Why Satan Wants You to Have a Bible

When Satan discovered that he could not extinguish the name "Christian" through persecution, he craftily worked to make the Bible inaccessible. It's rather ironic how it happened. At the close of the fourth century, Christianity was legal, and nominal (if not necessarily New Testament) Christianity was flourishing. Latin was spoken throughout the Roman empire, but the Bible wasn't revealed by God in Latin but in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. A prominent theologian named Jerome was commissioned by the church at Rome to create a translation to standardize what was already widely happening - the translation of the Bible into Latin.

Jerome's translation of the Bible was eventually called the Vulgate, taken from the Latin word for "common," as Latin was the common language of the time. Jerome wasn't attempting to obfuscate the Bible but to make it more accessible. However, within one hundred years of his work, the western Roman empire fell to non-Latin speaking people. Over time, Latin became a dead language, and illiteracy rates climbed. So, what was intended as a common translation became more and more uncommon to people who either didn't read or write, or, even if they could, didn't necessarily do so in Latin.

Satan seized the opportunity this created, and successfully tempted leaders of the increasingly prominent and powerful Roman church to 1) restrict access to the Bible and 2) forbid translation of the Bible into common languages. The Dark Ages may have been dark because of illiteracy, but they were also dark because of a lack of access to the Bible. Oh, the western world went to church and heard the Bible, but its denizens heard the Bible read from a translation that they could not understand. Those who translated the Bible or advocated the use of a common translation were excommunicated, imprisoned, or sometimes even killed.

God has always ensured that Satan does not triumph against the truth forever. He began to providentially destroy Satan's ability to restrict access to the Bible through a number of people and events, including Johann Gutenberg 's invention of a printing press featuring movable type. This invention dramatically lowered the cost of making copies of books, which in turn led to the widespread dissemination of translated copies of the Bible. In fact, the first book Gutenberg printed was the Bible. It took some incredibly brave translators and many years, but eventually the Bible found its way back into the hands of the common man.
A facsimile of the Gutenberg Bible housed at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt
A facsimile of the Gutenberg Bible housed at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt
Today, literacy rates are incredibly high globally, and the Bible has never been more accessible. You can download it on the internet for free! But here's something to think about: has Satan stopped working? No. While there are still some forces that restrict access to the Bible in certain parts of the world, Satan has taken a different tact in many places. By making the Bible free in many places, he's convinced people living there that it is of little value. People see it everywhere and simply take it for granted.

People bled and died to ensure that you would be able to read the Bible in your own language. Never take that privilege for granted, and please, make the most of it.
-Patrick Swayne  






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