How Catholics Understand the Bible

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HOW CATHOLICS
INTERPERT
THE BIBLE
Opening Prayer
"All Scripture is God-breathed.” As we gather
together this evening, let us realize that the
words we are studying are inspired by God. May
WE be inspired as we seek to understand your
mystery, made known to us through revelation.
Psalm 119 tells us: "The unfolding of your words
gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
May our simple understandings be broadened
and our minds enlightened this evening. Amen.
Bible Timeline








Adam and Eve
The Great Flood
Covenant with Abraham
Israelites enter Egypt
10 Commandments/Exodus
King David / Solomon's Temple
Temple destroyed/Babylonian Exile
Temple rebuilt
~4000bc
~2350bc
~1900bc
~1700bc
~1500bc
~1000bc
~587bc
~515bc
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
- the specifics
“Hebrew Bible” or “Jewish Scriptures” - a
collection of books written mostly in Hebrew
 Septuagint
A
(LXX) - “seventy interpreters”
pre-Christian translation from Hebrew to Greek

Alexandria Egypt, between 300bc and 100bc
 FIRST
COLLECTION - original collection of books
 SECOND COLLECTION - added 7 additional
“Apocryphal” books (~200-100bc)
 Entire collection became known as the OLD
TESTAMENT
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
- the specifics

There were lots of books of the Bible:
 50+

Gospels, 22 Acts of the Apostles, etc.
ROMAN CANON (list)
 Council
of Hippo, 393, created list of Old and
New Testament books which is the same as
the Roman Catholic Canon today
 Council of Trent, 1556: Final infallible
definition of canonical books.
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
- what they contain
OLD TESTAMENT:
 LAW: Torah(5)
 HISTORY: (12)
 WISDOM (5)
 MAJOR PROPHETS (5)
 MINOR PROPHETS (12)
 APOCRYPHAL (7)
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
- what they contain
NEW TESTAMENT:
 GOSPELS (4)
 HISTORY/ACTS(1)
 EPISTLES TO CHURCHES (9)
 EPISTLES TO FRIENDS (4)
 GENERAL EPISTLES (9)
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
- the specifics
“APOCRYPHAL” BOOKS
 Written ~200-100bc
 Authors unknown
 Apocryphal means “Hidden or Secret”
 Kept carefully concealed and shown only to fullfledged members of the religion.
 Rejected by Protestants
 Always considered “inspired” by Catholic Church.
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
- the specifics
“APOCRYPHAL” BOOKS
1. Tobit
2. Judith
3. Wisdom
4. Ecclesiastes
5. Baruch
6. 1-2 Maccabees
7. Ester (parts)
Catholic vs. Non-Catholic Bibles?
Many versions of the Bible
 The Vulgate
 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
 New International Version (NIV)
 New American Bible (NAB)*
 New Jerusalem Bible (NJB)
 Revised English Bible
 Good News Translation
 Readers Digest Bible
BIBLE AS
HISTORY
Fact or Fiction?
BIBLE AS
HIS-STORY
(and OUR story)
INSPIRED???
The bible is the “Inspired” word of God.
 NOT
dictated - but truly God’s word through
man
 God divinely inspired the words used:
 “Do
not think that I have come to abolish the Law or
the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but
to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and
earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least
stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from
the Law...”
 The
Bible is: “the undeniable, authoritative,
Word of God to humanity.”
THEOLOGICAL TRUTH - NOT HISTORICAL TRUTH
The Bible is not a HISTORICAL
document
 Contains some historical facts
 Numbers are largely symbolic

7
Days of Creation
 40 years in the Desert
THEOLOGICAL TRUTH - NOT HISTORICAL TRUTH

Must ask ourselves: “What is the Theological
Truth? What is God telling us through HIS
Story?”
Example: Numbers are significant because they
indicate something:



7=perfection/completion
40=Conversion/change
Old age=favored by God
Example: Lk. 10:30 - the Good Samaritan
Biblical Punctuation

Scriptua Continua
 Scriptures
up until ~900AD were written
without punctuation, spacing or
capitalization.
No, price too high!
No price too high!
The Bible is “Inerrant ?”

Does NOT mean every word in the bible
is to be understood literally
(I.e. “an Eye for an Eye”)
“Unlimited” vs “Limited” Inerrancy
 Can not Proof-text.
 Bible must be taken in context

Which is it Jesus?
John 16:33 - "These things I have spoken to
you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the
world you have tribulation, but take courage; I
have overcome the world.”
Matt. 10:34 - "Do not think that I came to
bring peace on the earth; I did not come to
bring peace, but a sword.”
THEOLOGICAL TRUTH - NOT HISTORICAL TRUTH

Journeys are sometimes symbolic
Mark 7:31-37: Then Jesus left
the vicinity of Tyre and went
through Sidon, down to the
Sea of Galilee and into the
region of the Decapolis.
Catholic Interpretation of the
Bible
Multiple sources of God’s revelation
 Bible
 Tradition
 The Church
The primary concern must be the literal sense:
-
the sense the human author directly intended
The sense that the words convey
Catholic Interpretation of the
Bible
Historical/Critical Method of Interpretation
 God
speaks through the human context
 Scriptures
were written at specific time/place
 Local literary forms are important
 Local customs must be understood
Private Interpretation?
Church does not promote a “Party Line”
about the Scriptures.
 Catholics are free to interpret the bible.
 Church is sounding board

“Faith Seeking Understanding”
What do we
know about
God from
the Bible?
What do we
know about
God from
the Bible?
How would you interpret this?

Gen. 1:26 - Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our
image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule
over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky
and over the cattle and over all the earth,

Gen. 2:7 - Then the LORD God formed man of dust
from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the
breath of life; and man became a living being.

Gen. 2:21 - So the LORD God caused a deep sleep
to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one
of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The
LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He
had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
How would you interpret this?
 Moses
 Noah
lived to be 120 years old
lived to be 950 years old
How would you interpret this?
2 Kings 2:23-24: From there Elisha went up from there
to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way,
some small boys came out of the city and jeered at
him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you
baldhead!"
And he turned around, and when he saw them, he
cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the
boys.
From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and thence he
returned to Sama'ria.
Purpose of the Bible
OLD TESTAMENT

“The economy of the Old Testament was
deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for
and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ.”
Vatican II - Dei Verbum
NEW TESTAMENT
GOSPELS: “Principle source for the life and
teaching of the incarnate Word, our Savior.”
 EPISTLES: “firmly establish...more precisely
Christ’s authentic teaching.” - Dei Verbum

Purpose of the Bible
The Books of Scripture are the truths
that God put in our hands for the sake of
our salvation.
God wants to be known…for OUR good!
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