Friday 20th October 2017

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

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Fr. Perrone: without an intense, devout life, Catholics will not survive the age

The saintly priest, learned theologian, and catechist extraordinaire, Fr. John A. Hardon, was fond of saying that without an intense, devout life Catholics will not survive the age. I admit that at the time I thought this a ruse to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Be agents of Mary’s Immaculate Heart to combat ‘diabolical forces’

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke has summoned the faithful to become “agents” of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to combat the “diabolical forces” that have been “unleashed upon the world” and are…Continue Reading

Callista Gingrich confirmed as US Ambassador to the Vatican

Washington D.C., Oct 16, 2017 / 04:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the next U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. The vote was 70-23. In a…Continue Reading

Pope Francis canonizes 35 new saints

(Vatican Radio) Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”. To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in…Continue Reading

President Trump: Our ‘religious heritage’ will be ‘cherished, protected, and defended’

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – President Trump said this morning that his administration is “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values” in a rousing speech at the Values Voter Summit. In his first major speech to a socially conservative conference…Continue Reading

Capuchin Priest Who Ministered Under Soviet Rule Moves Closer to Sainthood

VATICAN CITY — On Monday, Pope Francis advanced nine causes for sainthood, including a Capuchin priest who ministered underground across the Soviet Union for nearly 40 years. Father Serafin Kaszuba was born June 17, 1910, in Zamarstynów, near Lviv, in…Continue Reading

Notre Dame student fears losing birth control coverage under university health plan

The Trump administration’s plan to roll back mandatory insurance coverage for birth control faces a new federal court challenge. Washington state’s attorney general sued Monday to stop the new rules from taking effect. California and Massachusetts have already filed similar complaints. Last…Continue Reading

European Nation to Unite in Prayer for Its Salvation

On Saturday, October 7, up to one million Poles are expected to line the country’s border to pray the rosary. They will be joined in prayer by many others in Poland and throughout the world. This extraordinary display of public…Continue Reading

A big-money Catholic group just said it’s yanking all of its cash out of fossil fuels

A coalition of 40 Catholic institutions on Tuesday announced a decision to pull their money from — or block future investment in — fossil fuels. The Global Catholic Climate Movement called it the biggest collective announcement of divestment by Catholic…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Returned to Vatican Court, but not as Prefect

VATICAN CITY, September 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews): Pope Francis has reinstated Cardinal Burke as a member of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court. Cardinal Burke, dismissed as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura nearly three years ago, has been appointed to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke to offer Mass at conference exactly 100 years after major Fatima miracle

BUCKFAST ABBEY, United Kingdom, September 29, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Exactly 100 years after the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Cardinal Raymond Burke will offer Mass at a Marian conference celebrating the centennial of the messages of Our Lady to…Continue Reading

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POPE AND CARDINAL A ‘CARICATURE’ SAYS BURKE, BUT CATHOLICS WANT CLEARER PRESENTATION OF DOCTRINE

‘I find universally that there’s a great deal of confusion, also people feeling that the Church is not a secure point of reference’ Cardinal Raymond Burke has told an Australian newspaper that media portrayals of his relationship with Pope Francis…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Priest who signed Filial Correction: It was ‘the Catholic thing to do’

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England (LifeSiteNews) — The number of signatories of the Filial Correction charging Pope Francis with spreading seven heresies, at least by omission, has now risen to 245 professors and clergy. That is up from 62 at the time of its publication on September 24, and 40 when it was delivered to Pope Francis on August 11 at his Santa Marta residence. Critics of the Filial Correction have accused the signatories of standing as “judges over the…Continue Reading

Trump admin makes protecting citizens “from conception to natural death” top priority

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — In a stunning change of direction from the Obama administration, the Trump Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not only declared that human life begins “at conception,” but has made protecting citizens “from conception to natural death” one of its top priorities. While the Obama HHS under Kathleen Sebelius

Pope invites prisoners to lunch, they break free instead

Bologna, Italy, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- They were supposed to be having lunch with Pope Francis. During his Oct. 1 trip to Bologna, the Holy Father was scheduled to dine with 20 prisoners from a local drug rehabilitation facility, along with refugees and the poor of the area, during a “Lunch of Solidarity” at San Petronio Basilica. Instead, two of the Italian prisoners shirked their invitation for what they saw as…Continue Reading

A biblical interpretation of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun

BUCKFAST ABBEY, England, October 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Miracle of the Sun which took place in Fatima, Portugal, exactly one hundred years ago today (on October 13, 1917), was one of the most extraordinary events of the 20th century. An estimated 70,000 people witnessed the Miracle of the Sun, both believers drawn by the Blessed Virgin Mary’s promise to the three shepherd children the previous July that she would perform a miracle in October,…Continue Reading

“Together Around the Table”: German Catholic Initiative Invites Protestants to Communion

Ecumenism has gone wrong one more time in Germany and has escalated into denial of the truth about the Eucharist: in the German Diocese, Stuttgart-Rottenburg, an initiative by a Catholic theologian has invited Protestants to receive Communion on a large scale. “Here on sight, we begin with a hospitable Church by inviting each other openly and cordially to Communion and the Celebration of the Last Supper [Abendmahl]” reads the “Ravensburger Manifesto” signed on October 8.…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Fr. Solanus Casey To Be Beatified November 18

The beatification Mass for Fr. Solanus Casey is scheduled for November 18 at Ford Field in Detroit. “Not unlike the [1987] Silverdome Mass celebrated by St. John Paul, this, too, will be a history-making liturgy,” said Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit. “The beatification of Fr. Solanus Casey is an incomparable grace for the Church in the…Continue Reading

Poverty As An Evil And Poverty As A Good

By PHILIP TROWER On November 19 the Church will celebrate the first “World Day of the Poor” which the Holy Father instituted last year at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy by means of the apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera. Then on the June 13 he issued a papal message entitled Do not Be…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic. . . The Many Assaults On The Rule Of Law

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Spiritual Riches Of A Heroic Priest

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN With God in America, by Walter J. Ciszek, SJ; editors John M. Dejak and Marc Lindeijer, SJ. (Loyola Press: Chicago 60657, 2016), 253 pp.; $19.95. Available from www.loyolapress.com or call 1-800-621-1008. An anthology of Fr. Walter Ciszek’s unpublished works in the form of writings delivered at retreats, reflections on biblical passages, letters…Continue Reading

On The Importance Of Placing Second

By DONALD DeMARCO The second, to be mathematically precise, is the time required for a cesium-133 atom to complete 9,192,631,770 oscillations. A lot more can happen within a second than most people realize. Science’s notion of exactitude has little in common with the ordinary man’s understanding of life. Fascinating as this fact is, as well…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Love God And Neighbor

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirtieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Exodus 22:20-26 1 Thess. 1:5c-10 Matt. 22:34-40 In the second reading today St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians about the nature of their conversion. They had turned from idols to worship the Living and True God. By itself that is wonderful, but it becomes extraordinary when we hear that…Continue Reading

Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian, Washington, D.C. Monsignor kindly gave The Wanderer permission to reprint this essay from his blog of October 7. All rights reserved.) + + + There is an urgency and clarity about Sunday’s Gospel that is often lacking in modern Christians, including the clergy. The…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Two Academics Enter the Lists Against The Filial Correction

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK, M.A. The battle is joined and the duel of the academics over the fate of the Filial Correction is heating up. On one side of the ring we have Robert Fastiggi, Ph.D., and Dawn Eden Goldstein, STD. On the other side we have, as of this writing, 235 signatories of the Correction. Many of these…Continue Reading

The Sacred Liturgy . . . The Liturgy Of The Church Militant

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 3 Have you, Wanderer reader, even attended Mass in one of the Eastern Rites of the Church? If you haven’t, look online for a parish of the Byzantine Rite to see how beautiful the worship of God can be among our Eastern Rite brethren. Just make sure it is Catholic, and not Orthodox, because both…Continue Reading

Scriptural Basis Of The Sacrament Of Holy Orders

By DON FIER Part 3 In our previous installment on the scriptural background for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we examined the circumstances leading to a shift in the Old Testament from a priesthood entrusted to the heads of households and patriarchs to a ministerial priesthood divinely delegated to Aaron and his descendants within the tribe of Levi. Likewise, we…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Catherine Of Alexandria

By CAROLE BRESLIN The list of saints is long, and includes both men and women from all walks of life and from all disciplines. For some saints, there is a plenitude of documents and accounts of their lives from which we can draw much information. For most of the saints from the early centuries of the Church, however, there is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Edward The Confessor

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the Middle Ages, England not only endured the raids of the Vikings, but also suffered from the raids initiated by Denmark and Normandy to control the small kingdom across the straights. Battles and intrigues were frequent, leaving little peace until the time of King Edward the Confessor. Even his reign experienced the plots and conspiracies so…Continue Reading