Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bible Translation & Fundamentalism

From livescience.com:

The translation of the Bible into English marked the birth of religious fundamentalism in medieval times, as well as the persecution that often comes with radical adherence in any era, according to a new book.
The 16th-century English Reformation, the historic period during which the Scriptures first became widely available in a common tongue, is often hailed by scholars as a moment of liberation for the general public, as it no longer needed to rely solely on the clergy to interpret the verses.
Yup.. all those English speaking peasants in the 100s & 200s living in the Middle East had to rely on the big bad Catholic Church to dictate what the Scriptures said. And how foolish of Jerome to translate the Bible into Latin when the common language in the Roman empire during the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries was Swahili.

Although there are some valid points in this article, I simply had to take issue with this (though it might be true depending on how you read it, it's certainly misleading to say the least). Maybe the issue lies simply with 'wide availability'.
But being able to read the sometimes frightening set of moral codes spelled out in the Bible scared many literate Englishmen into following it to the letter, said James Simpson, a professor of English at Harvard University.
Get used to more secular scholarship saying these types of things in the future.
It was Protestant reformer William Tyndale who first translated the Bible into colloquial English in 1525,
(Although Wycliffe's condemned version came out 150 years earlier in.. Middle English which I suppose was "colloquial" at the time.. again, pre-printing press it wouldn't be 'widely available' especially since it was condemned)
"Scholarly consensus over the last decade or so is that most people did not convert to [Protestantism]. They had it forced upon them," Simpson told LiveScience.
Most Protestants seem strangely ignorant of this part of the Reformation. Even a cursory examination of Church history (even if by the hands of an apologetic Protestant) would verify this. See Baptist historian Bruce Shelley for examples.
Without the clergy guiding them, and with religion still a very important factor in the average person's life, their fate rested in their own hands, Simpson said.
Don't you mean in the hands of the Holy Spirit interpreting the Bible through the individual?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the way they define it as "liberation."

Liberation from what? From truth? From light? What kind of liberation? Please tell us so we may indulge in your latest error.

a thorn in the pew said...

That is an interesting factoid. My evengelical friend tells me that Catholics "used to be" Christian. I haven't prodded her to find out what constituted the change in catagorizing us with LDS and JW types.

Joseph said...

I read that article yesterday as well. I came to the same conclusions you did. It seems to conveniently conceal Church history before the Protestant Reformation. It obviously had a target market.

Anonymous said...

Isnt that how most protestant denomination teach at their seminaries?

Chronologicaly speaking of course.

1. Jesus Death
2. Jesus Resurection
3. The Bible (KJV)
4. Augustin (selective)
5. Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Knox, Henry VIII, etc.

Tim A. Troutman said...

Yup that sounds about right. I've listened to a dozen or so Protestant lectures on Church History most on a seminary level and the consistent insufficiency is mind boggling. I just don't know how on earth they can keep a straight face while completely failing to address the doctrines of the early Church.

Your chronology is sadly not an exaggeration in the least.