|From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase|
Part three of a four-part series. Read part two.
Editor's Note: This article describes the strategies and tactics by which the Roman Catholic church, through the Jesuits, began to gain control of Protestant as well as Catholic Bible translation worldwide after the Second Vatican Council. Again, we are grateful to the Protestant Alliance of Great Britain for permission to reproduce this material, which first appeared in their bimonthly publication, The Reformer. We have added the hyperlinks within these articles, and the explanatory footnotes. - Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Whilst the Roman Catholic Church did not alter any of its doctrines in the Second Vatican Council, it did radically alter its attitudes and approaches to the post World War Two world. The social upheaval caused by changing political boundaries in Europe, the rise of Communism, the spread of Protestantism and other religions meant that things had to be approached very differently. The result was the birth of the Ecumenical Movement and the Inter-Faith Movement.
The Critical Role of Augustine Bea
One of the main architects of the Second Vatican Council was the Jesuit, Cardinal Augustine Bea. A German scholar and author of more than 430 articles and 8 books, Bea was the main contributor to twelve of the fourteen documents issued by the Council. He had also been the adviser in the preparation of the Declaration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, issued as an infallible dogma in 1950. Augustine Bea was also, until his death in 1968, the President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity which issued the notable decree Unitatis redintegratio (Restoring Unity) on Ecumenism in which Protestants were no longer described as "heretics", but condescendingly classed as "separated brethren".
Augustine Bea was also an excellent scholar in biblical languages and had been appointed as Rector of the Biblical Institute in Rome where he taught for over twenty years. He had also been instrumental, in the midst of the Second World War, to establish connections between Rome and German liberal Protestant scholars, particularly those involved in Bible translations.
The Birth of the United Bible Societies
In the aftermath of the Second World War it was felt that some substantial changes needed to be made to the Bible societies in Europe. Consequently, in 1946 a number were merged into one main body so that resources and funds could be pooled and this single organization is called the United Bible Societies (U.B.S.). To date it has incorporated 140 different Bible societies involved in many translating projects around the world.
In the years preceding the Second Vatican Council, a dialogue was begun between the U.B.S. and the Church of Rome. It was believed that co-operation in Bible translation between Roman Catholics and Protestants would in time lessen the differences and help the Church of Rome change its teachings. This was surely due to the fact that liberal Protestants had been deceived in believing that Rome had changed.
To achieve this kind of co-operation the U.B.S. replaced the conservative elements among their leadership with more moderate men who could welcome Roman Catholic scholars in their midst.
The most suitable Roman Catholic scholar at the time was Cardinal Augustine Bea who, before his death, agreed with the U.B.S. and published a document entitled Guiding Principles for lnterconfessional Cooperation in Translating the Bible (1968).
It is interesting to notice the agreed guiding principles stating that the Working Committee should be made of four or six scholars equally divided between Protestant and Roman Catholic constituencies and possessing four essential characteristics: equal standing, complementary abilities, mutual respect and capacity to work together.
The Texts The U.B.S. Promotes - And the One It Suppresses
The U.B.S. are the main promoter of the Kurt Aland Greek New Testament (also known as the Nestle New Testament) upon which most modern versions of the Bible are based. This Greek New Testament is a compilation of various old manuscripts and fragments. It incorporates the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Alexandrinus, the Codex Sinaiticus, and it also takes into account ancient copies of the New Testament in Latin (including the Latin Vulgate) and ancient Syriac. It should be noted that it does not incorporate the Textus Receptus, the New Testament manuscript upon which all of the Protestant Reformers based their translations including the Authorized Version.
The editorial committee of the U.B.S. is also responsible for the classification of the various manuscripts, fragments and texts used in the compilation of the Greek New Testament to be used by translators. They classified the texts in four categories marked with the letters of the alphabet: A indicating that the text is virtually certain, B that there is some degree of doubt, C that there is a considerable degree of doubt and, D that there is a very high degree of doubt.
Among the U.B.S. Leaders, A Man Who Was Almost Elected Pope
Following the death of Cardinal Bea in 1968, the U.B.S. extended the invitation to join their editorial committee to another equally able Jesuit scholar, Carlo Maria Martini, who later on would be elevated to the rank of Cardinal.
In 1975, the 3rd edition of the Greek New Testament published by U.B.S. listed as editors Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo Maria Martini (who was almost elected pope in 2005 - see below - ed.), Bruce Metzger and Allen Wikgren. [None of them were regenerated believers. - ed.] It was during the latter seventies that several inter-confessional projects of the New Testament were started in some countries under the auspices of the U.B.S.. The revision of this Greek New Testament, currently in its 5th edition, is used by most Bible Societies and other Bible translating agencies.
1. The so-called Assumption of Mary is the false doctrine that Mary, like Jesus, was sinless and that her allegedly incorrupt body was elevated to Heaven at her death.
2. Dr. Kurt Aland (1915-1994) was an unbelieving linguistic scholar who looked upon the Bible as an essentially human book. Among other things, he denied the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture by the Holy Spirit and denied that the four Gospels and several other New Testament books were written by the men for whom they are named. For a more detailed discussion of Aland's unbelief, see What Today's Christian Needs to Know About Dr. Kurt Aland, Textual Critic, published by the Trinitarian Bible Society, 2007.
3. Matthew Black (1908-1994) was a minister of the liberal Church of Scotland and a professor of Biblical criticism at two major Scottish universities. He was the first editor of New Testament Studies, an academic journal published by Cambridge University that promotes views of the text of Scripture that deny verbal plenary inspiration by the Holy Spirit.
4. Carlo Maria Martini (1927-2012) was a Jesuit, a cardinal of the Roman Catholic church, and in 2005 was nearly elected pope. Considered a towering intellectual figure within the church, Martini was also considered a social liberal. After the death of Pope John Paul II, Martini was nearly elected as his successor. According to several reports he received the largest number of votes on the first ballot of the conclave to elect the next pope, but fell short of a clear majority. In a later round of voting, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger obtained a majority and became Benedict XVI.
5. Bruce Metzger (1914-2007) was a minister of the liberal mainline Presbyterian church, and took a naturalistic view of the text of Scripture. He was a contributor to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and chaired the translation committee for the New Revised Standard Version from 1977 to 1990. According to a biography published by the Society of Biblical Literature, Metzger "took great satisfaction in the expansion of the NRSV to include all the texts viewed as canonical by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Protestant Christians, and was pleased to present copies of it to both Pope John Paul II and His All Holiness Demetrios [prelate of the Greek Orthodox Church]."
6. Allen Wikgren (1906-1998) was an ordained minister of the liberal Northern Baptist Convention and New Testament scholar at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He was a member of the committee that produced the Revised Standard Version, focusing on the translation of the deuterocanonical books - the Roman Catholic and Orthodox additions to the authentic canon of Scripture.
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