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The Word on the Week

The Book

The closure of “All Hallows” College in Dublin last week has brought to light the plight of colleges offering courses in theology, ethics and social justice in a society which no longer rates these subjects highly.

In conjunction with many other such colleges they lack the money to continue despite the fact that they are asset rich. The discovery of the “Kennedy letters” (correspondence between Jacqueline Kennedy and a Priest) in the College were put up for sale then withdrawn at the request of the Kennedy family. Had they been sold the money raised would have been barely adequate to keep the College open for another year.

Apparently a recent inventory of the contents of the library revealed many valuable items some of which are now missing. It seems the fate of these College libraries is to be plundered.

Hopefully the library in Maynooth will be better protected. It contains 800 year old Bibles, presumably the Latin Septuagint, along with, what a Journalist called, the first printed Bible dated 1482. The latter may have been the English translation in the common tongue carried out by John Wycliffe. This was not to the liking of his fellow academics who said, “The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity.”

In the same vein William Tyndale 100 years later translated the Bible into English using the Hebrew and Greek texts. He also took advantage of the recently invented printing press producing Bibles which could be read by the common man breaking the monopoly of the literate elite.

However there is a danger that these old copies of Scripture can be treated as a talisman. There is a tendency towards superstition where we revere the bones of the person rather than work of the person, or the antiquity of the book rather than its content. The Bible, commenting on its uses writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” 2 Timothy Chapter 3 verses 16/17.

The “Man of God” could read the Scriptures all his life and it would do him little good. Studying them does not get you to heaven. Jesus said it! “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” St John Chapter 5 verses 39/40. First turn to the lifegiver and trust this same Jesus who speaks today from His Word the Bible.