Monday 26th September 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Written Word Of God

December 26, 2013 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By DON FIER

In previous installments of this series, it was established that “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred Deposit of the Word of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 97), and that “the task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church” (CCC, n. 100).
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that these three elements (as italicized above) depend one upon the other and, in fact, are inseparable if God’s Revelation is to be truthfully and accurately made manifest to mankind. This installment will focus in particular on the written word of God, that is, Sacred Scripture, and its faithful interpretation. For, as we are candidly told by fifth-century Father and Doctor of the Church St. Jerome, in a famous excerpt from the prologue of his Commentary on Isaiah: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
The Catechism gives immediate emphasis to the divinely revealed truth that it is God Himself who “is the Author of Sacred Scripture” (CCC, n. 105). St. Paul exhorts us in his Letter to the Thessalonians to accept Scripture “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
While it is true that the biblical texts consist of human words written by human hands, the Fathers of Vatican Council II, in Dei Verbum (DV), teach with no ambiguity: “Written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, [the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments] have God as their Author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself” (DV, n. 11). It is through the words of Sacred Scripture that “the Father in Heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them” (DV, n. 21). In fact, the Catechism goes so far as to tell us that “‘the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body’ (DV, n. 21): both nourish and govern the whole Christian life” (CCC, n. 141).
So we know that “God inspired the human authors of the sacred books . . . [and] the inspired books teach the truth” (CCC, nn. 106-107). In fact, Dei Verbum explicitly teaches: “Since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation” (DV, n. 11). However, one must be cautious. As St. Peter tells us, “There are some things in [the books of Sacred Scripture that are] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).
In other words, as was emphasized in last week’s installment, one must exercise great care in interpreting the sacred books. Taken out of context or “twisted or spun” improperly to suit one’s own personal whims or perhaps disordered inclinations, many scriptural verses can be construed to say something totally alien and unfaithful to their intended meaning. It is only the teaching office of the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which has been given the charism to authoritatively and accurately interpret Sacred Scripture. And, as the Catechism explains, “Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, ‘open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures’ (cf. Luke 24:25)” (CCC, n. 108).
The Catechism goes on to tell us that “God speaks to man in a human way” (CCC, n. 109) through the words of Sacred Scripture. Recalling an expression used in previous installments, our Creator uses human words to impart the testimony of divine speech as part of His “divine condescension.” A principle thus comes to light which includes two elements, both essential for correct interpretation of God’s written word, namely, that the reader must be attentive to what the human author wants to affirm and to what God wants to reveal to us by the human author’s words (cf. DV, n. 12 § 2).
Each Old and New Testament writer lived within a certain period of history with its associated customs and culture. Therefore, to obtain an accurate rendering of the sacred author’s intended meaning, it is important that biblical texts be traced back to their historical origin and be interpreted in light of their historical context. Depending on the text being examined, the meaning may often be contingent upon then-contemporary literary forms, local customs, and even particular circumstances that existed at the time of composition.
For example, let’s consider the Old Testament Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. To understand its meaning, it is imperative to uncover what Jeremiah was actually saying and to whom. Yet, although “the conditions of [the human author’s] time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current” (CCC, n. 110) must be taken into account and understood, there is another principle of critical importance that must be observed: “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by Whom it was written” (DV, n. 12 § 3); otherwise, Scripture would remain a “dead letter.” So, without delving deeper so as to understand what the Holy Spirit is seeking to convey, questions such as: “How does what Jeremiah had to say fit into the whole scheme of biblical Revelation? How is it completed in Christ? What does it have to say to us today?” wouldn’t be able to be answered.
To address this apparent quandary, the Catechism calls our attention to the fact that the Second Vatican Council has specified three criteria that must be part and parcel of an authentic interpretative approach toward the written word of God: 1) attentiveness to “the content and unity of the whole Scripture”; 2) a reading of Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”; and 3) attentiveness to the “analogy of faith” (cf. CCC, nn. 112-114). Both the “literal sense” and the “spiritual senses” of Scripture, a topic that will be taken up in next week’s installment, must be examined for an authentic interpretation.
With regard to the first of these criteria, Dei Verbum tells us that “serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out” (DV, n. 12 § 4). The Catechism highlights a beautiful quotation by Victor of St. Hugo to make clear that “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’” (CCC, n. 134).
As Pope Benedict XVI points out in his 2010 apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini (VD), even though the Bible is “a collection of literary texts composed over the course of a thousand years or more, and its individual books are not easily seen to possess an interior unity, . . . the person of Christ gives unity to all the ‘Scriptures’ in relation to the one ‘Word’” (VD, n. 39). Indeed, there is a divinely planned unity between the Old and New Testaments: “God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New” (DV, n. 16) with their central figure being our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Before closing, it would be remiss to not include at least brief mention of the second and third norms, as listed above, for interpreting the Bible as divinely inspired. In the words of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, we must “read the Bible in light of the Church’s entire Tradition,” and “be attentive to the ‘analogy of faith,’ which means the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and in the context of the whole of Revelation” (The Faith, p. 32). More will be said on each in future installments of this series.

+    +    +

(Don Fier serves on the board of directors for The Catholic Servant, a Minneapolis-based monthly publication. He and his wife are the parents of seven children. Fier is a 2009 graduate of Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. Fier is doing research for writing a definitive biography of Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Donald Trump Names Rick Santorum and Other Top Pro-Life Catholics as Key Advisers

Fresh from announcing a list of pro-life leaders who are advising him on issues that matter to pro-life voters, Donald Trump has named a group of pro-life Catholic leaders as additional key advisers, including pro-life former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.…Continue Reading

Argentine bishop threatened with prosecution for condemning ‘culture of fornication’

September 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic archbishop of the Argentinean city of La Plata is under investigation by the country’s “discrimination” police for condemning the modern acceptance of sexual promiscuity and “unnatural” unions, according to local media sources. Archbishop…Continue Reading

First minor killed by euthanasia in Belgium after child euthanasia legalized

BELGIUM, September 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission confirmed Saturday the country’s first instance of child euthanasia, which became legal in 2014. Belgian media suggested the minor killed via lethal injection was 17. Some media also suggested the…Continue Reading

Donald Trump commits to defunding abortion, Planned Parenthood if elected

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump has pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion in the United States and to defund the nation’s leading abortion provider. In a new, personally signed letter, Mr. Trump attacked “Hillary Clinton’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis issues motu proprio harmonizing Canon Law codes

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another…Continue Reading

Another “Catholic” Politician trying to redefine the Catholic Faith . . . Devout Catholic™ Kaine breaks with his church on gay marriage, with media blessing

Tim Kaine has officially joined the ranks of Devout Catholic™. How do we know? Because he says he’s Catholic, yet criticizes the church. The Democratic vice presidential nominee played weekend prophet and theologian when he told activists in the Human…Continue Reading

Bishop Morlino’s Move to Ad Orientem Masses in Madison

This past weekend the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin made an announcement of great liturgical importance. Going forward His Excellency will be offering all of his Masses at the Cathedral ad orientem. Make no…Continue Reading

Longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly dead at 92

phillis

Phyllis Schlafly, the iconic pro-family activist who rose to fame in the 1970s when she campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment, has died at age 92, according to the Eagle Forum, the conservative organization she founded. Schlafly had been an…Continue Reading

Soros’ Catholic useful idiots

By Robert A. Sirico – – Tuesday, August 30, 2016 A most remarkable set of documents was coughed up recently by WikiLeaks. George Soros‘ Open Society Policy Center, it turns out, made donations to two faith-based organizations to the tune…Continue Reading

Pope Francis “gratified” by UN goals that demand “universal access to sexual and reproductive health”

Pope Francis has said that he is “gratified” by UN goals that call on member states to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health” by 2030. The term “sexual and reproductive health”, as generally defined, includes access to contraception, including abortifacient methods, and,…Continue Reading

Psychiatrist: The Vatican’s sex ed is the most dangerous threat to youth I’ve seen in 40 years

September 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In recent years, the Catholic Church has been going through one of her most severe crises as a result of the priestly abuse of youth. The primary victims have been adolescent males.1  This worldwide scandal was…Continue Reading

Catholics protest at Tim Kaine’s parish: If priest won’t ‘instruct parishioners’ on Church teaching, we will

RICHMOND, Virginia, August 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Roughly a dozen pro-life activists protested Sunday outside of pro-abortion, pro-homosexual Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine’s Catholic parish. “Sen. Kaine has failed in his duty as a Catholic public servant to…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

">We May Not Have A Church To Go To . . .

Paul Likoudis (RIP)

Sad news today, we received word that Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer news editor from 1990 to 2014 has died. He lost his battle with colon cancer yesterday, which he had been fighting for over three years. Please pray for the repose of his soul. (The Wanderer will have much more in the days to come).  

500 Catholic scholars lash back at Humanae Vitae critics

Washington D.C., Sep 20, 2016 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nearly 50 years after the “prophetic” papal document Humanae Vitae, the Catholic Church’s longstanding teaching against contraception continues to promote the human good, said a group of Catholic thinkers on Tuesday. “We hold that Catholic teaching respects the true dignity of the human person and is conducive to happiness,” said hundreds of Catholic scholars in a Sept. 20 document. “Humanae Vitae speaks against the distorted…Continue Reading

“Catholic” Tim Kaine: “I Believe Women Should Be Able to” Have an Abortion

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Democratic Vice Presidential pick Tim Kaine, attempted to make his pitch to Millennials by saying that they agree with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic platform on the big issues. One of the big issues is obviously abortion. Part of what he said was: “Do you believe women should be able to make their own health care decisions, or don’t you? Millennials do, Hillary Clinton and I do, Donald Trump doesn’t.”…Continue Reading

Pope visits neonatal unit, hospice to highlight respect for life

Vatican City, Sep 16, 2016 / 11:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, Pope Francis visited a neonatal hospital unit and a hospice for the terminally ill, stressing the dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The Sept. 16 visit is the latest in the Pope’s “Mercy Friday” initiatives, to spend time with various groups each month during the Jubilee of Mercy. In previous trips, he has made surprise stops at places including an…Continue Reading

Sex On The Brain

By DONALD DeMARCO The late Malcolm Muggeridge, who, in his later years, had some sensible things to say about human sexuality, lamented that people “have sex on the brain, and that’s an unhealthy place for it to be.” What he meant by this remark was based on his observation that sex, which is a natural…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… The Bridge Between Abortion And Euthanasia

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, “Euthanasia,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Speaking at a conference of the Hemlock Society — an organization whose primary…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… At The Hour Of Our Death

By JAMES MONTI The onset of autumn has deeper lessons to offer than merely the return of students to their classrooms for another semester of studies. Our Lord Himself told us to derive spiritual instruction from even the change of seasons when He compared the budding of leaves on the fig tree that presage summer…Continue Reading

Last Chance For The “Deplorables”

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Speaking to 1,000 of the overprivileged at an LGBT fundraiser, where the chairs ponied up $250,000 each and Barbra Streisand sang, Hillary Clinton gave New York’s social liberals what they came to hear. “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” smirked Clinton…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Limitless Wisdom Of The Parables

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ and What They Mean for You, by Fr. George Rutler (Sophia Institute Press: Manchester, NH, 2014), 151 pp.; $14.95. Available through www.SophiaInstitute.com or 1-800-888-9344. A collection of short meditations on the 24 parables that appear in the Gospel, this book relates these stories to the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

What Is Faith?… Is Faith Necessary For Salvation?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM For most of us who are cradle Catholics, it is not difficult to believe, since we received the theological virtue of faith in Baptism and grew up with it. Our parents and/or teachers taught us all about the Bible stories, the catechism, the sacraments. We learned to pray the Creed from an early age, and…Continue Reading

The Necessity Of Baptism

By DON FIER The Church’s immemorial tradition of baptizing infants demonstrates in a particular way one of the great truths of our Catholic faith — that every human person is in need of salvation. Born into this world afflicted with original sin, “a sin which is the death of the soul” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 403), even…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent question about how much money the U.S. bishops get from the federal government, an article in LifeSiteNews reported that the Obama Administration is pouring hundreds of million of dollars into Catholic institutions and charities. “We’ve got the most virulently anti-life administration in the history of the United States,” said international child rights advocate…Continue Reading

If It Delays, Wait For It

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Hab. 1:2-3, 2:2-4 2 Tim. 1:6-8, 13-14 Luke 17:5-10 I have commented many times before on the last lines of the Gospel reading today where our Lord tells us to say: “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” Tragically, I wish that…Continue Reading

The Role Of The Sacred Liturgy In Developing A Catholic Conscience

By FRANCIS CARDINAL ARINZE Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered this lecture at The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Ky., July 16, 2016. (The lecture is reprinted here with permission; all rights reserved. We are presenting it in two parts because of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Bernardina Maria Jablonska

By CAROLE BRESLIN Some people look back on their lives and see how differently things turned out from what they had planned. A professor once told his business students that very few students work in the field they studied in college. If someone had told the young Bernardina Maria Jablonska that she would be the superior of a religious order…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Aubert

By CAROLE BRESLIN Near the west coast of France just below England lies the See of Avranches. If you take a drive around the waterways for about 24 miles, you will arrive at one of the world’s most famous pilgrimages, another World Heritage Site — one of 41 in France. This place, Mont Saint-Michel, is dedicated to St. Michael the…Continue Reading