Burning Bibles

“When they burned the New Testament they pretended a zeal very fervent to maintain only God’s honor, which they said with protestation, was obscured by translation in English, causing much error. But the truth plainly to be said, this was the cause why they were afraid, least laymen should know their iniquity”.

A Lollard (a follower of John Wycliffe’s teaching, circa 1450)

There was a time when the New Testament could only be read in Latin or Greek. It was men like Wycliffe who dared to make a translation in the mother tongue of the layman. He once told a monk that if he, Wycliffe, had his way the ploughboy would know more about God than him.

Needless to say, Wycliffe was very unpopular with the Pope and, though the Pope could not have him put to death due to his supporters, they dug up his bones years later and burned them for translating the New Testament into the English language.

As you read this, you may think this practice of burning Bibles is only confined to the timeframe of the Middle Ages. But it still occurs today in parts of Mexico and Central and South America. A friend recently returned from Honduras where several years ago they passed out Bibles to every home in a certain village. On this trip he was informed by a native who is a former catholic that the priest had made each family give him their Bible and then he burned them.

Wonder what the priest was afraid of?

Carl