The Jesuits and Their Versions
In May 1962, Russell travelled for the first time
across Australia, to Perth in the state of Western Australia, representing
the University of Sydney. The Sydney University group was billeted at St.
Thomas More College. The college is an adjunct of the University of
Western Australia, run by the Roman Catholic Church, conducted by the
members of the order of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).
This college was no isolated work of the Jesuits, for
since their founding by Ignatius of Loyola in 1540, the chief thrust of
the Jesuits has been in the field of education. They are described as a
mendicant order of Clerks Regular. By the term mendicant is meant
that they rely upon alms for their maintenance. The term regular
was applied to those priests who do not serve as parish priests (termed secular)
but rather belong to a contemplative order.
While initially the Jesuits confined themselves to
establishing their own colleges for the training of members of their
order, the first in Gandia, Spain, in 1546, very shortly they were
penetrating the tertiary institutions of secular and even Protestant
In countries where Catholicism was threatened by
Protestantism, the early Jesuits took up key positions, usually in
colleges, in order to stop the defections from the Roman church." Encyclopedia
Britannica, 1963 ed., Article Society of Jesus
Education is the principal occupation of Jesuits in
the missions as well as in Europe and America. Ibid.
Some of the most prestigious universities in the United
States, such as Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., are operated by
the Jesuits. In 1896, the Jesuits obtained the permission of Oxford
University to open Champion Hall as a part of the university. This pattern
was adopted by the University of Western Australia when it permitted a
similar privilege to the Jesuits in the establishment of St. Thomas More
The Jesuits were committed to the restoration of the
authority of the Roman Catholic Church, which had been critically damaged
by the Protestant Reformation. Perceptively, these servants of Rome
recognized that the strength of the Reformation lay in its acceptance of
the pure Word of God as the sole basis of truth. The Word of God was of
only marginal consequence, in the minds of the Jesuits, as compared with
the maintenance of papal authority. Thus, unlike the Reformers, the
Jesuits possessed no conviction dictating to them that they preserve God’s
Word inviolate. Indeed, it perfectly suited their purposes to denigrate
God’s Word and to cast doubt upon its purity. If they could achieve this
aim, then Christians would once again be compelled to depend upon the
edicts and traditions of the papists to find a platform for their faith.
Even in the fourteenth century a companion of Wycliffe
Although there should be a hundred popes in the world
at once, and all the friars living should be transformed into cardinals,
we must withhold our confidence from them in the matter of faith so far
as their teachings are those not of the Scriptures. Merle D’Aubigné, The
Reformation in England, vol. 1, 97
It was this stand for truth which confrontationally
challenged the entire authority of the papal system, an authority which
the Jesuits sought to restore by their subtle activity in the educational
institutions of Europe and abroad.
Sir Thomas More had challenged the trail-blazing work
of William Tyndale in presenting these Scriptures translated from the
original languages to the English people in their own tongue. Said More,
We must not examine the teaching of the church by
Scripture, but understand Scripture by means of what the church says.
Tyndale was quick to reply and apt to destroy the Lord
Chancellor’s foolish assertion.
What! Does the air give light to the sun, or the sun
to the air? Is the church before the gospel, or the gospel before the
church? Is not the father older than the son? God begat us with His
own will, with the word of truth, says St. James (1:18). If He who
begetteth is before Him who is begotten, the Word is before the
church, or, to speak more correctly, before the congregation.
Compelling as were arguments such as those proffered by
Tyndale, they did not pierce the blind bigotry of papists determined to
ignore the centrality of Scripture to a pure faith. Thus the Jesuits were
absolutely correct in their discernment that a pure Scripture would
destroy the power of Roman Catholicism.
No order of the Roman Catholic Church was better
designed than the Jesuit, for the task of perverting Scripture:
It was at the feet of the Jesuits that the youth of
the higher and middle classes were brought up from childhood to manhood,
from the first rudiments to the courses of rhetoric and philosophy. . .
. Jesuits were to be found under every disguise, and in every country;
scholars, physicians, merchants, serving men; in the hostile court of
Sweden, in the old manor-house of Cheshire, among the hobbles of
Connaught; arguing, instructing, consoling, stealing away the hearts of
the young, alienating the courage of the timid, holding up the crucifix
before the eyes of the dying. MaCaulay, Essays, 480-4812
In the Council of Trent, convened in the sixteenth
century to re-establish the supremacy of Roman Catholicism, the Jesuits
played a decisive role. A significant group of delegates, taking their
cues from the Protestant Reformers, advocated the concept of the supremacy
of Scripture in providing doctrinal authority. But the Jesuits, and those
delegates of like thought, saw the danger of accepting such a proposal;
for had it been adopted, it would destroy, rather than establish, the
Papacy. After much discussion, Gaspare de Posso, archbishop of Reggio, put
forward an unassailable argument which decided the issue. He correctly
asserted that there is absolutely no biblical sanction for Sunday
observance. The "sanctity" of Sunday could only be validated by
acceptance of the establishment of papal tradition as a God-ordained
doctrine. The archbishop’s argument has been preserved. He stated:
The authority of the church is illustrated most
clearly by Scriptures: for while on the one hand she [the church]
recommends them, declares them to be divine, [and] offers them to us to
be read . . . on the other hand, the legal precepts in the Scriptures
taught by the Lord have ceased by virtue of the same authority [the
church]. The Sabbath, the most glorious day in the law, has been changed
into the Lord’s day. . . . These and other similar matters have not
ceased by virtue of Christ’s teaching (for He says He has come to
fulfill the law, not to destroy it), but they have been changed by the
authority of the church. Mervyn Maxwell, God Cares, vol. 1, 128
Thus the Council of Trent accepted four errors in
relationship to Scripture:
1. That tradition has equal standing with Scripture
in determining doctrine.
2. That the apocryphal books are canonical.
3. That the Latin Vulgate is errorless and that it is
unnecessary to study the original Greek and Hebrew writings.
4. That Scripture cannot be understood by the layman
guided alone by the Holy Spirit.
Armed with the authority of the Council of Trent, the
Jesuits exerted every effort to destroy the authority of the English
version of Scripture based upon the received texts (Textus Receptus).
They conceived a plan to destroy the value of Scripture and thus turn the
English back to Rome: it was decided to concede the need for a Bible in
the English language, but to base it largely upon the Latin Vulgate, with
some reference to the original languages. This work was undertaken in
Douay, a small town near Lille in France where the Jesuits had set up a
university to train English priests to return to their homeland to promote
the return to Catholicism.
It is instructive to compare the aims of the
translators of the Douay Version with those of the King James translators.
The Jesuits had no love for Scripture, for it was the greatest adversary
of the Papacy. Thus in pursuing their translations,
the Jesuits were acting to turn the English people
from the Bible, back to Romanism. B.G.Wilkinson, Our Authorized
Version Vindicated, 66
Compare this attitude toward their task with that of
fifty-four godly men who brought forth the King James Version.
But among all our joys, there was no one that more
filled our hearts than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s
sacred Word among us; which is that inestimable treasure which excelleth
all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself,
not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and
disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven. Dedication
of King James Version of Scripture
So despised was the Scripture by Roman Catholics that
one learned Catholic theologian declared to Tyndale:
We were better to be without God’s laws than the
pope’s. E.G. White, The Great Controversy, 246
While the Douay Version of Scripture was never able to
achieve the acceptance accorded the King James Version, it was the
influence of this Jesuit-inspired version of Scripture which has, in the
latter half of the twentieth century, prevailed through the plethora of
modern translations foisted upon present-day Christians. From the failure
of the Douay Version has risen the success of the New International
Version and similar other modern versions.
The Jesuits’ scheme was masterful. They did not
discredit Scripture as did our ancestor, Dr. Henry Standish, bishop of St.
Asaph in Wales. In 1516, Bishop Standish threw himself at the feet of King
Henry VIII and Queen Catherine and exclaimed,
Great King, your ancestors who have reigned over this
island—and yours, O great queen, who have governed Aragon, were always
distinguished by their zeal for the church. Show yourselves worthy of
your forefathers. Times full of danger have come upon us; a book has
just appeared, and been published too, by Erasmus!3
it is all over with the religion of Christ among us. Merle D’Aubigné,
The English Reformation, vol. 1, 163
As D’Aubigné remarked,
Bishop Standish’s courage was worthy of a better
How we wish that the bearer of our own surname had
distinguished himself as did one of this successors to the see of St.
Asaph who, seventy-two years later (1589), translated the Word of God into
the Welsh language!
The Jesuits possessed much more guile than this
mistaken bishop. They recognized that so loved and esteemed were the Holy
Scriptures, such a source of faith and comfort, that any attempt to wrench
them from the devout Christians of Britain was bound to fail. Thus they
directed their attack along the subtle lines of producing an alternative
version, one not only incorporating papal errors, but also casting doubt
upon masses of retained texts.
Some have looked at the changes accepted into the
Catholic Version of Scripture and have correctly pointed out that these
changes are not favorable to Roman Catholic doctrine in some cases. Let us
instance one example. The passage quoted earlier in this book, 1 Timothy
3:16 which affirms both the human flesh and the divinity of Jesus Christ,
is not in accord with Roman Catholic doctrine. Roman Catholics firmly
believe in the divinity of Jesus. Why then, it is often asked, should the
Catholics accept this change? The answer is quite simple. Roman Catholics
do not depend upon Scripture for their doctrinal positions. They depend
upon the word of the pope and church tradition. That which is recorded in
Scripture is of but marginal interest to them, for they have a preferred
source of authority. However, the Jesuits rightly perceived that if the
Bible were equivocal, even contradictory, the inconsistency would well
serve the purpose of the Papacy in weakening the Bible as the sole
authority for Protestant faith. If this aim were achieved, then the
Jesuits felt certain that there would be a return to the acceptance of the
authority of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. As we will see, this judgment
was far from faulty.
1 Sir Thomas More (1478 - 1535) was
Lord Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. He sent many English
Reformers to the stake, being a staunch Roman Catholic layman. His
influence over the king was strong, but eventually he lost favor with the
king and was beheaded. This act of Henry VIII, which was not specifically
related to More’s faith, transformed More into a Catholic martyr and led
eventually to his canonization.<BACK>
2 There are those in our midst today
who are using the same threefold attack on truth:
a. The presentation of false doctrine to the youth
b. The intimidation of the timid
c. Uplifting the pagan symbol of the cross
It was a successful formula in the sixteenth century and is proving no
less successful four centuries later. <BACK>
3 This was Erasmus’ Greek New Testament
upon which the Textus Receptus was later based.<BACK>