Who Made the Bible?
Who made the Bible? We saw in Part I, that the Catholic Church infallibly chose the inspired books of Scripture and compiled them into what we know today as the Bible. The Bible canon was formally put together in the late 4th century, and this is the same Bible that Christians used for over 1,100 years and the same Bible that Catholics still use today.
Many Christian religions have accepted a false history which asserts that the earliest Christians were a Bible-only religion, and that they relied on the Bible as their only and final authority. This, however, is not historically tenable, especially considering there was no Bible until nearly the year 400. Moreover, the Bible itself never makes this claim. Nowhere in Scripture does it state that it is the only or final authority. Rather, it clearly teaches that Jesus started an authoritative Church (Mt. 16:18-19;18:15-18) that solves problems and speaks on issues of faith and morals (Acts 15:1-11). In fact, the Church existed for nearly 400 years before the Bible ever came to be.
History of the Bible
There are some Christian denominations today who mistakenly believe that the earliest Christians were “Bible Christians” who owned Bibles and carried them around. This is far from the truth. Bibles were extremely rare, monstrously expensive, and took a very long time to copy.
Making the Bible: The Bible was copied on vellum, and over 400 animals had to be killed for their skins just to make a single copy of the Bible (Book: Where We God the Bible). Additionally, a single Bible could take a year or more to copy, perhaps up to three years. Thus, Bible’s were rare and tremendously expensive. They would cost a person up to three years wages, the price of a small house. And, people wonder why the Catholic Church chained Bibles to the pulpits. That’s the reason – so, the precious Word of God would not be stolen, and so people would always have His Word.
Copying the Bible: Over the centuries, Catholic monks and friars – even nuns and bishops painstakingly copied the Scriptures, word by word, line by line, book by book. Many dedicated their entire lives to the copying and preservation of Scripture. Throughout the Middle Ages, Barbarians invasions would sack, pillage, and burn villages – including churches. Catholic monks would rescue the Scriptures when they could, and begin the copying process again. The Bible exists today because Catholics loved the word of God, preserved it, and passed it on down through the centuries. No one can claim that the Catholics did not love Scripture. In fact, they learned it, quoted it, preached it, and used it in their writings. They also brought the stories alive through dramas and plays, and other creative means.
When Bibles became more numerous, people still did not own them because nine-tenths of the Roman Empire was illiterate and could not read. People were illiterate for much of history until the universities were started – by the Catholic Church. Therefore, to launch a “Bible-only” religion, or to start a religion based off a book that most people couldn’t afford, couldn’t read, and couldn’t own, would have been a very bad idea. That is why Jesus started a teaching and preaching church (Mt. 28:19). It wasn’t until the invention of the Printing Press that Bibles were mass produced, more inexpensive, and more accessible to all.
What about Catholics burning Bibles? And, what about the Martin Luther rescuing the Scriptures from the grip of the Catholic Church and successfully delivering them to the common people?
First, the Scriptures weren’t kept from Luther or the people, and he did not have to unearth them from some dusty dungeon somewhere. In fact, Luther was commissioned by his superiors to not only to study the Scriptures, but to preach on them, as well. Even Zwingli, a fellow Protestant Reformer, calls Luther out on his own myth that he started:
“You are unjust in putting forth the boastful claim of pulling the Bible from beneath the dusty benches of the schools. You forget that we have gained a knowledge of the Scriptures through the translations of others. You are very well aware, with all of your blustering, that previous to your time, there were a host of scholars who, in Biblical knowledge and philosophical attainments, were incomparably your superiors” (Quoted in The Facts about Luther, 191).
And, let’s remind the world that Luther himself also admitted the following:
“We concede – as we must- that so much of what they [the Catholic Church] say is true: that the papacy has God’s Word and the office of the Apostles, and that we have received Holy Scriptures, Baptism, the Sacraments, and the pulpit from them. What would we know of these if it were not for them” (From Luther’s Works, Vol. 24, quoted in Crossing the Tiber, 54)?
Consequently, Martin Luther, and indeed, all Christian denominations received the Holy Scriptures from the Catholic Church. This is a plain fact.
Another myth inevitably arises here. Many people mistakenly believe that Luther was the first person print a Bible on the printing press and to put it in the vernacular (in languages other than Latin – the “common tongue” of the people) so it could be understood. This is grossly false. It is a historical fact that the very first Bible to come off the printing press was the Catholic version of the Bible. Moreover, the Church had many versions in the vernacular long before Luther’s own version in 1520.
There were exactly 104 editions of the Bible in Latin before 1520, 27 versions in German (Luther’s own tongue) – 9 before Luther was even born, 40 editions in Italian, 18 versions in French, and numerous editions in Spain, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, and other countries. As Henry Graham states, there were 198 versions of Scripture in the language of the people long before Luther’s version saw the light of day. (Where we got the Bible. I would highly recommend this book for more information on this subject).
Lastly, I would state that it’s a shame Luther ever got involved. He removed seven books of the Old Testament and personally rejected multiple books of the New Testament (Revelation, James, Hebrews, etc). In fact, Luther’s own version of Scripture was such a hack-job, that there were as many as 30 errors per page. This is why nobody uses his version today. The Catholic Church sometimes burned completely erroneous versions of “Scripture” such as this – because they weren’t really Scripture – and the Church wanted to preserve the true Word of God. It would be the equivalent of burning the Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible, in which they have intentionally changed many passages of Scripture to fit their own pre-conceived beliefs.
St. Jerome, a Catholic in the 4th century, is famous for saying that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Catholics agree! Even the Catholic Church today states, “For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Article 3). In conclusion, let it never be said that the Catholic Church is against the Bible. It is a fact of history, that she compiled it, preserved it, memorized it, preached it, nourished her people with it, and gave it to the world. Anyone who loves the Bible should thank the Catholic Church.