Why wouldn't the Roman church allow scripture to be translated into the tongue of the people?


I often wonder if the Roman church is the one true church, then why wouldn’t the magisterium allow the Bible to be written in the language of the people instead of Latin only? It wasn’t until Luther broke away that folks could actually read scripture for themselves. Could it be because the Roman church didn’t want folks to know the truth about God and the ugly truth about what the church was doing to them and God?


Again you flirt your ignorance. The Bible was written in other languages before Martin Luther’s revolt… Educate yourself, my friend… You speak with forked tongue…


Hi Branden,
During the first 1000 years or so of Church history, Latin was the language of the common people. Even after the Roman empire fell, Latin was the one language that all literate people had in common. The first translation of the bible into the vernacular was St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation in 382 AD. “Vulgate” means “common tongue”.

Until the 1500’s and the invention of the printing press, most people were illiterate and learned the scriptures by hearing them proclaimed during the mass. We have 4 bible readings every Sunday and 3 on weekdays.

Did you see the movie “Braveheart” about William Wallace? He taught his soldiers to pray the psalms in Latin. Being an educated man, he could read and write in Latin, like all other literate people.

When Catherine of Aragon traveled from Spain to England to marry Prince Arthur (she only married Henry VIII after Arthur died), the two of them got along famously, even though Catherine spoke no English and Arthur spoke no Spanish. Being literate people, they were both fluent in Latin and communicated by speaking and writing Latin until Catherine eventually learned English.

The Catholic Church also produced the first translations of the Gospel of John, and later the entire New Testament, into English. The King James version of the Bible borrowed extensively from the Douay-Rhiems version, translated and published by the Catholic Church. Many local Catholic bishops in many countries also commissioned translations into the local dialects.

The Protestant rumor that the Catholic Church somehow conspired to keep the bible away from the people is pure myth.

God bless you,


Are you ahmedhassan?


excuse me?


Venerable Bede translated the Psalms into Saxon (later on, it evolved into English) in the 700s. I’m not sure about the date, but I know it was done.

In Pax Christi


another poster here that got banned… never mind…


martin Luther did not produce the first German Language Bible…he produced a German translation from texts other than the Latin Vulgate and he failled to present his translation to his Bishop for review and approval…

Why was Luther reluctant to sumbit his “German” translation to his bishop…? That is the question. Martim Kuther added words to to have the texts imply a theology that supported Luther’s point of view…like adding the word “alone” to the Letter to the Romans as in you are “saved by faith alone, not by works” Luther added the word “alone”.

Luthers translation was in the middle german. Translation s existed in high and low german before Luther

AD 400
Latin Vulgate - Latin
Peshitta - Syriac/Aramaic translation of the Bible

AD 450
Codex Alexandrinus - Greek/Latin

AD 460 Ulfilas - Gothic (an early Germanic language). AD 550 Byzantine Greek Text of the Bible

AD 690 Earliest Bible translations into Anglo-Saxon by Bede

AD 1384
Wyclliff - English translation


No…not the ‘The Catholic Church banned the Bible to be translated’ tripe.

The Bible was translated, for whole in part, even before Wycliffe and Luther translated them.

But Wycliffe takes credit for being the first man to translate the whole Bible to English while Luther would be the first to translate from the original languages.


Can’t you answer the intelligent posters instead of the one’s who speak in jest?? You throw out stupid comments and don’t have the decency to back them up or comment on our answers. Sad exhibit of ignorance…


Wasn’t it first in Greek, and people spoke Greek?


Guys. Whatever you think of the motives of the op, answer with charity and patience if for no other reason for the benefit and good example of lurkers.

Several short responses:

A. Much of the laity couldn’t read at that time anyway, Latin or vernacular.
B. Before the printing press, a bible took a gazillion hours to copy by hand, so why on earth would they waste precious time making a vernacular bible that only a few could actually read and those few that could probably read Latin as well?
C. The Catholic Church produced the first vernacular versions of Scripture. Not Protestants.
D. The Church has never had a problem with accurate vernacular translations.


:rotfl: I often wonder where people get such silly ideas.

The ink was barely dry on St. Pauls letters or the Evangelists Gospels when they began to be copied and distributed. From the beginning the Church has had a rich history of bringing the bible to the people in their “own” language.

Perhaps you are unaware that St. Cyril *invented *the Cyrillic alphabet to take the bible to the Slavic people?

This article on versions of the bible should help clear up your misconception.

Ignorance of history is a very sad thing. I hope you become more educated soon.

In that day, people who could read did read Latin. The English nobility didn’t even speak English (well, we use that term loosely since English was really a mixture dialects that eventually became a language) for many generations-- they spoke French and had brevaries and other bible books in French… you can see them in museums such as the British Museum and the Louvre.

Really, history is against you on this one.

What *ugly truth *would that be?


Others have done a good job of explaining this. I just wanted to emphasize that what the church objected to were unofficial translations that were in error.


Ha ha Dolphin. Very cute. But Branden’s English skills are better than Ahmadhassan’s. While not every post displays perfect usage and spelling (true of many internet posts) English does seem to be Branden’s first language…


I can do without the insults.


It is unfortunate that another poster rushed to such a conclusion.

However, that aside, everyone else here has more than adequately answered your question.

So, now, what is your response to our clearing up your misconception regarding the bible in native languages?


You have a point in it. This might have been the cause, in that case a lot of credit goes to Luther, if you are correct.


The ugly truth? Explain please.


BrandonRush, this is a fairy tale which has circulated among anti-Catholics for generations. Read Henry Graham’s “Where We Got The Bible” to learn all about the Catholic Bible translations which pre-dated Protestantism by centuries. Graham devotes an entire chapter to “Vernacular Translations Before Wycliffe.”

Spanish, Italian, Danish, French, Polish, Norweigian … and yes, English … Bible translations circulated among Catholics long before the Protestant Reformation.

Also remember that the Latin Vulgate itself was a vernacular translation at the time it was produced, since Latin was THE written language of Europe.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.