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The Work of Casiodoro de Reina

Casiodoro de Reina (1520-1594) was probably the most influential of all the monks at the monastery in Seville during the revival that took place there. He was a native of Seville, Spain. Like all other Protestants that took a stand against the Catholic church, he also became a target of the wrath of the murderous Inquisitors. Evidently, Reina fled Spain never to return. 21 other monks were not so fortunate, however, and were burned alive by the Catholic church in 1559.

That same year Reina took on the Pastorate of a group of Protestants in London who had also fled Spain. But again, the Catholic church pursued him as they brought their crusade of persecution to England. So he had to flee London.

He then moved to Geneva and there joined himself to a Spanish congregation of which the Pastor was Juan Perez de Pineda. Perez was still in Frankfurt during Reina’s arrival to Geneva. It wasn’t long before the Spaniards in Geneva began looking to Reina for leadership during Juan Perez’s absence. So influential was Cassiodoro de Reina amongst these Spanish Protestants that he became known as the “The Moses of the Spaniards.”

However, Reina did not approve of the Nicolaitan leadership of John Calvin in Geneva. Reina reproved Calvin and the leadership in Geneva for burning Servetus at the stake. He referred to Geneva as “a new Rome”. Eventually, Reina and several other fellow-monks who had also served at San Isidoro left Geneva and moved to Frankfurt.

Concerning this period in Reina‘s life, in an article entitled The Reina-Valera Bible: From Dream to Reality by Jorge A. Gonzalez, the author offers some interesting speculation:

“It is not certain whether Reina and Perez met at this time in Frankfurt or in Geneva. It is most probable, however, that the two discussed some time during this period the possibility of publishing the Bible in Spanish, for it is from this time that Reina dates the beginning of his work on the Scriptures, as can be seen from the preface of his “Bear Bible” and from the autograph dedicatory of the copy which he donated to the University of Basel.”

Reina originally only planned on translating the OT relying heavily upon the Ferrara Bible that was circulating amongst the Jews in Spain. His plan was to simply use the NT of Juan de Pineda. But on April 6, 1568, Phillip II ordered his ambassador in France to burn Juan de Pineda’s NT. So Reina was forced to translate his own NT leaning much upon Enzinas‘ text. He did, however, receive the funds that Juan raised for the publishing of the Spanish Bible.

During Reina’s work of translating the scriptures he was constantly pursued by the Catholic Inquisitors. He was labeled a heretic, a criminal, and even accused of being a Sodomite by the Catholic church and a price was placed upon his head. Reina was constantly on the move fleeing from town to town such as Antwerp, Frankfurt, Orleans, Bergerac, and others. But as a good soldier of Jesus Christ he endured such hardships and remain focused on his mission to translate the entire Bible into Spanish.

Finally, he settled down in Basle, Switzerland where he completed the first Protestant version of the entire Bible in Spanish in 1569. It is hailed by historians as “the greatest literary triumph in Spanish history.” It was labeled by the Roman Catholic church as “a most dangerous edition of the Bible”. But Satan and his cohorts of Rome could not stop the word of God.

Reina’s Bible was known as The Bear Bible or La Biblia del Oso. For on the title page was a picture of a bear retrieving honey from a tree.

After completing his translation of the Bible, Cassiodoro de Reina pastured a Spanish church in Antwerp for the next 16 years. He died in 1594. But there was yet more work to be done.

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