Exegetical work provides a valuable service in helping the Church’s living tradition develop, but not in an anarchic way. See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions. Preface. In response to these dangers to the faith, the Magisterium issued several pronouncements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, condemning critical doctrines that were contrary to the faith, while at the same time defining what lines of inquiry and theses could be licitly held by Catholic exegetes. “This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them.” (DV, 2) Clearly, the Church’s notion of revelation requires the reality of the deeds in salvation history; it is not merely a collection of moral teachings. It also clarifies teaching about the authenticity and inerrancy of Holy Scripture, in light of modern developments in exegesis and criticism. The fifth chapter (“The New Testament”) explains that the four Gospels “faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven” (19), while in the remaining New Testament books “His true teaching is more and more fully stated, the saving power of the divine work of Christ is preached, the story is told of the beginnings of the Church and its marvelous growth, and its glorious fulfillment is foretold” (20). Here, the Council reminds us that the appeal to Patristic authority itself presupposes that the Holy Spirit remains active even in the post-apostolic generations, enabling the faithful to obtain better understanding of some doctrines. Only the divine author, the Holy Spirit, would have such knowledge, and be able to reveal it, with or without the full understanding of the inspired writer. 1. The interdependence of Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium is easy to prove. This is a fundamental and important contribution to the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church made in the Constitution Dei Verbum. | In The various revelations of the Old Testament are all oriented toward preparing man for the Savior who is to come. While the Second Vatican Council generally avoided making new dogmatic definitions, the present constitution at least touches upon the age-old question of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. In the teachings of Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum,the council fathers sought to address certain veins of thought running through Baroque and Neo-scholastic theology, then popular in Catholic seminaries and universities, and “debunk” the Scriptures coming from liberal protestant theologians and Scriptural exegetes, which were slowly infiltrating Catholic academia. This emphasis on Scriptural study does not imply a neglect of Sacred Tradition, for the Council affirms: “Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation.” (DV, 24) The Church “also encourages the study of the holy Fathers of both East and West and of sacred liturgies.” (DV, 23), For most of the Christian era, the vast majority of lay Catholics were illiterate, as was the case among people in every nation. What, exactly, is meant by the divine inspiration of Scripture? They relate what Christ really did and taught for eternal salvation. The Magisterium alone is divinely commissioned to interpret the word of God—as revealed in Scripture and Tradition—definitively. Those who reject this principle in favor of a purely humanistic analysis of the Old Testament will never understand the Old Testament prophecies and types pointing to Christ, and will be as blind as those unbelieving Jews who interpreted Scripture by legalistic criteria. Catholic Bibles translated from the original languages existed even before the Council. It was only appropriate, therefore, now to encourage “frequent reading of the divine Scriptures” by lay Catholics. They did not aim to reproduce words and phrases with verbatim accuracy—an object that was not valued in a predominantly oral culture—but only to convey faithfully the substantive meaning of Christ’s teaching. Even after the age of the printing press, many Catholic clergy neglected in-depth Scriptural study, being formed by ecclesiastical and theological writings, as well as liturgy and devotion. God does not merely reach people through didactic inspiration, but through direct engagement with man at specific points in history. (Luke 24:45; cf. The Gospel had been promised before Christ and, when Christ came, He brought it to fulfillment and entrusted it to the Apostles who “handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit”. Questions of Biblical inspiration and interpretation take special importance in a highly literate age, as the Church must make clear the relationship between her doctrines and Scripture, and explain what is meant by Scripture as the “word of God.”. The Church does not allow the use of literary forms as a means of admitting falsehood in Scripture. They actually wrote the words, which are therefore human words. Rather it seeks to hold them together in a kind of dynamic, organic unity that mirrors its understanding of revelation itself as a living, personal encounter. Reading the Bible in accord with Dei Verbum along the lines sketched above means “mystagogy,” the actualization of salvation history in the Church’s liturgical and sacramental present as … Even if we agree that Scripture and Tradition are equally binding in authority, it can hardly be disputed that appeals to Scripture have always been favored by theologians, especially the Fathers, for the firm establishment of doctrine. In part 1 of my analysis of the third chapter of the Vatican II document Dei Verbum (DV), I showed how the Church understands the creation of the Bible as a divine-human synergy. 6. 5. Everything asserted by the inspired authors is also asserted by the Holy Spirit. This strenuous reassertion of apostolic authority—the sole basis for determining authentic teachings of Scripture and living Tradition —is conveniently one of the most ignored parts of Dei Verbum. We recognize the Spirit of truth as we would a person; such has been the conviction of all the saints who have remarked on the subject. Further, interpretation of Scripture in matters of faith and morals, since this pertains to establishing Christian doctrine, is the prerogative of the Church. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, identified three overall themes in Dei verbum: (1) the new view of the phenomenon of tradition; (2) the theological problem of the application of critical historical methods to the interpretation of Scripture; and (3) the biblical movement that had been growing from the turn of the twentieth century. Since the same Holy Spirit inspired all the authors, it must not be thought that one asserted a doctrine that was essentially opposed to another revealed truth. 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