Some of the Catholic Answers participants are up to their usual shenanigans. One participant citing the article asks,
[W]as [Luther] lying or just mistaken when he said this?
"In his ‘Table Talk’, Luther is reported to have presented an example of the ‘extreme blindness’ under the Papacy, on the 22nd of February, 1538, namely that “Thirty years ago, no-one read the Bible, and it was unknown to all. The prophets were not spoken of and were considered impossible to understand. And when I was twenty years old, I had never seen a Bible. I thought that the Gospels or Epistles could be found only in the postills [lectionaries] for the Sunday readings... "
From the actual context of the article, the author (Gow) doesn't appear to think it's "lying." In the very same paragraph the above comes from, the author states:
"Memory plays tricks, and an old man’s reminiscences about a period for the putative end of which he had come to consider himself to have been a cause might not be the best source of information for historical inquiry." And then later in the same article in regard to Luther's claim of the unavailability of the Bible ( and the related infamous Bible kept "under the bench" comment): "Both contemporary Catholic polemicists as well as those of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries tried hard to show that Luther was exaggerating or lying." Here we see one of Rome's unwritten traditions alive and well: Luther was a liar.
One other related issue brought up in the Catholic Answers discussion is: who during the Reformation period was able to actually read a Bible? Rich people? How many were literate? Gow's article makes an interesting comment as to who it was reading Luther's Bible:
Luther’s 1522 ‘September Testament’ was immediately and wildly successful, selling out rapidly and experiencing multiple reprintings in the same year. As Johannes Cochlaeus, one of Luther’s fiercest opponents, later wrote with some venom,
"Luther’s translation was read (as the source of all wisdom, no less) by tailors and shoemakers, even women and simpletons, many of whom carried it around and learned it by heart, and eventually became bold enough to dispute with priests, monks, even masters and doctors of Holy Scripture about faith and the gospels."
Medieval prelates’ fears had come true, Cochlaeus is informing us. He tells the story in this form not necessarily because these were the only people reading the Luther Bible, but because they were precisely the unqualified readers of Scripture the medieval church had sought to discourage or exclude.This is actually one of the most significant comments from the article that the Catholic Answers folks should dwell on. Here the issue of authority comes front and center. One can quibble about which Bibles came before Luther, how important they were, how accurate they were, how expensive they were, who could read them, etc. These sorts of tedious Internet discussions go on endlessly as people cut-and-paste facts off the internet intending to prove their position owns history.
Luke tells us the Bereans "were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11). This is exactly what "tailors and shoemakers, even women and simpletons" were doing with Rome's Biblical interpretation and ultimate authority claims. Rome's medieval defenders like Cochlaeus would have it the other way around: the Bereans first had to be authorized by Paul to hear his message and then authorized to read the Bible to see if what Paul said was true. That is, the authority is assumed before it's proved.
The current generation of Rome's cyber-defenders (like those on Catholic Answers) ultimately want people to accept the absolute authority of their infallible magisterium, and that they are the ones qualified to interpret the Bible and that those not accepting this authority are not qualified. There's not much of a difference in intent between the complaint of Cochlaeus and Rome's modern cyber-warriors.