Sacred Scripture and Biblical Criticism How Catholics view Sacred Scripture and Methods Scholars use to Interpret the Bible
Sacred Scripture is Inspired • Inspired means that God Himself guided the authors who wrote the books of the Bible. • The Holy Spirit enlightened the minds of the Biblical authors and moved them to write without impairing their freedom to write what was in their minds. • So, though God is the principal author of Scripture, the human authors are also true authors because they acted as free, subordinate, intelligent instruments of the Holy Spirit.
Sacred Scripture is Inerrant • Inerrant means does not err. • So, Sacred Scripture always teaches the truth, never error. • However, this does not mean to interpret the verses of the Bible literally. • Origen did not read the Bible literally • St. Thomas Aquinas did not always read the Bible literally • They realized that there are verses that cannot possibly make sense if read literally; so they developed ways to read the Bible spiritually and get under the surface of the text. • The Magisterium helps the faithful, us, to understand Scripture. • The Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church and it is infallible. • Infallible means that because of divine help, the Church cannot teach error in matters of faith.
Sources of Teaching • Scripture • “The Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book’ (CCC 108).” • Rather, Catholicism is a religion of the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ who lives always and forever. • Tradition • “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15
The Bible is Religious • The Bible tells us about our ‘salvation history’ • Salvation history is the history of God’s plan for our salvation. • We can see this in the Bible by observing the covenants between us and God that are presented in the Bible • A covenant is an agreement that establishes a sacred family bond between persons. It is similar to a contract, except a contract is temporary and a covenant is intended to bind persons in kinship forever. • In the Bible we observe seven (7) covenants (see chart on page 15 of textbook): • (1). The covenant with Adam (Adamic Covenant) • (2). with Noah (Noahic Covenant) • (3). with Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant) • (4.) with Israel through Moses (Mosaic Covenant) • (5.) with the nations through David (David Covenant) • (6.) New Covenant with humanity through Jesus Christ • (7.) The fulfillment of the New Covenant at the end of time
Development of the Canon • Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church developed a ‘list’, or canon, of approved books. • In order to be included in the canon the Biblical books had to meet three requirements: • (1.) Orthodoxy (conforms to Christ’s message) • (2.) Apostolicity (traceable to the Apostles) • (3.) Catholicity (used in the liturgical worship of the universal Church) • Only divinely inspired books could make it into the canon. This is why there are many apocryphal texts and many other Gospels that are not in our canon. • Different traditions and faiths accept different books as canonical. For example, Judaism does not include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees in their canon, but Catholicism does.
Development of the Canon • These books which are not included in the Jewish Canon are referred to as Deuterocanonical because they were included later. • The canon of Christianity was not agreed upon fully until the 5th century AD (400s).
Why is Scripture Study Important? • St. Jerome says it all: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” • This is because, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states: “All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ, ‘because all divine Scripture speaks of Christ, and all divine Scripture is fulfilled in Christ’ (Hugh of St. Victor, De arcaNoe 2,8:PL 176,642: cf. ibid. 2,9:PL 176,642-643).” (CCC 134)
Biblical Criticism • Reading the Bible literally (fundamentalism) is a new idea which became popular in the 1800s. • Since Vatican II (1962-1965), the Catholic Church has declared that one must read the Bible prayerfully, knowing it is Divine Truth, and in its historical context. • This means that we must use various reading methods in order to fully understand a biblical passage. • Modern scholars have developed many different methods to read Scripture in order to determine it’s origins, authors, and original message.