Timeline of Bible Translation History

bible 1

This timeline is from www.greatsite.com 

check it out and bookmark it, it has a lot of detailed information on the history of the Bible as well as facsimiles and photos of rare pages and Bibles from antiquity. Page Source – http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/#timeline. (This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2013 by author & editor: John L. Jeffcoat III. Special thanks is also given to Dr. Craig H. Lampe for his valuable contributions to the text.)

Timeline of Bible Translation History

1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.

500 BC: Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up The 39 Books of the Old Testament.

200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek Manuscripts which contain The 39 Old Testament Books AND 14 Apocrypha Books.

1st Century AD: Completion of All Original Greek Manuscripts which make up The 27 Books of the New Testament.

315 AD: Athenasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.

382 AD: Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Manuscripts Produced which contain All 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).

500 AD: Scriptures have been Translated into Over 500 Languages.

600 AD: LATIN was the Only Language Allowed for Scripture.

995 AD: Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament Produced.

1384 AD: Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript Copy of the Complete Bible; All 80 Books.

1455 AD: Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.

1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.

1522 AD: Martin Luther’s German New Testament.

1526 AD: William Tyndale’s New Testament; The First New Testament printed in the English Language.

1535 AD: Myles Coverdale’s Bible; The First Complete Bible printed in the English Language (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).

1537 AD: Tyndale-Matthews Bible; The Second Complete Bible printed in English. Done by John „Thomas Matthew” Rogers (80 Books).

1539 AD: The „Great Bible” Printed; The First English Language Bible Authorized for Public Use (80 Books).

1560 AD: The Geneva Bible Printed; The First English Language Bible to add Numbered Verses to Each Chapter (80 Books).

1568 AD: The Bishops Bible Printed; The Bible of which the King James was a Revision (80 Books).

1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) Making the First Complete English Catholic Bible; Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).

1611 AD: The King James Bible Printed; Originally with All 80 Books. The Apocrypha was Officially Removed in 1885 Leaving Only 66 Books.

1782 AD: Robert Aitken’s Bible; The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.

1791 AD: Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.

1808 AD: Jane Aitken’s Bible (Daughter of Robert Aitken); The First Bible to be Printed by a Woman.

1833 AD: Noah Webster’s Bible; After Producing his Famous Dictionary, Webster Printed his Own Revision of the King James Bible.

1841 AD: English Hexapla New Testament; an Early Textual Comparison showing the Greek and 6 Famous English Translations in Parallel Columns.

1846 AD: The Illuminated Bible; The Most Lavishly Illustrated Bible printed in America. A King James Version, with All 80 Books.

1885 AD: The „English Revised Version” Bible; The First Major English Revision of the KJV.

1901 AD: The „American Standard Version”; The First Major American Revision of the KJV.

1971 AD: The „New American Standard Bible” (NASB) is Published as a „Modern and Accurate Word for Word English Translation” of the Bible.

1973 AD: The „New International Version” (NIV) is Published as a „Modern and Accurate Phrase for Phrase English Translation” of the Bible.

1982 AD: The „New King James Version” (NKJV) is Published as a „Modern English Version Maintaining the Original Style of the King James.”

2002 AD: The English Standard Version (ESV) is Published as a translation to bridge the gap between the accuracy of the NASB and the readability of the NIV.

This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2002 by author & editor: John L. Jeffcoat III. Special thanks is also given to Dr. Craig H. Lampe for his valuable contributions to the text. This page may be freely reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, in print or electronically, under the one condition that prominent credit must be given to “WWW.GREATSITE.COM” as the source.

English Bible History

hourglass

The fascinating story of how we got the Bible in its present form actually starts thousands of years ago, as briefly outlined in our Timeline of Bible Translation History. As a background study, we recommend that you first review our discussion of the Pre-Reformation History of the Bible from 1,400 B.C. to 1,400 A.D., which covers the transmission of the scripture through the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, and the 1,000 years of the Dark & Middle Ages when the Word was trapped in only Latin. Our starting point in this discussion of Bible history, however, is the advent of the scripture in the English language with the “Morning Star of the Reformation”, John Wycliffe.

John WycliffeJohn Wycliffe – The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

John Hus

John Huss – One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman church that threatened anyone possessing a non-Latin Bible with execution. Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire. The last words of John Hus were that, “in 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. The prophecy of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people; a translation more appealing than previous German Biblical translations. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.

Johann  GutenbergJohann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450’s, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colorfully hand-illuminated. Born as “Johann Gensfleisch” (John Gooseflesh), he preferred to be known as “Johann Gutenberg” (John Beautiful Mountain). Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business and left him in poverty. Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time. This was essential to the success of the Reformation.
Thomas LinacreThomas Linacre – In the 1490’s another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry the 7th and 8th, Thomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel… or we are not Christians.” The Latin had become so corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel… yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who read the scripture in any language other than Latin… though Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.
John ColetIn 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in! (Sadly, while the enormous and beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral remains the main church in London today, as of 2003, typical Sunday morning worship attendance is only around 200 people… and most of them are tourists). Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.
ErasmusErasmus – In considering the experiences of Linacre and Colet, the great scholar Erasmus was so moved to correct the corrupt Latin Vulgate, that in 1516, with the help of printer John Froben, he published a Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament. The Latin part was not the corrupt Vulgate, but his own fresh rendering of the text from the more accurate and reliable Greek, which he had managed to collate from a half-dozen partial old Greek New Testament manuscripts he had acquired. This milestone was the first non-Latin Vulgate text of the scripture to be produced in a millennium… and the first ever to come off a printing press. The 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus further focused attention on just how corrupt and inaccurate the Latin Vulgate had become, and how important it was to go back and use the original Greek (New Testament) and original Hebrew (Old Testament) languages to maintain accuracy… and to translate them faithfully into the languages of the common people, whether that be English, German, or any other tongue. No sympathy for this “illegal activity” was to be found from Rome… even as the words of Pope Leo X’s declaration that „the fable of Christ was quite profitable to him” continued through the years to infuriate the people of God.
William TyndaleWilliam Tyndale was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language. Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius, so fluent in eight languages that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the “Architect of the English Language”, (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today.
Martin LutherMartin Luther had a small head-start on Tyndale, as Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on Halloween in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German.

William Tyndale wanted to use the same 1516 Erasmus text as a source to translate and print the New Testament in English for the first time in history. Tyndale showed up on Luther’s doorstep in Germany in 1525, and by year’s end had translated the New Testament into English. Tyndale had been forced to flee England, because of the wide-spread rumor that his English New Testament project was underway, causing inquisitors and bounty hunters to be constantly on Tyndale’s trail to arrest him and prevent his project. God foiled their plans, and in 1525-1526 the Tyndale New Testament became the first printed edition of the scripture in the English language. Subsequent printings of the Tyndale New Testament in the 1530’s were often elaborately illustrated.

They were burned as soon as the Bishop could confiscate them, but copies trickled through and actually ended up in the bedroom of King Henry VIII. The more the King and Bishop resisted its distribution, the more fascinated the public at large became. The church declared it contained thousands of errors as they torched hundreds of New Testaments confiscated by the clergy, while in fact, they burned them because they could find no errors at all. One risked death by burning if caught in mere possession of Tyndale’s forbidden books.

Having God’s Word available to the public in the language of the common man, English, would have meant disaster to the church. No longer would they control access to the scriptures. If people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue, the church’s income and power would crumble. They could not possibly continue to get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from a church-manufactured „Purgatory”. People would begin to challenge the church’s authority if the church were exposed as frauds and thieves. The contradictions between what God’s Word said, and what the priests taught, would open the public’s eyes and the truth would set them free from the grip of fear that the institutional church held. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. The need for priests would vanish through the priesthood of all believers. The veneration of church-canonized Saints and Mary would be called into question. The availability of the scriptures in English was the biggest threat imaginable to the wicked church. Neither side would give up without a fight.

Today, there are only two known copies left of Tyndale’s 1525-26 First Edition. Any copies printed prior to 1570 are extremely valuable. Tyndale’s flight was an inspiration to freedom-loving Englishmen who drew courage from the 11 years that he was hunted. Books and Bibles flowed into England in bales of cotton and sacks of flour. Ironically, Tyndale’s biggest customer was the King’s men, who would buy up every copy available to burn them… and Tyndale used their money to print even more! In the end, Tyndale was caught: betrayed by an Englishman that he had befriended. Tyndale was incarcerated for 500 days before he was strangled and burned at the stake in 1536. Tyndale’s last words were, „Oh Lord, open the King of England’s eyes”. This prayer would be answered just three years later in 1539, when King Henry VIII finally allowed, and even funded, the printing of an English Bible known as the “Great Bible”. But before that could happen…

Myles CoverdaleMyles Coverdale and John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers had remained loyal disciples the last six years of Tyndale’s life, and they carried the English Bible project forward and even accelerated it. Coverdale finished translating the Old Testament, and in 1535 he printed the first complete Bible in the English language, making use of Luther’s German text and the Latin as sources. Thus, the first complete English Bible was printed on October 4, 1535, and is known as the Coverdale Bible.
John RogersJohn Rogers went on to print the second complete English Bible in 1537. It was, however, the first English Bible translated from the original Biblical languages of Hebrew & Greek. He printed it under the pseudonym „Thomas Matthew”, (an assumed name that had actually been used by Tyndale at one time) as a considerable part of this Bible was the translation of Tyndale, whose writings had been condemned by the English authorities. It is a composite made up of Tyndale’s Pentateuch and New Testament (1534-1535 edition) and Coverdale’s Bible and some of Roger’s own translation of the text. It remains known most commonly as the Matthew-Tyndale Bible. It went through a nearly identical second-edition printing in 1549.
Thomas CranmerIn 1539, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, hired Myles Coverdale at the bequest of King Henry VIII to publish the „Great Bible”. It became the first English Bible authorized for public use, as it was distributed to every church, chained to the pulpit, and a reader was even provided so that the illiterate could hear the Word of God in plain English. It would seem that William Tyndale’s last wish had been granted…just three years after his martyrdom. Cranmer’s Bible, published by Coverdale, was known as the Great Bible due to its great size: a large pulpit folio measuring over 14 inches tall. Seven editions of this version were printed between April of 1539 and December of 1541.
King Henry VIIIIt was not that King Henry VIII had a change of conscience regarding publishing the Bible in English. His motives were more sinister… but the Lord sometimes uses the evil intentions of men to bring about His glory. King Henry VIII had in fact, requested that the Pope permit him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused. King Henry responded by marrying his mistress anyway, (later having two of his many wives executed), and thumbing his nose at the Pope by renouncing Roman Catholicism, taking England out from under Rome’s religious control, and declaring himself as the reigning head of State to also be the new head of the Church. This new branch of the Christian Church, neither Roman Catholic nor truly Protestant, became known as the Anglican Church or the Church of England. King Henry acted essentially as its “Pope”. His first act was to further defy the wishes of Rome by funding the printing of the scriptures in English… the first legal English Bible… just for spite.
Queen MaryThe ebb and flow of freedom continued through the 1540’s…and into the 1550’s. After King Henry VIII, King Edward VI took the throne, and after his death, the reign of Queen “Bloody” Mary was the next obstacle to the printing of the Bible in English. She was possessed in her quest to return England to the Roman Church. In 1555, John „Thomas Matthew” Rogers and Thomas Cranmer were both burned at the stake. Mary went on to burn reformers at the stake by the hundreds for the „crime” of being a Protestant. This era was known as the Marian Exile, and the refugees fled from England with little hope of ever seeing their home or friends again.
John FoxeIn the 1550’s, the Church at Geneva, Switzerland, was very sympathetic to the reformer refugees and was one of only a few safe havens for a desperate people. Many of them met in Geneva, led by Myles Coverdale and John Foxe (publisher of the famous Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which is to this day the only exhaustive reference work on the persecution and martyrdom of Early Christians and Protestants from the first century up to the mid-16th century), as well as Thomas Sampson and William Whittingham. There, with the protection of the great theologian John Calvin (author of the most famous theological book ever published, Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion)and John Knox, the great Reformer of the Scottish Church, the Church of Geneva determined to produce a Bible that would educate their families while they continued in exile.
John CalvinThe New Testament was completed in 1557, and the complete Bible was first published in 1560. It became known as the Geneva Bible. Due to a passage in Genesis describing the clothing that God fashioned for Adam and Eve upon expulsion from the Garden of Eden as „Breeches” (an antiquated form of „Britches”), some people referred to the Geneva Bible as the Breeches Bible.
John KnoxThe Geneva Bible was the first Bible to add numbered verses to the chapters, so that referencing specific passages would be easier. Every chapter was also accompanied by extensive marginal notes and references so thorough and complete that the Geneva Bible is also considered the first English „Study Bible”. William Shakespeare quotes hundreds of times in his plays from the Geneva translation of the Bible. The Geneva Bible became the Bible of choice for over 100 years of English speaking Christians. Between 1560 and 1644 at least 144 editions of this Bible were published. Examination of the 1611 King James Bible shows clearly that its translators were influenced much more by the Geneva Bible, than by any other source. The Geneva Bible itself retains over 90% of William Tyndale’s original English translation. The Geneva in fact, remained more popular than the King James Version until decades after its original release in 1611! The Geneva holds the honor of being the first Bible taken to America, and the Bible of the Puritans and Pilgrims. It is truly the “Bible of the Protestant Reformation.” Strangely, the famous Geneva Bible has been out-of-print since 1644, so the only way to obtain one is to either purchase an original printing of the Geneva Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1560 Geneva Bible.

With the end of Queen Mary’s bloody reign, the reformers could safely return to England. The Anglican Church, now under Queen Elizabeth I, reluctantly tolerated the printing and distribution of Geneva version Bibles in England. The marginal notes, which were vehemently against the institutional Church of the day, did not rest well with the rulers of the day. Another version, one with a less inflammatory tone was desired, and the copies of the Great Bible were getting to be decades old. In 1568, a revision of the Great Bible known as the Bishop’s Bible was introduced. Despite 19 editions being printed between 1568 and 1606, this Bible, referred to as the “rough draft of the King James Version”, never gained much of a foothold of popularity among the people. The Geneva may have simply been too much to compete with.

By the 1580’s, the Roman Catholic Church saw that it had lost the battle to suppress the will of God: that His Holy Word be available in the English language. In 1582, the Church of Rome surrendered their fight for „Latin only” and decided that if the Bible was to be available in English, they would at least have an official Roman Catholic English translation. And so, using the corrupt and inaccurate Latin Vulgate as the only source text, they went on to publish an English Bible with all the distortions and corruptions that Erasmus had revealed and warned of 75 years earlier. Because it was translated at the Roman Catholic College in the city of Rheims, it was known as the Rheims New Testament (also spelled Rhemes). The Douay Old Testament was translated by the Church of Rome in 1609 at the College in the city of Douay (also spelled Doway & Douai). The combined product is commonly referred to as the „Doway/Rheims” Version. In 1589, Dr. William Fulke of Cambridge published the „Fulke’s Refutation”, in which he printed in parallel columns the Bishops Version along side the Rheims Version, attempting to show the error and distortion of the Roman Church’s corrupt compromise of an English version of the Bible.

King James IWith the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Prince James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. The Protestant clergy approached the new King in 1604 and announced their desire for a new translation to replace the Bishop’s Bible first printed in 1568. They knew that the Geneva Version had won the hearts of the people because of its excellent scholarship, accuracy, and exhaustive commentary. However, they did not want the controversial marginal notes (proclaiming the Pope an Anti-Christ, etc.) Essentially, the leaders of the church desired a Bible for the people, with scriptural references only for word clarification or cross-references.

This „translation to end all translations” (for a while at least) was the result of the combined effort of about fifty scholars. They took into consideration: The Tyndale New Testament, The Coverdale Bible, The Matthews Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, and even the Rheims New Testament. The great revision of the Bishop’s Bible had begun. From 1605 to 1606 the scholars engaged in private research. From 1607 to 1609 the work was assembled. In 1610 the work went to press, and in 1611 the first of the huge (16 inch tall) pulpit folios known today as „The 1611 King James Bible” came off the printing press. A typographical discrepancy in Ruth 3:15 rendered a pronoun „He” instead of „She” in that verse in some printings. This caused some of the 1611 First Editions to be known by collectors as „He” Bibles, and others as „She” Bibles. Starting just one year after the huge 1611 pulpit-size King James Bibles were printed and chained to every church pulpit in England; printing then began on the earliest normal-size printings of the King James Bible. These were produced so individuals could have their own personal copy of the Bible.

John BunyanThe Anglican Church’s King James Bible took decades to overcome the more popular Protestant Church’s Geneva Bible. One of the greatest ironies of history, is that many Protestant Christian churches today embrace the King James Bible exclusively as the “only” legitimate English language translation… yet it is not even a Protestant translation! It was printed to compete with the Protestant Geneva Bible, by authorities who throughout most of history were hostile to Protestants… and killed them. While many Protestants are quick to assign the full blame of persecution to the Roman Catholic Church, it should be noted that even after England broke from Roman Catholicism in the 1500’s, the Church of England (The Anglican Church) continued to persecute Protestants throughout the 1600’s. One famous example of this is John Bunyan, who while in prison for the crime of preaching the Gospel, wrote one of Christian history’s greatest books, Pilgrim’s Progress. Throughout the 1600’s, as the Puritans and the Pilgrims fled the religious persecution of England to cross the Atlantic and start a new free nation in America, they took with them their precious Geneva Bible, and rejected the King’s Bible. America was founded upon the Geneva Bible, not the King James Bible.

Protestants today are largely unaware of their own history, and unaware of the Geneva Bible (which is textually 95% the same as the King James Version, but 50 years older than the King James Version, and not influenced by the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament that the King James translators admittedly took into consideration). Nevertheless, the King James Bible turned out to be an excellent and accurate translation, and it became the most printed book in the history of the world, and the only book with one billion copies in print. In fact, for over 250 years…until the appearance of the English Revised Version of 1881-1885…the King James Version reigned without much of a rival. One little-known fact, is that for the past 200 years, all King James Bibles published in America are actually the 1769 Baskerville spelling and wording revision of the 1611. The original “1611” preface is deceivingly included by the publishers, and no mention of the fact that it is really the 1769 version is to be found, because that might hurt sales. The only way to obtain a true, unaltered, 1611 version is to either purchase an original pre-1769 printing of the King James Bible, or a less costly facsimile reproduction of the original 1611 King James Bible.

John EliotAlthough the first Bible printed in America was done in the native Algonquin Indian Language by John Eliot in 1663; the first English language Bible to be printed in America by Robert Aitken in 1782 was a King James Version. Robert Aitken’s 1782 Bible was also the only Bible ever authorized by the United States Congress. He was commended by President George Washington for providing Americans with Bibles during the embargo of imported English goods due to the Revolutionary War. In 1808, Robert’s daughter, Jane Aitken, would become the first woman to ever print a Bible… and to do so in America, of course. In 1791, Isaac Collins vastly improved upon the quality and size of the typesetting of American Bibles and produced the first „Family Bible” printed in America… also a King James Version. Also in 1791, Isaiah Thomas published the first Illustrated Bible printed in America…in the King James Version. For more information on the earliest Bibles printed in America from the 1600’s through the early 1800’s, you may wish to review our more detailed discussion of The Bibles of Colonial America.
Noah WebsterWhile Noah Webster, just a few years after producing his famous Dictionary of the English Language, would produce his own modern translation of the English Bible in 1833; the public remained too loyal to the King James Version for Webster’s version to have much impact. It was not really until the 1880’s that England’s own planned replacement for their King James Bible, the English Revised Version(E.R.V.) would become the first English language Bible to gain popular acceptance as a post-King James Version modern-English Bible. The widespread popularity of this modern-English translation brought with it another curious characteristic: the absence of the 14 Apocryphal books.

Up until the 1880’s every Protestant Bible (not just Catholic Bibles) had 80 books, not 66! The inter-testamental books written hundreds of years before Christ called “The Apocrypha” were part of virtually every printing of the Tyndale-Matthews Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Protestant Geneva Bible, and the King James Bible until their removal in the 1880’s! The original 1611 King James contained the Apocrypha, and King James threatened anyone who dared to print the Bible without the Apocrypha with heavy fines and a year in jail. Only for the last 120 years has the Protestant Church rejected these books, and removed them from their Bibles. This has left most modern-day Christians believing the popular myth that there is something “Roman Catholic” about the Apocrypha. There is, however, no truth in that myth, and no widely-accepted reason for the removal of the Apocrypha in the 1880’s has ever been officially issued by a mainline Protestant denomination.

The Americans responded to England’s E.R.V. Bible by publishing the nearly-identical American Standard Version (A.S.V.) in 1901. It was also widely-accepted and embraced by churches throughout America for many decades as the leading modern-English version of the Bible. In the 1971, it was again revised and called New American Standard Version Bible (often referred to as the N.A.S.V. or N.A.S.B. or N.A.S.). This New American Standard Bible is considered by nearly all evangelical Christian scholars and translators today, to be the most accurate, word-for-word translation of the original Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the modern English language that has ever been produced. It remains the most popular version among theologians, professors, scholars, and seminary students today. Some, however, have taken issue with it because it is so direct and literal a translation (focused on accuracy), that it does not flow as easily in conversational English.

For this reason, in 1973, the New International Version (N.I.V.) was produced, which was offered as a “dynamic equivalent” translation into modern English. The N.I.V. was designed not for “word-for-word” accuracy, but rather, for “phrase-for-phrase” accuracy, and ease of reading even at a Junior High-School reading level. It was meant to appeal to a broader (and in some instances less-educated) cross-section of the general public. Critics of the N.I.V. often jokingly refer to it as the “Nearly Inspired Version”, but that has not stopped it from becoming the best-selling modern-English translation of the Bible ever published.

In 1982, Thomas Nelson Publishers produced what they called the “New King James Version”. Their original intent was to keep the basic wording of the King James to appeal to King James Version loyalists, while only changing the most obscure words and the Elizabethan “thee, thy, thou” pronouns. This was an interesting marketing ploy, however, upon discovering that this was not enough of a change for them to be able to legally copyright the result, they had to make more significant revisions, which defeated their purpose in the first place. It was never taken seriously by scholars, but it has enjoyed some degree of public acceptance, simply because of its clever “New King James Version” marketing name.

In 2002, a major attempt was made to bridge the gap between the simple readability of the N.I.V., and the extremely precise accuracy of the N.A.S.B. This translation is called the English Standard Version (E.S.V.) and is rapidly gaining popularity for its readability and accuracy. The 21st Century will certainly continue to bring new translations of God’s Word in the modern English language.

As Christians, we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently is the Today’s New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible! Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.

But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!

Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. The Word of God is unchanging from generation to generation, but language is a dynamic and ever-changing form of communication. We therefore have a responsibility before God as Christians to make sure that each generation has a modern translation that they can easily understand, yet that does not sacrifice accuracy in any way. Let’s be ever mindful that we are not called to worship the Bible. That is called idolatry. We are called to worship the God who gave us the Bible, and who preserved it through the centuries of people who sought to destroy it.

We are also called to preserve the ancient, original English translations of the Bible… and that is what we do here at WWW.GREATSITE.COM

Consider the following textual comparison of the earliest English translations of John 3:16, as shown in the English Hexapla Parallel New Testament:

  • 1st Ed. King James (1611): „For God so loued the world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”
  • Rheims (1582): „For so God loued the vvorld, that he gaue his only-begotten sonne: that euery one that beleeueth in him, perish not, but may haue life euerlasting”
  • Geneva (1560): „For God so loueth the world, that he hath geuen his only begotten Sonne: that none that beleue in him, should peryshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”
  • Great Bible (1539): „For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlasting lyfe.”
  • Tyndale (1534): „For God so loveth the worlde, that he hath geven his only sonne, that none that beleve in him, shuld perisshe: but shuld have everlastinge lyfe.”
  • Wycliff (1380): „for god loued so the world; that he gaf his oon bigetun sone, that eche man that bileueth in him perisch not: but haue euerlastynge liif,”
  • Anglo-Saxon Proto-English Manuscripts (995 AD): “God lufode middan-eard swa, dat he seade his an-cennedan sunu, dat nan ne forweorde de on hine gely ac habbe dat ece lif.”
  1. FOXES-BOOK-OF-MARTYRS.COM
  2.  TYNDALE-BIBLE.COM
  3. GUTENBERG-BIBLE.COM 1611-KING-JAMES-BIBLE.COM
  4. KING-JAMES-VERSION-BIBLE.COM
  5. PARALLEL-BIBLE.COM
  6. FOR-BIBLE-COMMENTARY.COM
  7. NEW-TESTAMENT-GREEK.COM
  8. JOHN-WYCLIFFE.COM
  9. FOR-MARTIN-LUTHER.COM
  10. JOHN-CALVIN.NET
  11. WILLIAM-TYNDALE.COM
  1. Wycliffe Bible Translators estimate they will finish translating the Bible in all languages by 2025
  2. Reformation Day October 31, 1517: The Bible and Martin Luther
  3. The First (1385) English Bible Translator – John Wycliffe’s Life – (Video)
  4. Church History – John Wycliffe (1320-1384) translated the first English language Bible
  5. ‪The Forbidden Book – „History of the English Bible”

The First (1385) English Bible Translator – John Wycliffe’s Life – (Video)

„John Wycliffe” is a dramatic biography of the life of the 14th century scholar and cleric who translated the Bible into English for the first time. Wycliffe found himself in the middle of religious, political and social conflicts. An Oxford scholar, one of Europe’s most renowned philosophers, he was a defender of English nationalism against the power of the pope and a champion of the poor against the injustices of the rich. John Wycliffe taught that God’s forgiveness couldn’t be bought with indulgences. He preached that the only true authority is the Word of God, and the Word could only be understood by all if the people could read it in their native tongue. „John Wycliffe” captures the trials and heroic struggles of this significant man of faith – the „Morning Star” of the Reformation.

(DVD available at Amazon) Other video of interest – Martin Luther (English with Romanian subtitles)

You can read an in depth  biography on John Wycliffe here.

VIDEO by poftc

Church History – John Wycliffe (1320-1384) translated the first English language Bible

John Wycliffe Bible

What is the John Wycliffe Bible?

The very first translation of the scriptures into the English language. It is a beautiful hand-written manuscript. John Wycliffe is called “The Morning Star of the Reformation”. He was the first person to translate the Bible into the English language. Because he lived nearly a century before Gutenberg invented the printing press, his New Testaments and Bibles were of course, hand-written manuscripts. Wycliffe is also credited with being the inventor of bifocal eyeglasses (necessity being the mother of invention).

John Wycliffe Library

John Wycliffe History

The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

John Wycliffe (1320-1384) was a theologian and early proponent of reform in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. He initiated the first translation of the Bible into the English language and is considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation. Wycliffe was born at Ipreswell (modern Hipswell), Yorkshire, England, between 1320 and 1330; and he died at Lutterworth (near Leicester) December 31, 1384.

John Wycliffe
The Early Life of John Wycliffe

His family was of early Saxon origin, long settled in Yorkshire. In his day the family was a large one, covering a considerable territory, and its principal seat was Wycliffe-on-Tees, of which Ipreswell was an outlying hamlet. 1324 is the year usually given for Wycliffe’s birth. Wycliffe probably received his early education close to home. It is not known when he first went to Oxford, with which he was so closely connected till the end of his life. He was at Oxford in about 1345, when a series of illustrious names was adding glory to the fame of the university–such as those of Roger Bacon, Robert Grosseteste, Thomas Bradwardine, William of Occam, and Richard Fitzralph.

Wycliffe owed much to Occam; he showed an interest in natural science and mathematics, but applied himself to the study of theology, ecclesiastical law, and philosophy. Even his opponents acknowledged the keenness of his dialectic. His writings prove that he was well grounded in Roman and English law, as well as in native history. A family whose seat was in the neighborhood of Wycliffe’s home– Bernard Castle– had founded Balliol College, Oxford to which Wycliffe belonged, first as scholar, then as master. He attained the headship no later than 1360.

The Early Career of John Wycliffe

When he was presented by the college (1361) with the parish of Fylingham in Lincolnshire, he had to give up the leadership of Balliol, though he could continue to live at Oxford. His university career followed the usual course. While as baccalaureate he busied himself with natural science and mathematics, as master he had the right to read in philosophy. More significant was his interest in Bible study, which he pursued after becoming bachelor in theology. His performance led Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, to place him at the head of Canterbury Hall in 1365.

Between 1366 and 1372 he became a doctor of theology; as such he had the right to lecture upon systematic divinity, which he did. In 1368 he gave up his living at Fylingham and took over the rectory of Ludgershall in Buckinghamshire, not far from Oxford, which enabled him to retain his connection with the university.

Roots of Wycliffe’s Reformation Activities

It was not as a teacher or preacher that Wycliffe gained his position in history; this came from his activities in ecclesiastical politics, in which he engaged about the mid-1370s, when his reformatory work also began. In 1374 he was among the English delegates at a peace congress at Bruges. He may have been given this position because of the spirited and patriotic behavior with which in the year 1366 he sought the interests of his country against the demands of the papacy. It seems he had a reputation as a patriot and reformer; this suggests the answer to the question how he came to his reformatory ideas. Even if older evangelical parties did not exist in England before Wycliffe, he might easily have been influenced by continental evangelicals who abounded. It is highly probable that the older type of doctrine and practice represented by the Iro-Scottish Christians of the pre-Roman time persisted till the time of Wycliffe and reappeared in Lollardism.

The root of the Wycliffe’s reformation movement must be traced to his Bible study and to the ecclesiastical-political lawmaking of his times. He was well acquainted with the tendencies of the ecclesiastical politics to which England owed its position. He had studied the proceedings of King Edward I of England, and had attributed to them the basis of parliamentary opposition to papal usurpations. He found them a model for methods of procedure in matters connected with the questions of worldly possessions and the Church. Many sentences in his book on the Church recall the institution of the commission of 1274, which caused problems for the English clergy. He considered that the example of Edward I should be borne in mind by the government of his time; but that the aim should be a reformation of the entire ecclesiastical establishment. Similar was his position on the enactments induced by the ecclesiastical politics of Edward III, with which he was well acquainted, which are fully reflected in his political tracts.

Political Career of John Wycliffe

The Reformer’s entrance upon the stage of ecclesiastical politics is usually related to the question of feudal tribute to which England had been rendered liable by King John, which had remained unpaid for thirty-three years until Pope Urban V in 1365 demanded it. Parliament declared that neither John nor any other had the right to subject England to any foreign power. Should the pope attempt to enforce his claim by arms, he would be met with united resistance. Urban apparently recognized his mistake and dropped his claim. But there was no talk of a patriotic uprising. The tone of the pope was, in fact, not threatening, and he did not wish to draw England into the maelstrom of politics of western and southern Europe. Sharp words were bound to be heard in England, because of the close relations of the papacy with France. It is said that on this occasion Wycliffe served as theological counsel to the government, composed a polemical tract dealing with the tribute, and defended an unnamed monk over against the conduct of the government and parliament. This would place the entrance of Wycliffe into politics about 1365-66. But Wycliffe’s more important participation began with the Peace Congress at Bruges. There in 1374 negotiations were carried on between France and England, while at the same time commissioners from England dealt with papal delegates respecting the removal of ecclesiastical annoyances. Wycliffe was among these, under a decree dated July 26, 1374. The choice of a harsh opponent of the Avignon system would have broken up rather than furthered the peace negotiations. It seems he was designated purely as a theologian, and so considered himself, since a noted Scripture scholar was required alongside of those learned in civil and canon law. There was no need for a man of renown, or a pure advocate of state interests. His predecessor in a like case was John Owtred, a monk who formulated the statement that St. Peter had united in his hands spiritual and temporal power–the opposite of what Wycliffe taught. In the days of the mission to Bruges Owtred still belonged in Wycliffe’s circle of friends.

Wycliffe was still regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as trustworthy; his opposition to the ruling conduct of the Church may have escaped notice. It was difficult to recognize him as a heretic. The controversies in which men engaged at Oxford were philosophical rather than purely theological or ecclesiastical-political, and the method of discussion was academic and scholastic. The kind of men with whom Wycliffe dealt included the Carmelite monk John Kyningham over theological questions (utrum Christus esset humanitas), or ecclesiastical-political ones (De dominatione civili; De dotatione ecclesiae).Wycliffe regarded it as a sin to incite the pope to excommunicate laymen who had deprived wicked clergy of their temporalities, his dictum being that a man in a state of sin had no claim upon government.

1380 – 1410 Wycliffe Manuscript

Wycliffe blamed the Benedictine and professor of theology at Oxford, William Wynham of St. Albans (where the anti-Wycliffe trend was considerable) for making public controversies which had previously been confined to the academic arena. Wycliffe himself tells (Sermones, iii. 199) how he concluded that there was a great contrast between what the Church was and what it ought to be, and saw the necessity for reform. His ideas stress the perniciousness of the temporal rule of the clergy and its incompatibility with the teaching of Christ and the apostles, and make note of the tendencies which were evident in the measures of the „Good Parliament”.

Wycliffe’s Public Declaration of his Ideas

Wycliffe was among those to whom the thought of the secularization of ecclesiastical properties in England was welcome. His patron was John of Gaunt. He was no longer satisfied with his chair as the means of propagating his ideas, and soon after his return from Bruges he began to express them in tracts and longer works–his great work, the Summa theologiae, was written in support of them. In the first book, concerned with the government of God and the ten commandments, he attacked the temporal rule of the clergy–in temporal things the king is above the pope, and the collection of annates and indulgences is simony. But he entered the politics of the day with his great work De civili dominio. Here he introduced those ideas by which the good parliament was governed– which involved the renunciation by the Church of temporal dominion. The items of the „long bill” appear to have been derived from his work. In this book are the strongest outcries against the Avignon system with its commissions, exactions, squandering of charities by unfit priests, and the like. To change this is the business of the State. If the clergy misuses ecclesiastical property, it must be taken away; if the king does not do this, he is remiss. The work contains 18 strongly stated theses, opposing the governing methods of the rule of the Church and the straightening out of its temporal possessions. Wycliffe had set these ideas before his students at Oxford in 1376, after becoming involved in controversy with William Wadeford and others. Rather than restricting these matters to the classroom, he wanted them proclaimed more widely and wanted temporal and spiritual lords to take note. While the latter attacked him and sought ecclesiastical censure, he recommended himself to the former by his criticism of the worldly possessions of the clergy.

Wycliffe’s Conflict with the Church

Wycliffe wanted to see his ideas actualized–his fundamental belief was that the Church should be poor, as in the days of the apostles. He had not yet broken with the mendicant friars, and from these John of Gaunt chose Wycliffe’s defenders. While the Reformer later claimed that it was not his purpose to incite temporal lords to confiscation of the property of the Church, the real tendencies of the propositions remained unconcealed. The result of the same doctrines in Bohemia–that land which was richest in ecclesiastical foundations–was that in a short time the entire church estate was taken over and a revolution brought about in the relations of temporal holdings. It was in keeping with the plans of Gaunt to have a personality like Wycliffe on his side. Especially in London the Reformer’s views won support; partisans of the nobility attached themselves to him, and the lower orders gladly heard his sermons. He preached in city churches, and London rang with his praises.

The first to oppose his theses were monks of those orders which held possessions, to whom his theories were dangerous. Oxford and the episcopate were later blamed by the Curia, which charged them with so neglecting their duty that the breaking of the evil fiend into the English sheepfold could be noticed in Rome before it was in England. Wycliffe was summoned before William Courtenay, bishop of London, on Feb. 19, 1377, in order „to explain the wonderful things which had streamed forth from his mouth.” The exact charges are not known, as the matter did not get as far as a definite examination. Gaunt, the earl marshal Henry Percy, and a number of other friends accompanied Wycliffe, and four begging friars were his advocates. A crowd gathered at the church, and at the entrance of the party animosities began to show, especially in an angry exchange between the bishop and the Reformer’s protectors. Gaunt declared that he would humble the pride of the English clergy and their partisans, hinting at the intent to secularize the possessions of the Church.

Most of the English clergy were irritated by this encounter, and attacks upon Wycliffe began, finding their response in the second and third books of his work dealing with civil government. These books carry a sharp polemic, hardly surprising when it is recalled that his opponents charged Wycliffe with blasphemy and scandal, pride and heresy. He appeared to have openly advised the secularization of English church property, and the dominant parties shared his conviction that the monks could better be controlled if they were relieved from the care of secular affairs.

The bitterness occasioned by this advice will be better understood when it is remembered that at that time the papacy was at war with the Florentines and was in dire straits. The demand of the Minorites that the Church should live in poverty as it did in the days of the apostles was not pleasing in such a crisis. It was under these conditions that Pope Gregory XI, who in January, 1377, had gone from Avignon to Rome, sent, on May 22 five copies of his bull against Wycliffe, despatching one to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the others to the bishop of London, Edward III, the chancellor, and the university; among the enclosures were 18 theses of his, which were denounced as erroneous and dangerous to Church and State.

The reformatory activities of Wycliffe effectively began here: all the great works, especially his Summa theologiae, are closely connected with the condemnation of his 18 theses, while the entire literary energies of his later years rest upon this foundation. The next aim of his opponents–to make him out a revolutionary in politics–failed. The situation in England resulted in damage to them; on June 21, 1377, Edward III died. His successor was Richard II, a boy, who was under the influence of John of Gaunt, his uncle. So it resulted that the bull against Wycliffe did not become public till Dec. 18. Parliament, which met in October, came into sharp conflict with the Curia. Among the propositions which Wycliffe, at the direction of the government, worked out for parliament was one which speaks out distinctly against the exhaustion of England by the Curia.

Wycliffe tried to gain public favour by laying his theses before parliament, and then made them public in a tract, accompanied by explanations, limitations, and interpretations. After the session of parliament was over, he was called upon to answer, and in March, 1378, he appeared at the episcopal palace at Lambeth to defend himself. The preliminaries were not yet finished when a noisy mob gathered with the purpose of saving him; the king’s mother, Joan of Kent, also took up his cause. The bishops, who were divided, satisfied themselves with forbidding him to speak further on the controversy. At Oxford the vice chancellor, following papal directions, confined the Reformer for some time in Black Hall, from which Wycliffe was released on threats from his friends; the vice-chancellor was himself confined in the same place because of his treatment of Wycliffe. The latter then took up the usage according to which one who remained for 44 days under excommunication came under the penalties executed by the State, and wrote his De incarcerandis fedelibus, in which he demanded that it should be legal for the excommunicated to appeal to the king and his council against the excommunication; in this writing he laid open the entire case and in such a way that it was understood by the laity. He wrote his 33 conclusions, in Latin and English. The masses, some of the nobility, and his former protector, John of Gaunt, rallied to him.

Before any further steps could be taken at Rome, Gregory XI died (1378). But Wycliffe was already engaged in one of his most important works, that dealing with the truth of Holy Scripture. The sharper the strife became, the more Wycliffe had recourse to Scripture as the basis of all Christian doctrinal opinion, and expressly proved this to be the only norm for Christian faith. In order to refute his opponents, he wrote the book in which he showed that Holy Scripture contains all truth and, being from God, is the only authority. He referred to the conditions under which the condemnation of his 18 theses was brought about; and the same may be said of his books dealing with the Church, the office of king, and the power of the pope–all completed within the space of two years (1378-79).

Wycliffe wrote, “The Church is the totality of those who are predestined to blessedness. It includes the Church triumphant in heaven… and the Church militant or men on earth. No one who is eternally lost has part in it. There is one universal Church, and outside of it there is no salvation. Its head is Christ. No pope may say that he is the head, for he can not say that he is elect or even a member of the Church.”

Statement Regarding Royal Power

It would be a mistake to assume that Wycliffe’s doctrine of the Church–which made so great an impression upon John Hus, who adopted it literally and fully–was occasioned by the great schism (1378-1429). The principles of the doctrine were already embodied in his De civili dominio. The contents of the book dealing with the Church are closely connected with the decision respecting the 18 theses. The attacks on Pope Gregory XI grow ever more extreme. Wycliffe’s stand with respect to the ideal of poverty became continually firmer, as well as his position with regard to the temporal rule of the clergy. Closely related to this attitude was his book De officio regis, the content of which was foreshadowed in his 33 conclusions: One should be instructed with reference to the obligations which lie in regard to the kingdom in order to see how the two powers, royal and ecclesiastical, may support each other in harmony in the body corporate of the Church.

The royal power, Wycliffe taught, is consecrated through the testimony of Holy Scripture and the Fathers. Christ and the apostles rendered tribute to the emperor. It is a sin to oppose the power of the king, which is derived immediately from God. Subjects, above all the clergy, should pay him dutiful tribute. The honours which attach to temporal power hark back to the king; those which belong to precedence in the priestly office, to the priest. The king must apply his power with wisdom, his laws are to be in unison with those of God. From God laws derive their authority, including those which royalty has over against the clergy. If one of the clergy neglects his office, he is a traitor to the king who calls him to answer for it. It follows from this that the king has an „evangelical” control. Those in the service of the Church must have regard for the laws of the State. In confirmation of this fundamental principle the archbishops in England make sworn submission to the king and receive their temporalities. The king is to protect his vassals against damage to their possessions; in case the clergy through their misuse of the temporalities cause injury, the king must offer protection. When the king turns over temporalities to the clergy, he places them under his jurisdiction, from which later pronouncements of the popes can not release them. If the clergy relies on papal pronouncements, it must be subjected to obedience to the king.

This book, like those that preceded and followed, had to do with the reform of the Church, in which the temporal arm was to have an influential part. Especially interesting is the teaching which Wycliffe addressed to the king on the protection of his theologians. This did not mean theology in its modern sense, but knowledge of the Bible. Since the law must be in agreement with Scripture, knowledge of theology is necessary to the strengthening of the kingdom; therefore the king has theologians in his entourage to stand at his side as he exercises power. It is their duty to explain Scripture according to the rule of reason and in conformity with the witness of the saints; also to proclaim the law of the king and to protect his welfare and that of his kingdom.

Wycliffe and the Pope

The books and tracts of Wycliffe’s last six years include continual attacks upon the papacy and the entire hierarchy of his times. Each year they focus more and more, and at the last pope and Antichrist seem to him practically equivalent concepts. Yet there are passages which are moderate in tone; Lechler identifies three stages in Wycliffe’s relations with the papacy. The first step, which carried him to the outbreak of the schism, involves moderate recognition of the papal primacy; the second, which carried him to 1381, is marked by an estrangement from the papacy; and the third shows him in sharp contest. However, Wycliffe reached no valuation of the papacy before the outbreak of the schism different from his later appraisal. If in his last years he identified the papacy with antichristianity, the dispensability of this papacy was strong in his mind before the schism.

Wycliffe’s influence was never greater than at the moment when pope and antipope sent their ambassadors to England in order to gain recognition for themselves. In the ambassadors’ presence, he delivered an opinion before parliament that showed, in an important ecclesiastical political question (the matter of the right of asylum in Westminster Abbey), a position that was to the liking of the State. How Wycliffe came to be active in the interest of Urban is seen in passages in his latest writings, in which he expressed himself in regard to the papacy in a favorable sense. On the other hand he states that “it is not necessary to go either to Rome or to Avignon in order to seek a decision from the pope, since the triune God is everywhere. Our pope is Christ.” It seems clear that Wycliffe was an opponent of that papacy which had developed since Constantine. He taught that the Church can continue to exist even though it have no visible leader; but there can be no damage when the Church possesses a leader of the right kind. To distinguish between what the pope should be, if one is necessary, and the pope as he appeared in Wycliffe’s day was the purpose of his book on the power of the pope. The Church militant, Wycliffe taught, needs a head–but one whom God gives the Church. The elector [cardinal] can only make someone a pope if the choice relates to one who is elect [of God]. But that is not always the case. It may be that the elector is himself not predestined and chooses one who is in the same case–a veritable Antichrist. One must regard as a true pope one who in teaching and life most nearly follows Jesus Christ and Saint Peter.

Wycliffe distinguished the true from the false papacy. Since all signs indicated that Urban VI was a reforming and consequently a „true” pope, the enthusiasm which Wycliffe manifested for him is easily understood. These views concerning the Church and church government are those which are brought forward in the last books of his Summa, „De simonia, de apostasia, de blasphemia.” The battle which over the theses was less significant than the one he waged against the monastic orders when he saw the hopes quenched which had gathered around the „reform pope;” and when he was withdrawn from the scene as an ecclesiastical politician and occupied himself exclusively with the question of the reform of the Church.

Wycliffe’s Relation to the English Bible

click for addt’l info.

The Bible ought to be the common possession of all Christians, and needed to be made available for common use in the language of the people. National honour seemed to require this, since members of the nobility possessed the Bible in French. Wycliffe set himself to the task. While it is not possible exactly to define his part in the translation–which was based on the Vulgate–there is no doubt that it was his initiative, and that the success of the project was due to his leadership. From him comes the translation of the New Testament, which was smoother, clearer, and more readable than the rendering of the Old Testament by his friend Nicholas of Hereford. The whole was revised by Wycliffe’s younger contemporary John Purvey in 1388. Thus the mass of the people came into possession of the Bible; even as the misguided cry of Wycliffe’s opponents stated: „The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity.”

In spite of the zeal with which the hierarchy sought to destroy it, there still exist about 150 manuscripts, complete or partial, containing the translation in its revised form. From this one may easily infer how widely diffused it was in the fifteenth century. For this reason the Wycliffeites in England were often designated by their opponents as „Bible men.” Just as Luther’s version had great influence upon the German language, so Wycliffe’s, by reason of its clarity, beauty, and strength, influenced English.

Wycliffe’s Activity as a Preacher

Wycliffe aimed to do away with the existing hierarchy and replace it with the „poor priests” who lived in poverty, were bound by no vows, had received no formal consecration, and preached the Gospel to the people. These itinerant preachers spread the teachings of Wycliffe. Two by two they went, barefoot, wearing long dark-red robes and carrying a staff in the hand, the latter having symbolic reference to their pastoral calling, and passed from place to place preaching the sovereignty of God. The bull of Gregory XI. impressed upon them the name of Lollards, intended as an opprobrious epithet, but it became a name of honour. Even in Wycliffe’s time the „Lollards” had reached wide circles in England and preached „God’s law, without which no one could be justified.”

The Anti-Wycliffe Movement

In the summer of 1381 Wycliffe formulated his doctrine of the Lord’s Supper in twelve short sentences,and made it a duty to advocate it everywhere. Then the English hierarchy proceeded against him. The chancellor of the University of Oxford had some of the declarations pronounced heretical. When this fact was announced to Wycliffe, he declared that no one could change his convictions. He then appealed–not to the pope nor to the ecclesiastical authorities of the land, but to the king. He published his great confession upon the subject and also a second writing in English intended for the common people. His pronouncements were no longer limited to the classroom, they spread to the masses. The followers of John Wycliffe, the Lollards, grew greatly in number throughout the land.

„Every second man that you meet,” writes a contemporary, „is a Lollard!” In the midst of this commotion came the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Although Wycliffe disapproved of the revolt, he was blamed. Yet his friend and protector John of Gaunt was the most hated by the rebels, and where Wycliffe’s influence was greatest the uprising found the least support. While in general the aim of the revolt was against the spiritual nobility, this came about because they were nobles, not because they were churchmen. Wycliffe’s old enemy, Courtenay, now Archbishop of Canterbury, called (1382) an ecclesiastical assembly of notables at London. During the consultations an earthquake occurred (May 21); the participants were terrified and wished to break up the assembly, but Courtenay declared the earthquake a favorable sign which meant the purification of the earth from erroneous doctrine.

Of the 24 propositions attributed to Wycliffe without mentioning his name, ten were declared heretical and fourteen erroneous. The former had reference to the transformation in the sacrament, the latter to matters of church order and institutions. It was forbidden from that time to hold these opinions or to advance them in sermons or in academic discussions. All persons disregarding this order were to be subject to prosecution. To accomplish this the help of the State was necessary; but the commons rejected the bill. The king, however, had a decree issued which permitted the arrest of those in error. The citadel of the reformatory movement was Oxford, where Wycliffe’s most active helpers were; these were laid under the ban and summoned to recant, and Nicholas of Hereford went to Rome to appeal. In similar fashion the poor priests were hindered in their work.

On Nov. 18, 1382, Wycliffe was summoned before a synod at Oxford; he appeared, though apparently broken in body in consequence of a stroke, but nevertheless determined. He still commanded the favour of the court and of parliament, to which he addressed a memorial. He was neither excommunicated then, nor deprived of his position.

Last Days of John Wycliffe

Wycliffe returned to Lutterworth, and sent out tracts against the monks and Urban VI, since the latter, contrary to the hopes of Wycliffe, had not turned out to be a reforming or „true” pope, but had involved in mischievous conflicts. The crusade in Flanders aroused the Reformer’s biting scorn, while his sermons became fuller-voiced and dealt with the imperfections of the Church. The literary achievements of Wycliffe’s last days, such as the Trialogus, stand at the peak of the knowledge of his day. His last work, the Opus evangelicum, the last part of which he named in characteristic fashion „Of Antichrist,” remained uncompleted.

While Wycliffe was in the parish church on Holy Innocents’ Day, Dec. 28, 1384, he again suffered a stroke, and was carried out the side-door of his church, in his chair. John Wycliffe died on the last day of the year, three days later. The Council of Constance declared Wycliffe (on May 4, 1415) a stiff-necked heretic and under the ban of the Church. It was decreed that his books be burned and his remains be exhumed. This last did not happen till twelve more years later, when at the command of Pope Martin V they were dug up, burned, and the ashes cast into the river Swift which flows through Lutterworth.

None of Wycliffe’s contemporaries left a complete picture of his person, his life, and his activities. The pictures representing him are from a later period. One must be content with certain scattered expressions found in the history of the trial by William Thorpe (1407). It appears that Wycliffe was spare of body, indeed of wasted appearance, and not strong physically. He was of unblemished walk in life, says Thorpe, and was regarded affectionately by people of rank, who often consorted with him, took down his sayings, and clung to him. Thorpe continued, „I indeed clove to none closer than to him, the wisest and most blessed of all men whom I have ever found. From him one could learn in truth what the Church of Christ is and how it should be ruled and led.” John Hus wished that his soul might be wherever that of Wycliffe was found.

One may not say that Wycliffe was a comfortable opponent to meet. Thomas Netter of Walden highly esteemed the old Carmelite monk John Kynyngham in that he „so bravely offered himself to the biting speech of the heretic and to words that stung as being without the religion of Christ.” But this example of Netter is not well chosen, since the tone of Wycliffe toward Kynyngham is that of a junior toward an elder whom one respects, and he handled other opponentsin similar fashion. But when he turned upon them his roughest side, as for example in his sermons, polemical writings and tracts, he met the attacks with a tone that could not be styled friendly.

Wycliffe’s Doctrines

Wycliffe’s first encounter with the official Church of his time was prompted by his zeal in the interests of the State, his first tracts and greater works of ecclesiastical-political content defended the privileges of the State, and from these sources developed a strife out of which the next phases could hardly be determined. One who studies these books in the order of their production with reference to their inner content finds a direct development with a strong reformatory tendency. This was not originally doctrinal; when it later took up matters of dogma, as in the teaching concerning transubstantiation, the purpose was the return to original simplicity in the government of the Church. But it would have been against the diplomatic practice of the time to have sent to the peace congress at Bruges, in which the Curia had an essential part, a participant who had become known at home by heretical teaching.

Wycliffe earned his great repute as a philosopher at an early date. Henry Knighton says that in philosophy, Wycliffe was second to none, and in scholastic discipline incomparable. If this pronouncement seems hard to justify, now that Wycliffe’s writings are in print, it must be borne in mind that not all his philosophical works are extant. If Wycliffe was in philosophy the superior of his contemporaries and had no equal in scholastic discipline, he belongs with the series of great scholastic philosophers and theologians in which England in the Middle Ages was so rich–with Alexander of Hales, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, Occam and Bradwardine. There was a period in his life when he devoted himself exclusively to scholastic philosophy: „when I was still a logician,” he used later to say. The first „heresy” which „he cast forth into the world” rests as much upon philosophical as upon theological grounds.

Wycliffe on Philosophy

Wycliffe’s fundamental principle of the preexistence in thought of all reality involves the most serious obstacle to freedom of the will; the philosopher could assist himself only by the formula that the free will of man was something predetermined of God. He demanded strict dialectical training as the means of distinguishing the true from the false, and asserted that logic (or the syllogism)furthered the knowledge of catholic verities; ignorance of logic was the reason why men misunderstood Scripture, since men overlooked the connection–the distinction between idea and appearance. Wycliffe was not merely conscious of the distinction between theology and philosophy, but his sense of reality led him to pass by scholastic questions. He left aside philosophical discussions which seemed to have no significance for the religious consciousness and those which pertained purely to scholasticism: „we concern ourselves with the verities that are, and leave asidethe errors which arise from speculation on matters which are not.”

Wycliffe on Scripture

The Bible alone was authoritative and, according to his own conviction and that of his disciples, was fully sufficient for the government of this world (De sufficientia legis Christi). Out of it he drew his comprehensive statements in support of his reformatory views–after intense study and many spiritual conflicts. He tells that as a beginner he was desperate to comprehend the passages dealing with the activities of the divine Word, until by the grace of God he was able to gather the right sense of Scripture, which he then understood. But that was not a light task. Without knowledge of the Bible there can be no peace in the life of the Church or of society, and outside of it there is no real and abiding good; it is the one authority for the faith.

These teachings Wycliffe promulgated in his great work on the truth of Scripture, and in other greater and lesser writings. For him the Bible was the fundamental source of Christianity which is binding on all men. From this one can easily see how the next step came about: the furnishing of the Bible to the people in their mother tongue. Wycliffe was called „Doctor evangelicus” by his English and Bohemian followers. Of all the reformers who preceded Martin Luther, Wycliffe put most emphasis on Scripture: „Even though there were a hundred popes and though every mendicant monk were a cardinal, they would be entitled to confidence only in so far as they accorded with the Bible.” Therefore in this early period it was Wycliffe who recognized and formulated the formal principle of the Reformation– the unique authority of the Bible for the belief and life of the Christian.

(via)

‪The Forbidden Book – „History of the English Bible”

A 1777 Philadelphia edition of the English Bible – photo source here

Discover the fascinating story behind the preservation of the Bible, the best selling book of all times.

During the Dark Ages, superstition and ignorance controlled the minds of the masses.A few brave men obeyed God and brought the Scriptures to the world…..historical figures responsible for bringing us the Bible as we know and love it today: Wycliffe, Hus, Gutenberg, Colet, Erasmus, Tyndale, Luther and so on.

John Wycliffe, the brilliant 14th century Oxford scholar, translated the Bible from Latin into English in order to enlighten the masses oppressed through ignorance. His work was so despised by the established church, that Pope Martin the Fifth ordered Wycliffe’s bones to be dug up and burned forty years after his death.
Martin Luther was one of the few who challenged church authority in the 16th century and lived to tell the tale. In exposing the folly of indulgences (paying money to the church in order to obtain favor with God), he revealed what had always been written in Scripture, that justification was through faith and faith alone.
William Tyndale was not spared like his friend Luther. Tyndale spent the last 500 days of his life in a cold castle dungeon. He was then tied to a stake, strangled, and burned. His crime?.. printing Bibles in the English language!

This one-hour documentary takes us on a fascinating journey through time. It was shot all across Europe and shows all the important places of Christian history. Here you will learn how God’s Word was originally scribed and discovered and how the Word was preserved through the 1,000 year period of the Dark and Middle Ages. It will also enlighten you how the King James version was created.

There are many amazing facts worked into the presentation. Dr. Lampe shows a scroll that is 1000 years old, and tells the viewer that it is word-for-word the same as the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were written a full millennium before.

Being reminded of the blood that was shed to bring the Bible to common folk like us will make us consider just how flippantly we treat the Scriptures. It will make us truly realize how privileged our generation is to have not just one Bible but an entire stack of them in many outstanding translations. It will make us thank God for the faithful men and women who gave their lives that we can have unlimited access to His Word.

See also these other great links (some containing videos) 

VIDEO by abramski2

‪Lamp In The Dark:Untold History of the Bible ~ Full Documentary‬‏

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Papal Inquisition forbade biblical translation, threatening imprisonment and death to those who disobeyed. Learn the stories of valiant warriors of the faith, such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, the ancient Waldenses, Albigenses and others who hazarded their lives for the sake of sharing the Gospel light with a world drowning in darkness.

Once the common people were able to read the Bible, the world was turned upside down through the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers subdued whole kingdoms by preaching the grace of God, and exposing the unbiblical doctrines of Rome. In response, the Vatican would launch a Counter Reformation to destroy the work of the Reformers, including the bibles they produced.

VIDEO by amy2x

 

‪The Forbidden Book – „History of the English Bible”‬‏

A 1777 Philadelphia edition of the English Bible – photo source here

Discover the fascinating story behind the preservation of the Bible, the best selling book of all times.

During the Dark Ages, superstition and ignorance controlled the minds of the masses.A few brave men obeyed God and brought the Scriptures to the world…..historical figures responsible for bringing us the Bible as we know and love it today: Wycliffe, Hus, Gutenberg, Colet, Erasmus, Tyndale, Luther and so on.

John Wycliffe, the brilliant 14th century Oxford scholar, translated the Bible from Latin into English in order to enlighten the masses oppressed through ignorance. His work was so despised by the established church, that Pope Martin the Fifth ordered Wycliffe’s bones to be dug up and burned forty years after his death.
Martin Luther was one of the few who challenged church authority in the 16th century and lived to tell the tale. In exposing the folly of indulgences (paying money to the church in order to obtain favor with God), he revealed what had always been written in Scripture, that justification was through faith and faith alone.
William Tyndale was not spared like his friend Luther. Tyndale spent the last 500 days of his life in a cold castle dungeon. He was then tied to a stake, strangled, and burned. His crime?.. printing Bibles in the English language!

This one-hour documentary takes us on a fascinating journey through time. It was shot all across Europe and shows all the important places of Christian history. Here you will learn how God’s Word was originally scribed and discovered and how the Word was preserved through the 1,000 year period of the Dark and Middle Ages. It will also enlighten you how the King James version was created.

There are many amazing facts worked into the presentation. Dr. Lampe shows a scroll that is 1000 years old, and tells the viewer that it is word-for-word the same as the text of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were written a full millennium before.

Being reminded of the blood that was shed to bring the Bible to common folk like us will make us consider just how flippantly we treat the Scriptures. It will make us truly realize how privileged our generation is to have not just one Bible but an entire stack of them in many outstanding translations. It will make us thank God for the faithful men and women who gave their lives that we can have unlimited access to His Word.

See also these other great links (some containing videos) 

VIDEO by abramski2

Possession of the Bible was once banned by the Catholic Church (and yes, unauthorized Bibles were burned)

This is a very interesting paper from http://www.aloha.net/ Whatever the motivation behind it, one can only gasp  incredulously when reading a phrase such as Pope Innocent III wrote in 1199: „They are moved by a certain love of Scripture in order to explain them clandestinely and to preach them to one another.” Then his reasoning that the word of God cannot be understood except for those qualified (by being taught i.e. informed intelligence) is even more bizarre. And if that doesn’t sound like a dangerous proclamation, it indeed set the course (in 1229) for the later persecution and martyrdom of thousands of believers deemed heretical by the papacy. Read on:

ITEM #1   POPE INNOCENT III

Pope Innocent III stated in 1199:

… to be reproved are those who translate into French the Gospels, the letters of Paul, the psalter, etc. They are moved by a certain love of Scripture in order to explain them clandestinely and to preach them to one another. The mysteries of the faith are not to explained rashly to anyone. Usually in fact, they cannot be understood by everyone but only by those who are qualified to understand them with informed intelligence. The depth of the divine Scriptures is such that not only the illiterate and uninitiated have difficulty understanding them, but also the educated and the gifted (Denzinger-Schönmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum 770-771)

Source: Bridging the Gap – Lectio Divina, Religious Education, and the Have-not’s by Father John Belmonte, S.J.

ITEM #2   COUNCIL OF TOULOUSE – 1229 A.D.

The Council of Toulouse, which met in November of 1229, about the time of the crusade against the Albigensians, set up a special ecclesiastical tribunal, or court, known as the Inquisition (Lat. inquisitio, an inquiry), to search out and try heretics. Twenty of the forty-five articles decreed by the Council dealt with heretics and heresy. It ruled in part:

Canon 1. We appoint, therefore, that the archbishops and bishops shall swear in one priest, and two or three laymen of good report, or more if they think fit, in every parish, both in and out of cities, who shall diligently, faithfully, and frequently seek out the heretics in those parishes, by searching all houses and subterranean chambers which lie under suspicion. And looking out for appendages or outbuildings, in the roofs themselves, or any other kind of hiding places, all which we direct to be destroyed.

Canon 6. Directs that the house in which any heretic shall be found shall be destroyed.

Canon 14. We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.

Source: Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, Edited with an introduction by Edward Peters, Scolar Press, London, copyright 1980 by Edward Peters, ISBN 0-85967-621-8, pp. 194-195, citing S. R. Maitland, Facts and Documents [illustrative of the history, doctrine and rites, of the ancient Albigenses & Waldenses], London, Rivington, 1832,  pp. 192-194.

Additional Sources:

Ecclesiastical History of Ancient Churches of the Albigenses, Pierre Allix, published in Oxford at the Clarendon Press in 1821, reprinted in USA in 1989 by Church History Research & Archives, P.O. Box 38, Dayton Ohio, 45449, p. 213 [Canon 14].

 The History of Protestantism, by J. A. Wiley, chapter 10 cites:

  • Concilium Tolosanum, cap. 1, p. 428. Sismondi, 220.
  • Labbe, Concil. Tolosan., tom. 11, p. 427. Fleury, Hist. Eccles., lib. 79, n. 58.

Some Catholics may doubt that there even was a Church Council in Toulouse France in 1229. The following quotes are offered as corroborating evidence:

After the death of Innocent III, the Synod of Toulouse directed in 1229 its fourteenth canon against the misuse of Sacred Scripture on the part of the Cathari: „prohibemus, ne libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti laicis permittatur habere” (Hefele, „Concilgesch”, Freiburg, 1863, V, 875).

Source: The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on  Scripture.


In France Louis VIII decreed in 1226 that persons excommunicated by the diocesan bishop, or his delegate, should receive „meet punishment” (debita animadversio). In 1249 Louis IX ordered barons to deal with heretics according to the dictates of duty (de ipsis faciant quod debebant). A decree of the Council of Toulouse (1229) makes it appear probable that in France death at the stake was already comprehended as in keeping with the aforesaid debita animadversio.

Source: The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on the  Inquisition.


… the Council of Toulouse (1229) entrusted the Inquisition, which soon passed into the hands of the Dominicans (1233), with the repression of Albigensianism. The heresy disappeared about the end of the fourteenth century.

Source: The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on the  Albigenses.


1229 – The Inquisition of Toulouse imposed by Albigensian Crusaders forbids laymen to read the Bible.

Source: The People’s Chronology, Revised and updated, by James Trager, Copyright 1992, 1994, published by Henry Holt and Company, ISBN 0-8050-3134-0, New York, page 108.


In 1229, when the Council of Toulouse assembled to survey and regulate the results of the Albigensian Crusade, its canons reflected the severity of ecclesiastical discipline in an area in which the inability to eradicate heresy had led to profound secular and ecclesiastical consequences. The first canon of the Council insists upon the appointment of the traditional testes synodales, but these now have new powers of actively searching out the hiding places of heretics; condemned heretics who repent must be moved to orthodox places to live, and they must wear conspicuously colored crosses on their garments to publicly indicate their penitential status; certain professions were closed to those even suspected of heresy.

Source: Inquisition, by Edward Peters, published by University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, Copyright 1988 by the Free Press, a division of Macmillan, Inc., ISBN 0-520-06630-8, page 51.


In the same year [1229], the Council of Toulouse set up a special court of permanent judges to search out and try heretics. But although twenty of the forty-five articles of that Council dealt with the problem of heresy, it did not yet create a new and specific institution for this work. The local bishop remained the final judge, and had the power to commute sentences. 4

4. Lea, Henry Charles, The History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York: Macmillan, 1908, vol. I, p. 310.

(Lea cites the 1229 Council of Toulouse as the foundation for the Inquisition, on page 359 of vol. I., as does Guiraud in The Medieval Inquisition, London: Burns Oates and Washbourne, 1929, on page 59.)

Source: The Inquisition, Hammer of Heresy, By Edward Burman, Copyright 1984, Published by Dorset Press, a division of Marboro Books Corp., by arrangement with Harper Collins Publishers, UK., ISBN 0-88029-909-6, pages 31, 32.


The clauses of the Peace of Paris and the decrees of a council held at Toulouse in November 1229 demonstrated that twenty years of crusading had not been very effective, since heresy was as much a concern as ever. The fact was that crusading, particularly when as episodic as this type was, could not eradicate deep-rooted heresy. It required the establishment of the inquisition in Toulouse in 1233 and the persistent pressure that such an instrument could bring to bear for headway to be made …

Source: The Crusades, A Short History, by Jonathan Riley-Smith, Copyright 1987, published by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, ISBN 0-300-04700-2, pages 138, 139.


ITEM #3   THE COUNCIL OF TARRAGONA – 1234 A.D.

The Council of Tarragona of 1234, in its second canon, ruled that:

„No one may possess the books of the Old and New Testaments in the Romance language, and if anyone possesses them he must turn them over to the local bishop within eight days after promulgation of this decree, so that they may be burned lest, be he a cleric or a layman, he be suspected until he is cleared of all suspicion.”

-D. Lortsch, Historie de la Bible en France, 1910, p.14.

See also: The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on the  Scripture.


ITEM #4     JOHN WYCLIFFE – MORNING STAR OF THE REFORMATION

John Wycliffe was the very first to translate the entire Bible into English, which he completed in 1382. Wycliffe translated from the Latin Vulgate. One copy of an original manuscript is in the Bodlein Library in Oxford, England. Wycliffe’s Bibles were painstakingly reproduced by hand by copyists.

In 1408 the third synod of Oxford, England, banned unauthorized English translations of the Bible and decreed that possession of English translation’s had to be approved by diocesan authorities. The Oxford council declared:

   „It is dangerous, as St. Jerome declares, to translate the text of Holy Scriptures out of one idiom into another, since it is not easy in translations to preserve exactly the same meaning in all things. We therefore command and ordain that henceforth no one translate the text of Holy Scripture into English or any other language as a book, booklet, or tract, of this kind lately made in the time of the said John Wyclif or since, or that hereafter may be made, either in part or wholly, either publicly or privately, under pain of excommunication, until such translation shall have been approved and allowed by the Provincial Council. He who shall act otherwise let him be punished as an abettor of heresy and error.”

Source: The Western Watchman, a Catholic newspaper published in St. Louis, August 9, 1894, „The Word of God”, The English Bible Before the Reformation, page 7.

At the ecumenical Council of Constance, in 1415, Wycliffe was posthumously condemned by Arundel, the archbishop of Canterbury, as „that pestilent wretch of damnable heresy who invented a new translation of the scriptures in his mother tongue.” By the decree of the Council, more that 40 years after his death, Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed and publicly burned and the ashes were thrown into the Swift river.

Around 1454 Gutenberg printed an edition of the Latin Vulgate Bible on the first moveable-type printing press. With this new printing technology books could now be printed faster and cheaper than ever before, a fact that Protestants soon took advantage of. Within a hundred years there was a virtual explosion of Protestant Bibles coming off the new presses.


ITEM #5   THE BIBLE IN ENGLISH IS PRINTED

William Tyndale completed a translation of the New Testament from the Greek in 1525, which church authorities in England tried their best to confiscate and burn. After issuing a revised edition in 1535, he was arrested, spent over a year in jail, and was then strangled and burned at the stake near Brussels in October 6th, 1536. It is estimated today that some 90 percent of the New Testament in the 1611 King James Bible is the work of Tyndale. Tyndale was unable to complete his translation of the Old Testament before his death.

Miles Coverdale, an assistant to Tyndale, completed Tyndale’s translation of the Old Testament using Martin Luther’s German text and Latin as sources, and in Germany he printed the first complete Bible in English on October 4, 1535.

Matthew’s Bible, a composite of the work of Tyndale and Coverdale, probably edited by John Rogers, was published in 1537 under the pseudonym „Thomas Matthew”, and was the second complete edition of the Bible printed in English.

Coverdale’s „Great Bible”, called that because of its size, was published in 1539 and had over 21,000 copies printed in seven editions in only a single year. Working under the patronage of Thomas Cromwell, Coverdale had submitted his Bible via the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, and it was published with the authorization of King Henry VIII, whose likely motivation was the realization that the Bible was an effective means of combating papists. Amazingly, at the end of the book of Malachi were the initials W.T., covering half a page, standing for William Tyndale! Beginning with the second edition, the Great Bible included a preface by Thomas Cranmer, and so it is also called Cranmer’s Bible.

The English parliament in 1543 passed a law forbidding the use of any English translations other than the „Great Bible”. Tyndale’s New Testament was specifically prohibited, and later Wycliffe’s and Coverdale’s Bibles were also banned. It was decreed a crime for any unlicensed person to read or explain the Scriptures in public. Many copies of Tyndale’s New Testament and Coverdale’s Bible were burned in London, though ironically, the authorized „Great Bible” contained the work of both men!

In 1557 the Geneva Bible was first published, which continued to be popular even years after the King James was available. The Geneva Bible was the version in use during Shakespeare’s time, and was often quoted by him in his plays.

In 1559 Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, decreed that a copy of the Bishop’s Bible be placed in every parish church. The Bishop’s Bible was printed in 20 editions over 42 years and was the basis for the King James Bible.

Responding to the increasing flood of Protestant Bibles in English, the very first complete Bible in English to be produced by the Catholic Church was the Douay Rheims, a translation from the Latin Vulgate, which was finally completed in the early 17th century. The New Testament was begun in 1578 and finished in Rheims France in 1582, and the Old Testament was finished in 1609-10 in Douay. Note that it had been over two centuries since Wycliffe had completed his English Bible!

In an attempt to combat the swiftly rising tide of Protestantism, the Catholic Church began maintaining lists of the prohibited books which were to be confiscated. Here is an example from England:

Memorandum of a proclamation made at Paul’s Cross on the first Sunday in Advent, 1531, against the buying, selling or reading of the following books:

The disputation between father and the son.
The supplication of beggars.
The revelation of AntiChrist.
Liber qui de veteri et novicio Deo inscribitur.
Precaciones.
Economica christiana.
The burying of the mass, in English rhyme.
An exposition into the VII chapter of the Corinthians.
The matrimony of Tyndal.
A B C against the clergy.
Ortulus animae, in English.
A book against Saint Thomas of Canterbury.
A book made by Friar Reye against the seven sacraments.
An answer of Tyndal to Sir Thomas More’s dialogue, in English.
A disputation of purgatory, made by John Frythe.
The first book of Moses, called Genesis.
A prologue in the second book of Moses, called Exodus.
A prologue in the third book of Moses, called Leviticus.
A prologue in the fourth book of Moses, called Numeri.
A prologue in the fifth book of Moses, called Deuteronomy.
The practice of prelates.
The New Testament in English, with an introduction to the epistle to the Romans.
The parable of the wicked Mammon.
The obedience of a Christian man.
The book of Thorpe or of John Oldecastell.
The sum of scripture.
The primer in English.
The psalter in English.
A dialogue between the gentlemen and the plowman.
Jonas in English.

Calendar of State Papers V, 18.

Source: The Reformation, by Hans J. Hillerbrand, copyright 1964 by SCM Press Ltd and Harper and Row, Inc., Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 64-15480, page 473.


ITEM #6    THE BIBLE PROHIBITED BY THE INDEX LIBRORUM PROHIBITORUM

Pope Pius IV had a list of the forbidden books compiled and officially prohibited them in the Index of Trent (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) of 1559. This is an excerpt:

Rule I

All books which were condemned prior to 1515 by popes or ecumenical councils, and are not listed in this Index, are to stand condemned in the original fashion.

Rule II

Books of arch-heretics – those who after 1515 have invented or incited heresy or who have been or still are heads and leaders of heretics, such as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Hubmaier, Schwenckfeld, and the like — whatever their name, title or argumentation — are prohibited without exception. As far as other heretics are concerned, only those books are condemned without exception which deal ex professo with religion. Others will be permitted after Catholic theologians have examined and approved them by the order of bishops and inquisitors. Likewise, Catholic books written by those who subsequently fell into heresy or by those who after their lapse returned into the bosom of the Church can be permitted after approval by a theological faculty or the inquisition.

Rule III

Translations of older works, including the church fathers, made by condemned authors, are permitted if they contain nothing against sound doctrine. However, translations of books of the Old Testament may be allowed by the judgment of bishops for the use of learned and pious men only. These translations are to elucidate the Vulgate so that Sacred Scripture can be understood, but they are not to be considered as a sacred text. Translations of the New Testament made by authors of the first sections in this Index are not to be used at all, since too little usefulness and too much danger attends such reading.

Rule IV

Since experience teaches that, if the reading of the Holy Bible in the vernacular is permitted generally without discrimination, more damage than advantage will result because of the boldness of men, the judgment of bishops and inquisitors is to serve as guide in this regard. Bishops and inquisitors may, in accord with the counsel of the local priest and confessor, allow Catholic translations of the Bible to be read by those of whom they realize that such reading will not lead to the detriment but to the increase of faith and piety. The permission is to be given in writing. Whoever reads or has such a translation in his possession without this permission cannot be absolved from his sins until he has turned in these Bibles …

Rule VI

Books in the vernacular dealing with the controversies between Catholics and the heretics of our time are not to be generally permitted, but are to be handled in the same way as Bible translations. …

Die Indices Librorum Prohibitorum des sechzehnten
Jahrhunderts 
(Tübingen, 1886), page 246f.

Source: The Reformation, by Hans J. Hillerbrand, copyright 1964 by SCM Press Ltd and Harper and Row, Inc., Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 64-15480, pages 474, 475.


ITEM #7    POPE CLEMENT XI ON READING SCRIPTURE

From  UNIGENITUS, The Dogmatic Constitution issued by Pope Clement XI on Sept. 8, 1713:

The following statements are condemned as being error:

79. It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture.
80. The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all.
81. The sacred obscurity of the Word of God is no reason for the laity to dispense themselves from reading it.
82. The Lord’s Day ought to be sanctified by Christians with readings of pious works and above all of the Holy Scriptures. It is harmful for a Christian to wish to withdraw from this reading.
83. It is an illusion to persuade oneself that knowledge of the mysteries of religion should not be communicated to women by the reading of Sacred Scriptures. Not from the simplicity of women, but from the proud knowledge of men has arisen the abuse of the Scriptures and have heresies been born.
84. To snatch away from the hands of Christians the New Testament, or to hold it closed against them by taking away from them the means of understanding it, is to close for them the mouth of Christ.
85. To forbid Christians to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is to forbid the use of light to the sons of light, and to cause them to suffer a kind of excommunication.


ITEM #8    POPE PIUS VI ON READING SCRIPTURE

From the Constitution Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794, of Pope Pius VI:

[D. Errors]  Concerning Duties, Practices, Rules Pertaining to Religious Worship.

The Reading of Sacred Scripture
[From the note at the end of the decree on grace]

[p. 390]
1567    67. The doctrine asserting that „only a true impotence excuses” from the reading of the Sacred Scriptures, adding, moreover, that there is produced the obscurity which arises from a neglect of this precept in regard to the primary truths of religion,—false, rash, disturbing to the peace of souls, condemned elsewhere in Quesnel [Unigenitus, quoted above].

Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, Condemned in the Constitution Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794, Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, Translated by Roy J. Deferrari, from the Thirtieth Edition of Henry Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, published by B. Herder Book Co., Copyright 1957, page 390.


ITEM #9 POPE LEO XII CONDEMNS VERNACULAR BIBLES AS HARMFUL

From the Encyclical  UBI PRIMUM of POPE LEO XII, MAY 5, 1824:

17. You have noticed a society, commonly called the Bible society, boldly spreading throughout the whole world. Rejecting the traditions of the holy Fathers and infringing the well-known decree of the Council of Trent,[16] it works by every means to have the holy Bible translated, or rather mistranslated, into the ordinary languages of every nation. There are good reasons for fear that (as has already happened in some of their commentaries and in other respects by a distorted interpretation of Christ’s gospel) they will produce a gospel of men, or what is worse, a gospel of the devil![17]

18. To prevent this evil, Our predecessors published many constitutions. Most recently Pius VII wrote two briefs, one to Ignatius, Archbishop of Gniezno, the other to Stanislaus, Archbishop of Mohileu, quoting carefully and wisely many passages from the sacred writings and from the tradition to show how harmful to faith and morals this wretched undertaking is.

19. In virtue of Our apostolic office, We too exhort you to try every means of keeping your flock from those deadly pastures. Do everything possible to see that the faithful observe strictly the rules of our Congregation of the Index. Convince them that to allow holy Bibles in the ordinary language, wholesale and without distinction, would on account of human rashness cause more harm than good.


ITEM #10    POPE PIUS VIII ON UNAUTHORIZED VERNACULAR BIBLES

From the encyclical  TRADITI HUMILITATI of Pope Pius VIII, May 24, 1829

5. We must also be wary of those who publish the Bible with new interpretations contrary to the Church’s laws. They skillfully distort the meaning by their own interpretation. They print the Bibles in the vernacular and, absorbing an incredible expense, offer them free even to the uneducated. Furthermore, the Bibles are rarely without perverse little inserts to insure that the reader imbibes their lethal poison instead of the saving water of salvation. Long ago the Apostolic See warned about this serious hazard to the faith and drew up a list of the authors of these pernicious notions. The rules of this Index were published by the Council of Trent;[8] the ordinance required that translations of the Bible into the vernacular not be permitted without the approval of the Apostolic See and further required that they be published with commentaries from the Fathers. The sacred Synod of Trent had decreed[9] in order to restrain impudent characters, that no one, relying on his own prudence in matters of faith and of conduct which concerns Christian doctrine, might twist the sacred Scriptures to his own opinion, or to an opinion contrary to that of the Church or the popes. Though such machinations against the Catholic faith had been assailed long ago by these canonical proscriptions, Our recent predecessors made a special effort to check these spreading evils.[10] With these arms may you too strive to fight the battles of the Lord which endanger the sacred teachings, lest this deadly virus spread in your flock.

ITEM #11   POPE GREGORY XVI CONDEMNS BIBLE SOCIETIES, VERNACULAR BIBLES

From the encyclical  INTER PRAECIPUAS (On Biblical Societies) by Pope Gregory XVI, May 8, 1844:

1. Among the special schemes with which non-Catholics plot against the adherents of Catholic truth to turn their minds away from the faith, the biblical societies are prominent. They were first established in England and have spread far and wide so that We now see them as an army on the march, conspiring to publish in great numbers copies of the books of divine Scripture. These are translated into all kinds of vernacular languages for dissemination without discrimination among both Christians and infidels. Then the biblical societies invite everyone to read them unguided. Therefore it is just as Jerome complained in his day: they make the art of understanding the Scriptures without a teacher” common to babbling old women and crazy old men and verbose sophists,” and to anyone who can read, no matter what his status. Indeed, what is even more absurd and almost unheard of, they do not exclude the common people of the infidels from sharing this kind of a knowledge.

4. Moreover, regarding the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, even many centuries ago bishops in various places have at times had to exercise greater vigilance when they became aware that such translations were being read in secret gatherings or were being distributed by heretics. Innocent III issued warnings concerning the secret gatherings of laymen and women, under the pretext of piety, for the reading of Scripture in the diocese of Metz.[12] There was also a special prohibition of Scripture translations promulgated either in Gaul a little later[13] or in Spain before the sixteenth century.[14]

[Footnote #13: Council of Toulouse (1229), can. 14., as listed at the beginning of this article]

11. … We again condemn all the above-mentioned biblical societies of which our predecessors disapproved. … Besides We confirm and renew by Our apostolic authority the prescriptions listed and published long ago concerning the publication, dissemination, reading, and possession of vernacular translations of sacred Scriptures.

12. … In particular, watch more carefully over those who are assigned to give public readings of holy scripture, so that they function diligently in their office within the comprehension of the audience; under no pretext whatsoever should they dare to explain and interpret the divine writings contrary to the tradition of the Fathers or the interpretation of the Catholic Church.


ITEM #12   POPE PIUS IX DECLARES BIBLE SOCIETIES „PESTS”

On December 8, 1866, Pope Pius IX, in his encyclical  QUANTA CURAissued a  syllabus of eighty errors under ten different headings. Under heading IV, we find listed:

IV. Socialism, Communism, Secret Societies, Biblical Societies, Clerico-Liberal Societies

Pests of this kind are frequently reprobated in the severest terms in the
Encyclical  Qui pluribusNov. 9, 1846, (See #13-14):

13. You already know well, venerable brothers, the other portentous errors and deceits by which the sons of this world try most bitterly to attack the Catholic religion and the divine authority of the Church and its laws. They would even trample underfoot the rights both of the sacred and of the civil power. For this is the goal of the lawless activities against this Roman See in which Christ placed the impregnable foundation of His Church. This is the goal of those secret sects who have come forth from the darkness to destroy and desolate both the sacred and the civil commonwealth. These have been condemned with repeated anathema in the Apostolic letters of the Roman Pontiffs who preceded Us[15] We now confirm these with the fullness of Our Apostolic power and command that they be most carefully observed.

14. This is the goal too of the crafty Bible Societies which renew the old skill of the heretics and ceaselessly force on people of all kinds, even the uneducated, gifts of the Bible. They issue these in large numbers and at great cost, in vernacular translations, which infringe the holy rules of the Church. The commentaries which are included often contain perverse explanations; so, having rejected divine tradition, the doctrine of the Fathers and the authority of the Catholic Church, they all interpret the words of the Lord by their own private judgment, thereby perverting their meaning. As a result, they fall into the greatest errors. Gregory XVI of happy memory, Our superior predecessor, followed the lead of his own predecessors in rejecting these societies in his apostolic letters.[16] It is Our will to condemn them likewise.

Allocution Quibus quantisque, April 20, 1849,
Encyclical  Noscitis et nobiscumDec. 8, 1849, (See #14):

14. The crafty enemies of the Church and human society attempt to seduce the people in many ways. One of their chief methods is the misuse of the new technique of book-production. They are wholly absorbed in the ceaseless daily publication and proliferation of impious pamphlets, newspapers and leaflets which are full of lies, calumnies and seduction. Furthermore, under the protection of the Bible Societies which have long since been condemned by this Holy See,[7] they distribute to the faithful under the pretext of religion, the holy bible in vernacular translations. Since these infringe the Church’s rules,[8] they are consequently subverted and most daringly twisted to yield a vile meaning. So you realize very well what vigilant and careful efforts you must make to inspire in your faithful people an utter horror of reading these pestilential books. Remind them explicitly with regard to divine scripture that no man, relying on his own wisdom, is able to claim the privilege of rashly twisting the scriptures to his own meaning in opposition to the meaning which holy mother Church holds and has held. It was the Church alone that Christ commissioned to guard the deposit of the faith and to decide the true meaning and interpretation of the divine pronouncements.[9]

Allocution Singulari quadam, Dec. 9, 1854,
Encyclical  Quanto conficiamur (On Promotion Of False Doctrines), August 10, 1863.


ITEM #13    THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH THE ONLY TRUE GUIDE TO SCRIPTURE

14. … Wherefore it must be recognized that the sacred writings are wrapt in a certain religious obscurity, and that no one can enter into their interior without a guide[32]; God so disposing, as the Holy Fathers commonly teach, in order that men may investigate them with greater ardor and earnestness, and that what is attained with difficulty may sink more deeply into the mind and heart; and, most of all, that they may understand that God has delivered the Holy Scriptures to the Church, and that in reading and making use of His Word, they must follow the Church as their guide and their teacher. … the Council of the Vatican, which, in renewing the decree of Trent declares its „mind” to be this—that „in things of faith and morals, belonging to the building up of Christian doctrine, that is to be considered the true sense of Holy Scripture which has been held and is held by our Holy Mother the Church, whose place it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Scriptures; and therefore that it is permitted to no one to interpret Holy Scripture against such sense or also against the unanimous agreement of the Fathers.”[34] … Hence it follows that all interpretation is foolish and false which either makes the sacred writers disagree one with another, or is opposed to the doctrine of the Church.

15. … But it is most unbecoming to pass by, in ignorance or contempt, the excellent work which Catholics have left in abundance, and to have recourse to the works of non-Catholics—and to seek in them, to the detriment of sound doctrine and often to the peril of faith, the explanation of passages on which Catholics long ago have successfully employed their talent and their labor. For although the studies of non-Catholics, used with prudence, may sometimes be of use to the Catholic student, he should, nevertheless, bear well in mind—as the Fathers also teach in numerous passages[41]—that the sense of Holy Scripture can nowhere be found incorrupt out side of the Church, and cannot be expected to be found in writers who, being without the true faith, only gnaw the bark of the Sacred Scripture, and never attain its pith.

Source:  PROVIDENTISSIMUS DEUS (On the Study of Holy Scripture), Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on 18 November 1893.


ITEM #14    POPE LEO XIII PROHIBITS NON-CATHOLIC BIBLES

From Leo XIII, Apostolic Constitution Officiorum ac Munerum, Jan. 25, 1897, art. 1., „Of the Prohibition of Books,” chaps. 2,3, trans. in the Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: Benziger, 1903):

[p. 412]

CHAPTER II.
Of Editions of the Original Text of Holy Scripture and of Versions not in the Vernacular.

5. Editions of the original text and of the ancient Catholic versions of Holy Scripture, as well as those of the Eastern Church, if published by non-Catholics, even though apparently edited in a faithful and complete manner, are allowed only to those engaged in theological and biblical studies, provided also that the dogmas of Catholic faith are not impugned in the prolegomena or annotations.

6. In the same manner, and under the same conditions, other versions of the Holy Bible, whether in Latin or in any other dead language, published by non-Catholics, are permitted.

CHAPTER III.
Of Vernacular Versions of Holy Scripture.

7. As it has been clearly shown by experience that, if the Holy Bible in the vernacular is generally permitted without any distinction, more harm that utility is thereby [p. 413] caused, owing to human temerity: all versions in the vernacular, even by Catholics, are altogether prohibited, unless approved by the Holy See, or published, under the vigilant care of the bishops, with annotations taken from the Fathers of the Church and learned Catholic writers.

8. All versions of the Holy Bible, in any vernacular language, made by non-Catholics are prohibited; and especially those published by the Bible societies, which have been more that once condemned by the Roman Pontiffs, because in them the wise laws of the Church concerning the publication of the sacred books are entirely disregarded.
Nevertheless, these versions are permitted to students of theological or biblical science, under the conditions laid down above (No. 5)


ITEM #15   OUR SUNDAY VISITOR ON BANNING VERNACULAR BIBLES

   Is it not an historical fact that the church forbade the reading of the Bible in the vernacular?

It is and it is not. The Church never issued a general prohibition that made the reading of the Bible in the vernacular unlawful; but at various time she laid down certain conditions regarding the matter, which had to be observed by the faithful, so that they might not wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. It was not until the Albigenses, the Wyclifites, and later on the Protestants, issued editions of the Bible that bristled with mistranslations, and the most arbitrary changes of the original text, that the Church made stringent regulations in regard to the reading of the Scriptures. These regulations did not make Bible reading unlawful, but required that only approved editions, well supplied with explanatory notes taken from the writings of the Early Fathers, should be used. In this matter, as in so many others, Protestants failed to distinguish between the actions of the Church and the actions of the Provincial Synods. It is indeed true that the Synod of Toulouse, in 1229, the Synod of Tarragona, 1233, and the Synod of Oxford, in 1408, issued formal prohibitions against the reading of the Bible by the laity, but these prohibitions had only a local application, and were revoked as soon as the danger that threatened the faith in these localities had passed. The Church’s legislation in the matter of Bible reading was never prohibitive, but only tended to the enactment of such restrictions as the common good evidently required.

Source:  Our Sunday Visitor, July 5th, 1914, of Huntington Indiana, page 3, Bureau of Information.


ITEM #16   THE 1918 CODE OF CANON LAW ON CENSORSHIP AND PROHIBITING BOOKS

The previous Code of Canon Law, quoted here, went into effect in 1918, and was superceded in 1983:
(boldface numbers are paragraph numbers, the Canon numbers are in parenthesis)

TITLE XXIII.
Censorship and Prohibition of Books.

1227.     The Church has the right to rule that Catholics shall not publish any books unless they have first been subjected to the approval of the Church, and to forbid for a good reason the faithful to read certain books, no matter by whom they are published.
The rules of this title concerning books are to be applied also to daily papers, periodicals, and any other publication, unless the contrary is clear from the Canons. (Canon 1384).

CHAPTER I.
Censorship of Books.

1128.     Without previous ecclesiastical approval even laymen are not allowed to publish:
1. the books of Holy Scripture, or annotations and commentaries of the same;
2. books treating of Sacred Scripture, theology, Church history, Canon Law, natural theology, ethics, and other sciences concerning religion and morals. Furthermore, prayer books, pamphlets and books of devotion, of religious teaching, either moral, ascetic, or mystic, and any writing in general in which there is anything that has a special bearing on religion or morality;
3. sacred images reproduced in any manner, either with or without prayers.
The permission to publish books and images spoken of in this Canon may be given either by the proper Ordinary of the author, or by the Ordinary of the place where they are published, or by the Ordinary of the place where they are printed; if, however, any one of the Ordinaries who has a right to give approval refuses it, the author cannot ask of another unless he informs him of the refusal of the Ordinary first requested.
The religious must, moreover, first obtain permission from their major superior. (Canon 1385.)

1234.     Translations of the Holy Scriptures in the vernacular languages may not be published unless they are either approved by the Holy See, or they are published, under the the supervision of the bishop, with annotations chiefly taken from the holy Fathers of the Church and learned Catholic writers. (Canon 1391.)

1241.     The prohibition of books has this effect that the forbidden books may not without permission be published, read, retained, sold, nor translated into another language, nor made known to others in any way.
The book which has in any way been forbidden may not again be published except after the demanded corrections have been made and the authority which forbade the book, or his superior, or successor, has given permission. (Canon 1398.)

1242.     By the very law are forbidden:
1. editions of the original text, or of ancient Catholic versions, of the Sacred Scriptures, also of the Oriental Church, published by non-Catholics; likewise any translation in any language made or published by them;
2. books of any writers defending heresy or schism, or tending in any way to undermine the foundations of religion;
3. books which purposely fight against religion and good morals;
4. books of any non-Catholic treating professedly of religion unless it is certain that nothing is contained therein against the Catholic faith;
5. books on the holy Scriptures or on religious subjects which have been published without the permission required by Canons 1385, § 1, nn. 1, and 1391; books and leaflets which bring an account of new apparitions, revelations, visions, prophecies, miracles, or introduce new devotions even though under the pretext that they are private; if these books, etc., are published against the rules of the Canons;
6. books which attack or ridicule any of the Catholic dogmas, books which defend errors condemned by the Holy See, or which disparage Divine worship, or tend to undermine ecclesiastical discipline, or which purposely insult the ecclesiastical hierarchy, or the clerical and religious states; … (Canon 1399.)

Source: THE NEW CANON LAW, A commentary and Summary of the New Code of Canon Law, by Rev. Stanislaus Woywod, O.F.M., Published and Copyright, 1918, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York, pages 282-289.


ITEM #17   INDEX OF PROHIBITED BOOKS OF 1930

From Cardinal Merry de Val, „Forward,” in the Index of Prohibited Books, revised and published by order of His Holiness Pope Pius XI (new ed.; [Vatican City]: Vatican Polyglot Press, 1930), pp. ix-xi:

[p. ix] What many, indeed fail to appreciate, and what, moreover non-Catholics consider a grave abuse — as they put it of the Roman Curia, is the action of the Church in hindering the printing and circulation of Holy Writ in the vernacular. Fundamentally however, this ac- [p. x] cusation is based on calumny. During the first twelve centuries Christians were highly familiar with the text of Holy Scripture, as is evident from the homilies of the Fathers and the sermons of the mediaeval preachers; nor did the ecclesiastical authorities ever intervene to prevent this. It was only in consequence of heretical abuses, introduced particularly by the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the followers of Wyclif, and by Protestants broadly speaking (who with sacrilegious mutilations of Scripture and arbitrary interpretations vainly sought to justify themselves in the eyes of the people; twisting the text of the Bible to support erroneous doctrines condemned by the whole history of the Church) that the Pontiffs and the Councils were obliged on more than one occasion to control and sometimes even forbid the use of the Bible in the vernacular…
[p. xi] Those who would put the Scriptures indiscriminately into the hands of the people are the believers always in private interpretation — a fallacy both absurd in itself and pregnant with disastrous consequences. These counterfeit champions of the inspired book hold the Bible to be the sole source of Divine Revelation and cover with abuse and trite sarcasm the Catholic and Roman Church.


ITEM #18    CURRENT CODE OF CANON LAW ON VERNACULAR  BIBLES

The current Code of Canon Law, which went into effect in 1983, reads as follows:

Can. 825 § 1. Books of the Sacred Scriptures cannot be published unless they have been approved either by the Apostolic See or by the conference of bishops; for their vernacular translations to be published it is required that they likewise be approved by the same authority and also annotated with necessary and sufficient explanations.

§ 2. With the permission of the conference of bishops Catholic members of the Christian faithful can collaborate with separated brothers and sisters in preparing and publishing translations of the Sacred Scriptures annotated with appropriate explanations.

Source: Code of Canon Law, Latin-English Edition, copyright 1983 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, published by the Canon Law Society of America, Washington DC 20064, ISBN: 0-943616-19-0, page 309.


This is by no means a complete list, but it is what I have for the moment. Far from championing the spread of the Bible, and the translation into the vernacular, the Catholic Church has a history of repression and censorship in this regard. It was really the combination of the reformation and the advent of the printing press that „let the cat out of the bag.” It seems that Bibles could be printed faster than they (and their authors or owners) could be burned. Since Catholicism could no longer contain the Bible and keep it out of the hands of the laity, the issue has become one of authority to interpret.

For those Catholics who continue to maintain that the Roman Catholic Church was justified in seizing and burning „faulty” vernacular Bibles, and that grave errors in translation were the primary reason for destroying them, I offer the following challenge:

Tyndale’s Bible has recently been republished by David Daniell and Yale University Press and can still be found at some bookstores. Tyndale’s New Testament is 0-300-04419-4 for the hardback and 0-300-06580-9 for the paperback. Tyndale’s Old Testament in hardback is ISBN 0-300-05211-1. Mr. Daniell has updated the spelling but remained faithful to the original text.

The Geneva Bible’s 1602 New Testament has also been reprinted in facsimile by Pilgrim Classic Commentaries in 1989 from an original in the Cambridge University Library. The ISBN is 0-8298-0789-6 for the hardback and ISBN 0-8298-0785-3 for the paperback.

The 1611 Authorized Version (King James) Bible has also been reprinted word-for-word with original spelling by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1993.

In addition, to my knowledge, the Roman Catholic Church was unsuccessful in completely destroying all copies of any „heretical” reformation era vernacular translations of the Bible. Despite their diligence, there are surviving copies existing today that can be studied. I therefore challenge Catholics to produce Catholic documents from the reformation period that cite and explain in detail the grave „errors” in vernacular Protestant Bibles, that warranted not only their destruction, but also frequently the death of the author, as well as those found in possession of said Bibles. It would seem that any charge of grave translation „errors” can still be verified by almost anyone today from either original editions or facsimile reprints. So mere claims of faulty vernacular Bibles proves absolutely nothing without providing citations of the exact verse and Bible edition where the alleged error occurs.

I maintain that the objections of the Catholic church to the various attempts to produce a Bible in the vernacular, were not that of faulty translations (although that claim was made), but rather that of „unauthorized heretical” interpretations that resulted from widespread publication and the laity finally being able to read the entire Bible for themselves in their own tongue, as noted in the various items above. The laity was then able to discern the truth for themselves, and the biblical truth was often at odds with Catholic teaching. Dissent flourished with the availability of the Bible, and so persecution of these heretics increased as well, in an attempt by the church to maintain control and assert her presumed authority. It is a sad chapter in history that is quite well documented.

‪Battle For The Bible- The English Bible : John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer (Docummentary)‬‏

An illustrated Tyndale New Testament

Battle of the Bible tells the compelling story behind the world’s most famous book. The Biblical texts, translated into obscure Latin, were staunchly guarded, making common interpretation impossible and ensuring the authority of the Church. Through the stories of the brave reformers who paid the ultimate price to bring the … Bible to the people, Battle for the Bible reveals how a seed planted on English ground inspired a progressive way of thinking that crossed an ocean.

William Tyndale died a martyr, burned at the stake alive, with never having heard the Bible he translated into English, read in his native tongue on English soil.

(From KPBS)

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

‪Battle For The Bible- The English Bible Wyclif…
Follow my videos on vodpod

Filmul si Biografia lui Jan Hus din Bohemia (1369 -1415) film

Jan Hus

Image via Wikipedia

de la ViataVesnica.Ro

Jan Hus (1369 -1415) teolog reformator ceh, născut la Husinec, Boemia, ars pe rug pentru ideile sale anti-papale. Jan Hus care a contribuit la dezvoltarea limbii literare cehe prin scrierile sale.

Tatăl lui Jan Hus a fost cărăuş. Cu toate că provine dintr-o familie modestă, Jan Hus urmează Şcoala Latină in Prahatice şi studiază din anul 1386 în Praga la Universitatea Karl, obţinând la absolvirea studiului gradul de „Magister Artium”. Ca profesor, a predat limba cehă literară şi a stabilit reguli de scriere.Prin intermediul lui Hieronymus din Praga Jan Hus a cunoscut operele profesorului de teologie din Oxford John Wyclif, de care a fost influenţat. Nobili cehi după căsătoria sorei regelui Wenzel (Venţel), Anne von Böhmen, cu Richard II. von England în (1382) aduc la Praga opere de-a lui John Wyclif,acestea fiind opere teologice şi o critică la adresa clerului din Anglia care era solicitat să renunţe la bogăţia lumească şi la puterea politică, reîntorcându-se la viaţa modestă şi morală. Jan Hus studiază teologia în 1400 şi devine preot în 1401, ajungând decanul Facultăţii de Filozofie. În 1402 devine profesor cu funcţia de rector la Universitatea din Praga unde a predat teologie şi filozofie 1409 – 1410. Jan Hus a reuşit să-l convingă pe regele Wenzel să aprobe Decretul Kuttenberg care admite majoritatea cehilor la Universitatea Karl (Carol).
Din 1402 predicile lui în Capela Betlehem din Praga sunt în limba cehă, la fel şi cântecele corale din timpul slujbei. Jan Hus devine foarte popular, fiind şi preotul reginei Sophie. Hus a predicat o viaţă severă, morală şi plină de virtuozitate, condamnând uşurinţa, luxul şi moda. Aceste opinii au determinat nemulţumirea printre meseriaşii şi negustorii care trăiau de urmaacesroe excese.Înfluenţat de tezele lui Wyclif, Jan Hus critică lăcomia şi viaţa de desfrâu a clerului, proprietăţile şi avuţiile lumeşti ale bisericii. A luptat neobosit şi înflăcărat pentru reformarea bisericii, a militat pentru libertatea gândirii, şi introducerea limbii cehe în slujbele bisericeşti, recunoscând numai Biblia ca o autoritate supremă în credinţa creştină. Jan Hus nu a acceptat teza conform căreia Papa ” nu greşeşte”.Aflând de conţinutul predicilor lui, în anul 1408 episcopul din Praga îi suspendă dreptul de a predica şi îi interzice slujbele religioase. Jan Hus nu respectă aceste interdicţii iar în predicile sale critică mai departe Papa şi clerul bisericesc, reuşind într-un timp scurt să obţină simpatia majorităţii populaţiei din Boemia.Pentru a obţine sprijin, Episcopul din Praga îl recunoaşte pe papa Alexandru al V-lea şi astfel obţine o „Bulă papală” (9 mai 1410) prin care se pretinde să fie înmânate lucrările lui Wyclif episcopului şi sunt înterzise propagarea şi predicile în afara bisericii. Din ordinul episcopului, sunt arse peste 200 din manuscrisele lui Wyclif. Jan Hus este denunţat Romei. Reprezentanţi a lui Hus la Roma au încercat zadarnic să apere ideilor sale.

În 1410 Papa Ioan al XXIII-lea îl excomunică pe Jan Hus iar în 1411 el este alungat din Praga, ceeace a provocat nemulţumiri şi revolte în oraş. Prin protejarea lui de către rege şi datorită revoltelor populare, Jan Hus poate predica încă un an. El condamnă cruciadele şi bula papală prin care iertarea păcatelor se realiza plătind bani bisericii. În cele din urmă, Jan Hus este nevoit să se refugieze în afara oraşului.

In anul 1415 este condamnat la moarte pentru scrierile lui si este ars pe rug.

(vezi biografia si filmul in limba engleza Jan Hus aici)

You can watch the English only version here.

Cu o suta de ani inainte de Martin Luther, John Hus a plantat samanta Reformei. Prin intermediul acestui film biografic patrundem in inima personajului, ajungand sa cunoastem viata sa, incercarile prin care a trecut si credinta care l-a condus mai departe.
Jan Hus (1369 -1415) teolog reformator ceh, nascut la Husinec, Boemia, ars pe rug pentru ideile sale anti-papale. Jan Hus care a contribuit la dezvoltarea limbii literare cehe prin scrierile sale. VIDEO by REFORMAPROTESTANTE7

* John Hus, scholar German clergyman, lived one hundred years before Martinho Lutero and the protestant reform. It was convinced the necessity to present the Bible in the language of the people, believed that salvation only comes for the faith in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is only the Word of God. Hus openly taught this in the University of Plague and to its church, and alerted for the abuses of the Christianity of its generation. Instead of the mass in Latin, Hus introduced some changes as the cântico of hymns for the people, and thus it provoked the anger of the hierarchy of the church. It knows the challenging history of a courageous man, motivated for the devotion and faith in Jesus, exactly ahead of persecutions. Defendant. Condemned prisoner and to the death in the fogueira, an innovator, mártir. *

Church History -Jan Hus (1369-1415) – predecessor to the Protestant movement of the 16th century (video)

(from Below – a 55 minute movie based on the life of Jan Hus, immediately followed by a 30 minute documentary (from the Christian History Institute) on the life of Jan Hus.

Jan Hus (1369-1415)

was a Czech priest, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague.

He is famed for having been burned at the stake for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, including those on ecclesiology (the branch of theology concerned with the nature, constitution and functions of a church), the Eucharist (the Christian sacrament commemorating the Last Supper by consecrating bread and wine), and other theological topics. Hus was a key predecessor to the Protestant movement of the 16th century, and his teachings had a strong influence on the states of Europe, most immediately in the approval for the existence of a reformist Bohemian religious denomination, and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself.

Between 1420 and 1431, the Hussite forces defeated five consecutive papal crusades against followers of Hus. Their defense and rebellion against Roman Catholics became known as the Hussite Wars.

The following biography information provides basic facts and information about the life and history of Jan Hus a famous Medieval character of the Middle Ages:

  • Nationality: Czechoslovakian
  • Also Known as: Johann or John Hussinetz, Johannes de Hussinetz or Huss
  • Lifespan: 1370 – 1415
  • Time Reference: Lived during the reigns of the English Kings – King Richard II, King Henry IV and King Henry V
  • Date of Birth: He was born in 1390 in was born at Hussinetz in Southern Bohemia
  • Early Life and Education: He studied at Prague and was an early follower of Stanislaus of Znaim
  • Career Timeline of Jan Hus:
    • In 1400 he was ordained priest
    • In 1401 he became a Dean
    • In 1402 Jan Hus became a rector and preacher of the Bethlehem Church in Prague
    • 1402 – Jan Hus was influenced by the theological writings and ideas of John Wycliffe
    • Hus began to attack the views of clerics
    • Jan Hus became the rector of Prague University and was received at court
    • In 1410 the Pope issued a decree against the ideas of John Wycliffe which were banned
    • Jan Hus continued to preach about the new ideas – his followers were called the Hussites, but was forced to leave Prague
    • 1414 – Three Bishops were appointed to investigate Jan Hus
    • He was imprisoned by Archbishop of Constance at his castle on the Rhine
    • 1415 Jan Hus was sent to trial and convicted as a heretic
    • He was sentence to burning at the stake
    • Jan Hus refused to recant and the terrible sentence was carried out
  • Date of Death: Jan Hus died on July 6, 1415
  • Accomplishments or why Jan Hus was famous: A cleric and religious reformer in Czechoslovakia who attracted followers called the Hussites. He was a follower of the English reformer John Wycliffe
  • Prophecy and Jan Hus Quote: “In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.”
    • Nearly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention on to the church door at Wittenberg

The First (1385) English Bible Translator – John Wycliffe’s Life – (Video)

„John Wycliffe” is a dramatic biography of the life of the 14th century scholar and cleric who translated the Bible into English for the first time. Wycliffe found himself in the middle of religious, political and social conflicts. An Oxford scholar, one of Europe’s most renowned philosophers, he was a defender of English nationalism against the power of the pope and a champion of the poor against the injustices of the rich. John Wycliffe taught that God’s forgiveness couldn’t be bought with indulgences. He preached that the only true authority is the Word of God, and the Word could only be understood by all if the people could read it in their native tongue. „John Wycliffe” captures the trials and heroic struggles of this significant man of faith – the „Morning Star” of the Reformation.

(DVD available at Amazon)

Other video of interest – Martin Luther (English with Romanian subtitles)

You can read an in depth  biography on John Wycliffe here.

 

VIDEO by BabylonLingo

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari