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Title: De Leuvense theologen over de bijbel in de volkstaal
Subtitle: De discussie tussen 1546 en 1564
Author(s): FRANÇOIS, Wim
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 47    Issue: 4   Date: 2007   
Pages: 340-362
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.47.4.3203534

Abstract :
In 1546 the Council of Trent did not reach a universally valid decision on reading the bible in the vernacular; it left the question to the local churches. Shortly thereafter, Louvain theologians announced the compilation of an index forbidding some fifty Dutch and French translations, mainly editions that strayed too far from the Vulgate or announced too many ‘paratextual’ elements on their title pages. Nevertheless, the church’s doubts grew in the 1550s. Obviously the continuing spread of Protestantism, which encouraged lay people to read the bible and which based its (erroneous) teaching on it, nourished these misgivings. That Louvain theologians were less accommodating is evident from their resolution in 1551-52 to have the Council of Trent censure several of Erasmus’ theses, including his too fervent plea for a bible in the vernacular. Moreover, in 1552-53 the faculty advised the imperial government to proclaim a general prohibition against vernacular translations of the bible when it appeared that an Anabaptist revival in Kortrijk (Belgium) was based on an ‘incorrect’ interpretation of Scripture. In Rome, Pope Paul IV used his 1559 Index to compel compliance with a prohibition against printing, reading or owning any edition of the bible or New Testament in the vernacular without the written permission from the Holy Office of the Roman Inquisition. However, this inordinately strict attitude could not be enforced in practice; the Council of Trent mitigated it, adopting a new position when it published the 1564 Index. The fourth of the regulae stated that allowing the bible to be read freely in the vernacular had more disadvantages than benefits. Even so, the bishop or inquisitor could grant permission on an individual basis. Apparently unaffected by the discussions in Louvain and Rome, printers in the southern Low Countries continued to produce Dutch and French translations of the Vulgate. These editions always appeared with the formal permission of censors, who were often theologians from Louvain. That educated lay people and religious read the Bible remained tolerated albeit as personal preparation for the readings in church and explanation by the pastor. Traditional mistaken ideas that ‘obscure’ Louvain theologians were completely against vernacular bibles or that Catholics in the Low Countries were prevented from reading the bible need refining.

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