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Why did the Church burn bibles?

Sexton Blake

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Christian monks burned books for centuries, and most popes forbade reading books.


Hypatia (355 CE to 415 CE) was, in her time, the world’s leading mathematician and astronomer, the only woman for whom such claim can be made. She was also a popular teacher and lecturer on philosophical topics of a less-specialist nature, attracting many loyal students and large audiences. With the accession of Cyril to the bishopric of Alexandria, however, the climate of tolerance lapsed, and shortly afterward Hypatia became the victim of a particularly brutal murder at the hands of a gang of Christian zealots.


The 1229 Council of Toulouse prohibited reading the Bible by laity. In 1270 the king of Aragon, James I, passed a law wherein all people were required to tum their Bibles in to the bishop to be burned; the penalty for not doing so was that they would be declared heretics. Heretics, of course, were killed by Christians whenever discovered.


On March 24, 1564 papal bull Dominici gregis custodiae forbade all translations of the Greek New Testament because " . . .much danger, generally arises from reading them."


Also in the 16th century the church allowed a Latin "Vatablus's Bible" to be read only by "pious and learned men."


Ever since the Protestant Revolt in the 16th century, the Catholic Church has been accused of ignoring, opposing, hiding and even destroying the Bible in order to keep it from the people. Allegedly, copies of the Bible were chained to the walls of churches during the Middle Ages so that people could not take them home to read. Supposedly the Church during the Middle Ages also refused to translate the Bible into the various tongues of the common people, the vernacular languages, in order to further hinder personal Bible reading. Furthermore it is claimed that the Church even went as far as to burn vernacular Bibles.


After the 14th century when English finally became the popular language of England, vernacular Bibles were used as vehicles for heretical propaganda. John Wycliffe, a dissentient priest, translated the Bible into English. Unfortunately his secretary, John Purvey, included a heretical prologue, as noted by St. Thomas More. Later William Tyndale translated the Bible into English complete with prologue and footnotes condemning Church doctrines and teachings. St. Thomas More commented that searching for errors in the Tyndale Bible was similar to searching for water in the sea. Even King Henry VIII in 1531 condemned the Tyndale Bible as a corruption of Scripture. In the words of King Henry's advisors: "the translation of the Scripture corrupted by William Tyndale should be utterly expelled, rejected, and put away out of the hands of the people, and not be suffered to go abroad among his subjects."

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