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”. The Magisterium (teaching office) is the only authentic interpreter of Scripture and Tradition. In the nineteenth century, printing had become inexpensive enough for the masses to own books, and universal mandatory education finally became practicable. Transmitting Divine Revelation This emphasis on “literary forms” is an important advancement in the Church’s teaching, since it pertains to what was once called “higher criticism.” This does not entail a wholesale adoption of modern criticism, however. While the instruction quoted above prescribes only the revision of Vulgate itself, subsequent norms have allowed even liturgical Scripture to be translated directly from the original languages, consulting the Nova Vulgata as "an auxiliary tool" for interpretation, and following the same manuscript tradition it follows. Note also that the kingdom of God is something already established by Christ on earth, and not purely an eschatological reality. Summary of Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum. Still, this does not mean that there can be no development of doctrine, for we have seen that Tradition itself is a living source of revelation. Para-graph numbers are in parentheses. The use of literary analysis to determine the human author’s intent is not the final word on the intended meaning of Holy Scripture, for the Council takes seriously the authorship of the Holy Spirit. There is no indication that such analysis is to be used to determine authorship of the Biblical texts, nor are there grounds for denying the reality of Biblical prophecy and miracles, much less the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. Appealing to the unity of all Scripture makes sense only in light of its divine authorship, for the human authors generally had no knowledge of most of the other books. Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church, the most important of these issued from 1905 to 1915. The document does not, however, explicitly confirm the traditional authorship of the Gospels. It might be allowable for Catholics to attribute the authorship of some canonical writings to “apostolic men” (i.e., companions of the Apostles), though not as a pretext for impugning their authenticity as witnesses to apostolic teaching. It is not licit to deny the historical genre of a text simply because one believes it to be in error. Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. These dependencies are not utter dependencies, for each of the three has its own direct connection to the Holy Spirit of truth, albeit by different modes. 1. Dei Verbum reaffirms the Council of Trent’s teaching that Scripture is not the only basis of revealed doctrine. 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. Grillmeier points out that there was much support for Cardinal König among his colleagues who endorsed a restricted view of inerrancy, but Grillmeier also notes that the council firmly rejected … Every age finds its own set of problems in Scripture, depending on its perspective. Since all clergy, including deacons, were now encouraged to take a role in preaching, it is all the more imperative that they should be hearers of the written Word of God, as should catechists. The transmission of the full revelation of Christ was commissioned in the first place to the Apostles (“sent ones”), who were ordered to preach the Gospel to all men. The Council insists that “all the clergy must hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study... so that none of them will become ‘an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly’”. The absence of punishment is merely consequent to the fact that the Church has abandoned the temporal sword (where it has not already been seized from her). The Study Guide is written by Catherine Upchurch, with 18 questions for each of the 4 lessons. All this is consistent with St. Jerome’s teaching on Biblical inspiration, which according to Pope Benedict XV “in no wise differs the common teaching of the Catholic Church”: In Sacred Scripture, God speaks through men in human fashion, so it is licit, indeed necessary, to investigate the meaning intended by the sacred writers using sound literary principles. The New Testament The first clause establishes a reasonably clear rule for determining the scope of Biblical inspiration. While the Latin Vulgate remains normative, is it the only authentic form of Holy Writ? This Nova Vulgata is the basis of all Scripture used in liturgy. I N October 1964, the constitution Dei Verbum was bitterly discussed in the Council. DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION DEI VERBUM SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON NOVEMBER 18, 1965. 2. Preface. 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.”. None of this contravenes the integrity of the Gospels, as in all these activities they related the truth about Christ. Among all the documents of Vatican II, Dei Verbum most closely resembles a traditional conciliar document in form, declaring and expounding doctrine. Still, it is hardly deniable that the Church allows considerably more latitude in Biblical form criticism than it did prior to the Council. Central to the commentary’s approach are the theological principles taught by Vatican II for interpreting Scripture “in accord with the same Spirit by which it was written”—that is, interpreting Scripture in its canonical context and in the light of Catholic tradition and the analogy of faith (Dei Verbum, 12). There is nothing in Trent or Dei Verbum that positively excludes this opinion. The exegetical principles of Dei Verbum are in continuity with previous Catholic teaching, though using different language. 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. Some editions even rearrange or delete parts of Scripture on the basis of higher critical theories not supported by extant manuscript readings. 17. In fact, God made use of their abilities, so that they too were true authors. He might intend to assert a historical fact, or to relate a didactic parable, or merely quote what someone else said without concurring. The only new exhortation, made in an ecumenical spirit, is that new critical translations may be made in cooperation with non-Catholics, contingent upon approval by Church authorities. First He revealed Himself through created realities (3); second He undertook the formation of a special people to acknowledge Him as “the one living and true God, provident father and just judge” and to wait for “the Savior promised by Him”; third, He sent His Son: In consequence, “we now await no further new public revelation” and “the obedience of faith is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals” (5). Likewise, certain aspects of form criticism, especially the identification of literary genre, could now be better grounded as a more solid historical background was established by archaeological discoveries. It emphasized that the authority of the Scriptures comes not from merely ecclesiastical or canonical law, nor from the mere fact of their inerrancy, “but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author.” This traditional view of divine authorship was shared by all the Fathers of the Church. In the late nineteenth century, “critical texts” based on Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were likewise viewed with distrust. The more accurate model of the Church’s notion of development is not progress, a succession of new things replacing the old, but growth, which is new things being added and incorporated into what already exists. Yet there is a further reason, touched on by Origen and reaffirmed by the Council: Holy Scripture speaks to us in a way that impresses upon us its truth, so that we need no exterior convincing. - email Pope Pius XII recognized these developments in his encyclical Divino Afflante Espiritu (1943), which praises the improvements in textual criticism, and explains that the Tridentine endorsement of the Latin Vulgate should not discourage recourse to Greek and Hebrew Biblical texts, and vernacular translations from these. This was the case with so-called “lower criticism,” which was praised by Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu: By the mid-twentieth century, textual (formerly “lower”) criticism had adopted rather firm, objective criteria for determining the more probable original reading among variants. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down” (8). There is nothing lacking in this revelation, which definitively shows and establishes what God wishes for the salvation of men. Some of its teachings are incomplete, which is to say they reveal only part of a religious or moral truth more fully disclosed by Christ, though they already reveal God as both just and merciful. Next in series: Vatican II on the Lay Apostolate: 1. By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( This Word is most powerfully manifest in the New Testament, which reveals the Word Incarnate. By that standard, we could note that many Catholic theologians deny Church teaching about transubstantiation, contraception, abortion, etc. Our faith in Scripture is not based on its self-evident truth—in many places, we do not even know what it asserts, much less how to evaluate the assertion. It retains the original preface and the chapter and numbering according to the actual ordered sections of the document.) The constitution Dei Verbum opens by expressing continuity with previous councils: “...following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council, this present council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on…”, The purpose of divine revelation is to bring men into fellowship with God, now and in the life to come. Still, the historical and doctrinal fidelity of the Gospels should not compel us to a rigid literalism of interpretation. God is its Author insofar as he inspired it, but human beings are its “true authors” (DV 11). Past magisterial pronouncements spoke negatively of “higher criticism,” as in Providentissimus Deus: Here higher criticism is condemned not only on account of the impious conclusions of its practitioners, but on methodological grounds. Revelation, Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium have the same unique source and the … It is precisely because we accept living Tradition that we accept the teaching and practice of the Fathers and incorporate them into the life of the Church. articles The document Dei Verbum (Word of God) is one of only two dogmatic constitutions issued by the Second Vatican Council, the other being Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Nonetheless, the text manifests once again the Council’s desire to set forth a comprehensive view of its chosen subjects, in the hope of stimulating genuine renewal, rather than to address only disputed questions. What about subjects in Scripture not pertaining to faith and morals? – Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum 21 “Were not our hearts burning while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32. (DV, 25) Further, we are not to read Holy Scripture as we would a secular text, but should accompany this reading by prayer, to reciprocate God’s communication with us. Its use of internal evidence is conditioned by well-defined heuristic principles and by external evidence. 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. Historical Background Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), Vatican II on the Lay Apostolate: 1. Its judgments are preliminary and subject to the review and final judgment of the Magisterium. News, analysis & spirituality by email, twice-weekly from CatholicCulture.org. In this sense, they are all of apostolic origin. The Council reaffirms the conviction of the Fathers that the Old Testament prefigured the New, often in types or allegories. The remainder of the document deals with the inspiration and interpretation of Holy Scripture. Dei Verbum clearly endorses the aspect of higher criticism known as “form criticism,” which identifies ancient literary genres of texts and portions of texts. 5:17), the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old. On the contrary, their disaffection is predicated on the the fact that the Magisterium has not endorsed their views, but opposes them. The Fathers “witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church” (8), and “through the same tradition the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her” (8). As Pope Leo XIII wrote: Still, the Vulgate remained the only doctrinally normative text acceptable for use in the Latin Church, per decree of the Council of Trent. Many of the essays cogently upheld the inerrancy of Scripture against the claims of higher criticism, while others, less convincingly, defended a plain literal interpretation of Genesis against the theory of evolution. As the inspired authors retained the free use of their faculties, they were not mere puppets or stenographers, but cooperated in the composition of Holy Scripture, using their own literary skills. “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. While these sources are themselves informed by Holy Scripture in many respects, this does not excuse preachers of the responsibility of learning Scripture directly insofar as they are able. They may even authorize editions “for the use of non-Christians and adapted to their situation.” (DV, 25). It is only logically consistent for the Church to uphold the inerrancy of Scripture if she is to maintain the infallibility of authentic magisterial teaching. The authenticity of the accounts is guaranteed by their apostolic origin, as Christ Himself taught the Apostles and enlightened them by the Spirit, so it can hardly be maintained that they related a poor understanding of their Lord’s teaching. The use of Latin in the liturgy prevented most people from understanding what Scripture was read, though this was remedied by permitting vernacular readings at Mass in the mid-twentieth century. Most notably, Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Providentissimus Deus (1893), which denounced the rash claims of higher criticism as unsubstantiated impiety, while at the same time commending the use of lower critical methods, including the study of Scripture in its original languages. Biblical inerrancy for Catholics: Dei Verbum, chapter 3 In my previous post, I explored the revision process and debate that led to the final wording of Dei Verbum (DV) 11, which says that the Scriptures teach “without error the truth that God, for the sake … 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. By the time of the Second Vatican Council, near-universal literacy could be assumed in most nations, which was hardly the case at the time of the last Council in 1870. 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. The Pope closed the door on the pretense that there can be error in Scripture even on matters not pertaining to faith and morals, for those who make such argument “either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration, or make God the author of such error.”. It was only in the twentieth century that textual criticism possessed both a wealth of manuscript data and sound objective methods, making possible critical editions that might be accepted for public use among Catholics. Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In this short document, Dei Verbum succinctly addresses the Catholic Church’s beliefs in regards to Sacred Scripture. The laity may engage Holy Scripture in different ways; it does not have to be always through direct reading. It was the result of the Conciliar fathers who worked in the doctrine of revelation: explaining and developing the understanding of God's communication to the human being. On the Documents of Vatican II. It is grounded in the authority of the Church, which comes from the Apostles, who were commissioned by Christ. Indeed, the modern Council takes care to adhere to this model that the Catechism calls “one common source... two distinct modes of transmission.” (CCC 80-81). Below is a brief summary of Dei Verbum.You can read the original document here.. One must appeal to the Church’s living Tradition, which is itself the work of the Holy Spirit. Yet not even the dissidents themselves pretend that the Magisterium has abandoned its teaching on these issues. Sacred Scripture is the basis of much (possibly all, as discussed above) of the Church’s doctrine. Everything asserted by the inspired authors is also asserted by the Holy Spirit. The purpose of these interventions was to prepare a people for the “plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors” of the Old Testament. It also attests to reality of His deeds, which manifested Himself and the Father, i.e., the miracles He worked. The third chapter (“Sacred Scripture, its Inspiration and Divine Interpretation”) explains that the books of the Old and New Testaments 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” (11). Yet it is not enough to read Scripture grammatically, for we must also know what the author intends. © 2014 Daniel J. Castellano. This did not mean that Catholics denied the value of studying Scripture in its original languages. 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