Posts Tagged ‘Biblical exegesis’

La Crise Moderniste

July 18, 2010

 

La crise moderniste apporte à notre esprit deux grands savants: Alfred Loisy et Georges Tyrrell. Nous pouvons voir quel était le problème: celui de la relation entre l’histoire et la tradition. L’Eglise nous enseigne que la tradition est ancrée dans l’histoire. Le christianisme est une révélation historique. Nous ne pouvons pas oublier la dimension historique de la révélation chrétienne. Nous développerons ce point plus tard.

Principales erreurs:

(1) L’existence de Dieu ne peut pas être connue et prouvée par la raison naturelle; (2) signes extérieurs de la Révélation, comme les miracles et les prophéties, ne prouvent l’origine divine de la religion chrétienne et ne sont pas adaptés à l’intelligence de l’homme moderne; (3) Le Christ n’a pas fondé une Eglise;
(4) et la structure essentielle de l’Église peut changer; (5) les dogmes de l’Eglise continuellement évoluent au fil du temps afin qu’ils puissent changer d’un sens à une autre signification; (6) la foi est un aveugle sentiment religieux qui jaillit de l’inconscient dans le cadre de l’impulsion du cœur et une volonté formés à la morale, et non pas un assentiment réel de l’intelligence à la vérité divine appris par elle d’une audience source externe.
Contexte.
L’hérésie du modernisme a été inspirée par les tendances courantes dans le protestantisme libéral et de la philosophie laïque. Il a été influencé par études du dix-neuvième siècle par Kant et Hegel, par protestante libérale des théologiens et des critiques bibliques (comme Schleiermacher et von Harnack), par les théories évolutionnistes de Darwin, et par certains mouvements politiques liberals en Europe. Les centres du modernisme ont été en France, en Angleterre, en Italie et en Allemagne. Deux de ses grandes figures ont été M.l’Abbé Alfred Loisy, théologien français et spécialiste des Ecritures, et 
George Tyrrell, un protestant d’origine irlandaise qui devint catholique et un jésuite, mais il a été rejeté par les jésuites en 1906.
L’hérésie:
Le pape Pie X a surnommé modernisme “la synthèse de toutes les hérésies.”  Modernistes vu doctrine non comme un moyen d’obtenir surnaturel connaissances, mais comme un symbole d’une réalité inconnaissable ultime ou comme un symbole de l’expression religieuse de l’homme. Parce qu’ils ne contiennent pas une véritable connaissance du surnaturel, dogmes théologiques sont relatives et peuvent adopter ou rejeter selon qu’ils exercent pouvoir sur l’imagination des gens. Les dogmes que l’on trouve productive à des sentiments religieux des gens sont admis, alors abandonnés quand ils ne se trouvent plus satisfaisants. Les dogmes peuvent ainsi changer avec le temps, soit être complètement rejetés ou réinterprétés et donné un sens différent de ce qu’ils avaient à l’origine.
Depuis dogmes ne nous donnent pas la connaissance du surnaturel et la religion est mieux considérée comme une expression de la religion de l’homme aspirations, pas de véritable connaissance objective de Dieu est possible.
Arguments intellectuels en faveur de son existence sont inutiles, comme le sont arguments fondés sur les miracles ou prophéties accomplies. Dans le moderniste point de vue, la connaissance que nous pouvons avoir de Dieu est subjective, dans individuels expériences religieuses (qui sont obligatoires pour ceux qui
les recevoient).
Puisque Dieu se trouve principalement ou exclusivement dans le cœur humain, en expérience subjective-il est profondément immanente dans le monde.
Le modernisme a une tendance à panthéisme (la doctrine selon laquelle Dieu est 
identique avec le monde ou une partie de celui-ci), en insistant sur son immanence au détriment de sa transcendance.
Parce que la théologie ne nous donne pas la connaissance du surnaturel, l’Ecriture est le mieux perçue comme une expression de profonde religieuses expérience avait par ses auteurs, mais pas comme un guide sûr à une connaissance de Dieu et ses voies. L’Écriture n’est pas exempte de l’erreur humaine et contient beaucoup symboles et du mythe. Comme elle est historiquement
fiable et fondée sur le sentiment religieux de l’homme, il existe un écart entre ce qu’il dossiers et ce qui a effectivement eu lieu.
Cet écart signifie qu’il ya une grande différence entre le glorieux
Christ, l’Église proclame (le Christ de la foi) et l’homme Jésus
qui marchait sur les collines d’Israël (le Jésus de l’histoire). Jésus n’a pas su (du moins pour certains) qu’il était le Messie ou Dieu incarné. Il n’avait pas l’intention de fonder une Eglise. Il ne donne pas la terre leadership de l’Église sur Pierre. Sauf pour le baptême et la Cène du Seigneur, le Christ n’a pas engagé de toute sacrements, et même ceux-ci ont été fortement influencés par la réflexion théologique chrétienne.
Compte tenu du fait que les dogmes théologiques sont relatifs, tous les confessions chrétiennes sont à égalité avec l’Église catholique. Même religions non-chrétiennes sont des expressions valides de l’homme religieux aspirations. Il s’ensuit que l’Église ne devrait pas avoir spéciales relations avec l’Etat et que l’État n’a aucune obligation de respecter et de promouvoir la vraie religion. Au lieu de reconnaître ouvertement que le pouvoir de l’État vient de Dieu (Romains 13:1) par Jésus-Christ (Matthieu 28:18), l’État devrait être indifférent à toutes les religions et pour les personnes sans religion.
Réponse Orthodoxe:
Bien que les revendications principales modernistes avaient déjà été censurées par Pie IX (1864) or infallibly condemned by the First” nmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”><Syllabus De Errors> (1864) ou infailliblement condamné par le Premier
Concile Vatican II (1870), dont le statut d’un concile œcuménique a été
contestée par de nombreux modernistes, il a été nécessaire pour le Magistère
prendre de nouvelles mesures.

En Décembre 1903, le pape Pie X a approuvé un décret du Saint-Office
qui a placé cinq des œuvres Loisy sur l’Index des livres interdits.
Travaux par d’autres auteurs modernistes ont été mis à l’index ainsi.

,” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>En Juin 1907, le Saint-Office a publié un décret intitulé <Lamentabili>,
qui a condamné 65 propositions modernistes. Le pape Pie X a ajouté son
censure à ce document, chaque déclarant et toutes les erreurs à
condamnée et proscrite.

En Septembre le Pape a publié l’encyclique <Pascendi Dominici
, which further condemned Modernism.” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>Gregis>, qui a en outre condamné le modernisme. En Novembre, il a publié
, which bound Catholics” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>un motu proprio intitulé <Praestantia Scripturae>, que les catholiques liés
dans la conscience d’embrasser les décisions de la Bible Pontifical
Commission et a imposé la peine de l’excommunication de ceux qui
or .” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>contredite <Lamentabili> ou <Pascendi>.

dirigeants moderniste a commencé à être excommunié. Tyrrell a été
excommunié en 1907 et Loisy en 1908.

En Septembre 1910 Pie X a publié un serment contre le modernisme, qui
tous les clercs devant le sous-diaconat, les confesseurs, les prédicateurs, pasteurs,
canons, benifice-titulaires, les professeurs de séminaire, les fonctionnaires romains
congrégations et curies épiscopales, et les supérieurs religieux ont été
tenus de prendre.

Ce serment prescrit une de rejeter les six principales erreurs énumérées
and , and to” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>ci-dessus, d’affirmer et de sanction de la <Lamentabili> et <Pascendi>, et à
rejeter une variété d’autres erreurs, en particulier ceux doctrine adverse
et l’histoire (comme la différence entre le Christ de la foi et
le Jésus de l’histoire). Seulement 40 prêtres dans le monde entier a refusé de
prêter le serment anti-moderniste, qui a mis fin le moderniste
crise à court terme.

Tyrrell est mort en 1909, privant le mouvement d’un de ses centrales
piliers. En mourant il a reçu une absolution conditionnelle
(Sous condition de son mental rétracter ses erreurs, il était trop malade pour
parler) et l’extrême-onction. Son ami et partisan, Miss Maude
Petre, qui prenait soin de son comme il est mort, a refusé de prendre les
anti-moderniste serment et a été interdit de les sacrements, mais pas
formellement excommuniés. Loisy est décédé en 1940.

Dans le milieu du siècle, un brin de modernisme percé
les écrits du P.. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, conduisant au pape Pie
” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>XII 1950 encyclique <Humanae Generis.>

Parallels moderne:

À la suite de Vatican II, l’index et le serment anti-moderniste ont été
supprimé (en 1966 et 1967, respectivement). Le modernisme est réapparu
sous l’influence des théologiens et des auteurs comme Hans Kung,
Edward Schillebeeckx, et Charles Curran. Ces clercs contesté
infaillibilité papale et scripturaire, rejeté catholique enseignements moraux
(Comme sur la contraception), et a commencé à promouvoir des idées telles que
l’ordination des femmes à la prêtrise. Au fil du temps, ces personnes
ont été censurés par l’Église et interdit de se présenter
que les théologiens catholiques.

En réponse à la crise du néo-moderniste, le pape Jean Paul II, délivré en
, the first Church-wide” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>1992, le <Catechism de l’Church> catholique, la première église à l’échelle
catéchisme en quatre cents années. En 1993, il a publié l’encyclique
to correct errors in Catholic moral teaching.” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”><Veritatis Splendor> pour corriger des erreurs dans l’enseignement moral catholique. Dans
, definitively rejecting the” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>1994, il a émis <Ordinatio Sacerdotalis>, rejetant définitivement l’
idée de l’ordination des femmes. Il est dit prépare une encyclique
sur la moralité sexuelle, qui devrait réaffirmer l’enseignement donné dans
.” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>Vitae> <Humanae.

           )” onmouseout=”this.style.backgroundColor=’#fff'”>Erreurs modernistes (issue de <LAMENTABILI>)

4. Le magistère de l’Église, même par des définitions dogmatiques,
ne peut pas déterminer le véritable sens des Ecritures sacrées.

5. Comme, dans le dépôt de la foi que les vérités révélées sont contenues,
en aucun respect est-il relié à l’Église de porter un jugement sur la
assertions des sciences humaines.

7. Quand l’Église proscrit des erreurs, elle ne peut exiger aucune internes
assentiment des fidèles par lequel les jugements sont publiés par son
embrassé.

11. L’inspiration divine ne pas s’étendre à toute l’Écriture sacrée, si
qu’il fortifie chaque et toute partie de celui-ci contre toute erreur.

14. Dans de nombreux récits les auteurs des Evangiles ne concernent pas tant ce qui est
vrai, comme ce qu’ils pensaient être plus profitable pour le lecteur,
Bien que fausse.

18. John, en effet, les revendications pour lui-même le caractère d’un témoin oculaire
concernant le Christ, mais en réalité il n’est rien mais une distinction
témoin de la vie chrétienne ou de la vie de l’Eglise chrétienne
à la fin du premier siècle.

25. L’assentiment de foi repose en définitive sur une accumulation de
probabilités.

27. La divinité de Jésus-Christ n’est pas prouvé par les Évangiles, mais
est un dogme que la conscience chrétienne a déduit de la notion
du Messie.

28. Quand Jésus a exercé son ministère, il ne parlait pas avec les
but de l’enseignement qu’il était le Messie, ni ses miracles
ont pour but de le prouver.

29. On peut admettre que le Christ que l’histoire présente est loin
inférieur au Christ qui est l’objet de la foi.

35. Christ n’a pas toujours eu la conscience de sa messianique
la dignité.

36. La résurrection du Sauveur n’est pas proprement un fait de la
ordre historique, mais un fait de l’ordre purement surnaturel,
ni démontré ni démontrable, et que le chrétien
conscience peu à peu par d’autres sources.

52. Il était étranger à l’esprit du Christ pour établir une Eglise en tant que
la société sur la terre à supporter pendant une longue suite de siècles, mais plutôt
dans l’esprit du Christ le royaume des cieux avec la fin de
le monde était à venir à l’heure.

53. La constitution organique de l’Église n’est pas immuable, mais
la société chrétienne, tout comme la société humaine, est en mouvement perpétuel
évolution.

55. Simon-Pierre ne soupçonnait même pas que la primauté de l’Eglise
lui a été confiée par le Christ.

64. Les progrès des sciences de la demande que les notions de
la doctrine chrétienne de Dieu, la création, la révélation, la personne du
Verbe incarné, et de la rédemption être réajusté.

65. Le catholicisme aujourd’hui ne saurait se concilier avec la vraie science
moins qu’il ne soit transformé en une sorte de christianisme non dogmatique,
qui est, dans une large et le protestantisme libéral.
 Principal Errors:

(1) God cannot be known and proved to exist by natural reason;(2)
external signs of revelation, such as miracles and prophecies, do not
prove the divine origin of the Christian religion and are not suited
to the intellect of modern man; (3) Christ did not found a Church;
(4) and the essential structure of the Church can change; (5) the
Church’s dogmas continually evolve over time so that they can change
from meaning one thing to meaning another; (6) faith is a blind
religious feeling that wells up from the subconscious under the
impulse of a heart and a will trained to morality, not a real assent
of the intellect to divine truth learned by hearing it from an
external source.

Background.

The heresy of Modernism was inspired by tendencies prevalent in
liberal Protestantism and secular philosophy. It was influenced by
nineteenth-century studies by Kant and Hegel, by liberal Protestant
theologians and biblical critics (such as Schleiermacher and von
Harnack), by the evolutionary theories of Darwin, and by certain
liberal political movements in Europe. The centers of Modernism were
in France, England, Italy, and Germany. Two of its leading figures
were Fr. Alfred Loisy, a French theologian and Scripture scholar, and
Fr. George Tyrrell, an Irish-born Protestant who became a Catholic
and a Jesuit, though he was dismissed from the Jesuits in 1906.

The heresy:

Pope Piux X dubbed Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies.”
Modernists viewed doctrine not as a means of obtaining supernatural
knowledge, but as a symbol of an unknowable ultimate reality or as a
symbol of human religious expression. Because they do not contain
genuine knowledge of the supernatural, theological dogmas are
relative and may adopted or rejected based on whether they exercise
power over people’s imaginations. Those dogmas which are found
productive to people’s religious sentiments are to be accepted, then
abandoned when they are no longer found satisfying. Dogmas may thus
change over time, either being completely rejected or re- interpreted
and given a meaning different than what they originally had.

Since dogmas do not give us knowledge of the supernatural and
religion is best viewed as an expression of human religious
aspirations, no real, objective knowledge of God is possible.
Intellectual arguments in favor of his existence are useless, as are
arguments based on miracles or fulfilled prophecies. In the Modernist
view, the only knowledge we can have of God is subjective, found in
individual religious experiences (which are binding on only those who
receive them).

Since God is found primarily or exclusively in the human heart-in
subjective experience-he is profoundly immanent in the world.
Modernism has a tendency toward pantheism (the doctrine that God is
identical with the world or a part of it), emphasizing his immanence
at the expense of his transcendence.

Because theology does not give us knowledge of the supernatural,
Scripture is best viewed as an expression of profound religious
experiences had by its authors, but not as a sure guide to a
knowledge of God and his ways. Scripture is not free from human error
and contains much symbol and myth. Since it is historically
unreliable and based on human religious sentiment, there is a gap
between what it records and what actually took place.

This gap means that there is a great difference between the glorious
Christ the Church proclaims (the Christ of faith) and the human Jesus
who walked the hills of Israel (the Jesus of history). Jesus did not
know (at least for certain) that he was the Messiah or God Incarnate.
He did not intend to found a Church. He did not bestow the earthly
leadership of this Church upon Peter. Except for baptism and the
Lord’s Supper, Christ did not institute any sacraments, and even
these have been heavily colored by Christian theological reflection.

In view of the fact that theological dogmas are relative, all
Christian denominations are equal with the Catholic Church. Even
non-Christian religions are valid expressions of man’s religious
yearnings. It follows that the Church should have no special
relationship with the state and that the state has no duty to uphold
and promote the true religion. Instead of openly acknowledging that
the state’s power comes from God (Rom. 13:1) through Jesus Christ
(Matt. 28:18), the state should be indifferent to all religions and
to those with no religion.

Orthodox response:

Although key Modernist claims had already been censured by Pius IX’s
<Syllabus of Errors> (1864) or infallibly condemned by the First
Vatican Council (1870), whose status as an ecumenical council was
challenged by many Modernists, it was necessary for the magisterium
to take new action.

In December 1903, Pope Pius X approved a decree of the Holy Office
that placed five of Loisy’s works on the Index of Forbidden Books.
Works by other Modernist authors were placed on the Index as well.

In June 1907 the Holy Office published a decree titled <Lamentabili>,
which condemned 65 Modernist propositions. Pope Pius X added his
censure to this document, declaring each and all of the errors to be
condemned and proscribed.

In September the Pope published the encyclical <Pascendi Dominici
Gregis>, which further condemned Modernism. In November he published
a motu proprio titled <Praestantia Scripturae>, which bound Catholics
in conscience to embrace the decisions of the Pontifical Biblical
Commission and imposed the penalty of excommunication on those who
contradicted <Lamentabili> or <Pascendi>.

Modernist leaders began to be excommunicated. Tyrrell was
excommunicated in 1907 and Loisy in 1908.

In September 1910 Pius X published an oath against Modernism which
all clerics before the sub-diaconate, confessors, preachers, pastors,
canons, benifice-holders, seminary professors, officials in Roman
congregations and episcopal curias, and religious superiors were
required to take.

This oath required one to reject the six principal errors listed
above, to affirm and assent to <Lamentabili> and <Pascendi>, and to
reject a variety of other errors, especially those opposing doctrine
and history (such as the difference between the Christ of faith and
the Jesus of history). Only 40 priests in the entire world refused to
take the anti-Modernist oath, which effectively ended the Modernist
crisis for the short term.

Tyrrell died in 1909, depriving the movement of one of its central
pillars. As he lay dying he was given a conditional absolution
(conditional on his mentally retracting his errors; he was too ill to
speak) and extreme unction. His friend and supporter, Miss Maude
Petre, who cared for his as he died, refused to take the
anti-Modernist oath and was barred from the sacraments, though not
formally excommunicated. Loisy died in 1940.

In the middle of the century, a strand of Modernism erupted through
the writings of Fr.  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, leading to Pope Pius
XII’s 1950 encyclical <Humanae Generis.>

Modern Parallels:

Following Vatican II, the Index and the anti-Modernist oath were
abolished (in 1966 and 1967, respectively). Modernism reappeared
under the influence of theologians and writers such as Hans Kung,
Edward Schillebeeckx, and Charles Curran. These clerics challenged
papal and scriptural infallibility, rejected Catholic moral teachings
(such as on contraception), and began to promote ideas such as
women’s ordination to the priesthood. Over time, these individuals
were censured by the Church and prohibited from presenting themselves
as Catholic theologians.

In response to the neo-Modernist crisis, Pope John Paul II issued in
1992 the <Catechism of the Catholic Church>, the first Church-wide
catechism in four hundred years. In 1993 he released the encyclical
<Veritatis Splendor> to correct errors in Catholic moral teaching. In
1994 he issued <Ordinatio Sacerdotalis>, definitively rejecting the
idea of women’s ordination. He is said to be readying an encyclical
on sexual morality that is expected to reaffirm the teaching given in
<Humanae Vitae>.

           MODERNIST ERRORS (AS TAKEN FROM <LAMENTABILI>)

4. The magisterium of the Church, even by dogmatic definitions,
cannot determine the genuine sense of the sacred Scriptures.

5. Since in the deposit of faith only revealed truths are contained,
in no respect does it pertain to the Church to pass judgment on the
assertions of human sciences.

7. When the Church proscribes errors, she cannot exact any internal
assent of the faithful by which the judgments published by her are
embraced.

11. Divine inspiration does not so extend to all sacred Scripture so
that it fortifies each and every part of it against all error.

14. In many narratives the Gospel writers related not so much what is
true, as what they thought to be more profitable for the reader,
although false.

18. John, indeed, claims for himself the character of an eyewitness
concerning Christ, but in reality he is nothing but a distinguished
witness of the Christian life or of the life of the Christian Church
at the end of the first century.

25. The assent of faith ultimately depends on an accumulation of
probabilities.

27. The divinity of Jesus Christ is not proved from the Gospels but
is a dogma which the Christian conscience has deduced from the notion
of the Messiah.

28. When Jesus was exercising his ministry, he did not speak with the
purpose of teaching that he was the Messiah, nor did his miracles
have as their purpose to demonstrate this.

29. It may be conceded that the Christ whom history presents is far
inferior to the Christ who is the object of faith.

35. Christ did not always have the consciousness of his Messianic
dignity.

36. The resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the
historical order, but a fact of the purely supernatural order,
neither demonstrated nor demonstrable, and which the Christian
conscience gradually derived from other sources.

52. It was foreign to the mind of Christ to establish a Church as a
society upon earth to endure for a long course of centuries; rather,
in the mind of Christ the kingdom of heaven together with the end of
the world was to come presently.

53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable, but
Christian society, just as human society, is subject to perpetual
evolution.

55. Simon Peter never even suspected that the primacy of the Church
was entrusted to him by Christ.

64. The progress of the sciences demand that the concepts of
Christian doctrine about God, creation, revelation, the person of the
incarnate Word, and redemption be readjusted.

65. Present day Catholicism cannot be reconciled with true science
unless it be transformed into a kind of non-dogmatic Christianity,
that is, into a broad and liberal Protestantism.

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BIBLICAL STUDIES TODAY

January 13, 2009

Introduction:

Biblical studies today are, ever increasingly, becoming complex and difficult, given the progress due to multifaceted research, historico-archaeological discoveries, as well as study of literary genres of the Ancient Eastern World. They are being enriched by new discoveries as well as by new exegetical methods, approaches and trends, both in the Old/First Testament and in the New/Second Testament. Studies of the historical Jesus are complicated by the discovery of new kind of historicity of Gospels as faith traditions (or documents of faith). At the same time, they are enriched by the discovery of reflections on the significance of Jesus rather than tape-recorded accounts or sheer history. God works in space and time; therefore, biblical studies should take into account the cultural background and the spatio-temporal circumstances. Theology develops with the progress of human sciences, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology. In this tremendous progress, we have to remember the “golden rule” for the teaching of the Church clearly enunciated by John XXIII, the Pope of “aggiornamento”, at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. We have to distinguish between the truth and the formulations of faith, within the Scripture or within the Church. We should acknowledge the limitations of the formulations, but at the same time know for certain that there was a grasp of truth in those formulations. There was no distortion in the transmission of Revelation. The good Pope John XXIII opened the windows to new trends in the life of the Church. In his inaugural address, he clearly stated: “One thing is the substance; the other thing is the formulation of doctrine”. The Church has an insight into the Truth, since Jesus promised the Paraclete: “The holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will lead you to the whole truth” (cf.Jn 14:26). In this essay, I shall give a glance through the history of biblical exegesis and the biblical approaches and methods, and then I shall pinpoint a few avenues to face the new challenges in the biblico-theological field.

1.1: Survey of Biblical Studies:

We can divide the Catholic study of the Bible into three periods:

1)Initial Period of Suspicion (1900-1940): It was dominated by the rejection of modern biblical criticism, an attitude forced on the Church by the Modernist heresy. Modernists abused the historico-critical method and discredited the method itself, without being able to integrate the ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ elements of Christian experience.

2)Beginnings of Biblical Criticism and Literary Genres (1940-1970): It involved the introduction of biblical criticism by the encyclical Divino afflante spiritu (DAS, September 30, 1943) by Pius XII (1939-1958). Gradually, but reluctantly, it was accepted by the mainstream of the Church thought.

3)Period of Assimilation (1970-2002): It involves the painful assimilation of the implications of biblical criticism for Catholic doctrine, theology and praxis.

First Period: In modernist crisis, the historico-critical method was abused, in such a way that the result was that together with the modernist crisis the historico-critical method was rejected, or, at least, was placed in suspicion.

Second Period: Scientific progress has been influencing contemporary theological insights, particularly in the biblical-exegetical studies. Historical, archaeological and linguistic methods, known to us only in approximately the last one hundred years, have pro­duced a scientifically critical study of the Bible, a study that has revolutionized views held in the past about the authorship, ori­gin, and dating of the biblical books, their composition and authorship.

After forty years of opposition or at least suspicion, there was a change of climate with Pius XII, who through his encyclical Divino afflante spiritu (September 30, 1943) encouraged the biblical scholars to investigate the literary genres and to adopt methods of a scientific approach to the Bible. It was greatly influenced by Card.Augustine Bea, SJ,–he incidentally was also his confessor–, who submitted to the approval of the Roman Pontiff what Catholic biblical scholars had been doing. Pius XII announced unequivocally to the universal Church his approval. Within a short span of time, biblical criticism entered into Catholic classrooms in seminaries and colleges. It is the period of development of Catholic biblical criticism.

Third Period: The Roman Catholic scholarship is still progressing and is not inferior to the Protestant Movement.

1.2: Biblical Movement:

Leo XIII, with his encyclical Providentissimus Deus (November 18, 1893), with extreme caution, officially ushered Roman Catholicism into the world of critical biblical scholarship. Pius XII continued the movement with greater zeal. At this stage, historical criticism was already firmly established within mainstream Protestantism.

Modernist controversy brought a lot of concern for the Church early in the twentieth century. As a Universal Pastor, Pius X felt that the foundations of faith were threatened, and that it was his duty in conscience to intervene. On March 27, 1906, through his Apostolic Letter Quoniam in re biblica he provided guidelines for the teaching of biblical subjects in the seminaries. Then Pius X published a Decree entitled Lamentabili on July 4, 1907, in which he rejected and condemned the main errors of reformism and modernism in 65 propositions. On September 8, 1907, through his Encyclical Letter Pascendi dominici gregis he tried to defend the historical concept of Christian Revelation against the Modernist theories of vital immanence, permanence or emanation. On November 18, 1907, Pius X through his Apostolic Letter motu proprio Praestantia Scripturae stressed that the decisions of the Biblical Commission against modernist errors were binding in conscience, and those who go against them would incur excommunication in cases, where heresy was involved. On May 7, 1909, Pius X with his Apostolic Letter Vinea electa founded the Pontifical Biblical Institute, as an international “centre of higher biblical studies in order to promote as effectively as possible the teachings of the Bible and all connected studies in accordance with the mind of the Catholic Church”.[1] The hierarchy showed through this Institute its own form of support for biblical scholarship and provided for scripture specialists throughout the Catholic world.

On September 15, 1920, Benedict XV commemorated the fifteenth centenary of the death of St.Jerome, Doctor of the Church, with his Encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus, in which he reminded the biblical scholars of the directives of his predecessor, Leo XIII, while using new critical methods and discovering “new ways of explaining the difficulties in the sacred texts, whether for their own guidance or to help others” (cf.SP, ibidem, n.494, p.185).

On September 30, 1943, Pius XII published his great Encyclical Letter Divino afflante spiritu, which has been called the Magna Carta of scientific biblical studies. It was a clarion-call for return to biblical studies. In his Encyclical Letter, Pius XII promoted critical scholarship, encouraged the return to the original languages of the texts, study of the cultural milieu and of literary genres, in a particular way he emphasized the role of textual criticism in biblical studies (DAS, ibidem, n.597), the relationship between the literal and the spiritual level of the texts (DAS, ibidem, nn.603-607), the sense of the Church Fathers who had less knowledge of languages and scientific tools, but had a subtle insight, penetrating the innermost meaning of the word, bringing to light what elucidates the teaching of Christ and promotes life (DAS, ibidem, nn.608-610). He challenged scholars, not to fear, but rather to engage difficult and unresolved problems that existed between Scripture and theology (DAS, ibidem, n.624).

On August 14, 1950, Pius XII published an Encyclical Letter Humani generis, subtitled ‘Concerning Some False Opinions Which Threaten to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine’, on issues of the time as polygenism and evolution, and concluded that “it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin” (HG, ibidem, n.693). In such issues let the scholars not transgress the limits established for the protection of the truth of Catholic faith and doctrine. On the other hand, with regard to new questions, “let them engage in most careful research, but with the necessary prudence and caution” (HG, ibidem, n.696). Pius XII, therefore, remained steadfast in his approval of modern criticism.

During this period, there is another significant Roman document, namely the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s Letter to Cardinal Suhard, Archbishop of Paris, on January 16, 1948, concerning the sources of the Pentateuch and the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. It follows the same spirit. The Roman commitment to the modern critical methodology was firmly in place by the end of the pontificate of Pius XII.

In the second year of his Pontificate, John XXIII (1958-1963) addressed the Pontifical Biblical Institute on the occasion of its golden jubilee, on February 17, 1960. In his discourse, the good Pope encouraged them to face new problems with “scholarly seriousness” (ibidem, n.719), as well as requested them to be “animated by a pastoral purpose” (ibidem, n.723). This advice foreshadows what is found in Vatican II. In the late fifties and early sixties, the Pontifical Biblical Institute was coming under strong attack particularly from the Lateran University in Rome—one of the Lateran professors, Msgr.Antonino Romeo, wrote a long virulent article on aspects of recent Catholic exegesis in general and against some well known exegetes in particular (eg.Ceslas Spicq, OP, David Stanley, SJ). The article was printed in Civilta Cattolica and was widely distributed in booklet form and translated into a number of languages. The author of the article was convinced that some professors at the Institute were going to the extremes—and this included Luis Alonso-Schoekel, SJ, Maximilian Zerwick, SJ and Stanislas Lyonnet, SJ, who were particularly respected by most students… The damage had been done, and eventually L.Alonso-Schoekel, M.Zerwick and S.Lyonnet, were suspended from teaching for a time. There is evidence that Pope John XXIII was not aware of this and eventually they were reinstated. Cautious progress in biblical scholarship continued.

The Biblical Movement was greatly enhanced by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (PBC), established on October 30, 1902, by Leo XIII, through his Apostolic Letter Vigilantiae, with the purpose of promoting the scriptural study, of offering guidance to Roman Catholic biblical exegetes, at a time when modern critical scholarship was regarded with suspicion, even though approved by papal authority, but with only the greatest reserve. Its tone of communications was often polemical. Vatican II, with the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, gave its blessing to the scholarly work. The pontificate of Paul VI restored the warmly favourable atmosphere of the days of Pius XII. On April 21, 1964, the PBC issued an ‘Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels’ (Sancta Mater Ecclesia), an encouraging document opening the way to honest biblical criticism in the very sensitive field of Gospel historicity.

Another significant aspect of Roman Catholic participation in the Biblical Movement has been the existence of various scholarly biblical associations throughout the world, many of which sponsor scholarly journals specializing in biblical research, for instance, Catholic Biblical Association (CBA), by a group of Scripture scholars convened in Washington on January 18, 1936. In 1939, the CBA began its publication of its scholarly organ, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly (CBQ). Later on, in 1962, it was decided that CBQ would be devoted exclusively to scholarly research, whereas The Bible Today was designed for the more popular branch of Scripture publication. In 1970, it produced the New American Bible (NAB), translation used for official lectionary. In 1968, the Jerome Biblical Commentary was published, and now in 1990 it was revised as The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. It is an echo of the scholarly work going on throughout the world. Since 1942, the CBA sponsored Catholic Bible Sunday and Catholic Bible Week. Another noteworthy project of the CBA has been its monograph series, begun in 1971 ‘to facilitate the publication of books of scholarly nature in the biblical field that would otherwise find publication difficult to secure”.[2] In India, we have Indian Biblical Association and Society for Biblical Studies. Biblebhashyam is a biblical publication.

2.1: METHODS AND APPROACHES FOR INTERPRETATION:

In the 17th century Richard Simon (1638-1712), a convert from  Protestantism and a priest of the Oratory, inaugurated  the movement  of  modern  biblical criticism  with  his  three-volume Histoire Critique du Vieux Testament (attacked by Bossuet and put on  Index)  on literary and historical analysis,  though  without much  support from Roman authorities. Critical exegesis was  due to  four factors: a)rebirth of the study of classical  Greek  and Latin  literature,  as  well as of  ancient  oriental  languages; b)development of natural sciences; c)appearance of historiography as a scientific and rational discipline; d)and radical change  in the  philosophical field. We have Julius WELLHAUSEN  (Documentary Theory), Hermann GUNKEL (with his Gattungen, ‘literary forms’, and Sitz-im-Leben,  ‘life-situation’,  applied to Gn and  Pss),  Jean Astruc, physician at the court of Louis XIV (with his Conjectures on two sources, A and B, in the Pentateuch).

Today the Bible is being investigated with the help  of all scientific methods. We speak of philologico-literary analysis, historico-critical exegesis, structural  exegesis, sociological reading (Liberation  Theology, Marxist-materialistic Interpretation of the Scripture, Contextu­al  Exegesis,  Ecological Exegesis,  Feminist  Interpretation  of Scripture), psychoanalytic reading, spiritual exegesis,  existential  interpretation,  new  hermeneutic,  semiology,   rhetorical criticism,  canonical exegesis. Each exegetical method  has  its own  merits  and demerits. All of them will help  us  recover  a parcel  of

truth hidden in the rich mines of God’s  Word. Their ultimate  aim  is to provide us with a deep insight  and  meaning into God’s plans and Will. Bible is God’s Word in words of men. It has to be properly interpreted with all tools at our disposal.

2.2: Philological and Contextual Trends: In the history of exegesis there have been major trends in the historical development of hermeneutics. The meaning of the texts can be discovered not only by presuppositions and methods, but also through interpretive keys. The result has been not only a dearth of interpretations, which can be classified under the heading of exegesis, but also several interpretations, which come under the heading of eisegesis, which instead of reading the author’s meaning form the text, has been imparting the reader’s meaning into the text (for instance, Jewish and Christian allegorist, the fourfould medieval exegesis, namely John  Cassian’s four scriptural senses, that is, historical (or literal), allegori­cal, tropological (or moral, today anthropological), and anagogi­cal (or eschatological), the letterism and numerology of the Cabbalists).

1)Historical-Cultural and Contextual Analysis: The exegete has to determine the historical-cultural context, by investigating the general historical situation of the author and his audience, the political, economic, and social situations, their customs and mores, their spiritual background and experience, the major blocks of the material, and the flow of their arguments, the perspective of the author, whether noumenological (from God’s perspective) or phenomenologically (from man’s perspective), providing descriptive or prescriptive truth, destinataries, to distinguish the teaching focus from the incidental details,

2)Philological: Lexical-Syntactical-Literal Analysis: We have to identify the literary genres, the development of the author’s theme, the natural divisions and units of the text, identify the connecting and key words, analyze the syntax, accurately find out the meaning of the words, pay attention to the parallelism (antithetic, synthetic, or spiral). Today philology is the key to philosophy and theology. Etymological root of words provides the true meaning, provided that its evolution is surveyed.

2.3: Historico-critical Method: Exegesis  is the effort to investigate the  text  (eks-egeomai, “to bring  forth  from”). It aims at explanation and  application.  It should investigate the intentionality of the author  (autor-mean­ing), the text and the context. It should investigate the history of  the text (Textual Criticism). Then we have to investigate  the history  (Historical  Criticism),  as well  as  the  sociological context. Biblical Theology aims at a synthesis. It has to be based on the text, scientifically, critically and spiritually interpreted.

With Enlightenment  there came rationalism, skepticism and empiricism. Scholars

applied the methods of other sciences (physical sciences, historical  scienc­es) to the Bible. By using the critical method, they try to study the  historical background and all circumstances in which the  book has been written. So for them the main question was: What did the text  mean for them at that time? They try to ascertain what  was the  meaning  for the writer. Therefore, they investigated the background, the  bias and preconception of the authors  and  the literary genres. This is called “author/text meaning“. With his­torical  positivism in the 19th century, this process  was  empha­sized. As we said, at  the beginning the Church was suspicious because it  was regarded as detrimental for faith. Gradually, it was accepted  by the  Church  on the condition that it be  disassociated  for  its rationalistic  and  empiristic bias. The  historical  method  was regarded to be fruitful because it delves into something which is obscure for us. It was gradually approved by the Church. Since  Christianity is a historical religion, Bible  can  be subjected  to scientific investigation. Bible is the Word of  God in human words (language, culture, history, mentality and thought patterns).  Jesus  was a Jew of Palestine. Therefore, his  back­ground has to be investigated. Also the period of oral  tradition has to be studied. [3]

2.4: Structural Method: Structural  exegesis  ignores   the history  of a text and focuses exclusively on its present  struc­ture.  It is not interested in the ‘original’  meaning  (author’s meaning)  of a text, but in the meaning that the text has in  it­self, found in the ‘surface’ and ‘deep’ structures of the text. Structural  exegesis  can  be  developed  at  three  levels: a)formal  surface structuration; b)deep semantic  structuration; and  c)narrative  structuration of  manifestation.   These  three levels can be called: formal, semantic and narrative. Formal  level comprises of the surface of the text:  vocabulary,  particularly the key-words (like semitic inclusion,  link-word or mot-crochet, chiasmus, concentric symmetry),  grammatical constructions,  formulae strategically repeated in the course  of reading, sequences and sections, internal articulations. Semantic level goes beyond the narrative level and discovers its  semantic  value (meaning). It searches  meaningful  entities (or semes) and studies the play of attractions and repulsions  so as to reduce the literary unit to a coherent system. It includes the  study  of  the vocabulary (or study  of lexemes),  semantic analysis, semantic fields or families, deep structures (or struc­turing matrices), signifying universe (or semantic system) isoto­py. It  tries  to  discover the themes by  analysing  the  words (lexemes)  and its seeds (sememes) (eg.Pentecost:  Spirit  coming down; Parable of the Good Samaritan: Good Samaritan comes down,  takes him,  has compassion for him, pays his bill, in short,  he  gives himself, his love). Lastly, narrative level is one of the  possible  manifesta­tions of signification. A narrative is essentially linear and is characterized by the play of personages and events, in continuous communication with the reader-destinatary. The basic structure of  any narration can be reduced to six actants: A)SENDER— B)OBJECT—  C)RECEIVER—D)SUBJECT—E)HELPER—F)OPPONENT. [4]

Structuralism goes beyond what the author meant. It investi­gates  the text as a fabric of interrelationships and  synchroni­cally (in depth). What is important is not what the author  meant when  he wrote the book, but what the text tells us today.  In  the text  we find a system of signs and by examining it we  have  the meaning effect.

As a word of critique, we can say: It uncovers what the text says, what  it  means for you. But in spite of the difficulties of the method, the exegete does not get much positive message of the text. Its results are not proportional to the intricacies of the method.

2.5: Sociological Interpretation of the Bible: In this sociologico-anthropological approach the exegete studies the  information about Jesus’ time and the context in  which  the Gospels  were written, so as to understand better the  experience of Jesus and the socio-economic and cultural background  of  the Gospels  (e.g. the Pharisees who were severely criticized in  the Gospels are really of a later period than those whom Jesus  would have known).

A)Liberation Theology: It emerged in Latin America  since mid-1960’s. We have Gustavo GUTTIERREZ, Juan Luis SEGUNDO, Jon  SOBRINO, Leonardo  BOFF,  Jose Porfirio MIRANDA, H.ASSMANN.  What  is  the thrust  of  this method? They try to  reinterpret  the Christian message  in  the context of poverty and injustice. They  want  to transform  the  society. The starting-point  is  the  historical situation.  It is the praxis (the concrete Christian living)  and the commitment to liberation and the second point is the critical reflection on the praxis in the light of the Word of God. Guttier­rez  emphasized that liberation from sin and from all its  consequences (individual and societal) is essential part from  oppres­sive socio-economic-cultural structures, from slavery. In his book, “Drink from Our Own Wells“, Guttierrez insists that an encounter with the Lord is essential part of a life according to the Spirit.  There­fore,  the process of political liberation is a deeply  spiritual process, since  it is an encounter with the Risen Lord.  According to  Guttierrez,  nobody can follow Christ without  commitment  to liberation. Love of God is unavoidably expressed through love  of one’s neighbour.

There have  been attempts  to apply it to the Indian context by Sebastian  KAPPEN, Samuel  RYAN,  Tissa  BALASSURYA,  George M.SOARES-PRABHU,  John DESROCHERS.

As a word of critique, we can say that this  is  a valuable method, for it locates a  text  in  its concrete real life and gives insights into its meaningfulness and meaning.  Liberation  theology has made us aware  of  the  social conditioning of the exegete who works, consciously or  unconsciously, with  a pre-understanding, with a commitment to a social  system. Genuine theology follows from a committed praxis.

B)Marxist Interpretation of Scripture: In his book,  Marx  and the  Bible: A Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression, Jose  Por­firio  MIRANDA  compared the teaching of Marx with  that  of  the Bible.  Karl Marx and Bible teach that there is no  love  without justice and no justice without love. Both insist on a  commitment for  a Better World. He is against state absolutisms  and  highly critical  of several aspects of Marxism. The most important  dif­ference  is that Marx does not accept God, whereas the Bible  pro­claims  a living God, fully involved in the human history. In  his book,  Communism in the Bible, Miranda holds that the Bible  teaches communism (Ac 2:42-45). Jesus is a revolutionary, fighting  with his only weapon of selfless love against the unjust structures of the society.

We  cannot accept dialectical materialism, but we  can  only welcome humanism. Christians can accept socialism of Marx, but  not his  atheism. The communitarian model given in Acts 2:42 is  one  of the  models  of Koinonia, as the directive of  love (Lk  6:20)  was applied  in  a concrete way by the earlier Church; but  there  are other  models, such  as developed in Pauline  churches: the  richer churches  sent  collections  to the poorer  churches  though  the Mother-Church, Jerusalem (2 Cor 8-9).

C)Feminist Approach: Critical Feminist Theology of  Libera­tion is a movement for liberation of women with critical  reflec­tion  from  injustice and violence against women  in  a society which is patriarchal and male-dominated, chauvinistic. It  begins with  the  systemically reflected experience of  women  and  hence expresses different perspectives and social-religious  locations. For the last ten years it tries to retrieve the original  authentic material which has been undermined and suppressed by the male dominating  structures. Bible applies female imagery to God,  for example compassion of God is denoted by the womb, semitic way  of expressing emotions (Rahamim, from Rehem, “womb”). Jesus went against the  patriarchal culture of his day and  established  egalitarian society  where  women had the same rights as men. But  the  early Church has suppressed them in order to be in good books with  the Roman Empire.

This is a different, ‘new way’ of doing theology (theologiz­ing). We  should work for a new social order, where there will  be no  more  violence  and injustice towards women.  Men  and  women should  have equal opportunities and equal status, but  we should not  forget  the differentiation of roles which  comes  from  God himself. Women cannot “play men“. Men and women should draw to one another without destroying their identity. [5]

Conclusion: Given the importance of the biblical studies, all efforts should be directed towards the improvement of the syllabus. Cheap certificates in ‘biblical theologies’ are not adequate to meet the present needs. The exegetical task is far too large to be successfully pursued individually, it has to be in a team-work—it calls for a division of labour, specially in research. It demands a team-work among the specialists with interdisciplinary collaboration. New trends and challenges should go in a different direction: At a Conference in New York City in 1988, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger encouraged biblical scholars and theologians to continue to work toward a suitable synthesis between the historico-critical approach to biblical intepretation, namely theological and spiritual approach characteristic of most traditional (or “pre-critical” exegesis), of course, without falling into pre-critical aberrations (fundamentalistic and allegorical interpretation).[6]

Vatican II is clear about the centrality of the role that Scripture consistently plays in the life of the Church:

The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures, as she venerated the body of the Lord, in so far as she never ceases, particularly in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the Word of God and the Body of Christ…it follows that all…preaching…should be nourished and ruled by sacred Scripture. In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them” (DV n.21; see alson.24).

Preaching should necessarily improve with the biblical wealth. Regarding the formation of the seminarians it states: “The ‘study of the sacred page’ should be the very soul of sacred theology. [7]The ministry of the Word, too—pastoral preaching, catechetics and all forms of Christian instruction, among which the liturgical homily should hold pride place—is healthily nourished and thrives in holiness through the Word of Scripture” (DV, n.24). In the priestly formation there is a need of a deep knowledge of critical methods. All these methods cannot overlook the work of the Spirit of God, the spiritual meaning of the text. Faith does not detract from the scientific study, on the contrary it enriches it and nourishes the ‘crucified love’ (cf.Gal 5:6). [8]


[1] Cf.Pius X, Vinea electa, May 7, 1909, in: The Church and the Bible.Official Documents of the Catholic Church, Dennis J.Murphy, MSC, ed., Theological Publications in India, 2001, n.308, p.125.

[2]Cf.Michael Monshau, OP, “The Biblical Movement and Vatican II’s Restoration of Liturgical Preaching”, Scripture in Church, vol.33, no.129, January 1-March 31, 2003, pp.114-127.

[3] Cf.The Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.Address of John Paul II and the Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, NBCLC, Bangalore, April 15, 1993/1994, pp.29-130; See Henry A.Wirkler, Hermeneutics.Principles and Processes of Biblical Interpretation, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981, pp.75-209; George T.Montague, SM, Understanding the Bible.A Basic Introduction to Biblica Interpretation, Paulist Press, New York, 1997, pp.137-158

[4]Olivette GENEST, “”Exegesis and Structural Analysis”, in: Dictionary of Fundamental Theology, Rene Latourelle,ed., St.Pauls, The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, 1994, pp.298-306

[5] Cf.Raymond E.BROWN, SS, An Introduction to the New Testament, Theological Publications in India, Bangalore, 2000, pp.20-47.

[6] Cf.Paul T.Stallsworth, “The Story of an Encounter”, in Richard John Neuhaus, ed., Biblical Interpretation in Crisis;The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and Church (grand Rapids, Michigan:Eerdmans, 1989, pp.107-108.

[7] Cf.Leo XIII, Encycl.PD: EB 114; Benedict XV, Encycl.Spiritus Paraclitus: EB 483. See also OT, n.16.

[8]Cf.Concilio Vaticano II.Comentarios al decreto Optatam Totius sobre la formacion sacerdotal, Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC), Madrid, 1970, pp.494-498.

*Ivo da Conceicao Souza