BIBLE READING PROHIBITED ?
Did the Catholic Church prevent the people from reading the Bible by keeping
it in Latin ?
This surprising fact can be easily verified at any good library by looking at condensed biographies of early English writers which reveal the educational system of that time period.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400) learned his Latin through the medium of French, but once Latin was learned both English and French were forbidden.
“At Westminster School, and probably at Saint Paul's, too, a boy who knew
Latin and presumed to speak English, or even French, had a cut of the cane for every word so spoken...
“Latin (the international scholarly language)”
In regards to William Shakespeare, 1564-1616 AD, he studied at the King’s New School. He studied Latin and his other subjects were taught in Latin.
“The basic medium of instruction was Latin”
“He had no Hebrew and not much Greek, reading Greek authors as much as possible
in Latin translations.”
On page 122 we read about the education of Edmund Spenser, 1552-1559 AD. The curriculum included a great deal of Latin, as in other grammar schools, and also Greek, but if it included English that would have been exceptional.
Edmund Spenser 1552-1559 AD, “He was educated
at Merchant Taylor's School …from it's foundation in 1561. There the curriculum included a great deal of Latin,
some Greek (certainly Homer), and the Hebrew psalter. As in other grammar schools the Latin would be not only classical
but Renaissance: .... Exceptionally, the curriculum extended to music and possibly even to English. For the headmaster
was an advanced educationalist, the great Richard Mulcaster.”
Therefore, we can clearly see that those who were educated in how to read knew how to read Latin much better than they knew how to read English.
Also, it should be noted that the purpose the Church had for translating the Bible into Latin was for the express purpose making it more accessible to the people. Jerome’s translated the Bible into Latin around 400 AD. It was called the Latin Vulgate. Vulgate comes from the Latin word for “common” because Latin was the common language of Western Europe at that time.
“The number of translations . . . of the complete Bible, was indeed very great
. . . Between this period  and the separation of the Churches at least fourteen complete editions of the
Bible were published in High German, and five in the low German dialect. The first High German edition was brought
out in 1466 by Johann Mendel, of Strasburg . . .”
We also can see how the Catholic Church translated the Bible into English long before John Wycliff.
“[W]e have a copy of the work of Caedmon, a monk of Whitby, in the end of
the 7th century, consisting of great portions of the Bible … we have the well-known translations of the Venerable
Bede, a monk of Jarrow . . . In the same (8th) century we have the copies of Eadhelm . . . of Guthlac, . . . and
of Egbert . . . these were all in Saxon, the language understood and spoken by the Christians of that time. Coming
down a little later, we have the free translations of King Alfred the Great . . . and of Aelfric, Archbishop of
Canterbury . . . the paraphrase of Orm (about 1150) and the Salus Animae (1250), the translations of William Shoreham
and Richard Rolle . . . (d.1349) . . .”
Also, it should be noted that the Pope asked St. Jerome to translate the Bible into Latin because that was the common language of the people of that time, around 400 AD, in Western Europe. It is called the Latin Vulgate, whereas Vulgate comes from the word for "common."
Most importantly, we must realize that at least up until the 16th century that those who could read could read Latin. This is because the schools not only taught Latin, but they even taught the other subjects in Latin as is documented above.
Church in History Note:
This article was obtained from the: ‘Defending the Bride’ website. You can find more interesting articles there concerning the bible.