Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spirituality: "How Do Catholics Read the Bible?" by Dan Harrington, S.J.

A Catholic Approach to reading and interpreting the Bible.

1.     From the beginning the Bible and the church have existed in a circular or symbiotic relationship.
2.     The Bible is best understood as the word of God in human language.
3.     Catholics follow the larger Old Testament canon adopted by the early church, while Protestants and Jews limit their canonical Old Testament to the Hebrew Bible.
4.     Catholics follow the traditional twenty-seven-book canon of the New Testament along with other Christians.
5.     The canonical writings serve as the rule or norm of faith and practice for Catholics, though they do not regard the Bible as the only source of divine revelation.
6.     Catholics regard Scripture as a privileged witness to divine revelation and an occasion for divine revelation.
7.     Catholics regard Scripture as written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
8.     Catholics regard Scripture as a trustworthy and inerrant guide on the road to salvation.
9.     The kind of religious imagination nurtured by the Catholic tradition is especially helpful in entering into how the Bible communicates.
10. The Bible is available to Catholics in modern translations, accompanied by reliable introductions and notes.
11. Historical-critical analysis, properly understood and shorn of rationalist or positivist philosophical presuppositions, is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of a biblical text.
12. Catholics read the Old Testament for its wise teachings about God and human existence, and as preparation for and a witness to Jesus Christ.
13. Catholics view the Gospels as the product of a complex process of tradition from Jesus through the early church to the Evangelists, while providing an honest and true account of Jesus Christ.
14. Although the Gospels are not anti-Jewish in themselves, they are potentially anti-Jewish when taken out of their historical context.
15. In telling the story of the origin and growth of the church, Acts and the Epistles offer advice, consolation, and challenge to Christians of every age.
16. The Catholic reading of Scripture has been enriched by insights from philosophical hermeneutics about authors, texts, readers, and the effective history of texts.
17. The literal sense of Scripture is the meaning that has been expressed directly by the inspired human authors.
18. The spiritual sense of Scripture is the meaning that is expressed by the biblical texts when read, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, in the context of the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ and of the new life that flows from it.
19. The fuller sense of Scripture is the deeper meaning of the text, intended by God but not clearly expressed by the human author.
20. Scripture and tradition flow from the same divine wellspring, and form a single deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the church.
21. All Catholics should have easy access to Scripture, and all preaching and teaching in the Catholic Church should be nourished and ruled by Scripture.
22. Though the Magisterium is not above the word of God expressed in Scripture and tradition, it may on occasion serve as the final arbiter in resolving conflicts about biblical interpretations pertaining to faith and morals.
23. To actualize Scripture means to bring its meaning into the present time through theology, preaching, teaching, group Bible study, various artistic expressions, and so on.
24. Inculturation involves communicating the word of God in such a manner as to reach people in their own place and cultural context.
25. Lectio Divina – with its steps of reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation and/or action – is a simple and proven method for reading, interpreting, and praying on Scripture in the Catholic tradition.


From Dan Harrington, S.J. in “How Do Catholics Read the Bible?”