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Why Popes banned the Bible

Vati Leaks - Monday, July 23, 2012
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To cover-up the false nature of the Christian texts, an extraordinary decision is found in the records of the First Council of Constantinople of 381-3, convened by Roman Emperor Theodosius (d. 395). What was decided at that assembly presents an historical fact outlining an extraordinary episode in New Testament history that is little-known today, and involved Pope Damasus, who was in attendance. He was a man so stained with impiety and so notorious with women that he was called the Tickler of Matron’s Ears.¹ When he found that the Roman people would not walk before him in processions, he had them beaten, and many were killed. He was charged with adultery in a Civil Court, and only the intervention of his friend, the Emperor, averted the scandal of a trial. He returned to the Church, and in a candid personal confession frankly admitted that the Gospel manuscripts of his day were so ‘full of errors and dubious passages’² that copies coming from scriptoriums were different and conflicting. To prevent the fabricated writings being seen by the wrong eyes, Pope Damasus came up with a solution that was brilliant in its simplicity … he banned the Bible.

Origin of ‘heresy’

When the basic New Testament canon started to develop towards the end of the Fourth Century (generally) the laity was strictly ‘forbidden to read the word of God, or to exercise their judgment in order to understand it’.³ Damasus recorded that ‘bad use of difficult passages by the simple and poor gives rise to hear-say’ and the general populace was denied access to the compilations. The word ‘hear-say’ developed into ‘heresy’ and people who opposed Church opinions were subsequently called ‘heretics’.4 It was with a resolution of that council that the ban was officially established but some members of the priesthood had trouble understanding the new terminology. The unreliability of their explanations of heretics and heresies is illustrated in the case of St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis (d. 403) who mistook the Pythagorean Sacred Tetrad (the number 4), for a heretic leader.

After he suppressed the Bible, Damasus created an array of formidable penances and additional anathemas ‘designed to keep the curious at bay’5, the chief tendency of the priesthood was to keep the Bible away from people and substitute Church authority as the rule of life and belief.

Owning a Bible was a criminal offence

In 860, Pope Nicholas I, sitting high on a throne built specially for the occasion in the town square, pronounced against all people who expressed interest in reading the Bible, and reaffirmed its banned public use (Papal Decree). In 1073, Pope Gregory supported and confirmed the ban, and in 1198, Pope Innocent III declared that anybody caught reading the Bible would be stoned to death by ‘soldiers of the Church military’ (Diderot’s Encyclopedia, 1759). In 1229, the Council of Toulouse, ‘to be spoken of with detestation’, passed another Decree ‘that strictly prohibits laics from having in their possession either the Old or New Testaments; or from translating them into the vulgar tongue’. By the 14th Century, possession of a Bible by the laity was a criminal offence and punishable by whipping, confiscation of real and personal property, and burning at the stake.

With the fabricated Christian texts safely hidden from public scrutiny by a series of Decrees, popes endorsed the public suppression of the Bible for twelve hundred and thirty years, right up until after the Reformation and the printing of the King James Bible in 1611.

¹Lives of the Popes, Mann, c. 1905
²The Library of the Fathers, Damasus, Oxford, 1833-45
³The Library of the Fathers, Damasus, Oxford, 1833-45
4The Catholic Dictionary, Addis and Arnold, 1917
5Early Theological Writings, G. W. F. Hegal


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