Archdiocese of
Permanent Diaconate
Overview of Topics
 Overview of the Bible
 Old Testament
 New Testament
 Ecclesial Guidelines for Biblical Interpretation
 Periods of Biblical Interpretation (Overview)
 Providentissimus Deus
 Divino Afflante Spiritu
 Sancta Mater Ecclesia
 Dei Verbum
 Interpretation of the Bible in the Church
Sacred Scriptures
The Old Testament
 TaNaK
Torah - Law
Nebiim - Prophets
Ketubim - Writings
The Law (Torah)
 Genesis
 Exodus
 Leviticus
 Numbers
 Deuteronomy
The Prophets
 The Historical Books
The Deuteronomic History
The Chroniclers History
Joshua, Judges, I & II
Samuel, I & II Kings
I & II Chronicles
Ezra, Nehemiah
Ruth, and Esther
Judith, Tobit, I and II
 Major Prophets
 Minor Prophets
The Writings
 The Wisdom Books
Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth)
Wisdom of Solomon
Song of Songs
 Psalms
The New Testament
 Gospels
 Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
 Acts
 Letters
 Pauline Corpus – Romans, I Corinthians, II
Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Phillipians,
Colosians, I Thesolonians, II Thesalonians, I
Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews
 Catholic Letters – I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John,
III John, James and Jude
 Revelation
Synoptic Gospels
 Synoptic – View Together
Matthew, Mark, Luke
 An example of scholarly study – Compositional
Two – Source Theory
 Mark was written first
 Matthew and Luke both used Mark independently
(source 1)
 Matthew and Luke both used an un-named
sayings source which scholars refer to as “Q”
(source 2)
 Matthew and Luke had access to or composed
additional material unique to each Gospel
T h e B e g in in g s o f th e F o u r G o s p e ls - A C o m pa risio n
S C R 5 0 1 : A n In tro d u c tio n to th e S a c re d S c rip tu e rs
M a rk
M in is try in G a lile e
John the Baptist
of John
of Jesus
Tem ptation
Intro. to
public m inistry
Infancy Narrative
L u ke
of John
of Jesus
Tem ptation
Intro. to
public m inistry
Call of
first disciples
Cure of a
dem oniac
Sim on, Andrew
Jam es, John
Infancy Narrative
3:21-22 3:23-38
Jo h n th e B a p tist
Jo h n
1 :1 -1 8
1:1 "In the begining w a s the W ord,
an d the W o rd w as w ith G od ,
an d the W o rd w as G od."
Te stim o n y
a b o u t h im se lf
1 :1 9 -2 8
Serm on on the M ount
5:1 - 7:28
O ther
Call of
Sim on
*Jam es and John m entioned
only at the end - no m ention
of Andrew
1:1-4 "S ince m an y ha ve u nd ertaken to com pile a na rrativ e of the e vents
th at ha ve b een fulfilled am ong u s, just a s those w h o w ere e yew itn esses
fro m the beginin g an d m inis ters o f the w o rd ha ve h ande d the m dow n to us,
I too ha ve d ecided , after in ves tiga ting eve rything a ccu rately an ew, to w rite it
do w n to d one in an orde rly s equ e nce for you, m ost excellent T h eoph ilu s,
s o hta t yo u m ay realiz e the certain ty o f the teaching s y ou ha ve re cie ved ."
P ro lo g u e
*Cure of Sim on's m other-in-law 8:14-1 5
M in is try in G a lile e
John the Baptist
C ure of
Intro. to
G eneologyTemptation
Cure of a
in the
Sim on's
Public Ministry
Dem oniac m other-in-law
of Jesus
Rejection at Nazareth
Cure of Sim on's
Other healings
m other-in-law
M in is try in G a lile e
John the B aptist
1 :1 "T h e b o o k o f th e g e n e o lo g y
o f J e s u s C h ris t, th e s o n o f D a v id ,
th e s o n o f A b ra h a m ."
Cure of a
dem oniac
Sim on, Andrew
James, John
1 :1 "T h e b e g in in g o f th e
g o s p e l o f J e s u s C h irs t
[S o n o f G o d ]"
C all of
first disciples
Te stim o n y
a b o u t J e su s
1 :2 9 -3 4
Je ru s a le m
G a lile e
C a ll o f th e F irs t D iscip le s
A n d re w
U nnam ed
S im o n
P h illip
N a th a n ie l
1 :3 5 -4 2
1 :4 3 -5 1
C ana
J e ru s a le m
W e d d in g
F e a st
C le a n sin g
o f th e Te m p le
N ico d e m u s
2 :1 -1 2
2 :1 3 -2 5
3 :1 -2 1
Ecclesial Guidelines for
the Study and
Interpretation of the
Major Periods of Interpretation
 Israel and Infancy Church
 Patristic Period
 Scholastic Period
 Renaissance and Humanism
 Modern Period
 Contemporary Period
Israel and Early Church
 Writing, Editing, Distribution,
Acceptance, Recognition, Collecting
 Readings and Re-Readings
OT on OT: Deuteronomy and Chronicles
Kings 1
 I Chronicles 29:22b-25
NT on OT: Luke and Isaiah
 Luke
 Isaiah 61:1-2; 58:6
Patristic Period
 Alexandria
Clement, Origin, [Philo]
– Allegorical Interpretation
 Antioch
– Literal Interpretation
Middle Ages/Scholastic Period
 Senses of Scripture
Multiple listings
Four – spiritual, literal, moral, anagogical
 Re-discovery of the classics
 Ancient Languages studied
 Printing Press
 Historical documents studied
 Decartes and methodical doubt
 Rise of skepticism coupled with
 Deism as a religious movement
 Ancient Manuscripts discovered and
 Textual studies inaugerated
 Archeological excavations and study
Ecclesial Pronouncements
 Provendentissimus Deus (1893) Leo XIII
 Pontifical Biblical Commission
Statements (1905-1915)
 Divino Afflante Spiritu (1942) Pius XII
 Sancta Mater Ecclesia (1964) PBC
 Dei Verbum (1965) Vatican Council II
 Interpretation of the Bible in the Church
(1993) PBC
Providentissimus Deus
 Textual studies developing
 Studies of ancient Semitic languages and texts
making advances
 Rise of rationalism and decline of biblical
 Consequences for Biblical Studies
Paulus’ Life of Jesus – angels are
phosphorescense, miracle stories omit natural
Schliermacher’s Leben Jesu – resurection as
recovery from lethargy and ascension genuine
Providentissimus Deus
 Questions arise as to biblical inerrancy
and inspiration
 Some theories:
Parts inerrant
Inerrancy only in reference to faith and
Diderot attacks magisterial authority in
Providentissimus Deus
 Vatican I’s Dei Filius - 1870
“ The church holds (the biblical texts) to be sacred
and canonical, not because, having been
carefully composed by mere human industry,
they were afterwards approved by her authority,
nor merely because they contain revelation with
no admixture of error, but because, having been
written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they
have God for their author and have been
delivered as such to the Church”
Providentissimus Deus
 Leo’s Pontificate
1878 – encourages the study of history
and archeology
1879 – encourages the study of scholastic
1892 – authorizes the foundation of the
Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem (Pere
1893 – Providentissimus Deus
Providentissimus Deus
 Polemic Against Rationalism
 Presuppositions questioned
 Inspiration – Inerrancy – Authorship
 God is author through inspiration so no error can
be taxed to the text
 Book of the Spirit and Book of the Church
 Understanding will only come with the Holy Spirit
since it is through the Spirit that the text was written
 Scripture Study in the Church
 Language studies, texual criticisim and manuscript
studies encouraged/demanded
Providentissimus Deus
“There can never, indeed, be any real discrepancy between the
theologian and the physicist, as long as each confines himself
within his own lines, and both are careful, as St. Augustine
warns us, "not to make rash assertions, or to assert what is not
known as known."(51) …. To understand how just is the rule
here formulated we must remember, first, that the sacred
writers, or to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost "Who
spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things (that is
to say, the essential nature of the things of the visible universe),
things in no way profitable unto salvation."(53) Hence they did
not seek to penetrate the secrets of nature, but rather described
and dealt with things in more or less figurative language, or in
terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in
many instances are in daily use at this day, even by the most
eminent men of science. Ordinary speech primarily and properly
describes what comes under the senses; and somewhat in the
same way the sacred writers-as the Angelic Doctor also
reminds us - `went by what sensibly appeared,"(54) or put down
what God, speaking to men, signified, in the way men could
understand and were accustomed to.” (§17)
Between PD and DAS
 PBC established in 1902
 Lagrange and Loisy
 Lamentabili and the defense against
 1905-1915 PBC decrees
 1909 – PBI established by St. Pius X
 1920 Spiritus Paraclitus – historical
events explained in similar way as
scientific phenomena
Divino Afflante Spiritu 1942
 Scientific studies of the biblical texts
increase among Protestant scholars
 Source theory (Documentary Hypothesis
– Two Source Theory) gaining much
 Traditional authorship comes into
 Catholic scholars using critical methods
in limited manner
Divino Afflante Spiritu
 Rise of fundamentalism in United States
spreads to Europe (1900 -)
 Reaction to Liberal Protestant Theology
 Literalistic tendencies
 Letter to the Bishops of Italy A Most
Grave Danger for the Church and for
Souls. The Critical-scientific System of
Studying and Interpreting the Holy
Divino Afflante Spiritu
 Inspiration- Inerrancy-Authorship
Affirms divine role in the scriptures
 Elaborates on the role of the human author
Human author described as a “living and
reasonable instrument of the Holy Spirit”
who “uses his faculties and powers, (so)
that from the book composed by him all
may easily infer “the special character of
each one and, as it were, his personal
traits.” (§
Divino Afflante Spiritu
Nevertheless no one, who has a correct idea of biblical inspiration,
will be surprised to find, even in the Sacred Writers, as in other
ancient authors, certain fixed ways of expounding and narrating,
certain definite idioms, especially of a kind peculiar to the
Semitic tongues, so-called approximations, and certain
hyperbolical modes of expression, nay, at times, even
paradoxical, which even help to impress the ideas more deeply
on the mind. For of the modes of expression which, among
ancient peoples, and especially those of the East, human
language used to express its thought, none is excluded from the
Sacred Books, provided the way of speaking adopted in no wise
contradicts the holiness and truth of God, as, with his customary
wisdom, the Angelic Doctor already observed in these words:
"In Scripture divine things are presented to us in the manner
which is in common use amongst men."[30] For as the
substantial Word of God became like to men in all things,
"except sin,"[31] so the words of God, expressed in human
language, are made like to human speech in every respect,
except error. (§37)
Divino Afflante Spiritu
 Hermeneutical Principles
Literal Sense – author’s intention
Spiritual Sense
 Importance of the Literal Sense stressed
Need to understand the historical settings,
literary styles, symbolic meanings, idiom,
historical events, etc. so that the literal
sense can be identified
Divino Afflante Spiritu
Being thoroughly prepared by the knowledge of the ancient
languages and by the aids afforded by the art of criticism,
let the Catholic exegete undertake the task, of all those
imposed on him the greatest, that namely of discovering
and expounding the genuine meaning of the Sacred
Books. In the performance of this task let the interpreters
bear in mind that their foremost and greatest endeavor
should be to discern and define clearly that sense of the
biblical words which is called literal. Aided by the context
and by comparison with similar passages, let them
therefore by means of their knowledge of languages
search out with all diligence the literal meaning of the
words; all these helps indeed are wont to be pressed into
service in the explanation also of profane writers, so that
the mind of the author may be made abundantly clear.
Between DAS and 1962
 Catholic scholars investigate texts with
newer methods
 Theories and interpretations come into
 Bitter disputes among scholars,
theologians and ecclesial leaders
 1959 St. Paul’s Outside the Walls
 Process – solicitations of items for
discussion (Ordinaries, Religious
Superiors, Catholic
 Description of Faith an issue
 Approaches to biblical study and
interpretation an issue
 Biblical question tied to the document de
fontibus revelationis
 De fontibus revelationis and biblical
Inspiration in univocal sense
 Heavy
emphasis on the divine author
 Final redactor seen as the inspired author
Inerrancy expressed in absolute terms
OT seen as proof for NT
Gospels reproduce historical words and
deeds of Jesus
Vulgate is the authentic version
 De fontibus rejected at First Session
through intervention of the Holy Father
62% voted to end discussion, 66% was
John XXIII has document removed
 Five drafts later the new document is
titled Dei Verbum
Sancta Mater Ecclesia 1964
 Historicity of the Gospels
 Three Stages of Gospel Transmission
Age of Jesus
Age of the Apostles
Age of the Evangelist
Dei Verbum 1965
 Divine Revelation
 Transmission of Divine Revelation
 Sacred Scripture: Inspiration and
 The Old Testament
 The New Testament
 Sacred Scripture in the Life of the
Dei Verbum
 Divine Revelation
In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to
make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (see Eph. 1:9)
by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the
Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the
divine nature (see Eph. 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this
revelation, therefore, the invisible God (see Col. 1;15, 1 Tim.
1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends
(see Ex. 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar.
3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with
Himself. This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words
having in 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. By this revelation then,
the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines
out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the
fullness of all revelation. (2)
 Transmission of Divine Revelation
It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred
Scripture and the teaching authority of the
Church, in accord with God's most wise design,
are so linked and joined together that one
cannot stand without the others, and that all
together and each in its own way under the
action of the one Holy Spirit contribute
effectively to the salvation of souls.
Dei Verbum
 Interpretation
Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors
or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy
Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be
acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without
error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings
(5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is
divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and
refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in
right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be
efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2
Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).
Dei Verbum
12. However, since God speaks in Sacred
Scripture through men in human fashion,
(6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in
order to see clearly what God wanted to
communicate to us, should carefully
investigate what meaning the sacred
writers really intended, and what God
wanted to manifest by means of their
Dei Verbum
 To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention
should be given, among other things, to "literary forms."
For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts
which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of
other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate
what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and
actually expressed in particular circumstances by using
contemporary literary forms in accordance with the
situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct
understanding of what the sacred author wanted to
assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and
characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating
which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to
the patterns men normally employed at that period in
their everyday dealings with one another. (8)
Dei Verbum
 But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in
the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less
serious attention must be given to the content and unity
of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred
texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of
the whole Church must be taken into account along with
the harmony which exists between elements of the faith.
It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules
toward a better understanding and explanation of the
meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory
study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of
what has been said about the way of interpreting
Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church,
which carries out the divine commission and ministry of
guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)
Dei Verbum
 Old Testament
16. God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely
arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old
and the Old be made manifest in the New. (2) For, though
Christ established the new covenant in His blood (see
Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25), still the books of the Old
Testament with all their parts, caught up into the
proclamation of the Gospel, (3) acquire and show forth
their full meaning in the New Testament (see Matt. 5:17;
Luke 24:27; Rom. 16:25-26; 2 Cor. 14:16) and in turn
shed light on it and explain it.
Dei Verbum
 New Testament
The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some
things from the many which had been handed on by word
of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a
synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation
of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation
but always in such fashion that they told us the honest
truth about Jesus.(4) For their intention in writing was that
either from their own memory and recollections, or from
the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning
were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word" we might
know "the truth" concerning those matters about which
we have been instructed (see Luke 1:2-4).
Dei Verbum
 Scripture
 Tradition
 Magisterium
Interpretation of the
Bible in the Church,
1993, PBC
 Methods and Approaches for Interpretation
 Hermeneutical Questions
 Characteristics of Catholic Interpretation
 Interpretation of the Bible in the Life of the
Methods of Interpretation
 Disputes – Crisis in Biblical Interpreation
 No one method is sufficient
 HCM is indispensible
 Critiques offered: positive and negative
Hermeneutical Questions
 Senses of Scripture
 Literal “It is not only legitimate, it is also absolutely
necessary to seek to define the precise meaning of
texts as produced by their authors – what is called
the literal meaning” – “that which is expressed by
the human authors”
 Spiritual – texts understood when read under the
influence of the Holy Spirit, in the context of the
Paschal Mystery of Christ and of the new life which
flows from it. – flows from the literal sense
 Sensus Plenior – deemed useless if the other two
senses are understood properly
Characteristic of Catholic
 Attention to the “Common Tradition” in
which the scriptures developed
Unity of the Testaments
 Tradition of the Church
 Patristic Interpretation
Interpretation of the Bible in the
Life of the Church
 Actualization
Hear the Word from within one’s own situation
Identify aspects of the present situation highligted
in the text
Draw from the fullness of meaning in the text those
elements capable of advancing the present
situation in a way that is consonant with the saving
will of God in Christ
 Inculturization
 Liturgical Worship

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Permanent Diaconate Program