Liturgy of the word


Was the liturgy of the word why the vulgate was created and thusly the Bible? It’s the first official Mass produced church copy right? And the Bible is for liturgical celebration?


The Bible is for way more than just liturgical use.

Many have meditated on the word of God and come to knowledge of the truth through the pages of the Bible. Jews and Christians have been praying the Psalms daily for thousands of years.



Maybe now but certainly not in the church of the middle ages. All the people heard from persons who could read was the liturgy of the word. Remember they couldn’t read or write.


And also PS. The Bible was never meant as the end all and say all of doctrines and teachings. It’s only part it is interpreted by the church.


I’m pretty sure Tim knows that.

As one who regularly reads the patristic readings a the Liturgy of the Hours, it is quite clear to me that he is also very much correct. The Church didn’t interpret the scriptures just like that; Church fathers studied and meditated them and eventually their studies crystallized into doctrine. St. Augustine’s comments on the psalms come to mind. And since the printing press and widespread literacy, everyone is now able to practice lectio divina, a meditative and contemplative means of studying the Bible highly recommended by the Church.


Lets first remember that 75% of the content of the Bible was written before the Catholic Church ever existed - we call this the Old Testament - and it is no less the word of God than is the New Testament. Judaism has been reading, studying and meditating upon the written word of God for at least 1500 years before the first Liturgy of the Word ever took place.

Psalm 119 is the longest of all the Psalms and it is about King David’s love for God’s written word.

How sweet are thy words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119:103)

For the past 2000 years Christians have been doing exactly what King David did so long ago - reading, studying and meditating upon God’s written word, and putting into practice what they read.

Bill, no one was looking over my shoulder the night I was reading the Bible and was literally knocked out of my chair. God showed me that night, through his written word, that he was everything everyone says about him, and that his Church was everything it claims to be. The next day I made a 37 year confession. The interpretation police weren’t there to make sure I got it right, and it wasn’t the Liturgy of the Word in my kitchen at 10:30 PM. It was just a cruddy copy of the NAB at my kitchen table, my love for Jesus and desire to know him, and the Holy Spirit doing what Jesus promised.

I bothers me when Catholics act like the Scriptures are property of the Catholic Church or treat it like a screwdriver in the toolbox. The Church serves Scripture, not the other way around.



Well I wasn’t sure that Tim was Catholic. And you know how protestants can be. I don’t want to sound self righteous. I too have used the lectio technique.


I was my understanding that the church was established before NT scriptures. I might not be totally correct. I didn’t know if you were Catholic or not so I didn’t know what to say.


Tim, same thing happened to me, only it was in a lonely hotel room on a business trip, and it was a forgotten Gideon Bible from the night table.

I knew then I had to come home to Christ in His Church.


Please don’t go off topic. The OP’s question has not been addressed. If you cannot answer, please don’t take the thread off on a tangent. Thank you all.


The Church existed for approx 20 years (after the resurrection of Jesus) before the first words of the New Testament were written down by St. Paul in 50/51 A.D. The teachings and sayings of Jesus were passed down though the Church orally by his apostles and their followers. The New Testament was not even completed until 95-100 A.D. The earliest evidence that the 27 books of the NT which we use today were part of some kind of canon was not until the 4th century A.D. Jesus established a Church, not a book! The book (NT) is part of the oral tradition passed down through the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


What we now call the Bible was a codification of the liturgical readings. This codification was made necessary by the onslaught of Gnostic writings which claimed to be authored by various apostles and others. Because of the confusion thus created, various bishops came up with their own list of readings that were to be used at Mass. It was not until about 348-350 AD that Bishop Athanasius first came up with the listing that matched the the canon that we use today. That same list was approved at the synods of Rome Hippo and Carthage and was formally defined in 1547 at the Council of Trent.


I’ll answer from a literal level.

Yes and no. You have to remember that ‘the Vulgate’ as we know it today is a mixed collection of translations actually made by St. Jerome and Latin translations of books he actually never worked on.

On the one hand, Pope Damasus did ask Jerome to revise/correct the Latin translation of the gospels and the Psalms used at that time in Rome using manuscripts available to him. So in that sense, yes, that order did seem to have liturgical use in mind. (Note though that this version actually had little or no official recognition.) But on the other hand, his OT translations made from Hebrew were just a private project of his. He is a rather notorious - for that time - lover of all things Hebrew (so much so that he believed that Hebrew texts - those which were available to him, that is - were more reliable than the Greek Septuagint and deritative versions used as the de facto standard by Christians back then), and his friends kept asking him for a Latin translation of OT books made out of the Hebrew rather than the Septuagint (which up to that time, comprised 99% of Christian translations of the OT). To be more specific, Jerome was originally making revisions of Latin translations of the Septuagint (out of fun, maybe) - he had completed the Psalms, Job, Song of Songs, 1-2 Chronicles and the Solomonic books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) when he dropped what he was doing and decided to translate stuff fresh out of Hebrew for different friends of his. Each batch of translation was accompanied by a cover letter addressed to the person/s who requested them; these eventually became the prologues to these translations.

In other words, his translations were originally separate products. The gospels and Psalms were made around 382-384 in Rome, while his OT translations were made during a seventeen-year period between 390-407 while staying at Bethlehem. Eventually (some time after Jerome’s death) someone decided to collect most of his biblical translations into a single set, his actual works supplemented by translations of books he never managed to translate (Baruch, Sirach, Wisdom, Prayer of Manasses, 1-2 Maccabees, 3-4 (1-2) Esdras, possibly the rest of the NT). It wasn’t imposed throughout churches all at one time, note. Rather, this collection at first coexisted with the different translations used in the Latin West, until the superior quality of Jerome’s translations led to more and more people to increasingly prefer it over these Old Latin (Vetus Latina) versions.

This collection never had a formal name originally; it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that it was called the versio vulgata, the ‘common (as in ‘commonly-used’) version’, because at that point it had become the de facto standard version in the West. (The original versio vulgata for Christians was the Septuagint and deritative translations; that was how St. Augustine - Jerome’s contemporary - used the term.)


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