Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 18, 1950

The Bordeaux New Testament

W. L. Wharton, Houston, Texas

The following fact is perhaps known only to a few; it deserves some imperishable record. In the year of 1685, Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, deprived the Protestants of their civil and religious privileges, and forced hundreds of thousands of them to leave their native land, and seek an asylum where they might worship God without molestation and restraint. But it was soon found that Protestantism, though oppressed, was not destroyed. A new line of policy was then adopted. The Papists saw that they could not prevent the scriptures from being read, and therefore resolved to force that sacred text itself into their service, by the most audacious corruptions and interpolations. An edition of the New Testament was published, so translated, that a Roman Catholic might find in it explicit statements of the peculiar dogmas of his church. The book was printed at Bordeaux, 1686. It was entitled, "The New Testament of Our S a vi o r Jesus Christ. Translated from Latin into French, by the divines of Louvain:" and the attestation of the archbishop of Bordeaux was prefixed to it, assuring the reader that it was "carefully revised and corrected." Two doctors in divinity of the university of the same place also recommended it as useful to all those, who, with permission of their superiors, might read it. A few quotations will show the manner in which the work was executed, and the object which the translators had in view.

In the summary of the "contents" of Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22, it is said that those chapters contain the account of the "institution of the mass!" Acts 13:2 ("as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted") is thus rendered: "as they offered to the Lord the sacrifice of the mass, and fasted," etc. In Acts 11:30, and other places, where our English version has the word "elders," this edition has "priests."

A practice that has proved very productive of gain to the priesthood, is made scriptural in the following manner: "And his father and mother went every year in pilgrimage to Jerusalem," Luke 2:41. "And not only so, but also he was appointed by the churches the companion of our pilgrimage," 2 Cor. 8:19. "Beloved, thou actest as a true believer in all that thou doest towards the brethren, and towards the pilgrims." 3 John 5.

Tradition is thus introduced: "Ye keep my commandments, as I left them with you by tradition," I Cor. 11:2. "The faith, which has been once given to the saints by tradition." Jude 5.

That the Roman Catholic might be able to prove that marriage is a sacrament he was furnished with these renderings: "To those who are joined together in the sacrament of marriage, I command," etc. I Cor. 7:10. "Do not join yourselves in the sacrament of marriage with unbelievers." 2 Cor. 6:14.

I Cor. 9:5, is so directly opposed to the constrained celibacy of the clergy, that we can scarcely wonder at finding an addition to the text: it stands thus: "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a woman to serve us in the gospel, and to remember us with her goods, as the other apostles," etc.

In support of human merit, the translation of Heb. 13:16 may be quoted: "We obtain merit towards God by such sacrifices."

Purgatory could not be introduced but by a direct interpolation: "He himself shall be saved, yet in all cases as by the fire of purgatory." I Cor. 3:15.

Many other passages might be noticed. "Him only shall thou serve with latria," i.e. with the worship specially and solely due to God: this addition was evidently made to prevent the text from being used against the doctrine of the invocation of the saints; Luke 4:8. "Many of those who believed, came to confess and declare their sins."—Acts 19:18 "After a procession of seven days round it." Heb. 11:30. "Beware, lest being led away with others, by the error of the wicked heretics," etc. 2 Pet. 3:17. "There is some sin which is not mortal, but venial." I John 5:17. "Round about the throne there were twenty-four priests seated, all clothed with albs." Rev. 4:4. The alb, it will be recollected, is part of the official attire of a Roman Catholic priest.

But the most flagrant interpolation occurs in I Tim. 4:1-3. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall separate themselves from the Roman faith, giving themselves up to spirits of error, and to doctrines taught by devils. Speaking false things through hypocrisy, having also the conscience cauterized. Condemning the sacrament of marriage, the abstinence from meats, which God hath created for the faithful, and for those who have known the truth, to receive them with thanksgiving."

Such was the Bordeaux New Testament. Whether it was actually translated by the divines of Louvain is doubtful. This is certain, however, that it was printed by the royal and university printer, and sanctioned by the dignitaries of the church. It is proper to add, that the Roman Catholics were soon convinced of the folly of their conduct, in thus tampering with the inspired volume. To avoid the just odium brought on their cause by this wicked measure, they have endeavored to destroy the whole edition. In consequence, the book was exceeding scarce even in 1831 with only four known copies in the entire British Isles. Whether it has survived at all to our day is doubtful. I discovered these references to it in an exceeding old work published in 1831.

"Every one that doeth evil hateth light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." John 3:20.