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Chapter 4: Sacred Scripture: The Inspired Word of God

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1 Chapter 4: Sacred Scripture: The Inspired Word of God
FAITH AND REVELATION

2 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
BASIC QUESTIONS Who is the principal author of Sacred Scripture? How is Christ the basis of the unity of the Sacred Scriptures? KEY IDEAS The Bible, consisting of two Testaments—the Old and the New, each containing many individual books written over a long period of time—is one book whose principal author is God. The inner unity of Scripture is found in Christ and his Covenant, which are hidden in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament.

3 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Anticipatory Set—Small group assignment Below are seven passages from Matthew 5:17–48. Each group’s job is to explain how its passage presents a new law that perfects the Old Law. The Law in General: vv. 17–20. Anger: vv. 21–26. Adultery: vv. 27–30. Divorce: vv. 31–32. Oaths: vv. 33–37. Retaliation: vv. 38–42. Love of Enemies: vv. 43–48.

4 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Why is the Bible a book of the Catholic Church? Catholics wrote and assembled the Bible as we know it today. What are the two parts of the Bible? The Old Testament books were written before the time of Christ, and the New Testament books were written after Christ. What is the essential relationship between the two Testaments? The New Testament fulfills and completes the Old. What is the first thing St. Matthew reveals about Christ? He records Christ’s genealogical roots in Old Testament history as a descendent of David and Abraham.

5 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
What is the overall story told by the Old Testament? It recounts the long journey of salvation history toward redemption. Does the Church in any way reject the Old Testament? No; Christians venerate the Old Testament as the Word of God. According to the Catechism, no. 122, what does the Old Testament contain? It is a storehouse of sublime teaching about God, contains sound wisdom about human life, provides a treasury of prayers, and presents the mystery of our salvation in a hidden way.

6 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
THE OLD LAW PREPARED THE WAY FOR THE GOSPEL According to the Epistle to the Hebrews, who speaks throughout the Bible? God speaks throughout. What is the difference in quality of God’s messengers between the Old and the New Testaments? In the Old Testament, God spoke through prophets; in the New, he spoke through his Son. Given that it is a collection of many books, why is the Bible called the “Bible,” or “Book,” and not the “Bibles,” or “Many Books”? This name reflects the inner unity of these books due to God being their principal author.

7 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Guided Exercise Think/Pair/Share: Why is it impossible for there to be any true contradictions between the various books of the Bible or any erroneous teachings in them?

8 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
What is the analogy of faith? Because of the absolute unity among the truths contained in the Bible, each truth can help understand the other truths and the total plan of Revelation. How does the analogy of faith help to understand the Bible? The truths in one part of the Bible can help to understand truths contained in other parts. How does the Person of Christ express the Bible’s inner unity? Both Testaments are centered on Christ; the Old Testament prepares the way for Christ, who is revealed in the New Testament.  How is Christ present in the Old Testament? He is present in prophesies he fulfills and in types, that is, events that prefigure him. How is the Church prefigured in the Old Testament? The Chosen People in the Old Testament prefigure the People of God in the New Testament, which is the Church.

9 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Guided Exercise Work with a partner to answer the following question in writing. Based on the allegorical spiritual sense of Sacred Scripture presented in the last chapter, explain how Christ is prefigured in the Old Testament in the figures of Noah’s Ark and the manna in the desert.

10 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Sidebar: THE OLD TESTAMENT IS FULFILLED IN CHRIST How is the entire Old Testament fulfilled in Christ? As a series of covenants between God and his people, the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Covenant between the Person of Jesus Christ and his people. In this way, the New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old is revealed in the New.

11 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Closure Write a paragraph explaining how the books of the Bible form one, unified book.

12 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Homework Assignment Reading THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. THE LAW. HISTORY. Sidebar: J, E, D, and P. Study Questions Questions 1–4. Workbook Questions 1–6.

13 1. The Old Law Prepared the Way for the Gospel
Alternative Assessment In the Old Testament we learned that Jesse is the father of King David, the founder of the line of the Kings of Israel. In St. Matthew’s Gospel we learned that Jesus is a descendant of Jesse and David. Read Isaiah 11:1–3 in which Jesse is depicted as the stump of a tree from which a Messiah shall grow. Search online for examples of how Christians have depicted the “Tree of Jesse” artistically, showing the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

14 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
BASIC QUESTIONS What are the four genres of books found in the Old Testament? What is the importance of the first five books of the Old Testament? What is the scope of the historical books of the Bible? KEY IDEAS The Old Testament contains books of law, history, wisdom and prophecy. The first five books of the Old Testament are books of law that contain the Mosaic Covenant, which God made with his Chosen People. The fourteen books of history tell the story of Israel from the conquest of Canaan—through the establishment of the kingdom in Jerusalem and Israel’s downfall and exile to Babylon—to the restoration of Jerusalem. The two Books of the Maccabees bring Jewish history up to the time just before the Roman Empire, in which Christ was born.

15 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Anticipatory Set Open your Bible to the table of contents for the Old Testament. Notice the four major divisions: Law: Genesis through Deuteronomy. History: Joshua through Esther, plus the two Books of Maccabees. Wisdom: Job through Sirach (sometimes called Ecclesiasticus). Prophecy: Isaiah through Malachi.

16 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT How many books are in the Old Testament? There are forty-six books in the Old Testament. Over what period of time were the books of the Old Testament written? They were written over a period of nearly 1500 years, from the time of the Exodus through about a century before the coming of Christ. What are the four basic genres of books found in the Old Testament? The Old Testament includes law, history, wisdom, and prophecy.

17 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
THE LAW What different names are given to the first five books of the Bible? The Books of the Law, the Torah (Hebrew for “Law”), the five Books of Moses, and the Pentateuch are used.

18 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Graphic Organizer Complete the table on the major highlights of the first five books of the Bible.

19 2. The Old Testament: Law and History

20 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Sidebar: J, E, D, and P How certain are scholars about the sources of the Pentateuch? Scholars are not very sure. Attempts to identify the sources of Scripture are scholarly conjecture and speculation. What did the Pontifical Biblical Commission observe in the year 1948? Moses is the substantial influence as author and legislator in the Pentateuch. What constitutes the Sacred Scriptures: the books that exist today or their original sources? The books that exist today are the inspired Scriptures; therefore, one need not worry if scholars cannot locate or perfectly trace their sources.

21 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Graphic Organizer Work with a partner to complete the following table on the four-source theory of the Pentateuch.

22 2. The Old Testament: Law and History

23 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
HISTORY Which Old Testament books tell the story of David? The two Books Samuel and the First Book of Chronicles tell of David. Which three historical books have a woman as their main character? Ruth, Judith, and Esther have women as main characters. What two historical books retell four historical books? The First Book of Chronicles retells the story of 1 and 2 Samuel from a more religious point of view, and the Second Book of Chronicles retells 1 and 2 Kings with more emphasis on the Kingdom of Judah.

24 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Guided Exercise Complete the following table to record one memorable fact about each the historical books of the Old Testament.

25 2. The Old Testament: Law and History

26 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Closure Write a one-paragraph essay on either the books of the law or of history using one of the corresponding completed Graphic Organizers from this lesson.

27 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Homework Assignment Reading WISDOM. PROPHECY. Sidebar: “What is Wisdom Literature?” Sidebar: “What is Prophetic Literature?” Sidebar: “Finding the Date.” Questions Questions 5–9. Workbook Questions 7–8.

28 2. The Old Testament: Law and History
Alternative Assessment Free write on why the Book of Genesis could be considered as a book of history rather than of law.

29 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
BASIC QUESTIONS What is the aim of the wisdom literature of the Bible? What is the content of the prophetic books? KEY IDEAS The seven books of wisdom tell stories in poetry or prose and offer advice to help guide life according to God’s wisdom. The eighteen prophetic books warned Israel over her infidelity, consoled her in her sufferings, and foretold the Messiah, Jesus.

30 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Psalm 23 [1] The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; [2] he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; [3] he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. [4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. [5] Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. [6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

31 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
WISDOM What is the subject of Job? It is about the suffering of the innocent. Which is the greatest book of religious poetry, and to whom is it attributed? The Psalms are attributed to King David. What is the subject of Ecclesiastes? The vanity of worldly things is decried.

32 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Sidebar: What is Wisdom Literature? What is a didactic work? The primary purpose of a didactic work is to teach. What are some didactic books of the wisdom literature? Proverbs and Sirach provide wise sayings and principles to teach people the right way to live. How does the Catholic Church use the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Mass? They almost always constitute the Responsorial Psalm. They are also a common source for the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion Antiphons.

33 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Guided Exercise Locate one saying from Proverbs that speaks to you especially. Share your proverb with the class and why it appeals to you.

34 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
PROPHECY To what extent is it true to say that the prophets warned, comforted, and predicted? Often the prophets warned of coming disaster if the people of Israel would not return to God. When disaster struck, the prophets gave the people messages of comfort. Many prophets also predicted the coming of the Messiah. Which prophet has some of the clearest prophecies of Christ? Isaiah prophesied clearly the Messiah. What were people’s reactions to Jeremiah’s foretelling the destruction of Judah? They hated him for giving unpleasant news.

35 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Sidebar: What Is Prophetic Literature? How many prophetic books are in the Old Testament? There are eighteen. What is a prophet? A prophet is called by God or speaks on God’s behalf, announcing his message.

36 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Why are the prophets from Hosea to Malachi known as the “Minor” Prophets? Their books are shorter than those of the other, “Major” Prophets. How was Hosea’s marriage a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel? Hosea’s wife was unfaithful to him, but he took her back. God entered into a covenant with (“married”) Israel, and she was unfaithful to him by worshiping other gods; nonetheless, God took her back despite this infidelity. Which prophet foretold Christ would be born in Bethlehem? Micah said a savior to rule Israel would be born in Bethlehem.

37 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
What are the three divisions of the prophetic books? The divisions are the Prophets, the Minor Prophets and the Post-exilic Prophets. Which two prophets are associated with the rebuilding of the Temple? Haggai and Zechariah rebuilt the temple.

38 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Guided Exercise Work with a partner to complete the following table about Isaiah 9:6 as it applies to Christ.

39 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy

40 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
What is the subject of the two Books of Maccabees? They recount a Jewish revolt led by the Maccabeus family against the Greek rulers of Palestine who tried to force the Jews to adopt Greek culture and religion. Sidebar: Finding the Date How does our dating system put Christ at the center of history? The designations BC and AD number the years before and after Christ’s Birth. How did the ancient Israelites number their years? They counted the years from the beginning of the reign of the current king or from an important event in the recent past. Why are many dates about events in the Old Testament conjectural? Historians have to add together the reigns of kings and make certain assumptions about the lengths of generations.

41 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Closure Write a paragraph on the overall message of the prophetic books with one example of each of the following: Warning Israel over her infidelity; Consoling her in her sufferings; and Predicting a Messiah.

42 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Homework Assignment Reading THE NEW TESTAMENT. THE GOSPELS. SUPPLEMENT: THE NAMES TO DESIGNATE SACRED SCRIPTURE. Study Questions Questions 10–12. Workbook Questions 9–11.

43 3. The Old Testament: Wisdom and Prophecy
Alternative Assessment Read Sirach 4:1-10 and then free write for five minutes on whether you think this is good advice and why.

44 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
BASIC QUESTIONS What are the four genres of books in the New Testament? What are the basic features of the Gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? KEY IDEAS The New Testament mirrors the Old Testament with books of law, history, wisdom, and prophecy. St. Matthew shows Christ to be the heir to David’s Kingdom. St. Mark shows Christ to be the leader of a new Exodus. St. Luke composed his Gospel for Gentile Christians. St. John completes the other three Gospels, emphasizing Christ as the incarnate Word of God.

45 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Anticipatory Set Perform a Focused Reading of Jeremiah’s prophecy based on the following question: What is the essence of the New Covenant that Jeremiah foresees?

46 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
THE NEW TESTAMENT What is the essential relationship between the Old and New Testaments? The New Testament does not replace but fulfills the Old. What is the Old Testament without the New Testament? It is a collection of tragic stories and unfulfilled promises. What is the Old Testament with the New Testament? It is the story of the gradual unfolding of God’s plan of salvation, which reaches its climax in the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

47 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
What is the essential content of the New Testament? It is the story of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the earliest years of the Church. What were the two phases by which the Gospels came to be written? First was oral tradition, by which the Apostles handed on what Christ had said and done. Second was the written Gospels, by which the Sacred Authors wrote down some of what had been handed on by word of mouth. Which were the first written Christian works? Most likely the Epistles of St. Paul were first.

48 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Guided Exercise Work with a partner to complete the following table on the four genres of literature in each of the Testaments.

49 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels

50 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
THE GOSPELS Why are the Gospels the heart of all the Scriptures? They are our principal source of knowledge regarding the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Who are the authors of the four Gospels? Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote them. What is an Evangelist? He is an author of one of the Gospels. Extension: The word comes from Greek euangelion, which means “good news.” What were the personal relationships between the Evangelists and Christ? Sts. Matthew and John were disciples of Christ and eyewitnesses of the events they narrate. Sts. Mark and Luke were disciples of the Apostles.

51 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
What is the veracity of the Gospels? They tell the historical truth of the Person of Jesus Christ: what he did and said and who he is. Why are the first three Gospels called synoptic? Synoptic comes from the Greek for “seeing together.” These three Gospels present Christ in a similar way. Why are the synoptic Gospels so similar? Scholars have speculated on the relationship among these three Gospels. Sts. Matthew and Luke may have used St. Marks’s Gospel as a source. When were the synoptic Gospels written? They were written before Jerusalem’s destruction (AD 70), probably between AD 50 and 62.

52 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
The Gospel of St. Matthew Who was St. Matthew? He was an Apostle of Christ, also called Levi, and originally a tax collector. What was the original audience and primary aim of St. Matthew’s Gospel? St. Matthew wrote for Jewish Christians living in Palestine to show Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. What are some distinctive characteristics of St. Matthew’s Gospel? Two are the genealogy of Christ, which echoes the Book of Genesis, and his extensive use of direct quotes from Christ.

53 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
The Gospel of St. Mark What was the relationship between Sts. Peter and Mark? They had something of a father-and-son relationship. St. Peter was the source of much of St. Mark’s Gospel. Who was St. Mark’s original audience? He probably wrote to Gentile Christians in Rome. What seems to have been St. Mark’s main interest? He emphasized what Christ did more than what he said. Why is it relatively easy to read St. Mark’s Gospel in one sitting? It is the shortest Gospel and reads quickly.

54 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
The Gospel of St. Luke When was the Gospel of St. Luke written? It was likely written after those of Sts. Matthew and Mark. Why is there reason to believe there were a number of accounts of Christ’s life circulating among Christians by the time St. Luke had set out to write his Gospel? He wrote that he wanted to give an “orderly account” of Christ’s life. This implies there may have been other, partial accounts that did not provide as complete a history of Christ’s life. With which Apostle is St. Luke most associated? St. Luke accompanied St. Paul on some of his missionary journeys.

55 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Who was St. Luke’s probable original audience? He wrote to Gentile converts. Did St. Luke get all his information about Christ second hand? No. St. Luke was likely an eyewitness to many of the events described in his Gospel. From whom did St. Luke learn of the Annunciation, the Birth of Christ, the visit of the shepherds, and the finding of the Christ child in the Temple? He probably learned these from the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. How does St. Luke’s occupation as a physician show itself in his Gospel? St. Luke’s Gospel takes a detailed interest in Christ’s healings.

56 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
The Gospel of St. John Who wrote the Gospel of St. John? “The disciple whom Christ loved,” the Apostle St. John, wrote it. When was St. John’s Gospel written? His was the last Gospel written, probably about AD 100. What is the relationship between St. John’s Gospel and the Synoptic Gospels? St. John’s Gospel presupposes the other Gospels’ existence and was written to complete them. St. John’s Gospel uses a different, more theological language, and it includes events not contained in the other Gospels.

57 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
How does the prologue of St. John’s Gospel’s parallel the Book of Genesis? Beginning even with the same words, “In the beginning,” St. John’s Gospel emphasizes the divinity of Christ and the new creation he accomplished. What element of St. John’s Gospel grounds it in history? Its author shows great familiarity with the places and dates of the events narrated.

58 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Guided Exercise Work with a partner to complete the following table about the audience and aim of each Gospel.

59 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels

60 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Supplement: THE NAMES TO DESIGNATE SACRED SCRIPTURE Guided Exercise Work with a partner to complete the following table on “The Names to Designate Sacred Scripture” (p. 109).

61 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels

62 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Closure Write a paragraph summarizing the major features of the four Gospels.

63 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Homework Assignment Reading THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. THE EPISTLES. THE BOOK OF REVELATION. Study Questions Questions 13–21. Practical Exercise 1. Workbook Questions 12–29.

64 4. The New Testament and the Four Gospels
Alternative Assessment Work with a partner to complete Practical Exercise 1 on an imaginary fifth Gospel written for today.

65 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
BASIC QUESTIONS What is Acts of the Apostles? What is the purpose of the Epistles? What is the message of the Book of Revelation? KEY IDEAS St. Luke followed his Gospel with the Acts of the Apostles, a history of the apostolic Church. The Epistles, which is the wisdom literature of the New Testament, addressed problems of the early Church to live holy lives. The Book of Revelation promises the fulfillment of the New Covenant.

66 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Anticipatory Set Read and discuss the prologue to Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:1–5). How is this prologue similar to the prologue of St. Luke’s Gospel?

67 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES With what element of suspense does each Gospel end? Each Gospel ends with Christ risen from the dead and instructing his disciples to spread the Gospel, but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. Why did St. Luke write the Acts of the Apostles? Inspired by the Holy Spirit, St. Luke knew future generations could benefit from a record of important events from the apostolic Church. What is the relationship between St. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles? The Acts of the Apostles is a sequel to St. Luke’s Gospel. What have archeologists and historians confirmed about the Acts of the Apostles? Every detail of St. Luke’s narrative that can be verified has turned out to be exactly accurate. Therefore, he is an extraordinarily reliable record-keeper.

68 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
THE EPISTLES Which New Testament books were written earliest? The Epistles likely were written first. What is an epistle? It is a letter intended for a specific audience; the Epistles in the New Testament were written often in response to particular problems in the early Church. How do the Epistles illustrate Christian life in the apostolic Church? They clarified and extended the teachings of the Apostles and corrected early errors. Who wrote most of the Epistles? St. Paul wrote most of them.

69 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
How are the Epistles of St. Paul arranged? They are arranged generally from longest to shortest rather than the order in which they were written. Who made up St. Paul’s original audiences? Nine of St. Paul’s letters were written to churches in various cities of the Roman Empire, and four were written to individuals. What is the importance of the Epistle to the Hebrews? It shows how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the life of Christ. What are the Catholic Epistles? They are letters written to the entire Church rather than to a particular church or individual.

70 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Guided Exercise Complete a Think/Pair/Share on the following question: What is the overall purpose of the Epistles?

71 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
THE BOOK OF REVELATION What is the literary form of the Book of Revelation? It is a prophetic book. How does the Book of Revelation convey its message? It uses symbols, allegories, and metaphors. Who is the author of the Book of Revelation? It is attributed to St. John, the Apostle and Evangelist, “the disciple whom Christ loved.”

72 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
What is the basic message of the Book of Revelation? There will be great tribulation, but God will preserve his people and bring them into the New, heavenly Jerusalem. How is Revelation an apt conclusion to Sacred Scripture? The Book of Genesis begins with Creation, and the Book of Revelation ends with the New Creation. Genesis recounts the Fall of all people, and Revelation recounts the final salvation of all the faithful.

73 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Guided Exercise Complete a Think/Pair/Write/Share on the following question: What are the two purposes of the Book of Revelation?

74 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Guided Exercise Perform a Focused Reading of Revelation 21:1–8 using the following question: In this vision of the climax of history, what are the promise and the warning?

75 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Closure Write a paragraph in which you summarize how the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation are, respectively, books of history, wisdom, and prophecy.

76 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Homework Assignment Reading THE CANON OF SACRED SCRIPTURE. Sidebar: THE BOOKS THAT CONSTITUTE THE BIBLE. Questions Questions 22–26. Workbook Questions 30–37.

77 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy
Alternative Assessment Work with a partner to read and analyze the Second Epistle of John—one of the shortest Epistles—using the following table:

78 5. The New Testament: Books of History, Wisdom, and Prophecy

79 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
BASIC QUESTIONS How was the canon of Sacred Scripture determined? KEY IDEA The canon of Sacred Scripture was determined by the Magisterium of the Church. The canon of the Old Testament followed the Septuagint, which was used by the Apostles, while the canon of the New Testament was based on apostolic origin, orthodoxy of content, and catholicity.

80 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Anticipatory Set – Mini-lecture How did the Church decide the canonicity of the Scriptures? In determining the canon of the Old Testament, the Church received the books of the Septuagint because they were used by the Apostles and the early Church. The Church used three criteria to decide if a book could legitimately be considered part of the canon of the New Testament. All three tests had to be positive. Apostolic origin―the book could be traced back to one of the Apostles or a companion of the Apostles; Orthodox content―the book’s content conforms with the authentic preaching about Christ and the Church; and Catholicity―the book was used by by the faithful in all or nearly all the local churches in their worship.

81 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
THE CANON OF SACRED SCRIPTURE What is the literal meaning of “canon”? It means “measuring rod” or “rule.” What is the meaning of “canon of Scripture”? It denotes a list of books that comprise Sacred Scripture. Do the Sacred Scriptures reveal which books belong to it? No; this was determined by the Magisterium of the Church. What practical problem did the early Church face that resulted in the forming of the canon of Scripture? The practical problem was to choose which of the many writings about Christ in circulation would be read during Church’s liturgies.

82 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Canon of the Old Testament What is the Septuagint? It is a Greek edition of the Old Testament translated by rabbis in Alexandria in the third century BC.  Why do modern-day Jews have a different canon than the Old Testament in Catholic Bibles? Jewish rabbis met in Jamnia about AD 90 and decided to exclude Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and fragments of Esther and Daniel because they were not composed or preserved in Hebrew. What are the deuterocanonical books? These books appear in the Septuagint but not in the modern Jewish canon. Deuterocanonical comes from the Greek for “second canon.”

83 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Why did Christians include the deuterocanonical books? The Apostles and their successors in the Catholic Church held them to be part of Sacred Scripture. What are some Catholic beliefs and practices witnessed in the deuterocanonical books? The Second Book of Maccabees shows the practice of praying for the souls of the dead. The Book of Tobit includes the existence and action of guardian angels. What are the apocrypha? The apocrypha are books of dubious origin that have been excluded from the canon of Scripture. Extension: Many Protestants and Jews refer to the deuterocanonical books with this word.

84 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Canon of the New Testament When were the New Testament books written? They were written between AD 40 and 100. What were the original languages of the New Testament books? St. Matthew likely wrote his version of the gospel in Aramaic. The rest were written in Greek with some Semitic influences. Why did the Church need to determine the canon of the New Testament? Within a few centuries, there were numerous accounts of the life of Christ circulating among the Christian community. The origin and teachings of many were suspect.

85 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
What were some problems with some of the writings about Christ in circulation? Some had apocryphal stories about his childhood, and some taught Gnosticism. When was the canon of the New Testament defined? It was defined at a synod in Rome (AD 382). This was confirmed by Pope Innocent (405) and reaffirmed by the Ecumenical Councils of Florence (1441) and Vatican I (1870). The Fathers of the Council of Trent (1546) solemnly defined it. Why did Martin Luther reject the Epistles of St. Jude, St. James, to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation? They contradicted his doctrine of justification by faith alone.

86 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Guided Exercise Work with a partner to summarize the three stages in the formation of the Gospels as articulated in the Catechism, no. 126 (cf. the end of the chapter, “From the Catechism”).

87 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Guided Exercise Some people claim that the Sacred Scriptures were written so long ago and were copied so many times that we have no idea if the writings we have now accurately represent what was originally written. Search the Internet for manuscript evidence for the books of the Bible and then discuss what archaeological evidence says about the reliability of the Scriptures as historical documents.

88 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Closure Write a paragraph summarizing the process by which the canon of Scripture was formed.

89 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Homework Assignment Reading: THE ORIGINAL TEXTS AND LANGUAGES OF THE BIBLE. TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE. Sidebar: ST. JEROME. CONCLUSION. Questions Questions 27–30. Practical Exercise 2. Workbook: Questions 38–41.

90 6. The Canon of Sacred Scripture
Alternative Assessment Search the Internet for and read the article “How to Defend the Deuterocanonicals” by Jason Evert, which explains the formation of the canon of Scripture from an apologetical point of view.

91 7. Translations of the Sacred Scriptures
BASIC QUESTION What are considered the best translations of the Bible? KEY IDEA Originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the Bible has been translated into many languages under the Church’s guidance. The Latin Vulgate is the definitive translation of the Bible, and there are several approved English translations available.

92 7. Translations of the Sacred Scriptures
Anticipatory Set Bible was not written in English. Every translation requires choices in rendering words from one language into another. Search the Internet to read different translations of Psalm 23 [22] (“The Lord is my shepherd…”) to look at some different ways this psalm has been translated into English.

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THE ORIGINAL TEXTS AND LANGUAGES OF THE BIBLE What are the three original languages of the Bible? Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek were used to write the Old Testament, Hebrew being most prevalent. Hebrew or Aramaic and Greek were used to write the New Testament, Greek being most prevalent. On what materials were the books of the Old Testament originally written? The Torah was written on parchment; the others were written on papyrus. How old are the oldest extant manuscripts of the Old Testament? Discovered during the twentieth century, the oldest extant manuscripts date from the second century BC. What do these ancient manuscripts tell us? The biblical texts have been transmitted to the modern day without substantial change for over 2100 years.

94 7. Translations of the Sacred Scriptures
TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE What text of the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit? Only the original text is inspired. To what extent is a translation of the Bible free from error? It is inerrant insofar as it is in conformity with the original. What version of the Bible has the Church declared to be the purest text? The Latin Vulgate is purest. Extension: This edition has undergone a recent revision, published in 1979 and This second edition of the New Vulgate (Nova Vulgata, Editio altera) is the official text of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.

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Guided Exercise Work with a partner to complete the following table on two influential translations of the Bible.

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Sidebar: St. Jerome Guided Exercise Work with a partner to make a bullet-point summary of three important points about St. Jerome.

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What was the first English translation of the Bible? The first partial translations into Old English date to the eighth century. In the eleventh century much of the Old Testament was translated into Middle English. Wycliffe is credited with translating an English version of the Bible in the fourteenth century, and the first complete Bible printed in English was the Tyndale version in What is the King James Version? It has been the standard English Protestant edition (published in 1611) of Sacred Scripture for four centuries. What was the first Catholic Bible in English? The Douay-Rheims Bible was completed about the year 1600.

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What translations of the Bible are used by Catholics today today? These include the Douay-Rheims, The Confraternity Edition of the Douay-Rheims, the Knox version, the Jerusalem Bible, the New American Bible, and the Revised Standard Version. Why is it important for a Bible to have an Imprimatur? An Imprimatur (Latin for “let it be printed”) is a determination by a bishop that a text is free from moral or doctrinal error.

100 7. Translations of the Sacred Scriptures
Guided Exercise An erroneous myth commonly perpetuated by Protestants is that the Catholic Church tried to prevent people from reading the Sacred Scriptures by keeping the Bible in a language that ordinary people could not understand and by prohibiting popular editions from being printed. Work with a partner to identify facts from the text that disprove this myth.

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Closure Write a paragraph summarizing what this lesson says about translations of the Bible.

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Homework Assignment Study Questions Questions 31–36. Practical Exercises 3–8. Workbook Questions 42–52.

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Alternative Assessment Do a web search to learn the four-step method of praying the Scriptures called lectio divina (Latin for “divine reading”).

104 The End


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