The B-Files: A Hoax of a “Bible”, Part 1
Tony Bushby begins his book The Christ Scandal with a fascinating story. He recalls the gift of a rather unique Bible: the gift of the first English language translation of the Vulgate published in Rheims in 1563. He also claims this Bible differs greatly from modern Bibles and proves that all sorts of tampering with the texts and that much of traditional Christian belief did not come from the original texts but from Rome’s altered Bible. He further claims the Vatican changed the Vulgate to cover all of this chicanery from prying eyes. The details of these differences will be discussed later in this series but for now I want to focus upon his supposed find. As we shall see, his claim is a complete hoax.
First of all, it must be pointed out that in his understanding of Biblical manuscripts, Tony Bushby is either a complete ignoramus or an utter fraud. Now with regards to this supposed Bible, he is an utter fraud, but he may be such an ignoramus when it comes to manuscripts that he is completely unaware how easy it is to prove him a fraud.
The fact is that even if there were some weird Bible published in English in the sixteenth century, we have manuscripts that long predate such a publication. We have copies of the Gospels and Paul’s letters going back to the second and third centuries and these are sources for current translations of the New Testament. Even if you wish to consider copies of the Vulgate, there are thousands of copies of the Latin Vulgate dating from the early medieval period onward. Futhermore, the famed Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s was a copy of the Vulgate. In none of these is there anything resembling the deviations that were described by Bushby. Furthermore, the first translation of the Vulgate into English was that of John Wycliffe in the late fourteenth century and this also has no sign of Bushby’s sensational “discoveries.”
Finally, Bushby does not have a copy of any English translation of the Vulgate published at Rheims in 1563 simply because their is no such animal. The New Testament was published in 1582 and the Old Testament in two volumes in 1609. Eventually there was a revision of the translation in the 1750s by John Challoner and that is what most people remember as the “Douai_Rheims Bible.” As we shall see in the next post, what he is parading as his “Bible” from 1563 is actually the 1582 Rheims New Testament. There is nothing revolutionary about the text of that translation – it certainly does not have the wild differences with the standard text that he claims.
In other words, Tony Bushby’s entire claim with regards to the Vulgate is a complete hoax that is easily disproved. Of course, since most of his fans are conspiracy theorist crackpots, don’t expect any luck persuading them. However, you can have the pleasure of knowing the truth and getting a chuckle at their expense.