Did Rome give Protestants the Bible?

They say that they did, but it is an outrageous fib.  The canon was not formulated or compiled by the Pope, but by the universal agreement of the undivided church.  At that time Rome was by no means the leader of all Christians, just of the Italians.  In Britain the church was decidedly not Roman, but Celtic, with its own laws and traditions.  The churches of Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople, if anything, had the pre-eminence at that time!

The universal church of that time did not recognize the Pope as the Vicar of Christ, and refused to allow him this title and authority.

During the Middle Ages Rome refused to allow translations of the Bible into the language of the people, insisting upon the Latin translation known as the Vulgate.  In England ordinary people were executed for saying the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed in English.  When Tyndale translated the Bible into English he was murdered by Rome and its allies, and every copy that the Bishop of London could get his hands on, he burned in huge piles.  Papists were Bible-burners, not the benevolent Bible-givers that they now present themselves as.

The truth is that we gave the Bible to the church, who had hidden it away as a book too dangerous to be read.  Protestants read it out loud to the people in their own languages in church, over the murderous protests of Rome.  Now the Romans are doing it too, and they are following a Protestant tradition in doing so.

We also gave communion to the people, and that weekly.  In medieval Romanism the people got it once a year, at Easter, and then only half.  To this day they may be denied the wine. Now RCs can have it daily, but only because Protestants blazed the trail.

We also gave congregational worship to the people.  In medieval churches the people were silent spectators, watching the priest and his assistants do everything.  Protestants included the people’s responses into their liturgies, and gave them Psalms and Canticles to sing.  Later what we know as  hymns were written, and in time they became a universal practice.

So when you see Roman Catholics responding during the liturgy, taking Communion regularly, and singing in church, know that they are  being Protestant!

At least they had the good sense eventually to fall into line, even if it was through gritted teeth, and at the cost of much blood and suffering.

The truth is that Rome refused to read the Bible, it prevented people from doing so, and it murdered those who did.

Our Protestants fathers got hold of copies of the Greek NT from Greek scholars fleeing the fall of Constantinople, translated them into the languages of the people, and put it into their hands, ears, hearts, and minds.  Rome did everything in its power to withhold the Bible, but the Reformers would not allow it.


14 thoughts on “Did Rome give Protestants the Bible?

  1. Please pray for me as I tutor a young man who is a catholic. In many of his practices he is protestant, but he holds to a number of the cardinal roman doctrines…including free-will. We have discussed the bible’s origin a few times, and he gave me a book to read called: “Where we got the Bible:Our debt to the Catholic church” by Henry G. Graham, a scottish calvinist turned Catholic. I in turn gave him the “Westminster confession of faith and catechisms” so that he can see the key differences between much of what he believes and what the Bible teaches.

    Anyhow, we continue to have some good discussions and I believe, from some of the questions he has asked, that he is thinking and that the Holy Spirit is working.So, please pray my friend. BTW, all four of us are coming to England in December. Hope to see you and your family!

  2. Hi Roger,

    I’ve a question for you, well three: In reading about the Dead Sea Scrolls I have been reflecting upon text and canon and trying to assess the evangelical case for the text and canon we use. Now if I may use an uncontroversial path into this complex issue; James VanderKam, Eugene Ulrich and Emanuel Tov all agree that there exist two different editions of Jeremiah. The shorter text found in the Septuagint and the longer in the Masoretic Text. Tov denotes the former “Edition I” and the latter “Edition II”. Each of these editions are attested to in 4QJer^a, 4QJer^b, 4QJer^c, and 4QJer^d with 4QJer^a & 4QJer^c supporting one and 4QJer^b & 4QJer^d the other. The implication of this is that within Second Temple Judaism there existed (at least) two authoritative texts of Jeremiah both of which differing from one another.

    My questions are:

    (1) Which of the two is the one you and I should use and which should form the basis of English translations?

    (2) If both the LXX and MT were deemed to be authoritative do we have to choose between them?

    (3) If the LXX version was deemed to be authoritative and canonical by the apostolic Church (which used the Septuagint text) why should we not also treat the shorter edition as canonical?

    • Richard, I am not a textual boffin, so I may not be the right one to ask about these things. I am assuming that these are genuine questions, and not an intro into a liberal tirade against the Bible.

      You may want to read James Ussher, and the other Protestant heavy-weights on why we use the texts we do, and why the Masoretic text is preferred to the Septuagint. I do not have a position on that one, on the basis of insufficient knowledge. I personally use the Byzantine texts for the NT, and have a tendency to mistrust the modern love affair with the Alexandrian text family. The Byzantine texts are the ones that the church has always used, until very recently. To me that carries weight, without claiming that it is an argument winner.

      I have absolutely nothing to say about the Jeremiah issue, again on the basis of insufficient knowledge. Are the facts truly as you have reported them?

  3. Roger,

    Thank you for your response and yes the facts are as I have outlined. The discovery of the scrolls in the Judean Desert has major implications for questions of text and canon and because of this the answers formulated by the Protestant Reformers and High Orthodox are, not to put too fine a point on it, completely out of date. A classic case of Reformed confusion is John Owen’s argument that the pointing of the Hebrew text was original conta Bellarmine’s insisting it was a later tradition.

    Further, we now know that the canon of the Old Testament was not settled on by at least 70 C.E. and probably as late as 132 C.E. which means that the traditional arguments for assuming the Hebrew Canon (MT) contra the LXX Canon as made by Warfield, Hodge et al simply does not work. Further the Church itself used the broader LXX canon and so if the Church’s choice is the one we should follow then we ought be using the LXX. So if the canon was formulated by the universal agreement of the undivided church and this is what we ought be using then your argument in the above post logically demands our using the broader canon which includes the Apocrypha.

  4. Richard

    You will need to substantiate your assertions. Simply saying that things are out of date does not an argument make.

    As for the Apocrypha, I have read them, and I am confident that the church made the right decision in not including them in the canon.

    It seems from your reply that you are a Roman Catholic apologist. I have found it to be an infallible rule so far that such people never try to convince me from scripture, but always some other source of authority, in this case the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    If you want a proper discussion I am willing to argue with you from the canonical scriptures – the Protestant canon. Otherwise I am really not interested.

    If you are just looking for someone to bounce some ideas off of, perhaps someone more learned in canonical issues would suit you better.


  5. Roger,

    As a conservative evangelical Anglican time and time again I meet with others of our common tradition who have no real grasp of what revolutionary implications the Dead Sea Scrolls have had on matters of text and canon. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947 and were therefore unavailable to the Reformers and High Orthodox so regarding the book of Exodus Calvin and John Owen only really had the LXX, MT and Samaritan Pentateuch and they developed their beliefs within that context. Now, we have older Hebrew texts the most important being 4QpaleoExod^m which is a literary varient, an edition that is wholly different from the LXX and MT. Ergo, the views of Owen and Calvin in textual matters are out of date simply because they did not have 4QpaleoExod^m.

    In vol.2 of his Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics Richard Muller points out (pp. 396-435) traces the difficulties the Reformers and High Orthodox had in textual matters and notes that as evidence ammassed the earlier views had to be revised, which provides ample evidence that the Reformed position is changeable when the evidence demands it.

    You say that I am not trying to convince you from scripture but rather the Dead Sea Scrolls, really! The Jews believed that 4QpaleoExod^m was scripture. They believed that Apocrypha was scripture. This is the whole problem with the modern evangelical simply parroting old views; within second Temple Judaism there were multiple versions of scriptural books and no set canon. There is no real argument why we, as Protestants, should exclude the Apocrypha from our canon and the Church of England encourages its being read.

    In terms of the Apocrypha, you say that “the church made the right decision in not including them in the canon” and yet your statement is historically errant, the Church at the council of Carthage included the Apocrypha as did St. Augustine. What you are asserting is that the Reformers were correct, in your opinion, to remove the Apocrypha from the canon of the Church for 1500 years.

  6. Kevin is a man who has apostatized from the Christian Faith to join the Pope. He thinks that people who take a dim view of his treachery are mean and nasty, because all he wants is to have a cozy chat with Calvinists about his exciting new discoveries.

    The goal of course is to draw us away from the truth, all in the name of love.

    And we are supposed to be accommodating of this Judas and his agenda, in the name of love.

  7. I assume you are talking to me, even though my post is gone? My post was actually more to the point than whoever it was that typed up this entry. I said something to the effect of them preserving the manuscripts, to which you should be thankful to God that he used them to do so or you’d have nothing. And I see you conveniently left out Erasmus yet entered other slightly twisted detail. And who did he dedicate his TR too? The Pope.

    • Carla, is there something in the article that you think is factually incorrect? Who do you think preserved the Byzantine Text?

  8. Both Eastern and eventually Western Rites (pre-Reformation)… and only as an after thought did the Protestants begin to preserve their own through Tyndale, Coverdale, Beza and the like.

    Actually, I have a good deal of problems with various things in the article, but this is by far the biggest. Especially since it seems to be the initial subject.

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