Catholic and Protestant attitudes to scripture

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Catholic and Protestant attitudes to scripture

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1John5918
Edited: Jan 7, 2013, 1:21am

This was sent to me by e-mail so I don't have a link to it. I found it an interesting comment on Catholic and Protestant attitudes to scripture.

Seven Underlying Themes of Richard Rohr's Teachings

First Theme: Scripture as validated by experience, and experience as validated by Tradition, are good scales for one’s spiritual worldview (METHODOLOGY).

Both Groups Used (or Ignored) Scripture Inside of a Small Self

Number 8 of 57

Thomas Merton said it was actually dangerous to put the Scriptures in the hands of people whose inner self is not yet sufficiently awakened to encounter the Spirit, because they will try to use God for their own egocentric purposes. (This is why religion is so subject to corruption!) Now, if we are going to talk about conversion and penance, let me apply that to the two major groups that have occupied Western Christianity—Catholics and Protestants. Neither one has really let the Word of God guide their lives.

Catholics need to be converted to giving the Scriptures some actual authority in their lives. Luther wasn’t wrong when he said that most Catholics did not read the Bible. Most Catholics are still not that interested in the Bible. (Historically they did not have the printing press, nor could most people read, so you can’t blame them entirely.) I have been a priest for 42 years now, and I would sadly say that most Catholics would rather hear quotes from saints, Popes, and bishops, the current news, or funny stories, if they are to pay attention. If I quote strongly from the Sermon on the Mount, they are almost throwaway lines. I can see Catholics glaze over because they have never read the New Testament, much less studied it, or been guided by it. I am very sad to have to admit this. It is the Achilles heel of much of the Catholic world, priests included. (The only good thing about it is that they never fight you like Protestants do about Scripture. They are easily duped, and the hierarchy has been able to take advantage of this.)

If Catholics need to be converted, Protestants need to do penance. Their shout of “sola Scriptura” (only Scripture) has left them at the mercy of their own cultures, their own limited education, their own prejudices, and their own selective reading of some texts while avoiding others. Partly as a result, slavery, racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia have lasted authoritatively into our time—by people who claim to love Jesus! I think they need to do penance for what they have often done with the Bible! They largely interpreted the Bible in a very individualistic and otherworldly way. It was “an evacuation plan for the next world” to use Brian McLaren’s phrase—and just for their group. Most of Evangelical Protestantism has no cosmic message, no social message, and little sense of social justice or care for the outsider. Both Catholics and Protestants (Orthodox too!) found a way to do our own thing while posturing friendship with Jesus.

2lawecon
Edited: Jan 7, 2013, 5:26am

~1

"Catholics need to be converted to giving the Scriptures some actual authority in their lives. Luther wasn’t wrong when he said that most Catholics did not read the Bible. ....

"If Catholics need to be converted, Protestants need to do penance. Their shout of “sola Scriptura” (only Scripture) has left them at the mercy of their own cultures, their own limited education, their own prejudices, and their own selective reading of some texts while avoiding others. Partly as a result, slavery, racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia have lasted authoritatively into our time—by people who claim to love Jesus! I think they need to do penance for what they have often done with the Bible! They largely interpreted the Bible in a very individualistic and otherworldly way. It was “an evacuation plan for the next world” to use Brian McLaren’s phrase—and just for their group. Most of Evangelical Protestantism has no cosmic message, no social message, and little sense of social justice or care for the outsider. Both Catholics and Protestants (Orthodox too!) found a way to do our own thing while posturing friendship with Jesus."

I think that it is very helpful that you are posting this - as it sort of explains at some length (not enough length, but some length) one positon. I presume that it is somewhat like your position, or you would not post it, so the following uses the term "you" rather than "anonymous."

While I think that this is an interest piece, it in fact has little relationship to historical or contemporary realities. Those realities are that:

(1) Catholics generally did not read the Bible because they were forbidden from reading the Bible. That was reserved to the Clergy and those laity who the Bishop deemed sufficiently orthodox to be allowed to read the Bible. Part of that same syndrome was that the Bible wasn't available in languages other than Latin, a situation which the Catholic Church did its best to maintain.

(2) Whether they read the Bible or not, there were hundreds of years in which Catholics, in the name of Christianity, committed enormities of "slavery, racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia." I don't think that you can attribute those repeated and pervasive outcomes to simply not reading the Bible. Particularly, I don't think YOU can do that, since you are very very clear about the Bible not being all or most of Catholic Christianity - but most of Catholic Christianity being Church tradition. Church tradition, until very recently historically, has supported slavery, racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, and homophobia.

(3) Good works and friendship with Jesus and his very high standards (which, as you have often admitted, virtually no Christian, Catholic or Protestant, actually follows) is not most of Christianity, at least not traditionally. Traditionally, Christianity was mostly about a particular theology and/or world view that seems to have originated with Paul and that is simply not defensible. That you and those who agree with you now want to throw that world view into the trash in favor of an exclusive emphasis on good works and benevolence is, frankly, not very convincing to those evaluating Christianty from the outside. It is particuarly not very convincing since most Christians, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, simply don't agree with you. Neither do I think that it helps very much to do what people like Nathaniel appear to be doing - move the theology and world view to another world, so that they continue to exist, but so that they really have nothing inferentially to do with how people should act in this world.

3John5918
Jan 7, 2013, 8:21am

>2 lawecon: Well, knowing Richard Rohr (not personally), I would suggest that this is more of a spiritual reflection than a historical treatise.

you are very very clear about the Bible not being all or most of Catholic Christianity - but most of Catholic Christianity being Church tradition

No, I think it is far more complex than that.

Jesus and his very high standards (which, as you have often admitted, virtually no Christian, Catholic or Protestant, actually follows)

Again, it's more complex than that. I think most Christians try, or aspire to follow Jesus' standards but very few actually achieve that ideal.

4nathanielcampbell
Jan 7, 2013, 11:11am

>2 lawecon:: "(1) Catholics generally did not read the Bible because they were forbidden from reading the Bible. "

I hope you'll forgive me for weighing in here, but as much of the time period involved here (the Middle Ages) is also the period in which I am specially trained, I believe that this statement needs significant unpacking and nuancing.

With a few scattered and short-lived exceptions in the 11th and 12th centuries (see Brian Stock's The Implications of Literacy), until the mid-14th century (post Black Death), there simply was no ecclesiastical policy "forbidding" the lay reading of the Bible. The earliest appearance of such policies were in response to two factors:

1. Until about the 12th / 13th / 14th centuries (at different times in different countries -- relatively early in post-conquest England and in the urban powerhouses of Italy, rather later in France and later still in Germany), there was no widespread literacy, not because of any oppressive church policy but because of the economic and social facts of life. With the slow rise of (1) more standardized and "democratic" (in the sense of spread out more evenly to lower levels of society) legal systems, and (2) an economic middle / merchant class, came the slow rise of lay literacy (see e.g. M. T. Clanchy's From Memory to Written Record).

2. A variety of factors (a complex of social, economic, and theological -- see e.g. Steven Justice's Writing and Rebellion) led to heterodox movements that made use of vernacular languages (the rise of what Nicholas Watson has termed "vernacular theology", as seen in England, for example, in the works of William Langland and Julian of Norwich, and culminating, in a sense, in the successors of Wycliffe).

Thus, the first widespread church policy of forbidding the lay (=vernacular) reading of the Bible came with Archbishop Arundel's Constitutions in 1410. Yet, as Kathryn Kerby-Fulton has shown (e.g. in Books under Suspicion: Censorship and Tolerance of Revelatory Writing in Late Medieval England), Arundel's prohibitions did little to actually stem the flood of vernacular ("Wycliffite") versions of the Scriptures. (You need only look at the holdings of various British libraries to see this: there survive from the 15th century literally hundreds of lavishly illustrated Wycliff Bibles, i.e. Bibles using part or all of Wycliff's English translations of the Bible--books that should have been destroyed under Arundel's terms, and yet whose rich adornment indicates just how prevalent they were amongst the upper classes.)

There exist from the early Middle Ages up through the 14th century numerous vernacular translations of Scripture, from all across Europe, intended for use in teaching and catechizing populations that did not know Latin. It was only in the late Middle Ages that there arose the battle for control over those vernacular Bibles.

Finally, in the wake of the Protestant Reformation and the excesses of sola scriptura that Rohr identifies in the OP, the Catholic Church discouraged lay reading of the Bible without clerical guidance.

5theoria
Jan 7, 2013, 11:19am

The insistence on clerical guidance certainly serves the Church, which (re)asserts its monopoly over the means to salvation. Extra-scriptural motives could be at play here.

6lawecon
Jan 7, 2013, 2:32pm

~4

Again, Nathaniel, I really appreciate the scholarship behind your posts. Honestly I do. But what you say is much like what I have to say as a former history of economic thought professor when someone brings up a current economics topic. It is not that what you say or what I would say is irrelevant or meaningless or any of those things. It is just that it doesn't much matter to these discussions so long as the conclusions are approximately the conclusions we all agree upon.

Let's take your discussion of lay reading of the Bible as an example. I am sure that you would agree that not that many lay Church members prior to Wycliffe read Latin. Reading Latin was what scholars did, and the scholars of that day were usually clerics. Yet Latin was the principal language in which the Scriptures (both Christian and Jewish) were available, if you don't include the Septuagint. (which, of course, was in Greek) So a general prohibition on the laity reading the Scriptures didn't much matter. You didn't need such a prohibition to prevent the Scriptures from being interpreted outside of the Church's authority.

Now Wycliffe was, of course, a heretic whose views were much like Luther's: "Wycliffe became deeply disillusioned both with Scholastic theology of his day and also with the state of the church, at least as represented by the clergy. In the final phase of his life in the years before his death in 1384 he increasingly argued for Scriptures as the authoritative centre of Christianity, that the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, that monasticism was irredeemably corrupt, and that the moral unworthiness of priests invalidated their office and sacraments." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wycliffe

And although England's Christianity was highly uppity and largely politically independent of the Papacy for a hundred years prior to Henry VIII, it became, of course, not-Catholic at all with Henry VIII. So pointing to many versions of Bibles that could have been read by non-scholarly laity in England doesn't make much of a case for anything, other than England was not a devout Catholic society that subsequently became a not-Catholic society.

You say pretty much the above in your post. But you somehow seem to come to different conclusions - or at least hint at different conclusions from what I maintained. I think, however, that the importance is in the conclusions, as well as how we get to them and how we express them. The conclusion on this question, on my view, is that Catholics, unlike, say, Jews, have pretty much tried to bar the laity from direct access to the Scriptures from the time the Catholics became the Catholics. I understand their reasoning for that attitude, and do not wholly disagree with that reasoning, but that seems to be the bottom line on the facts. Jews, of course, care less about "right interpretation" of their scriptures, because that is not what their scriptures are for - they are not the ground for "right interpretation" of Judaism.

7quicksiva
Edited: Jan 7, 2013, 3:30pm

The German theologian Osiander, a theologian in Nuremburg who took Luther’s side in the 16th century Reformation, called St. Hildegard “the first Protestant.” Yes, she was a protester who protested to popes, archbishops, bishops, and abbots. She tells the pope he is “surrounded by evil men” when she writes him directly:

“O man, you who sit on the papal throne, you despise God when you don’t hurl from yourself the evil, but even worse, embrace it and kiss it by silently tolerating corrupt men. The whole earth is in confusion on account of the ever-recurring false teaching whereby human beings love what God has brought, to nothing. And you, O Rome, are like one in the throes of death.”

Fox, Matthew (2012-09-03). Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times (Kindle Locations 1763-1769). Namaste Publishing Inc. Kindle Edition.

8nathanielcampbell
Jan 7, 2013, 5:17pm

>6 lawecon:: "So pointing to many versions of Bibles that could have been read by non-scholarly laity in England doesn't make much of a case for anything, other than England was not a devout Catholic society that subsequently became a not-Catholic society. "

Except that this conclusion stands in direct and complete opposition to the reality of English religious history. The break that Henry made with Rome was political but not, for the most part, theological or devotional. Furthermore, as a host of scholars have indicated--led by Eamon Duffy and his masterpiece, The Stripping of the Altars--the substance of religious practice in England from 1400 until the reign of Elizabeth was one of traditional continuity, not radical rupture.

Not only was England a devout Catholic society in the century before the Reformation, but its devotion was, in fact, more solid and orthodox than in many places on the Continent (e.g. the Hussites in Prague).

"The conclusion on this question, on my view, is that Catholics, unlike, say, Jews, have pretty much tried to bar the laity from direct access to the Scriptures from the time the Catholics became the Catholics."

You're confusing the practical situation of am illiterate laity not reading the Bible until late in the Middle Ages with some nefarious intention by the Church "to bar" them direct access. Your argument amounts to this: because nobody had a printing press in the West until the 1400's, it must mean that the Catholic Church actively barred people from having accessing print technology.

Which is, of course, absurd. There is simply no sufficient evidence to indicate that the Church ever undertook an active program to hinder the participation of the laity in reading Scripture until the late Middle Ages. In fact, the missions of St. Boniface and his companions to "re-evangelize" the Germanic tribes in the 7th and 8th centuries indicate that they made Christian education a high priority. When the bishops, trained in monasteries and in royal cathedrals in the written theological traditions of the Church Fathers, measured the practices of an oral culture and a folk Christianity in the country churches against them, they found these blends of pagan and Christian practices highly problematic.

As Peter Brown has written, Boniface and his successors "were sincerely concerned to save souls. It was their duty, Charlemagne would remind them, ‘to lead the people of God to the pastures of eternal life.’ But they were also far from certain the people would reach those pastures if they were not warned often that much of what they though was Christianity was not Christian at all (…) their religious practices were ill-informed, ‘illiterate’, and superstitious." (The Rise of Western Christendom, p. 449)

As a result, Boniface and his successor actively worked to increase the basic theological literacy of the laity under their care. So far from "barring" them from having access to the Scriptures, the Carolingian reforms actively encouraged the illiterate to learn, by any means possible, more about their faith.

9ambrithill
Jan 7, 2013, 7:17pm

I recently read a book dealing with issue called "Christianity’s Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath. He said that the "dangerous" idea behind Protestantism is the same thing that makes it so wonderful, that every person can read the Bible for themself and that they can each understand it for themself, without the need for clergy interpretation.

10lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 5:16am

~8

I can see that I have to be more careful in my choice of vocabulary in responding to you. But you also need to read the entirely of what I write in response without focusing on a single inappropriate word.

Of course you are right, that one person does not bar another from reading by virtue of the other's illiteracy. However, the solution for this is the solution followed every Shabbat in a morning service - the Torah is read and thereupon translationed. Not a snippet here or there is read, but an entire self-contained section - called a parsha. The parshas are sequential, such that the entire Torah is read in a Jewish year. Of course there is then a drash (a sermon or homile) on one of the themes in the week's parsha, but first the parsha is read and heard, both in Hebrew and then in the language of most of the congregation.

Given the absence of such a similar custom among Catholic Christians, the intent by inaction is rather clear, isn't it?

"Which is, of course, absurd. There is simply no sufficient evidence to indicate that the Church ever undertook an active program to hinder the participation of the laity in reading Scripture until the late Middle Ages. In fact, the missions of St. Boniface and his companions to "re-evangelize" the Germanic tribes in the 7th and 8th centuries indicate that they made Christian education a high priority. When the bishops, trained in monasteries and in royal cathedrals in the written theological traditions of the Church Fathers, measured the practices of an oral culture and a folk Christianity in the country churches against them, they found these blends of pagan and Christian practices highly problematic."

Again, you don't need an "active program" to "bar" an illiterate from reading a text, you simply need neglect and careful selection of what is presented. As for "re-evangelizing" and "Christian education," we know what those terms mean, don't we? If you don't, then ask yourself if a Catholic cleric would present many alternative interpretions of Scriptures to the illiterate laity or why, conveniently, the campaign to "hinder the participation of laity in reading Scripture" just happens to coincide with increased literacy and the printing press.

As for your characterization of the nature of English piety, both before and after Henry VIII, it seems to have changed radically from your one post to the next. And, of course, there is a difference between piety and orthodoxy, isn't there?

Step back for a moment, Nathaniel, and ask yourself if you really believe the theses that you seem to be advocating in this post. Was England really Rome displaced? Was Charlemagne really a Christian crusader without self-interest? Was the Church really interested in teaching the laity to know and think critically about Scripture? Really?

11lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 5:19am

~9

Yes, of course, that has been what Protestants have been saying since the beginning. But, with the exception of small sects like the Quakers - sects that really put little emphasis on interpreting and arguing about Scripture - what is meant is "read a passage here or there and apply the interpretation of our sect." John Calvin didn't write a 22 volume commentary on Scripture because he wanted to promote individual interpretation of the plain text by ignorant people.

12Osbaldistone
Jan 8, 2013, 5:51am

>10 lawecon: Given the absence of such a similar custom among Catholic Christians, the intent by inaction is rather clear, isn't it?

Right, my tradition is better, therefore you are trying to suppress your flock. The fact that one group developed a more effective way does not indicate intent by others to supress. You are ignoring the power of tradition - in this case, that Scripture is read in Latin, which was quite a powerful tradition with the weight of centuries. You see the conspiracy you want to see to support your thesis, and ignore a clear, simple, and quite common human cause.

Besides, the efforts in the 7th and 8th centuries mentioned by Nathan also resulted in a version of the Gospel written in Saxon sometime in the 9th century to help with the mission to the Germanic tribes. Not exactly a bar to access now, is it?

And the "campaign to hinder the participation of laity in reading Scripture" also coincides with the threat of Protestantism. You choose to interpret the timing to fit your thesis, but I would argue that Lutheranism as the threat that the Catholic Church was reacting to (for better or for worse) makes far more sense, given that vernacular versions of Scripture had been available for centuries (as much as was possible before the printing press).

Os.

13lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 8:33am

~12

Well, this is interesting. I note a rather persistent phenomenon and am now a conspiracy theorist.

Incidentally, how many of the laity spoke (but did not read) Latin? How widespread was the Gospel in Saxon? (For that matter, how widespread was Saxon?) Why a Gospel in only one nonLatin language if the point was to inform the laity about Scripture?

But I guess this was all simple neglect. No one ever thought to actually translate the Scriptures to the laity orally or to provide written translations in their language - despite the great desire to evangelize and spread the word. And anyone who says differently is just proclaiming "my tradition is better" and alleging a Great Conspiracy.

Kinda silly response, but whatever lights your candle.

14John5918
Jan 8, 2013, 9:22am

>10 lawecon: However, the solution for this is the solution followed every Shabbat in a morning service - the Torah is read and thereupon translationed. Not a snippet here or there is read, but an entire self-contained section - called a parsha. The parshas are sequential, such that the entire Torah is read in a Jewish year.

Well, that sounds rather like contemporary Catholicism, except that the reading of the entire bible is spread over a three-year cycle rather than one year. I don't know the schema for reading the bible in the middle ages, though.

15timspalding
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 11:07am

Besides, the efforts in the 7th and 8th centuries mentioned by Nathan also resulted in a version of the Gospel written in Saxon sometime in the 9th century to help with the mission to the Germanic tribes. Not exactly a bar to access now, is it?

The history of this topic is long and complex, but let's step back a moment and notice that having the Bible available in local languages wasn't just tolerated in the church it was the direct cause of there BEING a written language in much of the world!

The Armenian, Georgian, Coptic(1), Ethiopic, Gothic, and Cyrillic alphabets were all created to write down the Bible, and, together with this Bible, made their cultures—or, for Cyrillic, many cultures—literate. Armenian literature starts with Mesrop, his new alphabet and the Bible he translated. Georgian literature starts with the Georgian Bible, etc. This was a massive jump in literacy and culture, a largely late-antique multicultural Renaissance. An explosion.

But, of course, it's the sort of event that is utterly invisible today because it doesn't fit a secular narrative.


1. Coptic is a partial exception, but by the time Coptic was invented other forms of Egyptian writing were moribund.

16nathanielcampbell
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 11:57am

>10 lawecon:: "Of course you are right, that one person does not bar another from reading by virtue of the other's illiteracy. However, the solution for this is the solution followed every Shabbat in a morning service - the Torah is read and thereupon translationed. Not a snippet here or there is read, but an entire self-contained section - called a parsha. The parshas are sequential, such that the entire Torah is read in a Jewish year. Of course there is then a drash (a sermon or homile) on one of the themes in the week's parsha, but first the parsha is read and heard, both in Hebrew and then in the language of most of the congregation.

Given the absence of such a similar custom among Catholic Christians, the intent by inaction is rather clear, isn't it?"


Except that such a custom was not absent among Catholic Christians. Indeed, such a custom was (and is) foundational to the liturgical practices of Christianity since its inception!

Now it is true that for much of the Middle Ages, significant swathes of what Christians call the Old Testament didn't make it into the common readings of the services attended by most lay people. Rather, the readings were confined to selections from the Torah, the Psalms, selections from the major prophets, and the entirety of the New Testament. The most significance was placed on the reading of the Gospels (much like the most significance in the Shabbat service is given to the Torah, rather than other portions of Hebrew scripture). Obviously, in a pre-literate culture, it was in the oral traditions of hearing scripture read and explicated by which Jews and Christians alike interacted with their sacred texts.

As with the Shabbat service, these readings were often performed in a language that was not the vernacular--Hebrew for Jewish practices, Latin for western Christian ones. (You indicate that today they are read in the vernacular, as well, just as they are in even the most conservative and traditionalist Catholic services. At what point in time did that practice develop?) What would have been intelligble to those in the congregation not of the clergy would be have been those portions that they had been caused to memorize from an early age--the central texts and prayers, as it were, that were considered the most important.

Finally, there would follow a sermon or homily devoted to explicating the meaning of the Scriptures and their application to the faith lives of the congregation. (A good guide to some medieval English sermons in this regard is Pastors and the Care of Souls in Medieval England.)

As others have indicated, some of the earliest surviving written examples of Germanic languages, including works such as the Saxon Heliand and the Old English Old Testament Narratives, were translations and adaptations of the Bible for use in catechizing a laity that did not speak Latin. Such vernacular scripture did not develop as robust a tradition in the realms that came to speak Romance languages because of the extremely gradual ways in which Latin morphed over time into those languages.

To conclude: your portrait of Christian practices of learning and studying scripture are based, not in reality, but in the false stereotypes developed by polemicists, whether Protestant in the early modern era, or your own attempts to alienate Christianity from your own idealized vision of Jewish religion.

Other posters and I have repeatedly offered a plethora of sources disputing your claims about historical Christian practices. You have nothing but your own opinion to support yours. I would suggest that, before this discussion continues, you actually do some research to discover just what truth there might be to your claims.

17timspalding
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 12:01pm

As others have indicated, some of the earliest surviving written examples of Germanic languages, including works such as the Saxon Heliand and the Old English Old Testament Narratives, were translations and adaptations of the Bible for use in catechizing a laity that did not speak Latin

What do you have against Gothic anyway? Not medieval enough for ya?

because of the extremely gradual ways in which Latin morphed over time into those languages

Simple, dumb but important Q. What is a good approximate date for regular, illiterate people in different parts of the Latin-Romance world having real difficulties understanding Jerome's Latin?

18nathanielcampbell
Jan 8, 2013, 12:03pm

>13 lawecon:: "But I guess this was all simple neglect. No one ever thought to actually translate the Scriptures to the laity orally or to provide written translations in their language - despite the great desire to evangelize and spread the word."

In pre-literate, predominately oral cultures, what slim evidence we have (usually written in Latin by the Carolingians) indicates that oral translation of the Scriptures to the laity was a practice that was highly encouraged by the Church -- but at a time when even the clergy was barely literate, that was a tall order. (I would again recommend the relevant chapters in Peter Brown's The Rise of Western Christendom for a discussion of precisely these issues.)

What was the point of providing written translations when the vernacular languages were fundamentally not written languages? The substantive conclusion that follows from noticing that the earliest appearances of writing in many European languages is in vernacular versions of Scripture is that the writing system of each language was itself devised for the transmission of Scripture.

Once again, you betray a significant ignorance of how oral cultures functioned in early medieval Europe. Your assumptions about written language and literacy simply have no foundation in reality.

19nathanielcampbell
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 12:06pm

>17 timspalding:: "Simple, dumb but important Q. What is a good approximate date for regular, illiterate people in different parts of the Latin-Romance world having real difficulties understanding Jerome's Latin?"

I'd have to research it to be completely accurate, and at the moment, I'm scrambling to finish my syllabus for the start of spring classes tomorrow. (This is also outside of my area of expertise.)

If I recall correctly from my graduate classes in medieval languages, the change occurred at different times in different areas. I believe the first to go was Spain, followed by France around the turn of the first millenium. But I believe that there is evidence that Italians could commonly understand oral Latin into the 12th or 13th centuries.

20nathanielcampbell
Jan 8, 2013, 12:11pm

>10 lawecon:: "As for your characterization of the nature of English piety, both before and after Henry VIII, it seems to have changed radically from your one post to the next. And, of course, there is a difference between piety and orthodoxy, isn't there?"

Ah, I see the problem here. You interpret the existence of Wycliffite bibles amongst the English elite in the 14th century as a sign of heterodoxy, simply because Arundel had declared it so. But again, if you'd bother to actually read Eamon Duffy's work, you'd see that the situation is not so simply as that.

We've invented for ourselves a picture of a late medieval Church that held vast authority and repressed any slight deviance with ruthless speed and violence--but the reality of the evidence indicates that, try as some churchmen did to exert such authority and repression, the majority of the time, religious practices in late medieval Europe were far more diverse and free to flourish in the vernacular than our stereotypes suppose. I've recommended the work of Duffy and Kathryn Kerby-Fulton for English traditions; for the continent, I would suggest John Van Engen's Sisters and Brothers of the Common Life: The Devotio Moderna and the World of the Later Middle Ages.

21timspalding
Jan 8, 2013, 12:16pm

I'm scrambling to finish my syllabus for the start of spring classes tomorrow.

Teaching anything interesting?

22nathanielcampbell
Jan 8, 2013, 12:29pm

>21 timspalding:: We cover the reign of Augustus through the Reformation. Of course there's lots of interesting stuff!

Amongst the works from which the students will read:
--Augustus' Res Gestae
--Vergil's Aeneid (selections from books 6 and 8) and the Fourth Eclogue
--Books 2-4 of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations
--Selections from the Gospels and some of Paul's Letters
--Athansius' On the Incarnation
--Selections from Augustine's The City of God (the touchstone, by the way, first went to Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War)
--The Rule of St. Benedict
--The Qu'ran
--The Donation of Constantine, the Norman Anonymous, and documents on the Investiture Controversy
--Pope Urban II's Speech at the Council of Clermont in 1095, declaring the First Crusade
--Selections from crusading chronicles
--A letter by Peter Damian denouncing the use of violence and Bernard of Clairvaux's In Praise of the New Knighthood
--Thomas of Celano's Life of St. Francis
--The Life of St. Hildegard and selections from her music
--Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies (read in its entirety)
--Selections from Machiavelli's The Prince and Thomas More's Utopia
--Selections form Erasmus' The Praise of Folly
--Selections from the writings of Martin Luther, including all 95 of the Theses
--Parliament's 1534 Acts of Supremacy and Succession

And we conclude the class watching a selection of scenes from A Man for All Seasons.

23timspalding
Jan 8, 2013, 12:51pm

It's impossible to open it up without diluting it. But my impression is that, if you're going to do the Koran, the Talmud and something Byzantine (the Alexiad?) might not go amiss. What do you do with the Koran?

24cemanuel
Jan 8, 2013, 1:05pm

Another data point which I haven't seen mentioned (if it has I've missed it - sorry).

It is rare to find a complete Bible in the vernacular however vernacular copies (based on fragments found) of individual Gospels or books of the Bible were relatively common.*

Folks didn't have the money to pay for a copy and translation of the entire thing (IIRC, one Bible which has been found took 160 calves to produce it) but they could and did pay for smaller sections.

Books back then were print-on-demand, except printing meant hand-scribed. Ordinary people didn't have the means.

*I'm away from my books and unable to provide references on this at the moment.

25lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 2:20pm

~15

Given the apparent opposite "opinions" on this question, I would be interested in your references for the proposition that the historical Roman Catholic Church (say, up to the 1960s CE) was the source of creating written languages to publish Bibles in those languages.

26timspalding
Jan 8, 2013, 2:26pm

Which languages?

27ambrithill
Jan 8, 2013, 2:27pm

>11 lawecon: "what is meant is "read a passage here or there and apply the interpretation of our sect."

Actually, what is meant is it is best to interpret Scripture with Scripture, which requires reading all of it. For those who think reading a passage here or there is all that is meant by individual understanding of Scripture, I don't have much to say, except that is what leads to heresy and things like the prosperity gospel.

28lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 2:28pm

~16

What you seem to be missing here, Nathaniel, is that Jews who were religiously active were themselves expected to read from the Torah in Hebrew. Historically, like today, they were taught Hebrew as a second language at an early age.

Of course, there were plenty of illiterate Jews who were simply too poor to invest time in such pursuits, but the standard was that you could read Hebrew from the Torah scroll. Obviously the same was not true for Christians and Latin/Greek.

As for the character of the typical Christian service in the West before Protestantism, I would appreciate citation to your sources.

And Nathaniel, just so we keep to topic. We are talking about reading or having read THE SCRIPTURES, not "adaptations of the Bible"

29lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 2:32pm

~26

Since only one has been mentioned so far, any others will do. Please note, we are talking here about the policies of the historical Roman Catholic Church, not Protestant Churches.

30cemanuel
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 2:44pm

I'm not Tim but I'll offer him a little help. For Ulfilas' mission to the Goths you can try, Language and History in the Early Germanic World by DH Green. That's not the primary focus of the book but it does talk about Ulfilas creating the Gothic alphabet (previous to this all they had were runes) and translating the Bible into Gothic except for one book (believe it was Kings) because there was too much fighting in it and they were already too fierce. In fact any book on the 4th century spread of Christianity should talk about it.

For Cryllic try, Byzantine Missions Among the Slavs for Cyril and Methodius doing something similar (though I think they translated the whole Bible) and going a step further and developing a Slavonic liturgy. Or read any book on Old Church Slavonic.

Not sure what you meant by opposite "opinions." Seems there's one opposite opinion in this thread which would be yours, stated repeatedly. The influence of the Church on the spread of literacy is well known and I'm not aware that anyone has challenged it, not recently anyway.

31timspalding
Jan 8, 2013, 2:52pm

Since only one has been mentioned so far, any others will do. Please note, we are talking here about the policies of the historical Roman Catholic Church, not Protestant Churches.

I presume we are talking about the Catholic Church, not the Catholic Church of the Roman rite.

For Armenia, Georgian, Ethiopic (Ge'ez) try Wikipedia…

32Osbaldistone
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 5:13pm

>13 lawecon: Why a Gospel in only one nonLatin language...

On what basis do you claim there was only one?

Os.

33quicksiva
Jan 8, 2013, 7:39pm

In the Preface to his study on the Tao Teh King, Aleister Crowley makes these points:

“The least abject asset in the intellectual bankruptcy of European thought is the Hebrew Qabalah. Properly under stood it is a system of symbolism indefinitely elastic, assuming no axioms, postulating no principles, asserting no theorems, and therefore adaptable, if managed adroitly, to describe any conceivable doctrine. It has been my continual study since 1898, and I have found it of infinite value in the study of the Tao Teh King. By its aid I was able to attribute the ideas of Lao Tze to an order with which I was exceedingly familiar, and whose practical worth I had repeatedly proved by using it as the basis of the analysis and classification of all Aryan and Semitic religions and phil¬osophies. Despite the essential difficulty of correlating the ideas oLao Tze with any others, the persistent application of the Qabalistic keys eventually unlocked his treasure-house. I was able to explain to myself his teachings in terms of familiar systems.”

“This achievement broke the back of my Sphinx. Having once reduced Lao Tze to Qabalistic form, it was easy to translate the result into the language of philosophy. I had already done much to create a new language based on English with the assistance of a few technical terms borrowed from Asia, and above all by the use of a novel conception of the idea of Number and of algebraic and arithmetical procedure, to convey the results of spiritual experience to intelligent students.

Aleister Crowley’s Tao Teh King PREFACE p.19

34lawecon
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 7:49pm

~32

I don't claim any such thing, which you'd know if you had read this thread carefully. See, e.g., post #29 above.

35lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 7:48pm

~31

I am sorry, I don't understand the distinction you are making. This discussion has been, from the beginning, about the Roman Catholic Church, not the catholic church. My thesis has been that the Roman Catholic Church has discouraged the direct examination of Scripture by laity since an early date. I have no knowledge of what any of the Orthodox Christian Churches have done or any of the Oriental Christian Churches, etc.

36timspalding
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 8:05pm

>35 lawecon:

¡Uy! I'm sorry you fail to understand even the terms used in an intelligent debate on this topic.

37Osbaldistone
Jan 8, 2013, 8:09pm

>34 lawecon: I don't claim any such thing, which you'd know if you had read this thread carefully. See, e.g., post #29 above.

Odd, since I simply quoted you (from post 13 - Why a Gospel in only one nonLatin language...). Are you saying you didn't say that, didn't mean it, or have changed your mind?

Os.

38timspalding
Jan 8, 2013, 8:32pm

Quotes? You used DIRECT QUOTES? Have you never debated lawecon before?

39Arctic-Stranger
Jan 8, 2013, 8:42pm

Until 1054 there was official split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church. Most people do not realize this, and while they did have separate cultural centers and a decided difference in theology, they were essentially one church until the Great Schism.

40quicksiva
Jan 8, 2013, 8:58pm

I don't think Protestant churches have Black Madonnas.

A Black Madonna or Black Virgin is a statue or painting of Mary in which she is depicted with dark skin, especially those created in Europe in the medieval period or earlier. In this specialized sense "Black Madonna" does not refer to images of the Virgin Mary portrayed as specifically ethnically black, which are popular in Africa and areas with large black populations, such as Brazil and the United States, but rather refers to all portrayals of the Virgin Mary with dark skin that were created during this time period; however, some scholars in the afrocentric and theosophical community believe that the Black Madonnas are black because they were a copy of the Egyptian Isis and Horus image that was both black and African. Wiki

The Black Madonnas are generally found in Catholic areas. The statues are mostly wooden but occasionally stone, often painted and up to 75 cm tall, generally dating from between the 11th and 15th centuries. They fall into two main groups: free-standing upright figures and seated figures on a throne. The pictures are usually icons which are Byzantine in style, often made in 13th or 14th century Italy. There are about 450–500 Black Madonnas in Europe, depending on how they are classified. There are at least 180 Vierges Noires in France, and there are hundreds of non-medieval copies as well. Some are in museums, but most are in churches or shrines and are venerated by devotees. A few are associated with miracles and attract substantial numbers of pilgrims.-Wiki

There can be no image of Our Lady so famous throughout the world as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, who reigns from the Basilica in the Jasna Gora monastery that is the national shrine\. Its origins are, nevertheless, shrouded in some mystery. Her influence on the spirit of Polish independence since 1945 needs no comment. The painting was examined in 1952. It was found to be on lime-wood, not cypress as previously believed, and to have been restored by western painters in Byzantine style 1433, but ever since 1430 she has borne on her right cheek the ineffaceable sabre scars inflicted on her. She carries the Child on her left arm; he holds a closed book in his left hand.
Altered Images: Was an Egyptian Goddess transformed into the Virgin Mary? by Khepera Sadu Khu p.103.

41lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 9:00pm

~36

Well, Tim, as usual I'm just not as bright as you are, on, ah, well, on any topic.

42lawecon
Jan 8, 2013, 9:05pm

~39

That is nice, but no one until Tim was talking about anything other than the Roman Catholic Church, as centered in, ah, Rome. Tim, of course, has no idea what "Roman Catholic Church" means. It is not a part of "intelligent debate." At you least seem to have a clue, albeit why one has to refer to the primitive purportedly catholic church or to churches outside of Europe in discussing a topic having to do with Churches in Europe, I don't have a clue. But that just goes to show that I'm not as bright as Tim.

43timspalding
Jan 8, 2013, 9:06pm

And they were off and on like a high school girlfriend until 1492. And various eastern churches never split, or rejoined. Etc.

44timspalding
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 9:24pm

>42 lawecon:

Well, for example, the "Roman Catholic Church" permitted use of Greek and Slavonic Bibles within Southern Italy and the Balkans, not to mention the welter of translations read in the Crusader States and the Latin Kingdom of Constantinople. There's a ton of English Bible translations, going as far back as Bede. Seven centuries seems a terribly long time for it all to merely be evidence that England was "not a devout Catholic society that subsequently became a not-Catholic society." And what do we make of the Jesuits in Japan translating the Bible into Japanese?

Sorry, but the church is larger and more complex than you think, and translation was not confined to "a Gospel in only one nonLatin language." There's a real question here about how Catholics have approached the Bible. You're having some other, imaginary conversation.

45Essa
Jan 8, 2013, 9:28pm

The Armenian, Georgian, Coptic(1), Ethiopic, Gothic, and Cyrillic alphabets were all created to write down the Bible, and, together with this Bible, made their cultures—or, for Cyrillic, many cultures—literate.

Quick question - my (limited) knowledge about Amharic and Ge'ez is that both spoken and written forms of them are pretty old, certainly pre-dating Christianity by a wide bit, so they would not have been constructed for the creation of (Christian) Bibles. (Unless you meant they were constructed by the Ethiopian Jews for the compiliation of the Tanakh; do the Ethiopian Jews use the Tanakah in those languages? I would assume not, but I don't know.) Sorry for the derail, but it made me curious.

As for the laity reading Bibles, it's hard to imagine that most laity, esp. non-wealthy laity, would have had much time (in days of yore). Time constraints, plus illiteracy, seem to be one of the reasons behind the developments of paternosters and rosaries (esp. the popular Dominican Marian rosary) -- enabling time-crunched, illiterate laity to be able to participate in the daily prayers of the Church without having to learn to read or to devote large portions of each day/night to praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

46timspalding
Edited: Jan 8, 2013, 9:46pm

Yes, you're right. I gather the Christian contribution to Ge'ez was the vocalization. Ge'ez literature begins with Christianization, however.

The Jews of Ethiopia use the same translation as the Christians, which was translated from the Greek and, I think, also the Syriac.

47lawecon
Edited: Jan 9, 2013, 1:05am

~44

"Well, for example, the "Roman Catholic Church" permitted use of Greek and Slavonic Bibles within Southern Italy and the Balkans......"

"Permitted use" by whom under what circumstances? That was the discussion, the discussion that you seem to have entirely missed.

"Sorry, but the church is larger and more complex than you think, and translation was not confined to "a Gospel in only one nonLatin language.""

Thank you for getting around to answering one of my questions, ah, long after it has been answered by several other posters, and despite your apparent misunderstanding or mischaracterization of that question. I always proclaim a miracle when this much happens.

"There's a real question here about how Catholics have approached the Bible. You're having some other, imaginary conversation."

Nathaniel and I were having a real conversation. We didn't agree with each other, but we understood what the other guy was saying. When you joined, however, you are right, it became a completely "imaginary conversation," redefined into some other topic that you wanted to rant about. But as Bob would say.......

48timspalding
Jan 9, 2013, 1:20am

Nathaniel and I were having a real conversation. We didn't agree with each other, but we understood what the other guy was saying.

Here's a clue. When someone ends a series of posts with this:
"Other posters and I have repeatedly offered a plethora of sources disputing your claims about historical Christian practices. You have nothing but your own opinion to support yours. I would suggest that, before this discussion continues, you actually do some research to discover just what truth there might be to your claims."
he's not praising your side of the conversation.

49Essa
Jan 9, 2013, 2:00am

> 46 Okay, thanks.

50Osbaldistone
Edited: Jan 9, 2013, 2:33am

Part of my response to your post 2, lawecom, (Catholics generally did not read the Bible because they were forbidden from reading the Bible. ), was that You see the conspiracy you want to see to support your thesis, and ignore a clear, simple, and quite common human cause. (my post 12).

You then complained (it appears) in your post 13, lawecom, that I labeled you a conspiracy theorist. My mistake; a poor choice of words. Let me unburden you of that label - I change the relevant sentence in my post 12 to To support your thesis, you imagine the Church forbidding Bible reading and ignore a clear, simple, and quite common human cause.

I realize that now, lawecom, I'm accusing you of imagining things, so I'll fix that here and save you the trouble of whinging - I doubt that you imagine it. I think most on this thread are aware that your determination to defend your point requires that you intentionally maintain blind spots to the facts offered which demonstre the error in your original statement - Catholics generally did not read the Bible because they were forbidden from reading the Bible..

Now I think we've got it straight.

Os.

PS - yes, lawecom, I know that later you change "forbidden from reading the Bible" to "unable to read the Bible in Latin" (my paraphrase), and then contend that it's the same thing, which you and everyone else on this thread knows is patently ridiculous. I assume this contention is just so you don't have to say you were mistaken in your post 2. I'll take that as the closest we'll ever get to lawecom admitting to being mistaken, and end the day happy.

51lawecon
Edited: Jan 9, 2013, 8:46am

~48

"he's not praising your side of the conversation."

As I said, Tim, Nathaniel and I don't agree. He thinks that I'm wrong in my facts. I think he is wrong in his facts. But we understood what the issues were. You, apparently, still don't understand the issues. Let me try once again, although all efforts in the past have been entirely futile.

There use to be this myth in the Church you say you've converted to that there had been a Pope in Rome since Peter, and that this Pope was the true ecclesiastical ruler of Christianity. All of Christianity. We know, of course, that this is a myth, that long before the split between the West and the East there were numerous Christian churches that laughed at that claim. However, the claim has existed and been propagated by some, those in what are usually called "the Roman Catholic Church," for centuries. I think probably it is still a claim made by most Roman Catholics, of which, frankly, you and John are not near to typical examples.

Now the Pope and his Cardinals and Bishops weren't "just there." They were there as guides to doctrine and organization of what they believed to be The Church. One of the doctrines that has usually been referred to as forming a difference between the Roman Church and some other Churches is the direct access of the laity to scripture. Even if the laity are largely illiterate, there can still exist such access if there are nonclerics who are literate who, as a matter of course and custom, possess the Scriptures and can, and typically do, read them to or the presence of others who are not literate. For instance, your local nobility might well consider it his "Christian duty" to have the scriptures read in the market square on a daily or weekly basis. (Such was apparently the custom of Jews at an early date when they were in control of their own cities and there was not the degree of literacy that existed subsequently.)

Once there is a printing press and mass production of Scripture, of course, the issue becomes one of whether a Christian can possess and read Scripture himself without the permission of ecclesiastical authorities.

Now my observation was that the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church (of which you now seem to want to suddenly deny any historical existence) was from the earliest times that we have a record of such a Church (which is probably sometime in the early or mid Middle Ages) that of denying the illiterate and the nonclerical literate to direct accessibility to the Scriptures. The Scriptures were the possession of the Clergy, one of the functions of which clergy was to determine what part of Scripture was applicable when and where and to interpret the Scriptures - perhaps quoting a snippet for that purpose, but not publically reading entire blocks of Scripture indiscriminately to the laity on a regular basis, and not allowing lay persons to possess and read Scripture without a special dispensation from the Bishop.

Nathaniel disagrees. I can't quite tell, however, whether he and then you are disagreeing on organizational grounds or on doctrinal grounds. It is one thing to say "Well, the Pope, the Cardinals and those Bishops and Priests who pledged loyalty to them were never really in control of what went on in various localities, and, hence, what they set out as doctrine was never really followed." or to say "that was never the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church." I understand the discussion to be about the latter point, but if you want to deny the historical claims of the Roman Catholic Church to supremacy and orthodoxy, feel free.

52nathanielcampbell
Jan 9, 2013, 10:38am

(Has anyone noticed that lawecon still hasn't offered any sources to back up his claim? Thus far, with the possible exception of Erasmus, whom I mentioned in an entirely different context, every single touchstone associated with this thread disputes his claims rather than substantiating them.)

>51 lawecon:: "There use to be this myth in the Church you say you've converted to that there had been a Pope in Rome since Peter, and that this Pope was the true ecclesiastical ruler of Christianity."

As with most "myths", there's a substantial amount of truth to this. For one thing, there has been an unbroken line of "Bishops of Rome" since St. Peter (though for a time they lived in Avignon, and there were at times two or three claimants to the throne) -- the historical records on that are pretty airtight. (Wikipedia: List of Popes)

Furthermore, there is evidence from very early on (e.g. in the widespread acceptance of The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians) that the Bishop of Rome was accorded widespread respect and considered an authoritative voice within the Church, even if the more robust claims of papal primacy are a medieval development.

> "Now my observation was that the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church (of which you now seem to want to suddenly deny any historical existence) was from the earliest times that we have a record of such a Church (which is probably sometime in the early or mid Middle Ages) that of denying the illiterate and the nonclerical literate to direct accessibility to the Scriptures."

You still have not shown any actual evidence of such a purposeful policy of denying access to Scripture. That may, perhaps, be because there is no such evidence -- especially since the evidence from the early to mid Middle Ages (e.g. the mission of Boniface and the Carolingian Renaissance) is that the Church actually pursued a purposeful policy of encouraging lay catechesis rather than denying it.

"The Scriptures were the possession of the Clergy, one of the functions of which clergy was to determine what part of Scripture was applicable when and where and to interpret the Scriptures - perhaps quoting a snippet for that purpose, but not publically reading entire blocks of Scripture indiscriminately to the laity on a regular basis, and not allowing lay persons to possess and read Scripture without a special dispensation from the Bishop."

Now we're starting to get a little closer to what really was going on, but it needs to be nuanced. Never has the Church claimed that the Scriptures are "the possession of the Clergy" -- rather, the Scriptures, as the Word of God, are the possession of the Church, the Body of Christ -- and that includes all Christians, lay and cleric alike.

Nevertheless, it is true that a principle function of the clergy was to be teachers of the faith (heck, Augustine wrote a whole book on this -- De Doctrina Christiana). They were educators of a laity who, by and large, were entirely uneducated -- not because of some Church policy against it but because of the reality of medieval life. And yes, part of being a teacher is determining what parts of the curriculum to teach when, and how to introduce the material, and what examples to use and how to explain it.

You seem convinced that, because the Church chose to structure that educational use of Scripture differently from the way Jews did, they were somehow "denying" Scripture to the laity. But what you don't seem to understand is that the structure behind the careful selection of Scriptural passages for catechesis had its own purpose: it was designed to focus on the central truths of Christian Scripture (thus the Gospels: the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ). This, likewise, is the focus of the Christian liturgical year, which means that readings from Scripture are ordered to correspond to the annual cycle of commemorating Christ's birth, Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

When we teach children vocabulary and spelling, do we simply read a few pages from the dictionary to them each day, starting with A and proceeding to Z? Or do we break up the English language according the pedagogical needs of the student?

53quicksiva
Edited: Jan 9, 2013, 3:22pm

Mistakes were made, as this blurb points out:

"WRITTEN c. 1573, The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schismby the Rev. Dr. Nichols Sander, has heretofore been a rare book, one found in few libraries and hardly ever on the used market. Yet this book is a truly great sourcebook of information on the Protestant "Reformation" in England, an essential book used by writers about the history of the "Reformation." For herein is told in incredible detail the story of Henry VIII (1509-1547), the English king who separated his country from Rome and assumed the headship of the Church in England as a result of his mad effort to have a male heir. The author describes his wicked life and despotic rule: how he married Anne Boleyn, who was his own illegitimate daughter (from whom was born Elizabeth), and who in her effort to provide Henry with a "son" had relations with 5 other men (including her brother); how this led to her execution and Henry's marrying Jane Seymour, who bore him Edward VI (1547-1553), the child king who after Henry's relatively "early" death at 57 assumed the crown under regency and died at only age 16—ironically, on the anniversary of Henry's beheading St. Thomas More."

"First published in 1585, this book soon became famous far beyond England and was translated into many languages. The English editor states that it is "the earliest and most trust¬worthy account which we possess of the great changes in Church and State that were wrought in the reign of Henry VIII." The prestigious Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 1917) states that the book became widely circulated on the continent and that "it formed the basis of every Roman Catholic history of the Protestant Reformation." In England it met with a torrent of denunciation, especially because of Sander's statements on Anne's parentage; this story, however, was no invention of Fr. Sander. Regarding the book overall, "Recent historians have, however, shown that... his (Sander's) narrative of the facts is remarkably truthful. In almost every disputed point he has been proved right. . ."

"Many other salient and interesting points of "Reformation" history are brought forward by Fr. Sander and Fr. Edward Rishton, showing what dastardly characters they were who effected the Anglican Schism. And though Sander's work ends with the restoration of the Catholic Faith under the reign of Queen Mary (1553-1558), Fr. Rishton continues the story into the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603). He shows how Elizabeth and her lackeys, in an effort to protect her illegitimate position as queen, reintroduced the Anglican Schism and persecuted English Catholics unmercifully, and furthermore, that they stirred up Protestant revolts in other countries. Under Elizabeth, it was a treasonous crime to say Mass, to hear Mass, to hear Confessions, to go to Confession, to be an active Catholic priest, to harbor a Catholic priest—in short, to be a practicing Catholic. Further, he describes the work of the heroic priests, such as St. Edmund Campion, who returned from the seminary colleges of Douai and Rheims on the Continent to bring English Catholics the Sacraments, how they were hunted down like dogs, and how they died the heroic deaths of martyrs—as did many lay Catholics who stood firm despite confiscation of their homes, imprisonment, torture and death. He also describes Elizabeth's treacherous imprisonment and execution of the Catholic, Mary Queen of Scots, her cousin and the rightful heir to the English throne."

"In all, The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism provides an intimate look into the lives and times of the unsavory characters who produced the disastrous Protestant "Reformation" in England. It is a unique book that cannot be ignored by anyone interested in the complete and true story of that sad, sad event."

54Arctic-Stranger
Jan 9, 2013, 4:47pm

Three umpires are in a bar.

One says, "Some are balls and some are strikes, and I call 'em what they are." (Fundamentalism)

The second says, "Some are balls and some are strikes, and I call 'em as I see them." (Moderate to liberal Protestantism)

The third says, "Some are balls and some are strikes....but not until I call 'em" (Roman Catholicsm)

55jburlinson
Jan 9, 2013, 7:05pm

And the atheist says, "There are no strikes. It's all balls."

56Arctic-Stranger
Jan 9, 2013, 7:09pm

yeah. And that really sucks when you are the pitcher.

57lawecon
Edited: Jan 10, 2013, 7:56am

`52

"You seem convinced that, because the Church chose to structure that educational use of Scripture differently from the way Jews did, they were somehow "denying" Scripture to the laity. But what you don't seem to understand is that the structure behind the careful selection of Scriptural passages for catechesis had its own purpose: it was designed to focus on the central truths of Christian Scripture (thus the Gospels: the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ). This, likewise, is the focus of the Christian liturgical year, which means that readings from Scripture are ordered to correspond to the annual cycle of commemorating Christ's birth, Passion, Death, and Resurrection.'

As usual, someone says something and his listener hears something different. I understand very well why the Roman Catholic Church did what it did. Christianity is creedal. What makes a difference is right belief and allegiance to those who explain and enforce the creed, not familiarity with some culture. Judaism is noncreedal. The scriptures in Judaism, at least the Torah and the Prophets, and to a lesser extent the Writings, are a national literature. They play the function of a national literature, like Homer for the Greeks or the Anead for the Romans. There are limits to belief and action, but no creed. Judaism is and always has been a culture, not a "religion" in the same sense that Christianity is a religion. (Of course, Tim denies both the existence of a Roman Catholic Church and the existence of a creed that is the core of that Church.)

However, what I have been talking about is what existed, not the "good motive" for what existed. As I said in Post #6 "I understand their reasoning for that attitude, and do not wholly disagree with that reasoning, ...." Yet, in characterizing the facts, the Reformers of Protestantism were mostly right. The Church did not want the latity to consider the Scriptures directly and become confused and misdirected. There was the fear that they would interpret wrongly and consequently believe wrongly, and that, as a result, the "universal Church" that was always the goal would become even more distant than it was.

I suspect that this had to do with the early experience of Christianity, before the Church was The Church and there were many other sorts of Christians who were equally or more numerous. I also suspect that it had something to do with the fact that the Church hierarchy was well aware that The Church was never in fact catholic (universal) but that there remained both other sorts of Christianity outside of Europe and the threat of a dynamic competitor in Islam.

58lawecon
Edited: Jan 10, 2013, 8:02am

~54 - 56

You boys having fun? At least you're consistent and as constructive as usual.

59John5918
Jan 10, 2013, 8:03am

>54 Arctic-Stranger:-56 Oh I see. You are not talking about cricket umpires...

True story from a BBC live commentary on a cricket match. Fifth ball of the over, batsman gets hit in the groin by a very fast ball and doubles over in pain. The commentator sympathises: "Ooh, that looks painful". As the batsman takes guard again, the commentator continues, "One ball left". You probably need to understand cricket to appreciate that one.

60nathanielcampbell
Jan 10, 2013, 10:58am

>57 lawecon:: "The Church did not want the latity to consider the Scriptures directly and become confused and misdirected. There was the fear that they would interpret wrongly and consequently believe wrongly, and that, as a result, the "universal Church" that was always the goal would become even more distant than it was.

I suspect that this had to do with the early experience of Christianity, before the Church was The Church and there were many other sorts of Christians who were equally or more numerous."


Now we're getting even closer, because you've added a nuance that was lacking your previous statements. Perhaps I was misreading your initial claims, but I understood you to be saying that the Church actively forbade the reading of Scripture by the laity out of some maniacal sense of authoritarianism.

Now that you have clarified, I see that your claim is actually closer to reality. It is indeed quite true that the Church sought to guide and instruct the laity in the orthodox faith, and thus discouraged unguided and unlearned self-appropriation of Scripture. As has been mentioned throughout this thread, the vast majority of the laity for much of the history of the Church has had access to very little, and usually no, formal education. Thus, their education in the faith by necessity had to be guided by teachers of the faith, i.e. clergy.

I find it odd, however, that you would object to the fundamental process of all education, whether religious or otherwise. When you have a person who has had no formal math education whatsoever, you don't simply plop a calculus textbook in front of them and expect them to get it right. You have to teach.

And while I understand that you perceive a fundamentally different role for Scripture in Jewish and Christian cultures (though we could do without your superiority complex that condemns the Christian use of Scripture), I think it would be disingenuous to claim that the same basic methods of pedagogy aren't at work in Jewish culture, as well. Was a Jewish boy (for we'll leave aside for the moment the educational access of women) in medieval culture given free reign to interpret the Torah willy-nilly without any formal education or guidance? Or was he expected to learn and understand the interpretations of the rabbis (*teachers*) before setting out on his own?

61nathanielcampbell
Jan 10, 2013, 11:22am

>57 lawecon:: "I also suspect that it had something to do with the fact that the Church hierarchy was well aware that The Church was never in fact catholic (universal) but that there remained both other sorts of Christianity outside of Europe and the threat of a dynamic competitor in Islam."

I think you give the medieval Church far more credit for an historical consciousness than it actually had. Other than the existence of the Byzantine Church proper--with the vexed relations between them--the medieval Church in the West had little conscious awareness of the continued existence of myriad Christian minorities (Coptics, Nestorians, etc.) within Islamic realms; and what consciousness it did have was to condemn such views as heretical, e.g. by labelling them Nestorian / Monophysite / Arian, etc.

The relationship with the Islamic world is a bit more complex. A consciousness of Islam as a "dynamic competitor" was certainly alive at the peripheries of western Christendom, where the two came into mutual contact (e.g. in Spain, and at times in the Holy Land; and there is of course the extraordinary witness of St. Francis to the Sultan in Egypt). But in the centers of western Christian power, Islam was far more likely to be dismissed as idol-worshipping pagans (see, e.g. Michael Camille's discussion in The Gothic Idol) or, at times, as some type of heretical sect (for this more complex interaction, see e.g. Reading the Qur'ān in Latin Christendom, 1140-1560), but not as a religion in its own right.

The medieval Christian worldview simply did not include the notion of religious pluralism, which helps to explain its often very difficult relationship especially with the Jews. Since the Jewish religion itself could no longer be a valid form of religion, often its only comprehensible function to the popular medieval Christian mind was as a reminder of God's punishment of the Jews for killing Jesus. This, then, is what prompted so many pogroms and other violence against the Jews.

The Church itself took a more nuanced view that (usually) condemned such violence -- but that nuance was rarely comprehensible to the lay person, perhaps because it often amounted to distinctions without differences. There are, of course, a myriad of examples especially of learned clerics and theologians in the 12th and 13th centuries relying on Jewish learning (Thomas Aquinas frequently cites Maimonides with approval, for example).

On the other hand, the social and cultural life of medieval Ashkenaz and medieval Christendom often had much more in common than the theological polemics might allow. The points of commonality in the raising of children from birth to about age 6 has been studied recently in Elisheva Baumgarten's Mothers and Children: Jewish Family Life in Medieval Europe, which demonstrates key areas of common practice and cultural exchange between Jews and Christians.

In addition to intriguing parallels between post-partum rituals such as circumcision and baptism, a key point of daily contact between Jewish mothers, their children, and Christian women was in the widespread practice of using non-Jewish wet nurses. Jewish and Christian regulations of this practice appear to be consistently similar, and Jewish legal sources in particular seem to have indicated little discomfort with the practice. Indeed, the Jewish legal rulings seem to show the utmost interest in the welfare of the infant child, attempting to ensure that the children be breast-fed until the age of two. Thus, the prohibition against widows or divorcées remarrying within two years of the birth of a child is meant to ensure that the mother not lose focus on the child. Baumgarten sees these sometimes harsh impositions as reflective of “a concern with infant abandonment in twelfth- and thirteenth century Europe” (Baumgarten, 152), an issue she takes up in her final chapter. Jews and Christians shared a common understanding of the fifth commandment in structuring a gendered, hierarchical view of parenthood that emphasized the mother’s responsibilities in physically feeding her children while privileging the “spiritual” love of the father. The “dark side” of these parental conceptions comes out in Baumgarten’s moving discussion of the stark similarities in models used by Christians and Jews to justify, respectively, the abandonment of children in order to enter the religious life and infanticide to avoid forced conversion. Ultimately, Baumgarten sees common attitudes towards children and childhood “as a reflection of medieval society’s principles and ideals” (Baumgarten 183) concerning the role of women as mothers.

62lawecon
Jan 10, 2013, 2:38pm

~60

"Now we're getting even closer, because you've added a nuance that was lacking your previous statements. Perhaps I was misreading your initial claims, but I understood you to be saying that the Church actively forbade the reading of Scripture by the laity out of some maniacal sense of authoritarianism.

"Now that you have clarified, I see that your claim is actually closer to reality. It is indeed quite true that the Church sought to guide and instruct the laity in the orthodox faith, and thus discouraged unguided and unlearned self-appropriation of Scripture. As has been mentioned throughout this thread, the vast majority of the laity for much of the history of the Church has had access to very little, and usually no, formal education. Thus, their education in the faith by necessity had to be guided by teachers of the faith, i.e. clergy."

Here is the problem, Nathaniel, when one is dealing with an illiterate population there is very little difference between "actively forbade" and "did nothing to encourage, and much to discourage". Not only was the population illiterate, but it was abysmally poor (at least by our standards). Even if a fisherman or a farmer could teach themselves to read, the texts would be outrageously expensive - a point that one of the above posters made quite clearly.

Again, you (and Os) seem to be reading a great deal into my views that is not there. To state material differences between Jewish cultures and Christian cultures and differences in their attitudes toward scripture is not to per se make negative value judgments. (Once again, I started out by saying that I understood why one would make the choices that the Roman Catholic Church made.) It is, however, to note material differences between practices, as a matter of fact.

What amazed me about your initial position is that you seemed to be denying that the differences existed as a matter of fact. I am still amazed that other posters want to maintain that position - as I continue to be amazed that people like Tim tell us with one breath that they have converted to a certain more or less clear tradition, and with the next breath maintain that there is no such distinguishable tradition.

If we could all just get our definitions and facts straight initially these discussions would go a lot easier than they do.

Incidentally, I appreciate your citations to scholarly sources, and I have put several of them on my purchase list. (Now if I could just get cloned so I have the time to read what I should be reading.)

63nathanielcampbell
Jan 10, 2013, 3:01pm

>62 lawecon:: "Here is the problem, Nathaniel, when one is dealing with an illiterate population there is very little difference between "actively forbade" and "did nothing to encourage, and much to discourage". Not only was the population illiterate, but it was abysmally poor (at least by our standards). Even if a fisherman or a farmer could teach themselves to read, the texts would be outrageously expensive - a point that one of the above posters made quite clearly. "

I don't quite follow how it is that the Church "did nothing to encourage and much to discourage" the education of a very poor and illiterate general population. (I won't waste space repeating everything that I've written about the Church's active attempts at educating the laity in religion, as in e.g. the time of St. Boniface and the Carolingians.)

You seem to equate the socio-economic reality of medieval life with an active Church policy of keeping people in the dark about the Bible. I don't see how that works -- you're going to have to explain it more explicitly.

Was the Church supposed to magically make everyone literate and books affordable for the common person?

64lawecon
Jan 10, 2013, 4:20pm

(1) We're talking about familiarity with the Scriptures themselves - not familiarity with the creed that was The Church's interpretation of the central points of the Scriptures. Surely that difference is obvious from the different interpretations that different Christian groups have derived from "the same Scriptures."

(2) I already mentioned how The Church could have brought about greater public familiarity with the Scriptures. It could, for instance, have instituted a custom where blocks of Scripture were read to the congregation or the public every day or every week, during a religious service or in the market square. Such a practice was not unknown since it is mentioned in the Scriptures and was typical in Jewish communities.

This is, however, again an instance where you and Os have misunderstood a difference in practice resulting in a difference in outcome with the ethical claim that a particular given outcome is "obviously" superior. If you'd avoid reading such meaning into what should be a positivist historical discussion you would get your back up less frequently.

The practice I just mentioned results in greater familiarity with the TEXT OF SCRIPTURES among a population of illiterates. That is only preferable or superior, however, if you start out with the value judgment that such familiarity with the raw text, rather than familiarity with a creed that presents what the Church authority believes is the essential meaning of Scriptures, is itself superior. Apparently you and Os do have such an implicit assumption in mind. I don't. I am simply discussing what was and its effect, not what "ought to be."

65nathanielcampbell
Jan 10, 2013, 5:13pm

>64 lawecon:: "The practice I just mentioned results in greater familiarity with the TEXT OF SCRIPTURES among a population of illiterates."

And I've submitted that the practice of becoming familiar with / learning the text of scriptures was advocated by the Church -- but it was in the form of pericopes and other forms of retelling as part the Church's attempts to catechize and educate.

Furthermore, there were certain portions of Scripture that were absolutely learned by large portions of the laity in the form of prayer practices -- the Psalms, various Old Testament and New Testament Canticles (e.g. of Miriam in Exodus 15 and of Zachariah, Mary, and Simeon in Luke), and the Lord's Prayer.

While you insist that you are not making a value judgment between Jewish practices and Christian practices, you do seem to indicate that, if only the Christians had followed Jewish practices, they would have done it correctly. You seem to imply that the prayer and catechetical practices the Christian Church employed were deficient, whereas Jewish practices were not.

By the way, you have yet to substantiate whether the Jewish practices you claim were in fact widespread and standard in the Middle Ages. Did your average poor Jewish man (for in the Middle Ages, all average people, regardless of religion, were poor) actually read and understand the entire Torah?

66Osbaldistone
Jan 10, 2013, 6:15pm

>62 lawecon: lawecom posted you (and Os) seem to be reading a great deal into my views that is not there. To state material differences between Jewish cultures and Christian cultures and differences in their attitudes toward scripture is not to per se make negative value judgments.

Apparently, Nathanial and I owe lawecom an apology for thinking his statements implied something negative about what he claims to have been intentional Catholic Church behaviour. I can't speak for Nathanial, but I apparently jumped to such a conclusion solely based on the following statements by lawecom. Perhaps, having lived my whole life in the US, I interpreted these statements (listed below, underlines added) about forbidding and barring the reading of scripture as negative, whereas lawecom apparently does not.
>2 lawecon: lawecom Catholics generally did not read the Bible because they were forbidden from reading the Bible...Part of that same syndrome was that the Bible wasn't available in languages other than Latin, a situation which the Catholic Church did its best to maintain.

>6 lawecon: my view, is that Catholics, unlike, say, Jews, have pretty much tried to bar the laity from direct access to the Scriptures from the time the Catholics became the Catholics.

>10 lawecon: Of course you are right, that one person does not bar another from reading by virtue of the other's illiteracy. However, the solution for this is the solution followed every Shabbat in a morning service

Given the absence of such a similar custom among Catholic Christians, the intent by inaction is rather clear, isn't it?
My offending comment - >12 Osbaldistone: Right, my tradition is better, therefore you are trying to suppress your flock. The fact that one group developed a more effective way does not indicate intent by others to supress.

My apologies if I read "negative value judgements" where none existed, though my only defense is that I think many would get the same impression when reading the above statements by lawecom, especially when he refers to the Jewish practice as the solution, rather than one solution, and then waves off the many examples of translations made available by the clergy for the benefit of the flock.

Okay, now my apology is starting to sound a little back-handed. I'll go ahead and apologize for that while I'm at it. However, the primary intent of many of my comments in this thread is to show the fault in lawecom's logic and conclusions; how lawecom feels about the laity's access to Scripture in the Middle Ages is a trivial side issue anyway. So, I'll rephrase the offending comment, and am willing to stand by it worded this way - >12 Osbaldistone: "Right, my tradition is betterdoes it this way, therefore you are trying to suppress your flock. The fact that one group developed a more effective way does not indicate intent by others to supress.

Os.

67lawecon
Edited: Jan 10, 2013, 9:56pm

~65-66

You know, if you guys want to be offended, go for it. As Christians your attitudes must be generous, loving and forgiving, and one has to say that you two certainly represent exactly what those terms mean for Christians.

And, Nathaniel, I never said anything about public scripture reading being a typical Jewish practice DURING THE MIDDLE AGES or even in Europe. How could it have been? What I said is it appears, from scripture itself, to have been a typical Jewish practice in those areas where and when Jews ran their own societies (once there were scriptures to read).

I guess if I were Os and you I also would be offended by the comparison of open access to what you (as idol worshippers) conceive to be the ultimate authority, particularly when the comparison is with, ah, Jews and what they do. Certainly you seem to be determined to be offended. As a Jew who knows all about other aspects of Christian history (which I'm sure also never existed), I'm not at all surprised.

68lawecon
Jan 10, 2013, 11:06pm

69John5918
Jan 10, 2013, 11:20pm

>68 lawecon: All I get when I follow that link is "You have either reached a page that is unavailable for viewing or reached your viewing limit for this book". What does it actually say?

70lawecon
Edited: Jan 10, 2013, 11:59pm

Odd. When I click on the link I get a Google excerpt from this book Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe This particular section is a translation of the edicts of the Counsel of Touluse of 1229 into English. I tried to copy and paste the relevant passage, but Google will not allow that operation on its texts. In any case, Canon 14 "prohibits" laity from possessing any of the books of the Old or New Testament and "most strictly forbids" them from having any translations thereof.

Here is another exerpt from an article on Wycliffe "On 13th May 1382, a church synod gathered to examine Wycliffe's works for signs of heresy. Despite an adverse verdict, Wycliffe, mainly due to his highly-placed support, avoided the ultimate punishment that would be meted out to many of his Lollard followers. However, he spent the last two years of his life under virtual house arrest before finally succumbing to a stroke and passing away in 1384. As a result of the synod's verdict, all versions of the Bible in English were banned until Henry VIII repealed the prohibition after his split with Rome 150 years later." http://suite101.com/article/john-wycliffe-and-the-english-bible-a395029

A similar report is made by the author of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years a text which I believe was recommended to me by Tim.

But of course this is all nonsense. The Church NEVER EVER attempted to bar or limit the access of the laity to the Scriptures and has encouraged their translation. (See above posts)

71nathanielcampbell
Edited: Jan 11, 2013, 11:16am

>67 lawecon:: "And, Nathaniel, I never said anything about public scripture reading being a typical Jewish practice DURING THE MIDDLE AGES or even in Europe. How could it have been?"

So on the one hand, you offer examples (in post 70) of the medieval Church barring the laity from access to Scripture. Then, you contrast that with your vision of Jewish practice -- but not, of course, Jewish practice contemporary to that of the Christians!

Rather, you offer Jewish practice from two millenia ago. Do you know what Christian practices were at that time, i.e. in the first few centuries of Christianity? When Greek and Latin were the vernacular language? When reading Scripture was a far more widespread practice amongst the Christian communities at the time of the Roman Empire?

Historical comparisons need to take account of historical differences. It's simply not useful to compare Second Temple Jewish practices with medieval Christian practices -- the social, economic, and cultural differences between those time periods and geographies is so vast as to render the comparison useless.

If you'd like to offer a constructive analysis, you should be offering examples of Jewish practices from the 13th and 14th centuries, which can be accurately compared to Christian practices from the 13th and 14th centuries.

>70 lawecon:: Canons of the Council of Toulouse (1229) and examples from Wycliffites and Lollards

You'll notice that I have not disputed that the later medieval Church did at times attempt to restrict lay access to Scripture precisely because of the ways in which lay access was leading to heretical movements (the Cathars in southern France and the Lollards in England).

But that's not what your original claims were. Your original claims were blanket statements that all times and in all places, the Catholic Church had imposed such prohibitions. Therefore, I disputed those statements on two accounts:

(1) In early medieval centuries, e.g. the Carolingian era, the evidence points to the exact opposite, i.e. that the Church actively encouraged lay catechesis and education in the faith.

(2) Attempts to restrict lay access, such as from the Council of Toulouse and Archbishop Arundel's 1410 Constitutions (which I mentioned way back in post 4 -- glad to see you finally managed to get around to learning about the Wycliffites and Lollards), were often not particularly successful, usually because of the logistical limits that the time period placed on the ability of the Church to censor.

My point in this thread has continually been to nuance your absolute statements to recognize the historical complexities of the Catholic Church's relationship to lay reading of the Bible. That's why, when you finally did offer more nuanced interpretations, I acknowledged that you were getting closer to the historical reality.

Edited to clarify that I was speaking of the first few centuries of Christian practice, not, obviously, of Christian practice before there was Christianity.

72quicksiva
Edited: Jan 11, 2013, 10:51am

Do you know what Christian practices were at that time? When Greek and Latin were the vernacular language? When reading Scripture was a far more widespread practice amongst the Christian communities at the time of the Roman Empire?
========
2,000 years ago, the only Scripture available was the Jewish Bible. Very few people could read.

73Osbaldistone
Edited: Jan 11, 2013, 6:14pm

>67 lawecon:
Quite frankly, lawecom, I can't recall anything you've said on this thread that offended me. Nor can I figure out what I posted that gave the impression that I was offended. Disagreed? Sure. Offended? Why would I be. I have no emotional investment in the behaviours of people in positions of authority in the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages; only an academic interest in world and Church history.

Lawecom, you've done a much better job of being offensive on other threads (so, prehaps, I expected it on this thread). But this one has been pretty tame and mostly interesting and informative. Even when someone jumps to indefensible conclusions, it drives me to study the subject and learn something. That shouldn't be offensive to anyone.

Os.

74stevenhgl
Jan 11, 2013, 6:43pm

Whatever my qualms with the Roman Catholic Church may be, the things that Catholics did hundreds of years ago are not among them. The medieval papacy may have been really bad at being "godly" (for one example, Alexander VI) but what he did five hundred years ago does not matter today. Same with those who kept the Scripture from the general public. Let's discuss what the different denominations do now, not what their followers did long ago.

75Osbaldistone
Jan 11, 2013, 7:34pm

>74 stevenhgl:
While the history books are full of the hubris and immorality of those in high positions within the church, all across Europe, there were an uncountable number of priests, nuns, and monks living in abject poverty and in service to anyone in need, ensuring the survival of valuable manuscripts, and sharing an understanding of a loving God in a tough and unforgiving world. Not much different from today, in many ways - in the news are the failings and weaknesses of the preachers who spend their time before microphones and cameras, but most of the Christ-guided work of the church goes un-reported. Nothing wrong with this, actually. Those that serve and those that benefit generally don't need the media coverage.

Os.

76lawecon
Jan 11, 2013, 9:23pm

~74

Yes, obviously, that was then, this is now. And, obvously, what was done then was false and evil and really bad, but no one would ever do such a thing again............ They wouldn't because those people then were instrinsically evil, unlike us good sorts today. (Gee, I wonder if they thought that they were intrinsically evil and had no reasons for what they did. Well, they must have, right? I mean you don't approve of what they did then, so that settles it.)

77Osbaldistone
Jan 11, 2013, 10:50pm

>76 lawecon:
Missed the point again. Let me simplify post 74 for you: let's talk about "Catholic and Protestant attitudes to scripture" (the OP topic) in, say, the past 100 years.

Os.

78lawecon
Jan 12, 2013, 10:19am

Thank you for your clarification of the intent and meaning of the post of another poster who you don't know.

79John5918
Jan 12, 2013, 10:43am

>77 Osbaldistone: In the past 100 years I think one can say that both Catholic and Protestant churches have been in the forefront of translating the bible into languages which had never been written down before. If I look around me at some of the countries in which I have lived and worked, and the many languages therein (often 40 or more languages in a single country), it seems that the Protestants were more active (and organised) in actually producing the bible translations as well as adult literacy books, but Catholics were quite prominent in writing grammars and dictionaries. Both churches have gone to great lengths to get the bible into the hands of the people, and of course to teach people to read. Given the high rate of illiteracy in many of these languages, public reading and teaching is still an important factor.

Might also be worth noting (as I mentioned above somewhere) that in the Catholic Church the entire bible is read publicly over a three-year cycle. I think many other churches which have a liturgical structure use a comparable cycle. The readings are not chosen at the whim of the preacher but are the same throughout the world in any church of that denomination.

80Osbaldistone
Jan 12, 2013, 12:11pm

>78 lawecon:
Your welcome, but I'm confident you could have read the last line in the post (and the thread title) yourself if you had tried.

Os.

81lawecon
Edited: Jan 12, 2013, 5:16pm

Ah, yes, the typical double standard approach. You and Nathaniel have been more than willing to talk about what was true historially under this topic heading, but all at once the topic and thread aren't about history at all. Just forget that all dead stuff - even though, presumably, current practice and theory don't come into being without a history. Hypocicy, as usual. Of course, I can understand your attitude. History is never a favorite subject of those whose history has been far from admirable.

82Osbaldistone
Jan 12, 2013, 7:12pm

>81 lawecon:
Again, lawecom, you're missing the point (and, again, making up something to whinge about). Folks who have actually read my posts on this thread know that I have expressed no personal opinion about the time-frame (nor about anything else in stevenhgl's post 74). I simply re-stated specifically for your benefit (since you apparently missed it - see your post 76) stevenhgl's proposal that we address a more current time-frame. You're response (post 78) indicates you think I had no business doing so. I stated that I disagree. So, you wander off to make up a subject to whinge about. Since you usually disagree with what I actually say, why make up something? If you simply don't want to discuss a more current time-frame, there are much simpler (and more honest) ways of stating so.

Os.

83lawecon
Jan 12, 2013, 9:26pm

Os, your perception of reality is truly unreal.

84Osbaldistone
Jan 12, 2013, 10:56pm

>83 lawecon:

Vote: Os's perception of reality is truly unreal

Current tally: Yes 2, No 5, Undecided 1

85stevenhgl
Jan 13, 2013, 3:35am

The point of 74 was that we should get talk about what the various denominations do now, not what they did in the past. (Somehow there managed to be a mini-debate about that.)

86lawecon
Jan 13, 2013, 8:07am

And the point of your ignoring Post #76 was...................

You see, here's the problem: Christians have had a lot of power in the Western world (and, for that matter, in much of the nonWestern world) for centuries. Christians have certain professed beliefs - like "unbounded love." It seem fair to ask how well they have acted historically on their professions of belief, and how what they are saying and doing today accords with what they have said and done historically, doesn't it? Os suggests we should throw away 1,900 years of Christian history and concentrate exclusively on the past 100 years. How does that accord with the claims for authority by a Church that holds "tradition" and its historical continuity to be major points in its favor?

Put more simply, if you are Charlie Brown are you willing to forget all those previous times that Lucy told you she'd hold the football for you?

87ambrithill
Jan 13, 2013, 8:17am

One thing you forget, lawecon, is that I do not believe any Christian says that they perfectly uphold what Christ has told us to do. It is true that "unbounded love," and even perfection, are our standards, but it also true that those standards have only been met by Jesus. That is why Christians depend on His righteousness and not our own. You also need to remember that the more a Christian grows spiritually the more he sees things in his life that are unrighteous, such as Paul saying he was the chief of all sinners. So a lot of the time when Christians say they are not living up to what they should be doing, you must remember the actual measuring stick is against perfection.

88stevenhgl
Jan 13, 2013, 8:35am

86-7: Of course there will be times when Christians don't even try to follow the teachings of Jesus, but on a general basis, most Christians will make an effort to, but of course they can't live up to the perfect standard set by Christ.

89ambrithill
Jan 13, 2013, 8:46am

>88 stevenhgl: that was the point I was trying to make, you just did it in a lot less words.

90quicksiva
Edited: Jan 13, 2013, 10:27am

Same passage two very different teachings:
Isaiah 18 King James Version; prepared for a 17th century, English king with plans for Africa.

"1 WOE to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:

2 That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bull rushes upon the waters, saying . Go, ye swift messenger to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted, out and trodden down, whose the rivers have spoiled!

3 All ye inhabitants of the world and dwellers on the earth, see ye when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.

4 For so the LORD said unto; I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.
.
5 For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.

6 They shall be left together to the fowls of the mountains) to the beasts of the earth: fowls shall summer upon; and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.

7 In that time shall the present be brought unto the LORD of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion."

Isaiah 18 The Jerusalem Bible; prepared for a 20th century Catholic Church, with plans for Africa.

"Oracle against Cush

Country of whirring wings beyond the rivers of Cush, who send ambassadors by sea,
in papyrus skiffs over the waters.

Go, swift messengers
to a people tall and bronzed, to a nation always feared,
a people mighty and masterful,
in the country criss-crossed with rivers.

All you who inhabit the world,
you who people the earth,
the signal is being hoisted on the mountains, look! The horn is being sounded, listen!

For thus Yahweh speaks to me:
From where I am I gaze, untroubled, like the clear heat produced by light, like a dewy mist in the heat of harvest.

For, before the vintage, once the flowering is over and blossom turns into ripening grape,
the tendrils are cut back with a pruning knife, the shoots taken off, cut away.
They will all be abandoned together
to the birds of prey in the mountains
and to the beasts of the earth.
The birds of prey will summer on them, and all the beasts of the earth winter on them.

At that time, offerings will be brought to Yahweh Sabaoth on behalf of the tall and bronzed nation, on behalf of the nation always feared, on behalf of the mighty and masterful people in the country criss-crossed with rivers, to the place where the name of Yahweh Sabaoth dwells, on Mount Zion."

============
I would much rather be thought of as "tall and bronzed", "always feared", and "mighty and masterful" than as "scattered and peeled", "a people terrible from their beginning", "hitherto; a nation meted, out and trodden down, whose the rivers have spoiled"!

This piece of imperialistic propaganda would be useful to slave-holding interests, who were to fuel a 25% jump in the English economy over the next five years.

91John5918
Jan 13, 2013, 10:18am

>90 quicksiva: prepared for a 20th century Catholic Church, with plans for Africa.

Not sure exactly what you mean by that. I don't think the Jerusalem Bible was prepared with any such plan in mind. Rather I think it was intended to be as accurate a translation as possible based on the best Catholic scholarship available.

But having said that, the people of South Sudan have certainly taken Isaiah 18 to heart and believe it refers to them. There is even a hymn, "Sudan, land of the bible", which refers to this.

92stevenhgl
Jan 13, 2013, 10:52am

I'm pretty sure that both groups of people were trying to do their best, and weren't subservient to the temporal interests of the people they were doing the translation for. But the big difference between the two translations does seem interesting. My guess is that someone might have had a faulty version of the original, but given the care that Bible translators put into making sure they've done everything "right", that seems unlikely.

93lawecon
Edited: Jan 13, 2013, 11:11am

~87

Yes, it is nice to have a faith where the goals are clear but virtually none of the adherents of that faith actually either achieves those goals or even tries really hard to achieve them. Indeed, one might almost say that the goals are not made for human beings, and thus any human beings are readily excused from not achieving them. How, ah, convenient. It is almost as if the goals do not really exist or constrain any bad acts. But, of course, that couldn't be the intent, could it?

94John5918
Edited: Jan 13, 2013, 12:11pm

>93 lawecon: But, of course, that couldn't be the intent, could it?

No, it couldn't. There's no harm in aiming high, having dreams.

95stevenhgl
Jan 13, 2013, 12:03pm

93: Even if people can't actually reach the goals, it's still good to have people trying to follow the Ten Commandments (even if you don't like the first four, it's hard to argue with the last six) and the Golden Rule.

96ambrithill
Jan 13, 2013, 2:52pm

> 93 I believe most Christians do try to live up to the goal.

97Osbaldistone
Edited: Jan 13, 2013, 11:59pm

>86 lawecon: Os suggests we should throw away 1,900 years of Christian history and concentrate exclusively on the past 100 years.

Well, I just have to come right out and say it - lawecon is just lying (I know he's smart enough to know what I actually said and intended). My only post related to discussing current (or recent) practice was when I re-stated stevenhgl's suggestion (my post 77), and stated clearly that that was what I was doing ("Let me simplify post 74 for you:"), and lawecon knows that. I stated no opinion in any way related to the value of discussing any part of 1,900 years of Christian history, and lawecom knows that. But he seems to get some personal satisfaction out of creating an opinion he detest, attaching it to someone on the thread he wants to attack, and then ranting something that person never even said.

Lawecon, if I'm wrong, just identify where I said anything like what you've claimed I said in your post 86.

Os.

ETA post references

98Osbaldistone
Jan 13, 2013, 5:30pm

>93 lawecon: Yes, it is nice to have a faith where the goals are clear but virtually none of the adherents of that faith actually either achieves those goals or even tries really hard to achieve them

Yes, it is nice to have a faith where the goals are clear (glad you finally admit that) and one can spend one's entire life striving for them, failing, and striving again, gaining knowledge and understanding of God along the way.

Os.

99stevenhgl
Jan 13, 2013, 5:32pm

98: "For man must strive, and striving he must err."
~The Lord, Faust, Prologue

100lawecon
Jan 13, 2013, 9:21pm

~95

Dang, you learn something every day. Here I thought that Christian goals were embodied in the accounts in the NT regarding the Sermon on the Mount, whereas Jewish goals were embodied in the "ten commandments" (and the other 602) in the "Old Testament." It is good to learn the truth.

101Arctic-Stranger
Jan 14, 2013, 3:24pm

The Sermon on the Mount is three chapters (albeit four very significant chapters) in the New Testament. Debate on how this particular part of the Matthew should be observed has been part of the theological history of Christianity since the Fourth Century, and ways around the precepts are as numerous as ways around various of the ten commendments.

There are groups that tend to center around the Sermon on the Mount, but more Christians see them within the context of the larger New Testament, particularly the letters of Paul.

102lawecon
Jan 14, 2013, 4:03pm

~101

Ah yes, the letters of Paul, that makes things a lot better for Christianity as we have it today. (Are you trying to steal my position as the leading critic of Christianity in this forum?)