Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 8, 1955
NUMBER 18, PAGE 2-3a

The Bible ... "Deadly Pastures" ... (Pope Leo XII.)

Luther W. Martin, St. James, Missouri

Leo XII was the Roman Pontiff from 1823 A.D. until 1829. During his tenure in office, he had somewhat to say regarding the reading of the scripture by the common people, and particularly on the circulation of the Bible. In reference to Bible societies, Leo quoted his predecessor, Pius VII, "Several of our predecessors have made laws for averting this scourge. (Bible Societies, L.W.M.) In our own time, Pius VII, of happy memory, issued two briefs. In those briefs, we find testimonies drawn either from Holy Scripture or from tradition, to shew how hurtful this invention is to faith and to morals." He then continues, saying: "And we, too, that we may acquit ourselves of our apostolic duty, exhort you to withdraw your flocks from these deadly pastures."

In order to prove that the Papal Church is not consistent in her utterances from century to century, and that her proclamations frequently deny statements of theologians claimed to have been within her ranks, we copy the following quotations.

Clement Of Rome ... First Century

Present day Romanism claims Clement to have been "Pope" from 91 A.D. until 100 A.D. Of course, this is merely an unfounded assertion. He may have been one of the bishops or elders of the Roman congregation, but "Pope," No! The office of "ecumenical bishop" was completely unknown until the beginning of the seventh century. However, here is the statement of Clement; "Look into the Holy Scriptures, which are the true words of the Holy Ghost. Ye know that there is nothing unjust or counterfeit written in them." (I Clement 20:2.) In another statement ... Clement wrote: "Ye know, beloved, ye know full well the Holy Scriptures; and have thoroughly searched into the oracles of God: call them therefore to your remembrance." (I Clement 22:10.) Thus, Clement of Rome does not call the Scriptures .. . "deadly pastures" as does one of his alleged successors.

Polycarp Second Century

Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote an epistle to the Philippians, in which he said: "I am confident, that you are well exercised in the Holy Scriptures, and that no part of them is unknown to you." Thus, Polycarp, a Christian scholar in the second century, differs with Pope Leo XII, of the 19th century.

Basil 'The Great' ... Fourth Century

In his Homily on the First Psalm, Basil wrote: "Each of you, in meditating on the word, will find there a treasure of succours for all spiritual evils." No 'deadly pastures' intimated here. In a letter to a lady, Basil also wrote: "If thou knowest how to search in Scripture for the succours that it offers, thou wilt not have need either of me or of any one." So, it appears that in the fourth century, the 'searching of the Scriptures' was practiced.

Ambrose Of The Fourth Century

When writing "On the office of the Ministry," B. L. Ambrose stated: "Holy Scripture edifies everybody. We speak to Christ when we pray; we listen to him when we read the Scriptures." This was written long before Jerome translated the Bible into Latin (Latin Vulgate). Ambrose was writing in reference to the Scriptures about Christ. We cannot find the teachings of Christ in the Old Testament, they are confined to the New Testament. Thus, in reference to New Testament writings, Ambrose says everybody is built up, spiritually; not some so-called 'clergy,' but EVERYBODY.

Origen ... Second Century

In Origen's "Homily on Leviticus, Philocalia, 11," he said: "The true nourishment of our soul, is the reading of the Word of God. Let us nourish ourselves on the Gospels. Let us quench our thirst by the reading of the writings of the Apostles." Again, we have an unanswerable evidence to the effect that the "Gospels" and the "writings of the Apostles" were to be read .... and when read, the reader was benefited. When some of the Roman Catholic speakers and writers of later centuries, after the Roman Church came into being, refer to the Scriptures as "deadly pastures," it is easy to discern their lack of truth and honor.

Isodorus Of Pelusium ... Fourth Century

Isodorus was quite a prolific writer. He left some two thousand letters, arranged in some five volumes. In two of his epistles, numbered 67 and 91, we copy as follows: "The heavenly oracles have been written for the whole human race. Even husbandmen are in a condition to learn there what it is fitting for them to know. The learned and the ignorant, children and women, may equally entrust themselves there." This statement was also written before the Latin Vulgate had been translated. So the 'common people' in the fourth century were in position to be helped by a study of the Scriptures. This means that a goodly number of them could read, and that copies of the Scriptures were available to be read. Catholicism, in later centuries, to the contrary notwithstanding.

Jerome ... 330 A.D. - 420 A.D.

Hieronymus (Sophronius Eusebius) was born at Strido in Dalmatia. His most notable work was his translation of the Bible into 'every-day' Latin, the vulgar tongue, thus, the Latin Vulgate. Although this particular work of Jerome is lauded by the Roman Church, some of his other writings are ignored by Catholic theologians. Among them, we refer you to Jerome's comments "On the Epistle to the Colossians" and also his "Epistle 97" . .

"It is for the whole people that the Apostles wrote. The laity ought to abound in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures." And, in his letter to a woman, he said: "What I shall never cease to recommend to you, is to love the Scripture and to read it." Again, we have used the words of an ancient scholar of the Scriptures, claimed by the Papal Church as one of her sons, yet his words can be turned against the claims and pretensions of Romanism. He is writing about the Apostolic writings ... thus, the New Testament. In fact, the New Testament books were collected together long before such an apostate movement as Roman Catholicism had its inception.

Augustine ... 354 A.D. - 430 A.D.

Aurelius Augustinus, better known as Augustine or St Augustine, was one of the most active writers of his time. He was a contemporary of Jerome, having lived most of his life before the Latin Vulgate was translated. In his "Homily lxvi., On Time," Augustine wrote: "What happens to our flesh when it takes nourishment only once in the course of several days, happens to our soul when it does not nourish itself frequently on the Word of God. Continue, then, to listen at church to the reading of Holy Scripture, and read it over again in your houses." Herein, Augustine gives indication of the practice of reading the Scripture "at church" and infers that the hearers could then again read the Scripture in their own homes. Thus, there must have been copies of the Scriptures available for them to read IN THEIR HOMES .. . and further, the people, many of them, must have been capable of reading. Where does this evidence leave the utterance of Pope Leo XII, . . . "withdraw your flocks from these deadly pastures"?

Chrysostom ...354 A.D. - 407 A.D.

John Chrysostom had much to write on the importance of studying the Scriptures. We select the following passages: "Homily, On the Epistle to the Corinthians," . . . . "When we receive money, we like to count it over ourselves; and when divine things are what we have to do with, should we bend our necks and submit at once to the opinions of others? Consult, then, the Scriptures." In his "Homily on Lazarus," he said, "The Holy Ghost entrusted the composition of them expressly to illiterate men, in order that every one, even the least educated, might understand the Word, and profit by it."

In still another writing, Chrysostom berated the excuses that some men gave in his day, for not studying the Scriptures; hear him: "Let none offer me these wretched excuses:- I must earn my bread; I must find food for my children. It is not for me to read the Scriptures, but for those who have renounced the world. Poor man! Is it then because thou art too much distracted with a thousand cares, that it does not belong to thee to read the Scriptures? But thou hast still more need of this than those who have withdrawn from the world in order to devote all their time to God." (Homily iii, on Lazarus.) Here, we have given the excuses voiced by the common man, for not reading the Scriptures. These excuses were originally written in the fourth century. I'm positive that if a scarcity of copies of the Scriptures had existed, that that situation would have been given as an excuse.


We have given specific quotations from nine of the ancient writers, who lived in the first four centuries of the Christian Era. Not one single theologian quoted can be honorably used to further the modern-day claims and assertions of Catholicism. Several of these writers, however, are frequently quoted and claimed as 'Catholic Fathers.' Such claims are mere assertions, similar to the one that alleges that the Apostle Peter was once in Rome.

There is no question but what the various New Testament books 'were copied and re-copied many, many times during the first century of their existence. Congregations and individuals made collections of as many copies of the individual New Testament books (as we know them), as they could secure. These copies were read and re-read ... as proof, we have given the foregoing quotations.