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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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6/16/2004

This Week in Church History 

June 13, 1757.

Pope Benedict XIV granted people throughout the world official permission to have the Bible in their own language.

Granted, the early church had Scripture in whatever tongue that was spoken. Syriac, Coptic, and Greek translations have been found dating very early in the history of the church. And vernacular Bibles had been around in "modern" times since before 1525, when such translations became ammunition for the Protestant Reformation.

Such "modern" translations were, however, condemned (sound familiar?). In 1408 the Council of Oxford condemned Wycliffe's efforts at spreading a vernacular English Bible. A hundred years later, William Tyndale had to flee England to make his own English translation.

Vernacular Bibles had the stigma of being associated with the growing Protestant "heresy". By 1528, the Bible could no longer be translated into French. Bible burnings were common events throughout Europe in the early 1500s. In much of the continent, posession of a Bible in your own language was illegal, usually punishable by death at the stake.

By about 1550, the Catholic Church began to turn around, thanks in large part to the Counter-Reformation. Vernacular Bibles were allowed, but only if they carried official Catholic annotations and explanations of the texts. It took until 1713 for the Pope to recognize that the Bible was, in fact, for everyone -- not just priests and scholars.

The Bible is for all of us. It's message can change lives. And it doesn't take a degree in theology to recognize the basic truths of God's Word.


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