BIBLE READING PROHIBITED
Did the Catholic Church prevent the people from reading the Bible by
keeping it in Latin ?
No, for two reasons
1. An Englishmen would have been more likely to have been able
to read Latin than English in the 16th Century.
2. The Church did not “keep” it in Latin but had
translated it into the other various vernacular languages such as German and
English before the Protestants came along to do so.
1. An Englishmen would have been more likely to have been a skilled reader of Latin
than a skilled reader English up until at least the 16th Century. At this
time they did not have free public schools.1
Those who were fortunate enough to go to private schools learned Latin. Once Latin was
learned the other subjects were taught in Latin. Therefore, if a person knew how
to read more than just a few simple words, he knew how to read Latin.
This surprising fact can be easily verified at any good library by looking at
condensed biographies of early English writers which reveal the educational
system of that time period.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) learned his Latin through the
medium of French, but once Latin was learned both English and French were
“At Westminster School, and
probably at Saint Paul's, too, a boy who knew Latin and presumed to
speak English, or even French, had a cut of the cane for every word so
“Discipline, if rough, was ready. The day began with prayer, then a
recitation of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, a salutation to the Blessed
Virgin, and some psalm singing, which was called "dinging in David.”
(British Writers, Volume#1, Edited under the auspices of
the British Council. General Editor Ian Scott-Kilvert, published by -
Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, NY, c. 1979, Page 22)
About Francis Bacon, 1561-1626 AD, we can read how he studied Latin and its
“Latin (the international
(Ibid. Page 259)
“Bacon’s education had been in Latin, as was
(Ibid. Page 262)
In regards to William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 AD, he
studied at the King’s New School. He studied Latin and his other subjects were
taught in Latin.
“The basic medium of
instruction was Latin”
(Ibid. Page 295)
As for Sir Walter Raleigh, 1552-1618 AD, we read
“He had no Hebrew and not
much Greek, reading Greek authors as much as possible in Latin
(Ibid. Pages 145-153)
On page 122 we read about the education of Edmund Spenser,
1552-1559 AD. The curriculum included a great deal of Latin, as in other grammar
schools, and also Greek, but if it included English that would have been
Edmund Spenser 1552-1559 AD,
“He was educated at Merchant Taylor's School …from it's foundation in
1561. There the curriculum included a great deal of Latin, some Greek
(certainly Homer), and the Hebrew psalter. As in other grammar schools
the Latin would be not only classical but Renaissance: ....
Exceptionally, the curriculum extended to music and possibly even to
English. For the headmaster was an advanced educationalist, the great
(Ibid. Page 122)
Therefore, we can clearly see that those who were educated
in how to read knew how to read Latin much better than they knew how to read
Also, it should be noted that the purpose the Church had
for translating the Bible into Latin was for the express purpose making it more
accessible to the people. Jerome’s translated the Bible into Latin around 400
AD. It was called the Latin Vulgate. Vulgate comes from the Latin word for
“common” because Latin was the common language of Western Europe at that time.
2. The Church did not “keep” it in Latin but had translated it into the other
various vernacular languages such as German and English before the Protestants
came along to do so.
The Church had produced many German language Bibles before Luther broke away
from the Catholic Church.
“The number of translations
. . . of the complete Bible, was indeed very great . . . Between this
period  and the separation of the Churches at least fourteen
complete editions of the Bible were published in High German, and five
in the low German dialect. The first High German edition was brought out
in 1466 by Johann Mendel, of Strasburg . . .”
(Johannes Janssen, History of the German People From the
Close of the Middle Ages, 16 vols., tr. A.M. Christie, St. Louis: B.
Herder, 1910 (orig. 1891), v. 1, pp. 56-57 and v. 14, p. 388)
See Pictures of Catholic German Language Bibles Before Luther, with
We also can see how the Catholic Church translated the
Bible into English long before John Wycliff.
“[W]e have a copy of the
work of Caedmon, a monk of Whitby, in the end of the 7th century,
consisting of great portions of the Bible … we have the well-known
translations of the Venerable Bede, a monk of Jarrow . . . In the same
(8th) century we have the copies of Eadhelm . . . of Guthlac, . . . and
of Egbert . . . these were all in Saxon, the language understood and
spoken by the Christians of that time. Coming down a little later, we
have the free translations of King Alfred the Great . . . and of Aelfric,
Archbishop of Canterbury . . . the paraphrase of Orm (about 1150) and
the Salus Animae (1250), the translations of William Shoreham and
Richard Rolle . . . (d.1349) . . .”
The Lindisfarne Gospels were translated in English about 970 AD and are
preserved at the British Museum. Read more at
Because of the successive invasions of England by
the Angels, the Danes, and finally the French in 1066 AD, the English language
was in a constant state of change. It was not until the seventeenth
century that the English language became more or less stabilized in its
present form. Latin on the other hand was constant, and unchanging.
Therefore, Latin Bibles were more useful and practical.
Also, it should be noted that the Pope asked St. Jerome to
translate the Bible into Latin because that was the common language of the
people of that time, around 400 AD, in Western Europe. It is called the
Latin Vulgate, whereas Vulgate comes from the word for "common."
Most importantly, we must realize
that at least up until the 16th century that those who could read
could read Latin. This is because the schools not only taught Latin, but they
even taught the other subjects in Latin as is documented above.
1. In America Free public schools (i.e. taxed based schools) did not become
widespread until the latter part of the 18th Century. Even today, 68% of
the worlds population cannot read or write.
MARY MORAL ISSUES
HOME - DEFENDING
did the Catholic Church chain the Bibles?
Even the Preface to the King James Version 1611
AD Speaks of Earlier English
Translations into the vulgar for their Countrymen, insomuch that most
nations under heaven did shortly after their conversion, hear CHRIST
speaking unto them in their mother tongue …So that, to have the
Scriptures in the mother tongue is not a quaint conceit lately taken up,
either by the Lord Cromwell in England, Thuan. or by the Lord Radevile
in Polony, or by the Lord Ungnadius in the Emperor's dominion, but hath
been thought upon, and put in practice of old, even from the first times
of the conversion of any Nation.”
Before the King James: The KJV Translators Speak!
Preface to the King James Version 1611
Did the Catholic Church Prohibit Bible Reading?
Did The Catholic Church Keep The Bible Out Of The
Hands Of The Common People?
The Catholic Church published the Bible
in the various languages before the Protestant Reformers came along.