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Anna Anonymous wrote:

Dear Sirs,

I'm an ex-Muslim who has been studying the Bible to understand God's plan for me; it has had a great effect on me. I have felt things that I have never felt in my life, but of course, I have my doubts as well, because I'm new to the faith and changing ones faith is not easy.

Several hours ago, I received an e-mail about how, in the fourth century, St. Jerome corrupted the Bible and confessed this in his letter to his Holiness, the Pope; it was in reference to a translation. I know St. Jerome is the one who translated Bible in Latin. Anyway, I can't give a defense for this because I am not knowledgeable about early Church history and all I have heard are rumors about how the early Church corrupted Jesus' messages. Well of course, I can't believe in a God who can't protect His Own Message. That said, this claim about corrupting the Bible is confusing me. They claimed there are also the confessions of Origanos and Yostinous; monks who corrupted the Bible then confessed to it.

I hope you don't take my words as an insult; if I want to learn about the true God, I have to inquire about these issues.

Anna

Note: Because devote Muslims kill people who convert from Islam, I have changed the name of the questioner to Anna Anonymous. It is my prayer that I will not have to do this in future questions to our web site.

  { I'm an ex-Muslim and people are telling me the Early Church corrupted the Scriptures. Did they? }

Mike replied:

Dear Anna,

First, God bless you for following the call of the Holy Spirit in your life; the Lord is very happy with your openness.

Whoever sent you that e-mail has received a distorted view of Church history or has conscientiously corrupted it.

Christians around the world have the Holy Scriptures that inspired you because of St. Jerome and the Benedictine monks who preserved the Sacred Scriptures, generation after generation until the invention of the printing press.

Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damasus to translate all the books of the Bible into Latin, which was the current language at that time.

If you are interested in the historical development of the Bible, this posting may help:

Any rumors that the early Church corrupted Jesus' messages are blatant lies.

Whoever these people are, if you know them, ask them a few simple questions:

  • Why would the Christians of the Early Church die for a lie?
  • Would your friends who told you this, die for a lie?

The Early Church and Early Church Fathers were persecuted and put to death numerous times rather then deny Christ and the Catholic faith He founded on St. Peter and his successors.
The same Church He founded in 33 A.D. still stands today!

  • If that is not divine protection, what is?
  • Why would the Apostles and their immediate followers in the Early Church die for the Christian faith if they did not truly believe it?

I would encourage you to do three things:

  1. Continue reading and re-reading the Holy Scriptures, especially the Gospels.
  2. Get a copy of what the Early Church Father taught and said. Here are some suggestions:

  3. I would also encourage you to start praying the Rosary. If you don't know what it is, you can Google for one, find out more, and get a FREE one here.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Anna replied:

Dear Sir,

Thanks for your assistance; it helped me a lot.

By the way I live in Istanbul, Turkey. Actually I'm Albanian but my surname is in Turkish. Thanks for suggesting praying the Rosary. When my best friend went to Italy, he also visited the Vatican and brought one back for me. I also have a Catechism of the Catholic Church in Turkish; I got it from the Church here in Turkey.

From Rabbis to Imams, when I ask them, why would St. Paul or any other early Christian die for a lie they created, all they say is, we don't know, only God knows. Before I read the Bible and the life of St. Paul, I thought St. Paul created the faith but after I reading the Bible, I felt ashamed because of my thoughts.

Thank you very much for the web sites you provided and your help.

Blessings,

Anna

Eric replied:

Hi, Anna —

Just to add to what Mike has said.

We have manuscripts and quotes from Scripture in other works going back to before Jerome confirming that the Scriptures were not corrupted. Personally, I think it is up to the accusers to come up with more than rumors. Given that Scripture went out into all the world in many different languages, it would be impossible to credibly corrupt it. Imagine if a bestselling book were printed, distributed and translated worldwide, and 300 years later, someone decided to corrupt it, despite the fact that there were thousands of copies already throughout the world in a multiplicity of languages. It wouldn't work very well, would it, especially if people, 2,000 years later, gathered all the versions from throughout the world, compared them, and found them remarkably similar.

  • Given that the Scriptures were read weekly or even daily in every Church in every area of the world, how on earth could someone get away with corrupting all of them, especially when not everyone speaks the same language of the alleged corrupted version (Latin)?
  • Is there any record of people who had been taught the faith objecting to the novel information in the new translation?
  • Given that the whole empire was wracked with violence and upheaval because someone added a single dot to a theological word, (homoousious versus homoiousious,
    the extra i being represented by a small dot underneath the o — this is where the phrase "not one iota of difference" comes from)
    , would it not be clear that people would have objected if the whole Scriptures were corrupted?
  • What about the Greek? — did Jerome back-translate the errors into Greek, and then, what did he do about the Greek-speaking Christians?
  • Did he attempt to convince them to replace their perfectly serviceable originals with versions they knew were corrupted, since they read Greek?
  • What about the Syriac-speaking Christians?

I assume whoever argues this is a Muslim, because there is a doctrine called tahrif that they believe corresponds to this. It was not taught by the Koran, it's a Muslim tradition. It is required in order to explain the differences between what Jesus taught and what Mohammad taught, but we can go back to early Christian writers, earlier than Jerome, and prove from them that early Christians believed such doctrines, like the divinity of Christ, a teaching Islam does not hold. This is one way to undermine tahrif because we can date these doctrines to before the alleged corruption. The book The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin covers a lot of this stuff; it provides quotes supporting Christian beliefs from the early centuries.

  • Another argument you can make is to ask why Allah would reveal his word only to have it corrupted?
  • Is Allah so weak that he can't protect his word from being corrupted?
  • Did it take Allah three times to get his word right, or could his word, the Koran, get corrupted as well?
  • Why, in other words, did the Jews corrupt their word which Allah gave them, and the Christians corrupt their word which Allah gave them, but somehow the third time's
    the charm — and conveniently the Koran is not and cannot be corrupted? Sound a little suspicious.

Eric

Eric followed-up later:

By the way it occurs to me, you might want to check their assumptions.

To bring out a point I only alluded to, if they think the errors were introduced by the translation of Jerome, they might not understand that we still have and use the original Greek and Hebrew texts, besides the earlier translations to other languages, which don't depend on Jerome's translation, such as the Septuagint and the Syriac texts.

It's not as simple as:

"Jerome screwed up the translation, therefore everyone in Christianity has corrupted Scriptures."

As if every Bible is derived from the Vulgate and we lost all the originals.

Most Bibles today are translated from the original Greek and Hebrew texts, with a consultation to the Vulgate and Septuagint: the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by Jesus and the Apostles, translated a century or so before Christ, when clarification is necessary.

By the way their explanation doesn't explain why the Jewish Scriptures are allegedly corrupted as well.

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi, Anna —

You said:
They claimed there are also the confessions of Origanos and Yostinous;

I'm unfamiliar with any Early Church Father that go by the names: Origanos or Yostinous.

Unless by Origanos you mean Origen?

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi, Mike —

Oddly, a web search for "Yostinous" turns up exactly one page, where someone asks the same question Anna asks. This makes me think that this story is not authentic. There is too much that is vague; give us a date, a location, and a corruption.

I did find an Islamic site that attempts to attack the integrity of the Bible. He did not use the arguments that Anna puts forward, and I will not repeat them here so as not to muddy the waters, but suffice it to say I thought they overstated their case. They hammered home how John had been "completely rewritten" when in fact there was one spurious story and one extra verse. It is not even agreed on whether this account, of the woman caught in adultery, was added or removed; it could have been removed because it was too lenient for the taste of strict clerics.

Words such as "corrupted" are thrown around and sound severe, but often it's simply a matter of part of a verse being lost, or an extra verse added, none of which makes a whit's difference about doctrine.

This makes too much of a difference to Muslims who believe in inspiration differently than we do.

They believe that every word, every syllable, every jot and tittle of the Koran is dictated by God. It would be wrong of them to transfer this to Christianity; it is not what we believe.

We believe that the text was written by God employing human authors. The human authors gave it their own flavor, hence we see Paul doing things like showing uncertainty and correcting himself, or distinguishing what he says from what the Lord says. (Of course, even the Koran contradicts itself.) Also, Catholicism is not a religion of the book, not in the sense Islam is.

We are based on Tradition and Scripture; we believe that the true faith lives within the Church, which the Holy Spirit guards from error, so any corruption, here and there, in the copies of the manuscripts we have of the Bible, doesn't worry us. We only believe that the autographs, the originals are without error; copies do not have that guarantee.

For the Muslim, for the Koran to be corrupt would be unthinkable but we, as Christians, can deal with imperfect manuscripts because we don't see it the way Muslims see the Koran.

  • Did monks alter the manuscripts of Scripture?

    Absolutely.

  • Did those alterations receive widespread circulation?

    Some of the early ones did, for example, the doxology at the end of the Our Father,
    "For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours, now and forever." was added to the Scriptures after the Our Father and remained for centuries. You can still see it in the King James Bible (Matthew 6:13).

  • Why was it added?

    Because it was prayed in the liturgy after the Our Father, and some well-meaning monk thought it was missing and inserted it, thinking it was part of the Scriptures.
    Big, Freakin', Deal.

Probably the one change with the biggest implication is a verse in 1 John 5:7, also in the King James, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." This supports the Trinity, but is spurious. It probably came about as a gloss on verse 8 ("And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one"), that is, it was meant as a marginal comment on verse 8 but got confused as part of the text. You can't prove it was malicious. This is the only change I can think of, out of probably hundreds of discrepancies, that have doctrinal implications, but it was identified and removed from modern Bibles. Most of the changes are very, very minor and no raging controversies rest on any of them. The fact that we can identify so many of them is a testimony to our ability to find them and I think proves that they are no big deal. It tends to be self-correcting.

So back to your point.

  • Could there have been monks who "confessed to corrupting" the Scriptures?

    Maybe it was admitting they made an innocent error, not confessing to making a malicious corruption to pursue a specific agenda?

    Until we read these "confessions" Anna refers to, we won't know.

If the fear is someone corrupted the Scriptures to present a radically different view than the
now-lost, original, pure Gospel, well, if you are willing to believe that, you've got bigger problems.

The Catholic Church is infallible in what it teaches as divinely revealed, independent of the Bible. It is, what we call, indefectible; it cannot fail, go astray, or corrupt its infallible teaching; the Holy Spirit prevents Her. If you're willing to believe that the Church went astray, you've already accepted a premise that is inimical to Catholicism.

If you have access to EWTN radio, there is a program on called Catholic Answers Live from 3-5 pm Pacific Daylight Time (California, U.S. time). Tuesdays and Thursdays they have an Open Forum. Wait for Jimmy Akin on Thursdays. He might be able to answer your question if you call into the show.

Eric

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