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The Bible Prohibited And Improved
by [?]

The following are the express words contained in the regulation of the popes to prohibit the use of the Bible.

“As it is manifest, by experience, that if the use of the holy writers is permitted in the vulgar tongue more evil than profit will arise, because of the temerity of man; it is for this reason all Bibles are prohibited (prohibentur Biblia) with all their parts, whether they be printed or written, in whatever vulgar language soever; as also are prohibited all summaries or abridgments of Bibles, or any books of the holy writings, although they should only be historical, and that in whatever Vulgar tongue they may be written.”

It is there also said, “That the reading the Bibles of catholic editors may be permitted to those by whose perusal or power the faith may be spread, and who will not criticise it. But this permission is not to be granted without an express order of the bishop, or the inquisitor, with the advice of the curate and confessor; and their permission must first be had in writing. And he who, without permission, presumes to read the holy writings, or to have them in his possession, shall not be absolved of his sins before he first shall have returned the Bible to his bishop.”

A Spanish author says, that if a person should come to his bishop to ask for leave to read the Bible, with the best intention, the bishop should answer him from Matthew, ch. xx. ver. 20, “You know not what you ask.” And indeed, he observes, the nature of this demand indicates an heretical disposition.

The reading of the Bible was prohibited by Henry VIII., except by those who occupied high offices in the state; a noble lady or gentlewoman might read it in “their garden or orchard,” or other retired places; but men and women in the lower ranks were positively forbidden to read it, or to have it read to them, under the penalty of a month’s imprisonment.

Dr. Franklin has preserved an anecdote of the prohibited Bible in the time of our Catholic Mary. His family had an English Bible; and to conceal it the more securely, they conceived the project of fastening it open with packthreads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a close-stool! “When my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, he reversed the lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the packthread. One of the children was stationed at the door to give notice if he saw an officer of the Spiritual Court make his appearance; in that case the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it as before.”

The reader may meditate on what the popes did, and what they probably would have done, had not Luther happily been in a humour to abuse the pope, and begin a REFORMATION. It would be curious to sketch an account of the probable situation of Europe at the present moment, had the pontiffs preserved the omnipotent power of which they had gradually possessed themselves.

It appears, by an act dated in 1516, that the Bible was called Bibliotheca, that is per emphasim, the Library. The word library was limited in its signification then to the biblical writings; no other books, compared with the holy writings, appear to have been worthy to rank with them, or constitute what we call a library.

We have had several remarkable attempts to recompose the Bible; Dr. Geddes’s version is aridly literal, and often ludicrous by its vulgarity; as when he translates the Passover as the Skipover, and introduces Constables among the ancient Israelites; but the following attempts are of a very different kind. Sebastian Castillon–who afterwards changed his name to Castalion, with his accustomed affectation referring to Castalia, the fountain of the Muses–took a very extraordinary liberty with the sacred writings. He fancied he could give the world a more classical version of the Bible, and for this purpose introduces phrases and entire sentences from profane writers into the text of holy writ. His whole style is finically quaint, overloaded with prettinesses, and all the ornaments of false taste. Of the noble simplicity of the Scripture he seems not to have had the remotest conception.