The Bible

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Region: Europe

Subject: Religion

Medium: Literature


Artist: Various

Confronting Bodies: Church

Description of Artwork: The sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity, divided into three sections:The Hebrew Bible or Old Testament is canonical to both Jews and Christians; the Intertestamental literature including what is sometimes called Apocrypha; and the New Testament cannonical in Christianity only. The Bible contains religious ideas shared by both Jews and Christians. The one called God, the Creator of all that exists. The unity of all mankind; a Convenant people to serve God's will toward all nations; the individual's sacred right to be protected from abuse, exploitation or neglect by the rich and powerful or by society itself; and the future as God's time in which his rule will be fully established.


Italy

Dates of Action: 553, 1900

The Incident: 553: Emperor Justinian issued a decree commanding exclusive use of the Greek and Latin version of the Bible and forbidding the "Midrash", but accepting the Hebrew exposition of the Old Testament.

1900: Pope Leo XIII decreed that translations of the Bible in the vernacular were permitted only if approved by the Holy See.

England

Dates of Action: 1409, 1525, 1555, 1560, 1611, 1631

The Incident: 1409 : The Synod of Canterbury at St.Paul's, London, issued a decree forbidding the translation of the Scripture from one tongue to another, and the reading of a translation later than that of John Wycliffe under penalty of excommunication, unless special license be obtained.

1525-1526 : The New Testament, partly translated by William Tyndale, was printed at Cologne, as it was violently opposed by the clergy in England.

1611 : Copyright in the King James Version rests perpetually in the Crown. Permission to reprint has been given to Oxford, Cambridge, Eyre & Spottiswoode and William Collins.

1631 : In the edition of 1,000 copies of the Bible printed by R. Barker and assigns of Peter Bill the word "not" was omitted from the seventh commandment.

Results of Incident: 1525-1526 : The sheets of 6,000 copies of the Testament were smuggled into England where they were publicly burned by the dignitaries of the Church, thus becoming the first printed book to be banned in England.

1535 : The Old and New Testaments translated by Miles Coverdale were the first complete Bible to be printed in English. Not being licensed by the Church or State, it had to be printed on the Continent.

1611 : Because of the Crown copyright, no authorized Bible in English was printed in what is now the United States until after the Revolution.

1631 : The printers were heavily fined and the edition so vigorously suppressed that few copies have survived. It was named the "Wicked Bible".

France

Dates of Action: 1538

The Incident: Regnault, famous printer of English books was seized by the Inquisition while printing the "great" Bible for Cromwell.

Results of Incident: Regnault was imprisoned and the sheets of the "great" Bible for Cromwell were destroyed.

Spain

Dates of Action: 1551

The Incident: The Inquisitorial Index of Valentia forbade Bibles in Spanish or any other vernacular. 1554 The Inquisitorial Index of Valladolid listed 103 editions of the Bible condemned because of errors and heresies to suppression, correction or cancellation.

Switzerland

Dates of Action: 1560

The Incident: The Geneva or "Breeches Bible" went into 140 editions between 1560 and 1644, although it was forbidden in the churches.

Germany

Dates of Action: 1624

The Incident: The Bible translated by Martin Luther in 1534 which had been the most widely read book in the country was condemned to flames by Papal authority.

The Soviet Union

Dates of Action: 1926

The Incident: Official directions to libraries stated "The section on religion must obtain solely anti-religious books. Religiously dogmatic books such as the Gospel, the Koran, the Talmud, etc. must be left in the large libraries, but removed from smaller ones".

Results of Incident: 1926 Soviet Union : Import of the Bible not permitted.

1956 Soviet Union : The Bible published after a lapse of 38 years.


Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.