Bible Study

Catholic Church: “Don’t Read the Bible!”

by Steve Ray on September 9, 2016

bible-study-bannerWe often hear that the Catholic Church has forbidden the reading of the Bible! Have you heard this? Yeah, me too! But, this is another one of those big myths which has worked its way into the popular dialog but one that has not been proved from Church teaching and documents.

There are two good list of quotes from Church documents and leaders of the Church from the early centuries until today.

The second is a list of Catholic Bibles from ancient times that prove the charge against the Catholic Church false, since the Forewords and Prefaces prove that the Catholic Church PROMOTED the reading of Scripture.

Here is the beginning of a long article which gives a TON of information on this topic and proves the Catholic Church has not forbidden the reading of Scripture — but quite the contrary, it has always promoted the reading and study of Scripture by the faithful.

02064_early_church_fathersjpg.jpegDoes/Did the Catholic Church Forbid the Reading of the Bible?

In three parts:
1) Introductory Comments
2) Pope Leo XIII’s On the Study of Holy Scripture
3) Multiple Quotes from Fathers, Popes and Councils

You and I have both heard the myth: “The Catholic Church has forbidden Catholics from reading the Bible!”

I am not intending to say that Catholics, especially in the United States were always big Bible readers in the past.  Certainly there was a deficit in this area — and a certain shyness coming from the problems of Protestantism and their Bible-thumping ways.

But it is a MYTH that Catholics did not read the Bible until the late 20th Century —  until after Vatican II.  Those who could read (many could not read over the centuries and even today ½ the world’s population is effectively illiterate) did read the Bible when they had them.1 Catholic biblical scholarship did not begin with Pius XII. It seems almost ludicrous to have to say that since we Catholics have had the best and the brightest of biblical scholars long before modern times — just consider Origen, Tertullian, St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Thomas Aquinas just to mention a few.

There has been a very long history of Bible reading, study and scholarship stretching back to the beginning of Christian/Catholic history….

For the whole article and list of quotes, click here.

{ 7 comments }

“Bible Christians”
(a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises:

1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone;
2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their own pope;
3. The Bible is perspicuous (i.e., easy to understand) and it can be interpreted and understood by anyone.
4. An individual can/should read the Bible and interpret the Bible for themselves.

Catholics have a different set of premises that direct their study of the Bible.

1. The authority of the Apostles and the Church preceded the Bible and the Sacred Tradition of the Church is an equally infallible authority (2 Thes 2:15; CCC 80-83). The Bible is part of the Apostolic Tradition.
2. The authoritative interpretation of the Bible is the prerogative of the Catholic Church (1 Tim 3:15; Mt 18:17; CCC 85-88).
3. The Bible is not always easy to understand (2 Pet 3:15-16) and needs to understood within its historical and contextual framework and interpreted within the community to which it belongs.
4. Individuals can/should read the Bible and interpret the Bible for themselves—but within the framework of the Church’s authoritative teaching and not based on their own “private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:20-21).

These basic differences place the Catholic and Protestant worlds apart even though they are opening the pages of the same book and accepting it as an authoritative revelation from God. The Catholic position is biblical, and has been espoused from the first days of the Church. The Protestant position is unbiblical (assumed from their newly devised tradition) and is of recent origin. The Catholic is in full continuity with historical Christianity; Protestants are in discontinuity.

For the best Catholic Bible software, visit www.Logos.com/steveray

My article “Bible Study: Playground or Minefield? Why We Need the Church”

My article: “How to Start a Parish Bible Study”

“Questions for ‘Bible Christians'”

{ 18 comments }

The Cross & the Crucifix

(From a letter Steve wrote to a Evangelical Protestant who asked about the Catholic Crucifix)


Dear Evangelical Friend:

You display a bare cross in your home; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A crucifix is the same, but it has Christ’s body (corpus) attached to the cross.

As an Evangelical Protestant I rejected the crucifix, as you do—Christ was no longer on the cross; he had ascended into heaven. So why do I now tremble in love and awe at the site of a crucifix? Let’s examine the history and issues surrounding the two.

I will provide a brief overview of the Cross and the Crucifix, the origin, the history, and the differing perspectives of Catholic and Protestant. It will try to catch the historical flow and include the pertinent points. The outline is as follows:


1. The Three Main Protestant Objections to the Crucifix
2. Images and Gods in the Old Testament
3. Images and Images of Christ in the New Testament
4. The Cross in the First Centuries
5. The Crucifix Enters the Picture
6. The “Reformation” and Iconoclasm
7. Modern Anti-Catholics and the Crucifix
8. Ecumenical Considerations

To read the whole article, click here. To read Steve’s other articles, click here. For Steve’s talk “The Pain of the Crucifixion,“ click here.

{ 4 comments }

Martyrs of Rome: Are You Prepared to Witness for Christ?

June 30, 2016

One of the talks I gave while we were just in Rome today is about the Apostolic Fathers and Suffering for the Faith. It is dear to my heart since we just traveled all over following the footprints of St. Paul and the Apostolic Fathers. I will be speaking on the suffering and martyrdom of early Christians. We […]

Read the full article →

How do YOU Read the Bible?

June 24, 2016

A Little Poem about Reading/Studing the Bible in Context I supposed I knew my Bible, Reading piecemeal, hit or miss, Now a bit of John or Matthew, Now a snatch of Genesis, Certain chapters of Isaiah, Certain Psalms (the twenty-third), Twelfth of Romans, first of Proverbs — Yes, I thought I knew the Word! But […]

Read the full article →

What Translation of the Bible Should You Use?

May 25, 2016

No translation is perfect. Translating ancient and foreign languages into English is not as easy as it would seem. There are ambiguities and linguistic hurtles.  Picture a sliding scale from left to right. Every translation fits somewhere along that scale. At one end of the scale literal  translations and on the other extreme are dynamic […]

Read the full article →

Top Ten Catholic Searches on Verbum

May 6, 2016

Verbum Software is the premier program for Catholic and Bible study. It is powerful beyond belief. Here are their Top Ten searches over the last year.  I have personally used the search well over a thousand times in the last year. This program is open on my computer, front and center, 24 hours a day […]

Read the full article →

Sympathy for Cradle Catholics Who Can’t Explain or Defend the Faith

April 7, 2016

I thought of a helpful illustration to explain why “cradle Catholics” are often unable to explain and defend the Catholic faith. The example has its weaknesses, but it does help get the point across. As an American I asked myself this question: if some one trained to attack America intellectually approached me on the street […]

Read the full article →

How We REALLY Got the Bible – the Facts Simply Presented (print this out, hand it out)

March 31, 2016

This is just one page of Bob Sullivan’s excellent little tri-fold handout to explain how we got the Bible. It is from the Catholic and historical perspective without all the Protestant biases and twisting of history. I think you enjoy the whole thing which you can see here. You can print this out, fold it […]

Read the full article →

Can Peter Walk on Water? Can Sinful Men be Infallible?

January 9, 2016

Is it possible for a sinful, fallible man to give an infallible interpretation of Scripture or an infallible definition of doctrine? If he is fallible and sinful, doesn’t that preclude his ability to be infallible when it comes to things of God? No. In fact while many Protestants would say the Pope cannot be infallible […]

Read the full article →

Ready to Start Studying the Bible in 2016? It’s Time to Prepare Now!

November 27, 2015

Since I was 17 years old, studying the Bible has been my passion. Now as a Catholic it has increased 100%. Back in my youth, I could never have anticipated the wealth of materials for study that I now have at my fingertips. I recommend two great Catholic resources: FIRST, Catholic Scripture Study International. I […]

Read the full article →

The Bible out of Context: “Saved by Faith Alone”?

November 19, 2015

When reading the Bible devoid of its historical and textual context, there is no context except the context which any person might supply for it. or put otherwise, A text without a context is a pretext. I always get frustrated when self-proclaimed Bible students or teachers start pontificating about the meaning of the Bible and […]

Read the full article →

Should Catholics Attend Non-denominational or Ecumenical Bible Studies?

November 8, 2015

Every day, Catholics are invited by coworkers, neighbors, and even family members to “ecumenical” Bible studies. Should they go? Certainly all of us would benefit from more study of Scripture, but as someone who has been a part of a number of Protestant Bible studies—I’ve even taught them—I discourage Catholics from attending them because of […]

Read the full article →

Catholic Bible Study: Difference between Catholics and Protestants

September 9, 2015

Protestant “Bible Christians” (a misnomer, since Catholics are the real and original Bible Christians), based on their recently devised “Reformation” principle of sola Scriptura, study the Bible with the following premises: 1. There is no binding authority but the Bible alone; 2. There is no official binding interpretation or interpreter; each person ultimately is their […]

Read the full article →

Test Drive It! A Catholic Library Synced on my Laptop, iPad and iPhone

August 11, 2015

I’ve waited 20 years for this. I have the fantastic Verbum Catholic and Bible Software. They are doing it right! It is thoroughly Catholic — to my great joy. It continues to grow in resources and power. It is on my computer 24 hours a day! But now the icing is on the cake! They […]

Read the full article →

Steve and Liz in Roman Forum Discussing Ancient Rome and the First Christians – and Biblical Literacy

May 31, 2015

I have provided two short 6 minute video clips of me (Steve Ray) and Liz Lev as we talked to my group in the Ancient Rome Forum today.  First, Liz spoke about the clash of empires: the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God. The key line is this: Rome had just claimed that the […]

Read the full article →