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EP305: Survivor from Brigade 2506, Hometown Hero and The Best-Selling Book of All Time

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 13, 2022 3:00 am

EP305: Survivor from Brigade 2506, Hometown Hero and The Best-Selling Book of All Time

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 13, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Cuban exile, Ray Montalvo joined Brigade 2506 to fight back against Castro, leading to his imprisonment in the country he once loved. Now, he is a proud U.S. citizen and business owner. Vermont historian and journalist Mark Bushnell takes us into the life of Calvin Coolidge in his hometown. The History Guy tells us the history of the Bible. 

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes: 

00:00 - Survivor from Brigade 2506

25:00 - Hometown Hero

37:00 - The Best-Selling Book of All Time

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Vanguard Marketing Corporation distributor. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show, including your story. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites. Today, we're bringing you the inspiring story of Ray Montalvo and his struggle for survival in a country he once treasured as a prisoner of his own government, which would later lead to his rebirth as a proud American citizen and successful entrepreneur.

Here's Madison with his story. Ray Montalvo's story begins in the city of Havana, Cuba. Living in Havana was like living in the most gorgeous city that you could ever dream to be. Havana was like Paris. They had the big cabarets. They had beautiful shows at night. We partied a lot. The nightlife in Havana was unbelievable.

You won't believe how good it was to live in Cuba. Life started at 10 o'clock at night. People sleep at siestas. They worked a little in the morning and then took a nap.

I think I'm back to about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. They had the beaches, the sports, had the nightclubs, had the restaurants. It was a different world. Before the revolution, of course.

My family went to relax. We didn't participate in the country. And that was a mistake because when we don't, it turns over to the bad people. And that's what happened in Cuba. Castro was a student in the University of Havana. He was in law school.

I was a Frenchman and he was a senior. He was a strange guy. Talk a lot.

Talk, talk, talk. He could talk for hours. He was one of my favorite guys, of course. He was a travel maker. He liked baseball. He was number one in baseball, number one in basketball. And I remember going back to the dormitory and he was playing, throwing the ball in basketball. Dedicated to that. I mean, you couldn't believe how dedicated it was to be the best in those sports. Never talked about socialism.

Never, never. My granddad had bought a lot of property in Havana, which is the main city of Cuba. He did very well with rental houses. And that's what my dad inherited.

And he did very well, too. My family was wealthy and they had given me a brand new station wagon. And I got involved in a brewery. I buy some stock and in the meantime, Castro came in.

I drove to the brewery one morning. They stopped me and they got me out of the car and says, Get out of there. You don't own that car and you don't have no business here.

The people of Cuba owns this now. You're not a part of this anymore. So they took him out of my new car. He confiscated the brewery. He confiscated all the properties from my dad. So we were penniless. We took the cars and took everything.

We made a steel box and welded and knocked a hole in the backyard. There were very expensive guns in there. So I think they found it because I understand that they went with metal detectors and they found out.

I don't know if they found it, but I'm sure they did. They were confiscating oil. They were confiscating houses. You know, every business that was bright in Havana, he was confiscated. Anything that had value, he was confiscated. One of the things that happened was the militia came to our house and they gave us certain time to leave. It was soon after that that my dad and I were able to sneak out and leave when we became exiles. It really was not an easy process, of course.

Very uncertain. I had a few bugs in my pocket. My dad didn't have anything.

My dad was old. So we came through Miami. We were welcome. They helped us out very, very much.

We waited another week. We moved into a new audience where my first wife was born and she was protected by the American Embassy. Soon after he moved to New Orleans, Ray got word about the group being formed. Brigade 2506.

They were training to overthrow Castro. I wanted to join right away. I told the family, I'm going to join in this. It was a big cry, but finally I joined. I went back from New Orleans to Miami and joined the Brigade 2506, being a picture measure. I was going to fly a plane, but I broke a leg, so they put me in the marching.

I was very smart of the guys with a broken leg to be in the marching group. So anyway, we left. By the time we got to Cuba, we were expecting that everything was going to be a piece of cake.

We're going to win this easy. We got the U.S. Air Force behind us. But very much to my surprise, the first plane that we saw was shooting at us. That's not the way they told us it was going to be. Our luck changed bad. The future that I thought I was going to have changed bad, too. They said, there ain't no future here.

I'm lucky if I get out of here alive. And you've been listening to Ray Montalvo tell the story of life in Cuba, what it was like before Castro and the revolution and after. He remembers Havana being a beautiful city, a fun city, a city where you could work hard and then play hard.

It was a city to party. And well, everything changed. The party ended when Castro and his revolutionaries seized everything. As Ray said, they were confiscating oil. They were confiscating businesses, confiscating land.

Anything of value, they were confiscating. The future I thought I was going to live changed. And indeed it did. And when we come back, how it changed, the story of Ray Montalvo continues here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. Doing household chores can already be time-consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs.

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UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we return to our American stories and to Ray Montalvo's story. When we last left off, he had just entered a situation that he was not prepared for, being shot at by Cuban planes during the Bay of Pigs invasion.

The date, April 17, 1961. We got in a boat, we were expecting a sure victory, and we can see destroyers, air carriers, but they wouldn't do anything. And here come the Cuban planes shooting at us.

Oh, that's something wrong here. That made a mistake. And we were able to shoot one down with rifles. Castro didn't have that many airplanes, but we were able to get out of the boat, sneak at night, and we finally got to Bay of Pigs.

I was in a group of six. By the time we got to Bay of Pigs, all the boats were gone. Castro didn't expect us there, but he had good mobility.

Castro already had the forces coming in. So my plan was to swim at night with the other six guys to a town called Cienfuegos, but it was quite far. There was no food, there was no good water. You had to get a crab and suck the water out of the legs. That was the only fluid that we could drink, and we hunt crabs all we could as long as the soldiers weren't around looking for us. Maybe we went 10 miles maximum, and we really had to go like 50 to go to where I wanted to go.

Castro had soldiers in boats right there on the coast, so you couldn't go too far before you saw one of those boats under high backing. I got caught sleeping in the woods. I was walking up with a raffle in the head, and I said, my God, what's going to happen here? I was in a dream. And I thought, these guys are going to cook us. They're going to eat us.

I thought they were cannibals. We were in bad shape when we finally were captured. We were brought back to a small town in the southern part of the island. By that time, Eleanor Roosevelt has offered to trade prisoners for tractors, so we became a good commodity to Castro. That was not approved by the State Department, so once that failed, our luck changed a little bit. Castro offered, if you can pay so much for the head of this guy, you can get it free. They put prices by your status, being a wealthy family. I put a price on my head about half a million dollars. Ray's family began asking around for help to try and come up with enough money for his release. I said, don't send any money. I came here for a cause, and I wouldn't accept.

I never loved my face until I was all free again. From there is when they brought us to the Spanish fortress called Castillo del Príncipe. It was an old, old fortress built by the Spaniards in 1600. They divided the prisoners by what wealth your family had, so I ended up in a wealthy cell. You think I was the best, but I was the worst.

Castro would come in the middle of the night, Castro himself, and say, what's happening here? Do you have bad food? I've got to improve. Well, the thing didn't improve. It got worse from there on. They even cut the food, and the food was terrible. The guards, they would shoot at the windows to scare us. Some of the prisoners got sick. We have a hepatitis, and the family began to send medicine.

Castro confiscated all the medicine. They had these big speakers in the cells, you know, people from sleeping. We had guys that lost their mind.

I remember the poor guy, they gave him electrochucks and things that didn't help him. It took 21 months to realize that something was being worked by the families to get us out of there. The last two weeks, we thought something is happening and it's going to be good. The food improved, and we got new clothes. For the first time in 21 months, I saw a piece of meat, and they began to be a little nicer. They stopped shooting at the windows.

I said, well, what's going on here? Well, we realized that they had negotiated to get us out of there. The negotiation was $69 million, cash, cash.

Castro wouldn't take anything but cash. They began to send Red Cross airplanes. And in those planes came the cash. One by one, the prisoners were set free, the ones from wealthier families being the last.

Finally, Lucky got in the last plane. Seeing the whole family waiting there, it was kind of an emotional thing. After 21 months in prison camp, seeing the kids.

Lillian was the youngest one who began the crisis. I love you, but you're so ugly. You look so bad. I left prison weighing 98 pounds, and I normally weigh about 170, so you can't imagine how bad it was. Ray stayed in Cuba just one more night, and then he realized something. I realized that I always wanted to be American. If you live in Havana, there was a ferry boat. You put your car in there, ended up in the Key West. Get out, go shopping, get back on Sunday night, and go back to Cuba.

It was not black bean air. So I knew the life of this country, the things that the country offered, the freedom. There's no place to go like the United States.

It doesn't exist. Upon his arrival to the U.S., Ray was met with some exciting news from the government. I heard that if you were a member of the Bay of Pigs, you could become an American citizen or join the Army. So I said I would like to become an American citizen. They met me the next day. I went in an American consulate, and I came back with an American passport.

I was very proud of that. After gaining his citizenship, Ray immediately started searching for a job. One day I found this job, and they were looking for a bilingual person. I didn't know how to talk English very well, very bad.

I applied, interview was in Spanish, and they hired me. One of the big jobs was to fix a fish vessel, so I had enough of this. I began to smell like fish. I kept on looking for something better.

Ray endured a few more interesting jobs until he realized he could once again have a family business, this time here in the United States. I bought a fish off land, and that was the first Macomb diesel. I had a few problems to make it go. We had heaters out of kerosene.

We couldn't afford electric heaters. But we survived that. We grew that building, and we gained, and we got to grow, grow, grow. And every day has really been a good day. And by every day, well, he means every day.

Ray is now 90 years old, and he still goes to work seven days a week. And that's at the business that he built up, just shortly after becoming an American citizen. It doesn't happen in any other place in the world that you can do that. You come without speaking the language and have all the facilities to open and be able to grow. It's a miracle I'm sitting here.

Because I remember a big old picture of a airplane shooting, and the bullet stopped right where I was. So it's a miracle. And great job as always by Madison. And a special thanks to Ray Montalvo. It's a miracle I'm here, he said.

The story of Ray Montalvo here on Our American Stories. Bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTek ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTek ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully NerdTek ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices.

For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. Music This is our American stories and some of our favorite stories on our show. Well, they're stories about this country's founding, stories about our history. By the way, all of those stories, our history stories, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College. Today's history story is about Calvin Coolidge and his hometown, Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Here's Vermont historian and journalist Mark Bushnell with the story.

History can seem oddly close at hand. Calvin Coolidge was born on the 4th of July, 1872, and died in 1933. But visit his homestead in Plymouth Notch, Vermont and you might feel like you just missed him.

The tiny community that formed the universe of his childhood, and which helped form him, remains intact. A visit to Plymouth Notch, now a state historic site and a national historic landmark, provides a glimpse of the man that no book can offer. To many people, the idea of reading a book about Coolidge, much less visiting his homestead, might seem like a joke. In the popular imagination, Coolidge has become a caricature of himself, dry and dull.

The caricature is a poor likeness. Coolidge was a man of few words, but those words were well chosen. Few presidents can match his eloquence or, despite the validity of his appearance, his passion. At the homestead's visitor center, you'll find a display featuring a few of Coolidge's most profound quotes, like his remarks at the 150th anniversary celebration of the Declaration of Independence. We live in an age of science, and of abounding accumulation of material things, he said. The things of the spirit come first.

Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. Look around the homestead and you'll see the forces that shaped Coolidge. He adored the sheer beauty of the place, nestled in the hills and surrounded by rolling farm fields, and he loved his family and neighbors. He was particularly attached to his mother, Victoria, who bore him in a small bedroom attached to the general store his father ran. You can still visit the store, now run as a gift shop, and look into the bedroom, complete with its original furnishings.

Much of what you will see at the homestead is original, from the clothes hanging in the bedrooms to the carriages in the barns, because the property remained in possession of family members until they donated it to the state of Vermont. The Coolidge family moved across the street to a larger house when Calvin was four. It was there, beside the cheese factory his grandfather founded, that the future president grew up. It was there also that Victoria Coolidge died, when her son was only twelve. The greatest grief that can come to a boy came to me, Coolidge wrote of his mother's death in his autobiography.

Life was never to seem the same again. Coolidge's affection for his hometown didn't die with his mother, however. Even after college and career took him to Massachusetts and later to Washington, he returned regularly. It was there in August 1923, while visiting as Vice President of the United States, that he learned of the sudden death, apparently from a stroke, of President Warren Harding. The homestead had no telephone at the time, so an employee of the Bridgewater Telephone Office had to deliver the news in person, arriving after midnight. Coolidge's father, John, answered the door, then went upstairs to wake his son and tell him that he was now president. Coolidge immediately wired Washington for the oath of office. The text arrived a couple of hours later. Coolidge, now dressed and shaved, gathered with his father, his wife Grace, and several others shortly before 3 a.m. in the family parlor, which was lit by a single kerosene lamp.

Then he placed his hand on the family Bible and had his father, a justice of the peace, administer the oath. The room today is as much as it was that night. Light filters hazily through gauzy white curtains.

A kerosene lamp sits on a small square table that stands in the middle of the room. Though he lived in the White House, Plymouth Notch continued to draw Coolidge, especially when he needed comfort. It was there that he returned in 1924 in the aftermath of a personal tragedy involving his elder son, Calvin Jr. Photographs at the homestead show Calvin Jr. as a boy posing beside some tobacco leaves he has helped harvest at a local farm. He has a wide grin. A shock of dark hair covers his forehead. He's a beautiful child. Another shot shows him with his parents at the White House.

Perhaps he's just cracked a joke because uncharacteristically, his father's lips are pulled tight in a broad smile. Calvin Jr. died while his father was president. He developed blood poisoning from a blister he got playing tennis.

In the days before penicillin, there was little the doctors could do. When he went, Coolidge later wrote, the power and the glory of the presidency went with him. Just weeks after Calvin Jr. died, Coolidge spent 12 days in Plymouth Notch.

With him came his staff and 18 Secret Service agents. Telephone and telegraph wires had to be strung to the village. Above the store, Coolidge Hall, which was ordinarily used for community dances and grange meetings, became the summer White House. Photographs show workers sorting through bags of mail at the long, simple tables that were made for White House use and which remain in the hall today. All that mail flowing through Plymouth Notch was a boon to the local postmaster, Florence Seeley, who was paid based on the amount of postage she sold. Ordinarily, she made about $50 a year.

During those two weeks, she earned $1,500. With the president came the press corps, which turned the summer into one long photo op. Photographers sent the world images of Coolidge chatting with neighbors, cutting hay with a scythe, and fishing. When he did farm chores, the president donned his grandfather's old farm smock, a formless, coarsely woven garment that seemed like the ones in paintings of feudal serfs. People mocked the photos, saying the president looked ridiculous wearing that old thing. They considered a bumbling effort to seem like a hard-working man of the people. In fact, Coolidge wore the smock because that's what he always wore when he did his chores.

It's just that no one ever bothered to publish his picture doing it before. Coolidge was hurt by the criticism. Afterwards, he took to doing chores dressed in a coat and tie. Today, the old smock hangs on the wall of one of the homestead's bedrooms. Below it are two pairs of Coolidge's shoes, small and neatly polished.

Looking at them, you half expect the man to enter the room, grab one of the pairs, sit on the bed, and lace them up. But Coolidge doesn't. He now rests just down the road at the Plymouth Notch Village Cemetery. His grave, with its simple headstone, sits beside those of Grace Calvin Jr. and their younger son John. Unlike many former presidents, Coolidge doesn't have tour buses pulling up regularly to gawk.

Most days, you can visit the gravesite alone and experience the tranquility of the place Calvin Coolidge was proud to call home. And a special thanks to Joey Cortez for his fine work on that piece. And thanks to Mark Bushnell, who's a Vermont historian and journalist. What I love most about this show is we look at people, not out of context, but in their time. And try to humanize people that we either didn't know or thought we knew. And presidents are just people. And they had ordinary lives before they led these extraordinary lives. And it's so easy to fall prey to caricature by the media and by the press. And if we can do any justice here, it's to let people know that these were real-life human beings living in the times they lived. And we have to judge them within that context, within the times they lived. It's easy to look back and question who they are and what they do. We don't do that here on the show.

We just play it straight. And hopefully, people writing about us 300 years or 200 years from now will afford us the same courtesy. The story of Calvin Coolidge and his hometown of Plymouth Notch, Vermont. And by the way, if there are museums, particularly presidential museums or others like it around the country, and you know the local historian, give us a call. Share those stories with us or go to alamericanstories.com and leave a message.

It's easy to do. You can see it right on our navigation bar. And we'll get back to you because we love these stories about our country.

Again, the story of President Coolidge and his hometown, Plymouth Notch, Vermont, here on Our American Story. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Such an exciting event like Wango Tango. It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTek ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTek ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.

But thankfully NerdTek ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.

If you're working past age 65 you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we continue with our American stories. Our next story comes to us from a man who's simply known as the History Guy.

His videos are watched by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages across YouTube. The History Guy is also heard here at Our American Stories. Let's take a listen to the History Guy as he tells the history of an important book here in America and around the world, the Bible. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. These words from the King James Version of the Holy Bible have inspired generations of Christians. Many historians consider the Holy Bible to be the most read book in history. Author James Chapman did a survey of the most read books of the last 50 years and determined that the Holy Bible is by far the leader, having sold some 3.9 billion copies. By comparison, the number two book in that period, the quotations of Chairman Mao Zedong, have sold just 820 million copies.

Third was the Harry Potter series and about 400 million copies. This isn't a religious missive, it is a review of the translation of the most read and one of the most influential books in history. The interpretation and translation of the Holy Bible has impacted history and culture for nearly 2,000 years.

And the history of English translation of the Bible deserves to be remembered. According to biblical scholars, the people who would have experienced the ministry of Jesus live in a relatively small geographical area from Jerusalem in the south to Galilee in the north, a distance of several days walk. Jesus would have spoken Aramaic, which was the indigenous language of the area, and Koine Greek, the international language of business and education at the time. As a practicing Jew, he also would have known enough Hebrew to read and teach in the synagogue.

But the words of the book's central character did not start to be written down until 30 years after his reported death. However, once they got going, many different gospels, or good news stories in Greek, were produced by a variety of authors around the Mediterranean. They wrote in Koine Greek for a Greek audience, whereas Jesus would probably have preached in Aramaic. The gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were placed in the order of their theological importance as determined by early Christian leaders.

Mark was probably written before 70 AD, as he doesn't tell us about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in that year. Whereas the other gospel authors must have been written afterwards, as they are aware of this momentous event for Jews and Christians of the time. These gospels were copied and shared between Christian communities, as were the letters of prominent Christian teachers like Paul. Very few of these earliest manuscripts have survived to our time. A handful of second century fragments from various New Testament authors have been found, some of them relatively recently.

Like the old campfire game of telephone, each new letter offered new opportunities to introduce errors or new material that wasn't in the original. Most people at the time couldn't read, and so these letters would have been read to them at gatherings. Early church officials became concerned about the growing number, the authenticity and the theology of this corpus.

They sought to control, or at least to guide, what early Christians heard. The earliest complete copies that we have of the New Testament today are the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Boticonus, both which date back to the 4th century. The Codex Sinaiticus, or Book of the Sinai, was written in Greek at the monastery of Saint Catherine in the shadow of Mount Sinai. The text contains all of the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments which are accepted by most Christians today.

Scriptures that were considered heretical, like the Gospel of Thomas, were left out. The Codex Boticonus, or the Book of the Vatican, was written in Greek as well, but no one is sure exactly where. Over time, Latin replaced Greek in Western European Bibles, while Eastern churches continued to use Greek. Although we know Latin translations existed long before this time, the first complete Latin Bible we still have today was produced at the monastery of Wehrmuth in Jarrow in Northern England.

The Codex Amiatinus, named after its current location in Tuscany, is a large, beautifully illustrated work that is 7 inches thick and weighs in at over 75 pounds. When the age of this book was recognized, it was used to highlight mistakes introduced in later Latin translations. Medieval church authorities frowned upon those who sought to translate the Bible from the official Latin texts, responding to what the Roman Church saw as heretics. Pope Innocent III banned translations of the Bible in 1199.

But translations were occurring in any case. The venerable Bede, and isn't that a cool appellation, translated the Gospel of John into Old English in the 730s. This is the first known translation into English, albeit not a version of English most modern English speakers would understand. The first serious attempt to translate the entire Bible into English was made in the late 14th century under the direction of John Wycliffe, a professor at Oxford University.

Wycliffe had the Bible translated directly from the official Latin. This translation was quite literal, which made it somewhat ironic that he was later accused of being a heretic and his Bible banned by church and English authorities. Apparently his crime was to make the wisdom of the Bible more accessible to the common people, or as he said, it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ's sentence. However, his Bible was indeed taken up by church and social reformers, an association which didn't help his case. The church was able to confront and control the Wycliffe Bible, but the next major translation effort would change the history of the Western Christian Church down to the present day. Martin Luther, like Wycliffe, was also a professor.

He saw the Roman Church as corrupted and in need of reform. The Roman Church sought to suppress Luther's reform initiatives and had placed him under official ban. Retiring to Wartburg Castle in Germany, Luther translated the Bible into German, and like Wycliffe, Luther went back to the original Greek texts as the basis of his work. Luther and his Bible sparked a religious reformation, broke up the Roman Church, and led to the formation of Protestant churches. While it isn't in the direct lineage of today's English Bibles, it was Martin Luther's translation that sparked the first translation of the Bible into modern English. Henry VIII famously broke ties with the Catholic Church and became the supreme head of the Church of England in 1534. In 1536 he authorized Thomas Cromwell, his keeper of the privy seal, to create a Bible in English.

Cromwell tapped Matthew Coverdale and a publisher named Richard Grafton to complete the work. Prior to this Bible, other English Bibles had been printed illegally, including a version by William Tyndale, upon which the king's new Bible was based. The vision for the new Bible was not just an English translation to make it accessible to the everyday people.

It was also a statement of Henry VIII's political power and new authority as head of the Church, separated from Rome. It was a large book, 11 inches wide by 16 and a half inches long, and because of its size was called the Great Bible. The demands for this new Bible required fancy paper and color printing, which Cromwell had difficulty finding in England. So the first pages of the Great Bible were actually created in Paris. But the authorities in Rome learned about this new printing and seized whatever materials and printers they could discover who were involved in the process. Everything that could be recovered was smuggled back to England and the Great Bible was finally completed in April 1539.

There were six additional editions created and an estimated 9,000 copies printed by 1541. By royal decree, every church in England was required to have a copy of the Great Bible, set up in some convenient place within the Church that ye have care of. It was incredibly popular, so much so that Henry had to issue a proclamation to forbid the reading of the Great Bible during church services, because worshippers were reading the English Bible rather than listening to sermons. Despite the massive popularity of the Great Bible, only a few years after its publication, Henry had Parliament pass an act which decreed, no manner of persons, after the first of October, should take upon them to read openly to others in any church or open assembly within any of the king's dominions, the Bible, or any part of the scripture in English, unless he is so appointed thereunto by the king on pain of suffering 100 months imprisonment.

This act would essentially be reversed by his children. Under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, some of the more popular biblical editions were the Bishop's Bible and the Geneva Bible, which were written by Protestants sheltering in Geneva because of the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. Neither of these received royal approval. Then Elizabeth's successor, James I, commissioned around 50 scholars to write an English Bible, because the versions in existence were criticized for their inaccuracies and potential deviations from the Latin editions. They utilized existing versions of the English Bible, such as the one by William Tyndale and commentary by Hebrew scholars, to create their new edition. The Bible, commissioned by King James, was published in 1611. About 20 years after its publication, a version of the King James Bible was printed without the word not in the Ten Commandments of Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery.

The edition was called the Wicked Bible and the printer was fined for the mistake. In the modern era, the Holy Bible has gone through numerous translations and versions, including the Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version, and the New Revised Standard Version. Many of these use the discipline of textual criticism and provide substantial markup to help the modern reader understand ancient meanings. Technology today allows us to translate the Bible more quickly than ever before. Some scholars predict that we will have a Bible translated into every language in existence by 2072. It is clear that one of the most influential books in history will continue to raise challenges well into the future. And a great job on the production, as always, by Greg Hengler. And a special thanks to The History Guy, telling us the story of the Bible, the most important book ever written in world history. Now, whether you agree with its contents or not, separate point. But its impact on the world, on literature, on the arts, on everything is, well, it's almost impossible to calculate. If you want more stories of forgotten history, please subscribe to The History Guy's YouTube channel. The History Guy. History deserves to be remembered.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 00:41:19 / 2023-02-16 00:58:45 / 17

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