Saturday, November 26, 2016

God Works In Mysterious Ways - Part 1

God Works In Mysterious Ways - Part 1

God is always working. (John 5:17) We do not always see it at the time, but we can often trace his work in retrospect. Here is an example.

In the early 1500s, there was a Dutch scholar named Desiderius Erasmus. He was a Catholic monk, but managed to persuade the Pope to release him from his vows to become a full time scholar with a living allowance. He was interested in studying the New Testament in its original language, Greek. In 1516, 500 years ago this year, he produced the first Greek New Testament in book form and published it.

At that time, the only version of the Bible known in Europe was the Latin Vulgate. It was the only version approved by the Roman Catholic Church. Knowledge of Greek had dwindled to near extinction. But the fall of Constantinople, the last vestige of the Roman Empire, caused many monks and scholars to flee Asia for Europe, bringing with them many manuscripts of the scriptures in Greek. Scholars, including Erasmus, revived the study of Greek. He set about to study these manuscripts and produce a Greek manuscript of the New Testament.

The very next year, Gutenberg invented the moveable type printing press. That made the production of books much faster, easier and more economical.

Around 300,000 copies of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament were printed and sold. One of those copies fell into the hands of a German, and former Catholic monk, named Martin Luther. Although Luther had left the Catholic church and was a theological opponent of Erasmus, he recognized the value of the Greek New Testament. He translated it into German so that Germans could read it. Luther’s New Testament was published in 1522.

Another copy of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament came to an Englishman named William Tyndale. Tyndale translated it into English and published it in 1526.

The translators of both the Geneva Bible and the King James Bible consulted Erasmus’ work. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Erasmus’ Greek New Testament fueled the Reformation even though Erasmus was Catholic.  One of the tenets of the Reformation was “ad fontes”. It means ‘back to the original”. They wanted to know what they Bible meant in the original language with no gloss added by the Catholic church.

The Catholic church of that was opposed to translations of the Bible into common languages. Despite this, God worked to bring his word to the world through Erasmus and the Catholic Church.

God works in mysterious ways. 
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