible was r ead, or no Bible
at all. The learned Pr ot est ant aut hor, Dr. Cut t s, in his book, Turning Point s of English Church Hist ory, r efer s t o t his fact when he says: ’Anot her com m on err or is t hat t he clergy w er e unwilling t hat t he lait y should read t he Bible for t hem selves, and car efully kept it in an unknown t ongue t hat t he people m ight not be able t o r ead it . The t rut h is t hat m ost people who could read at all could read Lat in, and would cert ainly prefer t o read t he aut horised Vulgat e t o any vernacular v er sion’—i.e. preferr ed t he Lat in Bible t o an English one. Dr Pet er Bayne also deals wit h t his point when he r em ar ked in t he Lit erary World ( 1894, Oct .) , quot ed by 'M.C.L.' in her booklet , 'Lat in was t hen t he language of all m en of cult ure, and t o an ex t ent probably far beyond what we at pr esent r ealise, t he com m on language of Eur ope; in t hose days t ens of t housands of lads, m any of t hem poor , st udied at t he Univer sit ies, and learned t o t alk Lat in.' I m ay add t hat I cam e acr oss t he st at em ent lat ely in t he life of St Pet er Mart yr, who flourished in t he 13t h cent ury, t hat he gave som e r et r eat or addr esses t o nuns in t hat age in Lat in, and was under st ood by t hem . The whole m ist ake in peoples' m inds arises, of course, fr om t he supposit ion t hey m ake t hat Lat in was t hen a dead language, whereas it was r eally a living one in every sense of t he t erm , being read and spok en and w rit t en universally in Europe, and consequent ly being underst ood by ev er yone who could read at all. What m ot ive or purpose, t hen, could t he Church hav e had in t ranslat ing it int o anot her t ongue? I n any case, t his m uch none can help adm it t ing—t hat at least t he Chur ch t urned t he Scr ipt ures fr om Hebrew and Gr eek ( which wer e t he original languages) int o Lat in, which was t he living language of t he w orld, for t he benefit of her children. She m ight st ill have k ept t he Bible a dark , unknown, m yst erious docum ent by leaving it in Hebrew and Greek . She did t he very opposit e. Does t his seem as if she was anxious t o k eep her people in ignorance? ( 2) How ev er, w e ar e not done wit h obj ect ions y et . 'How is it ,' ask our Prot est ant friends, 't hat if, as y ou say, t he Sacr ed Script ures were m ult iplied and repr oduced and copied over and ov er again hundreds and t housands of t im es, even in Lat in, how is it t hat we have so few of t hese copies now? Wher e hav e t hey gone? Surely w e should expect t o hav e m any of t hem preserv ed.' The quest ion, I am afraid, bet rays an ignorance ( not alt oget her inexcusable) of t he condit ion of societ y and civilisat ion and of int ernat ional relat ions in t hese dist ant cent uries. There w er e m any causes at wor k which per fect ly account for t he disappear ance of t he m aj orit y of t he old copies of t he Bible. ( a) To begin wit h, t here was fr equent , if not cont inual, war going on, during which books and m anuscript s wer e rut hlessly dest r oy ed. We need only m ent ion such inst ances as t he invasions of t he Danes and Norm ans, and of t he Saracens and Nort hern Barbarians int o I t aly, burning m onast eries and churches, sacking and laying wast e ecclesiast ical buildings. During t hese oft - repeat ed incursions and t he hor rible pillage t hat gener ally accom panied war far e, m any m ost valuable libraries and t housands of MSS. and copies of t he Script ures of rar e, indeed of priceless w ort h, m ust have perished. ( b) Then t here is t he com m on occurr ence of fire which account s for t he loss of m uch valuable lit erat ure—by which copies of Script ure w er e burned, eit her by accident or by design, eit her singly or in t he general conflagrat ion t hat consum ed t he whole m onast ery or library as w ell. ( c) Anot her very com m on cause of loss was negligence, t hr ough which, bot h in t he Middle Ages and since, m any invaluable book s and paper s hav e gone t o dest ruct ion. Som et im es a book was borr ow ed from t he conv ent ual library and nev er r et urned. This becam e so great an evil t hat propriet ors of books adopt ed t he plan of inscribing an excom m unicat ion or a curse against t hose who should keep or st eal what had been m er ely lent —m uch in t he st yle of t he anat hem as pr onounced in t he Decrees of t he Church's Councils.
For exam ple, we find one case like t his: ’This book belongs t o St Mar y of Robert ’s Bridge; whosoever shall st eal it or sell it , or alienat e it from t his house, or m ut ilat e it , let him be anat hem a m aranat ha, Am en.’ The librarian was not oft en as careful as he should have been ov er his t reasures; so his book s and MSS. w er e som et im es allowed t o go am issing, or t o be t ak en away, or t o perish t hrough dam p, or corrupt ion, or r at s or m ice, or wat er , or by being st olen, or ev en by being sold by t hose who had no right t o sell, and t o t hose who had no right t o buy. Last ly, we know t hat gr eat quant it ies of m ost im port ant parchm ent s and m anuscript s have been used by bookbinders for such ignoble purposes as t o form back s and bands and fly- leaves and cov er s of ot her book s. ( d) But ov er and abov e t hese sim ple and nat ural causes, t her e w as anot her which we m ust not forget , and which was perhaps m or e far- r eaching and powerful t han t he r est —I m ean t he deliberat e dest ruct ion of t he books and m anuscript s so as t o get t he gold and silver and precious st ones in which t hey were set and bound. I hav e spok en befor e of t he cost liness of t he cases and ornam ent s t hat sur rounded t he copies of t he Script ures. Som et im es t w ent y pounds of pur e gold wer e used in t heir binding, not t o speak of t he j ew els t hat adorned t heir cov er s. Now, t hat rapacious and unscrupulous m en, whet her Cat holic or Pr ot est ant , should in t heir lust for m oney seize upon t hese t r easures, which wer e in t he keeping of harm less and defenceless m onks and priest s, w e can well underst and; and t hat t hey did so is unfort unat ely only t oo t rue. Thousands of m onast eries and libraries w er e rifled, an incalculable am ount of ancient and precious book s and parchm ent s burned or ot herwise dest roy ed, and t heir gold and silver set t ings t urned int o hard cash. For t he Word of God t hey car ed not hing; what t hey want ed was m oney. And if t his wer e t rue, as it is t o a lim it ed ext ent , of Cat holic days, what shall we say of t he robberies and plunders com m it t ed by sect aries in England, in t heir first fury, at t he Reform at ion? We can scar cely conceive t he ext ent t o which t he Reform ers went in t heir rage and hat red against ev eryt hing t hat had t he least sem blance of Rom e about it , especially if it seem ed likely t o afford t hem som e 'filt hy lucre'. The Prot est ant hist orian, Collier, t ells how Henry VI I I , det erm ined t o 'purge his library' of all Popish and super st it ious books, and consequent ly gav e order s for t he dest ruct ion of such t hings as 'm issals, legends, and suchlike'; but not ice t he next point of com m and—'t o deliver t he garnit ure of t he book s, being eit her silver or gold, t o his officers'. That was t he r eal m ot ive; avarice, cupidit y, greed of gold. The book s t hus plundered and st ripped of t heir precious st ones w er e largely Bibles and copies of t he Gospels. Fuller says: 'The Holy Script ures t hem selves, m uch as t he Gospellers pr et ended t o r egard t hem , underw ent t he fat e of t he r est . I f a book had a cross on it , it was condem ned for Poper y, and t hose wit h lines and figures wer e int erpr et ed t he black art , and dest r oy ed for conj uring.' 'Whole libraries,' exclaim s anot her, 'w er e dest royed or m ade wast e paper of, or consum ed for t he vilest uses ... br ok en windows w er e pat ched wit h rem nant s of t he m ost valuable MSS. on vellum , and t he bakers consum ed vast quant it ies in heat ing t heir ov ens.' Collier, who is quot ed above ( he was an Anglican Bishop) , writ es: 'One am ong t he m isfort unes consequent upon t he suppression of m onast eries was an ignorant dest ruct ion of a gr eat m any books. The book s, inst ead of being rem oved t o royal libraries, t o t hose of Cat hedrals, or t he universit ies, wer e frequent ly t hrown int o grant ees as t hings of sm all considerat ion. Now , t hese m en oft ent im es prov ed a v ery ill prot ect ion for learning and for ant iquit y; t heir avarice was oft ent im es so m ean and t heir ignorance so undist inguishing t hat , when t he cov er s w er e som ewhat rich and would yield a lit t le, t hey pulled t hem off, and t hrew away t he books or t urned t hem t o wast e- paper; and t hus m any noble libraries wer e dest royed, t o a gr eat public scandal and an irreparable loss t o learning.' That Henry VI I I caused t he m onast eries
and conv ent s t o be dissolved, and t heir book s and t reasures plundered and pillaged wholesale, in order t o r eplenish his coffer s t hat were sor ely deplet ed, is m at t er of hist ory, t hough t he ost ensible reason was, of course, zeal for t he t rue r eligion and t he purifying of t he m or als of people and priest s. How far a sixt eent h cent ury Nero like Henry VI I I was fit t ed t o undert ake such a w ork is a m at t er of opinion. But cert ain it is t hat , in t he diabolical fury which t he aut horit ies of t hat day waged against all Cat holic inst it ut ions and m onum ent s, loads of priceless copies of t he Sacr ed Script ures perished as ut t erly as t hough t hey had been dest royed by t he Pagan per secut ors of t he first four cent uries aft er Christ . List en ( if you are not t ired of hearing of such at r ocit ies) t o t he account given by Dom Bede Cam m , O.S.B., in his charm ing Life of Car dinal Allen, of t he out rageous vandalism and hideous barbarit ies perpet rat ed at Oxford in t hose fearful days. Aft er t elling how t he Chapel of All Souls was w reck ed, it s im ages and alt ars defaced and desecrat ed, t he organs burnt in t he quadrangle, and even t he sacr ed pyx in which t he body of t he Lord had lain so long cut down and broken int o pieces, he goes on, ( page 11) : —'Terrible, t oo, t o all who loved learning was t he want on dest r uct ion of priceless m anuscript s. Cart loads of book s w ere car ried off t o t he fire or sold t o m er chant s t o w rap t heir wares in. Anyt hing which t hese m iserable m en did not underst and was condem ned as savouring of superst it ion. All MSS. t hat were guilt y of t he super st it ion of displaying red let t ers on t heir fr ont s or t iles wer e doom ed. Ribald young m en car ried great spoils of book s on biers up and down t he cit y, singing as at a m ock funeral, and t heir priceless burdens w ere finally burned in t he com m on m ark et - place. The st or y of it all as t old by cont em poraries, is all but incredible. The Universit y library was st ripped so bar e t hat ev en t he very shelves w er e sold for firewood, and t he quadrangles of New College wer e for days lit t ered wit h t orn m anuscript s.' I do not t hink I need say m ore on t he point . I t m ust be t olerably clear now wher e w e should look for an answ er t o t he quest ion, 'Wher e are all t he old copies of t he Bible t hat Cat holics say t he m onks so lovingly and laboriously m ade in t he Middle Ages?' The answer m ust be plainly found in t he insensat e greed and fanat ical dest r uct iveness on t he part of t he sixt eent h cent ury Revolut ionaries. Which side show ed t he m or e venerat ion and r egard for God's writ t en Word m ay be safely left t o t he j udgm ent of all reflect ing m inds.
CH APTER XI . Abu nda nce of Ve r n a cula r Scr ipt u r e s be for e W ycliff
I HAVE said t hat people who could read at all in t he Middle Ages could read Lat in: hence t her e was lit t le need for t he Church t o issue t he Script ures in any ot her language. But as a m at t er of fact she did in m any count ries put t he Scr ipt ures in t he hands of her children in t heir own t ongue. ( I ) We know fr om hist ory t hat t her e w er e popular t ranslat ions of t he Bible and Gospels in Spanish, I t alian, Danish, Fr ench, Nor wegian, Polish, Bohem ian and Hungarian for t he Cat holics of t hose lands befor e t he days of print ing, but we shall confine our selves t o England, so as t o r efut e once m or e t he com m on fallacy t hat John Wy cliff was t he first t o place an English t ranslat ion of t he Script ures in t he hands of t he English people in 1382. To any one t hat has invest igat ed t he r eal fact s of t he case, t his fondly- cherished not ion m ust seem t ruly ridiculous; it is not only absolut ely false, but st upidly so, inasm uch as it adm it s of such easy disproof; one w onders t hat nowadays any
lect urer or w rit er should have t he t em erit y t o advance it . Now, observ e I am speaking of t he day s befor e t he print ingpr ess w as invent ed; I am speak ing of England; and concerning a Church which did not , and does not , adm it t he necessit y of Bible- reading for salvat ion; and concerning an age when t he product ion of t he Script ures w as a m ost cost ly business, and far beyond t he m eans of nearly ev erybody . Yet w e m ay safely assert , and we can prov e, t hat t her e w er e act ually in exist ence am ong t he people m any copies of t he Script ures in t he English t ongue of t hat day. To begin far back, we have a copy of t he work of Caedm on, a m onk of Whit by, in t he end of t he sev ent h cent ury, consist ing of great port ions of t he Bible in t he com m on t ongue. I n t he next cent ur y w e hav e t he well- known t ranslat ions of Venerable Bede, a m onk of Jar row, who died w hilst busy wit h t he Gospel of St . John. I n t he sam e ( eight h) cent ury we have t he copies of Eadhelm , Bishop of Sherborne; of Gut hlac, a herm it near Pet erbor ough; and of Egbert , Bishop of Holy I sland; t hese wer e all in Saxon, t he language underst ood and spoken by t he Christ ians of t hat t im e. Com ing down a lit t le lat er, w e have t he fr ee t ranslat ions of King Alfred t he Gr eat who was w orking at t he Psalm s when he died, and of Aelfric, Archbishop of Cant erbur y; as well as popular renderings of Holy Script ure like t he Book of Durham , and t he Rushwort h Gloss and ot her s t hat have survived t he w r eck of ages. Aft er t he Nor m an conquest in 1066, Anglo- Norm an or Middle- English becam e t he language of England, and consequent ly t he next t ranslat ions of t he Bible we m eet wit h are in t hat t ongue. Ther e ar e sev er al specim ens st ill known, such as t he paraphrase of Orm ( about 1150) and t he Salus Anim ae ( 1050) , t he t ranslat ions of William Shor eham and Richard Rolle, herm it of Ham pole ( died 1349) . I say advisedly ’specim ens’ for t hose t hat have com e down t o us are m erely indicat ions of a m uch gr eat er num ber t hat once exist ed, but aft er wards perished. We have proof of t his in t he words of Blessed Thom as Mor e, Lord Chancellor of England under Henr y VI I I who says: ’The whole Bible long before Wycliff’s day was by virt uous and w ell- learned m en t ranslat ed int o t he English t ongue, and by good and godly people wit h devot ion and soberness w ell and rev erent ly read’ ( Dialogues I I I ) . Again, ’The clergy k eep no Bibles from t he lait y but such t ranslat ions as be eit her not yet appr ov ed for good, or such as be already r epr ov ed for naught ( i.e., bad, naught y) as Wy cliff’s was. For , as for old ones t hat w ere before Wy cliff’s day s, t hey r em ain lawful and be in som e folks’ hand. I m yself have seen, and can show y ou, Bibles, fair and old which have been known and seen by t he Bishop of t he Diocese, and left in laym en’s hands and wom en’s t oo, such as he knew for good and Cat holic folk, t hat used t hem wit h soberness and devot ion.’ ( 2) But y ou will say, t hat is t he wit ness of a Rom an Cat holic. Well, I shall advance Pr ot est ant t est im ony also. The t ranslat ors of t he Aut horised Version, in t heir ’Preface’, r efer ring t o pr evious t ranslat ions of t he Script ures int o t he language of t he people, m ak e t he following im port ant st at em ent s. Aft er speaking of t he Gr eek and Lat in Ver sions, t hey pr oceed: ’The godly- learned wer e not cont ent t o have t he Script ures in t he language which t hem selves underst ood, Gr eek and Lat in ... but also for t he behoof and edifying of t he unlearned which hunger ed and t hirst ed aft er right eousness, and had souls t o be saved as well as t hey, t hey pr ovided t r anslat ions int o t he Vulgar for t heir count rym en, insom uch t hat m ost nat ions under Heaven did short ly aft er t heir conv er sion hear Christ speaking unt o t hem in t heir Mot her t ongue, not by t he v oice of t heir m inist er only but also by t he writ t en word t ranslat ed.’ Now, as all t hese nat ions w er e cert ainly convert ed by t he Rom an Cat holic Church, for t here was t hen no ot her t o send m issionaries t o conv ert anybody, t his is r eally a
valuable adm ission. The Translat or s of 1611, t hen, aft er enum erat ing m any conv ert ed nat ions t hat had t he Vernacular Script ures, com e t o t he case of England, and include it am ong t he ot her s. ’Much about t hat t im e,’ t hey say ( 1360) , ev en in our King Richard t he Second’s days, John Tr evisa t ranslat ed t hem int o English, and m any English Bibles in writ t en hand are yet t o be seen t hat divers t ranslat ed, as it is very probable, in t hat age . ... So t hat , t o have t he Script ures in t he m ot her t ongue is not a quaint conceit lat ely t aken up, eit her by t he Lord Crom well in England [ or ot her s] ... but hat h been t hought upon, and put in pract ice of old, ev en fr om t he first t im es of t he conv er sion of any nat ion.’ This t est im ony, fr om t he Preface, ( t oo lit t le known) of t heir own Aut hor ised Bible, ought surely t o carr y som e w eight wit h well disposed Prot est ant s. Mor eov er, t he ’Reform ed’ Ar chbishop of Cant er bury, Cranm er, say s, in his preface t o t he Bible of 1540: ’The Holy Bible was t ranslat ed and read in t he Saxon t ongue, which at t hat t im e was our m ot her t ongue, whereof t her e rem ainet h y et divers copies found in old Abbeys, of such ant ique m anner of w rit ing and speaking t hat few m en now be able t o read and underst and t hem . And when t his language waxed old and out of com m on use, because folks should not lack t he fruit of reading, it was again t ranslat ed int o t he newer language, wher eof y et also m any copies r em ain and be daily found.’ Again, Fox e, a m an t hat Pr ot est ant s t rust , say s: ’I f hist ories be w ell exam ined, w e shall find, bot h before t he Conquest and aft er, as well befor e John Wycliff was born as since, t he whole body of Script ure by sundr y m en t ranslat ed int o our count ry t ongue.’ ’But as of t he earlier period, so of t his, t her e ar e none but fragm ent ary r em ains, t he " m any copies" which r em ained when Cr anm er wr ot e in 1540 having doubt less disappeared in t he vast and rut hless dest ruct ion of libraries which t ook place wit hin a few y ear s aft er t hat dat e.’ These last words are fr om t he pen of Rev. J. H. Blunt , a Pr ot est ant aut hor, in his Hist ory of t he English Bible; and anot her Anglican dignit ary, Dean Hook, t ells us t hat ’long before Wy cliff’s t im e t her e had been t ranslat ors of Holy Writ .’ One m or e aut horit y on t he Pr ot est ant side, and I have done: it is Mr. Karl Pearson ( Academ y, August , 1885) , who says: ’The Cat holic Church has quit e enough t o answ er for, but in t he 15t h cent ury it cert ainly did not hold back t he Bible from t he folk: and it gave t hem in t he vernacular ( i.e. t heir own t ongue) a long series of dev ot ional works which for language and r eligious sent im ent have never been surpassed. I ndeed, w e ar e inclined t o t hink it m ade a m ist ake in allowing t he m asses such ready access t o t he Bible. I t ought t o hav e recognised t he Bible once for all as a w ork absolut ely unint elligible wit hout a long cour se of hist orical st udy, and, so far as it was supposed t o be inspired, v ery danger ous in t he hands of t he ignorant .’ We do not know what Mr. Pearson’s r eligious st andpoint m ay have been, but he goes t oo far in blam ing t he Church for t hr owing t he Bible open t o t he people in t he 15t h cent ury, or indeed in any previous age. No evil result s what soever followed t he r eading of t hat precious v olum e in any cent ury preceding t he 16t h, because t he people had t he Cat holic Church t o lead t hem and guide t hem and t each t hem t he m eaning of it . I t was only when t he principle of ’Pr ivat e j udgm ent ’ was proclaim ed t hat t he Book becam e ’danger ous’ and ’unint elligible’, as it is st ill t o t he m ult it udes who will not receive t he t rue int erpret at ion of it at t he hands of t he Cat holic Church, and who ar e about as com pet ent t o underst and and explain it by t hem selves as t hey are t o explain or prophesy t he m ov em ent s of t he heav enly bodies. ( 3) Ther e is no need, it seem s t o m e, t o w ast e furt her t im e and space in accum ulat ing proofs t hat t he Bible was known, r ead and dist ribut ed by t he Cat holic
Church in t he com m on language of t he people in all count ries fr om t he 7t h down t o t he 14t h cent ur y. I hav e paid m or e at t ent ion t o t he case of England because of t he popularit y of t he m yt h about Wy cliff having been t he first t o t ranslat e it , and t o enable t he poor blinded Papist s, for t he first t im e in t heir experience, t o behold t he Figure of t he Christ of t he Gospels in 1382. Such a grot esque not ion can only be due eit her t o ignorance or concealm ent of t he now well- known fact s of hist ory . One would fain hope t hat , in t his age of enlight enm ent and st udy, no one valuing his scholarship will so far im peril it as t o at t em pt t o r evive t he silly fable. But supposing it were as t rue as it is false, t hat John Wy cliff w as t he first t o publish t he Bible in English, how in t he nam e of reason can it be t rue at t he sam e t im e t hat Lut her, m ore t han 100 years aft erwar ds, discov ered it ? Really, people m ust decide w hich st ory t hey ar e going t o t ell, for t he one is t he direct cont radict ory of t he ot her. Wycliff or Lut her, let it be; but Wycliff and Lut her t oget her —t hat is im possible. ( 4) Now, it m ay seem som ewhat irr elevant t o our pr esent subj ect , which is sim ply 'where we got t he Bible', t o wander off t o for eign lands and see how m at t ers st ood t here at t he dat e at which we have now ar rived; but I should not like t o pass from t his part of t he enquiry wit hout set t ing down a few fact s which are generally unknown t o our separat ed br et hr en, as t o t he exist ence of plent y of Bibles in t hose very count ries which t hey t hink wer e, and of course st ill are, plunged in t he dept hs of super st it ion, illit eracy and degradat ion. They flat t er t hem selves wit h t he idea t hat it was t he knowledge of t he Script ures which pr oduced t he blessed Reform at ion t he world ov er; and will t ell you t hat it was all because t he Holy Book was scaled and locked and hidden away fr om t he benight ed Papist s in Cont inent al count ries t hat t he glorious light of t he Reform at ion nev er br ok e, and has not y et brok en, upon t hem . Ther e ar e, however, unfort unat ely for t hem , fact s at hand, fact s unquest ioned, which explode t his pious not ion. The fact s ar e t hese: —( i) As was shown long ago in t he Dublin Review ( Oct ober, 1837) , 'it was alm ost solely in t hose count ries which have rem ained const ant t o t he Cat holic Fait h t hat popular versions of t he Bible had been published; while it was precisely in t hose kingdom s, England, Scot land, Sweden, Denm ar k and Nor way, wher e Pr ot est ant ism acquired an early and has m aint ained a perm anent ascendancy , t hat no print ed Bible ex ist ed when t hey em braced Prot est ant ism . Holland alone and a few cit ies in Germ any wer e in possession of t he Bible when t hey adopt ed t he Reform ed Cr eed.' I s it really t he case t hen, y ou ask wit h open ey es, t hat t hese Lat in count ries allowed t he Bible t o be r ead and t ranslat ed and print ed befor e Lut her? List en and j udge for your self what rubbish is cram m ed int o people's heads. ( ii) Lut her's first Bible ( or what pret ended t o be t he Bible, for he had am put at ed som e of it s m em bers) cam e out in 1520. Now, will you believe it , t her e w ere ex act ly 104 edit ions of t he Bible in Lat in befor e t hat dat e; t here w er e 9 befor e t he birt h of Lut her in t he Germ an language, and t her e w ere 27 in Germ an befor e ever his own saw t he light of day. Many of t hese wer e t o be seen at t he Caxt on Exhibit ion in London, 1877: and seeing is believing. I n I t aly t here w ere m or e t han 40 edit ions of t he Bible befor e t he first Pr ot est ant v er sion appear ed, beginning at Venice in 1471; and 25 of t hese w er e in t he I t alian language befor e 1500, wit h t he expr ess perm ission of Rom e. I n France t her e were 18 edit ions before 1547, t he first appearing in 1478. Spain began t o publish edit ions in t he sam e year, and issued Bibles wit h t he full approval of t he Spanish I nquisit ion ( of course one can hardly expect Prot est ant s t o believe t his) . I n Hungary by t he y ear 1456, in Bohem ia by t he y ear 1478, in Flanders before 1500, and in ot her lands groaning under t he yok e of Rom e, w e know t hat edit ions of t he Sacred Script ures had been given t o t he people. 'I n all ( t o quot e from " M.C.L's" useful pam phlet on t he subj ect ) 626 edit ions of t he Bible, in which 198 were in t he language of t he lait y, had issued from t he press, wit h t he sanct ion and at t he inst ance of t he Church, in t he count ries wher e
she reigned supr em e, befor e t he first Prot est ant version of t he Script ures was sent fort h int o t he w orld.’ England was perhaps worse off t han any count ry at t he t im e of t he Reform at ion in t he m at t er of vernacular v ersions of t he Bible: m any Cat holic kingdom s abroad had far surpassed her in m aking known t he Sacr ed Word. Yet t hese lands rem ained Cat holic; England t urned Pr ot est ant ; what , t hen, becom es of t he pat het ic delusion of ’Ev angelical’ Christ ians t hat an acquaint ance wit h t he open Bible in our own t ongue m ust necessarily prov e fat al t o Cat holicism ? The sim ple t rut h of cour se is j ust t his, t hat if knowledge of t he Script ures should of it self m ake people Prot est ant s, t hen t he I t alian and French and Spanish and Hungarian and Belgian and Port uguese nat ions should all have em braced Prot est ant ism , which up t o t he m om ent of writ ing t hey have declined t o do. I am afraid t her e is som et hing wrong wit h t he t heory, for it is in woeful cont radict ion t o plain fact s, which m ay be learned by all who car e t o t ak e t he t r ouble t o r ead and st udy for t hem selves. ( 5) Now, before passing on t o anot her part of t he subj ect , I should like you t o pause for a m om ent wit h t he brief hist orical review fr esh in your m em or y; and I would sim ply ask t his: How can anyone living in t he light of m odern educat ion and hist ory cling any longer t o t he fant ast ic idea t hat Rom e hat es t he Bible—t hat she has done her w orst t o dest r oy it —t hat she conceals it from her people lest it should enlight en t heir blindness, and t hat t he Holy Book, aft er lying for m any long dark ages in t he dungeons and lum ber r oom s of Popery , was at last exhum ed and dragged int o t he light of day by t he gr eat and glorious discover er , Mart in Lut her ? O foolish Scot chm en, who hat h bewit ched you? Do y ou not see t hat Rom e could have easily dest r oy ed it if she had been so disposed during all t hose cent uries t hat elapsed bet ween it s form at ion int o one v olum e in 397 A.D., and t he sixt eent h cent ury? I t was absolut ely, exclusively in her pow er t o do w it h it as she pleased, for Rom e reigned supr em e. What m or e sim ple t han t o order her priest s and m onk s and I nquisit ors t o search out ev er y copy and r educe it t o ashes? But did she do t his? We have seen t hat she pr eser ved it and m ult iplied it . She sav ed it from ut t er dest ruct ion at t he hands of infidels and barbarians and pagan t ribes t hat burned ev er yt hing Christ ian t hey could com e acr oss; she saved it and guarded it fr om t ot al ext inct ion by her care and loving wat chfulness; she, and she alone. Ther e was no one else t o do it ; she only was sent by God t o defend His Blessed Word. I t m ight have perished, and would have perished, wer e it not t hat she em ployed her clergy t o r epr oduce it and adorn it and m ult iply it , and t o furnish chur ches and m onast eries w it h copies of it , which all m ight read and learn and com m it t o m em ory, and m edit at e upon. Nay , she not only m ult iplied it in it s original languages ( Greek and Hebr ew) , which would have been int elligible and useful only t o t he lear ned few, but she put it int o t he hands of all her people who could read, by t ranslat ing it int o Lat in, t he universal t ongue; and even for t hose less scholarly she r ender ed it int o t he com m on languages spok en in different count ries. Truly she t ook a curious way of showing her hat red of God's Holy Word and of dest r oying it . Many senseless charges ar e laid at t he door of t he Cat holic Church; but sur ely t he accusat ion t hat , during t he cent uries pr eceding t he sixt eent h, she was t he enem y of t he Bible and of Bible reading m ust , t o any one who does not wilfully shut his ey es t o fact s, appear of all accusat ions t he m ost ludicrous; and t o t ell t he t rut h, it is ridiculed and laughed out of court by all serious and im part ial st udent s of t he quest ion. Wit h far m or e j ust ice, it hum bly seem s t o m e, m ay t he charge of degrading and profaning t he Sacred Script ures be br ought against t hose highly- financed Bible Societ ies w hich, wit h a recklessness t hat passes com prehension, scat t er am ong sav ages and pagans ut t erly uninst ruct ed, t ons of Test am ent s, only t o be used for m aking ball cart ridges or wadding, for wrapping up snuff, bacon, t obacco, fr uit and ot her goods; for papering t he walls of houses; for conv ert ing int o t apest ry or pr et t y kit es for children; and for ot her and fouler uses
which it m akes one asham ed t o t hink of. True, t he versions t hus degr aded ar e false and her et ical, which m ay m it igat e t he hor r or in t he ey es of Cat holics; but t hose who t hus expose t hem t o dishonour believe t hem t o be t he r eal Words of Life. On t heir heads, t hen, falls t he guilt of ’giving t hat which is holy t o t he dogs’.
CH APTER XI I . W hy W yclif f w a s Con de m n e d
BUT here w e ar e likely t o be m et wit h an obj ect ion by t hose who have not a v ery profound or accurat e knowledge of t he hist ory of t his quest ion. ’Why, t hen,’ t hey will say, ’why, if t he Cat holic Church approved of t he Bible being read in t he t ongue of t he people, why did she condem n Wy cliff, one of her own priest s, for t r anslat ing it int o English, and forbid her people t o r ead his v er sion of t he sacr ed Script ures?’ I answer, because John Wycliff ’s v er sion of t he Bible was not a cor rect version, and because he was using it as a m eans of cor rupt ing t he people’s fait h and of t eaching t hem false doct rine; and it seem s t o m e at least t hat t hat was a perfect ly good reason for condem ning it . For , please observ e, t hat whilst t he Church approv es of t he people r eading t he Script ures in t heir own language, she also claim s t he right t o see t hat t hey r eally have a t rue version of t he Script ures t o read, and not a m ut ilat ed or false or im perfect or her et ical version. She claim s t hat she alone has t he right t o m ake t ranslat ions fr om t he original languages ( Hebrew or Gr eek) in which t he Bible was w rit t en; t he right t o superint end and super vise t he work of t ranslat ing; t he right of appoint ing cert ain priest s or scholars t o undert ak e t he w ork ; t he right of approving or condem ning versions and t ranslat ions which ar e subm it t ed t o her for her j udgm ent . She declares she will not t olerat e t hat her children should be exposed t o t he danger of r eading copies of Script ure which have changed or falsified som et hing of t he original Apost olic writ ing; which have added som et hing or left out som et hing; which have not es and explanat ions and prefaces and prologues t hat conv ey false doct rine or false m orals. Her people m ust hav e t he cor r ect Bible, or no Bible at all. Rom e claim s t hat t he Bible is her book; t hat she has pr eser ved it and perpet uat ed it , and t hat she alone knows what it m eans; t hat nobody else has any right t o it what soever, or any aut horit y t o declare what t he t rue m eaning of it is. She t herefore has declared t hat t he w ork of t ranslat ing it from t he original languages, and of explaining it , and of print ing it and publishing it , belongs st rict ly t o her alone; and t hat , if she cannot nowadays prev ent t hose out side her fold from t am pering wit h it and m isusing it , at least she will t ake care t hat none of her own children abuse it or t ake libert ies wit h it ; and hence she forbids any privat e person t o at t em pt t o t ranslat e it int o t he com m on language wit hout aut horit y from ecclesiast ical superiors, and also forbids t he fait hful t o read any edit ions but such as are appr oved by t he Bishops. All t his t he Cat holic Church does out of r ever ence for God’s Holy Word. She desires t hat t he pur e, uncor rupt ed Gospel should be put in her people’s hands as it cam e fr om t he pen of t he Apost les and Evangelist s. She dr eads lest t he fait hful should draw down upon t hem selves a cur se by believing for Gospel t he addit ions and changes int roduced by foolish and sinful m en t o support som e pet t heor ies of t heir own; j ust as a m ot her would fear lest her children should, along wit h wat er or m ilk, drink down som e poison t hat was m ixed up wit h it . Ther e ar e t hen, let it be clearly underst ood, v er sions and versions of Holy Script ures: som e t hat are corr ect and
guarant eed by t he Chur ch; ot hers t hat sim ply brist le wit h m ist akes and falsit ies. The for m er are perm it t ed t o Cat holics t o r ead and st udy; t he lat t er, it need hardly be said, are ut t erly forbidden. Now, t o t he lat t er class belonged t he version of John Wycliff, first put int o people’s hands in 1382. A very slight knowledge of t he m an him self and of his opinions and of his career m ight persuade any r easonable person t hat a version m ade by him was t he very last t hat would be allowed t o Cat holics. ( 2) What ar e t he sim ple fact s about t he m an? He was born in 1320, becam e a priest and t heologian and lect urer at Oxford; and at first caused not oriet y by t aking part wit h t he St at e against t he claim s of t he Pope in r egard t o t ribut e m oney and benefices. But in cour se of a few years he w ent furt her and began t o oppose t he Church not only in m at t er s of policy or governm ent ( a cour se which m ight conceivably at t im es be par donable) , but in t he t hings of fait h. Being accused of preaching novel and uncom m on doct rines, he was, at t he inst ance of Pope Gr egory XI , sum m oned befor e his Ar chbishop in 1378, and inhibit ed from t eaching any furt her on t he m at t ers in disput e. No m or e proceedings wer e t ak en against him ( t hough he did not desist fr om his ant i- Papal t eaching) t ill 1381 when again he was m aking him self not orious. He at t ack ed t he friars and Religious Orders wit h great bit t erness; im pugned t r ansubst ant iat ion, and seem ed t o adv ocat e t he t heor y t hat was aft er wards peculiarly Lut her’s, ridiculed I ndulgences and flooded t he count ry wit h pam phlet s and t ract s r eeking wit h heresy. He was, in short , a kind of Lollard. ’The Lollards’ ( say s t he Nat ional Cyclopedia) ’wer e a r eligious sect which rose in Germ any at t he beginning of t he fourt eent h cent ury, and differed in m any point s of doct rine from t he Chur ch of Rom e, m or e especially as regards t he Mass, Ext r em e Unct ion, and at onem ent for sin.’ That , of cour se, is a v er y bald and crude st at em ent of t heir t enet s. The ext ent of t heir ’differ ences fr om t he Church of Rom e’ will appear in a clear er light if we consider t he ’Lollards Pet it ion t o Parliam ent ’, 1395. I t cont ained am ong ot her novelt ies t he fam ous ’t welve conclusions’ against t he t em poral possessions of t he Church, t he celibacy of t he clergy , and all vows of chast it y; against exorcism s and blessings of inanim at e obj ect s; t r ansubst ant iat ion and pray ers for t he dead; pilgrim ages; com pulsor y auricular confession; venerat ion of im ages; and t he holding of secular offices by priest s. Many also obj ect ed t o t he t aking of oat hs, denied t he necessit y of Bapt ism for salvat ion, held m arriage t o be a m er e civil cont ract , and spok e of sacram ent als as ’j ugglery’. ( See Cham ber s Cy clopedia and The Cat holic Cyclopedia, under ’Lollards’.) Now, you m ay sy m pat hise wit h t hese am iable persons if you like, but you would hardly expect t he Cat holic Church of t hat cent ury ( or of any cent ur y) t o sym pat hise wit h t hem , and st ill less t o suffer t hem t o issue her Script ures expurgat ed according t o t heir ideas. But t hus did John Wycliff. ’He held views,’ ( say s t he dev out Anglican, Dor e, in his m ost int er est ing work Old Bibles) , ’he held views which, if carr ied int o pract ice, would have been t ot ally subversive of m oralit y and good order , but he never separat ed him self from t he [ Cat holic] Church of England’. Anot her Anglican says t he Lollards wer e polit ical m art yrs r at her t han religious; t hat t heir act ions t ended t o a Rev olut ion in t he st at e as w ell as in t he Church; and t hat bot h civilians and ecclesiast ics r egarded t heir principles as subversive of all order in t hings t em por al as well as t hings spirit ual. ( Dr. Hook; Liv es of Archbishops of Cant erbury.) Can w e be surpr ised, t hen, at reading t hat in 1382, in consequence of t he m onst rous heresies t hat he was now spr eading, John Wycliff was again put on t rial by t he Ecclesiast ical Court s, and t hat 22 proposit ions t aken from his works w er e condem ned? Ther eupon he ret ired t o Lut t erwort h, of which he had been Rect or for m any y ear s. He was gent ly dealt wit h, and his declining years wer e not harassed by any of t he persecut ion and t ort ure which it pleases som e t o depict
him as suffering; and he died, aft er a st roke of paralysis whilst hearing Mass, on 31st Decem ber, 1384. I n lat er year s, t w o separat e Councils, one at London, t he ot her at Const ance, select ed 45 proposit ions from t he t eaching of Wycliff, and condem ned t hem ) declaring som e t o be not oriously her et ical; ot hers er r oneous; ot hers scandalous and blasphem ous; ot her s sedit ious and rash; and t he r est offensive t o pious ear s. ( 3) Now, I ask any unpr ej udiced per son, was t his t he kind of m an t o undert ak e t he t ranslat ion of t he Bible int o t he com m on language of t he people? Was he likely t o be t rust ed by t he Church at t hat t im e t o produce a version t hor oughly Cat holic and free from all error or cor rupt ion—a m an, not oriously eccent ric, guilt y of her et ical and suspicious t eaching, at t acking t he Church in it s aut horit ies fr om t he Pope down t o t he friars, and associat ed wit h sect aries abroad who w er e at once revolut ionaries and her et ics? The quest ion answers it self. You m ay cr y out t hat Wycliff was right and Rom e was wr ong in doct rine; t hat he was a glor ious Reform er and ‘m or ning st ar of t he Reform at ion', and t hat he t aught t he pure word of t he Lord as against t he abom inable t radit ions of t he Scarlet Wom an of Babylon. But I hum bly subm it t hat t hat is not t he point . The point is t his: you ask why did t he Cat holic Church condem n Wycliff's v er sion, and at t he sam e t im e allow ot her versions of t he Bible in English? and I am showing you why. I am t elling you t hat Wycliff was her et ical in t he ey es of Rom e; t hat he pr oduced a heret ical version for t he purpose of at t acking t he Cat holic Church of t hat day, and of spr eading his her esies; and t hat t o blam e t he Church for forbidding him t o do so, and for condem ning his version, is about as sensible as t o blam e an aut hor for int erdict ing som eone else from publishing a copy of his work t hat was full of er rors and absurdit ies, and cont ained opinions and sent im ent s which he det est ed. The Cat holic Church cert ainly could nev er allow a v er sion of Holy Script ure, ( which is her own book) like t hat of Wycliff t o go fort h unchallenged, as if it were cor rect and aut horit at ive, and bor e her sanct ion and approval. As w ell m ight we expect t he Brit ish Sovereign t o sanct ion som e hideous caricat ure fr om a com ic paper as a t rue and fait hful pict ure of his cor onat ion. ( 4) We do not shrink fr om giving John Wycliff and Nicholas of Hereford an equal share of praise for t heir laborious wor k of t r anslat ing t he whole of t he Bible int o t he English t ongue, if t he w ork was r eally t heirs, ( w hich som e scholars like Gasquet , howev er, hav e doubt ed) . What w e assert is t hat it was a bad t ranslat ion, and hence useless, and w or se t han useless, for Cat holics. I t was condem ned and forbidden t o be used by a Decree of Archbishop Arundel at Oxford in 1408, which also pr ohibit ed t he t ranslat ion of any part of t he Bible int o English by any unaut horised per son, and t he r eading of any v ersion before it was form ally appr ov ed. This was a nat ural and wise and necessar y decree. I t did not forbid t he r eading of any of t he old approved ver sions of Script ure in English which exist ed in great num ber s befor e Wycliff, as w e have seen already . Nor did it forbid new versions t o be m ade or r ead, if under pr oper super vision and approv al by ecclesiast ical superiors. I t only banned false and unaut horised t ranslat ions like Wy cliff's; and Pr ot est ant w rit ers, like Dr . Hook, hav e oft en declar ed t heir belief t hat it was not fr om host ilit y t o a t ranslat ed Bible as such t hat t he Church condem ned Wy cliff; and t hat she never w ould have issued her decree, if his sole purpose had been t he edificat ion and sanct ificat ion of t he r eader s. I t was only when t he design of t he Lollards was discovered, and Wycliff's subt le plot unm asked of dissem inat ing t heir pest ilent ial err or s t hr ough his t ranslat ion, t hat t he Church's condem nat ion fell upon him . A great er aut horit y ev en t han Dr . Hook , I m ean t he vet eran hist or ian, Dr. Jam es Gairdner —an English Churchm an who spent m or e t han 60 of his four score y ear s in research am ong t he St at e papers of England dealing wit h t he period about t he Reform at ion, and who was r ecognised as easily t he
m ost profound and com prehensive st udent of t hose t im es—Dr. Gairdner , I say, expr essed som e v er y st rong conclusions t o which his hist orical enquiries had driven him in regard t o t he Wy cliffit e r ev olt and it s result s, and about Rom e and t he Bible. ( See his book Lollardy and t he Reform at ion, r ev iewed in Decem ber Mont h, 1908.) 'The t rut h is,' he say s, 't he Church of Rom e was not at all opposed t o t he m aking of t ranslat ions of Script ure or t o placing t hem in t he hands of t he lait y under what wer e deem ed proper pr ecaut ions. I t was only j udged necessary t o see t hat no unaut horised or cor rupt t ranslat ions got abroad; and ev en in t his m at t er it would seem t he aut horit ies were not roused t o special vigilance t ill t hey t ook alarm at t he diffusion of Wycliffit e t r anslat ions in t he generat ion aft er his deat h.' ( Vol. I , p. 105.) Again, 'To t he possession by wort hy lay m en of licensed t ranslat ions t he Church was never opposed; but t o place such a w eapon as an English Bible in t he hands of m en who had no r egard for aut horit y, and who w ould use it wit hout being inst ruct ed how t o use it properly, was danger ous not only t o t he souls of t hose who r ead, but t o t he peace and order of t he Church,' ( p. 117) . From a deep, calm scholar like Dr. Gairdner w ords like t hese ar e m or e valuable t han whole volum es of part isan and unenlight ened assert ions from ant i- Cat holic cont rov ersialist s; and ( as Fat her Thurst on suggest s) w e cannot but feel grat eful t o t his honoured old scholar in t he ev ening of his days for t hus vigorously and boldly ident ifying him self wit h an unpopular cause. Sim ply honest y of purpose and love of t rut h com pelled him , out of his vast and prolonged st udies, t o expose t he r ev olut ionary charact er of t he Wycliffit e and Lollard rebellions against Rom e, as w ell as t o sym pat hise wit h t he glorious m art yr s like More and Fisher, and t o defend t he Cat holic aut horit ies like Archbishop Warham and Bishops Bonner and Tunst all, and t o vindicat e t he good reput at ion and piet y of t he m onast eries so cruelly suppr essed by Henry VI I I . But w e are ant icipat ing. I was speaking of t he Church's condem nat ion of Wy cliff's undesired and undesirable ver sion. ( 5) This was t he first t im e in England t hat t he Church ever felt herself obliged t o lay som e rest rict ion on Bible reading in t he vulgar t ongue; and t hat fact in it self is surely sufficient t o prove t hat t her e m ust hav e been som e v ery special reason for her act ing so differ ent ly from what she had been accust om ed t o do befor e. Her act ion at t his t im e was pr ecisely sim ilar t o t he act ion of t he Church in France nearly 200 years previously. Then ( t hat is in t he 10t h and 13t h cent uries) som e heret ics called Waldenses and Albigenses r evolt ed against all aut horit y, and ov er ran t he count ry, spr eading t heir wild and blasphem ous doct rines. They t aught , am ong ot her enorm it ies, t hat t her e w er e t w o Gods ( creat or of t he good and cr eat or of t he evil) , t hat t here was no Real Presence of Our Lord in t he Blessed Eucharist , t hat t here was no forgiveness for sins aft er bapt ism , and t hat t here was no r esur rect ion of t he body. They declared oat hs unlawful, condem ned m ar riage, and called t he beget t ing of children a crim e. All t hese im piet ies t hey pr ofessed t o base on Holy Script ure. Consequent ly, t o save her people fr om being ensnared and led away, t he Chur ch in council assem bled at Toulouse, 1029, passed an enact m ent forbidding t o laym en t he possession of t he sacr ed books, especially in t he v ernacular, t hough anyone m ight possess a Br eviary or a Psalt er or Office of our Blessed Lady for dev ot ion. Will any one blam e t he Church for t aking t hese m easur es t o suppress t he poisonous heresy and prev ent it s spr eading, and t o sav e t he Sacr ed Script ures fr om being m ade t he m er e t ool and war- cry of a cert ain sect ? I n like m anner w e m ay not blam e t he Church at Oxford under Archbishop Arundel for her fam ous const it ut ion against Wycliffit e and ot her false v er sions of t he Bible, but rat her adm ire and applaud her wisdom and vigilance and zeal for t he purit y of t he Gospel of Jesus Christ . And in t he sam e way we m ay exam ine and invest igat e t he act ion of t he Church in various count ries and in various cent uries as t o her legislat ion in regard t o Bible reading
am ong t he people; and wher ev er we find som e apparent ly severe or unaccount able prohibit ion of it , we shall on enquiry find t hat it was necessit at ed by t he foolish or sinful conduct on t he part eit her of som e of her own people, or of bit t er and aggressive enem ies who lit erally forced her t o forbid what in ordinary circum st ances she w ould not only have allowed but have appr oved and encouraged. I t is t rue t hat t he appr oving or condem ning of Bible reading in part icular cent uries or count ries is a m at t er of policy and of discipline on t he part of t he local Cat holic aut horit ies, and depends largely upon t he prudence and wisdom and zeal of t he Bishops set ov er t hem , and does not necessarily involve any act ion on t he part of t he Pope as Suprem e Head of t he Church; and hence one cannot declare infallibly off- hand t hat t here has nev er been a case of unwise or indiscreet legislat ion in regar d t o t he m at t er at t he hands of individual Bishops. I do not know of any case m yself; and never read of any inst ance wher e Bishops have been pr ov ed in t he course of t im e t o have m ade m ist akes in issuing decr ees about t he m at t er. But supposing som e m ist ake had been m ade, t hat would not affect t he general principle on which t he ecclesiast ical aut horit ies always ar e supposed t o act ; and in t he light of Rom e’s principle, and her clear and definit e at t it ude t owards t he Bible as her own Book, we m ay safely challenge anyone t o convict her eit her of inconsist ency or hat red t owards God’s w rit t en Word. Once grasp her doct rinal posit ion in regard t o t he Bible and t he Rule of Fait h, and you w ill have no difficult y in account ing for her uncom prom ising host ilit y t o versions like Wycliff’s, and for her act ion in condem ning t he Bible Societ ies which spread abroad a m ut ilat ed, corr upt , and incom plet e copy of t he Holy Script ures, ( generally accom panied by t ract s) wit h t he design of under m ining t he fait h of Cat holics.
CH APTER XI I I . Tyn da le ’s Con de m n a t ion V indica t e d by Post e r it y .
So m uch t hen for John Wycliff and his unhappy version. The next m an of any consequence w e ar e confront ed wit h is anot her fav ourit e of t he Reform er s, anot her ’m art y r’ for t he Bible, and t hat is William Tyndale. His t reat m ent is also flung in our t eet h by crit ics, as fr esh evidence of Rom e’s im placable hat red of t he open Bible. Did she not persecut e and burn poor Tyndale, and consign his copy of t he Script ures in English t o t he flam es? So here again, we m ust show how wise and consist ent was t he act ion of t he Cat holic Church in England in regard t o Tyndale and his t ranslat ions, and clear her absolut ely fr om t he slight est shadow or suspicion of host ilit y t o God’s writ t en Word. ( i) What we ar e about t o speak of now , be it rem em ber ed, is t he Print ed Bible, for in 1450 t he art of print ing was discovered by a m an rej oicing in t he m elodious nam e of John Gooseflesh, ( a Ger m an) , and in 1456 t he first book ever print ed issued from t he pr ess at Mayence, and it was—what ? I t was t he Bible, and it is known as t he Mazarin Bible, aft er Car dinal Mazarin. This again, dem onst rat es anew what hat red Cat holics had in t hose days t o t he Bible, and t heir fear and dread lest it should be known even t o exist ! The best way t o k eep it secr et , of course, w as t o print it . Besides, how could t he Bible be print ed in 1456? Did not Mart in Lut her discover it for t he first t im e in 1507? How ev er, j oking apart , t he fact r em ains t hat we hav e now in our hist orical review arrived at t he point wher e we bid far ew ell t o copies of t he Bible writ t en by t he hand, and have t o consider only t hose t hat were t urned out by t he
print ing press from 1456 onwards. On Prot est ant principles it m ust seem a pit y t hat t he Lord w ait ed so m any cent uries before He invent ed print ing m achines t o spr ead Bibles about am ong t he people; and it seem s also very hard on all preceding generat ions t hat slipped away wit hout t his lam p t o t heir feet and light unt o t heir pat h.
( ii) Well, William Tyndale ( and for t hat m at t er Mart in Lut her t oo) , w as born alm ost a 100 years aft er John Wycliff died, t hat is, 1484. He st udied at Oxford and becam e a priest , and was seized wit h t he am bit ion of get t ing t he Bible print ed in England. Now, t here w er e t hr ee gr eat obj ect ions t o t his st ep being approved. ( I ) I n t he first place, Tyndale was not t he m an t o do it ; he was ut t erly unfit t ed for such a gr eat work. He says him self he was ’evil favoured in t his world, and wit hout grace in t he sight of m en, speechless and rude, dull and slow wit t ed.’ He had no special qualificat ions for t he t ask of t ranslat ion. He was but a m ediocre scholar, and could not boast of anyt hing above t he av erage int ellect . I ndeed, non- Cat holic aut hors hav e adm it t ed t hat t he cause of Script ure reading in t he vernacular was dist inct ly prej udiced by having been t aken in hand by incapable m en like Tyndale. Then ( 2) in t he second place, he was act ing ent irely on his own account , and wit hout aut horisat ion from ecclesiast ical superiors, eit her in England or in Rom e; he was sim ply a privat e obscure priest , and was act ing wit hout com m ission and wit hout sanct ion from higher quart er s. I ndeed, I go furt her and say t hat he was act ing in disobedience t o t he decision of higher aut horit ies. At t he very beginning of t he sixt eent h cent ury ( I am now quot ing t he Anglican Dor e) ’t he aut horit ies of t he English Church t ook int o considerat ion t he desirabilit y of int roducing a vernacular Bible [ i.e. Bible in English] int o England, and t he gr eat m aj orit y of t he Council were of opinion t hat , considering t he r eligious t roubles on t he Cont inent and t he unset t led st at e of t hings at hom e, at t his j unct ure t he t ranslat ion of t he Bible int o t he vulgar t ongue, and it s circulat ion am ong t he people, would rat her t end t o confusion and dist ract ion t han t o edificat ion.’ Now, y ou m ay lam ent if you like ( as Dor e does) t his decision as an er ror of j udgm ent , and affirm t hat t he post ponem ent of an English ver sion in print aut horised by t he Bishops was a m ost unfort unat e ev ent , as leading t o false and corrupt versions being issued by irresponsible individuals. But right or wr ong in t heir j udgm ent , t his was t he conscient ious conclusion at which t he Council under Archbishop War eham ar rived: no print ed English Bible m eanwhile was t o be allowed; and aft er all is said and done, t hey were pr obably bet t er j udges t han w e are as t o what was best for t he Church of t hat t im e in England. The Lut heran Revolut ion was in full swing abroad ( 1520) , and t he Lut heran her esy was spreading ev er ywhere, car rying wit h it rebellion and im m oralit y, and t he English Bishops m ight well have cause t o fear lest t he infect ion should poison t he fait hful under t heir own j urisdict ion. ( 3) I n t he t hird place, t her e was no dem and for a print ed English Bible t o any great ext ent —cert ainly not t o t he ext ent of m aking it at all an urgent or pr essing dut y on t he part of t he aut horit ies t o issue one. Dor e, ( so oft en quot ed already ) ridicules t he idea t hat at t hat t im e England was a 'Bible- t hirst y land'. He declares t hat 't her e was no anxiet y what ever for an English ver sion ex cept ing am ong a sm all m inorit y of t he people', and 't he universal desire for a Bible in England we r ead so m uch of in m ost wor ks on t he subj ect ex ist ed only in t he im aginat ion of t he w rit ers'. Dr. Br ewer, anot her Pr ot est ant , also scoffs at t he idea. 'To im agine,' he says, 't hat ploughm en and shepherds in t he count ry r ead t he New Test am ent in English by st ealt h, or t hat sm it hs and carpent ers in t owns por ed ov er it s pages in t he corner of t heir m ast er's wor kshops, is t o m ist ake t he charact er and acquirem ent s of t he age.' Ther e has, in short , been a gr eat deal of wild and groundless t alk about t he int ense desire of t he people of t hat cent ury t o devour t he Script ures. And we can pr ov e it by t hese sim ple
fact s, t hat ( I ) t he people had t o be com pelled by law t o buy Bibles, for Act s w er e passed again and again t hreat ening t he King’s displeasure and a fine of 40s. per m ont h if t he Book was not purchased; ( 2) w e have docum ent ary evidence t hat inhabit ant s of cert ain part s of t he count ry, such as Cornwall and Devonshire, unanim ously obj ect ed t oo t he new t ranslat ion, and t hat even am ong t he clergy Reform er s like Bishop Hugh Lat im er alm ost ent irely ignored t he English copy and always t ook t heir t ext s from t he Lat in Vulgat e; ( 3) print ers had large st ock s of print ed Bibles left unsold on t heir hands, and could not get rid of t hem at any price, except under legal coer cion; ( 4) t he sam e edit ion of t he Bible was oft en re- issued wit h fresh t it les and pr elim inary m at t er, and new t it le- pages w er e com posed for old unsold Bibles, wit hout any r egard t o t rut h, sim ply t o get t hem sold. I do not see how we can r esist t he convict ion t hat t here was r eally no ext ensive dem and for English Bibles am ong t he m ass of Christ ians at t hat t im e in England, whet her clergy or lait y, and t hat t he design of spreading t hem wholesale am ong t he m asses was borr ow ed from t he Cont inent which was t hen in a perfect ferm ent of Religious and Civil Revolut ion. Hence y ou can underst and at once how Tyndale’s pr oposal was view ed wit h suspicion and disfavour by t he Bishops, and him self refused any assist ance or encouragem ent from Tunst all, Bishop of London, and ot her prelat es. And when w e furt her bear in m ind ( as t he At henaeum pert inent ly rem ark ed, 24t h August , 1889) t hat t his irresponsible privat e chaplain had becom e already known as a m an of dangerous views, who was exceedingly insult ing in his m anner, unscrupulous, and of a m ost violent t em per; t hat in post prandial discussions he repeat edly abused and insult ed Church dignit aries who w er e pr esent ; t hat wit h him t he Pope w as ant i- Christ and t he whore of Babylon, whilst t he m onks and friars w ere ’cat erpillars, horseleeches, dr one- bees, and draff,’ w e shall not be vast ly ast onished t hat t hese dignit aries did not evince m uch ent husiasm in pushing on Mr. Tyndale’s schem e. ( iii) Unable t her efor e t o proceed wit h t he work in his own land because of ecclesiast ical prohibit ion, Tyndale goes abr oad, and aft er m uch wandering about set t les at Worm s, wher e in 1525 t he Bible was print ed and t hence sm uggled in considerable quant it ies int o England. At once, as was t o be expect ed, it was denounced by t he Bishop of London, and I do not deny ( nor can I see any r eason t o deplore) t he fact t hat copies of it were burned cer em onially at St Paul’s Cross. But why? Because it was a false and err oneous and ant i- Cat holic version of t he Holy Script ures. I t was full of Lut heran her esies. Tyndale had fallen under t he influence of t he Germ an Reform er, who by t his t im e had revolt ed fr om Rom e. About 1522 he had been suspect ed and t ried for her esy; he had declared: ’I defy t he Pope and all his laws’; and now he act ually em bodied in his English version Lut her’s not es and explanat ions of t ext s, w hich were as full of venom and hat r ed against Rom e as an egg is full of m eat . ’I t has long been a not orious fact ,’ say s Mr. Allnat t ( in his Bible and t he Reform at ion) , ’t hat all t he early Pr ot est ant ver sions of t he Bible lit erally swarm ed wit h gross and flagrant cor rupt ions—corrupt ions consist ing in t he wilful and deliberat e m ist ranslat ion of various passages of t he sacr ed t ext , and all direct ly aim ed against t hose doct rines and pract ices of t he Cat holic Church which t he " Reform ers" wer e m ost anxious t o upr oot . They did give t he people an " open Bible" , but what a Bible! ' And Canon Dixon, t he cult ured Anglican hist orian, refer ring t o t he fact t hat copies of Tyndale's Bible were burnt , m akes t hese st riking rem arks: 'I f t he clergy had act ed t hus sim ply because t hey would have t he people k ept ignorant of t he word of God, t hey w ould have been wit hout excuse. But it was not so. Ev er y one of t he lit t le volum es, cont aining port ions of t he sacr ed t ext t hat was issued by Tyndale, cont ained also a prologue and not es w r it t en wit h such hot fury of vit uperat ion against t he prelat es and clergy , t he m onks and friars, t he rit es and cerem onies of t he Chur ch, as was hardly likely t o com m end it t o t he favour of t hose
who w er e at t acked.’ Tunst all, Bishop of London, declared he could count m or e t han 2,000 err or s in Tyndale’s Bible ’m ade in Germ any’; whilst t he learned Sir Thom as Mor e, Lord Chancellor of England, found it necessar y t o w rit e a t r eat ise against it , and assert ed t hat t o ’find er r or s in Tyndale’s book w ere like st udying t o find wat er in t he sea’. I n short t her e is not an unprej udiced enquirer now but adm it s t hat t he Church could not possibly t olerat e Tyndale’s Bible as t hough it wer e a t r ue or corr ect version of t he Holy Script ures; she had no alt er nat ive but t o prescribe and forbid it ; ot her wise she w ould have been sinfully neglect ful of her guardianship over t he word of God, and idly st anding by whilst her children wer e being poisoned. But who will be so obt use or so m alicious as t o t wist t his act ion of her s int o a det erm ined hat red of t he Script ures as Script ures and t o r epr esent her as host ile and opposed t o all reading of t he Bible what soever, even of a t rue and corr ect version? Surely t o hat e t he Bible is one t hing, and t o pr ohibit a false version of t he Bible is quit e anot her. Has t he Cat holic Church not as a m at t er of fact put a corr ect copy of t he Bible int o t he bands of her children in t heir own language in t he Douai version? As for t he burning of Tyndale’s v er sion, t her e is not hing t o be w ondered at in it ; it was probably t he only, or at least t he m ost st riking and effect ive w ay of st em m ing it s sale and inst illing a horr or of it int o t he heart s of t he people. I t w as t he cust om of t he age ( as Dor e r em ar ks) t o burn t he work s of opponent s, as Lut her a few y ear s befor e burnt t he books of Canon Law , and t he Bull of Pope Leo, and in 1522 John Calvin burnt all t he copies he could collect of Serv et us’ Bible at Geneva, because t hese cont ained som e not es he did not t hink wer e ort hodox . I ndeed Calvin went a st ep furt her t han t hat —he burned Servet us him self. And surely it m ust be plain enough t o every one t hat , in t he case befor e us, what t he ecclesiast ical aut horit ies m eant t o dest r oy was, not t he Word of God, but t he err ors of Lut her and Tyndale which wer e cor rupt ing it . ( iv) But t he m ost int erest ing point about t he w hole affair is t hat t im e has abundant ly j ust ified t he act ion of t he Cat holic Church and prov ed t hat she did t he proper t hing in at t em pt ing t o st am p out Tyndale's Bible. For ( I ) t he r eading of t his pernicious book produced m ost disast r ous effect s upon t he m or als of t he people, who becam e rebellious, profane, and irreligious, and disaffect ed t o t he civil as well as t o t he spirit ual aut horit ies. Hence w e find t hat for t en years, Tyndale's v er sion was denounced and opposed ev en m or e by t he Cour t and secular officials t han by t he Bishops; and t hat at least t wo r oyal proclam at ions wer e issued for ever y one clerical, against all who read or concealed t he obnoxious v olum e. I n fact in t he year 1531 King Henry VI I I , wit h t he advice of his Council and prelat es published an edict t hat 't he t ranslat ion of t he Script ure cor rupt ed by William Tyndale should be ut t erly expelled, r ej ect ed, and put away out of t he hands of t he people, and not be suffer ed t o go abr oad am ong his subj ect s'. What a com m ent ary upon t he good and godly doct rines inculcat ed by Mr. William Tyndale! And furt her st ill—som e y ears lat er ( t he King's vet o not having secur ed t he desired effect ) , aft er sev eral ot her edit ions of t he English Bible had been issued and t he condit ion of t he Script ure- r eading m asses was becom ing worse and w orse in consequence, t he sam e Royal Defender of t he Fait h caused anot her Act t o be passed ( 1543) ent it led 'for t he advancem ent of t rue religion and for t he abolishm ent of t he cont r ary '. By force of t his it was decreed t hat , seeing what abuses had followed t he indiscrim inat e r eading of cert ain ver sions of Holy Script ure, and what 't um ult s and schism s' had sprung up, and 'diver s naught y and er roneous opinions', and 'pest ifer ous and noisom e t eachings and inst ruct ions', including ‘writ ings against t he holy and blessed Sacram ent of t he Alt ar, and for t he m aint enance of t he dam nable opinions of t he sect of Anabapt ist s'—all t o t he 'gr eat unquiet ness of t he r ealm and gr eat displeasure of his Maj est y’ as a r esult of all t his, it was enact ed t hat 'all m anner of books of t he Old and New Test am ent in English, being of t he craft y, false, and unt rue t ranslat ion of Tyndale', along wit h any writ ings
cont aining Doct rine cont rar y t o t hat of t he King, ’shall be clearly and ut t erly abolished, ext inguished, and forbidden t o be k ept or used in t his realm ’. The Act t hen goes on t o explain what versions of t he Bible m ight be used, and by whom , and forbids t he general reading of it by wom en, art ificers, j ourneym en and cert ain ot her classes; and lays down sundry ot her r est rict ions in regard t o it , which are t o be observ ed, under pains and penalt ies, ranging fr om fines of 40s and 5 pounds 40 pounds up t o im prisonm ent for life. I shall not dwell on t he reflect ions t hat arise in one’s m ind on r eading such legal enact m ent s com ing from such a m an as Henr y VI I I ; but , t o com plet e our r em ar ks about Tyndale’s v er sion and t o pursue t o t he end t he King’s dealing wit h it , I m ay add t hat t he v ery year befor e he w ent t o his account ( 1546) he st ruck one m or e blow, which no doubt he int ended t o be and hoped would be fat al, at t his hat ed v olum e. He de1iberat ely com m anded all copies of it ( along wit h Coverdale’s) t o be delivered up and burned. Verily t he ’whirligig of t im e brings in his revenges’. Aft er t his, one finds it som ewhat am using t o be t old t hat only priest s and Popes burn and hat e t he Word of God. Hencefort h Pr ot est ant reader s of t hese lines would do w ell t o rem em ber t hat t he great Reform er and Founder of t he Church of England, Henry VI I I , set a high exam ple in t he m at t er. How ever, t hat is by t he way. I was saying t hat t he t im e j ust ified t he act ion of t he Church which first proscribed and did it s ut m ost t o r epress Tyndale’s v ersion, and I hav e shown how t he secular pow er felt it self driven in selfprot ect ion t o do t he sam e. ( 2) But anot her, and perhaps t o Pr ot est ant s a m or e t elling proof of t he st at em ent is found in t he fact t hat t heir subsequent v er sions of Script ure deliberat ely om it t ed Tyndale’s m ost charact erist ic feat ur es, such as his not es, pr efaces and pr ologues. They appear ed and t hen t hey disappear ed. They had t heir day, and t hey ceased t o be. They were consider ed unfit t o find a place in what purport ed t o be a pur e copy of t he work of t he Apost le and Evangelist . Post erit y, t hen, has j ust ified Sir Thom as Mor e, and has condem ned Tyndale. What is t his but t o vindicat e t he Church in her act ion t owards t he cor rupt volum e? Wisdom is indeed ’j ust ified of her children’.
CH APTER XI V. A D e lu ge of Er r on e ou s Ve r sions
FOLLOWI NG Tyndale’s exam ple, ot hers cont inued t he w ork of issuing English- print ed Bibles, and so in t he reign of Henry VI I I w e hav e t o face quit e a deluge of t hem . One by one t hey cam e fort h, aut horised and unaut horised, print ed and published by irresponsible individuals, full of er rors, wit h no proper supervision, and having no ot her effect ( as w e shall present ly see) t han t hat of drawing down cont em pt and disgrace upon t he Sacr ed Script ures. ( I ) The English Church was now separat ed fr om Rom e, and t he English Bishops were m er e puppet s and slaves at t he beck and call of t he Royal Tyrant , Henr y. They ex er cised no r eal independent j urisdict ion over eit her clergy or people; t he gov ernor and ruler in Church and St at e was t he King; and consequent ly no ecclesiast ic could undert ake r esponsibilit y in regard t o t he publicat ion or suppr ession of Bibles wit hout t he will of his I m perial Mast er. So long as Henr y m ade no obj ect ion, any print er or publisher or lit erary hack, who t hought he saw a chance of m aking a lit t le m oney out of t he v ent ure, w ould t ake in hand t he publishing of a new v er sion of t he Bible. George Joy e, for exam ple, t ook t his cour se in regard t o Tyndale’s Bible, and in consequence ( 1535) br ought down upon him self a volley of bit t er and un- Christ ian
reproaches from t hat w ort hy who ( as I hav e said befor e) was a m an of uncont rollable t em per and scur rilous language when t hwart ed or resist ed. I n r eply t o t his t irade, George Joye published an ’Apology’, in which he show ed t hat t he print er had paid him only 4 ½ d. for t he cor r ect ion of ev ery 16 leav es, while Tyndale had net t ed 10 pounds for his w ork; and besides, he exposed in fine st yle t he depart ur e from t he t rut h of which Tyndale had been guilt y in boast ing of his t ranslat ion and exposit ion as if it were his own, whereas Joye shows it was really Lut her's all t he t im e; t hat Tyndale did not know enough Greek t o do it , and had only added 'fant asies' and glosses and not es of his own im aginat ion t o t he w ork of ot her s. How ev er, w e hav e no t im e t o dwell on t he quar rels of t hese am iable Bible t ranslat ors, else we should never reach t he end of our hist orical review. Let us enum erat e briefly t he v er sions t hat saw t he light in rapid succession during t he reign of Henry VI I I . ( 2) Ther e was Myles Coverdale's in 1535. Coverdale was a priest , who m arried abroad, and k ept a school. I n aft er y ear s King Edward VI grant ed him and his wife ( sic) Elizabet h a dispensat ion ( ! ) t o eat flesh and whit e m eat s in Lent and ot her fast ing days. I t is wonder ful what power t he Kings of England had in t hose days! I n 1537 appear ed Mat t hew 's or Roger s' Bible ( which was a m ixt ure of Tyndale's and Cov erdale's) , and t his has t he dist inct ion of being t he first t hat Henry aut horised t o be used by t he people at large. Mat t hew or Roger s ( for he assum ed differ ent nam es for Bible- selling purposes) was, like Cov erdale, a r enegade priest , and had m arried, and we are not surprised t o find t hat som e of his not es on t he Gospel wer e indecent , and ot her s consist ed of abuse of t he Church, her clergy, and her doct rines. Tw o years lat er ( 1539) a m an, Tav erner , pr oduced anot her version of t he Bible. He was a laym an, but a preacher not wit hst anding, who had sav ed his skin by r ecant ing his opinions. And t he sam e year appear ed a version t hat was t o hold t he field for popularit y for t he next t went y y ears viz., t he Gr eat bible, som et im es called Cranm er's, fr om t he Pr eface writ t en by t hat accom m odat ing prelat e. I t was Crom well ( Thom as, not Oliver, of cour se) who engineer ed it , and Coverdale who supervised it s progress. The print ing of it was begun in France, but when t he work was half finished, t he I nquisit or- General very pr operly st epped in and confiscat ed t he pr esses and t ypes. I f England was going t o t he dogs t hr ough ant i- Papal Bibles, he saw no reason why France should do t he sam e. However, it was com plet ed and published in London in 1539, and, like pr evious versions, cont ained fulsom e flat t ery of Henry VI I I , concerning whom Our Lord is represent ed as saying, 'I hav e found a m an aft er My Own heart , who shall fulfil all My will! ' This volum e was by Royal Pr oclam at ion order ed t o be put up in ev ery chur ch in England; and Bonner, Bishop of London ( 'Bloody Bonner ',) who is held up as t he m ost det erm ined enem y of Bible reading, set up at his own expense six beaut iful copies of t his Book at various convenient places in St Paul's Cat hedral. Unfort unat ely, so m uch ill- feeling, dist urbance, cont ent ion, and irreverence was t he r esult of t his unrest rained Script ure r eading t hat he was com pelled t o t hr eat en t heir rem oval. The license t o r ead and j udge, each one for him self, of t he sense and m eaning of t he Word of God produced, as we said befor e, m ost lam ent able effect s, and led t o t he ut t er degradat ion of t he Sacr ed Volum e. Not t hat t her e was any eager desire or t hirst for it , or any gr eat or general use m ade of it : for t he print ers oft en com plained of t he large st ock left , unbought , on t heir hands, and begged t hat persons should be com pelled t o purchase t hem , and besought t hat no fr esh edit ions m ight be published; and we have seen t hat Act s had t o be m ade t o force people t o buy t hem , under t hreat of fine and im prisonm ent . But yet t hose who did r ead t he Bible m ade it only a m at t er of alt ercat ion and cont ent ion and argum ent , and brought it down t o t he dept hs of disreput e and cont em pt . The ext ent t o which t his evil had spr ead m ay best be j udged fr om t he pat het ic lam ent of
Henry VI I I him self in his last speech t o Parliam ent : ’I am ext r em ely sorry t o find how m uch t he Word of God is abused: wit h how lit t le rev erence it is m ent ioned; how people squabble about t he sense; how it is t urned int o wr et ched rhym es, sung and j angled in ever y alehouse and t avern; and all t his in a false const ruct ion and count er- m eaning t o t he inspired writ ers. I am sor ry t o per ceive t he r eader s of t he Bible discover so lit t le of it in t heir pract ice; for I am sure charit y was nev er in a m or e languishing condit ion, virt ue never at a lower ebb, nor God Him self less honour ed or w orse serv ed in Christ endom .’ There is no am biguit y about t hese w ords, and when we r em em ber t hat t he sam e sent im ent s ar e expr essed in t he writ ings and speeches of m any of t he Reform er s t hem selves, who com plain of t he licent iousness of t he m asses since t he abolit ion Popery, and r em em ber t oo, how Henr y VI I I was const rained t o seize and burn Tyndale’s and Cov erdale’s and ot her versions of t he Bible, and t o forbid t he reading of any v er sion at all t o large classes of his subj ect s— in t he face of all t his, who will fail t o see t he sinful folly of t he policy of t he English schism at ics of t hat day ? And who will deny t hat t he Cat holic Church showed consum m at e wisdom , holy prudence, and t he t r uest rev erence for God's Word in wit hholding her v er sion t ill a m ore conv enient season? ( 3) But are we finished wit h t he err oneous versions y et ? Far fr om it . Henry VI I I cert ainly aut horised no m or e, for t he sim ple reason t hat he went t o j udgm ent in 1547. No new edit ion cam e out in Edward t he Sixt h's reign ( 1547- 1553) but in 1557 one w as published t hat owed it s origin t o William Whit t ingham , a laym an, who had m arried a sist er of John Calvin's wife, and who was m ade Dean of Durham . Whit t ingham 's Bible, issued at Geneva, perpet uat ed t he corrupt ions of Tyndale's wit h an Epist le of Calvin added t o t he Epist les of St Paul and t he ot her Apost les. During t he r eign of 'Bloody' Mary ( 1553- 1558) , who, of course, ought t o hav e hat ed t he Script ures like poison ( being a bigot ed Papist and t he wife of a Spaniard) , t her e wer e, st range t o say, no pr oclam at ions against Script ure reading, nor is t here t o be found any t race of opposit ion on t he part eit her of t he Queen or of her Bishops t o t he Bible being read or print ed in t he vulgar t ongue; so say s Mr. Blunt , t he Anglican hist orian. Wit h t he accession of t he 'Virgin Queen Bess', however, a new Bible saw t he light in 1560 at Geneva, which was t he wor k of t he Nonconform ist s r esident t here, and is known as t he Genevan Bible, t hough Bible collect or s know it m ore fam iliarly by t he t it le 'Br eeches Bible', fr om it s r endering of Genesis iii, 7: 'They sew ed fig leaves t oget her and m ade t hem selves br eeches'. I t was cert ainly t he m ost popular t hat had yet appear ed am ong t he sect aries, part ly because of it s undeniable scholarship and accuracy, and part ly because of it s not es on t he m argin, which wer e fiercely Calvinist ic. Take an exam ple: Rev. ix., 3. Her e t he not e runs: 'Locust s ar e false t eacher s, her et ics and wordly subt il prelat es, wit h m onks, friars, cardinals, pat riarchs, archbishops, bishops, doct ors, bachelors, m ast ers, which for sake Christ t o m aint ain false doct rine.' Nobody wort h speaking about is m issed out her e. The Purit an soldiers used t o car ry about wit h t hem a lit t le book m ade up of quot at ions from t he not es of t his Calvinist ic ver sion. I t seem s also t o have suit ed t he Scot t ish t ast e of t he per iod, for it was t he first edit ion print ed in Scot land. So lit t le, howev er, did t he gr eat m ass of t he people in t his count ry car e for any Bible in English at all t hat t he Pr ivy Council passed a law com pelling every householder possessed of a cert ain sum t o purchase a copy under a penalt y of 10 pounds. The Magist rat es and Town Council of Edinburgh also did t heir best t o force t he sale of t he volum e; and searcher s went from house t o house t hroughout t his unhappy land t o see if it had been bought . But , in spit e of all t he pressure, w e find fr om t he Privy Council Records t hat m any householders pr efer r ed t o incur t he pains and penalt ies t o purchasing t he Bible. The old dodge was t hen adopt ed in regard t o t he Genevan
version t hat had done ser vice wit h previous copies—t he dodge, nam ely, of issuing t he very sam e book, wit h t he sam e er rors and ident ical not es, but under a new t it le page, so as t o deceive t he unwary int o believing it was a fr esh edit ion. This t rick had t o be played, of cour se, by t he unfort unat e and im pecunious print ers and book sellers, who had lar ge st ock s of Bibles unsold on t heir shelves; and t he perpet rat ion of t his fraud helped t he Genevan edit ions considerably. But t he Elizabet han Bishops soon found t hat t his Bible, wit h it s violent Calvinist ic not es and t eaching, was underm ining t he popularit y of t he Church of England; so Mat t hew Park er , Archbishop of Cant erbury , set him self t he t ask of pr oviding anot her v ersion t hat would be less offensive t o t he High Church part y and m or e favourable t o Anglicanism . The r esult was t he Bishops' Bible, which appeared in 1568, and t ook t he chief place in t he public services of t he Chur ch, t hough it never displaced t he Genevan in t he fav our of t he people. We ar e close now t o t he m om ent at which t he first Cat holic version ( and up t ill t oday t he only one ever sanct ioned in English) appear ed. But t her e was st ill one m or e Prot est ant v ersion which, as it is yet t he principal recognised Bible of t he Prot est ant s of t he Brit ish Em pire, m ust not be om it t ed. I m ean, of course, King Jam es's version of 1611. I t is t he 300t h anniversary of t his, com m only called t he Aut hor ised Ver sion, t hat English- speaking Prot est ant s ar e ev er ywher e celebrat ing t his year ( 1911) . ( 4) Neit her t he Royal Pedant him self, nor anybody else, seem s t o hav e been sat isfied wit h any of t he Bibles t hen float ing about . Dr. Reynolds, t he Purit an leader , 'm ov ed his Maj est y t here m ight be a new t ranslat ion of t he Bible, because t hose which were allowed in t he reign of Henry VI I I and Edward VI were cor rupt , and not answerable t o t he t rut hs of t he original'. Jam es, great scholar as he t hought him self t o be professed 't hat he could nev er yet see a Bible well t ranslat ed int o English, but t he wor st of all his Maj est y t hought , t he Geneva'—a j udgm ent we cannot be surprised at , considering t hat t hat version openly allowed disobedience t o a king, and blam ed Asa for only deposing his m ot her and not killing her. ( 2 Chr on. x v. 16) . Mor eover, he declared t hat 'som e of it s not es w ere v ery part ial, unt rue, sedit ious, and sav our ed t oo m uch of danger ous and t rait orous conceit s'. Hence a large band of t ranslat ors was appoint ed and in 1611 t her e was finished and published what has prov ed t o be t he best Pr ot est ant v er sion t hat ever appear ed—one which has ex ercised an enorm ous influence not only on t he m inds of it s reader s, but also on English lit erat ure t hr oughout t he w orld. I n 1881- 1885 t his version of King Jam es was revised, but whilst accept able t o st udent s, t he Revision has gained no hold upon t he people at large. ( 5) How long it will be befor e anot her Pr ot est ant version appears he w ould be a bold m an who w ould vent ure t o prophecy; but t hat ot hers will spring up and add t o t he num ber of t he wr ecks t hat already st r ew t he pat h we m ay confident ly predict . I hav e given a goodly list of corrupt and er roneous v er sions; but please do not im agine for a m om ent t hat m y cat alogue is anyt hing like com plet e. I hav e m er ely m ent ioned t hose t hat wer e m or e com m only used and secur ed a cert ain am ount of popularit y and aut horisat ion from Prot est ant headquart ers. But t her e ar e, I am safe in saying, hundreds of ot her edit ions t hat flooded t his unhappy r ealm from t he t im e of Tyndale, som e from for eign count ries, like Holland, and Germ any, and Swit zerland, and som e produced at hom e, but all of t hem sw arm ing wit h blunders and perv ersions. On glancing over a bookseller 's cat alogue t he ot her day m y eye happened t o light on som e of t hose t hat have at t ained not oriet y for t heir absurd m ist akes. Ther e is, for exam ple, t he 'He' Bible and t he 'She' Bible, so called from t he hopeless m ixing up of
t hese pr onouns in t he Book of Rut h; t he 'He' Bible has one set of er ror s and t he ‘She' Bible anot her. There is t he 'Wick ed' Bible fr om t he word 'not ' being om it t ed from t he 7t h Com m andm ent . There is t he 'Vinegar' Bible, fr om print ing 'vinegar' inst ead of 'vineyard', and so producing ‘The Parable of t he Vinegar'. This Bible was print ed by a m an called Bask et t , and is now vainly sought for by collect or s on account of it s num berless err or s; indeed, it was wit t ily called t he 'Bask et - ful of Er rors'. Ther e is t he 'Murder er 's Bible', from t he words of Our Lord being t hus print ed: 'But Jesus said unt o her, let t he children first be killed' ( inst ead of 'fed') . Then we have t he 'Whig' Bible and t he 'Unright eous' Bible and t he 'Bug' Bible, and t he 'Treacle’ Bible, and no end of ot her kinds of Bibles, all cram m ed full of m ist akes and corrupt ions. The Pearl Bible, for inst ance, published by Field, t he Parliam ent ary print er, has 6,000 er r or s in it . A fam ous book was writ t en by a m an nam ed Ward in t he sev ent eent h cent ury, ent it led Er rat a of t he Pr ot est ant Bible, cont aining a form idable list of, I should not like t o say how m any t housand er rors in t he var ious ver sions. No one has y et succeeded in refut ing Ward's Err at a. I t st ands as a gruesom e com m ent ary on t he hist ory of heret ical t reat m ent of t he inspired t ex t . I cam e acr oss a curious and rare book one day in Glasgow Universit y Library, wr it t en in 1659, by a Pr ot est ant , one William Kilburn, ent it led Dangerous Er rors in Sever al Lat e Print ed Bibles t o t he Great Scandal and Corrupt ion of Sound and True Religion. He enum erat es t he er rors, om issions, and specim ens of nonsense t hat he discovered in t hese edit ions, m any of t hem im port ed fr om Holland, and m ent ions t hat a gent lem an had unear t hed 6,000 m ist akes in one copy alone. ( 6) But t im e would fail t o t ell of all t he corrupt ions and perv er sions of t he original t ext s which are t o be found in pract ically all t he Pr ot est ant Bibles, down t o t he present t im e, and whose exist ence is proved by t he fact t hat one aft er t he ot her has been wit hdrawn, and it s place t aken by a fr esh version, which in it s t urn was found t o be no bet t er t han t he r est . I s t his r ev er ence for t he Word of God? Which of all t hese cor rupt part isan v er sions was 't he Rule of Fait h?' The Bible, and t he Bible only, we are t old; but which Bible? I ask . Or had Pr ot est ant s a differ ent Rule of Fait h according t o t he cent ur y in which t hey lived? according t o t he copy of t he Bible t hey chanced t o possess? What a m ock ery of Religion! What a degradat ion of God's Holy Word, t hat it should have been knocked about like a shut t lecock , and m ade t o ser ve t he int erest s now of t his sect , now of t hat , and loaded wit h not es t hat shrieked aloud part y war- cries and bit t er accusat ions and filt hy insinuat ions! I s t his zeal for t he pure and incorrupt Gospel? I s t his t he grand and unspeakable blessing of t he 'open Bible'? I t only rem ains now t o show by cont rast t he calm , dignified, and rever ent act ion t aken by t he Cat holic Church, t owards her own Book.
CH APTER X V. Th e Ca t holic’s Bible
WHAT was t he Cat holic Church doing all t his t im e? Well, she was in a st at e of per secut ion in England, and could not do v ery m uch ex cept suffer . ( I ) Many of her best sons w ent abr oad t o m ore favourable lands. The cir cum st ances had assur edly been m ost unsuit able for bringing out a Cat holic version of t he Script ures. She was rat her cont ent , indeed com pelled, t o sit st ill and from her m aj est ic height look down and wat ch t he rise and fall, t he publicat ion and
wit hdrawal, t he appearance and disappear ance of dozens of differ ent v ersions, her et ical and corrupt , gr ot esque in t heir blunders and bit t er in t heir sect arianism , t hat had been issued by t he various bodies. By t he end of t he sixt eent h cent ur y no less t han 270 new sect s had been enum erat ed, and som e t hat had been ext inct for cent uries, like Arianism , r evived under t he genial influence of Lut her. Dr. Walt on, Bishop of Chest er , and aut hor of t he fam ous Polyglot t Bible t hat bear s his nam e, lam ent s t his fact in his Preface about t he end of t he sevent eent h cent ury. ’Ther e is no fanat ic or clown’ ’ says he, ’fr om t he lowest dregs of t he people who does not give you his own dream s as t he Word of God. For t he bot t om less pit seem s t o have been set open fr om whence a sm oke has risen which has obscur ed t he heav ens and t he st ars, and locust s ar e com e out wit h wings—a num erous race of sect ar ies and her et ics, who have r enewed all t he old heresies, and invent ed m onst rous opinions of t heir own. These hav e filled our cit ies, villages, cam ps, houses—nay , our chur ches and pulpit s, t oo, and lead t he poor deluded people wit h t hem t o t he pit of perdit ion.' Doubt less t he poor Bishop, being a self- com placent Anglican, failed t o per ceive t hat he him self was as m uch of a deluded sect ary and her et ic as any of t hem . I t was not t ill 1582 t hat a Cat holic New Test am ent appeared, and t hat was not in England, but in France, at Rheim s, w hence a colony of per secut ed Cat holics had fled, including Cardinal Allen, Gr egory Mart in, and Robert Brist ow, who w ere m ainly responsible for t his new t r anslat ion. William Allen, form erly Canon of Yor k, lat er Archbishop of Mechlin, and last ly Cardinal, had founded a college at Douai for t he t raining of priest s for t he English m ission in 1568. He was com pelled t o r em ove it t o Rheim s in 1578 owing t o Huguenot riot s, and t her e, as I said, in 1582 t hey issued t he New Test am ent in English for Cat holics. I t was a t ranslat ion, of cour se, fr om t he Lat in Vulgat e, which had been declared by t he Council of Tr ent t o be t he aut horised t ext of Script ure for t he Chur ch. Mart in was t he principal t ranslat or, whilst Brist ow m ainly cont ribut ed t he not es, which are powerful and illum inat ive. The whole was int ended t o be of ser vice bot h t o priest s and people, t o give t hem a t rue and sound rendering of t he original writ ings, t o save t hem from t he num berless false and incor rect versions in circulat ion, and t o pr ovide t hem wit h som et hing wherewit h t o r efut e t he her et ics who t hen, as ever, approached wit h a t ext in t heir m out h. ( 2) Needless t o say, t he appear ance of t his New Test am ent , wit h it s annot at ions, at once ar oused t he fiercest opposit ion. Queen Elizabet h ordered t he sear cher s t o seek out and confiscat e ev er y copy t hey could find. I f a priest was found in possession of it , he was fort hwit h im prisoned. Tort ur e by rack was applied t o t hose w ho circulat ed it , and a scholar, Dr. Fulke, was appoint ed t o refut e it . All t hese m easur es, be it not ed, kind reader, wer e t ak en by part ies who advocat ed loudly t he unlim it ed right of privat e j udgm ent . I n 1593 t he College r et urned t o Douai, and t her e in 1609 t he Old Test am ent was added, and t he Cat holic Bible in English was com plet e, and is called t he Douai Bible. Com plet e w e m ay w ell call it ; it is t he only really com plet e Bible in English, for it cont ains t hose sev en book s of t he Old Test am ent which I point ed out befor e w ere, and ar e, om it t ed by t he Prot est ant s in t heir edit ions. So t hat we can claim t o have not only t he pur e, unadult erat ed Bible but t he whole of it , wit hout addit ion or subt ract ion: a t ranslat ion of t he Vulgat e, which is it self t he work of St . Jerom e in t he fourt h cent ury, which, again, is t he m ost aut horit at ive and corr ect of all t he early copies of Holy Script ure. At a single leap we t hus arrive at t hat great work, com plet ed by t he great est scholar of his day, who had access t o m anuscript s and aut horit ies t hat have now perished, and who, living so near t he days of t he Apost les, and, as it were, close t o t he v er y fount ainhead, was able t o produce a copy of t he inspired writ ings which, for cor rect ness, can nev er be equalled.
We m ay feel j ust ly proud of our Douai Bible. We need not declare it t o be perfect in all respect s, eit her in regard t o it s English st yle or it s em ploym ent of w ords fr om for eign languages; we need not feel t he less affect ion or adm irat ion for it t hough we should suggest t he possibilit y of revision and im prov em ent in som e part iculars—it has, indeed, been r e- edit ed and revised er e now especially by Bishop Challoner. But when all is said and done, it is a noble version wit h a noble hist ory; t rue, honest , scholarly, fait hful t o t he original. The Cat holic Church has not hing t o r egret in her policy or her act ion t ow ards English ver sions of t he Script ures. She has not issued one version one y ear and cancelled it t he next because of it s cor rupt ions and er rors, it s part isan not es, or polit ical doct rines. Nobly she has st ood for r ev er ence and caut ion in respect of t ranslat ing God's Holy Wor d int o t he vulgar t ongue. She w as slow in act ing, I adm it , if by slowness w e m ean deliberat ion and prudence, for she saw wit h unerring vision t he evils t hat were cert ain t o result fr om a hast y cast ing of pearls before swine. But when she did act , she act ed decisively and once for all. Who is t here t hat has followed t he sad st ory of t he non- Cat holic t reat m ent of t he Sacr ed Script ures but will be forced by cont rast t o adm ire t he wisdom , t he calm dignit y, t he consist ent and deliberat e policy of t he Ecclesiast ical aut horit ies of t he Cat holic Church in England, which st ands as a r eproof t o t he violent , blundering, m alicious m et hods of t he sect aries and which, if it had been acquiesced in by ot her s, w ould have saved t he Word of God from infinit e degradat ion and cont em pt ? ( 3) Hat r ed against her v er sion of t he Bible when it first appeared was so deep t hat an oat h sw orn on it was not deem ed t o be valid. I t was on t his sacr ed v olum e t hat Mary, Queen of Scot s, laid her hand and swor e her innocence t he night befor e her ex ecut ion. The Earl of Kent at once int erposed wit h t he rem ar k t hat t he Book was a Popish and false t ranslat ion, and in consequence t he oat h was of no value. 'Does your Lordship suppose,' was t he quiet answer of t he noble Queen, 't hat m y oat h would be t he bet t er if I swore on your t ranslat ion, which I do not believe?' Thanks be t o God, t he Douai ver sion has now so est ablished it s posit ion, and hat red t o it and t o it s aut hors has so dim inished, t hat a Cat holic m ay, ev en in t hese lands, sw ear upon it in conscience, and his word is believed as any ot her m an's in a Court of Law. Found in t housands of pious Cat holic hom es at t he pr esent hour , w e m ay com fort ourselves wit h t he reflect ion t hat , in t his kingdom , t her e has now for long exist ed t he t rue v ersion of t he Gospel of our Blessed Lord and t he inspired w ords of His holy Apost les and Evangelist s, as t hey have been handed down and preserv ed by t he Cat holic Church fr om t he beginning, unchangeable and unchanged; and we m ay feel t he m ost absolut e cert aint y t hat , as it is t he t rue v er sion, so, at a dat e not incalculably dist ant , it will prove t o be t he only one, for t he ot her s will have gone t o j oin t heir predecessors, and been consigned t o a happy oblivion, and only survive in t he m em or y of him who glances at t heir m ust y cov ers and faded pages beneat h t he glass cases of library or m useum .
CH APTER X VI . Envoi
AND now m y t ask is finished, and you, dear reader, if you hav e followed it up, will ut t er, I am sure, a hear t y Deo grat ias! As sincerely and as clearly as possible, I hav e t ried t o show t hat it is t o t he Cat holic Church under God t hat we ow e t he preservat ion and int egrit y of t he Sacr ed Script ures. The Old Test am ent she t ook over
from t he Jewish Church; t o it she added t he New Test am ent , t he w ork of her own Apost les and Bishops, and com prising t hem in one gr eat whole, declared t hat t hey had t he Holy Ghost for t heir aut hor, and w ere neit her t o be increased nor dim inished. Thr oughout t he ages when t here w as no ot her Chur ch she has pr eser ved t hem fr om err or , saved t hem fr om dest ruct ion, m ult iplied t hem in ever y language under Heaven, and put t hem wit h t he necessar y prudence in her people’s hands. Again and again heret ics and apost at es hav e t ried t o m ut ilat e and cor rupt t hem — indeed, have act ually done so; but t he Rom an Church has ev er pr eser ved a v ersion pure and ent ire. She claim s t hat she alone knows t he m eaning of t heir t eaching, and alone possesses t he right t o int erpret t hem t o m en. She will t olerat e no t am pering wit h t he sacr ed t ext , and in t hese days especially, when scient ist s and crit ics who have lost belief in t he supernat ural at t ack t hem and labour t o ov ert hr ow t heir Divine aut horit y and aut horship, Rom e alone st ands as t heir pr ot ect or; t o her alone pious lovers of t he Sacr ed Volum e, be t hey Cat holic or Prot est ant , m ust look t o save it and defend it . The Pope has appoint ed a st anding Biblical Com m ission t o guard t he int egrit y and aut hent icit y of Holy Script ure. This is but nat ural; for he st ands as it wer e in loco parent is; t he Bible is t he Church's offspring. But it is surely t he k eenest irony of hist ory t hat , whilst Prot est ant s t hem selves ar e st riving wit h m ight and m ain t o pull t o pieces t he ancient obj ect of t heir v enerat ion, t he Cat holic Church, ev er reput ed it s deadliest enem y, alone is left of all Christ ian bodies t o save it from dest ruct ion. And t his she will do, as she has ev er done in t he past ; it is part of her office in t his world; t her e is no ot her t hat has eit her t he right or t he power t o do it . I f t he Bible loses it s sov er eign place in t he heart and m ind of non- Cat holics, as it is rapidly doing, it is t he w ork of t hose who, whet her in Germ any , or Brit ain or Am erica, hav e loudly professed t hem selves it s great est cham pions. The Cat holic Church on t he ot her hand, in her long hist ory has not hing t o be asham ed of in her t r eat m ent of it , but deserv es t he praise and t hanks of all Christ ians for so zealously and fearlessly prot ect ing it from cor rupt ion and cont em pt . I ndeed, I will say t hat a sim ple st udy of her at t it ude t owards t he inspired Script ures, in com parison wit h t hat of all heret ical bodies, will furnish one of t he st r ongest argum ent s t hat she is t he True Church of Christ . Venerable and inspired as Cat holics regard t he Bible, great as is t heir dev ot ion t o it for spirit ual reading and support of doct rine, w e yet do not pr et end t o lean upon it alone, as t he Rule of fait h and m orals. Along wit h it we t ake t hat gr eat Word t hat was never w rit t en, Tradit ion, and hold by bot h t he one and t he ot her int erpret ed by t he living voice of t he Cat holic Church speaking t hrough her Supr em e Head, t he infallible Vicar of Christ . Her e w e hav e a Guide t hat has nev er failed, and nev er can, in t eaching us our dut y bot h t o God and m an. Not on t he quicksands of hum an and varying j udgm ent , but on t he Rock of Divine Aut horit y, we place our feet ; and, am idst t he warring of opinions and t he conflict of num berless edit ions and versions of Sacr ed Script ure, and t he confused and cont r adict ory int erpr et at ions of t ext s, w e find an unassailable refuge in t he decision of Rom e, and in subm it t ing t o t he j udgm ent of t hat Church t o which Christ gave Divine aut horit y t o t each when He said, 'Go y e and t each all nat ions', we find a sur e consolat ion and an abiding peace. I ndividual int erpret at ion of t he Bible—t he m ost sublim e but also t he m ost difficult Book ev er penned—can never bring sat isfact ion, can never give infallible cert aint y, can nev er place a m an in possession of t hat great obj ect ive body of t rut h which Our Blessed Lord t aught , and which it is necessary t o salvat ion t hat all should believe. The experience of m any cent uries pr ov es it . I t can not do so because it was never
m eant t o do so. I t pr oduces not unit y, but division; not peace, but st rife. Only list ening t o t hose t o whom Jesus Christ said, ’He t hat hearet h you hear et h Me,’ only sinking his own fads and fancies and subm it t ing wit h childlike confidence t o t hose whom t he Redeem er sent out t o t each in His Nam e and wit h His aut horit y—only t his, I say, will sat isfy a m an, and give t o his int ellect repose, and t o his soul a 'peace t hat surpasset h all underst anding'. Then no longer will he be t orm ent ed wit h cont ent ious disput ings about t his passage of t he Bible and t hat , no longer racked and rent and 't ossed t o and fr o wit h every wind of doct rine', changing wit h t he changing years. He will, on t he cont rar y, ex perience a j oy and com fort and cert aint y t hat not hing can shake in being able t o say, 'O m y God, I believe what ev er Thy Holy Cat holic Church believes and t eaches, because Thou hast revealed it Who canst neit her deceive nor be deceived.' God grant t hat m any Bible- reader s and Bible- lovers m ay obt ain t he grace t o m ak e t his act of fait h, and pass fr om an unreasoning subservience t o a Book t o r easonable obedience and subm ission t o it s m aker and defender—t he Cat holic and Rom an Church.
BI OGRAPH I CAL N OTE CATH OLI C The Bible and t he Rule of Fait h. Abbe Begin. The Bible: I t s Use and Abuse. Paul McLachlan. Concerning t he Holy Bible. J. S. Vaughan. Text - Books of Cat holic Theology. — Tanquer ey , Hunt er, et c. Cat holic Dict ionary, Cat holic Cy clopedia. C.T.S. Publicat ions.—Clark e, Anderson, Donnelly, M. C. L., Allnat t , et c. The Quest ion Box, Fait h of our Fat her s, et c. I nt roduct ion t o Old Test am ent and New Test am ent . Cornely. The Old English Bible. Gasquet . Cat holic St udent s " Aids" t o t he St udy of t he Bible. H. Pope, O. P. PROTESTAN T English Church Hist ories.—Dixon, Hook, Blunt . The Bible and t he Church.. West cot t . The Dark Ages. Mait land. Hist ory of t he English Bible. Burnet t Thom pson. The English Bible. Milligan. How t he Bible cam e t o us. Herne. English Bibles. Dor e'. Our Bible. Talbot . How w e got our Bible. Sm yt h. I nt roduct ion t o New Test am ent Crit icism . Scrivener. Helps t o St udy of t he Bible. ( Oxford.) The Bibles of England. Edgar. Our English Bible. Hoare. [ t ranscribed and uploaded t o www .endofm an.com on Sept . 14, 2001.]
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