Key Figures Of The Old Testament And The New Testament Why Were Bibles So Scarce in Middle Age Europe?

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Why Were Bibles So Scarce in Middle Age Europe?

How could the Holy Bible – the most revered book, known worldwide as the Word of God by Jews and devout Christians – take over 1,000 years to reach European people? Today, especially in the United States, Bibles are found in many places – from churches, libraries and bookstores. But what were the main reasons the Bible took centuries to change the hearts and minds of people?

Constantine became the first Roman emperor in 306 AD to recognize Christianity as the official religion. But before and after 325 AD, the scrolls that became the “books” that make up our modern Bible were still being compiled. In AD 382 all the books were compiled and St. Jerome was chosen to translate the Greek Septuagint of the Old and New Testaments into Latin. In 405, he finished translating the Bible and it became known as the “Vulgate” Bible, commonly used throughout the Roman Empire.

Getting your own copy was almost impossible, unlike now when you can go to your local bookstore and buy one, or read it online for free. But between 400 – 1450 AD, the only way to copy a Bible was by monks who took a long time to copy them by hand. Even as time passed, Bibles multiplied, but were not allowed to be taken out of monasteries and churches. They were literally “chained” to them so they wouldn’t be stolen because it took a lot of money and time to create even one.

Even if they were stolen, almost no one could read them because most Europeans were illiterate. Only the Roman Catholic clergy were taught to read and write Latin. However, in 1436 AD the printing press was invented and the first Bible was produced using a type of movable metal. Gutenberg’s Bible was born and more Latin Bibles could be copied.

A century before the printing press was invented, there were some people in England and France who disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Bible. These groups called “Lollards” or, later, called Protestants, possessed manuscript copies of Bibles and used them to argue against many false concepts from the church. To counter these deceptive practices of the church, a Lollard named John Wycliffe wanted every person in England to have a copy of the Bible. Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate into English so that the people of England could read it for themselves.

Between 1229 and 1234, after Wycliffe translated the Vulgate into English without the express approval of the church, laws were passed by the church prohibiting the translation of the Vulgate Bible into any other language. It seemed that the church wanted to be the only institution to interpret the Bible, so they didn’t want many people to read it. After all, after Wycliffe died, a group of Roman Catholic clergy burned his remains to curse him.

Laws prohibiting translations did not stop the Reformers from their work of giving the people the Word of God. Another well-known Englishman, William Tyndale translated part of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament. Although it was burned at the stake in 1536, many English Bibles continued to be translated, although agents of the Catholic Church burned most of them. In 1611, the King James Bible came off the presses and today it is the most popular Bible in English. In Germany, Martin Luther translated the Bible into German. Beginning in 1450, many Bibles could be copied when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, which replaced the tedious process of copying by hand, using movable type of letters and numbers.

In addition, according to a book by columnist Bernard Starr – Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew, another reason to keep the Bible out of the hands of Christians was to hide the fact that Jesus was Jewish and that Christianity was founded on the practice of Judaism . Many European Christians were anti-Semitic in the Middle Ages, and false stories of Jews killing Christians were rampant.

Today, the Bible has been translated into every possible language and copies have been distributed and read around the world. If it weren’t for the reformation of Christians like Wycliffe, Tyndale and Luther, the Bible might still belong to the Catholic Church and be read only in Latin.

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