Did the Church Ban reading of the bible and Translations?

Ciao fellow Catholics!

I have not posted in a very long time! I have a question about the Church banning reading of the bible and more specifically laws put in place to stop translating the bible. Please read the following site and if you have some answer for me, please share. This all came out of a comment my brother (Seventh Day Adventist) made.


My thoughts are the these laws were to ensure proper translating was done… I do not believe that the Church literally blocked people from reading the bible, those that were able to read.

BTW, please pray that I have safe travels… I am on my way to Afghanistan for 4 months. :slight_smile:

God Bless


ahh another false fundamental baptist, KJV-onlyist site. This site is filled with nothing but blasphemies against the Catholic church and only to promote the false King James Version. No the Church never forbade the reading of the Holy Scriptures

St. Jerome’s “De Vita Clericorum ad Nepotianum” “Often read the divine Scriptures; yea, let holy reading be always in thy hand, study that which thou thyself must preach… Let the speech of the priest be ever season with Scriptural reading.

Wait, just to clarify, did your brother send this link to you? If he did, and he is indeed a SDA, then maybe he should check out the “Cults” section of this web-site. I see only one church named… the SDA church :shrug:


I would ask him if he believes that this site is lying about his faith. And if it’s possible it is lying about his faith, then perhaps it is lying about yours?

God bless

Best of luck in Afghanistan. Stay safe. My son returned in January and his squadron is due to deploy again in October to Afghan but he thinks he will be among the very few to stay in AR and then they deploy in April to Iraq.

May God bless and keep you safe. Thanks for your service.:signofcross:

The Church prohibited translation without authorization, that’s all. One of the points the website thinks important is that the Bible was widely available in Latin, but most people couldn’t read Latin. That’s true, but it’s also misleading: most people couldn’t read Latin, because most people couldn’t read! In Europe at the time, those who could read, could read Latin; so the idea that Latin somehow made the Bible inaccessible is Protestant mythology foisted on the ignorant.

This is especially true given that books were hideously expensive until the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century, so the only way anyone could afford to own a Bible would be if they were rich – in which case they were educated, which meant (even as late as the twentieth century) they could read Latin.

Stay safe.

Thanks for the replies! I am sitting at a base in Kyrgystan waiting on my next ride… It is a poor country, but the mts are beautiful.

My brother didn’t send me the link. He mentioned that some people who were not allowed to read the bible hid out in Piemonte Italy… that was how the search started. I found the link on my own. It had some strong references to some “laws” put into place. I believe the references to be a little off in their interpretation of them.

Thanks to all… I will research further later when I get settled.



Good luck on your tour of duty.

Well you can ask your brother that if the Catholic Church didn’t want anyone to read the bible or have one, then what is it doing being published all over the world? If something doesn’t make sense it is usually because it is not true.

Certainly a lot of dodging the question going on in here.

The amazing thing about literacy in Europe is that once the scriptures became widely available in the vernacular literacy rose at an astounding rate.

Did the church ban translating the Bible? William Tyndale and John Hus would certainly say yes. As would the family of 7 who were burned at the stake in 1517 for the crime of teaching their kids the Lord’s Prayer in the vernacular.

W Tynsdale translation was horrible, even the protestant rejected it but why they don’t admitt that. A good book on study of scripture and history is Where We Got the Bible, our debt to the Catholic Church by a convert to the Catholic Church.

haha I was just going to recommend this book. Parts of it are a bit dated; it was first published in 1911. Then again, that just helps to confirm that there was no 20th century shift in the Catholic Church’s opinion on the Bible, he draws on older sources.

So, in your opinion, he wrote a bad translation and thus deserved to die? If the RCC really wanted the word of God in the vernacular of the people, it surely had the resources to make it happen. Instead of helping Tyndale write a good translation, or doing it on their own for goodness sake, they declared him a heretic (they didn’t declare him a bad translator) and burned him at the stake.

There is no getting around the fact that the RCC jealously guarded the power they had as the sole retainers of the word of God. Ignorance of the people that salvation comes from Christ alone allowed them to propagate the idea that the RCC is the distributor of grace.

Yes Salvation comes from Christ, the Catholic Church does not deny that but that’s the teching of our Faith… And it is through His Church the Catholic Church where we receive the fullness of that Grace Christ pours on us especially through the Eucharist which is Jesus the fountain of Grace.

Take a look at that book and you will see the true history of Tynsdale and on what happen during that time.

Yes, and also the opinion of the Tyndale’s bishops, and King Henry VIII, who in 1531 declared that " the translation of the Scripture corrupted by William Tyndale should be utterly expelled, rejected, and put away out of the hands of the people." Tyndale’s Bible prove to be so troublesome that in 1543—after his break with Rome—Henry again decreed that “all manner of books of the Old and New Testament in English, being of the crafty, false, and untrue translation of Tyndale . . . shall be clearly and utterly abolished, extinguished, and forbidden to be kept or used in this realm.” So, we’re not the only one’s who thought that Tyndale had a horrible version of the bible. Also, there were at the time already English translations of the bible. There was no need to have anymore. They couldn’t even sell all of the ones that had already been published. If they were going to translate the bible from Latin into English again why would they choose to have some run of the mill priest who, according to the people who knew him, wasn’t a very good one, with his unorthodox opinions, a violent temper, and mediocre scholarly ability. The Church had no problem with Tyndale translating the bible into English, that had already been done by people who knew what they were doing. The Church had a problem with translating the bible with an agenda and distorting it’s truth and morals.
Lastly, according to wikipedia, King Henry VIII was the one who burned Tyndale at the stake, not The Church. “In 1535, Tyndale was arrested on the orders of King Henry VIII, jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde outside Brussels for over a year, tried for heresy and burned at the stake. He was strangled before his body was burnt.” So, in conclusion, if the leaders of The Church tried to keep people from reading the Bible, so did the secular leaders. They tried to keep people from reading bad translations and lies, remember there were already good, approved translations available. Anyone could translate the Bible, but very few can do it correctly and Tyndale was not one of them.

First off, the church never officially executed anyone. That was always done by the “secular” authorities. That doesn’t remove the church’s responsibility for the execution of countless people under the charge of heresy. People were tried and found guilty by the church, and then handed over to “secular” authorities, who were in fact beholden to Rome. Remember, a king couldn’t receive the Eucharist, a means of grace, if he didn’t do things the way the church wanted them done. Medieval kings were hardly sovereigns over the issue of heresy trial and punishment.

Secondly, if a bishop and a king think something is the right thing to do, does that make it right? At one time in the US it was the opinion of Presidents, governors, bishops, and countless others in authority that people had the right to own others. Remember St. Augustine’s words, an unjust law is no law at all. Surely you don’t consider Henry the paragon of virtue. So, using the argument that many people agreed Tyndale was a heretic deserving of the death penalty is not a good one.

Third, the Council of Constance plainly outlawed the private ownership of scriptures. Canon 14 of the council plainly reads, “We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.” Nuff said about that. The RCC didn’t object to just bad translations, they objected to anyone having the scriptures that were readable.

Could you provide some references that illustrate the availability of these pre-Tyndale English translations? I’m aware of some Anglo-Saxon versions that were made in the 10th century, but that’s not English. But the important issue here is the availability of the scriptures. If there were English translations but they were not widely distributed, then they were worthless.

Yes, the Church banned the reading of heretics’ false translations, and burned them whenever possible. (Why? Because Truth matters) Otherwise, bible reading was encouraged.


here’s one of the places that I found stating that the bible had been translated earlier in order for those who did not have such affluent knowledge of Latin and Greek.

So the church should be burning Protestants today?

More importantly, is this whole issue relevent today. If the purpose of some responses in this thread is to establish that The Church promotes censorship or ignorance, then those responses are just arguments for the sake of arguments. I’ve read dozens of arguments against all religion in general by resorting to ancient history out of context.

My point is that, I’ve been a Catholic for all 50 years of my life, and I have never been discouranged from learning or reading anything. I will say this much, I have observed that many do in fact have a hard time interpreting the Bible correctly because they tend to do so literally, lacking all historical context. Context means everything.

It seems we can argue about all sorts of things and completely miss the point, when it comes to religion and the average person. Often, blanket statements are made from the perspective of a particular writer. Someone says, “I believe this, or I believe that, because I’ve done this or that research, and I’m a logical and well studied man. I’m rational and demand rigor!”. Then they go and extrapolate thier beliefs, “standards”, and expectations onto everyone else. To do so is to be completely ignorant of people. The average person is mostly concerned with mere survival. Thier minds are almost entirely consumed with the issues that most emmediately affect them, like thier children, spouse, or work. Most people are horrible at managing thier own finances.

I guess another point that I’m making is that people do what they are capable of doing, including how they take in thier religion and faith. Most aren’t interested in argueing the “finer” points of history, theology, or whatever one might choose to argue about. Usually those who do choose to argue about these things aren’t very objective, so truth is rarely part of the goal. This is partly why so many people get turned off about talking about religion. There are too many amateurs who think they know something absolutely. These arguments can go on endlessly, lacking any real expert insights and facts.

So in closing, l have found that such arguments are almost always a waste of time and energy, and never serve any real useful purpose. They do nothing for the soul, or help bring us closer to God. They are, at best, a distraction, and at worse, devisive and pointless. There’s always going to be someone who knows more than some of us. The question is, with what spirit do they teach us? Is their intent good? Is there something relevent or value added that they want to leave us with?

Peace, grace, and love!

Did you read this link? You do realize that Old English is VERY different from English. Also, according to the link, the “translations” were actually glosses of the OE rendering of the Latin. Who had access to the Latin Vulgate? Could anybody walk into a church off the street and pick up a Latin Bible and start reading it?

So, these are not English, they are not complete, and they are not widely available. Not to mention that vernacular translations for distribution to the laity were verboten according to the Council of Constance.



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