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Catholic Interpretation of the Scriptures
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Catholic Interpretation of the Scriptures

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  • 1. Two Questions: Does sacred scripture mean whatever we personally think and/or feel it should mean? OR ... Do we take everything in scripture as being an absolute, total, historical and literal truth? And ho w do es that who le " inspiratio n" thing fit in, anyway?
  • 2. Keep in mind ... while God is the "author" of scriptures (via the Holy Spirit), it was written by humans -- using human emotions, language, perspective, etc. It's like God gave them the idea ... ... and they wrote it in their own words. And, last timeI checked (with the exceptio n o f Jesus, o f co urse!) humansarenot God and therefore… humansaren't perfect!
  • 3. CHAPTER III SACRED SCRIPTURE, ITS INSPIRATION AND DIVINE INTERPRETATION 11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. Therefore, 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. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).
  • 4. 12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another.
  • 5. But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, no less 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. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. 13. In Sacred Scripture, therefore, while the truth and holiness of God always remains intact, the marvelous "condescension" of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, "that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature.“ For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men.
  • 6. We need to look at both the human author’s intent, audience, perspective, experience, and purpose … AND … We need to also look at the divine author’s intent, audience, perspective, experience, and purpose. Come to SHA! Dear Editor, You’re an idiot! I miss camp! •814 girls •IB Program
  • 7. It means we need to look carefully at how we interpret the Bible, and take several different factors into account. This is where the “historical-literary method of Bible criticism” comes into play … examining both the historical context and the writings themselves. It’simportant to realizethat “criticism” often meansmoreof theidea of abeneficial critique(careful examination) asopposed to an unkind complaint (badmouthing slam).
  • 8. Bet yo u tho ught Iwas go nna be sacrilegio us and no n-teacherly here, right?  The Literal Sense: What the words actually mean The Spiritual Sense: Viewing events of the Bible as signs Allegorical Sense ~ prefigures/foreshadows Christ Moral Sense ~ tells us how to act Anagogical Sense ~ Greek for “leading”; points to heaven
  • 9. Where’d they get their information? Raises the question of the “Synoptic Problem” Synoptic is Greek for “seen together”
  • 10. Best guess: Mark wrote his gospel first Matthew and Luke then “borrowed” from Mark And then … Perhaps Luke and Matthew shared a source that Mark didn’t know about AND … Luke and Matthew each had their own individual sources as well.
  • 11. Q ~ Quelle (German for “source”); collection of Jesus’ sayings used by Matthew and Luke M ~ sources unique to Matthew L ~ sources unique to Luke Mark Luke L Matthew M Q
  • 12. Temptation in desert Beatitudes Good fruit Parable of lost sheep Coming of wise men Parable of weeds Peter walking on water Parable of ten virgins Story of the shepherds Jesus at age twelve Parable of Good Samaritan Zacchaeus story Q M L
  • 13. Matthew 16:13-16 Mark 8:27-29 Luke 9:18-20 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of
  • 14. Need to consider not only the different types of writings (encyclopedia, newspaper, novel, textbook, etc.), but also the different styles within each type PLUS … oral tradition influences writings as well For example … Parables are storytime – listen for deeper message Narratives are “historical” – listen for what
  • 15. Each gospel gives a different picture of Jesus, as shaped by the theology, audience, purpose, etc., of the evangelist
  • 16. In the days before cut&paste, it was parchment, papyrus, and… Hand-copied texts, though, were not always perfect. Mistakes were made, people changed things, writing wasn’t clear, different  and αλπηαβετσ. Amazingly enough, however, most differences were minor.
  • 17.  Codex Vaticanus (c. 350) ~ oldest NT collection  Vulgate (383-384) ~ Jerome, into Latin (“common”); Church’s official translation from the original languages  Protestant Translations  King James (1611)  New Revised Standard Version (1990)  Revised English Bible (1989)  New International Version (1973-1978)  Catholic Translations  Douay-Rheims (1582-1609; 1749-1763) ~ translation of the Vulgate  1943 ~ Pope Pius XII encourages translation from original languages, not just the Latin Vulgate  New American Bible (1952-1970; 1987) ~ used in the liturgy  New Jerusalem Bible (1985) ~ from French La Sainte Bible