Saturday 23rd July 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.

Cardinal Burke: Islam is ‘fundamentally a form of government’

Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a telephone interview that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.” Speaking with Religion News Service, the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta said that “when they (Muslims) become the majority in any…Continue Reading

Nienstedt: misconduct allegations retribution for opposition to gay marriage

In other words, he’s the real victim here. Marino Eccher of the PiPress says, “John Nienstedt, the former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, said accusations of sexual misconduct against him were part of a false smear campaign in response…Continue Reading

5 faith facts on Mike Pence: A ‘born-again, evangelical Catholic’

(RNS) While an official announcement has not yet been made, IndyStar and other media outlets are reporting that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s running mate. Pence became governor of the Hoosier State in…Continue Reading

Trump In Tatters As Catholic Voters Shift Their Support To Hillary Clinton

A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans as Catholic voters have shifted their support to Hillary Clinton. A new Pew poll on religion and the 2016 campaign revealed devastating news for Republicans…Continue Reading

St. Anne Catholic Church prepares for 136th annual novena

There used to be a steady flow of stories, tales of miracle cures. They were covered in the Daily Journal, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, in the early 1900s. The Catholic church in St. Anne, a village of 1,239,…Continue Reading

More deception in the war on Card. Sarah

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.…Continue Reading

Cardinal Caffarra on Marriage, Family, Amoris Laetitia, & Confusion in the Church

cardc

Editor’s note: the following is an exclusive interview with Cardinal Carlo Caffara, conducted by OnePeterFive’s Dr. Maike Hickson. Cardinal Caffarra is Archbishop emeritus of Bologna and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was in a letter to Cardinal…Continue Reading

Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

LONDON, July 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the…Continue Reading

This priest died in a Korean prison camp. Will the Catholic Church beatify him?

Wichita, Kan., Jul 2, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There’s good news in Kansas: former army chaplain Father Emil J. Kapaun has taken a step closer to possible beatification and sainthood. But for Scott Carter, coordinator for the Father…Continue Reading

The Affirmative Argument for Receiving Communion on the Tongue

A recent post at the site Roman Catholic Man has focused a great deal of attention on the manner in which the faithful receive Communion. As any discussion regarding the Eucharist is a discussion about Our Lord Himself, the importance…Continue Reading

Hillary Clinton: “I Will Always Stand With Planned Parenthood,” It Does “Extraordinary Things”

Earlier this month, pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told activists at a Planned Parenthood abortion business rally that she would “always have your back.” She means it. In an op-ed written to bolster support for America’s biggest abortion business, Hillary…Continue Reading

United Way Sent $3 Million to Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz in 2015

LifeNews has repeatedly chronicled the relationship between dozens of local United Way agencies and the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Last year, on the heels of shocking videos showing the Planned Parenthood abortion business selling the body parts of aborted babies,…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 . . .

Hillary Clinton Names Pro-Abortion Tim Kaine VP, Says He’s “Catholic” Who “Supports Abortion”

kaine

Abortion activist Hillary Clinton today tapped pro-abortion Virginia Senator Tim Kaine has her vice-presidential running mate. The Virginia politician is on record as trying to have it both ways — saying he is both a “traditional Catholic” and a strong supporter of abortion. Kaine has a pro-abortion record and the potential Clinton running mate is not following anyone. As LifeNews previously reported, Kaine said he is a “strong supporter of Roe v. Wade” despite supposedly…Continue Reading

Macy’s Fires Catholic Employee for Questioning Transgender Policy

FLUSHING, New York, July 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Macy’s department store has fired a Catholic employee because he questioned their transgender bathroom policy, even though he says he told his employer he would enforce the policy. Back in May, Javier Chavez, a senior store detective at Macy’s Flushing, New York, location got a phone call about a male accessing the ladies room along with a female. A female customer and her daughter were afraid to enter…Continue Reading

Land O’ Lakes on Steroids

In this bulletin on the Laetare Medal/Vice President Joe Biden episode, we consider its broad significance. As Bishop Kevin Rhoades declared, the University of Notre Dame has given scandal, but there is much more. In publicly spurning the counsel of Notre Dame’s (and his) bishop for the third time, University President Father John Jenkins has further undermined the crucially important relationship between Notre Dame and the Church. More, he rejected the recommendations for honorees from…Continue Reading

GIRM warfare: Experts criticize Vatican’s quick dismissal of Cardinal Sarah’s call for Mass facing East

cardinalsara

July 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Recent official statements from the Vatican and United States bishops’ conference on the Catholic Church’s chief liturgist Cardinal Robert Sarah’s call for priests to offer Mass facing the apse have been misleading, Catholic liturgists and experts say. Earlier this month, Sarah spoke at a London conference on sacred liturgy and asked priests and bishops to offer Mass ad orientem — that is, facing the tabernacle with the congregation rather than facing…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Listen and offer welcome to one another

(Vatican Radio) Before the recitation of the Marian prayer the Holy Father spoke of the importance of hospitality calling it a real Christian virtue, but one which at times the world neglects. He drew his inspiration for this theme from the Sunday Gospel in which St Luke recounts the story of Jesus who is welcomed into the home of two sisters Martha and Mary. They both offer their hospitality in different ways. Martha is busy…Continue Reading

Who Gave Us Justice Ginsburg?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Her mind is shot.” That was the crisp diagnosis of Donald Trump on hearing the opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the possibility he might become president. It all began with an interview the past week when the justice was asked for her thoughts on a Trump presidency. Ginsburg went…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The Second Time Around: The Future Of Euthanasia In Holland”

By BRIAN CLOWES “There will be casualties” — Australian euthanasia activist Dr. Philip Nitschke. + + + The Final Step: Accepting And Accommodating Evil After decades of struggling with the euthanasia issue, it appears that the government of the Netherlands is in the process of accepting reality. It has given up attempting to place any…Continue Reading

New Film . . . Explores Jerome Lejeune’s Life And Work

By MARY O’NEILL LE RUMEUR “To kill or not to kill; that is the question.” It is August 1969, in San Francisco, and Professor Jerome Lejeune is addressing the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics. Ten years before, in 1959, he had discovered the genetic cause of Down syndrome, when he saw…Continue Reading

Lawyer Says . . . Not Even Kafka Could Write Something Like Obama’s Bathroom Edict

By DEXTER DUGGAN The Obama administration’s legal assault against sexual reality is something that not even novelist Franz Kafka could have written, an attorney representing the North Carolina legislature told a presentation at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Attorney Kyle Duncan made that comparison as he and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton spoke…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… The Innocents: The Light Of Life

By REY FLORES Poland 1945 — cold, dark, and bleak. This is how The Innocents starts off, giving the viewer an idea of what the rest of the film will look like. But despite the grayish and neutral look of the movie, the light of life and faith in God radiates much brighter than if…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Liturgical Diversity And Unity

By DON FIER In considering where the liturgy is celebrated, we saw last week that “the worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied exclusively to any place because Christ is the true temple of God” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCCC], n. 244). It is through Him that the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I would like to know where St. Patrick is buried. — M.A., Pennsylvania. A. St. Patrick, who died in AD 461, is thought to be buried next to Down Cathedral in Northern Ireland. Once a former Benedictine monastery that was built in 1163, the church now belongs to the Church of Ireland and is known as the Cathedral Church…Continue Reading

Seek What Is Above

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Eccl. 1:2; 2:21-23 Col. 3:1-5, 9-11 Luke 12:13-21 “Vanity of Vanities, all things are vanity!” What a great line and what profound insight Solomon shows in writing these words. Most everything that the world holds up to be of some importance is nothing but vanity. Unfortunately, it is…Continue Reading

From Casuistry To Mercy . . . Toward A New Art Of Pleasing?

By MSGR. MICHEL SCHOOYANS Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Michel Schooyans wrote the following essay for LifeSiteNews, which graciously granted reprint permission to The Wanderer. The essay will appear in two parts because of its length; part two will appear in this space in next week’s issue. (John-Henry Westen, editor-in-chief of LifeSiteNews, provided this background information about the essay: (“Msgr.…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Sex Outside Of True Marriage Is A Lie

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Every one of us searches for comfort in this world, one example being that we all experience weariness and a need for sleep. No one has yet denied the experience of pleasure upon arising from bed after a good period of needed rest. All of our physical needs are like this: Our pleasure indicates that…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. John Cassian

By CAROLE BRESLIN Frequently, the lives of the saints demonstrate that God calls us to go in directions that we would never consider unless it became clear that it is God’s will. St. Francis Xavier went to the Far East, St. Damien died in Hawaii on the opposite side of the world from his native Belgium, and St. John Cassian…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Saints Louis And Azelie-Marie Guerin Martin

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Lord sends the Church the men and women who are needed to keep her holy in times of trouble. Among these are: St. Francis of Assisi, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Faustina, and the first married couple ever to be canonized together: Louis and Azelie-Marie (Zelie) Martin. Their feast day is…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading