Q2: Is it true that the Roman Catholic Church under the Pope gave the Bible to the world as claimed by some bloggers?
NOTE: This is a follow-up to a previous article to make clearer the issue.
A2: No, the Roman Catholic Church did not give the world the Bible.
We summarize the following reasons that will clarify this issue and add some information:
- The Jewish people received and confirmed to the world the Hebrew Scriptures, closing the OT scripture canon by the middle of the 4th century before Christ’s was the incarnation. That was long before Christianity was born. Long before Roman Catholicism under the Bishop of Rome began. See Romans 9:1-5.
- Churches on the eastern side of the Roman Empire spoke Greek, so the churches were known as Greek Catholic Church or Greek Orthodox Church because they did not recognize the rule of the Roman bishop over them. These churches in the East had more ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament (Septuagint or Greek Version of the Hebrew Scriptures) than the Latin churches in the West. Also, the Eastern churches had more Greek manuscripts of the New Testament than the West. Therefore, it is not true that the Roman Church under the Bishop of Rome could truly say that Roman Catholicism gave the world the scriptures.
- The difference between the Roman Catholic Bible today and the so-called “Protestant Bible” is the presence of what is called the Apocryphal Books (In the first of this series we submitted the fact that the Latin Vulgate which was the work of Jerome launched in 404 A.D., considered the Apocryphal Books as “books of the church” but not included as canonical.)
- Martin Luther, the German Dominican priest, assailed the sale of indulgences in his area of Germany. This signaled the start of the European Reformation Movement. Indulgence as a belief springs out from the Roman Catholic sacrament of penance. A related belief in Roman Catholicism is the idea of extra merit of Christ and the saints that are within the disposal of the Roman Catholic Church headed by the pope. An indulgence is an act of mercy pronounced by the Catholic Church whereby offenses or sins of those in purgatory could be atoned for or satisfied to obtain forgiveness of sins. The Bishop of Rome called the Pope (Papa in Latin) issued out certificates wherein rates of payment or works had the equivalence of years forgiven. The traveling agents of this indulgence sale had a big metal box with them. The assurance was made that the donor’s money upon hitting the bottom of the box, would cause the soul of a departed relative to whom the money/work is dedicated to transfer out of purgatory into paradise or heaven. The belief in prayer for the dead is found in one of the apocryphal books. Evidently, to have an official basis for prayer for the dead and the sale of indulgences, the Council of Trent in 1546 A.D. made an official declaration creating the “deutero-canon” composed of the apocryphal books attached to some Old Testament books. It should be noted, however, that the Jewish prophets and rabbis did not recognize these apocryphal books as part of the Old Testament canon.
Importance of the canon
Canonical books contain the revelation and will of God to mankind. Please read John 12:44-50. In there we are warned that the words of Christ are the basis of judgment on the last day. So we have to make sure that we believe and follow instructions of faith and practice derived only from canonical scripture.