Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Catholic Church Made the Bible

How the Catholic Church Gave Us the Bible

If you are a Christian who loves reading the Bible, you might wonder how this sacred book came to be. Who decided which books should be included in the Bible? How were they preserved and transmitted throughout history? And what role did the Catholic Church play in this process?

In this blog post, I will try to answer these questions and show you how the Catholic Church gave us the Bible.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament is the collection of books that were written by the ancient Israelites before the coming of Christ. They contain God's revelation to his chosen people, his promises and prophecies, and his laws and wisdom.

The Old Testament was originally written mostly in Hebrew, with some parts in Aramaic. The books were not all written at the same time, but over a period of about 1000 years, from the time of Moses (around 1400 BC) to the time of Malachi (around 400 BC).

The Old Testament was not a fixed canon, but a fluid collection of writings that varied in different Jewish communities. Some books were more widely accepted than others, and some were only used by certain groups, such as the Essenes or the Samaritans.

The most common version of the Old Testament among the Jews was the one used in Palestine, which had 39 books. However, there was another version that was used by the Jews in Egypt and other parts of the world, which had 46 books. This version was translated into Greek around 250 BC and was called the Septuagint.

The Septuagint was not only a translation, but also an expansion of the Hebrew Scriptures. It included seven books that were not in the Palestinian canon: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees. It also had longer versions of Esther and Daniel.

The Septuagint was widely used by the Jews of the Diaspora (those who lived outside Palestine), and also by the early Christians. Many of the quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament are taken from the Septuagint. For example, when Matthew cites Isaiah's prophecy about the virgin birth of Christ (Matthew 1:23), he uses the Septuagint version, which says "virgin" (parthenos), instead of the Hebrew version, which says "young woman" (almah).

The New Testament

The New Testament is the collection of books that were written by the apostles and their followers after the coming of Christ. They contain God's revelation in Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection, his teachings and miracles, and his establishment of his Church.

The New Testament was originally written in Greek, which was the common language of the Roman Empire at that time. The books were not all written at the same time, but over a period of about 50 years, from the time of James (around AD 50) to the time of John (around AD 100).

The New Testament was also not a fixed canon, but a fluid collection of writings that varied in different Christian communities. Some books were more widely accepted than others, and some were disputed or rejected by some groups. For example, some Christians did not accept Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude and Revelation. On the other hand, some Christians accepted other writings that were not part of the New Testament canon, such as the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, or the Epistle of Barnabas.

The process of forming the New Testament canon was guided by several criteria: apostolicity (the book had to be written by an apostle or a close associate), orthodoxy (the book had to agree with the apostolic teaching), catholicity (the book had to be accepted by most of the churches), and inspiration (the book had to show evidence of being inspired by God).

The Role of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church played a crucial role in giving us both the Old and New Testaments. The Catholic Church wrote the New Testament. The authors of all the books of the New Testament were either Catholic bishops (such as Peter, James or John), Catholic priests (such as Paul or Mark), or Catholic deacons (such as Luke). They wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with the authority given to them by Christ.

The Catholic Church also preserved and transmitted both Testaments throughout history. The Catholic Church copied and distributed both Testaments by hand for centuries before printing was invented. The Catholic Church also defended both Testaments from corruption and distortion by heretics and enemies. The Catholic Church also translated both Testaments into different languages to make them accessible to different peoples.

Finally, the Catholic Church decided which books should be included in both Testaments. The Catholic Church finally agreed on which writings should go into the Bible at the Council of Rome in 382 AD during the time of Pope Damasus. Damasus encouraged St. Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin since Latin was the common language of all educated people. This translation, called the Vulgate, became the official version of the Bible for the Catholic Church for over 1000 years.

The biblical canon was reaffirmed by the regional councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397), and then definitively reaffirmed by the ecumenical Council of Florence in 1442. The Catholic Church accepted the 46 books of the Septuagint as the Old Testament, and the 27 books of the apostolic writings as the New Testament, for a total of 73 books.

Pope Siricius called it "Bible." The word is not in the Bible in reference to itself, only other texts or writings (see: Strong's Greek: 976. βίβλος (biblos) -- (the inner) bark (of a papyrus plant), hence a scroll, spec. a book (  Tertullian in 200 AD developed the term "New Testament" while St. Augustine called the Hebrew Scriptures the "Old Testament."  Pope Damasus called it the "Word of God." This term is only used to describe Jesus, not Scripture.  The Scriptures lacked punctuation and structure, so they had to be added along with a chapter system. Cardinal Hugo De Caro and Archbishop Stephen Langton are credited for creating the chapter and verse system used in every Bible. The Catholic Church was already up and running as the New Testament was still being written.  

The Catholic Church gave us the Bible as a gift from God, and as a guide for our faith and life. The Bible is not a book that we can interpret by ourselves (2 Peter 1:20-21), but a book that we need to read with the help of the Church, which is "the pillar and foundation of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15).

So if you are a Christian who is not fully Catholics, you have to thank the Catholic Church for the Bible. It is our book, our creation.  

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The Third Council of Carthage on the Canon of Scripture (





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