One of the oldest phony myths about the Catholic Church is the idea that the church actively discouraged the reading of the bible and thus kept them securely fastened by chains in churches.
The myth here is not the securing of a bible, but the REASON for it.
A while back there was a story about a man who decided to hand copy a bible. it took him years to do so and remember the conditions under which a bible would be copied in the days before typesetting and erasers.
Patterson began copying the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, in 2007. Work on this “prototype” allowed him to figure out technique, layout and technical details like the type of paper (19-by-13-inch watercolor) and writing instruments (felt-tip pens). He tackled the complete King James Bible in 2009.
Patterson works at a wooden desk by his bed, near neatly shelved pages of his completed volumes. Fingers on his left hand track the words on a small hardcover Bible while he methodically writes with his right hand. Patterson pencils in ruled lines on the sheets to guide his writing and erases them when he is done, leaving black ink on creamy white pages.
The Bible’s exact word count depends on who is doing the tallying, but multiple sources put the King James version at around 788,000 words or more. Patterson used to work up to 14 hours a day on the project, though he averages around six to eight hours a day now that his stamina has ebbed. He usually works until he can’t stay awake.
Now picture doing this in an era with medieval writing instruments. only candles for light and adding decorative flourishes and having to start a page over if yo make a mistake. Think of the number of man hours and the cost.
Even after the invention of typesetting it could take months for a bible to be made and such a book would be prohibitively expensive for all but the richest and given the literacy rate in those days how many people could actually read a bible (Those stained glass windows weren’t just decorations, they were teaching tools to tell the stories that almost all mass goers couldn’t read for themselves).
How much do you think a thief could get for something like that? Likely enough to live on for a very long time.
One of the hardest things in defending the faith is the number of people who don’t know it or the history behind it. May we this Lent do our best to educate ourselves to reality so we can defend it when needed.