How did the Church handle the “differences in the Bibles” problem?

Posted: May 3, 2012 in How did the Church handle the "differences in the Bibles" problem?

Well, what has been the official Church position regarding these “discrepancies”? How did the Church decide to handle this situation? Did they call upon all of the foremost scholars of Christian literature to come together in a mass conference in order to jointly study the most ancient Christian manuscripts available to the Church and come to a common agreement as to what was the true original word of God? No!

Well then, did they immediately expend every effort to make mass copies of the original manuscripts and send them out to the Christian world so that they could make their own decisions as to what truly was the original unchanged word of God? Once again, No!

So what did they do? Let us ask Rev. Dr. George L. Robertson. In his book “Where did we get our Bible? he writes:

“Of the MSS. of Holy Scripture in Greek still existing there are said to be several thousand of varying worth … Three or four in particular of these old, faded out, and unattractive documents constitute the most ancient and the most precious treasures of the Christian Church, and are therefore of special interest.”

First in Rev. Richardson’s list is the “Codex Vaticanus” of which he says:

“This is probably the most ancient of all Greek MSS. now known to exist. It is designated as Codex ‘B.’ In 1448, Pope Nicholas V brought it to Rome where it has lain practically ever since, being guarded assiduously by papal officials in the Vatican Library. its history is brief: Erasmus in 1533 knew of its existence, but neither he nor any of his successors were permitted to study it… becoming quite inaccessible to scholars, till Tischendorf in 1843, after months of delay, was finally allowed to see it for six hours. Another specialist, named de Muralt in 1844 was likewise given an aggravating glimpse of it for nine hours. The story of how Dr. Tregelles in 1845 was allowed by the authorities (all unconscious to themselves) to secure it page by page through memorizing the text, is a fascinating one. Dr. Tregelles did it. He was permitted to study the MS. continuously for a long time, but not to touch it or to take notes. Indeed, every day as he entered the room where the precious document was guarded, his pockets were searched and pen, paper and ink were taken from him, if he carried such accessories with him. The permission to enter, however, was repeated, until he finally had carried away with him and annotated in his room most of the principle variant readings of this most ancient text. Often, however, in the process, if the papal authorities observed he was becoming too much absorbed in any one section, they would snatch the MS. away from him and direct his attention to another leaf. Eventually they discovered that Tregelles had practically stolen the text, and that the Biblical world knew the secrets of their historic MS. Accordingly, Pope Pius IX ordered that it should be photographed and published; and it was, in five volumes which appeared in 1857. But the work was very unsatisfactorily done. About that time Tischendorf made a third attempt to gain access to and examine it. He succeeded, and later issued the text of the first twenty pages. Finally in 1889-90, with papal permission, the entire text was photographed and issued in facsimile, and published so that a copy of the expensive quartos was obtainable by, and is now in the possession of all the principle libraries in the biblical world.”

“Where did we get our Bible?”, Rev. Dr. George L. Robertson. Harper and Brothers Publishers, pp.110-112

What were all of the Popes afraid of? What was the Vatican as a whole afraid of? Why was the concept of releasing the text of their most ancient copy of the Bible to the general public so terrifying to them? Why did they feel it necessary to bury the most ancient copies of the inspired word of God in a dark corner of the Vatican never to be seen by outside eyes? Why? What about all of the thousands upon thousands of other manuscripts which to this day remain buried in the darkest depths of the Vatican vaults never to be seen or studied by the general masses of Christendom?

“[And remember] When God took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture: You shall make it known and clear to mankind, and you shall not hide it; but they flung it behind their backs, and purchased with it a miserable gain! How evil was that which they purchased!  (The Noble Quran, 3:187)

“Say: ‘O people of the Book! exceed not in your religion the bounds [of what is proper], trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went astray in times gone by, who misled many, and strayed [themselves] from the straight path.’  (The Noble Quran, 5:77)

“Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?  (Isaiah 29:15-16)

And once again, as was the case in the Codex Sinaiticus, we find that the Codex Vaticanus was reworked by at least two different authors after its compilation. One is estimated to have begun his “correction” shortly after it was completed and another is assumed to have performed his second level “correction” in the 10th or 11th centuries.

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