The History of the English Bible Part 12:Douay-Rheims Bible (1582-1610)

Rheims NT 1582

The Roman Catholic Church being faced with the threat of the growing number of protestants and easily available protestant written English bibles realized that they had to publish an English bible that supported their doctrine. If they didn’t their congregations would be reading the Geneva bible with it’s Calvinistic notes and anti-Catholic commentary. William Allen, a devout Roman Catholic established an English College in Douay, France in 1568. Due to his unpopularity after supporting a failed attempt by Spain to conquer England and covert it back to Roman Catholicism, he moved the school to Rheims, France in 1578. By 1593 he was able to move back to Douay.

While in Rheims an instructor at his school named Gregory Martin started translating the Vulgate into English. He completed and published the New Testament in 1582. Martin died in 1584 so Allen and another scholar Richard Bristow finished the Old Testament and published it in 1610. It was known as the Douay-Rheims Bible because it was began in Rheims and completed in Douay.

This translation was not from original Greek or Hebrew texts because the Catholics believed the Vulgate held higher inspired status than the original languages. The preface of this bible states that it was made to refute “false translations” by Protestants. The Apocrypha was included and was mixed in with the canonical books. The text was translated in a way that supported Roman Catholic doctrine (see Lord’s prayer below for example) and it contained marginal notes to support RCC doctrine.

John 3:16 Douay-Rheims Bible (1899 edition)

For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.

The Lord’s Prayer from Douay-Rheims Bible (1610 edition) Matthew 6:9-13

ovr Father which art in heauen, sanctified be thy name. Let thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heauen, in earth also. Giue vs to day our supersubstantial bread. And forgiue vs our dettes, as we also forgiue our detters. And leade vs not into tentation. But deliuer vs from euil. Amen.

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