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The Originals and Their Disappearance

I. Now, you may naturally enough ask me: “But how do you know all this? Where has the Bible come from? Have you got the original writings that came from the hand of Moses, or Paul, or John?” No, none of it, not a scrap or a letter, but we know from the Church’s Tradition that these were the books they wrote, and they have been handed down to us in a most wonderful way. What we have now is the printed Bible; but before the invention of printing in 1450, the Bible existed only in handwriting – what we call manuscript – and we have in our possession now copies of the Bible in manuscript (MS.) which were made as early as the 4th century, and these copies, which you can see with your own eyes at this day, contain the books which the Catholic Bible contains today, and that is another way we know we are right in receiving these books as Scripture, as genuinely the work of the Apostles and Evangelists. Why is it that we have not the originals written by St. John and St. Paul and the rest? Well, there are several reasons to account for the disappearance of the originals.

(1) The persecutors of the Church for the first 300 years of Christianity destroyed everything Christian that they could lay their hands on. Over and over again, barbarous pagans burst in upon Christian cities, and villages and churches, and burned all the sacred things they could find. And not only so, but they especially compelled Christians (as we saw before) to deliver up their sacred books, under pain of death, and then consigned them to the flames. Among these, doubtless, some of the writings that came from the hand of the Apostle and Evangelist perished.

(2) Again, we must remember, the material which inspired authors used for writing their Gospels and Epistles was very easily destroyed; it was perishable to a degree. It was called papyrus (I shall explain what it was made of in a moment), very frail and brittle, and not made to last to any great age; and its delicate quality, no doubt, accounts for the loss of some of the choicest treasures of ancient literature, as well as of the original handwriting of the New Testament writers. We know of no MS of the New Testament existing now which is written on papyrus.

(3) Furthermore, when in various churches throughout the first centuries copies were made of the inspired writings, there was not the same necessity for preserving the originals. The first Christians had no superstitious or idolatrous veneration for the Sacred Scriptures, such as seems to prevail among some people today; they did not consider it necessary for salvation that the very handwriting of St. Paul or St. Matthew should be preserved, inspired by God though these men were; they had the living, infallible Church to teach and guide them by the mouth of her Popes and Bishops and to teach them not only all that could be found in the Sacred Scriptures, but the true meaning of it as well; so that we need not be surprised that they were content with mere copies of the original works of the inspired writers.

As of the original works of the inspired writers. As soon as a more beautiful or correct copy was made, an earlier and rougher one was simply allowed to perish. There is nothing strange or unusual in all this; it is just what holds good in the secular world. We do not doubt the terms or provisions of the Magna Charta because we have not seen the original; a copy, if we are sure it is correct, is good enough for us.

II. Well, then, the originals, as they came from the hand of Apostle and Evangelist, have totally disappeared. This is what infidels and skeptics taunt us with and cast on our teeth: “You cannot produce,” they say, “the handwriting of those from whom you derive your religion, neither the Founder nor His Apostles; your Gospels and Epistles are a fraud; they were not written by these men at all, but are the invention of a later age; and consequently we cannot depend upon the contents of them or believe what they tell us about Jesus Christ.” Now, of course, these attacks fall harmlessly upon us Catholics, because we do not profess to rest our religion upon the Bible alone, and are independent of it, and would be just as we are and what we are though there were no Bible at all. It is those who have staked their very existence upon that Book, and must stand or fall with it, that are called upon to defend themselves against the critics. But I shall only remark here that the argument of infidel and skeptics would, if logically applied, discredit not only the Bible, but many other books which they themselves accept and believe without hesitation. There is far more evidence for the Bible than there is for certain books of classical antiquity which no one dreams of disputing. There are, for example, only 15 manuscripts of the works of Herodotus, and none earlier than the 10th century A.D.; yet he lived 400 years before Christ. The oldest manuscript of the works of Thucydides is of the 11th century A.D.; yet he flourished and wrote more than 400 years before Christ. Shall we say, then, “I want to see the handwriting of Thucydides and Herodotus, else I shall not believe these are their genuine works. You have no copy of their writings near the time they lived; none, indeed, till 1400 years after them; they must be a fraud and a forgery”? Scholars with no religion at all would say we were fit for an asylum if we took up the position; yet it would be a far more reasonable attitude than that which they take up toward the Bible. Why? Because there are known to have been many thousand copies of the New Testament in existence by the 3rd century – i.e., only a century or two after St. John – and we know for certain there are 3000 existing at the present day, ranging from the fourth century downward. The fact is, the wealth of evidence for the genuineness of the New Testament is simply stupendous; and in comparison with many ancient histories which are received without question on the authority of late and few and bad copies, the Sacred Volume is founded on a rock. But let us pass on; it is enough for us to know that God has willed that the handiwork of every inspired writer, from Moses down to St. John, should have perished from among men, and that He entrusted our salvation to something more stable and enduring than a dead book or an undecipherable manuscript – that is, the living and infallible Church of Christ: Ubi Ecclesia, ibi Christus. [“Where the Church is, there Christ is.”]

Now I wish to devote what remains of this chapter to say something about the material instruments that were used for the writing and transmission of Holy Scriptures in the earliest days; and a brief review of the materials employed, and the dangers of loss and of corruption which necessarily accompanied the work, will convince us more than ever of the absolute need of some divinely protected authority like the Catholic Church to guard the Gospel from error and destruction, and preserve “the Apostolic deposit” (as it is called) from sharing the fate which is liable to overtake all things that are, as says St. Paul, contained in “earthen vessels.”

III. Various materials were used in ancient times for writing, as, e.g., stone, pottery, bark of trees, leather, and clay tablets among the Babylonians and Egyptians. (1) But before Christianity, and for the first few ages of our era, Papyrus was used, which has given its name to our “paper.” It was formed of the bark of the reed or bukrush, which once grew plentifully on the Nile banks. First split into layers, it was then glued by overlapping the edges, and another layer glued to this at right angles to prevent splitting, and, after sizing and drying, it formed a suitable writing surface. Thousands of rolls of papyrus have been found in Egyptian and Babylonian tombs and beneath the buried city of Herculaneum, owing their preservation probably to the very fact of being buried, because, as I said, the substance was very brittle, frail and perishable, and unsuited for rough usage. Though probably many copies of the Bible were originally written on this papyrus (and most likely the inspired writers used it themselves), none have survived the the wreck of ages. It is this material St. John is referring to when he says to his correspondent in his second Epistle, verse 12; “Having more things to write to you, I would not by paper and ink.”

(2) When in the course of time, papyrus fell into comparative disuse from its unsuitableness and fragility, the skins of animals came to be used. This material had two names; if it was made out of the skin of sheep or goats, it was called Parchment; if made of the skin of delicate young calves, it was called Vellum. Vellum was used in earlier days, but being very dear and hard to obtain, gave place to a large extent to the coarser parchment. St. Paul speaks about this stuff when he tells St. Timothy to “bring the books, but especially the parchments.” (2 Tim. 4:13). Most of the New Testament manuscripts which we possess today are written on this material. A curious consequence of the costliness of this substance was this, that the same sheet of vellum was made to do duty twice over, and became what is termed a palimpsest, which means “rubbed again.” A scribe, say, of the tenth century, unable to purchase a new supply of vellum, would take a sheet containing, perhaps, a writing of the second century, which had become worn out through age and difficult to decipher; he would wash or scrape out the old ink, and use the surface over again for copying out some other work in which the living generation felt more interest. It goes without saying that in many cases the writing thus blotted out was of far greater value than that which replaced it; indeed, some of the most precious monuments of sacred learning are of this description, and they were discovered in this way. The process of erasing or sponging out the ancient ink was seldom so perfectly done as to prevent all traces of it still remaining, and some strokes of the older hand might often be seen peeping out beneath the more modern writing. In 1834 some chemical mixture was discovered which was applied with much success and had the effect of restoring the faded lines and letters of those venerable records. Cardinal Mai, a man of colossal scholarship and untiring industry, and a member of the Sacred College in Rome under Pope Gregory XVI, was a perfect expert in this branch of research, and by his ceaseless labors and ferret-like hunts in the Vatican library brought to light some remarkable old manuscripts and some priceless works of antiquity. Among these, all students have to thank him for restoring a long lost work of Cicero (De Republica) that was known to have existed previously and which the Cardinal unearthed from beneath St. Augustine’s Commentary on the Psalms! The most important MS. of the New Testament of this description is called Codex of Ephraem. About 200 years ago it was noticed that this curious-looking vellum, all soiled and stained, and hitherto thought to contain only the theological discourses of St. Ephraem, an old Syrian Father, was showing dim traces and faint lines of some older writing beneath. The chemical mixture was applied, and lo, what should appear but a most ancient and valuable copy of Holy Scriptures of handwriting not later than the fifth century! This had been coolly scrubbed out by some impecunious scribe of the twelfth century to make room for his favorite work, the discourses of St. Ephraem! Let us charitably hope that the good monk (as he probably was) did not know what he was scrubbing out. At all events, it was brought into France by Queen Catherine de Medici and is now safely preserved in the Royal Library at Paris, containing on the same page two works, one written on top of the other with a period of 700 years between them. I have told you about the sheets used by the earliest writers of the New Testament. What kind of pen and ink had they?

(1) Well, for the brittle papyrus, a reed was used, much the same as that still in use in the East; but of course for writing on hard, tough parchment or vellum a metal pen, or stylus, was required. It is to this St. John refers in his third Epistle (verse 12) when he says,”Having more things to write unto you, I would not by paper and ink.” The strokes of these pens may still be seen quite clearly impressed on the parchment, even though all trace of the ink has utterly vanished. Besides this, a bodkin or needle was employed, by means of which, a long with a ruler, a blank leaf or sheet was carefully divided into columns and lines; and on nearly all the manuscripts these lines and marks may still be seen, sometimes so firmly and deeply drawn that those on one side of the leaf have penetrated through to the other side, without, however, cutting the vellum.

(2) The ink used was a composition of soot or lampback or burnt shavings of ivory, mixed with gum or wineless or alum (for all these elements entered into it). In most ancient manuscripts, unfortunately, the ink has for the most part turned red or brown, or become very pale, or peeled off or eaten through the vellum, and in many cases later hands have ruthlessly retraced the ancient letters, making the original writing look much coarser. But we know that many colored inks were used, such as red, green, blue or purple, and they are often quite brilliant to this day.

(3) As to the shape of the MSS., the oldest form was that of a roll. They were generally fixed on two rollers, so that the part read (for example, in public worship) could be wound out of sight and a new portion brought to view. This was the kind of thing that was handed to Our Lord when He went into the synagogue at Nazareth on the Sabbath. “He unfolded the book”, and read: and then “when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister.” (Luke 4:17, 20.) When not in use, these rolls were kept in round boxes or cylinders, and some times in cases of silver or cloth of great value. The leaves of parchment were sometimes of considerable size, such as folio; but generally the shape was what we know as quarto [about 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches] or smaller folio, and some were octavo. The skin of one animal, especially if an antelope, could furnish many sheets of parchment; but if the animal was a small calf, then its skin could only furnish very few sheets; and an instance of this is the manuscript called the Sinaitic (now in St. Petersburg), whose sheets are so large that the skin of a single animal (believed to have been the youngest and finest antelope) could only provide two sheets (8 pages).

(4) The page was divided into two or three or four columns (though the latter is very rare). The writing was of two distinct kinds, one called Unocal (meaning an inch), consisting entirely of capital letters, with no connection between the letters, and no space between words at all; the other style, which is later, was cursive (that is, a running hand) like our ordinary handwriting, with capitals only at the beginning of sentences; and in this case the letters are joined together and there is a space between words. The uncial style (consisting of capitals only) was prevalent for the first three centuries of our era; in the fourth century the cursive began and continued till the invention of printing.

(5) Originally, I need hardly say, there was no such thing in the MSS as divisions into chapters and verses, and no points or full stops [i.e., periods] or commas, to let you know where one sentence began and the next finished: hence the reading of one of these ancient records is a matter of some difficulty to the unscholarly. The division into chapters so familiar to us in our modern Bibles was the invention either of Cardinal Hugo, a Dominican, in 1248, or more probably of Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1227); and it is no calumny upon the reputation of either of these great men to say that the division is not very satisfactory. He is not fortunate in his method of splitting up the page of Scripture; the chapters are of very unequal length and frequently interrupt a narrative or argument or an incident in an inconvenient way, as anyone may see for himself by looking up such passages as Acts 21:40; or Acts 4 and 5, or 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. The division again into verses was the work of one Robert Stephens, and the first English version in which it appeared was the Geneva Bible, 1560. This gentleman seems to have completed his performance on a journey between Paris and Lyons (inter equitandum, as the Latin biographer phrases it), probably while stopping overnights in inns and hotels. “I think,” an old commentator quaintly remarks, “it had been better done on his knees in the closet.” To this I would venture to add that his achievement must share the same criticism of inappropriateness as the arrangement into chapters.

(6) The manuscripts of the Bible, as I before remarked, now known to be in existence, number about 3000, of which the vast majority are in running hand, and hence are subsequent to the fourth century. There are none of course later than the sixteenth century, for then the book began to be printed; and none have yet been found earlier than the fourth. Their age, that is, the precise century in which they were written, it is not always easy to determine. About the tenth century the scribes who copied them began to notify the date in a corner of the page; but before that time we can only judge by various characteristics that appear in the MSS. For example, the more simple and upright and regular the letters are, the less flourish and ornamentation they have about them, the nearer equality there is between the height and breadth of the characters-the more ancient we may be sure is the MS. Then, of course, we can often tell the age of a MS – approximately, at least – by the kind of pictures the scribe had painted in it, the illustrations he had introduced, and the ornamenting of the first letter of a sentence or on the top of a page; for we know in what century that particular style of illumination prevailed. It would be impossible to give anyone who had never seen any specimens of these wonderful old manuscripts a proper idea of their appearance or make him realize their unique beauty. There they are today, perfect marvels of human skill and workmanship, manuscripts of every kind: old parchment all stained and worn; books of faded purple lettered with silver, and their pages beautifully designed and ornamented; bundles of finest vellum, yellow with age, and bright even yet with the gold and vermilion laid on by pious hands 1000 years ago – in many shapes, in many colors, in many languages.

There they are, scattered throughout the libraries and museums of Europe, challenging the admiration of everyone that beholds them for the astonishing beauty, clearness and regularity of their lettering, and the incomparable illumination of their capitals and headings – still at this day, after so many centuries of change and chance, charming the eye of all with their soft yet brilliant colors and defying our modern scribes to produce anything the least approaching them in loveliness. There lie the sacred records, hoary with age, fragile, slender, time-worn, bearing upon their front clear proofs of their ancient birth; yet with the bloom of youth still clinging about them. We simply stand and wonder; and we also despair. We speak glibly of the “Dark Ages” and despise their monks and friars (and I shall, with your leave, speak a little more about them immediately), but one thing at least is certain, and that is, that not in the wide world today could any of their critics find a craftsman to make a copy of Holy Scripture worthy to be compared for beauty, clearness and finish with any one of the hundreds of copies produced in the contents and monasteries of medieval Europe.

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. God Bless BJS!!

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Deficiencies of the Protestant Bible

(1) The point that we have arrived at now, if you remember, is this: The Catholic Church, through her Popes and Councils, gathered together the separate books that Christians venerated which existed in different parts of the world; sifted the chaff from the wheat, the false from the genuine; decisively and finally formed a collection – i.e., drew up a list or catalogue of inspired and apostolic writings into which no other book should ever be admitted, and declared that these and these only were the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament. The authorities that were mainly responsible for thus settling and closing the “Canon” of Holy Scripture were the Councils of Hippo and of Carthage in the fourth century, under the influence of St. Augustine (at the latter of which two Legatees were present from the Pope), and the Popes Innocent I in 405, and Gelasius, 494, both of whom issued lists of Sacred Scripture identical with that fixed by the Councils. From that date all through the centuries this was the Christian’s Bible. The Church never admitted any other; and at the Council of Florence in the 15th century and the Council of Trent in the 16th and the [First] Council of the Vatican in the 19th she renewed her anathemas against all who should deny or dispute this collection of books as the inspired Word of God.

(2) What follows from this is self-evident. The same authority which made and collected and preserved these books, alone has the right to claim them as her own and to say what the meaning of them is. The Church of St. Paul and St. Peter and St. James in the first century was the same Church as that of the Council of Carthage and of St. Augustine in the fourth, and of the Council of Florence in the 15th, and of the Vatican in the 19th – one and the same body – growing and developing, certainly, as every living thing must do, but still preserving its identity and remaining essentially the same body, as a man of 80 is the same person as he was at 40, and the same person at 40 as he was at 2. The Catholic Church of today, then, may be compared to a man who has grown from infancy to youth, and from youth to middle age. Suppose a man wrote a letter setting forth certain statements; whom would you naturally ask to tell what the meaning of these statements was? Surely the man that wrote it. The Church wrote the New Testament; she, and she alone, can tell us what the meaning of it is.

Again, the Catholic Church is like a person who was present at the side of Our Blessed Lord when He walked and talked in Galilee and Judea. Suppose, for a moment, that that man was gifted with perpetual youth (this, by the way, is an illustration from W.H. Mallock’s, Doctrine and Doctrinal Disruption, chap. xi) and also with perfect memory, and had heard all the teaching and explanations of Our Redeemer and of His Apostles, and retained them; he would be an invaluable witness and authority to consult, surely, so as to discover exactly what was the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of the Twelve. But such undoubtedly is the Catholic Church: not an individual person, but a corporate personality who lived with, indeed was called into being by, Our Divine Saviour; in whose hearing He uttered all His teaching; who listened to the Apostles in their day and generation, repeating and expounding the Saviour’s doctrine; who, ever young and ever strong, has persisted and lived all through the centuries, and continues even till our own day fresh and keen in memory as ever, and able to assure us, without fear of forgetting, or mixing things up, or adding things out of his own head, what exactly Our Blessed Lord said, and taught, and meant, and did.

Suppose, again, that the man we are imagining had written down much of what he heard Christ and the Apostles say, but had not fully reported all, and was able to supplement what was lacking by personal explanations which he gave from his perfect memory: that, again, is a figure of the Catholic Church. She wrote down much, indeed, and the most important parts of Our Lord’s teaching, and of the Apostolic explanation of it, in Scripture; but nevertheless she did not intend it to be a complete and exhaustive account, apart from her own explanation of it; and, as a matter of fact, she is able from her own perpetual memory to give fuller and clearer accounts, and to add some things that are either omitted from the written report, or are only hinted at, or partially recorded, or mentioned merely in passing.

Such is the Catholic Church in relation to her own book, the New Testament. It is hers because she wrote it by her first Apostles, and preserved it and guarded it all down the ages by her Popes and Bishops; nobody else has any right to it whatsoever, any more than a stranger has the right to come into your house and break open your desk and pilfer your private documents. Therefore, I say that for people to step in, 1500 years after the Catholic Church had had possession of the Bible, and to pretend that it is theirs, and that they alone know what the meaning of it is, and that the Scriptures alone, without the voice of the Catholic Church explaining them, are intended by God to be the guide and rule of faith – this is an absurd and groundless claim. Only those who are ignorant of the true history of the Sacred Scriptures – their origin and authorship and preservation – could pretend that there is any logic or common sense in such a mode of acting. And the absurdity is magnified when it is remembered that the Protestants did not appropriate the whole of the Catholic books, but actually cast out some from the collection, and took what remained, and elevated these into a new “Canon,” or volume of Sacred Scripture, such as had never been seen or heard of before, from the first to the sixteenth century, in any Church, either in Heaven above or on earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth! Let us make good this charge.

(3) Open a Protestant Bible, and you will find there are seven complete Books wanting – that is, seven books fewer than there are in the Catholic Bible, and seven fewer than there were in every collection and catalogue of Holy Scripture from the fourth to the sixteenth century. Their names are Tobias, Baruch, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, I Machabees, II Macabees, together with seven chapters of the Book of Esther, and 66 verses of the 3rd chapter of Daniel, commonly called “The Song of the Three Children” (Daniel 3:24-90, Douay version). These were deliberately cut out, and the Bible bound up without them. The criticisms and remarks of Luther, Calvin and the Swiss and German Reformers about these seven books of the Old Testament show to what depths of impiety those unhappy men had allowed themselves to fall when they broke away from the true Church. Even in regard to the New Testament, it required all the powers of resistance on the part of the more conservative Reformers to prevent Luther (an ex-Catholic priest) from flinging out the Epistle of St. James as unworthy to remain within the volume of Holy Scripture – “an Epistle of straw,” he called it, “with no character of the Gospel in it.” In the same way, and almost to the same degree, he dishonored the Epistle of St. Jude and the Epistle to the Hebrews and the beautiful Apocalypse of St. John, declaring they were not on the same footing as the rest of the books and did not contain the same amount of Gospel (i.e., his Gospel). The presumptuous way, indeed, in which Luther, among others, poured contempt and doubt upon some of the inspired writings which had been acknowledged and cherished and venerated for 1000 or 1200 years would be scarcely credible were it not that we have his very words in cold print, which cannot lie, and may be read in his biography or be seen quoted in such books as Dr. Westcott’s The Bible in the Church. And why did he impugn such books as we have mentioned? Because they did not suit his new doctrines and opinions. He had arrived at the principle of private judgement – of picking and choosing religious doctrines; and whenever any book, such as the Book of Machabees, taught a doctrine that was repugnant to his individual taste – as, for example, that “it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins” (2 Mach. 12:46) – well, so much the worse for the book; “Throw it overboard,” was his sentence, and overboard it went. And it was the same with passages and texts in those books which Luther allowed to remain and pronounced to be worthy to find a place within the boards of the new Reformed Bible. In short, he not only cast out certain books, but he mutilated some that were left. For example, not pleased with St. Paul’s doctrine, “We are justified by faith,” and fearing lest good works (a Popish superstition) might creep in, he added the word “only” after St. Paul’s words, making the sentence run: “We are justified by faith only,” and so it reads in Lutheran Bibles to this day [1911]. An action such as that must surely be reprobated by all Bible Christians. What surprises us is the audacity of the man that could coolly change by a stroke of the pen a fundamental doctrine of the Apostle of God, St. Paul, who wrote, as all admitted, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. But this was the outcome of the Protestant standpoint, individual judgement: no authority outside of oneself. However ignorant, however stupid, however unlettered, you may – indeed, you are bound to – cut and carve out a Bible and a Religion for yourself. No Pope, no Council, no Church shall enlighten you or dictate or hand down the doctrines of Christ. And the result we have seen in the corruption of God’s Holy Word.

(4) Yet, in spite of all reviling of the Roman Church, the Reformers were forced to accept from her those Sacred Scriptures which they retained in their collection. Whatever Bible they have today, disfigured as it is, was taken from us. Blind indeed must he the Evangelical Christian who cannot recognize in the old Catholic Bible the quarry from which he has hewn the Testament he loves and studies – but with what loss! At what a sacrifice! In what a mutilated and disfigured condition! That the Reformers should appropriate unabridged the Bible of the Catholic Church (which was the only volume of God’s Scripture ever known on earth), even for the purpose of elevating it into a false position – this we could have understood; what staggers us is their deliberate excision from that Sacred Volume of some of the inspired Books which had God for their Author, and their no less deliberate alteration of some of the texts of those books that were suffered to remain. It is on consideration of such points as these that pious persons our side the Catholic fold would do well to ask themselves the question – Which Christian body reslly loves and reveres the Scriptures most? Which has proved, by its actions, it’s love and veneration? And which seems most likely to incur the anathema, recorded by St. John, that God will send upon those who shall rake away from the words of the Book of Life? (Apoc. 22:19)

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.

Catholic Church Compiles The New Testament

Now we know that the Gospels and Epistles of the New Testament were read aloud to the congregations of Christians that met on the first day of the week for Holy Mass (just as they are still among ourselves): one Gospel here, another there; one Epistle of St. Paul in one place, another in another; all scattered about in various places of the world where there were bodies of Christians. And the next question that naturally occurs to us is: When were these separate works gathered together so as to form a volume, and added to the Old Testament to make up what we now call the Bible?

Well they were not collected for the best part of 300 years. So that here again, I am afraid, is a hard nut for Protestants to crack, namely, that though we admit that the separate works composing the New Testament were now in existence, yet they were for centuries not to be found altogether in one volume, were not obtainable by multitudes of Christians, and even were altogether unknown to many in different parts of the world. How, then, could they possibly form a guide to Heaven and the chart of salvation for those who had never seen or read or known about them? It is a fact of history that the Council of Carthage, which was held in 397 A.D., mainly through the influence of St. Augustine, settled the Canon or Collection of New Tesament Scriptures as we Catholics have them now and decreed that its decision should be sent on to Rome for confirmation. No Council (that is, no gathering of the Bishops of the Catholic Church for the settlement of some point of doctrine) was ever considered to be authoritative or binding unless it was approved and confirmed by the Roman Pontiff, while the decisions of every General Council that has recieved the approval of Rome are binding on the consciences of all Catholics. The Council of Carthage, then, is the first known to us in which we find a clear and undisputed catalogue of all the New Testament books as we have them in Bibles now.

It is true that many Fathers and Doctors and writers of the Church in the first three centuries from time to time mention by name many of the various Gospels and Epistles; and some, as we come nearer 397, even refer to a collection already existing in places. For example, we find Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, after the Council of Nicea, applying to Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea and a great scholar, to provide fifty copies of the Christian Scriptures for public use in the churches of Constantinople, his new capital. This was in 332 A.D. The contents of these copies are known to us: perhaps (according to some, even probably) one of these very copies of Eusebius’ handiwork has come down to us; but they are not precisely the same as our New Testament, though very nearly so. Again, we find lists of the books of the New Testament drawn up by St. Athanasius, St. Jerome, St. Augustine and many other great authorities, as witnessing to what was generally acknowledged as inspired Scripture in their day and generation and country; but I repeat that none of these corresponds perfectly to the collection in the Bible that we possess now; we must wait till 397 for the Council of Carthage before we find the complete collection of New Testament books settled as we have it today, and as all Christendom had it till the sixteenth century, when the Reformers changed it.

You may ask me, however, what was the difference between the lists of New Testament books found in various countries and different authors before 397, and the catalogue drawn up at the Council of that date? Well, that introduces us to a very important point which tells us eloquently if the office that the Catholic Church performed, under God the Holy Ghost, in selecting and sifting and stamping with her Divine authority the Scriptures of the New Law; and I make bold to say that a calm consideration of the part that Rome took in the making and drawing up and preserving of the Christian Scriptures will convince any impartial mind that to the Catholic Church alone, so much maligned, we owe it that we know what the New Testament should consist of, and why precisely it consists of these books and of no others; and that without her we should, humanly speaking, have had no New Testament at all, or, if a New Testament, then one in which works spurious and works genuine would have been mixed up in ruinous and inextricable confusion.

I have used the words “spurious” and “genuine” in regard to the Gospels and Epistles in the Christian Church. You are horrified, and hold up your hands and exclaim: “Lord, save us! Here we have a Higher Critic and a Modernist.” Not at all, Dear Reader; quite the reverse, I assure you. Observe, I have said “in the Christian Church” – I did not say “in the Bible”, for there is nothing spurious in the Bible. But why? Simply because the Roman See in the fourth century of our era prevented anything spurious being admitted into it. There were spurious books floating about “in the Christian Church,” without a doubt, in the early centuries; this is certain, because we know their very names; and it is precisely in her rejection of these, and in her guarding the collection of inspired writings from being mixed up with them, that we shall now see the great work that the Catholic Church did, under God’s Holy Spirit, for all succeeding generations of Christians, whether within the fold or outside of it. It is through the Roman Catholic Church that Protestants have got their Bible; there is not (to paraphase some words of Newman) a Protestant that vilifies and condemns the Catholic Church for her treatment of Holy Scripture but owes it to that Church that he has the Scripture at all. What Almighty God might have done if Rome had not handed down the Bible to us is a fruitless speculation with which we have nothing whatever to do. It is a contingent possibility belonging to an order of things which has never existed, except in imagination. What we are concerned with is the order of things and the sequence of history in which we are now living, and which we know, and which consequently God has divinely disposed; and in this providential arrangement of history it is a fact, as clear as any other historical fact, that Almighty God chose the Catholic Church, and her only, to give us His Holy Scriptures, and to give us them as we have them now, neither greater nor less. This I shall now proceed to prove.

(i) Before the collection of New Testament books was finally settled at the Council of Carthage, 397, we find that there were three distinct classes into which the Christian writings were divided. This we know (and every scholar admits it) from the works of early Christian writers like Eusebius, Jerome, Epiphanius and a whole host of others that we could name. These classes were (1) the books “acknowledged” as Canonical, (2) books “disputed” or “controverted,” (3) books declared “spurious” or false.

Now in class (1), i.e., those acknowledged by Christians everywhere to be genuine and authentic and to have been written by Apostolic men, we find such books as the Four Gospels, 13 Epistles of St. Paul, Acts of the Apostles. These were recognized east and west as “Canonical,” genuinely the works of the Apostles and Evangelists whose names they bore, worthy of being in the “Canon” or sacred collection of inspired writings of the Church and read aloud at Holy Mass.

But there was (2) a class – and Protestants should particularly take notice of the fact, as it utterly undermines their Rule of Faith, “the Bible and the Bible only” – of books that were disputed, controverted: in some places acknowledged, in others rejected; and among these we actually find the Epistle of St. James, Epistle of St. Jude, 2nd Epistle of St. Peter; 2nd and 3rd of St. John, Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse of St. John. There were doubts about these works; perhaps, it was said, they were not really written by Apostles, or Apostolic men, or by the men whose names they carried. In some parts of the Christian world they were suspected, though in others unhesitantly received as genuine. There is no getting out of this fact, then: Some of the Books of our Bible which we, Catholic and Protestant alike, now recognize as inspired and as the written Word of God, were at one time, and indeed for long, viewed with suspicion, doubted, disputed, as not possessing the same authority as the others. (I am speaking only of the New Testament books; the same could be proved, if there were space, of the Old Testament; but the New Testament suffices abundantly for the argument.) But further still – What is even more striking and is equally fatal to the Protestant theory – in this (2) class of “controverted” and doubtful books, some were to be found which are not now in our New Testament at all, but which were by many then considered to be inspired and Apostolic, or were actually read at the public worship of the Christians, or were used for instructions to the newly-controverted – in short, ranked in some places as equal to the works of St. James or St. Peter or St. Jude. Among these we mention specially the “Shepard” of Hermas, Epistle of Barnabas, the Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles [Didache], Apostolic Constitutions, Gospel according to the Hebrews, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Laodiceans, Epistle of St. Clement, and others. Why are these not in our Bible today? We shall see in a minute.

Lastly, (3) there was a class of books floating about before 397 A.D. which were never acknowledged as of any value in the Church, not treated as having Aposoltic authority, seeing that they were obviously spurious and false, full of absurd fables, superstitions, puerilities, and stories and miracles of Our Lord and His Apostles which made them a laughingstock to the world. Of these some have survived and we have them today, to let us see what stamp of writing they were; most have perished. But we know the names of about 50 Gospels (such as the Gospel of James, the Gospel of Thomas, and the like), about 22 Acts (like the Acts of Pilate, Acts of Paul and Thecla, and others), and a smaller number of Epistles and Apocalypsed. These were condemned and rejected wholesale as “Apocrypha” – that is, false, spurious, uncanonical.

(ii) This then being that state of matters, you can see at once what perplexity arose for the poor Christians in the days of persecution when they were required to surrender their sacred books. The Emperor Diocletian, for example, who inaugurated a terrible war against the Christians, issued an edict in 303 A.D. that all the churches should be razed to the ground and the Sacred Scriptures should be delivered up to the pagan authorities to be burned. Well, the question was : What was Sacred Scripture? If a Christian gave up an inspired writing to the pagans to save his life, he thereby became an apostate: he denied his Faith, he betrayed his Lord and God; he saved his life, indeed, but he lost his soul. Some did this and were called “traditores,” traitors, betrayers, “deliverers up” (of the Scriptures). Most, however, preferred martyrdom, and refusing to surrender the inspired writings, suffered the death. But it was a most perplexing and harrowing question they had to decide – what really was Sacred Scripture? I am not bound to go to the stake for refusing to give up some “spurious” Gospel or Epistle. Could I, then, safely give up some of the “controverted” or disputed books, like the Epistle of St. James, or the Hebrews, or the Shepard of Hermas, or the Epistle of St. Barnabus, or of St. Clement? There is no need to be a martyr by mistake. And so the stress of persecution had the effect of making still more urgent the necessity of deciding once and for all what was to form the New Testament. What, definitely and precisely, were to be the books for which a Christian would be bound to lay down his life on pain of losing his soul?

(iii) Here, as I said, before, comes in the Council of Carthage, 397 A.D., confirming and approving the decrees of a previous Council (Hippo, 393 A.D.), declaring, for all time to come, what was the exact collection of sacred writings thenceforth to be reckoned, to the exclusion of all others, as the inspired Scripture of the New Testament. That collection is precisely that which Catholics possess at this day in their Douay Bible. That decree of Carthage was never changed. It was sent to Rome for confirmation. As I have already remarked, a Council, even though not a general Council of the whole Catholic Church, may yet have its decrees made binding on the whole Church by the approval and will of the Pope. A second Council of Carthage, over which St. Augustine presided in 419 A.D., renewed the decrees of the former one and declared that its act was to be notified to Boniface, Bishop of Rome, for the purpose of confirming it. From that date all doubt ceased as to what was and what was not “spurious,” or “genuine,” or “doubtful” among the Christian writings then known. Rome had spoken. A Council of the Roman Catholic Church had settled it. You might hear a voice here or there, in East or West, in subsequent times, raking up some old doubt, or raising a question as to whether this or that book of the New Testament is really what it claims to be or should be where it is. But it is a voice in the wilderness.

Rome had fixed the “Canon” of the New Testament. There are henceforward but two classes of books – inspired and not inspired. Within the covers of the New Testament all is inspired; all without, known or unknown, is uninspired. Under the guidance of the Holy Ghost the Council declared “This is genuine, that is false”; “this is Apostolic, that is not Apostolic.” She sifted, weighed, discussed, selected, rejected, and finally decided what was what. Here she rejected a writing that was once very popular and reckoned by many as inspired and was actually read as Scripture at public service; there, again, she accepted another that was very much disputed and viewed with suspicion, and said: “This is to go into the New Testament.” She had the evidence before her; she had Tradition to help her; and above all she had the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to enable her to come to a right conclusion on so momentous a matter. And in fact, her conclusion was received by all Christendom until the sixteenth century, when, as we shall see, men arose rebelling against her desicion and altering the Sacred Volume. But, at all events in regard to the New Testament, the Reformers left the books as they found them, and today their Testament contains exactly the same books as ours; and what I wish to drive home is that they got these books from Rome, that without the Roman Catholic Church they would not have gotten them, and that the decrees of Carthage, 397 and 419 A.D., when all Christianity was Roman Catholic – reaffirmed by the Council of Florence, 1442, under Pope Eugenius IV, and the Council of Trent, 1546 – these decrees of the Roman Church, and these only, are the means and the channel and the authority which Almighty God has used to hand down to is His written Word. Who can deny it? The Church existed before the Bible; she made the Bible; she selected its books, and she preserved it. She handed it down. Through her we know what is the Word of God, and what the word of man; and hence to try at this time of day, as many do, to overthrow the Church by means of this very Bible, and to put it above the Church, and to revile her for destroying it and corrupting it – What is this but to strike the mother that reared them; to curse the hand that fed them; to turn against their best friend and benefactor; and to repay with ingratitude and slander the very guide and protector who has led them to drink of the water out of the Saviour’s fountains?

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.

The Church Precedes The New Testament

So far, we have been dealing with rather dry material. We have seen how the Old Testament books came to be collected into one volume; now it remains to see how the Catholic Church also composed and selected and formed into another volume the separate books of the New Testament.

1. Now you will remember what I said before, that the New Testament was not, any more than the Old, all written at one time, or all by one man, but that at least 40 years passed away between the writing of the first and the writing of the last of its books. It is made up of four Gospels, 14 Epistles of St. Paul, two of St. Peter, one of St. James, one of St. Jude, three of St. John, together with the Apocalypse of St. John, and the Acts of Apostles by St. Luke, who also wrote the third Gospel; so that we have, in this collection, works by at least eight different writers; and from the year that the earliest book was composed (probably the Gospel of St. Matthew) to the year that St. John composed his Gospel, about half a century had elapsed. Our Blessed Lord Himself never, so far as we know, wrote a line of Scripture – certainly none that has been preserved. He never told His Apostles to write anything. He did not command them to commit to writing what He had delivered to them: but He said, “Go ye and teach all nations,” “preach the Gospel to every creature,” “He that heareth you heareth Me.” What He commanded and meant them to do was precisely what He had done Himself, namely, deliver the Word of God to the people by the living voice – convince, persuade, instruct, convert them by addressing themselves face to face to living men and women; not entrust their message to a dead book which might perish and be destroyed, and be misunderstood and misinterpreted and corrupted, but adopt the more safe and natural way of presenting the truth to them by word of mouth, and of training others to do the same after they themselves were gone, and so, by a living tradition, preserving and handing down the Word of God as they had recieved it, to all generations.

2. And this was, as a matter of fact, the method the Apostles adopted. Only five out of the twelve wrote down anything at all that has been preserved to us; and of that, not a line was penned till at least 10 years after the death of Christ, for Jesus Christ was crucified in 33 A.D., and the first of the New Testament books was not written till about 45 A.D. You see what follows? The Church and the Faith existed before the Bible; that seems an elementary and simple fact which no one can deny or ever has denied. Thousands of people became Christians through the work of the Apostles and missionaries of Christ in various lands, and believed the whole truth of God as we believe it now, and became Saints, before ever they saw or read, or could possibly see or read, a single sentence of inspired Scripture of the New Testament, for the simple reason that such Scripture did not then exist. How, then, did they become Christians? In the same way, of course, that pagans become Catholics nowadays, by hearing the truth of God from the lips of Christ’s missionaries. When the twelve Apostles met together in Jerusalem and portioned out the known world among themselves for purposes of evangelization, allotting one country to one Apostle (such as India to St. Thomas), and another to another, how did they propose to evangelize these people? By presenting each one with a New Testament? Such a thing did not exist, and, we may safely say, was not even thought of. Why did Our Lord promise them the gift of the Holy Ghost and command them to be “witnesses” of Him? And why, in fact, did the Holy Ghost come down upon the Twelve and endow them with the power of speaking in various languages? Why but that they might be able to “preach the Gospel to every creature” in the tongue of every creature.

3. I have said that the Apostles at first never thought of writing the New Testament; and neither they did. The books of the New Testament were produced and called forth by special circumstances that arose, were written to meet particular demands and emergencies. Nothing was further from the minds of the Apostles and Evangelists than the idea of composing works which should be collected and formed into one volume and so constitute the Holy Book of the Christians. And we can imagine St. Paul staring in amazement if he had been told that his Epistles, and St. Peter’s, and St. John’s and the others would be tied up together and elevated into the position of a complete and exhaustive statement of the doctrines of Christianity, to be placed on each man’s hand as an easy and infallible guide in faith and morals, independent of any living and teaching authority to interpret them. No one would have been more shocked at the idea of his letters usurping the place of the authoritative teacher, the Church, than the great Apostle who himself said, “How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach unless they be sent? Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” The fact is that no religion yet known has been effectually propagated among men except by word of mouth, and certainly everything in the natural and spiritual position of the Apostles on the one hand, and of the Jews on the other, was utterly unfavorable to the spread of Christianity by means of a written record.

The Jewish people were not used to it, and the Gentiles could not have understood it. Even Protestant authors of the highest standing are compelled to admit that the living teaching of the Church was necessarily the means chosen by Jesus Christ for the spread of His Gospel, and that the committing of it to writing was a later and secondary development. Dr. Westcott, Bishop of Durham, than whom among Anglicans there is not a higher authority, and who is reckoned, indeed, by all as a standard scholar on the Canon of Scripture, says (The Bible in the Church – pp. 53 and following): “In order to appreciate the Aposolic age in its essential character, it is necessary to dismiss not only the ideas which are drawn from a collected New Testament, but those also, in a great measure, which spring from the several groups of writings of which it is composed. The first work of the Apostles, and that out of which all their other functions grew, was to deliver in living words a personal testimony to the cardinal facts of the Gospel – the Ministry, the Death and the Resurrection of Our Lord. It was only in the course of time, and under the influence of external circumstances, that they committed their testimony, or any part of it, to writing. Their peculiar duty was to preach. That they did, in fact, perform a mission for all ages in perpetuating the tidings which they delivered was due, not to any conscious design which they formed, nor to any definite command which they recieved, but to that mysterious power…The repeated experience of many ages has even yet hardly sufficed to show that a permanent record of His words and deeds, open to all, must co-exist with the living body of the Church, if that is to continue in pure and healthy vigour.” And again: “The Apostles, when they speak, claim to speak with Divine authority, but they nowhere profess to give in writing a system of Christian Doctrine. Gospels and Epistles, with the exception, perhaps, of the writings of St. John, were called out by special circumstances. There is no trace of any designed connection between the separate books, except in the case of the Gospel of St. Luke and the Acts (also by St. Luke), still less of any outward unity or completeness in the entire collection. On the contrary, it is not unlikely that some Epistles of St. Paul have been lost, and though, in point of fact, the books which remain do combine to form a perfect whole, yet the completeness is due not to any conscious co-operation of their authors, but to the will of Him by whose power they wrote and wrought.”

What a contrast there is, in these clear words of the great scholar, to the common delusion that seems to have seized some minds – that the Bible, complete and bound, dropped down among the Christians from Heaven after the day of Pentecost; or, at the least, that the Twelve Apostles sat down together in an upper room, pens in hand, and wrote off at a sitting table all the Books of the New Testament! And allow me to give one more short quotation to drive home the point I am laboring at, that the written New Testament could never have been intended as the only means of preaching salvation. “It was some considerable time after Our Lord’s Ascension” (writes the Protestant author of Helps to the Study of the Bible, p.2), “before any of the books contained in the New Testament were actually written. The first and most important work of the Apostles was to deliver a personal testimony to the chief facts of the Gospel history. Their teaching was at first oral, and it was no part of their intention to create a permanent literature.” These, I consider, are valuable admissions.

4. But now, you may say, “What was the use of writing the Gospels and Epistles then at all? Did not God inspire men to write them? Are you not belittling and despising God’s Word?” No, not at all; we are simply putting it in its proper place, the place that God meant it to have; and I would add, the Catholic Church is the only body in these days which teaches infallibly that the Bible, and the whole of it, is the Word of God, and defends its inspiration, and denounces and excommunicates anyone who would dare to impugn its Divine origin and authority.

I said before, and I repeat, that the separate books of the New Testament came into being to meet special demands, in response to particular needs, and were not, nor are they now, absolutely necessary either to the preaching or the perpetuating of the Gospel of Christ.

It is easy to see how the Gospels arose. So long as the Apostles were still living, the necessity for written records of the words and actions of Our Lord was not so pressing. But when the time came for their removal from this world, it was highly expedient that some correct, authoritative, reliable account be left of Our Lord’s life by those who had known Him personally, or at least were in a position to have first-hand, uncorrupted information concerning it. And this was all the more necessary because there were being spread abroad incorrect, unfaithful, indeed altogether spurious Gospels, which were calculated to injure and ridicule the character and work of Our Divine Redeemer. St. Luke distinctly declares that this was what caused him to undertake the writing of his Gospel – “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a narration of the things that have been accomplished among us.” (Luke 1:1). He goes on to say that he has his information from eyewitnesses, and has come to know all particulars from the very beginning, and therefore considers it right to set them down in writing, to secure a correct and trustworthy account of Christ’s life. So St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John penned their Gospels for the use of the Church, the one supplying often what another omits, but yet none pretending to give an exhaustive or perfect account of all that Jesus Christ said and did, for if this had been attempted, St. John tells us, “the whole world would not have contained the books that would be written” about it. The Gospels, then, are incomplete and fragmentary, giving us certainly the most important things to know about Our Saviour’s earthly life, but still not telling us all we might know, or much we do know in fact now and understand better, through the teaching of the Catholic Church, which has preserved traditions handed down since the time of the Apostles, from one generation to another. These Gospels were read, as they are now among Catholics, at the gatherings of the Christians in the earliest days on the Sundays – not to set forth a scheme of doctrine that they knew already, but to animate their courage, to excited their love and devotion to Jesus Christ, and impel them to imitate the example of the Beloved Master whose sayings and doings were read aloud in their ears.

Well, now, what I said about the Gospels is equally true of the Epistles, which make up practically the whole rest of the New Testament. They were called into existence at various times to meet pressing needs and circumstances; were addressed to particular individuals and communities in various places, and not to the Catholic Church at large. The thought furthest from the mind of the writers was that they should ever be collected into one volume and made to do duty as a complete and all-sufficient statement of Christian faith and morals.

How did they arise? In this natural and simple way: St. Peter, St. Paul and the rest went forth to various lands, preaching the Gospel, and made thousands of converts, and in each place founded a church, and left priests in charge, and a bishop sometimes (as, e.g., St. Timothy in Ephesus). Now these priests and converts had occasion many a time to consult their spiritual father and founder like St. Paul, or St. Peter, or St. James, on many points of doctrine or discipline, or morals; for we must not imagine that at that date, when the Church was in its infancy, things were so clearly seen or understood or formulated as they are now. It was, of course, the same Faith then as always; but still there were many points on which the newly made Christians were glad to consult the Apostles, who had been sent out with the unction of Jesus Christ fresh upon them – points of dogma and ritual and government and conduct which they alone could settle. And so we find St. Paul writing to the Ephesians (his converts at Ephesus), or to the Corinthians (his converts at Philippi), and so on to the rest (14 Epistles in all). And for what reason? Either in answer to communications sent to him from them, or because he had heard from other sources that there were some things that required correction in these places. All manner of topics are dealt with in these letters, sometimes in the most homely style. It might be to advise the converts, or to reprove them; to encourage them or instruct them; or to defend himself from false accusations. It might be, like that to Philemon, a letter about a private person as Onesimus, the slave.

But whatever the Epistles deal with, it is clear as the noonday sun that they were written just at particular times to meet particular cases that occurred naturally in the course of his missionary labors, and that neither St. Paul nor any of the other Apostles, intended by these letters to set forth the whole theology or scheme of Christian salvation any more than Pope Pius X intended to do so in his Decree against the Modernists, or in his Letter on the Sanctification of the Clergy. The thing seems plain on the face of it. Leo XIII writes to the Scotch Bishops on the Holy Scriptures, for example; or Pius X to the Eucharist Congress in London on the Blessed Sacrament, or publishes a Decree on Frequent Communion; or, again, one of our Bishops, say, sends forth a letter condemning secret societies, or issues a pastoral dealing with new marriage laws – are we to say that these documents are intended to teach the whole way of salvation to all men? That they profess to state the whole Catholic creed? The question has only to be asked to expose it’s absurdity. Yet precisely the same question may be put about the position of St. Paul’s Epistles. True, he was an Apostle, and consequently inspired, and his letters are the written Word of God, and therefore are a final and decisive authority on the various points of which they treat, if properly understood; but that does not alter the fact that they nowhere claim to state the whole of Christian truth, or to be a complete guide of salvation to anyone; they already presuppose the knowledge of the Christian Faith among those to whom they are addressed; they are written to believers, not to unbelievers; in one word, the Church existed and did it’s work before they were written, and it would still have done so even though they had never been written at all. St. Paul’s letters (for we are taking his merely as a sample of all) date from the year 52 A.D. to 68 A.D.; Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, leaving His Church to evangelize the world, in 33 A.D.; and we may confidently assert that the very last place we should expect to find a complete summary of Christian doctrine is in the Epistles of the New Testament.

There is no need to delay further on the matter. I think I have made it clear enough how the various books of the New Testament took their origin. And in so explaining the state of the case, we are not undervaluing the written Word of God, or placing it on a level inferior to what it deserves. We are simply showing the position it was meant to occupy in the economy of the Christian Church. It was written by the Church, by members (Apostles and Evangelists) of the Church; it belongs to the Church, and it is her office, therefore, to declare what it means. It is intended for instruction, meditation, spiritual reading, encouragement, devotion, and also serves as proof and testimony of the Church’s doctrines and Divine authority; but as a complete and exclusive guide to Heaven in the hands of every man – this it never was and never could be.

The Bible in the Church; the Church before the Bible – the Church the Maker and Interpreter of the Bible – that is right. The Bible above the Church; the Bible independent of the Church; the Bible, and the Bible only, the Religion of Christians – that is wrong. The one is the Catholic position; the other the Protestant.

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.

The Making of the Old Testament

Now, looking at the Bible as it stands today, we find it is composed of 73 separate books – 46 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New. How has it come to be composed precisely of these 73* and no others, and no more and no less? Well, taking first the Old Testament, we know that it has always been divided into three main portions – the Law, the Prophets and the Writings.

(1) The Law, as I remarked before, was the nucleus, the earliest substantial part, which at one time formed the sole book of Scripture that the Jews possessed. Moses wrote it and placed a copy of it in the Ark; that was about 3300 years ago.

(2) To this were added, long afterward, the Prophets and the Writings, forming the complete Old Testament. At what date precisely the volume or “canon” of the Old Testament was finally closed and recognized as completed forever is not absolutely certain.

When was the Old Testament compiled? Some would decide for about the year 430 B.C., under Esdras and Nehemias, resting upon the authority of the famous Jew, Josephus, who lived immediately after Our Lord and who declares that since the death of Ataxerxes, B.C. 424, “no one had dared to add anything to the Jewish Scriptures, to take anything from them, or to make any change in them.” Other authorities, again, contend that it was not till near 100 B.C. that the Old Testament volume was finally closed by the inclusion of the “Writings.” But whichever contention is correct, one thing at least is certain, that by this last date – that is, for 100 years before the birth of Our Blessed Lord – the Old Testament existed precisely as we have it now.

Of course, I have been speaking so far of the Old Testament, in Hebrew, because it was written by Jewish authority, in the Jewish language – namely, Hebrew – for Jews, God’s chosen people. But after what is called the “Dispersion” of the Jews, when that people were scattered abroad and settled in many other lands outside Palestine, and began to lose their Hebrew tongue and gradually became familiar with “Greek, which was then a universal language, it was necessary to furnish them with a copy of their Sacred Scriptures in the Greek language. Hence arose that translation of the Old Testament into Greek known as the Septuagint. This word means in Latin 70, and is so named because it is supposed to have been the work of 70 translators, who performed their task at Alexandria, where there was a large Greek-speaking colony of Jews. Begun about 280 or 250 years before Christ, we may safely say that it was finished in the next century; it was the acknowledged Bible of all the “Jews of the Dispersion” in Asia, as well as in Egypt, and was the version used by Our Lord, His Apostles and Evangelists, and by Jews and Gentiles and Christians in the early days of Christianity. It is from this version that Jesus Christ and the New Testament writers and speakers quote when referring to the Old Testament.

But what about the Chrisitians in either lands who could not understand Greek? When the Gospel had been spread abroad, and many people embraced Christianity through the labors of Apostles and missionaries in the first two centuries of our era, naturally they had to be supplied with copies of the Scriptures of the Old Testament (which was the inspired Word of God) in their own tongue; and this gave rise to translations of the Bible into Armenian and Syriac and Coptic and Arabic and Ethiopic for the benefit of the Christians in these lands. For the Christians in Africa, where Latin was best understood, there was a translation of the Bible made into Latin about 150 A.D., and, later, another and better for the Christians in Italy; but all these were finally superseded by the grand and most important version made by St. Jerome in Latin called the “Vulgate”- that is, the common, or current or accepted version. This was in the fourth century of our era [A.D.]. By the time St. Jerome was born, there was great need of securing a correct and uniform text of Holy Scripture in Latin, for there was danger, through the variety and corrupt conditions of many translations then existing, lest the pure Scripture should be lost. So Jerome, who was a monk, and perhaps the most learned scholar of his day, at the command of Pope St. Damascus in 382 A.D. made a fresh Latin version of the New Testament (which was by this time practically settled), correcting the existing versions by the earliest Greek manuscripts (MSS.) he could find. Then in his cell at Bethlehem, between (approximately) the years 392-404, he also translated the Old Testament into Latin directly from the Hebrew (and not from the Greek Septuagint)-except the Psalter [book of Psalms], which he had previously revised from existing Latin versions. This Bible was the celebrated Vulgate, the official text in the Catholic Church, the value of which all scholars admit to be simply inestimable, and which continued to influence all other versions and to hold the chief place among Christians down to the Reformation. I say the “official” text, because the Council of Trent in 1546 issued a decree stamping it as the only recognized and authoritative version allowed to Catholics. “If anyone does not receive the entire books with all their parts as they are accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and in the old Latin Vulgate Edition, as sacred and canonical….let him be anathema.” The Vulgate was revised under Pope Sixtus V in 1590, and again under Pope Clement VIII in 1593, who is responsible for the present standard text. It is from the Vulgate that Our English Douay Version comes; and it is of this same Vulgate that the Commission under Cardinal Gasquet, by command of the Pope, is trying to find or restore the original text as it came from the hands of St. Jerome, uncorrupted by and stripped of subsequent admixtures with other Latin copies.*

*The number of books in the Catholic Bible is counted as 72 or 73 depending on whether “The Lamentations of Jeremias” is considered to be part of Jeremias or a separate book of the Old Testament. – Publisher, 2004.

* This work was begun in the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X (1903-1914) but was not completed and published until 1978. It is known as the “New Vulgate” or “Nova Vulgata” and was promulgated by Pope John Paul II as the “editio typica.” This edition of the Vulgate, however, does not give the hallmark Vulgate rendering of Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmities between Thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Emphasis added.) – Publisher, 2004. (This may have something to do with the reluctance to make public the 3rd secret of Fatima) TradCat4Christ

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. God Bless BJS!!

Some Errors Removed

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.

The Parts of the Mass Lesson 5

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Holy Mass has two large parts. The first part is called The Mass of the Catechumens. It consists of the prayers and readings from the beginning of Mass to the Offertory.

The word catechumens is a very old word. Long ago people who were preparing to receive the Sacrament of Baptism were called catechumens or learners. During the time of instruction, they were permitted to be present only at the first part of the Mass. They had to leave after the sermon. It was in this way that the first part of the Mass received the name, “Mass of the Catechumens” or the “Mass of the Learners.”

The second part of Holy Mass is called The Mass of the Faithful. This part of the Mass begins with the Offertory and continues to the end of Holy Mass.

The word faithful means baptized Christians. For several hundred years, only the baptized were allowed to assist at the second part of Holy Mass.

There is another division of the parts of Holy Mass. One part is called the  Ordinary of the Mass. The other part is called the Proper of the Mass.

The Ordinary of the Mass is made up of the prayers which, with few exceptions, do not change. The Proper consists of the prayers and readings that change from day to day.

Taken from The Kingdom of God series The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Ellamay Horan. I am not the Author merely the distributor. God Bless BJS!!

Divine Tradition

Before the 15th century when printing was invented, the Bible was reproduced by copying in longhand. We should be very grateful to the monks and nuns of ancient times who labored lovingly, making manuscript copies of old documents that had come down from earliest times. Without this loving care, we would not have our Holy Bible today.

 

Are all the truths revealed for us by God found in the Bible? — Not all the truths revealed for us by God are found in the Bible; some are found only in Divine Tradition.

 

  1. The Bible itself states that it does not contain all that God revealed.

    “There are, however, many other things that Jesus did; but if every one of these should be written, not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written” (John 21:25)

     

  2. The truths of Divine Revelation which have not been written down in Holy Scripture have come to us by the Tradition of the Church.

    St. Paul bade the Thessalonians: “Hold the teachings that you have learned, whether by word or by letter of ours” (2 Thess. 2:15).

     

What is meant by Divine Tradition? — By Divine Tradition is meant the revealed truths taught by Christ and His Apostles, which were given to the Church only by word of mouth and not through the Bible, though they were put in writing principally by the Fathers of the Church.

 

  1. In a wide sense Tradition embraces the whole teaching of the Church, including the Bible, since it is only from the Church that we have the Bible. In a stricter sense Tradition includes only what was handed down orally from the Apostles.

    The Apostles themselves say that there is much that they have delivered to the faithful by word of mouth (2 John 12; 1 Cor. 11:2). Among many examples of truths in Tradition, not clearly manifested in Holy scriptures, are: the exact number of sacraments, the time of institution of some sacraments, the books that make up the Bible, the Baptism of infants, and Sunday observance.

     

  2. All the truths of Divine Tradition now have found their way into books. From the first Christian centuries the practices and doctrines of Tradition were preserved by saintly teachers whom we call Fathers of the Church. They were disciples of the Apostles, contemporaries of those disciples, or disciples of the disciples. These holy and learned men instructed the Church in the years of its first growth.

    Chief among the Fathers of the first six centuries (date is of death), are: the Doctors of the Church (see below), and Saints Clement of Rome (99), Ignatius of Antioch (107), Polycarp (155), Justin (165), Irenaeus (202), Cyprian (258), Dionysius (265), Gregory Thaumaturgus (270), Optatus (372), Martin of Tours (397), Gregory of Nyssa (398), Epiphanius (403), Celestine I (432), Vincent of Lerins (450), and Caesarius of Arles (542).

     

  3. Besides the writings of the Fathers, the truths of Divine Tradition may be found chiefly in: (a) writings of the Doctors of the Church; (b) decrees of Popes and Church councils; and (c) the liturgy of the Church as found in the Missal and rituals.

    We call “Doctors of the Church” those ecclesiastical writers, noted for learning and holiness of life, who have by Church authority been proclaimed with that title, and whose feasts have been extended to the whole Western Church. Among the Fathers of the Church, these are honored as Doctors: Saints Hilary (368), Athanasius (373), Ephraem (378), Basil the Great (379), Cyril of Jerusalem (386), Gregory Nazianzen (389), Ambrose (397), John Chrysostom (407), Jerome (420), Augustine (430), Cyril of Alexandria (444), Peter Chrysologus (450), Leo the Great (461), and Gregory the Great (604).

    Among the outstanding Doctors of the Church of the Middle Ages are: Saints Peter Damian (1072), Anselm of Canterbury (1109), Bernard (1153), Thomas Aquinas (1274), Bonaventure (1274), Albert the Great (1280). Of later Doctors we have: Saints Peter Canisius (1597), John of the Cross (1605), Francis de Sales (1612), Robert Bellarmine (1621), and Alphonsus Liguori (1787).

     

Why must Divine Tradition be believed as firmly as the Bible? — Divine Tradition must be believed as firmly as the Bible because it also contains the word of God.

 

  1. Several years passed before the Gospels were written down. In the meantime, Christians had to depend on Tradition solely: Tradition is older than the New Testament.

    When the books composing the New Testament were written, the various writers had some definite and immediate purpose in mind. For example, St. Paul wrote his Epistles to the various churches of Gentiles that he had converted, to remind them of his teachings in his absence. St. Luke wrote his Gospel for the citizen of Rome, Theophilus, to instruct him in the new religion. St. John’s Gospel was to combat heresies denying the divinity of Christ.

     

  2. If the Church teaches any doctrine that cannot be found in Holy Scripture, it will be found in Tradition, and therefore traceable to the Apostles.

    Those who follow up the course of a river gradually draw near the source, and discover whence the waters flow. In the same way we can trace the historical sources of the teachings of the Church and arrive at their source: the Apostles themselves.

     

  3. Divine Tradition teaches us all the doctrines that were taught by the Apostles. It comes to us from the Apostles. Every single doctrine the Church teaches comes direct from the Apostles. The Church does not issue new doctrines.

    The four Evangelists wrote their relations of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ in widely separated places; it is a proof of authenticity that the Gospels agree in their essentials, and often even repeat the very same words. When the writers of the New Testament did begin to write, they did not intend to set down all the details of Catholic faith and practice, but only such points as were immediately interesting or that needed clarification.

     

Without Tradition, would we know what the Bible is? — No.

 

  1. Tradition teaches us what books belong to the Bible. By tradition the Church kept intact all the books of the Bible for fifteen hundred years before the existence of denominations that nevertheless assert the Church does not care for the Bible.

    Protestant denominations reject Tradition. Consequently, they cannot agree about which books to include in the Bible. One denomination eliminates one part, other denominations omit other parts, according to the respective private interpretation.

     

  2. Having rejected Tradition, Protestants cannot be certain that the books they have accepted are genuine. On whose authority have they accepted what they have? Protestant Bibles, the most popular of which is called the “King James version,” omit all or parts of the Books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Machabees (I and II), and parts of Esther and Daniel.

    Luther rejected the Epistle of St. James, because the Apostle said that faith without works is dead. Luther and followers omitted the Apocalypse, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Epistle of St. Jude.


The Protestant reformers had no legitimate mission from God (or from someone given power by God) to reform the Church:

Jesus Christ instructed His Apostles to preach the Gospel to the whole world, therefore they had an “immediate” mission from God. St. Paul sent Timothy of Ephesus and Titus of Crete as Bishops to help him on his first mission, therefore they had a “mediate” mission from someone given the power by God to send them.
On the other hand, never have we seen any of the Protestant reformers show any mission from God or from anyone else to reform the church. Rather it is readily apparent they wrongfully took it upon themselves to make reforms. “How shall they preach unless they be sent”? (Romans 10:15)
No individual has the right to associate himself with the Apostles or attempt to act under their authority; the individual must be sent or commissioned with divine authority. “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber” John 10:1. 

Consider verses such as “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you” John 20:21 and  “He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me” John 13:20.
How can people without any authority attempt to make such drastic decisions affecting a divinely founded, global Church? Laity or princes do not have authority or power to start such a mission, rather someone must be sent legitimately, in Apostolic fashion, such as from a Bishop, or their mission is null. “Neither doth any man take the honor to himself but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.” Hebrews 5:4

If you say the reformers were given appropriate mission to reform the Catholic Church, then we ask who is the authority that sent them? We know it was not the Catholic Church for the ideas of the Reformation are against Catholic teaching, and it was not the Lutheran and other Protestant churches for they were not yet formed when the reformation was being organized. So on who’s authority was the mission of the Reformation?

If the church from which the Protestant reformers came were true, they can only be labeled heretics for having left it. And if the church from which the reformers came were NOT true, then that church could not have given the reformers true mission to reform the Catholic Church.


To those who say the Protestant reformers had an immediate mission from God to reform the Catholic Church:

To claim that the Protestant reformers were given direct mission by God to reform the church requires undeniable proof, otherwise people all over the world could easily claim direct mission from God on all sorts of beliefs, then where would we be? Then each time we thought we were following the truth we would be forever interrupted by men claiming an extraordinary vocation. Is that how Jesus intended His Church to be?

Consider the miracles sent by God through Moses so that others would believe his mission. Also consider the miracles performed by Jesus and the Apostles so that the people would believe their word. Yet the Protestant reformers, despite making the most drastic changes to the Catholic Church since its founding, have never shown a miracle or any other sign to prove their mission, as would have occurred elsewhere in Scripture with such a drastic change to the faith. Jesus did not hesitate to show signs when reforming the Church, so what audacity do the Protestant reformers have to propose changes as drastic as Jesus made without showing any signs? “Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? Otherwise believe for the very works’ sake. Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do.” John 14:11,12
Why should we take the Protestant reformers mere word without a sign? He who boasts an extraordinary mission from God without immediately producing undeniable signs cannot be believed.

If there was a true immediate mission from God to reform the church, then we ask which one had the true mission; Luther, Calvin, or another reformer? Each of these men had opposing beliefs from the start which resulted in different denominations so it is quite obvious these men did not have an immediate mission from God.

For those who would like to claim the Protestant reformers were true prophets, why did they act contrary to all other prophets before them by not showing any undeniable signs to prove their words, and by opposing the one true Church which no other true prophet has ever done?
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” Galatians 1:8.
Consider the repeated vulgarity, and blasphemous writings of the reformers. Did Our Lord or the Apostles or Saints speak in this manner? Are we really to believe that someone sent from God to reform the Church was to speak in this manner?
Furthermore, why would Luther claim he was not someone holy if he truly had an immediate mission from God to reform the Church?

And lastly, the Protestant reformers such as Luther and Calvin each have openly claimed the Catholic Church to have been the True Church during the early centuries of Christianity. Then later when these men fell into disagreement with the Church, they suddenly claimed it was a false Church. Do you think someone who had an immediate mission from God would teach that something is true, then later recant and teach the exact opposite? Have we ever seen Our Lord or His Apostles teach us something and then later have a change of heart and teach us the exact opposite? It is plainly obvious that hypocritical teaching is not from God.

This article has been taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distributor.

God Bless BJS!!

Holy Scripture/The Bible

​The Bible is the best Book in the world. It is the Word of God. It is better than any other book that has ever been written or ever will be written. Catholics are not only permitted, but urged, to read the Bible. They must read a version approved by the Catholic Church. Catholic Bibles have the necessary explanations for the guidance of the faithful. To find a text in the Bible, as Matt. 16:26, turn to the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 16, verse 26. All texts are found in the same manner.

What is Holy Scripture, or the Bible? — It is the Word of God written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and contained in the books of the Old and the New Testaments.

 
The seventy-two sacred books, together forming the Bible, were composed by forty writers in three different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The period of composition covers at least 1,300 years, from Moses, to St. John the Evangelist.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1).
 
The writers were inspired by God. By a supernatural influence God enlightened their mind and moved their will to write all that He wished, and only that. They acted as free instruments of God, Who directed them and preserved them from error.
The writers of Holy Scripture were, however, not passive instruments. Each writer brought his personality with him into what he wrote. The writers were like skilled painters who paint from the same model. The products are similar and all correct, but with differences according to talents.
 

Is God the Author of the Bible?
— Yes, God is the Author of the Bible.
 
An author is not the stenographer that writes down what he is told, but the one who tells what is to be written. Since God is the Author, the Bible cannot contain any error

“All Scripture is inspired by God”
(2 Tim. 3:16) . Copyists and printers, however, can and do make mistakes in copying the Bible.
 
Since the Bible is the Word of God, it must be treated with the greatest reverence
This is why we take solemn oaths on the Bible, stand up when the Gospel is read, and have incense and lights used when the Gospel is sung at solemn High Mass.
 

Can the books of the Bible be proved to be reliable historical records?
— Yes.
 
Science throughout the years has been proving itself the handmaid, instead of the enemy, of the Bible. Recent excavations and researches have proved that such distant events as the Fall of Jericho, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, and the Deluge, really and actually happened, and are no mere figures of speech.
Sir Charles Marston, the eminent British archaeologist who has worked extensively in Palestine, firmly declares that far from being mere mythology, the Old Testament is, substantially, contemporary eyewitness accounts of events set down as they took place. Remains he has found include information on events that took place in the times of Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and Jeremias the Prophet; even the name of Abraham has been found. Tablets found in Babylonia and Assyria refer to the Deluge.
 
The Old Testament was recognized by Jesus Christ, approved by Him, and often quoted by Him. Evidences from the New Testament prove that this was written by Christ’s Apostles and disciples.
The style of the Gospels shows clearly that they were written by Jews. That the writers lived in the first century is shown by the vividness of their knowledge about Jerusalem, which was destroyed before the end of that century. The earliest Christian writers testify to the reliability of the Gospels; the consent of the churches of the time proves such reliability.
 
The Gospels have not been changed by the passage of centuries. This can be proved from the oldest copies, from ancient translations and quotations. The Gospels could not have been altered, because the fervor of the early Christians carefully guarded them.
When in the fourth century St. Jerome was ordered by Pope Damasus to gather all existing texts of the Bible and translate them into Latin, there were some 35,000 ancient copies. After thirty-four years of labor, he finished the translation, our Catholic Bible, called the Latin Vulgate, from which the Catholic English version has been made.
 

How is the Bible divided?
— The Bible is divided into two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament.
 

The Old Testament
, written before Christ, consists of forty-five books:
 

Twenty-one historical books
relating to the earliest ages of the world, or to the history of the Jews, among which books are the five books of Moses and the four books of Kings;

Seven doctrinal books,
made up of maxims and prayers, among which are the Psalms and the Proverbs; and

Seventeen prophetical books,
of four greater and twelve lesser prophets, among which books are Isaias, Jeremias, and Daniel.
 

The New Testament
, written after the Ascension of Christ, consists of twenty-seven books, as follows:
 

The four Gospels
according to Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, containing the story of the life of Christ;

The Acts of the Apostles
, by St. Luke, containing the history of the Apostles after the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven;

Twenty-one epistles
by Sts. Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude; and

The Apocalypse
by St. John.
 
The four Gospels and the Acts are mainly historical. The Epistles are doctrinal. The Apocalypse is prophetical.
 

Who are the four Evangelists?
— The four Evangelists are Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
 

St. Matthew
was one of the twelve Apostles. Before he followed Our Lord, he was a tax-gatherer or publican called Levi.
Matthew was the first Evangelist to write the Gospel, about six years after Our Lord’s Ascension. His work, written in Hebrew for the Jews of Palestine, was translated into Greek in the time of the Apostles. His work shows Jesus as proving Himself to be the promised Messias.
 

St. Mark
was the disciple of St. Peter, and wrote according to what he heard from St. Peter himself.
He wrote for the Christians of Rome about ten years after Our Lord’s Ascension. St. Peter approved what he wrote, which shows Christ as the Son of God.
 

St. Luke
was converted by St. Paul and became his disciple.
He wrote about twenty-four years after Our Lord’s Ascension, for a distinguished citizen of Rome. His work contains many details about the Blessed Virgin.
 

St. John
was Christ’s Beloved Disciple. He wrote about sixty-three years after Our Lord’s Ascension.
The last of the Apostles to die, he wrote in his old age to testify, against heretics who had arisen, that Jesus Christ is true God.

The Protestant reformers have violated Holy Scripture:
The Protestant reformers have said the Catholic Church was the true Church in Her early days. It is important to note that it is the Catholic Church who, through Her early Councils, originally confirmed which books of the Bible were considered inspired, and which books were to be included in the Canon of the Bible itself. This was essential to assure copies of Scripture had in those days agreed with the originals, and also to weed out books which contained heretical doctrine in them. The Catholic Church confirmed the books (the Canon) of the Bible in the Councils of Hippo (393) and 3rd Council of Carthage (397) when, according to the Protestant reformers, She was still the true Church.
The Catholic Church also confirmed the same Canon at the Council of Florence (1441) and Council of Trent centuries later and have used the same Canon ever since the Council of Hippo in 393. How then did the Protestant reformers remove so many books (i.e. Baruch, Tobias, Judith, Machabees, Wisdom etc) from the Old and New Testaments if it was the true Church that ruled they were Canonical? If the Protestant reformers truly thought the Catholic Church was the true Church at one time then later fell into error, why do the reformers not follow the decisions the Church made when She was still supposedly true? Who told the Protestant reformers that the books they removed from the Bible were not legitimate and by what authority did they remove them?

Some Protestant reformers claim some books were rejected because they were not in Hebrew or Chaldaic, though some other books that were kept by the Protestant reformers were not in these languages either, so this excuse cannot be used. And where is it found in Scripture that they should be written in a certain language? To say that some books were not accepted because they were not accepted by the Jews does not apply to the point at hand either. The Catholic Church holds the books of Machabees and others mentioned above as Canonical, and if she was the true Church when She determined this, then this is what must be believed. Because the Jews did not accept the deutero-canonical books does not effect the fact that the early Christian Church accepted them. Where in Scripture does it say the Christian Church has not as much power to give authority to the Sacred Books as the Mosaic may have had? 

Why do the Protestant reformers call parts of Scripture false when the whole of antiquity has held them as articles of faith? We see many writers from the first three centuries including St. Clement of Rome, St. Irenaeus, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, Cyprian and many others all allude to the deutero-canonical books we mention above. Who gave the reformers the direction to declare these books false? For example, the book of Judith was made authoritative by the Council of Nice, when the Church was never greater or more solemn. Why blatantly defy the decisions of this council? Of those reformers who claim their decisions to strike books from the Canon are from the Holy Ghost, we ask that you please show proof. Why would the Holy Ghost suddenly give inspirations as to what everyone must believe to unknown men like Luther and Calvin, after they abandoned the Councils and the entire Church? Shall we simply believe the reformers at their word? How then do we believe or not believe the next person who also claims the same inspiration?

If the Protestant reformers were inspired, then God would clearly show the world a sign like with others inspired in Scripture, but a sign the reformers have not shown so they are not to be believed. If God had revealed something a thousand times over to a private person we should not be obliged to believe it unless God gave us such an undeniable sign that we could no longer call it into question. How else are we to separate the false prophet from the true prophet? If we were obliged to believe everyone claiming internal revelations, we would soon be swamped with deceivers and would be completely lost.Where did the Protestant reformers come up with the exact list of books in the Canon they choose to follow? Who told them which books should be included or removed? It was not the Jews that told them as the Gospels would not be there. It was not from the Council of Laodicea for the Apocalypse would be in it. It was not from the Council of Carthage or Florence for Ecclesiasticus and Machabees would be included. So where did the reformers decide on their specific list of books to include? No such Canon was used before the Protestant reformation as the many Protestant denominations use now. 

What is the likelihood that the Holy Spirit hid for the first 1400+ years of the Church, then revealed a new Canon to two unknown men, namely Luther and Calvin? The Protestant reformers have taken away many books from the original Scriptures such as Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom and both books of Machabees.
In the ancient Church there was originally some doubt about some books being inspired and no doubt about many others, yet the Protestant reformers have accepted some of the doubtful and cast out some that were never doubtful. So why were the specific set of books cut from the Scriptures by the Protestant reformers other than that the doctrine of some were hard for them to accept? The reformers do not give a logical answer for their striking some books from the Canon and it is clear that they were simply contradicting the Church. It just so happens that the contents of the books of Machabees contains doctrine on the intercession of Saints and prayers for the departed and Ecclesiasticus contains doctrine on the honor of relics, which is doctrine that just so happens to be accepted by the Catholic Church and denied by the reformers. Remember, it was the Catholic Church in Her early days (when She was the True Church according to the Protestant reformers) that received the books Machabees as canonical along with the other books of Scripture. So why defy the Church on just Machabees?

The translations and interpretations of the Scriptures have been violated by the Protestant reformers:
It is one thing for the Protestant reformers to dare cut off entire books, chapters, sentences and words from Scripture, but even more, the books that they chose not to cut off they have corrupted and violated by their translations. Compare the Vulgate Latin translation from the middle of the second century, (universally received by the Church at that time and declared as authentic by the Council of Trent) to translations of Scripture Protestant churches use today. There is a night and day difference in wording. And even worse, compare translations of Scripture between different Protestant denominations and they also differ! How can private men (the reformers) so boldly take their hand to the word of God and change it? If one man does such a thing, then what is to stop the next man from doing it to his taste, and the next to his taste? An example:

In (Acts 2:27) we see, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” while in a version of a Protestant bible we see the verse, “thou shalt not leave my corpse in the tomb”. Clearly this is not an accurate translation and the meaning is not at all the same. It is common knowledge that only one word can change the meaning of an entire sentence. We note here that Hieronymus Emser, a literary opponent of Luther, points out 1400 inaccuracies in Luther’s translation of Scripture, while Bunsen, a Protestant scholar, points out 3000. If Luther, Calvin and other reformers’ translations of a verse in Scripture differ from the original AND from each other, which one is the word of God? Or are all three versions of the verse still the word of God, though their translation may make their meaning completely different from the next? How can so many brains which are so different make so many translations without overthrowing the sincerity of Scripture?

It has always been a practice of the early Church to limit the Scriptures to universal languages such as Greek and Latin since they are not only universal but also not subject to changes like other languages. Most other languages change town to town in accents, phrases, and words (i.e. slang), and vary season to season and age to age and therefore it has never been recommended by the early Christian Church to translate the Bible to other languages that are not fixed languages. Doing so has much more danger than profit as we can see from our example above. Though we note here also that the early Christian Church has never disallowed translation of the Scriptures to non-fixed languages, though She has always insisted that public services of the Church use a fixed language translation to avoid possibly misleading the faithful with verses of possibly incorrect translation and meaning.

In summary, the Protestant reformers not only made major changes to Scripture by poor translations, but also translated Scripture to all the local non-fixed languages of the people where they started their churches, and they use those faulty translations in their church services. Is it not evident why there are so many Protestant interpretations of Scripture all in conflict with one another?

 
To those who claim they can interpret and understand the Scriptures themselves:
The Protestant reformers claim that we simply need to refer to Scripture for our salvation. We agree, but when two people disagree on the interpretation of Scripture, who shall be the judge as to the correct interpretation? 

Disagreements arise in nearly every verse of Scripture of which could easily lead one of the parties to damnation. It is illogical to think that Our Lord would expect us all to interpret Scripture on our own with no judge to turn to since this will always lead to endless disagreements. There can be countless wrong answers to a question, but only one right answer. All of those interpreting Scripture incorrectly will be lead down the wrong road. It is illogical for us to think God left us in anarchy with respect to interpretation of Scripture, at the mercy of the winds and the tide, with no pilot to help steer the way, as this would mean he wishes our destruction. As with a ship at sea, if everyone attempts to steer in the direction they think is right, we will inevitably wind up lost.

Consider the Constitution of the United States if there were no U.S. Government to rule over it and make decisions over conflicts and offenses that arise with it. The result would be anarchy. Where have you ever seen any great province or organization which has governed itself? Consider any governed country, state, or any organized group throughout the history of the world. All were governed by an earthly leader of some sort or else they would wind up in chaos and confusion. If there were not a king in a kingdom, a foreman in a shop, or a captain of a ship, there would be no order. Why then do the Protestant reformers claim that all of their members do not need an earthly ruler to help guide them? What has this gotten them but thousands of opposing denominations (and growing) which is nothing better than anarchy? Never can a province be well governed by itself, especially when it is large.

If it is true that the Scriptures are so easy to understand, what is the use of the commentaries made by countless Protestant ministers, and what good are so many schools of Theology?Also consider the verse, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). How else can we interpret this than to say Scripture is difficult to understand, and to interpret it incorrectly can lead to our destruction?
And to those who say they must read and understand Scripture themselves, consider the large number of poor ignorant people who cannot read the Scriptures. What is to happen of them? Obviously they can find and seek their salvation through the mouth of a pastor. “How shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) Consider the verse, “And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. And he said: Thinkest thou that thou understandest what thou readest? Who said: And how can I, unless some man shew me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31). Obviously interpretation of Scripture is needed!

Taken from “My Catholic Faith”  and the work of the great St Francis de Sales. I am not the author merely the distrubutor.

God Bless BJS!!

Divine Revelation

​Divine Revelation comes down to us by two means: through Holy Scripture, written down under divine inspiration, and through Tradition, handed down orally from Apostolic times. We read the Bible with great respect, for it is the Word of God. We treat Tradition with as great reverence, for God speaks through Tradition as well. It is wrong to believe the Bible alone without Tradition. That is like believing the Word of God written in the morning and denying it spoken in the afternoon.

Can we know God in any other way than by our natural reason? — Besides knowing God by our natural reason, we can also know Him from supernatural revelation.

 
God has often revealed Himself to men through means beyond the ordinary course of nature. This is supernatural, or Divine Revelation, as opposed to the natural revelation of Himself that God makes in the external world, and the revelation He makes through our natural reason and conscience.
Some revealed truths are beyond the power of the human understanding; we could never, by our own abilities, have known such truths if God had not revealed them. For instance, could we by ourselves have known about the Blessed Trinity, had God not revealed it?
 
The public revelation of truths to men by God began with Adam and Eve and ended at the death of Saint John the Apostle.
Private revelations have been made to holy persons, such as those of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary, and those of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette. But these private revelations are never proposed to the faithful as articles of faith. When the Church approves them, it merely states that there is nothing in them contrary to faith or morals.
 
How may Divine Revelation be classified? — Divine Revelation may be classified into pre-Christian and Christian revelation.
 
Pre-Christian revelation may be divided into:
 
primitive revelation, made to Adam and Eve;
patriarchal revelation, made to the patriarchs; and
Mosaic revelation, made to Moses and the prophets.
God spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise. He spoke to Abraham, to Noe, sending Noe to preach to sinful men before the Flood. He sent Moses to the Israelites when Pharaoh oppressed them. The patriarchs and prophets were called messengers of God, and often received from Him extraordinary powers, of miracles and prophecy, in order that they might be believed.
 
Christian revelation contains the truths revealed to us by Jesus Christ, either directly or through His Apostles.
Our Lord commanded His Apostles to teach all these truths to the end of time. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
 
Why should we believe in Divine Revelation? — We should believe in Divine Revelation because God, Who is its Author, cannot deceive nor be deceived.
 
No reasonable man can believe in any truth until he is sure it is revealed by God. We know that God is the Author of Revelation because He has proved it by external acts, especially by miracles and prophecies.
The writers who made Divine Revelation known worked under direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, Who is, therefore its Author.
 
Miracles are extraordinary works perceptible to the senses, that cannot be accomplished by the mere powers of nature. They are brought about by the action of a higher power
The coming to life of a dead man is a miracle. So is the instantaneous cure of a man blind or paralytic from birth. Our Lord and the Apostles worked many miracles.
 
Some extraordinary works never before heard of or known but invented are not miracles. They are mere discoveries of previously unknown processes or combinations.
An example is the radio. And so were the first telegraph, telephone, wireless, phonograph, etc. All of these are very wonderful. Even today people in general do not understand them fully. But they are not miracles, because they are produced by the forces of nature as harnessed through the ingenuity of man.
 
Prophecies are predictions of future events that could not have been known by natural means. For the confirmation of the faith, or for the benefit of men, God raised up prophets. Generally speaking, the gift of prophecy is a sure sign that the possessor is a messenger of God.
The prophets told about the coming of the Messias. Their prophecies were fulfilled when Christ came on earth. The major prophets were Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel, and Daniel. They are distinguished from the twelve minor prophets, because of the greater volume of their prophecies. Forecasting the weather correctly is not prophecy. It is the result of a scientific knowledge of natural facts.
 
How has Divine Revelation come down to us? — Divine Revelation has come down to us through Holy Scripture, written down under divine inspiration, and through Tradition, handed down orally from Apostolic times.
 
From Adam and Eve, at different times, God inspired men to write down His revelations. These passed from generation to generation as sacred books.
For pre-Christian revelation, there were forty-five of these sacred books, composing the Old Testament. They were jealously guarded by the Israelites, the Chosen People, whom God Himself had chosen to keep His truths intact for the instruction of future generations.
 
Finally our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, came to earth to reveal Divine truths to men. After His death, His Apostles and disciples wrote about Him and His teachings.
There are twenty-seven of these books, composing the New Testament. With the forty-five books of the Old Testament they were scattered in different parts of the world, until the Church gathered them together into one Book, Holy Scripture, or the Bible.
 
The deposit of faith which Jesus Christ entrusted to the Church is made up of two parts: Holy Scripture, and Divine Tradition, this latter being composed of the truths passed down by word of mouth, and not written down till after the death of Christ’s Apostles and disciples, principally by the Fathers of the Church.
Divine Revelation was completed at the death of the last of the Apostles. Since that time no new revelation has been made for the instruction of the whole of mankind. Whenever the Church decides a point of faith, it does so according to Scripture or Tradition. It simply finds out what has been revealed from the beginning.

Taken from “My Catholic Faith” I am not the author merely the distrubutor.

God Bless BJS!!