Now, in order to understand properly the work of the Catholic Church in creating and defending and perpetuating the Holy Scriptures, we must say a few preliminary words as to the human means used in their production, and as to the collecting of the Books of the Bible as we have it at present. There are some common erroneous ideas which we would do well to clear away from our minds at the very outset.
1. To begin with, the Bible did not drop down from Heaven ready-made, as some seem to imagine; it did not suddenly appear upon the earth, carried down from Almighty God by the hand of angel or seraph; but it was written by men like ourselves, who held in their hand pen (or reed) and ink and parchment, and laboriously traced every letter in the original languages of the East. They were divinely inspired certainly, as no others ever have been before or since; nevertheless, they were human beings, men chosen by God for the work, making use of the human instruments that lay to their hand at the time.
2. In the second place we shall do well to remember that the Bible was not written all at once, or by one man, like most other books with which we are acquainted, but that 1500 years elapsed between the writing of Genesis (the first book of the Old Testament) and the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John (the last Book of the New Testament). It is made up of a collection of different books by different authors, forming, in short, a library instead of a single work, and hence called in Greek, “Biblia,” or “The Books”. If you had lived in the days immediately succeeding the death of Moses, all you would have had given to you to represent the Bible would have been the first five books of the Old Testament, written by that patriarch himself; that was the Bible in embryo, so to speak – the little seed that was to grow subsequently into a great tree, the first stone laid on which was gradually to be erected the beautiful temple of the written Word throughout the centuries that followed. From this we can see that the preacher extolling the Bible as the only comfort and guide of faithful souls was slightly out of his reckoning when he used these words: “Ah, my brethren! What was it that comforted and strengthened Joseph in his dark prison in Egypt? What was it that formed his daily support and meditation? What but that blessed book, the Bible!” As Joseph existed before a line of the Old Testament was penned, and about 1800 years before the first of the New Testament books saw the light, the worthy evangelist was guilty of what we call a slight anachronism.
3. Nor will it be out of place to remark here that the Bible was not written originally in English or Gaelic. Some folks speak as if they believed that the Sacred Books were first composed, and the incomparable Psalms of David set forth, in the sweet English tongue, and that they were afterwards rendered into barbarous language such as Latin or Greek or Hebrew for the sake of inquisitive scholars and critics. This is not correct; the original language, broadly speaking of the Old Testament was Hebrew; that of the New Testament was Greek. Thus our Bibles as we have them today for reading are “translations” – that is, are a rendering or equivalent in English of the original Hebrew and Greek as it came from the pen of Prophet and Apostle and Evangelist. We see this plainly enough in the title page of the Protestant New Testament – which reads “New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, translated out of the original Greek.”
4. A last point must always be kept clearly in mind, for it concerns one of the greatest delusions entertained by Protestants and makes their fierce attacks on Rome appear so silly and irrational – the point, namely, that the Bible, as we have it now, was not printed in any language at all till about 1500 years after the birth of Christ, for the simple reason that there was no such thing as printing known before that date. We have become so accustomed to the use of the printing press that we can scarcely conceive of the ages when the only books known to men were in handwriting; but it is the fact that, has we lived and flourished before Mr. John Gooseflesh discovered the art of printing in the 15th century, we should have had to read our Testaments and our Gospels from the manuscript of monk or friar, from the pages of parchment or vellum or paper covered with the handwriting, sometimes very beautiful and ornamental, of the scribe that had undertaken the slow and laborious task of copying the Sacred Word. Protestants in these days send shiploads of printed Bibles abroad, and scatter thousands of Testaments hither and thither in every direction for the purpose of evangelizing the heathen and converting sinners, and declare that the Bible, and the Bible only, can save men’s souls. What, then, came of those poor souls who lived before the Bible was printed, before it was even written in its present form? How were nations made familiar with the Christian religion and converted to Christianity before the 15th century? Our Divine Lord, I suppose, wished that the unnumbered millions of human creatures born before the year 1500 should believe what He had taught and save their souls and go to Heaven at least as much as those of the 16th and 20th centuries; but how could they do this when they had no Bibles, or were too poor to buy one, or could not understand it even if they could read it? On the Catholic plan (so to call it) of salvation through the teaching of the Church, souls may be saved and people become saints, and believe and do all that Jesus Christ meant them to believe and do – and, as a matter of fact, this has happened – in all countries and in all ages without either the written or the printed Bible, and both before and after it’s production. The Protestant theory, on the contrary, which stakes a man’s salvation on the possession of the Bible, leads to the most flagrant absurdities, imputes to Almighty God a total indifference to the salvation of the countless souls that passed hence to eternity for 1500 years, and indeed ends logically in the blasphemous conclusion that our blessed Lord failed to provide an adequate means of conveying to men in every age the knowledge of His truth. We shall see, as we proceed, the utter impossibility of the survival of Christianity, and of its benefits to humanity, on the principle of “the Bible and the Bible only.” Meanwhile we can account for the fact that intelligent non-Catholics have not awakened to its hollowness and absurdity only by supposing that they do not sufficiently realise, “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” (as the English Prayer Book says) this single item of history: The Bible was not printed till at least 1400 years after Christ.
God Bless BJS!!
Taken from Where We Got The Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church by RT REV HENRY G. GRAHAM I am not the Author merely the distributor.