Catholics get a bad rap when it comes to the Bible. Our Protestant brothers and sisters often claim we do not read the Bible enough. They claim so wrongly ignoring the fact that scripture plays an integral part of the Mass. They also are either unknowing to or ignore the fact that thanks to the Catholic Church, they have the Bible they do today. I realize that could be taken as a rather bold statement, but there’s a book that backs that up and more. I encourage you to read Jimmy Akin’s The Bible Is a Catholic Book.
The book takes readers through the history of how the Bible came to be and sprinkles some other tidbits throughout as well. The book is divided into four parts. The first, The Word of God Before the Bible, explains how the word of God was presented prior to it being written down. The answer to that question is by spoken word. There were no printers. Handwriting was a skilled profession and extremely time-consuming thus, people used what was available to them at low cost……their mouths. The stories of the Old Testament were spoken much as Jesus taught in his parables. After the death of Jesus, the story of his life, death, and resurrection was transmitted orally by those who were close to him.
One clarification needs to be made. The books of the Bible were composed; however, the cost of mass-producing them was extremely cost-prohibitive. As Jimmy points out in the third part, The Writing of the New Testament, in the days after Christ, the Gospels would have cost the following in today’s dollars:
- Matthew: $2238
- Mark: $1379
- Luke: $2377
- John: $1909
This third part of the book is also an excellent resource for understanding how each of the New Testament books came to be, who authored them, and when exactly it is believed, they were written. Bear in mind they were not written in the order they appear in your Bible.
One entity decided to take care of this knowing that mass production of the Bible and the ability to get this collection of smaller books into everyone’s hands would be vital to the growth of spread of Christianity. The Catholic Church undertook this extraordinary task. The fourth part of Jimmy’s book, After the New Testament, details their efforts.
The Catholic Church took upon themselves the tasks of copying the scriptures in the time before the printing press was invented. Due to the Church’s efforts, these texts were preserved for us today. Time has taken many ancient manuscripts from us…but, not the scriptures. We have a Bible today because of the Catholic Church and everyone, regardless of Christian affiliation, should be grateful for that. Indeed, the Bible is a Catholic book!
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