Bible - Versions & Translations

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them: Rome's Changing Approach to Controlling the Bible

By The Protestant Alliance of Britain, edited by Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Today over 95% of Bible translation and translation scholarship - both Protestant and Catholic - is under the effective control of the Jesuits. How did it happen?

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part one of a four-part series

Editor's Note: During the 19th century the popes of Rome, employing the devious forces of the Jesuit order, began a systematic campaign to discredit the Bible of the Protestant Reformers, which had been translated from the Received Text in the original languages. But during the 20th century, it became apparent that these tactics were not fully achieving the desired result. Therefore Rome cleverly shifted its tactics. Instead of openly opposing Protestant Bible societies and institutions of linguistic scholarship, Rome began to infiltrate them and effectively take them over.

Rome has achieved that goal. In the decades since the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, through clever maneuvers the Jesuits have gained effective dominance of the field of Bible translation - Protestant as well as Catholic. Today, over 95% of Bible translation worldwide uses source texts that are counterfeits, not the providentially preserved Word of God in the original languages. The Roman Catholic hold on Bible translation and linguistic scholarship grows ever stronger.

How has this happened? How does this impact the church in our time? What must be done to reclaim authentic Scripture from the re-enveloping shroud of Romanist darkness? This series of articles will explore these questions, and provide Biblical answers.

The material below and in three articles to follow first appeared in The Reformer, the publication of the Protestant Alliance of Great Britain. We thank Mr. Charles Scott-Pearson, Organizing Secretary of the Alliance, for permission to reproduce it. - Dr. Paul M. Elliott


In 2011, during commemorations of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorized Version of the Bible, the Vatican Embassy in Washington D.C. stated that the Church of Rome had greatly contributed to its production as it was based on earlier translation work made by a ''Roman Catholic priest", William Tyndale. Most readers, acquainted with Reformation history and the origin of the English Bible, will view this claim with abject incredulity. However, there is a sad truth about many people today who claim to be Christians: they have very little knowledge of the Scriptures and know very little of the history of the Church.

The Church of Rome has been and is constantly active in revising and rewriting history as well as in undermining the positions of Bible believers with their cunning reasoning. One of the claims which is often used by Roman Catholic apologists, particularly when they are unable to cope with the Bible disproving the teachings of their church, is that the Roman Catholic Church gave the Bible to the world.

Before the Second Vatican Council, the Church of Rome was very much against the translation of the Bible in the vernacular and its distribution among the people. In A.D. 666 Latin became the official language of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. The Latin Bible, the Vulgate translated by Jerome in the 4th century, became the official version to be used in churches.

To prevent normal people owning or reading the Bible, either in Latin or in any other language, the Council of Toulouse in 1229 decreed the following: "We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old and the New Testament; unless anyone from the motives of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary [the Roman Catholic liturgy] for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books." The Reformation gave impetus to the translation of the Bible into the vernacular of many of the European nations.

The Vatican Off Balance

The work of Bible Societies throughout the 19th Century and early 20th Century, combined with the zeal of many missionaries, alarmed the Roman Catholic Church. Bibles became available in large quantities in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese and were being given to people who were under Rome's darkness. Large numbers of conversions followed and the Church of Rome was forced to respond.

In 1824, Pope Leo XII in his Encyclical Letter Ubi Primum addressed the bishops with these words: "You have noticed a society, commonly called the Bible society [British and Foreign Bible Society, founded 1804], boldly spreading throughout the whole world. Rejecting the traditions of the holy Fathers and infringing the well-known decree of the Council of Trent, it works by every means to have the holy Bible translated, or rather mistranslated, into the ordinary languages of every nation. There are good reasons for fear that (as has already happened in some of their commentaries and in other respects by a distorted interpretation of Christ's gospel) they will produce a gospel of men, or what is worse, a gospel of the devil!"[1]

Twenty-two years later, Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Qui Plurimus, attacked the work of Bible societies with these words: "These crafty Bible societies, which renew the ancient guile of heretics, cease not to thrust their Bibles upon all men, even the unlearned - their Bibles, which have been translated against the laws of the church, and often contain false explanations of the text. Thus, the divine traditions, the teaching of the Fathers, and the authority of the Catholic Church are rejected, and everyone in his own way interprets the words of the Lord, and distorts their meaning, thereby falling into miserable errors."[2]

The temporal power of Rome was lost in 1870 when the Italian troops invaded the Papal States and conquered Rome, making her the capital of the newly born Kingdom of Italy. The wide circulation of Scriptures in the vernacular in predominantly Roman Catholic nations had begun to undermine the "spiritual power" and the unquestioned religious supremacy enjoyed by the Papacy.

The unstoppable force of the Word of God increased after World War Two. The defeat of Fascist Italy and other Axis powers further undermined the work of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in southern Europe. The victory of the Allied forces was followed, in the aftermath of the war, by the arrival of Protestant missionaries from the United Kingdom, the United States and other Protestant countries. The circulation of Bibles increased alarmingly [in the Vatican's view] and the Church of Rome needed to deal with the increase of Protestants in Europe and Latin America, its heartlands.



1. Ubi Primum, On His Assuming the Pontificate, Pope Leo XII, 1824, as viewed at

2. Qui Pluribus, On Faith and Religion, Pope Pius IX, 1846, as viewed at

Next: The Vatican's Deceitful Response


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