Pope Benedict speaks up at the Synod on problems and directions of exegesis

A ZENIT story in Italian relates something about what Pope Benedict said, working from personal notes, during the Synod of Bishops on Scripture.

I don’t have time to translate it for you alas.

He spoke about the need to overcome a dualism between exegesis and theology.

This was a matter address in his book Jesus of Nazareth.

Working from Dei Verbum … "Since Scripture must be read and interpreted in light of the same Spirit through whom it was written – the Council said – to gleen with precision the sense of the sacred texts one must take care with no less diligence for the content and the unity of Scripture, taking necessary account of the living tradtional of the whole Church and of the analogy of the Faith."

The Pope observed that often exegetes take the first part into account, but not the second, the Tradition of the Church.  Exegesis thus becomes historiography.

So, Pope Benedict is giving shape to the discussion by participating in it and guiding it.  He proposed that two propositions be given to the Synod: to develop not only historical exegesis but also theological and to deeping the preparation of exegetes in this sense in order to expand the vision of exegesis itself.

Benedetto XVI chiede di superare il dualismo tra esegesi e teologia

In un intervento al Sinodo dei Vescovi

CITTA’ DEL VATICANO, martedì, 14 ottobre 2008 (ZENIT.org).- Benedetto XVI ha preso la parola questo martedì al Sinodo dei Vescovi per proporre di superare il dualismo tra esegesi e teologia, che a volte porta a una lettura senza fede della Bibbia.

Il Papa ha espresso la sua opinione traendo spunto dal suo quaderno di appunti personali, seduto al suo solito posto al centro dell’aula sinodale e parlando in italiano con la precisione dei suoi lunghi anni da docente universitario.

Le sue parole hanno risuonato dopo la pausa della 14ma congregazione generale e, come ha spiegato egli stesso, si ispirano al lavoro che sta compiendo per redigere il suo libro “Gesù di Nazaret”, di cui sta preparando il secondo volume.

In particolare, ha presentato i criteri offerti dal Concilio Vaticano II nella Costituzione Dogmatica Dei Verbum, per l’interpretazione delle Sacre Scritture.

“Dovendo la sacra Scrittura esser letta e interpretata alla luce dello stesso Spirito mediante il quale è stata scritta – diceva il Concilio –, per ricavare con esattezza il senso dei sacri testi, si deve badare con non minore diligenza al contenuto e all’unità di tutta la Scrittura, tenuto debito conto della viva tradizione di tutta la Chiesa e dell’analogia della fede”.

Il Papa ha osservato che in generale gli esegeti tengono conto del primo criterio, l’unità di tutta la Scrittura, ma tralasciano il secondo, la Tradizione viva della Chiesa.

Questa trascuratezza, secondo il Pontefice, ha delle conseguenze, ad esempio il fatto che la Bibbia diventi un libro del passato: “l’esegesi diventa storiografia”.

In base a questa visione, in Germania alcune correnti esegetiche negano l’istituzione dell’Eucaristia, e il corpo di Gesù sarebbe rimasto nella tomba. In questo modo, ha constatato, scompare la presenza del divino nello storico.

Questa interpretazione, ha proseguito, crea una distanza tra esegesi e lectio divina, e suscita perplessità al momento di preparare le omelia.

Con questa visione, la Scrittura non può essere “l’anima della teologia”, e quest’ultima smette di essere interpretazione della Scrittura nella Chiesa.

Per la vita e la missione della Chiesa è del tutto necessario superare il dualismo tra esegesi e teologia, perché sono dimensioni di una stessa realtà.

Per questo, il Vescovo di Roma ha suggerito di introdurre due proposizioni per questo Sinodo: sviluppare l’esegesi non solo storica ma anche teologica e ampliare la preparazione degli esegeti in questo senso per ampliare anche la visione dell’esegesi stessa.

L’intervento del Papa ha avuto lo stesso formato di quelli preparati dai Vescovi nel dibattito ed è stato ricevuto con un applauso.

UPDATE: 16:15 GMT

 

The nearly ubiquitous fair-minded former Rome correspondent for the ultra-lefty dissenting NCR, John Allen, has more details:

Synod: For the first time, the pope speaks
By John L Allen Jr Daily
Created Oct 14 2008 – 08:37

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

For anyone with a spare dollar looking to make a wager about the Synod of Bishops, here’s the safest bet in the world, in the wake of this morning’s session: There will be a proposition on the relationship between exegesis and theology among the final recommendations presented to Pope Benedict XVI.

Truth to be told, the relationship between Biblical interpretation and other areas of Catholic theology had already emerged as a major concern. This morning, however, Pope Benedict himself took the unusual – indeed, quite possibly unprecedented – step of explicitly recommending that the bishops adopt a proposition on how exegetes and theologians can better inform each other’s work.

The recommendation was delivered viva voce, as Benedict XVI took the microphone at the synod for the first time. He spoke immediately after the customary 10:30 am coffee break; Archbishop Nikola Eterovich, secretary of the synod, informed the group that they would have to interrupt their normal program “because our president wishes to address us.”

Technically, the pope is also president of the Synod of Bishops.

The Vatican is expected to release a transcript of the pope’s remarks either later today or tomorrow. For now, the official Vatican bulletin has simply reported: "Starting from the consideration of the work for his book Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy Father dwelt upon the fundamental criteria of Biblical exegesis, upon the dangers of a secularized and positivistic approach to the Sacred Scriptures and upon the need for a closer relationship between exegesis and theology."

Synod sources said that he spoke for a little less than ten minutes, drawing upon notes that he had apparently made in a small notebook.

In broad terms, those sources said, his topic was the need for historical-critical interpretation of the Bible to take Christian faith as its point of departure, because otherwise its risks treating the Bible as simply a “book of the past.” In that regard, the pope apparently suggested that exegesis needs to be better integrated into theology, so that it is seen less as a self-standing enterprise, and more as part of a broad effort to combine reason and faith.

As part of his reflection, Benedict reportedly suggested to the bishops that a proposition on the relationship between exegesis and theology would be helpful – making it all but a foregone conclusion that at least one such proposition will be offered.

Since the propositions are addressed to the pope in any event, as suggestions for whatever document he may eventually issue on the topic of the synod, it’s also a safe bet that Benedict XVI will discuss the need to treat scripture as “the soul of theology” in that text.

Sources said that the pope was greeted by a hearty round of applause at the close of his remarks.

This is the second Synod of Bishops under Benedict XVI, and the second time the pope has chosen to address the bishops towards the end of the initial round of speech-making, as the agenda for the synod’s final documents is beginning to take shape. In each case, Benedict has reflected briefly on what had emerged as a central concern during those opening speeches. During the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005, Benedict spoke about the relationship between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the Mass, meaning the twin images of the Mass as a meal and as a sacrifice – suggesting they need to held together rather than put in tension.

The pope appears to have struck a similar note this time around about the relationship between exegesis and theology – suggesting that offering both/and solutions to seemingly either/or problems may be emerging as what one might call the "synodal specialty" of Benedict XVI.

Benedict has been present for most of the synod’s deliberations thus far, including the hour set aside for “free discussion” at the end of each day. That hour was set aside at Benedict’s request for the 2005 synod, and has now become a part of the event’s formal structure.

Fr. Bryan Massingale of Marquette University, President-elect of the Catholic Theological Society of America, acknowledged that sometimes exegetes and theologians struggle to stay on the same page — not, for the most part, because of ill will or intellectual disagreements, but rather the compartmentalized nature of the academy these days.

"As theology becomes more and more specialized, we need to create opportunities in which theologians and exegetes can pursue collaborative projects," Massingale said in a telephone interview this afternoon.

Massingale said one such initiative is already underway at Marquette: a new inter-disciplinary seminar titled "Theological Interpretation of Scripture."

"We may still run into disagreements over what constitutes theological interpretation of the Bible," Massingale said, "but at least there’s the beginnings of a conversation."

 

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54 Responses to Pope Benedict speaks up at the Synod on problems and directions of exegesis

  1. MargoB says:

    “During the Synod on the Eucharist in 2005, Benedict spoke about the relationship between the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the Mass, meaning the twin images of the Mass as a meal and as a sacrifice – suggesting they need to held together rather than put in tension.

    The pope appears to have struck a similar note this time around about the relationship between exegesis and theology…”

    As my friend JasonA would say, “They got ‘both/and’-ed!”

    One of the riches of our faith is its ability to show us truth by pulling both “x’ and ‘y’ together. We get to see not just ‘x’ or ‘y’, but, as C.S. Lewis has put it re friends, A’s part in B, and B’s part in A.

    And rich, it is!

  2. Larry says:

    We will have to wait and see the document as complete but it is becoming clear the Pope Benedict is operating from the perspective of leading rather than followiong and “cleaning up the mess” that has been the pattern in the past. There will still need to be a reconciliation of the opposing views but at least we will have a clear indication as to the direction that reconcilitation will take. By doing it in this way the Pope is “serving” his brothers at table with the rich fare they are consume and digest. His choice of “dishes” helps them to appreciate the motif of the banquet. Let us pray that they take the time to appreciate this meal among brothers and not treat it as a “happy meal” to be scarfed down so that we can get back to “Disney Land.”

  3. QC says:

    So basically, read the Bible like Christian and not like an atheist. Seems simple enough :)

  4. Tom in NY says:

    See Jesus of Nazareth, xxiii,”Yet…if we take this conviction of faith as our starting point for reading the texts with historical methodology…they are opened up.” See also Ratzinger in 1988, “Bible Interpretation in Crisis.” Don’t forget his ministry at Tuebingen.

  5. Mandzok says:

    I believe that Father what’s-his-name with the beard on EWTN (Father Pawna??? or something like that) spoke of this subject during the last week.

    Nonetheless, “…that sometimes exegetes and theologians struggle to stay on the same page—not, for the most part, because of ill will or intellectual disagreements, but rather the compartmentalized nature of the academy these days.”

    Compartmentalized? Sounds like political speech. The problem is that the exegetes do not look at scripture from a theological standpoint.

  6. Boko says:

    Oh, come on. Pretty much all the work on the relationship between the literal, historical meaning of scripture and its spiritual meanings has been done. It’s enshrined in the CCC. Four levels of interpretation and all that.

    The problem is that “scholarly work” on the literal level has been rubbish, often deliberately so in an attempt to sabotage the Faith, for about 150 years.

    We don’t need interventions on the proper hermeneutic and the relationship between this and that, we need to admit that the MSBS (mainstream of biblical scholars) has been lying to us, throw out their rubbish, and embrace the good work that has been done by those outside that “mainstream.”

    Instead, we’re all still cowed by Raymond Brown’s mau-mauing.

  7. Thomas says:

    “Synod sources said that he spoke for a little less than ten minutes, drawing upon notes that he had apparently made in a small notebook.”

    B16 just cracks me up. I love this Pope. He is truly heaven sent.

  8. Maureen says:

    “Pretty much all the work on the relationship between the literal, historical meaning of scripture and its spiritual meanings has been done.”

    Boko, it is with the deepest respect that I ask you whether you realize what you are saying. You are saying that history is over, science has discovered everything, and the Bible has nothing new to say to us. This is like saying, “Nothing worse can possibly happen” in a horror movie or “God, I am so perfect” in real life. You are tempting fate and providence, not to mention the Holy Spirit. Seriously.

    I never expect to get to the bottoms of Shakespeare’s depths and possibilities. And he’s just one ordinary, non-inspired writer. So… no, I’d say there’s plenty exegesis still to be done, and plenty of it isn’t in the CCC, either.

  9. Larry says:

    Boko,
    I see you dine at the Black Eyed Pea; better than Burger King; but, still only one fork. Come to the Banquet! How many facets has a diamond? Or how many veins has a gold mine? Scripture is far too rich to be summarized even in the CCC. And the CCC makes no such claim or pretense. Rather it has used small elements of Scripture to explain Church teaching. This is the revealed word of the Almighty God and is inexhaustable as such.

  10. Steve says:

    Speaking of John Allen… he popped up at the Knights of Columbus news conference in Rome today – http://www.visualwebcaster.com/catholic-vote-101408

  11. Boko says:

    Maureen and Larry, did you read what I wrote? Of course Scripture is a stream whose depths can never be plumbed, a banquet whose courses can never be exhausted, a fireworks show whose delights never burn out &c, &c.

    But the foundational work on how to read Scripture in and with the Church has been done. (CCC 109ff, esp 115ff) It’s an hubristic modernist conceit that we need always to be starting afresh. We should humbly and gratefully accept the work of the Fathers and Doctors and stand on their shoulders. The problem is not that we need to understand how to do exegesis, the problem is that we’ve been lied to for decades and we’re too cowed to admit it, discard the lies, and move on.

    Oh no, an NCR editorial is goig to call us “fundamentalists!” Pass the JEPD, late-dating, denial of traditional authorship koolade.

    Here’s what I’m saying: Benedict’s intervention is boring impotent romanitas that refuses to speak the truth that the emperor (the MSBS) has no clothes.

  12. Julie says:

    I’m looking forward to the results of the synod; last semester for my NT class we had to read “Jesus of Nazareth”, and I was so struck by how our dear Papa unites the Jesus of faith with the Jesus of history, for they are one and the same. He wrote the book with such charity, clarity, and purpose, and the heterodox “Catholic” exegetes of course attacked him for failing to live up to their “standards”. Most “Catholi” exegetes seem to think they have alll biblical authority, and in fact, the scholarly culture has given them nearly diety status, such that they consider themselves to be infallable even as they have managed to bring to the forefront and sell all the old heresies. It’s time that Biblical scholarship have set standards and set parameters; certainly we’ll never plumb the depths of scripture, but we don’t need to go into already-declared heresy to do so!

    How sad that the popular “exegets” are nothing more than desperate scholars so desiring a name for themselves in order to fulfill their doctoral obligations that they are willing to become heretics to do it.

    I’m sorry, was that uncharitable?

  13. Jeff says:

    An interesting insight Boko, and one I think worthy of consideration.

    Again to invoke the now common word, “hermeneutic of discontinuity.” I think this is what has happened to the field of scripture studies. Much as it has happened to liturgy. Everything before the 1960s is now to the be considered incorrect or of less value since they “didn’t know as much then.” What of the numerous decrees of the Pontifical Biblical Commission? You don’t hear much reference to them these days. You don’t even hear much reference to the 1993 document from the Pontifical Biblical Commission which has guidelines on how to interpret scripture.

  14. Ioannes Andreades says:

    “sometimes exegetes and theologians struggle to stay on the same page”

    Coming at it from the philological and historical angle, I often cringe when I hear or read the mistakes theologians make in their appropriation of Biblical texts. I’ve even told several pastors that I charge very reasonable rates for linguistic consultation. The problem isn’t always that theologians and exegetes aren’t on the same page; it’s that theologians often lack the textual expertise and linguistic rigor. It’s actually the reason I find this website so engaging–the priest who runs it knows his stuff and clearly has spent years perfecting it.

    There certainly is a lot of garbage out there in modern Scriptural scholarship (am thinking of Crossan and more recently Ehrman), but there is a lot of really solid work as well. Pace Boko, Raymond Brown’s scholarship is not part of the problem. Arriving at the literal meaning of a text and its historical and literary context is accessible (though frequently not obvious) to anyone, Christian, Jew, or atheist. To my mind, this fundamental groundwork is simply not enough to jumpstart someone’s faith; a community is necessary as well, a community that agreed upon the inclusion of Biblical texts as well as how to interpret them in its own particular way. This non-literal level is inaccessible to those without faith and may appear preposterous to them. Our Church, our community, however, has always said that literal interpretation has to be the fully accounted for in its higher levels of interpretation. This is where there is no substitution for years in front of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew lexica, something few theologians are willing to do.

  15. Boko says:

    Brown led a campaign of calumny and lies against scholars (real scholars-linguists, archeologists, philosophers, &c) who challenged his methods and results. Brown and his cronies effectively shut them out of teaching positions, journals, and public discourse for decades.

    Pace Ioannes, Brown’s “scholarship” darn well IS part of the problem, a HUGE part of the problem. I did a quick google of “raymond brown virgin birth” and came up with this: http://www.ad2000.com.au/articles/1988/decjan1988p9_570.html There’s plenty more out there. Linguists are necessary, but it all starts with philosophy. (Everything does.) Brown starts with faulty assumptions about how texts originate, theories the ridiculous falsity of which is obvious when they are applied to recent texts the origins of which are familiar to us, and he demands that others accept his faulty assumptions on penalty of being denied the label “scholar.”

  16. Boko says:

    The wikipedia (I know, I know, I was googling and it came up and I couldn’t resist) article on Brown states that BXVI, as Cdl. Ratzinger, praised Brown. I think there’s a fine line between charity slash romanitas and, well, just being wrong.

    Here’s an article on Brown: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=525&CFID=14655485&CFTOKEN=86315486 Msgr. Kelly informed my view of Brown. What we’ve got here is two narratives of Catholic biblical scholarship since 1850(ish). I think BXVI is trying to reconcile the dominant account with, well, reality. I wish he’d just reject it and endorse the minority (and true) narrative.

  17. Hierothee says:

    Boko makes the good point that philosophical presuppositions are more foundational than philological expertise in interpretive matters. But this is precisely the issue that divides historical-critical exegetes and dogmatic theologians.

    The greatest theologians in the western tradition, Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas, understood scripture better than any of the reputable historical-critical exegetes of our day. This is true even though they knew little or no Hebrew or Greek. They did not spend “years in front of lexica.”

    They grasped scripture better than the moderns precisely because they understood it holistically, in terms of the analogy of faith (understood in a Catholic sense): that is, they understood it in terms of its interpretive center — Christ himself.

    And Christ they understood from participation in the ancient liturgy and from mastery of the dogmatic tradition — which was still developing, of course, in Augustine’s time, and which he helped to shape.

    In fact, Saint Augustine had a much profounder grasp of the Mystery of Christ than his contemporary, Saint Jerome. Jerome was, himself, a “mere” philologist: albeit, the most important philologist in history. Jerome’s work was obviously divinely guided and foundational, and irreplaceable.

    But for all of his philological expertise, he did not grasp the Mystery of Christ as profoundly as Augustine, even though the latter was a “mere” philosopher/theologian whose linguistic expertise was confined to his native Latin.

    So, the split between the philological and the theological/philosophical dimensions of Christian scholarly inquiry is an ancient one. But it is more important to have it together theologically than philologically. Canonical criticism, in other words, which involves mastery of the dogmatic tradition, has to be the ultimate context of historical criticism. It cannot be the other way around.

    Christianity is not just a religion of the book.

  18. Midwest St. Michael says:

    I am with Boko on this.

    We are dealing with this stuff at a parish where I am a catechist. The diocese is having some folks come up and teach catechists about interpreting scripture. The very first class these catechists were told that Adam and Eve are myth or literary constructs (insert your definition for those terms here). Needless to say, these “instructors” never mention the catechism, the early Church Fathers, Dei Verbum, Providentissimus Deus, Divino Afflante Spiritu, Humani Generis, etc.

    Mandzok, it was Fr. Benedict Groeschel you saw hammering the historical-critical method . He quoted at length Benedict XVI from the preface of his book “Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe” Fr. Groeschel was a big fan of the extremes Fr. Brown took with his findings/opinions on Sacred Scripture.

    Looking at some of the other articles one can find at Catholic Culture — here aresome of some of Fr. Brown’s other findings/opinions:

    + The stories of Christ’s birth are dubious history.

    + Early Christians understood themselves as a renewed Israel, not immediately as a new Israel.

    + We must nuance any statement which would have the historical Jesus institute the Church or the priesthood at the Last Supper.

    + In the New Testament we are never told that the Eucharistic power was passed from the Twelve to missionary apostles to presbyter-bishops.

    + Only in the third and fourth century can one take for granted that when “priests” are mentioned, ministers of the Eucharist are meant.

    + The Twelve were neither missionaries or bishops.

    + Sacramental powers were given to the Christian Community in the persons of the Twelve. Or (Sacramental powers were given to the whole Christian community [not just to the “ordained” clergy]).

    + Presbyter-bishops described in the New Testament are not traceable “in any way” to the successors of the Twelve.

    + The episcopate gradually emerged, but can be defended “as divinely established by Christ” only if one says it emerged under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    + Peter cannot be looked upon as the Bishop of the early Roman Church community. Succession to his Church fell to the Bishop of Rome, the city where Peter died. However, that concentration of authority produces, says Brown, “difficulties such as those we are now encountering within Catholicism.”

    + Vatican II was “biblically naive” when it called Catholic bishops successors of the Apostles.

    + The virginal conception of Jesus is an unresolved historical problem.

    + Any idea that Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper must be “nuanced.”

    Sheesh, no wonder Benedict was so critical of the extremes taken with the historical-critical method.

  19. Woody Jones says:

    It was in listening to a homily by the other bearded priest on EWTN, the excellent Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, involving his usual substantial exegesis of scripture, that I thought to myself, if we are supposed to read the Bible with the Church and in the sense in which the Church reads it, where will I go to obtain that knowledge or sense, in one easy to find place? I could not think of any, but perhaps others here will do so for me. There are of course very good and reliable scripture commentary sets, my favorite being the Navarre, of course, but also the Haydock D-R is good, and the Catena Aurea merits attention for sure. Nonetheless, these are “only” commentaries from individuals or groups. It seems that much of the Church’s teaching on scriptural meaning is kind of “buried” (maybe embedded is a better word) in other texts such as conciliar documents, papla encyclicals and homilies, etc.

    Would it not be better if there were a compendium of Church teaching on biblical interpretation, giving us an authoritative and accessible reference source for reading a particular passage or section in the sense of the Church?

    Naturally better minds than mine seem to be thinking the same thing, as I read the other day that our own ordinary here in Houston, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, suggested this at the synod. I do hope they will follow up on that, and quickly, given that the Roman authorities now should be basically reliable (bearing in mind the controversies over the wording, and then the translation, of the Catechism, and also recognizing that while there are doubts as to the Pontifical Biblical Institute’s approach, CDW and the Apartment will be good correctives).

  20. Scott says:

    Boko Fittleworth,

    Are you serious when you write: “Here’s what I’m saying: Benedict’s intervention is boring impotent romanitas that refuses to speak the truth that the emperor (the MSBS) has no clothes.” What’s your problem with “romanitas”? Is it your desire to go to an American fundamentalist reading of Scripture that is “pure?”

    Don’t just haul out Raymond Brown. He’s an easy target. Haven’t you read any other Catholic Biblical exegetes? Cf. Father Jean Carmignac, Madame Jacqueline Genot-Bismuth, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, Father Grelot, Father Rene Laurentin, to name only a few. Expand your mind and your reading list. Go beyond Ignatius Insight.

    I find it ironic that a fundie should object to “scientific” study of the Scriptures when Protestants are the ones who have deformed Scriptures almost into unrecognizability.

  21. Boko, you’ve got it right. Which of the Church fathers (Origen?) argued that the Bible is the property of the Church, so only Christians — not heretics — have a right to interpret scriptures. The problem is that, for the past half century or more, much leadership in scriptural studies has been left to “scholars” with mostly anti-Christian aims, and much of our catechetical establishment (as Midwest suggests) has not only bought their filthy stuff but passed it on to a couple of generations of Catholic children.

    And now there are those who ask why a majority of Catholic youth leave the Church when they leave home. When, with the implosion of both liturgy and religious education, the wonder is that so many stay.

    Midwest, your list omits my favorite pulpit example — That the real miracle of the loaves was that everyone was so generous in sharing the lunches they’d packed for the occasion. The last priest I heard float this one in a homily tried to make this more visually concrete by mentioning that in the well-known video “Jesus of Nazereth” you see the people pulling the loaves out from beneath their cloaks. Of course, this allegation is utterly false — the video includes no such scene. But I thought it the most amazing that, even if it did, the priest would have put the great director Franco Zeffirelli right up there with the odious Raymond Brown as a scriptural authority.

  22. Maureen says:

    It seems to me that a lot of the problem is the loss of a common foundation of thought. Christianity and deep familiarity with the Bible, yes. Also, in the past you wouldn’t set out to be even a Protestant theology student without studying and reading a lot of Latin, and very likely Greek. You should know a good chunk of the Fathers and the history of theology, either as an exegete or a theologian. Probably a good bit of history and archaeology, too. (Not as deeply as a historian or archaeologist, but people should at least be familiarized with what’s
    going on.)

    Beyond that, it seems clear to me that departments do need to run interdepartmental seminars or panel discussions or whatever. If people know that “this kind of info can be found here, over in the other field”, they will be more likely to reach for those books and journals when they’re doing research.

    Certainly blogs, Livejournals, and online stuff must help in this, if only by making broad searches possible and interesting new info more widely circulated.

  23. Ioannes Andreades says:

    “The stories of Christ’s birth are dubious HISTORY [my emphases].”

    Yes, I believe in the virgin birth (Luther believed as much), but that fact cannot be demonstrated sola scriptura. The books of the Bible, taken in isolation, as historical documents, are insufficient to convince historians of the fact of the virgin birth. That belief must be made through an act of faith within the Church. In our dealings with non-Christians we need to be very careful of our use of evidence. It would be ludicrous to approach non-believers and tell them, “Look, the Gospels tell of a virgin birth as prophesied by Isaiah and you should believe this because the Gospels are historically reliable documents.” The gospels cannot bear up to that kind of HISTORICAL scrutiny. Now does that mean that I agree with everything in Raymond Brown’s writing. No. I disagree with some of the methodology employed by Meier in “Marginal Jew” as well. My thoughts are much more consonant with Luke Timothy Johnson’s.

    + Early Christians understood themselves as a renewed Israel, not immediately as a new Israel.

    Am not sure I appreciate the nuance or how that would play out dogmatically.

    + We must nuance any statement which would have the HISTORICAL Jesus institute the Church or the priesthood at the Last Supper.

    Again, based on the New Testament books as historical documents, I would agree.

    + In the New Testament we are never told that the Eucharistic power was passed from the Twelve to missionary apostles to presbyter-bishops.

    This seems obvious. Isn’t this the kind of belief that comes from Tradition and not Scripture?

    + Only in the third and fourth century can one take for granted that when “priests” are mentioned, ministers of the Eucharist are meant.

    Based on historical evidence, trying to address an historical question, I agree in the problem of taking such a statement for granted before the third century, but hey, we’re pretty lucky to have third-century evidence at all!

    + The Twelve were neither missionaries or bishops.

    This statement strikes me as an overstatement historically. Peter, at least, certainly seems to have gotten around, as did John. I agree that the idea of a bishop as tied to a certain see is not reflected in historical documents at the earliest period.

    + Sacramental powers were given to the Christian Community in the persons of the Twelve. Or (Sacramental powers were given to the whole Christian community [not just to the “ordained” clergy]).

    Is this the correct wording?

    + Presbyter-bishops described in the New Testament are not traceable “in any way” to the successors of the Twelve.

    I’d like to know what Brown meant by “traceable”. Although there are instructions in some of the Pauline corpus about the qualifications and duties of this group, it certainly doesn’t indicate how authority within a community devolved upon them. Again, this is a Tradition rather than a Scripture isssue.

    + The episcopate gradually emerged, but can be defended “as divinely established by Christ” only if one says it emerged under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    I do think there was a transference of authority from Christ to the apostles. Much like the origins of Greek tragedy, the origins of the monarchical episcopacy are shrouded historically. Brown does seem to be abandoning the role of historian and entering the realm of theology. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say how Christ told his apostles to organize local communities, and even if it did, I am not sure those passages would submit successfully to historical scrutiny. It would seem historically clear, though, that St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. John established some authority in the communities they founded or visited, if for no other reason to setttle disputes. A more sober statement would have been, “The episcopate…can be defended ‘as divinely established by Christ’ only if one says we know this via tradition; the episcopate’s origin cannot be demonstrated historically through the earliest historical evidence.”

    + Peter cannot be looked upon as the Bishop of the early Roman Church community. Succession to his Church fell to the Bishop of Rome, the city where Peter died. However, that concentration of authority produces, says Brown, “difficulties such as those we are now encountering within Catholicism.”

    Even if we wouldn’t recognize the excercise of St. Peter’s authority in Rome as being that of a “bishop,” Peter clearly possessed apostolic power and enjoyed that authority wherever he went including Rome. Does St. Peter need to have been the first “Bishop of Rome” for the Holy Father to be his successor? The most reliable historical evidence is that St. Peter died in Rome, though this evidence is quiet about the entirety of his relationship to that city. There are questions of historical reliability with Irenaeus of Lyon. The Church should be careful in using him as historical evidence for St. Peter’s being Bishop of Rome.

    + Vatican II was “biblically naive” when it called Catholic bishops successors of the Apostles.

    If Vatican II made that statement purely based on Biblical evidence, Brown is right.

    + The virginal conception of Jesus is an unresolved HISTORICAL problem.

    This strikes me as a statement about the condition of Biblical scholarship, where the problem is certainly unresolved.

    + Any idea that Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper must be “nuanced.”

    This statement should be nuanced as well, and I having read a fair amount of Brown, I assume this is a precis of a much more developed argument, where “instituted” and “Eucharist” are more adequately explained. Certainly, Tradition has a role to play in this question, an idea that Brown apparently admits by calling for additional nuance. Some scholars say that since John’s Gospel does the best job of holding up to questions of historical reliability compared to the other Gospels, and since John’s Gospel is silent about the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the other Gospels are suspsect. Luke’s is the only Gospel in which Jesus tells the apostles, “Do this in memory of me,” though this is found in 1 Corinthians as well. Reading John’s Gospel in the context of the book of Revelation (i.e. being washed clean by the blood of the Lamb), the apparent silence of John’s Gospel re: the Eucharist has been made too much of by Biblical scholars. I don’t remember if Brown falls into this camp.

  24. Boko says:

    “Go beyond Ignatius Insight” is precisely the kind of mau-mauing Brown and his followers used to shout down and discredit opposition. II (which I don’t read; I soured on Fessio when he got involved with Thomas Monaghan) is popular and not “scholarly” enough. I’ve read some stuff by and on Fitz and Laurentin (whose involvement in Medjugorie is a turn-off). The current First Things has a book review of Fitz’s latest. It’s the same rubbish. He manipulates a definition, making it narrower, to exclude some Church teaching from having Biblical warrant, then casts doubts on the historicity of the Scripture that supports even his narrow definition.

    That “Go beyond Ignatius Insight” line really bothers me. I learned what I’ve mostly forgotten years ago, from books and graduate work, long before Ignatius Insight existed. I’m sick of you people who tell us lay dabblers to shut up while the polymaths deconstruct and dismiss the Faith. Maybe I didn’t read this guy or learn that language, but I know enough to accept the the Church’s teaching on the innerrancy Scripture over some jerk screaming “fundie!” or some egghead lisping, “Oh, but you’ve got to understand the NUances” that nuance the Faith completely away.

  25. Scott says:

    Boko, you’re a fundamentalist moron. Read “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.” Learn from it.

  26. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Scott,
    does that part of the Bible about God choosing the lowly and foolish of this world to shame the “wise” still have any meaning for us moderns?

  27. dcs says:

    Here is some of what “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” has to say about “fundamentalism”:

    In what concerns the Gospels, fundamentalism does not take into account the development of the Gospel tradition, but naively confuses the final stage of this tradition (what the evangelists have written) with the initial (the words and deeds of the historical Jesus). At the same time fundamentalism neglects an important fact: The way in which the first Christian communities themselves understood the impact produced by Jesus of Nazareth and his message. But it is precisely there that we find a witness to the apostolic origin of the Christian faith and its direct expression. Fundamentalism thus misrepresents the call voiced by the Gospel itself.

    I don’t know what one can say in response to this other than “ugh.” Really – fundamentalists confuse what the Evangelists have written with the actual words and deeds of Our Lord? If we can’t trust the Evangelists, inspired by the Holy Ghost, to report Our Lord’s words and deeds accurately then what can we trust?

  28. Origen Adamantius says:

    Woody Jones, THe Church cannot issue a specific compendium on how to interpret specific passages of scripture for several reasons: (1) historically very few passages have been given a specifically magisterially defined reading; (2) any present compendium would by its very nature fail to include the ongoing appreciation and depth of the Church’s encounter with scripture. What we do have are guideposts for interpreting scripture; i.e. the creeds, doctrinal teachings of the church, and liturgy.

    Boko, one cannot pretend questions are not raised by honest critical investigations (and dishonest ones) and refuse to answer them; rather modern answers need to be addressed, if one believes in the value of truth and reason; that said many have fallen not the trap of accepting uncritical presuppositions of rationalism rather than truly addressing questions in light of informed reason. Nuances are important. The bible does claim virginity of Mary up to the birth of Christ, but does not make explicit reference to her being a virgin afterwards. This does not she was not perpetual virgin but points to the need for a wider context of reading the scriptures within the Church’s tradition. If we do not know or own faith and its rootedness we can’t truly share it.

    Our knowledge of history has grown of the ANE has grown in the last 25 years, that knowledge has been helpful both in properly interpreting passages in scripture and in refuting historically and philosophically malformed views of the so-called “Jesus of History.” To deny the need for history and historical studies ultimately would lead to a denial of the incarnation and /or the connection of reason to faith.

  29. Scott says:

    Piers Ploughman,

    Boko said he’d been to graduate school – that qualifies him as one of the “wise.” Guess he’s able to get through “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.” He just doesn’t want to.

    And if you want to quote from it, dcs, how about these paragraphs:

    Finally, in its attachment to the principle ‘Scripture alone,’ fundamentalism separates the interpretation of the Bible from the tradition, which, guided by the Spirit, has authentically developed in union with Scripture in the heart of the community of faith. It fails to realize that the New Testament took form within the Christian church and that it is the Holy Scripture of this church, the existence of which preceded the composition of the texts. Because of this, fundamentalism is often anti-church, it considers of little importance the creeds, the doctrines and liturgical practices which have become part of church tradition, as well as the teaching function of the church itself. It presents itself as a form of private interpretation which does not acknowledge that the church is founded on the Bible and draws its life and inspiration from Scripture.

    “The fundamentalist approach is dangerous, for it is attractive to people who look to the Bible for ready answers to the problems of life. It can deceive these people, offering them interpretations that are pious but illusory, instead of telling them that the Bible does not necessarily contain an immediate answer to each and every problem. Without saying as much in so many words, fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide. It injects into life a false certitude, for it unwittingly confuses the divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations.”

  30. Origen Adamantius says:

    dcs, THe gospels authors were not simple stenographers, but interpreters of Jesus– offering a Sprit guide interpretation of the events–that is to say, The collection of material about Jesus was not ordered in a simple chronology but was ordered so that the words and events of Jesus can be seen in their full meaning. When people retell events they do not do it in a neutral way but reflect a viewpoint; in this case the viewpoint of people who believed in Jesus (not everyone did) and who wrote inspired by the Spirit (not everyone did-see the gnostic literature). What the document is getting at is that the message of JHesus comes through the CHurch, scripture is not simply an account of Jesus apart from the Church.

  31. dcs says:

    What the document is getting at is that the message of JHesus comes through the CHurch, scripture is not simply an account of Jesus apart from the Church.

    I accept that, but there are better ways of saying it – like, perhaps, “the words and deeds of Our Lord recorded in the Gospels are not the total sum of Christian teaching.” I’m not quite sure how to take a document that casts doubt on the things that Catholic exegetes were required to hold (for example, that Moses was the substantial author of the Scriptural books that bear his name) not even 100 years prior, especially considering that the PBC was part of the Magisterium under St. Pius X, but isn’t today and hasn’t been since the late 1960s.

  32. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Scott,
    maybe Boko has been to graduate school but otoh he was pronounced a “moron” publicly; perhaps then his view might have more divine favor than some realize.

    Nuances are like fire, guns and many other things which are neutral themselves but can be used for good or bad purposes.
    I haven’t been to graduate school but the apparent premises here make me uneasy, that somehow we can know better about Christ by trusting scholarship of the last 100 years or so than by trusting the Church’s tradition and Bible. By what logic can we trust these authorities who are even further from the events and obviously carry no stamp of infallibility?

    One example above: the Church has held in the Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity. Any “evidence” against this teaching—by what logic can we trust it? How can today’s scholars disprove this? Why would scholars debate this? To really “get it right so we’re not fundie fools” or because it’s the first step on the long journey to denying the physical resurrection?

    If the “Fundamentalist” approach is dangerous, so is the intellectual approach. Either can be perverted sometimes grossly.

  33. Origen Adamantius says:

    dcs: The PBC declarations of authorship in the 1920’s-1940’s were meant as pastoral decisions and not doctrinal decisions ( see how Pope Benedict responds to questions of authorship in his Wednesday addresses on the different evangelists) They were attempts to forestall further confusion in a time of direct onslaught by Modernist, rationalists and empiricists, who along with their anti-church positions used authorship questions to challenge biblical inspiration. THe authorship questions are real, how they were used was problematic.

  34. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Clearly, many of Boko’s comments reflect valid concerns, and he’s clearly not a moron. There are a lot of Biblical scholars whose methods are so untenable that one certainly wonders about their objectivity. I think my bone of contention is that sometimes theologians and even prelates make essentially historical arguments from the Bible without understanding valid historical concerns and methodology. Similarly, many Biblical scholars make philosophical and theological claims that go beyond their competence as historians and literary critics.

  35. Scott says:

    Piers Ploughman,

    Look, I shouldn’t have been so snotty about Boko, but his blanket sneer about Pope Benedict and Romanitas, as though the Pope is a mere time-serving, curial functionary, less interested in the Gospel than in feathering his nest, really set me off. And what IS up with “romanitas”? That sounds like the usual evangelical pejorative against Catholicism.

    Anyway, of course one has to go against the excesses of both historical-criticism and a fundamentalist view. There’s plenty in the Bible one has to take on faith, but one also has see “the subsistence of the one Church in the concrete form of the Catholic Church through the eyes of faith” as well (Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ecclesiology of the Church, Lumen Gentium).

    I’m not saying education makes one better able to understand or more faithful by itself. There are plenty of saints who are evidence against that. But for those who are so inclined, historical-critical scholarship, as well as the study of types, antitypes, allegory, symbolism, etc., are fruitful ways of exploring the Scriptures.

  36. Jordanes says:

    “Fundamentalist moron”? How can we take seriously the arguments (such as they are) of anyone who resorts to such anti-intellectual, uncharitable, and juvenile name-calling?

    It also doesn’t help one’s case when an opponent of “fundamentalism” takes a “fundamentalistic” approach to the non-magisterial advisory text, “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.” Catholics should look for guidance in these matters to the Church, to the apostolic tradition and the Church Fathers, and not give PBC documents greater authority than the Church gives them.

    DCS, good catch on the erroneous distinction between what Jesus said and did and what the Holy Spirit inerrantly inspired the Gospel writers to say Jesus said and did. Such a distinction is at the very least in tension, if not in open conflict, with what the Church dogmatically asserted at Vatican II:

    “Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven.” (Dei Verbum 19)

  37. Jordanes says:

    Okay, I wrote my post before I saw Scott’s latest post. I’m glad he’s toning it down, so I will too.

  38. Jordanes says:

    Origen Adamantius said: The PBC declarations of authorship in the 1920’s-1940’s were meant as pastoral decisions and not doctrinal decisions

    That interpretation just isn’t convincing. The PBC then was an arm of the Magisterium, and its responses weren’t meant merely as pastoral discipline, but as faithful, truthful answers to questions about various aspects of Catholic faith and tradition. Anyway, the Second Vatican Council authoritatively reaffirmed the unanimous tradition of the Fathers regarding the authorship of the Gospels in Dei Verbum 18 (cf. the footnote citation of St. Irenaeus’ famouse passage about who wrote the Gospels).

  39. Boko says:

    Thank you, Ioannes. I think we are largely in agreement. We need to avoid two extremes. We cannot “proof-text,” pretending that Scripture presents in full certain doctrines such as, say, the Assumption. That is intellectua laziness and bibliolatry. But we also cannot conclude, from the lack of explicit detail in Scripture, that doctrines of the Church are therefore untrue or suspect. I acknowledge and celebrate the nuances and depths and multiplicity of meanings in Holy Writ. What I’m on my high horse about is the deliberate nuancing away of truths of the faith by scholars who answer objections with sneers about “fundamentalists” and anti-intellectualism. This is not scholarship; it is the opposite of intellectual discourse: the shouting down of opponents.

    My problem with the PBC document (which I’ve read more than once-my mommy helped me with the hard words) and with BXVI’s intervention is that, while they admirably try to find the good in recent scholarship, they shy away from publicly stating the historical fact that there has been a deliberate attempt, since von Bismark’s Kulturkampf of the 1870s, to undermine and deny the truths of the Catholic faith. Some biblical scholars are not arguing in good faith, and I would like to see this recognized, to see the faithful cautioned about this, and directed toward sound biblical scholarship done ex corde ecclesia. We also need to realize, and to be told by our betters, that many of the assumptions that underlie modern biblical criticism (late dating, authorial suppositions, the chronological order of the Gospels, JEPD, Q, &c) are unproven, are questionable at best, and originated as deliberate attacks on the Catholic Church and Faith. We must reject the hermeneutic of suspicion, and also reject, and this is what I have been trying to get at, the notion that such a rejection is de facto a rejection of openness to nuance, scholarship, and a deeper understanding of Scripture.

    I would also add that “inerrancy” means something, and the question as to what it means is not answered by what Joe Biden would call the “epitaph,” and what we would call the epithet-“fundamentalist.”

  40. Scott says:

    Jordanes,

    Yeah, you should “take it down.” Especially the “fundamentalist” part. I never said “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” was a “magisterial” document. It does state very well the hazards of fundamentalism, however, and the Church has been insistent on it. Please read: Dei Filius (Vatican I), Divino afflante spiritu (Pius XII), Dei Verbum (Vatican II), Liturgiam authenticam (2001).

  41. Jordanes says:

    Scott said: Yeah, you should “take it down.” Especially the “fundamentalist” part. I never said “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” was a “magisterial” document.

    Fair enough. I was just responding to your seeming to refer to it as some kind of authoritative decree of the Church. The PBC hasn’t issued an authoritative, magisterial document since its 1964 on the study of the Gospels, when it was still an arm of the Magisterium.

    It does state very well the hazards of fundamentalism, however,

    I disagree. It does state hazards of fundamentalism, but I don’t think it does all that good a job of doing so. In fact it doesn’t clearly, or all that accurately, defines “fundamentalism,” which has always kind of annoyed me. Just too broad-brushy there.

    Please read: Dei Filius (Vatican I), Divino afflante spiritu (Pius XII), Dei Verbum (Vatican II), Liturgiam authenticam (2001).

    Already have, thanks. Here are a couple other must-reads: Providentissimus Deus (Leo XIII), which was cited numerous times in Dei Verbum, and Spiritus Paraclitus (Benedict XV).

  42. Scott says:

    “Jordanes,”

    I’m used to hearing fundamentalists use the term “broad-brush” when they’re called out on their fundamentalism. In point of fact, Biblical fundamentalism can be condemned for its alienation from the tradition of the Church, including the liturgical tradition, as well as its acknowledgement of various hermeneutical positions of one kind of another present in various locales or people.

    Fundamentalism, to put it bluntly, is crude and naive. The Catholic Church is right to insist that fundamentalism is ideological and simplistic. It’s unsophisticated. Even the texts you cite (PD and SP) were written before the historical-critical method had achieved wide currency in the Church.

    No one is saying that we must tolerate abuse of the historical-critical method. But you can’t just trot out Raymond Brown (citing no one else) and declare that this method is dead.

    Moreover, it’s fine to be a “magisterial fundamentalist,” but you must realize that there is life beyond the borders of magisterial teaching. These borders are there as boundaries, but inside the boundaries exegetes and theologians tend to their labors and have a part to play, while respecting those boundaries. You can play sentry all you want, but why don’t you stop looking down your nose at those who want to explore, legitimately, the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3.8).

  43. Larry says:

    Boko,

    Your defense of the Faith is laudable even if you are a bit narrow in you understanding. Do not get me wrong there are mountains of problems with most of the experts who have been published over the past 30 or 40 years by those who claim to be Catholic. But the problem goes back further; back at least 100 to 150 years ago and to our separated brethern who were struggling to make their protestations more biblical. But there have also been those who have come to the Church over the past few years and have brought good insights based on the Historical Critical Method and a heavy reliance on the Fathers of the Church. They may not be experts but they are on the right track. Two of these are Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavins both of whom have excellent programs in Bibilical studies that are very accessable. While Fr. Brown has an enormous volume of work and much of it has serious flaws there are elements that are useful and I believe it is this that the Holy Father is praising. It must be remembered that there are elements of St. Thomas Aquinas work that are deeply flawed, and St. Augustine too has not a few mistakes. None the less they are both Doctors of the Church and Canonized Saints so let’s not throw the baby out wtih the bathwater. While it is true that God reveals to the “little ones” He does not therefore cast the scholars on the ash heap of Hell and neither should we. Not everything that is proposed by theologians or exegetes is meant for public discussion; but, sadly much of what is meant to be discuused among scholars until the errors are corrected has instead been spread out for public consumption. Then Cardinal Ratzinger deplored this fact years ago and I don’t think his opinion has changed. Of greatest concern is the sad fact that many priests looking for”excitement” to enliven their homilies have picked up these radical notions and spread them from the pulpit. In point of fact many of our priests are using material that has already been rejected by the Protestant community which discovered how flawed it is. So pray for the Bishops and our priests. Pray that this Synod will bring greater clarity and understanding among those who are charged to Teach with authority what God has revealed.

  44. Jordanes says:

    “Scott,” you sure are quick to brand people “fundamentalists,” aren’t you. How about you actually interact with the statements of those with whom you disagree instead of looking down your nose at those who want to explore, legitimately, the “unsearchable riches of Christ”?

    I’m used to hearing fundamentalists use the term “broad-brush” when they’re called out on their fundamentalism.

    I guess it’s easier to insinuate that someone who criticizes the PBC’s inadequate account of the errors of biblical fundamentalism is himself a fundamentalist than it is to consider whether or not that critic might have a point. The way you jump to conclusions in the absence of evidence, I must your spirit of intellectual inquiry needs some shoring up.

    In point of fact, Biblical fundamentalism can be condemned for its alienation from the tradition of the Church, including the liturgical tradition,

    Yep. But of course there are others who criticise or dismiss the biblical tradition of the Church as “fundamentalism.”

    Fundamentalism, to put it bluntly, is crude and naive. The Catholic Church is right to insist that fundamentalism is ideological and simplistic. It’s unsophisticated. Even the texts you cite (PD and SP) were written before the historical-critical method had achieved wide currency in the Church.

    Yes, that’s why they’re so, well, Catholic. They’re certainly not unsophisticated, crude and naïve, or ideological and simplistic, though they probably fit the bill for what the late Father Brown would have called fundamentalism.

    No one is saying that we must tolerate abuse of the historical-critical method. But you can’t just trot out Raymond Brown (citing no one else) and declare that this method is dead.

    Okay. I don’t recall ever saying the method is dead. Frequently abused, there’s no denying that, and there’s plenty of nonsense in the New Jerome commentary. The introductory essays and footnotes of the NAB are usually best ignored.

    If you want some other talented and premier exegetes whose output sometimes has to be taken with a healthy helping of salt, I’d mention Fr. Joseph Fitzmeyer, Fr. John Mackenzie, and Fr. John P. Meier. All stellar scholars, and all of them offering historico-critical speculations at one time or another that Catholics would do just as well to take a pass on.

    Moreover, it’s fine to be a “magisterial fundamentalist,”

    Hey now, don’t blame me for agreeing with what the Magisterium of the Church says about the Bible. That’s just what we Catholics do. ;-)

    but you must realize that there is life beyond the borders of magisterial teaching.

    “Beyond the borders of magisterial teaching”? Couldn’t that also be phrased “not in accordance with Catholic teaching”?

  45. Darren says:

    The integration of exegesis and theology is what draws me to writers from Eastern Christian traditions, who seem to be fed on this relationship from the breast. The best writers in Western traditions have this, too, but this way of thinking seems to be more consistently present in the Christian East.

  46. Pat says:

    Just a thought – if you post more than 5 times in a comment thread maybe it is time for you to set up your own blog.

    Is this the kind of back and forth you would engage in if sitting across the dinner table – if not consider the art of self-editing.

  47. Scott says:

    “Jordanes,”

    Some Catholics need absolute certainty above all else. They cannot tolerate any shadow of doubt or any grey areas or any scholarly debate. You appear to fit this category. So do Protestant fundamentalists. They tend to cling to the five “fundamentals,” or “magisterial teaching” but ignore everything else. This doesn’t make them better Christians or better Catholics. IT doesn’t mean they respect the Magisterium more than Biblical exegetes or theologians who explore the meaning of Scripture.

    No doubt many theologians and Biblical scholars go astray. Raymond Brown is the usual suspect, but Archbishop Bruno Forte is another. You can quibble about the output of practically every scholar who has published anything. What have you published? Are you an expert in Biblical studies or any of the divisions of theology? Or are you just an expert in fault finding? While Brown and Forte are probably two of the most egregious, I highly doubt that Fitzmyer deserves your contempt; even Meier deserves better. The only scholarship that would be published under your rubric would be on the level of Scott Hahn (who generally works his own theology, which I might add is very suspect, into his books), who is a generalist, or any of the so-called “apologists,” who usually repeat what they’ve read in the Catechism. It might be minimally useful, but why not just read the Catechism?

  48. Boko says:

    Oh, Pat didn’t kill this thread? Great, I’ve been enjoying this. Scott, there’s a difference between making mistakes in the pursuit of truth and deliberately undermining the faith. Just because we’re not open to dissent and lies doesn’t mean we’re not open to new and deeper understanding of Scripture. Conflating the two is a cheap tactic that should be beneath you, even if it wasn’t beneath Fr. Brown.

  49. Jordanes says:

    “Scott,”

    How come my Christian name gets scarequotes, but Boko Fittleworth’s screenname doesn’t? Surely you don’t think the world of Wodehouse is reality?

    Some Catholics need absolute certainty above all else. They cannot tolerate any shadow of doubt or any grey areas or any scholarly debate. You appear to fit this category.

    You’re hilarious, Scott. You respond to my observation that your comments indicate that you’re not really interested in intellectual discourse by suggesting that I cannot tolerate scholarly debate. If I can’t tolerate scholarly debate, why am I trying to get you to
    engage in it instead of playing “Pin the fundamentalist tail on the orthodox Catholic”? Again I say, how about you actually interact with the statements of those with whom you disagree?

    So do Protestant fundamentalists.

    Oh brother. Next thing we know, I’m going to be placed in giant scales and found to weigh the same as a duck.

    They tend to cling to the five “fundamentals,” or “magisterial teaching” but ignore everything else.

    As opposed to those for whom magisterial teaching poses not constraits on their hypotheses about what a given text of Holy Scripture means.

    This doesn’t make them better Christians or better Catholics.

    No, not necessarily.

    IT doesn’t mean they respect the Magisterium more than Biblical exegetes or theologians who explore the meaning of Scripture.

    It does when the exegetes speculations and assertions fly in face of what the Church believes.

    No doubt many theologians and Biblical scholars go astray. Raymond Brown is the usual suspect, but Archbishop Bruno Forte is another.

    Yeah, he’s also gone astray quite a bit.

    You can quibble about the output of practically every scholar who has published anything.

    I don’t regard it as quibbling when one has spotted a doctrinal or even simply a historical error in a scholar’s publications, or when one notices that the scholar offers interesting theories that run up against the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

    What have you published? Are you an expert in Biblical studies or any of the divisions of theology? Or are you just an expert in fault finding?

    I’m pretty good at fault finding. But I’d rather not talk about my own papers, as they’re really not very good.

    Anyway, it doesn’t take an expert in biblical studies or theology to notice when a scholar contradicts what the Church believes.

    While Brown and Forte are probably two of the most egregious, I highly doubt that Fitzmyer deserves your contempt; even Meier deserves better.

    Contempt is your word, not mine. I think Fr. Fitzmyer and Fr. Meier are gifted scholars, among the top experts in their field — and fallible men who have at times offered us erroneous scholarship. It is because of my respect for them that I find fault with them when they go against the faith.

    The only scholarship that would be published under your rubric would be on the level of Scott Hahn (who generally works his own theology, which I might add is very suspect, into his books)

    Dr. Hahn is pretty good, all in all, but he’s got his weak spots, like his advocacy of the “Great Whore of Babylon = Jerusalem” speculation.

  50. mpm says:

    Lots of interesting posts on this thread. But, it strikes me that Benedict XVI was
    addressing a practical, pastoral concern that is related, but different than, that
    of biblical scholarship. He mentions the need to provide resources to priests so that
    they can prepare better homilies. I’ve known a number of solid parish priests who were
    ordained in the last 10 years or so, who feel rather intimidated when it comes to preaching
    precisely because they do not possess all the specialized knowledge available to biblical
    scholars, and are afraid to mislead people.

    Re: fundamentalism. When I read the PBC document “abhoring” the fundamentalist reading
    of the Scriptures, alongside their “acknowledgement” of what they think of as the legi-
    timacy of feminism and “liberation theology” as hermeneutics of Scripture, I realized
    there was a “political” agenda embedded in it.

    As an individual Catholic, it seems perfectly OK for me to read the Scriptures with a
    “fundamentalist” approach, for purposes of personal prayer and edification. What else
    am I to do? The Evangelists didn’t leave behind a list of approved interpretive scholars
    for me to read (also). I know, that’s the role of the Fathers and Magisterium of the
    Church. So, there is the CCC.

    How many of the Fathers’ works are available in (modern) vernacular translations and
    at a reasonable cost?

    With the pastoral concern expressed by the Pope in mind I will be interested to see
    what the “work product” of this Synod will be.

  51. Scott says:

    mpm,

    Go to “New Advent.” They have a section for the “Church Fathers”. There are a great number of works you can download for free.

  52. Scott says:

    Jordanes,

    Your great fear of fallible men leads you to the dictatorship of the self. You are left alone with your own readings, which are neither more or less approved than theirs. That’s Protestantism. Every man his own Ppope.

  53. Jordanes says:

    That’s it then, Scott. You’re incapable or unwilling (or incapable because unwilling) to engage in rational discourse, but prefer diagnosis. First you suggest I’m a fundamentalist, and now you say I’m a Protestant, when a few moments ago you were critical of my submission to magisterial teaching on the Bible. There can be no reasonable expectation that you’re going to offer something substantive and pertinent, so I’m done.

  54. Michael J says:

    Scott,

    Would you mind citing an example of a case where the historical-critical method has proved to be a fruitful way of exploring the Scriptures? I am not saying that these exaples do not exist; it is just that I am unfamillar with any cases where the historical-critical method has led to an improved (when compared to other methods) understanding of Scripture. On the other hand, it seems to be relatively easy to find cases where the method (or the scholars who use it) has led to a erroneous and even heretical interpretation.