Friday, July 23, 2010

Protestant Bibles

457. Is there any difference between a Roman Catholic Bible, and a Protestant Bible?

Yes. The Protestant Bible omits several Books of the Old Testament which are contained in the Catholic Bible. It omits the Books of Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, the two Books of Machabees, and various sections of other Books. Moreover, in those sections of the Bible which the Protestant Version has retained, there are many mistranslations.

458. Has the Protestant Bible undergone any alterations since the Reformation period?

Yes. As soon as Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in 1534 and established the Church of England under his own supremacy, Cranmer ordered an English translation to be made. The Bible had been translated into English long before this, but he wanted his own special translation. In 1539 the resultant Protestant translation was published, and called the "Great Bible." In the same year also there was published a Version by Richard Taverner. In 1560 another English translation was published at Geneva, to be known as the "Geneva Bible." As these translations revealed many errors, in 1568 a revised edition was published and called the "Bishops' Bible." This Bible was reprinted in 1572 with many corrections and amendments, and called "Matthew Parker's Bible." In 1611 the "King James' Bible," or what is usually called the "Authorized Version" was published; but even this Version was corrected in 1683, 1769, and 1806. Critics, however, pointed out many errors still in the "Authorized Version," and in 1885 a "Revised Version" was completed which contains over 35,000 alterations from the "Authorized Version."

459. You say that Protestants have omitted several Old Testament Books. From what Old Testament is the Catholic Canon taken?

The Books of the Old Testament contained in the Catholic Canon are those contained in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible — a translation made at Alexandria, in Egypt, by the Jews residing there. This translation was made during the three centuries before the birth of Christ. The Jews, even of Palestine, accepted the Septuagint Canon, or list of Books, and our Lord Himself used it in conversing with them. The Jews began to deny its authenticity only about a century after Christ because they could not resist the arguments drawn from it and used against them by the Christians. They therefore said that it was a bad translation; that it did not agree with the Hebrew text; and they rejected it. But the use the Jews themselves had made of it for nearly four hundred years rendered their rejection of it too late. And their motives, of course, are evident. Their interest was not critical, but polemical.

460. From what Old Testament is the Protestant Canon taken?

When the Protestant reformers abandoned the Catholic Church, they adopted the same policy as the Jews had adopted against the early Christians, and tried to cast doubt upon the Catholic Versions of Scripture. They too, therefore, rejected the Septuagint Canon, and accepted the current Hebrew copies of the Old Testament Books. The Hebrew manuscripts omitted several of the Books contained in the Septuagint, and the Protestants therefore followed suit.

461. Which Bible did Christ and the Apostles treat as the standard version?

Christ and the Apostles used both the Hebrew Palestinian Canon and the Greek Septuagint Canon. Both were familiar to, and were accepted at that time by the Jews.

462. From which Old Testament did the New Testament writers most quote when writing their Books?

They quoted most often from the Greek Septuagint. In fact, of some 350 quotations, nearly 300 are taken from the Septuagint. In his "Introduction to the Sacred Scriptures," Thomas Hartwell Horne, a Protestant writer, says that the New Testament writers had to quote from the Greek Septuagint because many for whom they wrote were ignorant of Hebrew, whereas the Greek Version was generally known and read. If the Septuagint was erroneous, and its Canon false, then far from quoting from it, the Apostles should have denounced it, and warned Christians not to use it, but to use exclusively the Palestinian Canon. The Apostles did not do so. They sanctioned the use of the Canon accepted by the Catholic Church and rejected by the Protestant reformers.

463. Do Catholics say that the Protestant Bible, whether "Authorised" or "Revised," is not a true translation of the originals, and are of no value?

We do not say that they are of no value. And it is certain that, on the whole, they are correct translations. But both Versions omit complete Books from the Old Testament, and both are very imperfect translations, on the admissions of scholars amongst Protestants themselves. The Rev. Frank Ballard, in his book "Which Bible to Read" urges Protestants to use the "Revised Version," and not the "Authorized Version." On page 23 of his book he says that an honest answer admits the imperfections of the "Authorized Version" on the following points — (1) It is based on a faulty text; (2) Words are given wrong meanings; (3) Archaic expressions obscure the sense; (4) Grammatical errors abound; (5) The sacred writers are misrepresented. He rightly says therefore that the "Revised Version" is a great improvement; but Protestant scholars agree that a further revision will have to be made. And it is to be noted that the various corrections of the Protestant Version have been in the direction of closer harmony with the Catholic Douay Version.

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