As regular readers of this blog will have noticed, the subject of biblical exegesis is one close to the heart of your humble writer. Several fragmentary articles treating aspects of the matter have appeared on this blog, two of which I would like to highlight:
- On the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture, or the Fissure of Pope Paul VI
- On the Raison d'Être of Modernism
Given my interest in biblical exegesis and its role in the Modernist crisis - as well as my propensity to speak about it whenever given the chance - I was invited by some of my fellow parishioners to organize a private Bible study of sorts. After an ample amount of thoughtful consideration, I decided that the best way to begin such a study is to return to the essentials as taught by the Magisterium and the Church Fathers.
The following brief document - which can be viewed and/or downloaded for private use - represents the fruit of my search for the principles of an authentically Catholic biblical exegesis:
In form, it vaguely resembles Fr. Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, from which I took much inspiration, insofar as it presents a series of theses and then lists passages from Magisterial documents and the writings of the Church Fathers which substantiate each. Though I do not venture to determine the degree of theological certainty of each thesis - I'm no certified theologian - I feel relatively confident that, in an age of ecclesial sanity, all of them would be considered either de fide or, at least, sententia proxima fidei.
For the faithful Catholic, there is absolutely nothing controversial about any of these theses. In fact, they seem so obvious that one might wonder why it is necessary to even mention them. For one, I was somewhat disappointed that Fr. Ott did not include any dogmas on biblical exegesis in his otherwise excellent Fundamentals - despite the fact that the Magisterium has made numerous pronouncements on the subject. For another, it is important to note that, since the publication of Divino afflante Spiritu by Pius XII in 1943, nearly all of these theses have been either thrown into doubt or rejected outright by numerous exegetes. To name but one example: In the most recent edition of the massive Stuttgarter Commentary on the Old Testament - published with the approval of the German Bishops Conference and produced by a small battalion of German theologians - the rejection of the subject-matter of these theses is absolutely prerequisite. And for any who might happen upon the Commentary without having already jettisoned their faith in Revelation, there are numerous instances where they are actively encouraged to do so. Thus, though they may seem obvious, it appeared nonetheless important to restate such essential principles in clear language and with ample references before engaging in any kind of Bible study - just to make sure everyone is on the same page, so to speak.
I hereby offer them to you, gentle reader, in the hope that you may draw some use from them. They are, however, by no means exhaustive; if you notice any considerable deficiency - or if you know of patristic sources which substantiate those theses already included - please feel free to let me know in the comments section.