God’s Word is made known to man through created realities (Rom 1:19-20), as all things are created and kept in existence through the Word. It can also “be through the liturgy, rich in the divine word, or through devotional reading, or through instructions suitable for the purpose and other aids” approved by the Church. As Pope Leo taught in Providentissimus Deus: Pope Leo’s teaching is grounded not only in perennial Christian teaching, but in basic logic. What is the purpose and nature of Divine Revelation? Likewise, in accord with Christ’s own teaching (Matt. J. Ratzinger, Commentary on Dei Verbum Articles 8-10 - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or view presentation slides online. 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. 4. While there is nothing in Dei Verbum that positively eliminates the idea that all Christian doctrine is at least implicitly contained in Scripture, the tenor of its argument seems to oppose such an opinion, or at least render it unnecessary. [Introduction] Exegetical work provides a valuable service in helping the Church’s living tradition develop, but not in an anarchic way. Indeed, St. Paul elsewhere calls Christ “the power of God” (1 Cor. They actually wrote the words, which are therefore human words. God does not merely reach people through didactic inspiration, but through direct engagement with man at specific points in history. After the Council, Catholic critical editions of the Bible have frequently included commentary and footnotes that often seem to deny Scriptural inerrancy (even on matters of morals) or uncritically accept the hypotheses of German higher critics. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), Vatican II on the Lay Apostolate: 1. This hermeneutic requires Catholic exegetes to depart from purely humanistic analysis, for humanly speaking, the authors of the Old Testament could not have known anything of the New Testament. en The word of God reveals the final destiny of men and women and provides a unifying explanation of all that they do in the world. 7. Whatever the inspired authors assert is also asserted by the Holy Spirit. News, analysis & spirituality by email, twice-weekly from CatholicCulture.org. This emphasis on Scriptural study does not imply a neglect of Sacred Tradition, for the Council affirms: “Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation.” (DV, 24) The Church “also encourages the study of the holy Fathers of both East and West and of sacred liturgies.” (DV, 23), For most of the Christian era, the vast majority of lay Catholics were illiterate, as was the case among people in every nation. This “handing over” is the basis of our term Tradition. 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. Conclusion. [1] The Greek term diatheke, translated in Latin as testamentum, encompasses the meanings of both “covenant” and “testament,” hence the two parts of the Christian Bible may be called the Old and New Covenants. After all, the canon was not fixed until well after the death of the Apostles. In part 1 of my analysis of the third chapter of the Vatican II document Dei Verbum (DV), I showed how the Church understands the creation of the Bible as a divine-human synergy. ) | Aug 03, 2010 The various revelations of the Old Testament are all oriented toward preparing man for the Savior who is to come. In the late nineteenth century, “critical texts” based on Greek and Hebrew manuscripts were likewise viewed with distrust. Every age finds its own set of problems in Scripture, depending on its perspective. These mutilations are unfortunate and unnecessary, since the ancient editions of the Bible have been reconstructed by textual critics to a high degree of accuracy. In 1907, Pope St. Pius X forcefully denounced the ideological underpinnings of critical impieties, under the rubric of “Modernism.” “Modernism” is not a cohesive ideology held by a self-identified group of “Modernists,” but an umbrella term for the heterodox combination of theology with various modern ideological trends, such as relativism, liberalism, and secularism. We have only to determine what the human author intended to assert, and thus learn also what the Holy Spirit asserts. Magisterially Scriptural. The higher critics claimed to have proven a number of theses that were at odds not only with particular Christian doctrines, but even with the basic authenticity and divine inspiration of Scripture. [3] The term “fundamentalist” arises from a series of essays known as The Fundamentals (1910-15), which defended long-held Christian doctrines (taking a Reformed or Calvinist theological perspective) against modern liberal denials. This strenuous reassertion of apostolic authority—the sole basis for determining authentic teachings of Scripture and living Tradition —is conveniently one of the most ignored parts of Dei Verbum. Strictly speaking, it asserts only the Church’s traditional eschatology, that all our activity is oriented toward the full revelation at the end of time. Note how the Council takes for granted the historical reality of the basic facts of the story of salvation. For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down” (8). DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION DEI VERBUM SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON NOVEMBER 18, 1965. In the teachings of Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum,the council fathers sought to address certain veins of thought running through Baroque and Neo-scholastic theology, then popular in Catholic seminaries and universities, and “debunk” the Scriptures coming from liberal protestant theologians and Scriptural exegetes, which were slowly infiltrating Catholic academia. Thus it applies only to propositions, not individual words or letters, which standing alone, do not admit of truth or falsity. Protestant Reformers, most notably Calvin (through a misinterpretation of Romans 12:6), conceived of the “analogy of faith” as a rule of Biblical interpretation whereby a part of Scripture should be understood in light of the rest. He will know no more than what God has revealed to him, and revelation is oriented toward faith and morals. Mission. All rights reserved. A primary objective of the Council, both here and in other documents, is to nourish the Church’s teaching and practice with more explicit and direct reference to Holy Scripture. Christians make no such claim about their Scripture, and freely admit that its literary quality is frequently limited by the skill of its human authors. The interdependence of Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium is easy to prove. In a Catholic context, the “analogy of faith” requires us to interpret each part of Scripture in harmony with the whole of Scripture and Sacred Tradition as taught by the Church. “In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret Holy Scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers.”. Note also that the kingdom of God is something already established by Christ on earth, and not purely an eschatological reality. As a result, “fundamentalism” has come to be identified with strict Biblical literalism, and it is wrongly perceived that defenders of Biblical inerrancy are necessarily naive literalists or young-earth creationists. Dei Verbum. It retains the original preface and the chapter and numbering according to the actual ordered sections of the document.) Next in series: Vatican II on the Lay Apostolate: 1. The Latin verb assero comes from the root meaning “to bind” or “to join,” since we are committing ourselves to a declaration, or making a composite statement relating a predicate to some subject. Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the II Vatican Council. 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. There must be sound reasons, grounded in comparative literature, for supposing that the author himself deliberately intended to relate something other than history. 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). "The living Tradition of the whole Church" obviously derives from the pneumatological principle. See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions. Sacred Scripture is the basis of much (possibly all, as discussed above) of the Church’s … The Council unequivocally affirms the reality of Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Spirit. 1. The First Vatican Council, in its dogmatic constitution Dei Filius (1870), reaffirmed and clarified Tridentine teaching about the content and interpretation of Scripture. Reading the Bible in accord with Dei Verbum along the lines sketched above means “mystagogy,” the actualization of salvation history in the Church’s liturgical and sacramental present as … This expression came to have a broader usage, meaning that each element of the faith can only be understood in harmony with the other elements. • The Council Fathers desired to lay out “authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on” (DV 1) – The document’s intent is to define doctrine on revelation with the vision of a more coherent … With this background, we can now examine the extent to which Dei Verbum confirms prior teachings or develops them. This broad notion of Tradition includes liturgical, devotional and canonical customs, not all of which are immutable, though all contribute to holiness of life in their time and place. Other theses did not overtly contradict the faith, but at least seemed highly difficult to reconcile with it. Here is repeated the teaching of the First Vatican Council that the reality of God and His providence may be known through natural human reason, but revelation is an aid even to those matters accessible to reason, as it expounds things unambiguously and with authority. Bultmann, Wellhausen, etc.) Of course, those who deny the former generally care little for the latter. The Constitution Dei Verbum begins with the words of the first Letter of St. John: “We announce to you the eternal life which was with the Father, and has appeared to us.” (1 John 1:2). 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. 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. While the Vatican Council clarified some matters of central importance regarding divine revelation, other questions were left unanswered. At the time of the Council, it issued the document De historica evangeliorum veritate (1964), which upheld the historical character of the Gospels, yet allowed that the Evangelists may have changed the order, specific wording, and context of the same deeds, for the benefit of their readers. bio - In the fourth chapter (“The Old Testament”), the Council outlines the purpose of the books of the Old Testament which, “in accordance with the state of mankind before the time of salvation established by Christ, reveal to all men the knowledge of God and of man and the ways in which God, just and merciful, deals with men” (15). This principle guarantees that the meaning of the Scriptures will be generally accessible to us, for this does not demand the impossible task of scrutinizing the mind of God. Another aspect of the Council’s teaching is the unity of the plan of salvation across time. 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’”. They relate what Christ really did and taught for eternal salvation. Since the same Holy Spirit inspired all the authors, it must not be thought that one asserted a doctrine that was essentially opposed to another revealed truth. The Council then provides a succinct summary of Scriptural inspiration: But the Council fathers also stress that, because “God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion”, care in interpretation is needed in order “to see clearly what God wanted to communicate”, and they mention especially the need for attention to literary forms and to “the content and unity of the whole of Scripture” if the meaning of the sacred texts it to be correctly worked out (12). What, exactly, is meant by the divine inspiration of Scripture? It also attests to reality of His deeds, which manifested Himself and the Father, i.e., the miracles He worked. (Luke 24:45; cf. Still, the historical and doctrinal fidelity of the Gospels should not compel us to a rigid literalism of interpretation. In the second chapter (“Handing on Divine Revelation”), the Council teaches that God has chosen to convey His revelation through Scripture and Tradition under the authentic interpretive authority of the Magisterium of the Church. The responsa of the Pontifical Biblical Commission (the most important of these issued from 1905 to 1915) contradicted a number of widely held critical theses (notably the two-source hypothesis of the Synoptic Gospels), while allowing latitude in other areas (e.g., allowing non-Mosaic glosses in the Pentateuch, permitting denial of Davidic authorship of the Psalms). The purpose of these interventions was to prepare a people for the “plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors” of the Old Testament. On the Documents of Vatican II. Even after the age of the printing press, many Catholic clergy neglected in-depth Scriptural study, being formed by ecclesiastical and theological writings, as well as liturgy and devotion. What is divine is its message, which is to say its content or significance. 1. Both Tradition and Scripture derive their authority from the Apostles, who alone were commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel. In Romans 1:16, St. Paul describes the Gospel as “the power of God for the salvation of all who believe,” and the Council regards this phrase as applicable to the word of God more generally. 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. The document does not, however, explicitly confirm the traditional authorship of the Gospels. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. This agrees with the perennial faith of the Church, for we say without contradiction that St. Paul was the author of the letter to the Romans, and so was the Holy Spirit. There is no question that the doctrine of Scriptural inerrancy is a “hard saying,” so it is always tempting for exegetes and apologists to make their work easier by softening the teaching. Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church In the modern era, especially as contrasted with Protestants, it often seemed as though Catholics had relatively little regard for Sacred Scripture, due to the comparative neglect of Biblical study among Catholic laity. 2. In Providentissimus Deus, Pope Leo XIII had taught: Pope Benedict XV forcefully reaffirmed Leo’s teaching on Biblical inspiration in Spiritus Paraclitus (1920), yet he also described with approval St. Jerome’s view: Dei Verbum likewise affirms that the sacred authors wrote only what God willed for them to write, while emphasizing that this did not entail a suppression of their natural human abilities. This Nova Vulgata is the basis of all Scripture used in liturgy. 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. … That is the question which the Second Vatican Council set out to answer in its eleventh document on November 18, 1965, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum). It cannot be that the author was deceived into relating myth as fact, for though men can be deceived, the Holy Spirit cannot. In other words, a Biblical statement about history or science might admit error if it is not related to the truths about salvation. In the early Tridentine era, Scriptural studies by Catholic laity were positively discouraged, as these often relied on faulty editions informed by heretical theologies. Tradition depends on Scripture, since the Fathers themselves frequently appealed to Scripture to defend their teachings. Even if we agree that Scripture and Tradition are equally binding in authority, it can hardly be disputed that appeals to Scripture have always been favored by theologians, especially the Fathers, for the firm establishment of doctrine. The first two chapters are especially important in that they explain the overall nature of Revelation and its mode of transmission. This unity of word and deed is most prominent in Christ, “who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.”. 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. 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.”. November 18, 1965. Scripture depends on Tradition, since Christian revelation was preached before it was written, and it is only by episcopal authority that a canon of authentic Scripture could be established. Sacred Scripture is the word of God put in writing, while Sacred Tradition transmits the word of God to the successors of the Apostles, so that they may expound it truthfully and faithfully. Post-conciliar liturgy has emphasized this unity of the Word revealed in Scripture and in the Eucharist by structuring the Mass as composed of the Liturgies of the Word and of the Eucharist. In general, the Council’s teaching on revelation reaffirms Tridentine doctrine, though in some respects it asserts the importance of Tradition more strongly. Once it is accepted that everything asserted by the inspired authors in Scripture is also asserted by the Holy Spirit, it logically follows there can be no error in any of these assertions, since God can neither deceive nor be deceived. Further, interpretation of Scripture in matters of faith and morals, since this pertains to establishing Christian doctrine, is the prerogative of the Church. Consequently, they and various liberal exegetes have held that this phrase limits the scope of Biblical inerrancy. God is its Author insofar as he inspired it, but human beings are its “true authors” (DV 11). Dei Verbum’s endorsement of the use of “literary forms” does not give carte blanche to modern Biblical critics. 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. 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. (DV, 25) In earlier centuries, Scriptural studies had been limited to a minority, due to the difficulty and expense of copying texts. Dei Verbum reaffirms the Council of Trent’s teaching that Scripture is not the only basis of revealed doctrine. Even when following an authentic edition, an uneducated Catholic might be easily misled by the superficial or apparent meaning of text, if he does not have a comprehensive knowledge of Scripture and Tradition as interpreted by the Church. Para-graph numbers are in parentheses. Others boldly challenged the integrity of Scripture, arguing that certain books were harmonizations of contradictory traditions, or that primitive histories were distorted to serve later theological purposes. His New Testament text was reconstructed by Protestant scholars in what is known as the Stuttgart Vulgate (1969). The reality of revelation cannot be separated from historical reality. Thus most people knew Scripture only through hearing it read aloud, in sacred liturgy or in preaching. A poem is not “false” because the events it describes did not occur historically, for no such assertion is intended. Per the modes of writing then current, the Evangelists freely selected and arranged the content of existing oral and written sources, according to the themes and concerns of their churches. Aftermath. A decade later, in Vigilantiae studiique (1902), Pope Leo established the Pontifical Biblical Commission, which had the task of answering questions as to which critical theses may be licitly held by Catholics. 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. la Verbi Dei postulationes haud renuntiandae. Divine revelation, which is the word of God expressed in Scripture and Tradition, is the basis of all Christian doctrine. Its use of internal evidence is conditioned by well-defined heuristic principles and by external evidence. This notion of inspiration is different from that of Islam, where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have recited the Qu’ran from a heavenly exemplar, and so the Muslims consequently affirm that its literary style is without peer. The Council “unhesitatingly” confirms the historical character of the Gospels. The first sentence parallels a similar statement by the Council of Trent, which includes: “...having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author.” The second sentence clarifies that the Catholic notion of Biblical inspiration does not involve the suppression of human agency. These and other questions attained greater prominence in the last decades of the nineteenth century, as textual criticism of the Bible became more developed as a science, due to the discoveries of more ancient manuscripts and an increase in philological and archaeological knowledge. THE year 1964 was a seminal year for Gospel studies. Strange as it might seem, many Catholic exegetes, including several saints (e.g., St. Athanasius, Oratio contra gent., 1), have held that all the doctrines of the Church are at least implicitly contained in Scripture, though Tradition is needed to elucidate and expound them correctly. Further, no Catholic can deny that our understanding of Scripture has improved greatly on many points, due to the divinely guided activities of the Fathers and other successors of the Apostles, and by other clergy and religious. Yet it is by no means necessary to compromise the Church’s perennial teaching on the divine inspiration of Scripture in order to avoid the pitfalls of geocentrism, young-earth creationism, and the like. vatican.va. Its judgments are preliminary and subject to the review and final judgment of the Magisterium.