Bible Reading By The Laity, Restrictions On.
I. The Ancient Church
It is indisputable that in Apostolic times the Old Testament was commonly read (John v, 47; Acts viii, 28; xvii, 11; II Tim. iii, 15). Roman Catholics admit that this reading was not restricted in the first centuries, in spite of its abuse by Gnostics and other heretics. On the contrary, the reading of Scripture was urged (Justin Martyr, xliv, ANF, i, 177-178; Jerome, Adv. libros Rufini, i, 9, NPNF, 2d ser., iii, 487); and Pamphilus, the friend of Eusebius, kept copies of Scripture to furnish to those who desired them. Chrysostom attached considerable importance to the reading of Scripture on the part of the laity and denounced the error that it was to be permitted only to monks and priests (De Lazaro concio, iii, MPG, xlviii, 992; Hom. ii in Matt., MPG, lvii, 30, NPNF, 2d ser., x, 13). He insisted upon access being given to the entire Bible, or at least to the New Testament (Hom. ix in Col., MPG, lxii, 361, NPNF, xiii, 301). The women also, who were always at home, were diligently to read the Bible (Hom. xxxv on Gen. xii, MPG, liii, 323). Jerome recommended the reading and studying of Scripture on the part of the women (Epist., cxxviii, 3, MPL, xxii, 1098, NPNF, 2d ser., vi, 259; Epist., lxxix, 9, MPG, xxii, 730-731, NPNF, 2d ser., vi, 167). The translations of the Bible, Augustine considered a blessed means of propagating the Word of God among the nations (De doctr. christ., ii, 5, NPNF, 1st ser., ii, 536); Gregory I recommended the reading of the Bible without placing any limitations on it (Hom. iii in Ezek., MPL, lxxvi, 968). . .