How We Got Our Bible

By Luther Blackmon

The claim is made by the Catholic Church that they have given the Bible to the world. From an issue of Our Sunday Visitor, a Roman Catholic paper, we quote the following:

“The Protestants cannot be sure that the Bible contains the word of God, pure and unadulterated, while we Catholics can. You depend upon us for the Bible you possess. The New Testament writings were not gathered and declared to be infallible until the 4th century. Moreover these witnesses were all Catholics, and they accepted the scriptures as divinely inspired because their church declared them to be so. How then can the Protestants hold as an infallible truth that writings known as the Sacred Scriptures are inspired, when for their reliability you have the Catholic Church’s word alone.”

The unwavering loyalty of the Catholic people to their Church, and their faith in her infallibility, blinds them to her faults and blunders. They are nurtured from childhood, on the idea that the Catholic Church is infallible; that she alone teaches the truth and that they must not read or listen to anything that teaches differently. It never occurs to the average Catholic to challenge or even investigate the boastful claims of this institution. If they could be persuaded to investigate, they would not be Catholics, and that is why their Church has forbidden her members to read what she is pleased to call “heretical” writings. That means anything written by Protestants or other which have not been through the Catholic screen.

In the above quotation from Our Sunday Visitor, there are two statements that are misleading and untrue. Consider for instance the declaration that the books of the New Testament were “gathered and declared to be infallible” by the Catholic Church in the fourth century. In her anxiety to turn people away from the authority of the “church” they have made a very obvious blunder. When Catholics, Protestants, or Christians say that a book of the New Testament is inspired, they mean that when it was written (being written), the Holy Spirit guided the writer. Now if the books of the New Testament were inspired when they were in the process of being written, how could a council some hundreds of years later “declare” and “decree” that they are inspired? (The Catholic church says that they were declared to be inspired at the Council of Hippo in 390 A.D.) That is the same thing as if some council had met in 390 A.D. and declared that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin. If He was born of a virgin, no decree of a council years later could make it any truer: and if He was not born of a virgin, all the councils on earth declaring and decreeing could not make it so.

Be it remembered that printing with movable type was not invented until the fifteenth century. Prior to that time the Bible, as well as all other books were written in manuscript form by hand. We do not have any of the original manuscripts, but we do have authentic copies. One of the oldest of the manuscripts is the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates back to the middle of the fourth century, or about 350 A.D. It contains all the Bible except for small portions of the Old Testament, and it has never been in Catholic hands. This manuscript was made years before the Council of Hippo convened-the council which Catholics declare “gathered and declared to be infallible” all the books of the New Testament.

Consider some of the versions of the Bible. A manuscript is a copy of the Bible made in the same language; a version is the translation of the Bible from one language to another. The Bible has been translated into almost every known language. Homer’s Illiad was translated into 20 languages; Shakespeare’s plays into 33; Pilgrims’ Progress into 111. But the complete Bible has been translated into 136 languages and portions of it into well over one thousand languages and dialects.

Let this fact be placed alongside the Catholic claim that the Council of Hippo in 390. A.D. “gathered” the books of the New Testament and declared them to be infallible.

Note: The Syriac Version was translated from the original language into six dialects of the Syriac in the second century-a full two hundred years before the Catholics claim that they gathered the books together. How could the books have been gathered together for the first time in 390 A.D. when tile Syriac Version had already been in circulation for more than 200 years?

The Old Latin Version was translated from the Greek into Latin at the close of the second century. The Coptic Version was translated from the Greek into the Egyptian at the close of the second century. These and many other translations of the Bible, as we have it today, were made and in wide circulation centuries before the Catholic Church says she gathered the books.

Do not be misled by the advertising of the Knights of Columbus. The world is in no sense dependent on Catholicism for her Bible. The Bible was in existence, widely circulated, and recognized as the inspired word of God for many centuries before the Catholic Church even existed.

Truth Magazine XXI: 33, p. 514
August 25, 1977