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Bibliolatry (from the Greek βιβλίον biblion, "book" and the suffix -λατρία -latria, "worship") is the worship of a book or the description of a deity found in a book. In Christianity, bibliolatry is used to describe extreme devotion to the Bible or to biblical inerrancy. Supporters of biblical inerrancy point to passages (such as 2 Timothy 3:16–17) interpreted to say that the Bible, as received, is a complete source of what must be known about God. Critics of this view call it a form of idolatry, pointing to verses (such as John 5:39–40) to indicate that Jesus asked humanity to relate to God directly rather than seeking God's rules and spurning a relationship with the God who created them.
Historical Christianity has never endorsed worship of the Bible, since worship is reserved for God. Some Christians believe that biblical authority derives from God as the inspiration of the text, not the text itself. The term does not refer to a belief, but may be used pejoratively to label the perceived practices of theological opponents. The groups to whom the term is most-often applied are Protestants of a fundamentalist and evangelical background who espouse biblical inerrancy and sola scriptura (scripture is the only divine authority). Whether the King James Only movement is a form of bibliolatry is disputed.
Roman Catholicism and Eastern Christianity
Catholicism traditionally sees scripture and sacred tradition as prima scriptura (rather than scripture alone), and has implicitly accused some Protestant sects of bibliolatry. Jaroslav Pelikan wrote about Unitatis redintegratio, "The Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church of 1962–1965 could speak with a mixture of genuine admiration and ever-so-gentle reproof about a 'love and reverence, almost a cult, for Holy Scripture' among the 'separated Protestant brethren'". The three independent branches of Eastern Christianity have voiced similar opinions and, with Catholicism and some Protestant opinion, have a higher view of the apostolic succession of bishops than Protestants who derive their faith primarily from the Reformed tradition or hold evangelical or low church views.
Another influence on bibliolatry is the fact that nearly all of those who hold high views of the Bible's authority against tradition also tend to reject the biblical authority of the deuterocanonical books found in the Septuagint that Catholicism and Eastern Christianity regard as canonical. Protestants reject these books, despite their regard by the church for over a millennium before the reformers rejected their authority. Protestants tend to rely on the Masoretic Text of contemporary Judaism, which is rooted in the traditions of the Pharisees. Although Catholicism and Eastern Christianity do not fully agree about which books are deuterocanonical and which are not (with the Orthodox Tewahedo preserving the most inclusive set of books, many of which were not preserved elsewhere), the regard for the Septuagint held by the early church fathers is regarded as sound. Most Catholics and Eastern Christians agree with high-church Protestants that the Old Testament is best understood by studying the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint; modern Bible translations in these traditions often take both into consideration. The authority of the Protestant Reformers to reject books from the Christian biblical canon is seen as dubious. Those who view the Vulgate in Roman Catholicism, the Septuagint in Eastern Orthodoxy, the Peshitta in Syriac Christianity, or the Ge'ez Bible of the Orthodox Tewahedo as more authoritative than the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament could be accused of bibliolatry for many of the same reasons that the King James Only movement is.
A change in wording of the Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Faith and Message and a late-1990s purge of professors and other Baptist scholars who believed that historic (or archaeological) findings might raise legitimate questions about a biblical passage led to charges of bibliolatry.
Although "bibliolatry" is most often used in a Christian context, the term is sometimes also used in discourse about Islam.
In Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib is regarded by many as more than the holy text; the text was proclaimed as the final guru by the last human Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Believers hold that the grammar and syntax in the book cannot be altered, and the text has a central role in Sikh worship.
- "bibliolatry". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- "-latry". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
- Geisler, Norman L.; Paul D. Feinberg (1980). Introduction to philosophy : a Christian perspective. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House. ISBN 978-0-8010-3735-1. p. 307
- Bible Study is Not Enough - Avoiding the ditch of Bibliolatry - Dr. Dan Hayden.
- Alexander, T. Desmond; Brian S Rosner (2000). New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Leicester: Inter-Varsity. ISBN 0-8308-1438-8. "Unity and Diversity in the History of Interpretation"
- Jaroslav Pelikan (2006), Whose Bible Is It? A History of the Scriptures Through the Ages ISBN 0-670-03385-5.
- Bibliolatry — A Fraudulent Accusation, William Merrell, SBC Life, October 2000.
- The Unseen Face of Islam, Bill A. Musk, p.192, Kregel Publications, Missions to Muslims, 1989, ISBN 0-8254-6054-9