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SYNOD OF BISHOPS XII ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS VATICAN CITY 2008 Part I Chapter.

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Presentation on theme: "SYNOD OF BISHOPS XII ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS VATICAN CITY 2008 Part I Chapter."— Presentation transcript:

1 SYNOD OF BISHOPS XII ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS VATICAN CITY 2008 Part I Chapter 2 The bible as the inspired word of God and its truth "The Church has always venerated the Sacred Scriptures just as she venerates the Body of the Lord" (DV 21).

2 CHAPTER II The bible as the inspired word of God and its truth Questions 14. One of the most persistent difficulties, cited by the Pastors, in Sacred Scriptures relation to the Word is the question of the Bibles inspiration and truth. This occurs on the following three levels: some questions concern the Bible itself: "What does inspiration mean?", "What is the canon of Scripture?", "What kind of truth is attributed to the Scriptures?" and "What is the Bibles historic character?"; other questions regard the relation of Sacred Scripture to Divine Tradition and the Churchs Magisterium; still others touch upon difficult parts of the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. In this case, the subject of the Word of God needs to be treated in catechesis.

3 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. Many response to the Lineament raise questions on the proper way to explain to Christs faithful the charism of inspiration and the truth contained in the Scriptures. In this regard, the relation of the Bible to the Word of God needs first to be established, the action of the Holy Spirit clarified and certain points explained on just what the Bible is.

4 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. a. The Bible is singularly united to the Word of God. The Bible itself attests to the intentional identification of the Word of God with Scripture. The Word of God is a living, effective reality (cf. Heb 4: 12-13); it is eternal (cf. Is 40:8), "all-powerful" (Wis 18:15), a creative force (cf. Gn 1:3ff) and originator of history. In the New Testament, this Word is the very Son of God, the Word made flesh (cf. Jn 1:1ff; Heb 1:2).

5 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. a. Scripture also attests to the relationship between God and humankind, casting light upon it and guiding it in a certain way. At the same time, the Word of God extends beyond the Book, reaching humanity through the living Tradition of the Church. This understanding of the Word of God works against a private interpretation of the Bible and one confined to Scripture only. Instead, the Bible is read in a wider, unending procession of the Word of God, as shown in the fact that the Word continues to nourish generation after generation in always new and different times.

6 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15.a. With this understanding, the Christian community then becomes the agent for transmitting the Word of God, and, at the same time, the privileged place for understanding the deep meaning of Sacred Scripture in a progression of expressing the faith and, thereby, in a development of dogma.

7 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15.a. Because of this prerogative, the Church, from the very beginning, has held the books of the Bible in veneration and established with certainty a definitive list through precepts in the canon of Divine Books: 73 books, 46 of which comprise the Old Testament and 27, the New Testament (Cf. CATECHISMUS CATHOLICAE ECCLESIAE, 120.).

8 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. b. The Spirit breathes life into the written word, placing the Book in the wider mystery of the Incarnation and the Church. The Spirit makes the Word of God a liturgical and prophetic reality, which is a proclamation (kerygma) before it is a Book and a testimonial of the Holy Spirit to the presence of Christ.

9 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. c. In summary, the following can be said with certainty: the charism of inspiration allows God to be the author of the Bible in a way that does not exclude humankind itself from being its true author. In fact, inspiration is different from dictation; it leaves the freedom and personal capacity of the writer in tact, while enlightening and inspiring both; with regards to what might be inspired in the many parts of Sacred Scripture, inerrancy applies only to "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation" (DV 11);

10 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. c. In summary, the following can be said with certainty: in virtue of the charism of inspiration, the Holy Spirit constitutes the books of the Bible as the Word of God and entrusts them to the Church, so that they might be received in the obedience of faith; the totality and organic unity of the Canon of Sacred Scripture constitutes the criterion for interpreting the Sacred Book;

11 CHAPTER II Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God 15. c. In summary, the following can be said with certainty: and since the Bible is the Word of God recorded in human language, its interpretation is consonant with literary, philosophic and theological criteria, always subject, however, to the unifying force of faith and the guidance of the Magisterium (Cf. PONTIFICIA COMMISSIO BIBLICA, LInterprétation de la Bible dans lÉglise (15.04.1993), IV, C3: Enchiridion Vaticanum 13, EDB, Bologna 1995, p. 1724.).

12 CHAPTER II Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium 16. The Second Vatican Council insists on a unity of origin and many links between Tradition and Scripture which the Church gathers "with the same sense of loyalty and reverence" (DV 9). In this regard, we recall that, in Christ, the Word of God became the Gospel or Good News (cf. Rm 1:16), and, as such, was consigned to apostolic preaching. The Word of God continues its course in the following manner:

13 CHAPTER II Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium primarily through the current of a living Tradition manifested by "all that she [the Church] herself is, all that she believes" (DV 8), as in worship, teaching, charity, holiness and martyrdom; and then, through Sacred Scripture, this living Tradition is conserved, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the unchanging written word, where those elements from which it comes and those which make it up are recorded. "This Sacred Tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought in the end to see him as he is, face to face (cf. 1 Jn 3:2)" (DV 7).

14 CHAPTER II Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium 16. Finally, the Magisterium of the Church, which is not above the Word of God, has the responsibility "to authentically interpret the Word of God, whether written or handed down", by "listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully" (DV 10). In summary, a true reading of the Scriptures as the Word of God cannot be done except in Ecclesia, in accord with her teaching.

15 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation 17. Knowledge of the Old Testament as the Word of God seems to be a real problem among Catholics, particularly as it relates to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Because of unresolved exegetical difficulties, many are reluctant to take up passages from the Old Testament which appear incomprehensible, leading to their being arbitrarily selected or never read at all. The faith of the Church considers the Old Testament a part of the one Christian Bible and an integral part of Revelation and, hence, the Word of God.

16 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation 17. This situation urgently requires a formation centered on a reading of the Old Testament with Christ in mind, which acknowledges the bond between the two testaments and the permanent value of the Old Testament (cf. DV 15-16) (Cf. PONTIFICIA COMMISSIO BIBLICA, Le peuple juif et ses Saintes Écritures dans la Bible chrétienne (24.05.2001), 19: Enchiridion Vaticanum 20, EDB, Bologna 2004, pp. 570- 574.). This task can be assisted by liturgical practice which always proclaims the Sacred Text of the Old Testament as essential for understanding the New Testament, as witnessed by Jesus himself in the episode of Emmaus, in which the Master "beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:27).

17 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation 17. In this matter, St. Augustines statement is certainly applicable: "Novum in Vetere latet et in Novo Vetus Patet (S. AUGUSTINUS, Quaestiones in Heptateucum, 2, 73: PL 34, 623; cf. DV, 16.)" ("The New is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed"). St. Gregory the Great maintains: "what the Old Testament promised is brought to light in the New Testament; what was proclaimed in a hidden manner in the past, is proclaimed openly as present. Thus, the Old Testament announces the New Testament; and the New Testament is the best commentary on the Old (S. GREGORIUS MAGNUS, In Ezechielem, I, 6, 15: CCL 142, 76.)". This understanding has many important practical implications.

18 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. People are becoming increasingly aware that the Bible cannot be read in a casual manner. In discovering the Scriptures, certain Bible groups begin with an enthusiasm which progressively declines, because of the want of fertile ground, namely, an understanding of the Word of God in the mystery of grace, as Jesus taught in the parable of the sower (cf. Mt 13:20-21). This situation has the following pastoral implications:

19 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. a. Because Scripture is intimately bound to the Church, the Christian community exercises an essential role in approaching the Word of God and gives the Word its authentic character. The Church becomes the criterion for the proper understanding of Tradition, since both the liturgy and catechesis draw their nourishment from the Bible. As previously mentioned, the Books of Sacred Scripture have a direct, concrete power of appeal not possessed by other Church texts.

20 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. b. Consideration needs to be given to the practical implications of the distinction between Apostolic Tradition and Church traditions. While the former comes from the apostles and transmits what they received from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, Church traditions arise from time to time in the local Churches and are adaptions of the "great Traditions (Cf. CATECHISMUS CATHOLICAE ECCLESIAE, 83; RATZINGER J. Commento alla Dei Verbum, L Th K, 2, pp. 519-523.). The Churchs definitive listing of the canonical books of the Bible needs to be appreciated as guaranteeing the Bibles authenticity, given the proliferation of spurious and apocryphal books.

21 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. b. Gnostic interpretations today, based on a popularization of truths at the beginning of Christianity, require an explanation on what the Canon of Sacred Books is and how it was compiled. This will give a proper orientation to the practice and diffusion of Sacred Scripture and show why the Churchs recognition was necessary. Study needs to be done on Scripture, Tradition and the signs of the Word of God in the created world, especially humankind and its history, because every created thing is the Word of God, since all creation proclaims God (Cf. S. BONVENTURA, Itinerarium mentis in Deum, Prol. 2; II, 12: ed. Quaracchi, 1891, Vol V., pp. 302ff; cf. RATZINGER J., Un tentativo circa il problema del concetto di tradizione: RAHNER K.-RATZINGER J, Rivelazione e Tradizione, Morcelliana, Brescia 2006, pp. 27-73.).

22 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. c. In giving directives and defining dogma, the Magisterium does not intend to set limits on the personal reading of Scripture. Rather, the Churchs teaching provides a sure context in which research takes place. Unfortunately, the teaching of the Magisterium and an understanding of the various levels of its pronouncements are oftentimes not well-known or accepted. The Synod is providing the occasion to rediscover Dei Verbum and later pontifical documents. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVIs different magisterial discourses on the understanding and use of the Word of God in the Bible are particularly applicable.

23 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. d. In the context of the living Tradition of the Church and, thus, as a genuine service to the Word of God, catechisms also need to be taken into consideration, from the first symbol of the faith, the nucleus of every catechism, to the various expressions of the faith promoted throughout the Churchs history, among which are, more recently, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the respective catechisms of the local Churches.

24 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. e. At this point, a fundamental distinction needs to be made, which will have serious repercussions in pastoral practice, namely, the primary encounter with Scripture takes place in the Churchs great actions of the liturgy and catechesis, where the Bible itself is placed in the context of public ministry. In addition, Lectio Divina, Bible courses and Bible groups are also means for an immediate encounter. These are being promoted today to counteract a certain distancing of the People of God from the direct, personal use of Sacred Scripture.

25 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. f. The Old Testament is to be understood as a stage in the development of the faith and coming to know God. Its figurative character and its relationship to the scientific and historical mentality of our times need clarification. At the same time, numerous Old Testament passages have a spiritual, acute and uniquely cultural force. They provide a rich catechesis on human realities and illustrate stages in the journey of faith of the People of God. Knowing and reading the Gospels do not exclude a greater understanding of the Old Testament; instead the Old Testament gives a greater depth to the reading and understanding of the New Testament.

26 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. g. Finally, a practical pastoral vision requires some observations which can help the faithful better discern their relation to the teaching of the faith. General speaking, the faithful set the Bible apart from other religious texts and give it great importance in living the faith.

27 CHAPTER II The Old and New Testaments, a Sole Economy of Salvation Pastoral Implications 18. g. However, in practice, many prefer to read easily understood spiritual books, edifying talks or writings and various other works associated with popular piety. Some hold that people encounter the Word of God in a practical way by living it in their lives more than by knowing its origin or reasoning, thus creating a tenuous situation. Speaking in an understandable manner is needed. Pastoral activity then must devise ways to help the faithful come to know what the Bible is, why it exists, its value in the life of faith and how to use it.


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