Seeking Divine Mercy
The Holy Bible
Where did it come from?
One of the most basic questions that every Christian should want to know the answer to is; “where did the Holy Bible come from”? Although we realize it is through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, “the Inspired Word of God”, obviously it didn’t just appear or drop from the sky. Yet, most Christians have no idea as to its origin or lineage and have never pursued the subject to learn the answer to that question.
Routinely, many protestant institutions of higher theological learning do not wish to delve too deeply into the subject of Bible origin because of where the answers will impeccably lead and what may result once one has truly learned its origin, purpose and lineage. In recognizing that the Gospels of the New Testament were written by the apostles or early disciples of the apostles on their behalf during the infancy of Christianity, and that these texts have been unquestionably Inspired by the Holy Spirit, learning how the Bible came to exist would further lead to interests of the ancient texts written by the Early Church Fathers and you will soon understand why. From there, the lineage of the Catholic Faith as the truth in Christianity would be obvious reflecting the consistency and fullness of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
There are many sources of specific technical and historical information available for those who wish to delve deeply into the historic facts so we do not intend to repeat that data here. Our intent in this writing is to provide a factual, realistic, rational narrative in a simplified but verifiable and indisputable account of the origin of the Holy Bible, how it came to be and why there are so many “versions” of interpretation and in some cases with removed content available today; that is, verifiable and indisputable in its origin, consistency and interpretation through the teachings of Catholicism for those who wish to learn.
Jesus founded His Church for the purpose of preaching His Gospel in order to provide all man the means to achieve personal salvation (Matthew Ch16; 15-19). The establishment of the Catholic Church and its initial hierarchy beginning with the apostles is well attested to in the New Testament. First it is necessary to understand how the “Catholic” Church came to be known as Catholic in order to realize its lineage as the one true Church Jesus founded with His Blood.
In ancient society those who were followers of a particular faith, teaching or teacher were usually labeled by those outside the fellowship in a manner reflective of their teacher or teachings. This has been a very common practice in all societies throughout history. Based on Scripture and recorded history it is evident that during the beginning of the establishment of the Christian Faith, the apostles referred to the teachings of Jesus Christ as the “way”. This is also reflected in the “Didache”. The Didache is the first written text of the apostles, at times looked upon as the first Catechism of the Catholic Faith outlining the teachings of Jesus Christ long before the Bible existed. The Didache is also known as “the way of life” and “the way of death”, hence, the way.
Originally, it was not the apostles who referred to themselves or
the followers of Christ as “Christians”. This designation was placed on the
followers during the period Paul served in his ministry with others in
The Catholic Church has been commissioned by Christ as the guardian of what has been known as the “Deposit of Faith”. The deposit of faith is the complete and accurate teachings of Jesus Christ, protected from distortion within three equally indispensable components; “Sacred Scripture”, “Sacred Tradition”, and the “Magisterium” of the Catholic Church. Protestantism virtually rejects all but Sacred Scripture. There were however, such men as John Wesley who did in fact speak of tradition, but he did not refer to ancient Church Tradition (always designated with an upper case ‘T’) as is meant by the Church's use of the term nor the writings of the great theologians and Church Fathers as their writings attested. He promoted tradition’s adaptation based on social conditions and their related religious influences as they contributed to a person's independent understanding of God and of Christian theology for a given era.
Wesley followed the notion that tradition (as he related to it) may include externally influenced ideologies to form one’s individual interpretation and understanding of Scripture, moral values, and further teaching of family and upbringing. By the very principles by which John Wesley related to tradition, although he had good intentions and was to a degree successful in his ministry, it is clear that he, as was the case with others, did not understand the element referred to by the Catholic Church in the reference to Sacred Tradition. It should also be pointed out that tradition that can be frequently changed or adapt as a result of outside influences as described in Wesley’s ideologies is not by the true sense, “tradition” and leads to a teaching or doctrine that is more socially acceptable but can come into opposition with Scripture, which has happened numerous times in the past.
So what then is Sacred Tradition? It is the one true understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ as preached verbally to the disciples, both Children and adults, explained by the Apostles and carried on through direct apostolic succession. It is the proper understanding transferred by the Apostles to these disciples not from texts that did not yet exist, but by word and discussion between the teachers and the students leaving no room for question as to meaning or intent. Some of these men (elder disciples) would become Bishops directly succeeding the Apostles while those who were then child disciples in many cases became the 2nd and 3rd successors in that line of “apostolic succession”. Sts. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna to name a few are considered some of the most important of these fathers.
It is this verbal preaching that the written texts originated from, written by or on behalf of the Apostles by early Christians guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In some cases these writers would have received their faith side by side with the Apostolic Fathers. And it is these texts that centuries later would become the contents of what we refer to as the New Testament of the Holy Bible. Just as critically, the Apostolic Fathers recorded in their own writings extended explanations and recognitions of the early hierarchy and living faith of the Church including the authority of the Chair of Peter in Rome, the apostolic teachings and the way of life and worship of the early Church which clearly verify the validity and lineage of the Catholic Faith through today.
During the infancy of the Church there were numerous writings scattered throughout the regions that claimed to have been produced by the authority of the Apostles. At times, because of the great geographic distances between territories and the multiple languages the texts were written in, some of the meaning of those writings were misinterpreted or were not written by the authority of the Apostles and did not present an accurate teaching of Jesus Christ. The Church Fathers therefore had an essential role in identifying the authentic written texts over the first few centuries of the Church. It was the direct relationship these Fathers had with the Apostles and that proper understanding the Apostles instilled in them that the Apostolic Fathers were later able to identify the true, authentic teachings of Jesus Christ out of the numerous texts to be scrutinized. Those deemed valid were retained for teaching while those deemed questionable or invalid were rejected.
In 384 A.D. the Catholic Church, by the dictate of Pope Damasus, commissioned St. Jerome to proceed with the compilation of the valid apostolic texts into one source interpreted and translated from Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic into Latin. It was this compilation of texts that became the contents of the New Testament, thereafter united with the Old Testament; the compilation became the Latin Vulgate, the first Holy Bible. This Bible remains the primary authoritative Biblical reference of the Catholic Church. It should be stated that the Old Testament and New Testament are not two separate stories or "books" as many seem to think. They together are one story of the relationship and covenants between God and man. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of God's promise through His Son, Jesus, The Christ.
It was the Catholic Church Jesus founded and made His covenant with and that covenant could never be broken even to the consummation of the world. The Holy Bible has been comprised of texts written within the Catholic Church, selected and compiled by the Catholic Church, validated by the Catholic Church, closed through canonization by the Catholic Church and introduced by the Catholic Church specifically to teach the Catholic Faith never to be taken out of its element. That teaching of faith was always to be accompanied with and correctly presented through Sacred Tradition which was and remains its true teacher, protected by the Magisterium in unison with the pope as the complete Deposit of Faith. As with any educational process, the text book is never handed out to the students for the student to self teach or to learn a subject without a teacher. Of course some of the content of the Bible was written in a literal sense and can be rationally understood by the reader, but much more can not be interpreted literally.
1500 years after the establishment of the Catholic Faith and roughly 1200 years after the introduction of the Holy Bible by the Catholic Church, the “Protestant reformation” produced the establishment of multiple systems of beliefs among disagreeing founders who could not accept in faith all the teachings of Catholicism. These were the first Protestant “faiths” or systems of belief. Since that time less than 500 years ago, Protestantism has splintered drastically where today there are over 30,000 individual churches or systems of beliefs. Because of the extensive separation through time added to their lack of familiarity with true Catholicism, the majority of today’s Protestant Christians have no idea what the Catholic Church truly teaches or why, offered only the bias handed down over more recent years from their own congregations. But why have they splintered in their beliefs so drastically? Because Protestantism removed the Holy Bible from its true intended reference and teacher, the Catholic Church, and used it under the premise that it needed no teacher or other source of reference to present it correctly. The idea that each person could understand and interpret Scripture individually as he or she could relate to it was adopted and in the process, where conflicts within Protestant churches arose, the separation of congregants occurred creating more and more churches founded by more and more individually adopted beliefs. Over these most recent centuries Protestantism modified some (not all) of the contents of the Bible so as to be less conflicting with their own interpretations and beliefs while removing texts that conflicted with their adopted versions. Because the separate texts of the Bible are referred to as “books”, it was easily adaptable to altering, resulting in the complete removal of seven “books” or texts that contained references in opposition to Protestantism. It was only much later after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that those books were proven authentic and returned as content to the “Protestant Bible” although placed differently than in the original version.
The question has at times been asked; can the Catholic Church rightfully claim to have the only true and complete interpretation of the Holy Bible? It is a proven fact the Bible is completely of the Catholic Faith through its Church, and as such, it most certainly can. Can a reader of a book tell the author his intended meaning better than the author knows himself? It takes no more than common sense to recognize the answer to this question.
May the Grace of the Holy Spirit guide us in the pursuit of our faith and knowledge in Jesus Christ.