Saturday, 1 March 2008

Who decided which books form the Bible? Answer: a Council of the Roman Catholic Church. True Fact!

Many people simply do not know where the Bible came from.

They think it was “always there”.

Some even think that only the King James Version (KJV) is the real, authentic version, the ONLY one to be inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Some even seem to think that the Evangelists and Apostles actually produced the KJV (presumably in English!).

I have been sent this useful summary of the origins of the Bible by someone engaged in a correspondence with a Protestant scientist who thinks that the KJV is the ONLY inspired text of the Bible.

The KJV was authorised by King James I of England, Scotland and Ireland, who rejected the Protestant Geneva Bible but also the Catholic Bible. He ordered Anglican scholars to translate the original texts into English. This became the KJV. It is not a bad translation but it was chiefly designed to suit Anglican doctrines.

Here is a message to our Protestant Evangelical brothers:

It was the Roman Catholic Church which decided which books would make up the Bible.

Yes. True fact.

In fact, the final canon of Scripture, thereafter recognised by all Christians for over 1,000 years, was settled on 28 August 397 AD by the Council of Carthage after the example set by St Cyril of Jerusalem in 350.

This Council met under the supervision of the Bishop of Carthage, North Africa, and the Western Roman Emperor, Flavius Honorius, the decrees being later approved by the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, who later also approved the definitive translation of St Jerome called the Vulgate.


Biblical texts in original Hebrew


The original texts in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic are the directly inspired texts of the Bible. They were written by the hands, and through the directly and Divinely-inspired understanding and language of the Holy Prophets, Priests and Patriarchs of old, and by the Apostles and Evangelists who are their successors in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, true God and true man, the Second Person of the Trinity and the son of God (ho huios tou anthropou - as the Biblical Greek has it) and the Saviour of all who believe in Him.

Jews and Christians were loath to translate these texts for the simple reason that meaning can easily be changed in translation. Thus translations required some sort of authorization from the community of believers (usually the leading Jewish/Christian emperor/king or bishop/elder) lest promiscuous translations be spread among Jews and Christians to deceive them and lead them away from the truth.

After the Babylonish captivity, when Aramaic became the common language tending to replace classical Hebrew, the Targums were created to allow the people to understand the Torah when read in the Synagogues. However, the most well-known movement to translate the Bible came in the 3rd century BC when over a third of the population of the great Greek-speaking city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great, were Jews.

With the approval of King Ptolemy II Philadelphus, a group of Hebrew scholars who spoke Koine (or spoken) Greek made what is perhaps the first universally accepted authorised translation thereafter called the Septuagint whereby the original Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament was translated into Koine Greek.


Printed version of the beginning of Genesis in the Greek Septuagint

The next major translations came after the death of our Saviour and include the most sacred of all texts, those written by the Evangelists and Apostles under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost providing the Euangelion, "Glad Tidings" or "Good News" of Jesus Christ.

This was rendered as Gospel (originally God-spell) in Anglo-Saxon, the language of the early English who had originated in Fryslan or North Germany (whose inhabitants in turn spoke the original of what is now Frieslandisch, the language of Ost-Friesland in North-West Germany).

Origen's Hexapla placed side by side six versions of the Old Testament, including the 2nd century Greek translations of Aquila of Sinope and Symmachus the Ebionite.

The canonical Christian Bible was formally established by Bishop St Cyril of Jerusalem in 350 (although it had been generally accepted on an informal basis by the Christian community previously), confirmed by the Council of Laodicea in 363 (both lacked the book of Revelation), and later established by St Athanasius of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church, in 367 (with Revelation added).

The Council of Carthage, held on 28 August 397 under the tutelage of the Bishop of Carthage but with imperial and papal approval, issued a definitive canon (legal decree) of Scripture setting out all the texts that form what is now universally called "The Bible". This canon remained unchallenged for over 1,000 years until not long before the Protestant Reformation when the inclusion of the Deutero-Canonical texts was, among other things, repudiated. These texts were thereafter called "Apocryphal" by Calvinists, Lutherans, Anglicans and others but are often included in some Protestant translations.

Co-extensive with Carthage came the magisterial translation of the Vulgate of St Jerome and it was widely received and recognised as authorised by the Christian authorities, princes, governors and spiritual leaders. It has remained so ever since and has stood the test of time clearly under the guidance and indirect inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

St Jerome, Cardinal and Doctor of the Western Church, the fiery Illyrian penitent who translated the Bible from the original texts to give us the Vulgate


Jerome's Vulgate Latin translation dates to between AD 382 and 420. Latin translations pre-dating Jerome are collectively known as Vetus Latina texts. Jerome began by revising the earlier Latin translations, but ended by going back to the original Greek, by-passing all translations, and going back to the original Hebrew, wherever he could, instead of the Septuagint (as, later, did the translators of the King James Version).

The New Testament was translated into Gothic in the 4th century by Ulfilas. In the 5th century, Mesrob translated the Bible into Armenian. Also dating from the same period are the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic and Georgian translations.

However, important though the Vulgate was, it nevertheless was only indirectly inspired through the scholarship of the Christian doctor, St Jerome. The original texts remained - and still remain - the only DIRECTLY INSPIRED texts written in the hand and language of those authors who were DIRECTLY INSPIRED by the Holy Ghost.

On the other hand, it was important that Scripture be available to the people in their own language since only scholars tended to know Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and the Latin of the Vulgate. This resulted in various authorised translations.

From the Middle Ages we still have some fragmentary Anglo-Saxon Bible translations, notably a lost translation of the Gospel of John into Old English (Anglo-Saxon) by the Venerable Bede, which he is said to have prepared shortly before his death around the year 735.

An Old High German version of the Gospel of Matthew dates to 748. Charlemagne in ca. 800 charged Alcuin with a revision of the Latin Vulgate. The translation into Old Church Slavonic dates to the late 9th century.

Alfred the Great had a number of passages of the Bible circulated in the vernacular in around 900. These included passages from the Ten Commandments and the Pentateuch, which he prefixed to a code of laws he promulgated around this time. In approximately 990, a full and free-standing version of the four Gospels in idiomatic Anglo-Saxon appeared, in the West Saxon dialect; these are called the Wessex Gospels.


King Alfred the Great who translated parts of the Bible into Anglo-Saxon


In 1199, Pope Innocent III banned unauthorized versions of the Bible as a reaction to the Cathar/Waldensian heresies.

The Cathars manipulated Scripture in accordance with their real beliefs which were not Christian but rather those of the Chinese philosopher and theologian, Mani, who believed in Dualism (the existence of two equal forces one good, God, and one evil, the Devil, but each of equal strength and standing, a view entirely opposed to orthodox Christianity). They believed that flesh was evil, thus child-birth was evil, and marriage was evil but sodomy, which produced no children, and euthanasia, which eliminated flesh, were good.

They believed in a "sacrament" called the consolamentum which included euthanasia by suffocation or starvation.

They also included many terrorists who regularly murdered orthodox Christians so that the Church was therefore obliged to launch a defensive counter-terrorist war against them, eventually won, at Muret in 1213, by Count Simon de Montfort (whose son founded the English Parliament) when his 700 Knights miraculously defeated a vast Cathar army of 50,000 under King Peter of Aragon.


Count Simon de Monfort led 700 Christian knights against a huge army of 50,000 or more Albigensian Cathars under King Pedro II of Aragon in the Battle of Muret 1213. St Dominic was praying the Rosary for victory in the Church of Muret. The tiny army of Christian knights defeated the brutal and bloody Cathars who fled away, defeated.


The synods of Toulouse and Tarragona (1234) outlawed possession of Cathar renderings of the Bible. There is evidence of some vernacular translations permitted while others were being scrutinized for Catharist influences.

The most notable Middle English Bible translation, Wyclif's Bible (1383), based on the Vulgate, was banned by the Oxford Synod in 1408 because of its alterations to the text. A Hungarian Hussite Bible appeared in the mid 15th century, and in 1478, a Catalan translation in the dialect of Valencia.

In 1521, Martin Luther was placed under the Ban of the Empire, and he retired to Wartburg Castle. During his time there, he translated the New Testament from Greek into German. This was printed in September 1522.

Tyndale's Bible (1526) was met with heavy sanctions given the widespread belief that Tyndale had changed the Bible as he attempted to translate it. William Tyndale was first jailed in 1535 for translating the Old Testament without permission, and, a year later, after refusing to recant or retract, was executed by order of the English King Henry VIII and Parliament.

There was also the 1530 translation of Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples. The Froschauer Bible of 1531 and the Luther Bible of 1534 (both appearing in portions throughout the 1520s) were an important part of the Protestant Reformation.

The vast international missionary activity of the Jesuit order led to a large number of 17th century translations into the languages of the New World, to enable the indigenous Indian natives to understand the Bible.

Each translation of the Bible tends to put its own "spin" on the text and this can give rise to controversy. Thus the translators of the KJV were authorised by King James I of England to undertake their translation work because of the very clear "spin" put upon the texts by the Geneva Bible which both King James and the Fathers of the KJV translation famously rejected.

For example, the Geneva Bible translated episkopoi as "elders" rather than as "bishops". This the KJV translators rejected and returned to the more traditional rendering of "bishop". King James famously said "No bishop, no king" and so would not tolerate the Presbyterian rendering of "elder" which he knew spelt the end of the bishops and thus of himself as king.

So it proved under his son, King Charles I when the even more extreme and revolutionary Congregationalists or Independents, under Oliver Cromwell, banned all bishops and executed the King setting up a military dictatorship of Army generals under Cromwell as the Dictator.

To the extent that any translation of the Bible is faithful to the original texts, it is an INDIRECTLY INSPIRED text and therefore, to a greater or lesser degree (depending upon the faithfulness of the translation), suitable to nourish the faith of Christians and suitable for them to rely upon.

However, the texts of the Bible DIRECTLY inspired by the Holy Ghost are the Old Testament (called the Tanakh by the Jews) in the classical Hebrew of the masoretic texts mostly, but with some (e.g. the Talmud and the Book of Daniel) in Aramaic, and the New Testament in the original Koine Greek with smatterings of Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus) and various semitisms typical of Greek-speaking Jews.

However, the decision as to which inspired books would make up the Bible was decided by a Council of the Roman Catholic Church in 397.

The Bible is, thus, a Catholic book, not a Protestant one.

...

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Just two comments:

(i) The Bible is a Christian book.

(ii) Your statements about Cathars are fully wrong from A to Z. Yo seriously need to update them. Cathars were just Christians, "Good Christians" as they used to call themselves. And nothing else. Their Book was just the Jerome's Vulgate New Testament translated into vernacular languages, for instance Occitanian. Anybody can see one of their Bible at the Library of the City of Lyon, France, in XIIIth Century Occitanian language.

They had nothing to do at all with Mani. This spiteful legend was fully made up by the Church of Rome in order to strenghten its secular power over the Medieval societies and on the other to eradicate any Spiritual streams inside Christianity. That is how and why Inquisition was founded in 1233.

Cathars were not either Ditheist. They believed in One God. Their dualism was just the one any Christians might read today in the Gospel according to Matthew (13, 24-43)i.e. the parable of the tares of the field.

In 2008 all Historians around the World, since 40 years, have all given up the idea of a any link between Mani and Cathars. They all agree with the statement that Cathars were Christians, just Christians.

May I just remind all our current Christian Brethren that Crusaders on duty of the Roman Catholic Church and that the Catholic Inquisition that lasted for Centuries tortured (Pope Innocent IV orders), killed and burnt at the stakes thousands of Cathars (and burnt also their Gospels) "in the Name of God". May I also remind all current Human beings that the Crusades against other Christians took place for 125 years in Occitania (current Southern France), exactly between 1209 and 1231, where they caused the violent death of 1,5 million Occitanian people.

There were also Catholic Crusades against the Bosniac Cathars between 1203 and 1460 when the persecuted Christian Cathars were incorporated inside the Turkish Islam.

I would say all this has nothing to do with the Teaching of Jesus-Christ, the ones any Christian can read in any current Bible or the ones any current Christian Priest could, would and should teach to any Human being.

Christ said: 'A new commandment I give unto you that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another' (John 13,34).

Don't you think the time has widely and seriously come to make this Commandment a daily reality?

It's just up to all of us including you!

Love!

Bertran de La Farge
France

Tribunus said...

Dear Betran,

Read my response on the blog.

Eddie said...

This is an excellent post in many ways, and I will be linking to it on my own blog.

However, it would have been good if you had been fairer to mainstream Evangelicalism/Protestantism. I don't know anyone who seriously believes that the KJV was inspired(though I realise that such people do exist in corners of the internet). Every Protestant I know would agree with you about the origin of the canon.

You also fail, very obviously, to do justice to the Bible translation movement typified by Wycliffe Bible Translators (protestant) and the Bible Societies (ecumenical) which has seen the translation of the Scriptures into hundreds of languages in the last century.

As a Bible translator myself, I am happy to work with anyone who wants to live as a disciple of Christ and to benefit from the words of Scripture in their own language. I've blogged on the way in which Bible Translation can draw Christians together here; http://www.kouya.net/?p=171#more-171

Tribunus said...

Thank you Eddie (and Sue?) Arthur.

Thanks very much for your comments.

My friend has been corresponding with an Evangelical Protestant who believes that the KJV is the ONLY inspired version of the Bible.

That's what inspired me to write this post.

Although I have many close Protestant friends and respect them greatly, I part company with them on the well-defined and well-known differences with Roman Catholicism. That does not stop us being good friends and praying together. Within reason, one should be able to respect differences of opinion and belief.

The Wycliffe Bible, like many another more modern translation, had an agenda and a "spin" which is anti-Catholic. There's no getting away from that. Wycliffe himself intended it. He often said so.

Being a Catholic I natrually disagree with his spin.

However, having said that I am very happy to work with, and pray with, Evangelical Protestants and often enough do so, and I find that they are closest to us Catholics among all other Christian groups. I count some of them among my closest friends.

Thanks again for your comments.

yeomanrycavalry said...

Yeah, the typical very Catholics demonizing the very threat of their existence and call it a heresy. The massacre of innocent people known as the Cathars is equally as disgusting as what Hitler did to the Jews. For this every Pope should be exhumed and crucified as an outward public apology for the atrocities caused by all the Romans and the Roman Catholics. History has proven the Romans were more evil than Nazis and when Constantine had visions or hallucinations of the cross it was only an excuse to justify the very first crusade against those who did not believe in the lies of the Roman ideals of a "better world" by destroying others who stood in its way. Those base ideas of the Romans continued on by the Pope is basically the equivalent of today's radical muslim clerics brainwashing the followers under the guise of some greater cause for humanity (a lie in of itself). Popes are really just sanctioned terrorists equivalent to UBL with the agenda to force their ideals on others and the world itself!!!

Tribunus said...

Well folks, this kind of ignorant, irrational, half-witted rant seems to be the kind of thing that now passes for an argument with some anti-Catholic bigots.

Comment is really superfluous.

The inanity of the rant speaks for itself.

Never mind the fact that this poor fellow's sense of history has plainly been left home in a locked draw marked "not to be touched except by grown-ups".

I wonder what his problem is?

No doubt the usual: sex, money or power.

lovinangels said...

Aren't Catholics Christians?

Tribunus said...

Of course.

Catholics are the real Christians.

David Clarke said...

I thought that the bible stated that 'Christians' where those who had accepted Jesus Christ into their lives - being born-again. A catholic or any other cannot be a Christian by means of birth, therefore the comment is ridiculous.

Tribunus said...

Dear Mr Clarke,

I don't know what comment you are referring to.

Entry into the Church comes through Baptism, not birth.

There is one Baptism, in three forms:

(1) Baptism by water, invoking the name of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

(2) Baptism by blood, whereby a man is martyred for believing in Christ.

(3) Baptism by repentance or desire, by which a man is conditionally baptised into the Church through his belief in the Triune God and his sorrow for sin, even though, through no fault of his own, he does not yet understand or accept the fullness of the Faith.

It may be that this latter form of Baptism is what you are referring to.

Merely believing, however, is not enough, one must also be sorry for sin and try to live a good life in charity with one's neighbour.

The Bible makes this abundantly clear - see James 2:17-20 - "Faith without works is dead".

It is not enough to believe. One must also do good.

Anonymous said...

All very interesting! Catholic or Christian? They are NOT synonymous terms. A Christian is someone who believes in and lives by every word of scripture - as such we are NOT to venerate dead people - ie Mary is just another dead person - the same as all other dead people = she is not alive and does not appear to anyone. There is no such thing as purgatory - there is only hell or heaven. Paying churches for souls in limbo is abominable. There is NO head of the chirstian church aprt from Christ - when will everyone accept that Peter was NEVER head of any church? I could go on and on - in fact the Catholic church goes against at least 32 major doctrrines/tenets of scipture - so how can they call themselves Christian?

Tribunus said...

Anonymous, you define what a Christian is according to YOUR OWN unsupported definition. Why should we accept YOUR definition?

Are you God?

No.

Then admit that it is arrogant for you to claim the right to define Christianity on you rown.

Scriputre is against you.

Not only does it not forbid the honouring of the Dead but it actually mandates it.

"It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins." 2 Machabees 12:46

Tribunus said...

Mary is not just another dead person. According to Scripture (in the original Greek) she is "kehari tou mene" - "full of grace".

Christ, who is God, was born from her.

You (arrogantly) say that "she does not appear to anyone".

How would you know?

You cannot see something NOT happening, can you?

The fact is that too many people ahve seen Mary appear for us to be able to ignore.

Likewise, you pontificate about heaven, hell and purgatory.

Who are you to pontificate?

Indeed Scripture says:

"And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt." Matthew 18:30

"And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt."
Matthew 18:34

These are but 2 passages that are taken as references to purgatory by Scripture scholars.

And no-one ever paid for souls in Limbo. Limbo is the name given to the top layer of Hell, a place of natural, rather than supernatural, happiness.

Tribunus said...

You say:

"There is NO head of the chirstian church aprt from Christ - when will everyone accept that Peter was NEVER head of any church?"

Everyone already does!

Catholics do NOT (that's N-O-T) say that St \Peter was the Head of teh Church.

Catholics say that CHRIST is the head of the Church.

Got that?

The Pope is the "Vicar" of Christ i.e. he is the person put in place by Christ, as Christ's appointee to rule.

He is NOT (reapt N-O-T) "Head" of the Church.

Got it, now?

Anonymous said...

Interesting article and most interesting responses. Everyone today believes a certain way and they do not agree. This shows there is error in today's beliefs and we tend to believe our way is the true way and want to defend it as though our very lives depend on it. What is apparent is that we all love God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. I am not Catholic, but I will agree that the Catholic Church was the force behind our current Bible, but I will disagree with the author of this article that that makes it a Catholic book. The Catholic church also holds many Apostolic writings in custody. What I would love is for them to open their vaults and release the sacred writings they secretly (not so secretly now) guard. I could care less what any council has canonized. I am interested in truth and I would love to have all the writings that were inspired by God for men to write. Most Christians today falsely claim the Bible is complete and perfect. How can anyone be so naive? I challenge anyone to copy by hand the entire Bible and not make a mistake. Also, as was alluded to, translations purposefully were altered to put the King in good light. These adulteration's are an abomination. I personally read from the King's Jame version, however, if I could read German, I would read their version of The Bible. How many of you speak and read a foreign language and have read the Bible in that language? There are many differences in interpretation. So do you believe that only the American Version is perfect and complete? How ridiculous! Some of the scriptural texts that were not chosen to be included in the Bible are still referred to in the Bible we Christians read today. There are at least 18 references in the Bible to scriptural texts that are not there now. How can one honestly trust man's decision of what texts are to be deemed "sacred" when those very texts invoke other texts which man discarded as unsacred? I say to you all, wake up. The Bible is not perfect. May we work together for the better and become perfect in Christ. Even He commanded us "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Are you willing to obey His command? Scott (not anonymous)

Tribunus said...

Dear Scott,

I’m glad that you agree that the Catholic Church was the force behind our current Bible.

If you were to be the author of a book, it would be YOUR book.

Likewise the Bible, chosen, authored and edited by the Catholic Church is, therefore, a Catholic book.

There is no getting around it.

Face it.

The so called “secret” writings in the “vaults” of the Church are open for all to see and have always been.

You are fantasising if you think otherwise.

If you are genuinely interested in the truth then you should be interested in what Councils of the Christian Church, approved by Christ’s Vicar, the Pope, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, taught about the books of Scripture.

If you are not interested in them then you are not interested in truth and should stop pretending.

The Bible is complete and perfect in the sense that the body that Christ established to guide us in truth and teaching has declared – infallibly – that the books of Scripture are true.

The original languages of the Bible are Hebrew and Greek – not German.

You are right that there are many differences of interpretation as to what Scripture means but that is precisely why Christ left us a Church to tell us which interpretation is the true one.

The Church is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit to teach us that truth.

That is why Scripture calls the Church “the pillar and ground of the truth” [1 Tim 3:15].

The King James’ Bible is useful but it is not authoritative. It was not approved by the Church, still less was the American Bible.

The fact that the Bible refers to texts outside of the canon of Scripture is neither here nor there. So what? The Bible refers to the pagan Greek temples. Does that make them Christian? No, of course not.

The mistake you make is to think that the Church’s infallible teaching about the canon and meaning of Scripture is merely “man’s decision”.

It is not.

It is the decision of the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church that God created. THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS FOR.

You are right that Christ commanded us “"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect” but how do you know that Christ actually said this, truly and accurately?

You know it because the Roman Catholic Church teaches you so and chose the book in which that text appears as part of the canon of Scripture. THAT’S WHY!

So if you want to be perfect then you need recognise that same Church that Christ founded and which the Holy Spirit teaches and instructs.

Are you willing to obey Christ’s Church?

I say to you “wake up” and follow Christ and His Church.

Then you can begin to be "perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect".

Miss Elizabeth Diana said...

Tribunus you're posts are well informed & extremely inspirational, you really know your stuff. After reading all the comments, I am now inspired to research & investigate more on certain topics. Thank you :)

David Crupe said...

You mention that the Bible was wrote by only Catholics. Tell me then why does the Catholic Bible that exist today contain books that the church fathers did not included in the beginning?

Tribunus said...

Dear David,

The Bible of today does NOT include books the Fathers did not recognise or include.

The Council of Trent (1545-1564) infallibly reiterated what the Church had long taught regarding the canons of the Old and New Testaments. Pope Damasus promulgated the Catholic canons at the Synod of Rome in A.D. 382, and later, at the regional councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419), the Church again defined the same list of books as inspired.

The canons of the Old and New Testaments, as defined by Pope Damasus and the Councils of Hippo and Carthage, were later ratified (though the books were not enumerated individually) by the later Ecumenical councils of Nicaea II (787) and Florence (1438-1445). Although the Council of Trent, in response to the Protestant violation of the Bible in deleting the seven Deutero-canonical books plus portions of Daniel and Esther, was the first infallible conciliar listing of each individual book, it certainly did not add those books to the canon.

If that were the case, how could Martin Luther and the other Reformers have objected to the presence of those books decades before the Council of Trent if they weren't already in the canon to begin with?

Finally, you have to face the fact that Protestants get their bible from the Catholic Church.

No Catholic church - no Bible.

Fact.