Church and Bible

We have often read threads on the Canon.
Let’s consider now what would follow during the millennium after the canonization process had taken place, and in particular two simple questions.

For non-catholics:

  1. Did the Catholic Church ( during the “Middle Ages” ) substantially alter the Bible or conserve it ?

  2. Why ?

Let’s forget here, as far as possible, the exclusion/inclusion of the deuterocanonical books, focusing on the content of the remaining books.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

  1. Effectively neither. There were errors which crept into the Latin manuscripts. We can see some of them in say the earlier English Bibles like the KJV and the DRB. And because the early translators certainly knew Latin better than Greek the Latin got in in a few cases where they knew or thought they knew the Latin.

But modern translations have really nothing taken from Latin Manuscripts from the Middle Ages. Whatever the Catholic Church did concerning those, it wasn’t important.

There was some conservation from the standpoint of they did save some Greek witnesses. So those have contributed to our knowledge. And they did save some references by the early Fathers and so on, but none of those were specific to the Middle Ages.


Hi JJ !

   basically you appear to choose a XXI century perspective, by observing that our present knowledge of the biblical text is more or less independent from what  happened  between the VI and the XVI century.  Thanks to modern discoveries we check the quality of medieval manuscripts and of the famous printed editions of the early XVI century:  the complutensis and the erasmian. (On a side note we could say that the Codex Vaticanus is a major source for

the modern textus receptus, and was "“delivered” to students by the Catholic Church, which conserved it since the XV century.)
We today analyze some possible errors creeping in, through generations and generations of hand copying, and we have important debates on a few passages, such as the pericope Adulterae, or the Comma Johanneum.

It is very lucky that we nowadays could read the Bible independently from the efforts produced on it from the VI century to
the complutensis and erasmian editions, prepared just before
the explosion of the Reformation. This then unforeseeble
development gives us the opportunity to assess what the intentions of ecclesial authorities about the content of the text had been.

The Bible on which the Reformers would study was delivered to them by the Catholic Church. Do we agree on this point ?

Had it been intentionally and substantially altered in the preceding millennium ?

Wouldn’t it be easier just to state the point it is you are trying t make?

You speak so sweeping I actually have no idea what it is you are trying to say.

Like the Bible the Reformers used delievered to them by the Catholic Church. True I guess. When the Catholics sacked Constantinople it greatly weakened it to the extent it did not long last against the Muslims. When it fell to the Muslims people fled to the West and took their Greek manuscripts with them.

This resulted in the West once agains being able to read Greek and so we see the Greek text of the New Testament becoming possible and available to the West.

Was that what you meant?


dear JJ,

I hope not to appear mysterious, and am trying immediately to share an impression of mine. :slight_smile:

From the point of view of one of the denominations directly or indirectly issues of the XVI century upheaval ( let’s call it “D”) I guess one could probably say more or less:

  1. Our doctrines are in the Bible
  2. We believe in the perspicuity of the Bible.

Now, if that very Bible was delivered by the Catholic Church, it follows that the CC had understood that the doctrines of D are true and unescapably explained in the Bible, long, long before the birth of D. But the CC, even understanding these true doctrines, went on for centuries and centuries to tell a different story, and consistently so ! An official exegesis clearly different from what the whole clergy would have in their hearts and minds.
They would conceal so well their real thougts, that no record has been left of internal disputations on points later preached by D. Yet the text was there, telling every priest or monk, perspicously. what the true doctrines are.

A scrupolous examination of this strange situation and its plausibility has to be made, IMHO. Since, if it turned out that
it is not very credible that the preceding paragraph gives a faithful picture of the situation of Christianity ( at least western Christianity) during the millennium before Reformation, a brother or sister belonging to D could be lead to seriously consider point 1) and 2) above again.

I was confused before but now I’m lost! What are you saying?

Maybe my explanatory capabilities are at a low at present :blush:

I’m trying again this way :slight_smile: .

Once we admit that the Catholic Church delivered to the Reformers substantially the same unaltered Bible She had been reading and handcopying for over a millennium .
Once we admit each of the protestant denominations, going usually by the Bible alone, discovered since the XVI century in that text doctrines wich each of them would consider as perspicuosly present in the Bible itself,
some questions, IMHO, can arise.

Such as:

Why had the CC not discovered those perspicuous contents
long before any of those denominations ? Are those contents really perspicuous, and really in the Bible ? Or:
Would the Catholic Church successfully conceal for centuries and centuries that She had understood those doctrines ( which for some reason She would not want to make public ) ? Other
solutions to the seeming problem are … ( anybody’s guess).

Or: there is no problem at all with all that, and I am creating much “ado about nothing”. :shrug:

The Church had seen those doctrines of the Reformers for many years. Read for the catologue of testimonies appended to Article VIII of the Formula of Concord by Andrea and Chemnitz.
Would be but one example.

should let you read it, it’s written in Latin then the English. Just skip over the Latin.

The Reformers were not kidding that they saw the whole thing as a reformation, not a starting new. They were experts in the early Fathers and Church History.

Don’t confuse them with those who later came like the Anabaptists some of who claimed to not even need the bible but rather to simply wait and sit and mystically receive everything necessary.


Seems to me you are trying to find something that doesn’t exist so yes, much ado about nothing!

Thanks JJ.

The catologue of CFs’ witnesses you mention is quite impressive. That speaks for the respect that early Lutheranism had conserved for aspects of Tradition. Which can hardly be found in later centuries and in the whole of the protestant denominations.

But what I can see in this part of the Formula is a dispute about the person of Christ and His two natures, which had been linked with the attacks against Real Presence, which, from other branches of the recent protestantism, had leaked into the church of the Augsburg Confession. What the authors of the Formula are here defending appears prima facie a much more catholic-like position than those of their internal opponents they are condemning. So it is not surprising at all, IMHO, that a large amount of patristic thought could be thrown against the said dissenters. :slight_smile:

(The Formula itself, was deemed necessary, if I’m not mistaken, in order to tackle the growing controversies that had been plagueing the church of the Augsburg Confession. Now, this substantial disputations among lutherans themselves hardly speak for the “perspicuity” of the Bible the Reformers would teach. )

I wonder here about distincitive protestant doctrines.

Had the Catholic Church not been able or willing to understand them, by reading and meditating for so many centuries before Reformation the same Bible she delivered to the reformers ?

Well if you actually get into the studies of the disputes among Protestants what you will see is that just because one says they are sola Scriptura does not mean that one is.

For instance the denial of the real presence in the Lord’s Supper. Whether the spiritual only presence as taught by the Reformed or the completely nothing but a memorial position of many, those do not come from scripture.

So looking at the dispute and saying that is an example of why sola Scriptura doesn’t work really is strange. Anyone who practices sola Scriptura would accept that the bread and wine are also the body and blood of Jesus. That is what scripture teaches.

It doesn’t teach transubstantiation. I can see why the Catholics took that from philosophy because they didn’t want to be guilty of idolatry through worshipping bread and wine. But it wouldn’t have been necessary if they had limited themselves to the instructions of God, take eat, take drink, not elevate it and worship it. It goes to thinking man can come up with ways to worship that exceed God’s.

Anyway, the denial of the real presence likewise doesn’t come from scripture. If you read Calving or even moreso Zwingli, their position was once agains based on philosophy. It was the belief that a human body could not be more than one place at a time. So therefore since Jesus was seated at the right hand of the father, his body could not both be there and present in Communion.

So they warped this is my body and this is my blood, into this really isn’t my body and blood but me spiritually present. They didn’t get that from scripture.

And the memorial only of the Anabaptists that is today so popular seems only to come from ignorance and a general whatever sounds Catholic must be wrong. They haven’t to this day come to understand how God choses to work through means. They more seem to think man is just walking along and one day God zaps him and he is a believer. It could be called a lot of things, but sola scriptura it’s not.

Anyway, we digress from your topic.

If I could restate it, isn’t your basic idea that since the Catholic Church recognized and pointed to scripture that it is effectively superior to scripture? Isn’t that the question? Is the Church superior to Scripture or Scripture superior to the Church?


Dear JJ,
I guess you’re aware that the absolute majority of the brothers who say they practice Sola Scriptura reject this statement of yours. :slight_smile:

It doesn’t teach transubstantiation.

We have several threads about that.

Anyway, we digress from your topic.

Not completely, since you’re precisely showing that the concept of Sola Scriptura cum perspicuity of Scripture is not exactly confirmed by the mutual conflicting views it has produced.( or that do exist in protestant denominations, anyway)

If I could restate it, isn’t your basic idea that since the Catholic Church recognized and pointed to scripture that it is effectively superior to scripture? Isn’t that the question? Is the Church superior to Scripture or Scripture superior to the Church?

What I asked of late is “Had the Catholic Church not been able or willing to understand them ( = some protestant peculiar doctrines ), by reading and meditating for so many centuries before Reformation the same Bible she delivered to the reformers ?”

I didn’t point to the question of the priority between Church or Bible. I maintain BTW that the Church did appear before Scripture, about which we cannot correctly speak before the solidification of the Canon. I maintain that we received Scripture thorugh the Church, but that is not the focus of this thread.
( I guess the lutheran approach to that would be more or less that that the IV-V century Church was still similar to the “invisible” Church, and not yet the same Catholic Church of medieval times, already gone astray)
Which is, I am not tired to repeat, the fact that the medieval Catholic Church would read and meditate the Bible for over a millennium after the process of canonization and before reformation. Why She could not understand Scripture
for such long a time is a question I’d like to share with
non-catholic brothers.

You gave a hint, if I got the sense, ie: The catholic church ( as so many protestant non-lutheran denominations after her), would not practice Sola Scriptura.
But this hint would lead to a further question: " Why didn’t she, reading the Bible, find there Sola Scriptura, which MUST be in the Bible and perspicuously so, according to your perspective ?"

I’m sorry, I just can’t make heads or tails out of your train of thought. I can’t work your last post into the first. So I’m stuck trying to figure out what it was you wanted to say, and I’ve tried repeatedly to figure it out but I can’t.

Good day.


About the “the train of thought” of the present thread.

Question A) Had the medieval Church substantially altered the Bible OR had she conserved Scripture and then delivered it in XVI century to the reformers ?

If we accept the second option, it follows that the catholic Church had been reading, studying, meditating the same Scripture which the reformers got from her for over a millennium. If, moreover, we have to consider the tenet about the perspicuity of the Bible, the next question is:

“Why had the Catholic Church not understood the Bible - which is perspicuous - in more than a millennium ?”

What makes you think the Catholic Church altered the Bible at all, never mind substantially?

Hi thistle !

Thanks for your question, which probably permits to clear explicitly my point of view.
My personal answer is very simple: I see no reason to believe that the medieval Catholic Church would not have, conserve, read, meditate the same Bible the reformers got from her.
I guess you agree. :slight_smile:

If our non catholic brothers can more or less agree with us about this, too, then we can pass to consider with them their own opinions on question B, ie:

“Why had the Catholic Church not been understanding that Bible which she would deliver to the reformers - which in a protestant view is perspicuous - for more than a millennium ?”

I wonder whether it can be maintained that a single believer can understand Scripture by himself, in say one to ten years, AND, together with that, that the Catholic Church, on the contrary, could not understand it - going therefore astray on fundamental doctrines - for centuries and centuries.

The Catholic Church did not alter the Bible and the Protestants do not contend that we changed the Bible. The Protestants took out some books.

Also there is no substance to your second question because the Catholic Church has always understood the Bible. The Catholic Church was the one founded by Christ and he gave it authority (through Peter and the Apostles and their successors) to being his teachings to the world. Only the Catholic Church has the authority to interpret Scripture.
Proestants on the other hand use private interpretation (which scripture forbids). That’s why Protestants have no clear doctrines because every individual makes up his own.

I’m sorry but I still don’t see the point of this thread.

Dear thistle,

       this is your point of view on "question B" as formulated in post 16, of course. You see,  I guess our non catholic brothers .... do not exactly share it.   

And I’d precisely like to know theirs too. :slight_smile:

Which would you like to know? There are 33,000 Protestant denominations and just as many intrepretations!! They do not have a common position and never have had.

You really should do a search in these forums. There are dozens of threads already on this topic where you can read some of their arguments.

Dear thistle,

               according to your line above, we should never ask anything  to our protestant brothers, ...since we know they usually do not have a single position, but many. :shrug:  

I simply do not know their arguments on question B as formulated in post 16 ( do you ?), and I’d like to.

Please, let me ask and let them answer .

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