Interpretation and Overview of the Bible Section 2
Understanding the Scriptures Part 1
Divine Inspiration and Biblical Inerrancy • The Holy Spirit inspired the human authors who wrote the Bible’s books. • This is called Divine Inspiration. • God himself is the ultimate author of the Sacred Scriptures. • This makes the Bible free of errors which is called biblical inerrancy. • God chose ordinary people to wrote the books of the Bible. • The Holy Spirit “breathed into” them the ways and truths of God. • But they still kept their human knowledge and creativity.
Communicating the Sacred Scriptures • There are three basic forms of communication: • Nonverbal deeds and actions • The spoken word • The written word • All three were instrumental in the development of the Sacred Scriptures. • The first step was human experience. • Before anything could be written or spoken, humans had to experience these events and experience God.
The Spoken Word • The Israelites’ experience of God was originally handed down orally. • Prophesying, preaching, storytelling, and poetry. • Their experience was also handed down through the manner in which they worshipped and kept the covenants made by God and his People. • This handing on of truth-carrying and wisdom-filled words and deeds from generation to generation is called oral tradition. • During Old Testament times, few people could read and write so they relied heavily on spoken word.
The Written Word • The people in both Old and New Testaments times wanted to preserve God’s message of salvation. • They began the written tradition, which involved the writing down, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God’s Revelation to his children. • Early Christians were worried about safeguarding the message of Jesus Christ because many of those who knew Jesus personally were being persecuted.
When were the Scriptures written? • Many times the Israelites did not know that they were involved in something special and did not write down their personal experiences dealing with God. • Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the biblical books were written down years after the events they describe.
Setting the Canon of Scripture • The canon of the Bible is the official collection of inspired books. • The pages of the canon: • contain God’s self-revelation to human beings. • lay the foundation for the beliefs, practices, and customs of the Catholic faith. • The early bishops, the successors to the Apostles, used four standards to discern the validity of a book and if it should be included in the canon. • 1. Apostolic Origin • 2. Universal Acceptance • 3. Use of the text • 4. Message
Setting the Canon of Scripture • Apostolic Origin • the book must be based on the preaching and teaching of the Apostles. • Universal Acceptance • the book must be accepted by Christian communities throughout the world. • Use of the text • the books were/could/or should have been used in the Mass to enhance the prayer lives of the people. • Message • the book had to have a message consistent with other Christian and Jewish writings. • Based on these standards, some books were not selected for the canon. • The Gnostic gospels were rejected because they placed little importance on the suffering and death of Jesus.
Different Translations, The Same Revelation • The Bible had to be translated from Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into English. • As a result, there are many different translations of the Bible, but all of the messages of Divine Revelation are the same. • There are 4 Catholic biblical translations that are widely used today: • The New American Bible (NAB) • The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) • Catholic Edition: New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) • the Good News Translation (GNT) Read page 59.
Interpreting Scripture Part 2
A Vocation to Interpret and Teach • The Magisterium, the living teaching office of the Church, has been given the sole authority to authentically interpret the words of the Sacred Scriptures. • They perform this task guided by the Holy Spirit. • Although the people in the Bible may seem to have no connection with us, the events in Scripture can relate to our lives today. • The process of interpreting and critically explaining a passage from Sacred Scripture is called biblical exegesis. • Through biblical exegesis God continues to reveal himself though his Words.
Literary Forms in the Bible • The Bible contains many different types of literature, or literary genres, which are different styles of writing. • The study of literary forms can give us insight into the meaning the sacred writers really intended.
Senses of Scriptures • The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of the Scripture, or the obvious meaning of the text. • The spiritual sense goes beyond the literal sense of the words to consider what the realities and events of Scripture signify. Read page 69.
Relation to Science and History • The Catholic Church teaches that faith, science, and history can coexist and help inform one another. • Academic areas can help us break down barriers of an overly literalist or fundamentalist approachto the Scriptures. • The Church supports a contextualist approachin which the literal sense of the scriptures is informed by scientific and historical knowledge. • Teaches how to relate the truths of faith to science.
The Old Testament: “Old” Does Not Mean Out of Date • The Old Testament is not “old” in the sense that it is obsolete. • The Old Testament is the foundation of our identity as a people of faith. • The Old Testament is a sacred text for both Christians and Jewish people. • The Old Testament is the account of a loving and communicative relationship between God and the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham, or the Israelites. • It focuses on how God remains faithful even when the Israelites sin.
The Structure of the Old Testament • The Old Testament is divided into four categories: • The Books of Law • First five books of the Old Testament; also called the Torahor the Pentateuch • Teach about Creation, sin, and the law of the Israelites
The Structure of the Old Testament • The Historical Books • Tell about Jewish history and recount the lives of various leaders, judges, warriors, and prophets. • Point to the saving action of God in the lives of the Israelites • The Wisdom Books • Poetry on wisdom, self-control, honesty, respect, etc. • The Prophetic Books • Proclaims the messages of visionary religious reformers who God called to challenge the Israelites to act justly.
The New Testament: Why is it Called “New”? • The New Testament contains the Revelation of Jesus Christ. • The New Testament is called “new” because God created a New Covenant on earth through Jesus Christ. • God had never before revealed himself in the flesh. • The Old Testament is necessary in order to understand the New Testament. • Only together do they paint the full picture of God’s grace and redemption. • They have a reciprocal relationship, they must be read together in order to be understood.
The New Testament: General Overview • The New Testament centers on the words and actions of Jesus Christ and how he sacrificed himself for our salvation. • The time period covered is approximately 4 BC – AD 100. • The New Testament books can be split into 5 categories: • The Gospels • The Acts of the Apostles • The Pauline Letters • The non-Pauline Letters • The Book of Revelation
The New Testament: General Overview • The Gospels • tell about the life of Jesus Christ • The Acts of the Apostles • Written by Luke • Tells of the early Christian communities and how the Apostles spread the Word of God • The Pauline Letters • written by Paul and his disciples to teach the early Christian communities • The non-Pauline Letters • The Book of Revelation • written by a Jewish-Christian prophet named John; speaks of the second coming of Christ at the end of time, known as Parousia