Skip to comments.The Accuracy of Scripture
Posted on 07/25/2009 8:04:47 PM PDT by bdeaner
The Catholic blogosphere was recently set on fire by word of a document issued by the bishops of England, Wales, and Scotland entitled The Gift of Scripture.
The firestorm was triggered by an October 5 article in The Times of London carrying the inflammatory headline "Catholic Church no longer swears by the truth of the Bible."
The Times article contained a number of errors and distortions, but it also contained a number of quotes from the British bishops' document that were of concern to faithful Catholics.
For example, the document is quoted as saying that "we should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision" and that, while the Bible is reliable when expressing truths connected to salvation, "we should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters."
Such statements are common these days from catechists, theologians, and biblical scholars. They are trying to express something important that there are certain things we should not expect from Scripture but they have not used the right language in expressing these facts.
The Traditional View
Scripture presents itself to us as the very word of God, and the Christian Church has always honored it as such. Historically, Christians have held that the Bible is absolutely free of error, or inerrant.
Yet it has also been clear that there are many difficult and perplexing things in the Bible. This has led some to entertain the idea that Scripture may be protected from error in a way different than previous generations of Christians have held. Instead of being totally free of error, these thinkers have said, perhaps it is only free from error on certain matters.
For example, some have said that the Bible is meant for teaching us faith and morals, so perhaps it is inerrant on faith and morals but not on other matters. Other have suggested that Scripture is oriented toward our salvation, so maybe it is inerrant only on matters of salvation.
This might be called the limited or restricted inerrancy view, as opposed to the total or unrestricted inerrancy position.
As attractive as limited inerrancy may be, it faces significant problems.
It does not seem that the Bible understands itself in these terms. When the authors of Scripture quote each other, they speak in a way that suggests that every single word is authored by God.
The authors of the New Testament, for example, regularly quote the Old Testament with introductions such as "The Holy Spirit says" (Heb. 3:7), and Jesus himself said that "not an iota, not a dot" would pass away from the law of Moses before it was fulfilled (Matt. 5:18).
In the last couple of centuries the Church has weighed in on this question and rejected limited inerrancy. The First Vatican Council taught:
"These books [of the canon] the Church holds to be sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author" (De Fide Catholica 2:7).
Pope Leo XIII stated that "it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture or to admit that the sacred writer has erred" and condemned "the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond" (Providentissimus Deus 20).
Pius XII stated that the Vatican I passage cited above was a "solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, by which such divine authority is claimed for the 'entire books with all their parts' as to secure freedom from any error whatsoever." He repudiated those who "ventured to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture solely to matters of faith and morals" (Divino Afflante Spiritu 1).
And then came Vatican II.
The Vatican II decree Dei Verbum taught:
"In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things that he wanted. Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully, and without error that truth that God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation (DV 11).
The last phrase of this passage "for the sake of salvation" has become a sticking point, and many have argued that it restricts the scope of scriptural inerrancy to just those things that have to do with our salvation.
There was actually an intense behind-the-scenes controversy at Vatican II over this clause, which ended up being appealed to Pope Paul VI, and there is no doubt that some at the Council wanted the phrase understood as allowing restricted inerrancy. In fact, some wanted a formula that would even more clearly allow for restricted inerrancy.
But ultimately this position did not prevail. The text as it stands continues to affirm that the Bible contains all and only what God wanted written that everything asserted by the human authors is asserted by the Holy Spirit.
There are countless instances where Scripture is clearly making an assertion that is neither of faith and morals nor connected in any direct way with our salvation. For example, the Bible clearly asserts that Andrew was the brother of Peter in some accepted first-century understanding of the word brother.
Dei Verbum thus teaches the unrestricted inerrancy of Scripture, and the "for the sake of our salvation" clause is thus most plausibly read as a statement of why God put his truth into Scripture, not a restriction on the scope of his truth.
What to Do?
That leaves us with the problem of how to explain the limits of what Scripture can be expected to do and how we can go wrong if we approach it the wrong way. How can these limitations be explained to the faithful in a way that does not charge Scripture with error?
Dei Verbum has given us an important tool for doing this. The Council spoke of those things "asserted by the inspired authors" as asserted by the Holy Spirit and thus protected from error. So we need to determine what the inspired author is trying to assert, for that is what is protected from error.
What a person asserts is not the same as what he says. Suppose someone says, "It's raining cats and dogs out there today." What he has said is perfectly obvious, but he is not asserting that cats and dogs are falling from the sky. Instead, he is asserting that it is raining hard.
His assertion may well be true. It may indeed be raining hard, and if so then he should not be charged with error.
Native English-speakers are familiar with the phrase "raining cats and dogs" and recognize what is meant. But non-native English-speakers could be perplexed by the statement. It's the same with Scripture.
The Example of Genesis
We don't come from the same culture that authored Scripture. We aren't ancient Israelites, and we don't have a native's feel for how their literature works. When people from our culture read the Bible they are particularly liable to miss symbolism that the text may be using. We know that God can do amazing, miraculous things, and if we don't know how ancient Hebrew literature worked, we can read perplexing things as miracles rather than symbols.
Throughout history many have taken the six days of creation in Genesis as six literal twenty-four-hour periods, but there are clues that this may not be what is meant. For example, the sun is not created until day four, though day and night were already in existence on day one. The ancients knew that it's the sun that causes it to be day as well as we do, and so this may mean that the passage is not to be understood literally.
By asking ourselves what it does mean what the inspired author is asserting then we see that he is asserting that the whole of the material world was created by God the true God and not a bunch of pagan deities.
One could look at the passage and conclude that the inspired author is not trying to give us a scientific account of the creation of the world. The magisterium has recently favored this view (CCC 337, 283).
So would it be right to say, as The Gift of Scripture does, that "we should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy"?
Finding the Right Words
Because Genesis is not making scientific assertions, it is wrong to charge Genesis with scientific error. If someone draws erroneous scientific conclusions from a misreading of Genesis, the error belongs not to Genesis but to the person who has misread it.
Therefore we should not say that Genesis does not have "full scientific accuracy" a statement that is bound to disturb the faithful and undermine their confidence in Scripture. Instead we should say that Genesis is not making scientific assertions and that we will draw erroneous conclusions if we treat the text as though it were.
The same applies to statements such as "We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible." In fact we should, for everything asserted in Sacred Scripture is asserted by the Holy Spirit, and he does not make mistakes.
The burden is on us to recognize what the Spirit is and is not asserting, and we may stumble into error if we make a mistake in doing this.
This applies to science or history or faith or morals or salvation or any other subject. The error belongs to us as interpreters, not to the Holy Spirit and not to the Scripture that he inspired.
The problem is the employment of Higher Criticism rather than the Historical-Grammatical approach. The problem you raise about Genesis is compounded by the fact that Jesus and St. Paul believed in the historicity of Genesis. In fact, the whole institution of marriage is determined by Jesus’ reference to the marriage of Adam and Eve. St. Paul refers to the hierarchy of man and woman based upon Genesis. If you are puzzled by how we should interpret Genesis, maybe following Jesus’ approach would be best.
Very good article. I’m sure I will re-read it several times to digest all the information.
CNA unveils resource to help Catholics understand the Scriptures
The Dos and Donts of Reading the Bible [Ecumenical]
Pope to lead marathon Bible reading on Italian TV
The Complete Bible: Why Catholics Have Seven More Books [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: Books of the Catholic Bible: The Complete Scriptures [Ecumenical]
Beginning Catholic: When Was The Bible Written? [Ecumenical]
The Complete Bible: Why Catholics Have Seven More Books [Ecumenical]
U.S. among most Bible-literate nations: poll
Bible Lovers Not Defined by Denomination, Politics
Dei Verbum (Catholics and the Bible)
Vatican Offers Rich Online Source of Bible Commentary
Clergy Congregation Takes Bible Online
Knowing Mary Through the Bible: Mary's Last Words
A Bible Teaser For You... (for everyone :-)
Knowing Mary Through the Bible: New Wine, New Eve
Return of Devil's Bible to Prague draws crowds
Doctrinal Concordance of the Bible [What Catholics Believe from the Bible] Catholic Caucus
Should We Take the Bible Literally or Figuratively?
Glimpsing Words, Practices, or Beliefs Unique to Catholicism [Bible Trivia]
Catholic and Protestant Bibles: What is the Difference?
Provided the a priori dogmatic assertion that God authored the Bible is correct, which is by no means a proven fact.
There is not a contradiction between the two chapters. The first gives an overview of creation, but second focuses upon the creation of Adam and Eve. It’s late here, so I’ll discuss it more tomorrow, and I will give you the verses for which you asked although they are not hard to find.
Bookmark for an enjoyable read tomorrow. Thanks bdeaner.
Africa??? Well I thought Eden included the area around the Fertile Crescent...Who'd a thought Adam and Eve were Africans...
“In the first account of Creation (Genesis 1:25-27), the humans were created after the other animals. But in the second account (Genesis 2:18-19), humans were created before the other animals.”
That’s not how it comes across to me. It seems to me that the Divine Author is simply reminding the reader that He created animals out of the earth. It doesn’t say anything about time.
“Also, in the first account of Creation (Genesis 1:27), the first man and woman were created simultaneously. But in the second account (Genesis 2:18-22), man was created first, then the animals, then the woman from the man’s rib.”
Again, to me it doesn’t come across that way. In Gen. 1:27 we are merely told that God created man and woman. In Gen. 2, we have a more detailed description of that creation. We do this in conversation all the time. If I say, “I was born in New York, went to grad school in California and married in Canada,” someone can say you married when you were born? You went to graduate school when you were a baby? No one says that, however, because we know how conversational comments work in reality according to time.
“Obviously, these passages were not meant to be taken literally, or else they would not contradict each other when taken literally.”
I don’t see any contradiction there. It seems to me that Genesis 2 was just a greater detailed version of Genesis 1.
Jesus, St. Paul, St. Peter ... I find their example persuasive, myself.
I was referring to St. Peter’s discussion of the Flood.
However, statements such as the one you’ve quoted are one reason I don’t bother to get overly worked up about the question. I choose to take a certain interpretation, but I’m not going to have a cow if I find I’m wrong, and it doesn’t bother me that people disagree.
I haven't done the math but the 'scholars' I read claim that if you add the numbers up; ages of the people in the genealogical record in the scriptures, it puts Adam and Eve on the earth about 6000 years ago...
Life doesn’t come with guarantees.
I’m willing to bet my life that scripture is ‘God-breathed’, and live accordingly.
There are billions of solar systems, and you want the Creator to be someone you can prove? Someone you can deduce? And what assumptions do you permit?
More to the point, what makes you think you are smart enough to comprehend God?
Oh, yes, if love fails, then threats are in order...
And what if you lose? LOL! So, how does the Church know with absolute certitude that this is so?
There are billions of solar systems, and you want the Creator to be someone you can prove? Someone you can deduce? And what assumptions do you permit?
Well, if he bothered to come this far...All assumptions are allowed as long as they are understood to be assumptions, and not dogmatic truth.
More to the point, what makes you think you are smart enough to comprehend God?
If I were I wouldn't be asking. Maybe I should I ask you that same question? Or do you believe just an assumption?
“I should be clear that in Genesis there are in fact no contradictions, only apparent contradictions.”
On that we agree entirely.
“The question is whether those apparent contradictions are more consistently resolved by reading the text in a literal way only, or by seeing reading it allegorically and/or symbolically. Or, there is a third option, which is that the text can be read on all of these levels.”
Could there be yet another option? Could it be that Genesis 1 and 2 do not contradict one another even in the apparent sense even when literally interpreted? When I read the verses you mentioned, I see no contradictions, real or apparent, whether we take verses only literally or both literally and allegorically.
“If the numbers in the OT are taken literally, they often contradict each other.”
I’m not so sure about some of the examples you listed. First of all, they are from a list on the internet called 101 Contradictions in the Bible - a favorite list of Muslim apologists. Some of the examples simply don’t seem as cut and dry as you might think they are.
Take, for instance, this example: “Did Solomon’s “molton sea” hold 2000 baths (1 Ki. 7:26) or 3000 of them (2 Chr. 4:5)?”
Then look at this: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/546
Of course the option you mention is a possibility. But I think if we get in a debate over the examples I gave you, it would deflect from the real issue at hand — which is the simple matter of whether Genesis should be read literally, even we it flies in the face of everything the natural sciences have discovered about the known universe. I do not see the justification for reading Genesis as a science text — that’s my issue.
“I respect that you feel differently, and realize that the Magisterium has created enough room for both of our views under its purview.”
I understand that. What I was pointing out is that there are no real contradictions in scripture and you should not rely on a trumpted up list of supposed contradictions as your evidence. I am not trying to attack you, but it seems to me what you’re doing here - perhaps with no intention of doing so - is attacking the credibility of scripture. There is, for instance, a huge difference between claiming that some numbers in scripture have allegorical and symbolic significance and saying that numbers are contradictory or even apparently contradictory. I’m just saying...
“Of course the option you mention is a possibility. But I think if we get in a debate over the examples I gave you, it would deflect from the real issue at hand which is the simple matter of whether Genesis should be read literally, even we it flies in the face of everything the natural sciences have discovered about the known universe. I do not see the justification for reading Genesis as a science text thats my issue.”
I understand what you’re saying. And here’s my problem with it:
1) All of the Bible must be read literally - that is Church teaching. Now, having said that, I understand that someone can quibble over whether all literal meanings must be understood or interpreted in their must literal sense. Those are actually two different issues.
2) You wrote: “even we it flies in the face of everything the natural sciences have discovered about the known universe.”
The Natural Sciences have discovered exactly NOTHING. Scientists make discoveries, not sciences. Scientists are people and are perfectly capable of errors. When you speak of “natural sciences” making discoveries, you make it sound as if a field of science is a god-like being capable of deliberate thought and discovery. People make science. They also make mistakes.
3) “I do not see the justification for reading Genesis as a science text thats my issue.”
I think this is a false premise. Isn’t it entirely possible to read Genesis as literally true without reading Genesis as a science text? When I read John 6 literally - as the Church says I must - I do not get bogged down in scientific issues over the transformation of matter from one substance to another. Do you? I think it is simply a false premise to say that one must read Genesis as science in order to read Genesis literally. I can read the gospels as literally true without reading them as historical documents in the ususal sense we use that term today.
For Scriptural historical and scientific accuracy, we can compare the Day of Resurrection accounts in the four Gospels.
1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, 2 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
3 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
4 He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce 5 this to his disciples.
6 And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.
Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”
When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large.
On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed.
He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him.
But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”
Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
( 2 When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.
1 But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised. 2 Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
3 Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.
4 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.
1 2 3 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran 4 and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
5 So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths 6 there,
and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
7 For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
Then the disciples returned home.
8 But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” 9 which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, 10 for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.
Compare all the verses; they have some elements that are the same, but definitely not completely historically in sync; they have different individuals involved at different times; only Matthew has guards posted, for instance.
“All of the Bible must be read literally - that is Church teaching.”
“In their recommendations for Bible study, the U.S. Conference of Bishops say: “he Bible is the story of God’s relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto.”
And then: “I’m not sure how they could be any clearer than that on this issue.”
bdeaner, come on, now. I said “literally”. You post something about “ It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto.”
I never said we must read it as science. I specifically denied that. I also said nothing about reading it as history as we commonly use the term. And I most certainly never said anything about political manifestos. You seem to be confusing the meaning of “literally” with these OTHER issues. As said in The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church:
“According to Divino Afflante Spiritu, the search for the literal sense of Scripture is an essential task of exegesis and, in order to fulfill this task, it is necessary to determine the literary genre of texts (cf. Enchiridion Biblicum, 560), something which the historical-critical method helps to achieve.”
“Fundamentalist interpretation starts from the principle that the Bible, being the Word of God, inspired and free from error, should be read and interpreted literally in all its details. But by “literal interpretation” it understands a naively literalist interpretation, one, that is to say, which excludes every effort at understanding the Bible that takes account of its historical origins and development. It is opposed, therefore, to the use of the historical- critical method, as indeed to the use of any other scientific method for the interpretation of Scripture.”
1. The Literal Sense
It is not only legitimate, it is also absolutely necessary to seek to define the precise meaning of texts as produced by their authors—what is called the “literal” meaning. St. Thomas Aquinas had already affirmed the fundamental importance of this sense (S. Th. I, q. 1,a. 10, ad 1).
The literal sense is not to be confused with the “literalist” sense to which fundamentalists are attached. It is not sufficient to translate a text word for word in order to obtain its literal sense. One must understand the text according to the literary conventions of the time. When a text is metaphorical, its literal sense is not that which flows immediately from a word-to-word translation (e.g. “Let your loins be girt”: Lk. 12:35), but that which corresponds to the metaphorical use of these terms (”Be ready for action”). When it is a question of a story, the literal sense does not necessarily imply belief that the facts recounted actually took place, for a story need not belong to the genre of history but be instead a work of imaginative fiction.
The literal sense of Scripture is that which has been expressed directly by the inspired human authors. Since it is the fruit of inspiration, this sense is also intended by God, as principal author. One arrives at this sense by means of a careful analysis of the text, within its literary and historical context. The principal task of exegesis is to carry out this analysis, making use of all the resources of literary and historical research, with a view to defining the literal sense of the biblical texts with the greatest possible accuracy (cf. Divino Afflante Spiritu: Ench. Bibl., 550). To this end, the study of ancient literary genres is particularly necessary (ibid. 560).
Does a text have only one literal sense? In general, yes; but there is no question here of a hard and fast rule, and this for two reasons. First, a human author can intend to refer at one and the same time to more than one level of reality. This is in fact normally the case with regard to poetry. Biblical inspiration does not reject this capacity of human psychology and language; the fourth Gospel offers numerous examples of it. Second, even when a human utterance appears to have only one meaning, divine inspiration can guide the expression in such way as to create more than one meaning. This is the case with the saying of Caiaphas in John 11:50: At one and the same time it expresses both an immoral political ploy and a divine revelation. The two aspects belong, both of them, to the literal sense, for they are both made clear by the context. Although this example may be extreme, it remains significant, providing a warning against adopting too narrow a conception of the inspired text’s literal sense.
One should be especially attentive to the dynamic aspect of many texts. The meaning of the royal psalms, for example, should not be limited strictly to the historical circumstances of their production. In speaking of the king, the psalmist evokes at one and the same time both the institution as it actually was and an idealized vision of kingship as God intended it to be; in this way the text carries the reader beyond the institution of kingship in its actual historical manifestation. Historical-critical exegesis has too often tended to limit the meaning of texts by tying it too rigidly to precise historical circumstances. It should seek rather to determine the direction of thought expressed by the text; this direction, far from working toward a limitation of meaning, will on the contrary dispose the exegete to perceive extensions of it that are more or less foreseeable in advance.
One branch of modern hermeneutics has stressed that human speech gains an altogether fresh status when put in writing. A written text has the capacity to be placed in new circumstances, which will illuminate it in different ways, adding new meanings to the original sense. This capacity of written texts is especially operative in the case of the biblical writings, recognized as the Word of God. Indeed, what encouraged the believing community to preserve these texts was the conviction that they would continue to be bearers of light and life for generations of believers to come. The literal sense is, from the start, open to further developments, which are produced through the “rereading” (relectures) of texts in new contexts.
It does not follow from this that we can attribute to a biblical text whatever meaning we like, interpreting it in a wholly subjective way. On the contrary, one must reject as unauthentic every interpretation alien to the meaning expressed by the human authors in their written text. To admit the possibility of such alien meanings would be equivalent to cutting off the biblical message from its root, which is the Word of God in its historical communication; it would also mean opening the door to interpretations of a wildly subjective nature.”
And then in the very next section, they provided a very good example of the difference between literal and historicist (which is what you are falsely attributing to me in sense):
2. The Spiritual Sense
There are reasons, however, for not taking alien in so strict a sense as to exclude all possibility of higher fulfillment. The paschal event, the death and resurrection of Jesus, has established a radically new historical context, which sheds fresh light upon the ancient texts and causes them to undergo a change in meaning. In particular, certain texts which in ancient times had to be thought of as hyperbole (e.g. the oracle where God, speaking of a son of David, promised to establish his throne “forever”: 2 Sm. 7:12-13; 1 Chr. 17:11-14), these texts must now be taken literally, because “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more” (Rom. 6:9). Exegetes who have a narrow, “historicist” idea about the literal sense will judge that here is an example of an interpretation alien to the original. Those who are open to the dynamic aspect of a text will recognize here a profound element of continuity as well as a move to a different level: Christ rules forever, but not on the earthly throne of David (cf. also Ps. 2:7-8; 110: 1.4).
I am honestly not trying to pick on you but I think you’re conflating two different issues here. To lump in those who take the Bible literally with those who view it as “science” or who are historicists or whatever is simply unfair.
“The evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of a view of the cosmos that is at odds with a literal interpretation of Genesis, e.g. that God made the universe in seven 24-hour days with human being appearing on the sixth day.”
And wouldn’t 99% of those same scientists deny transubstantiation? Would you believe them?
“I would say that Genesis is without theological error, as long as it is not read as a science or history book. To read it “literally,” as I am using the term, is to read it as a science or history book, rather than a revelation of theological truths.”
It is? So if I read John 6 literally am I reading it as a science book? History?
“However, there may be other ways to understand the word “literal” that are different than the way I am using it, in this case specifically to mean an objective record of natural science or history void of figurative significance.”
Your definition of literal is NOT the Church’s definition of literal. You are essentially creating a straw man.
“Note, I am not attacking the credibility of Scripture.”
“I believe it is without theological error.”
So it has other errors? Is it error laden? Is it light in errors?
“There are apparent contradictions when the Bible is taken literally, but these contradictions do not undermine the credibility of the Scriptures since they only appear when it is read as an objective science or history book, but to do the latter is to read it within the wrong set of hermeneutic lenses.”
Okay, again you’re putting forward that straw man of what literal means.
“Once you have the right set of hermeneutic lenses on, figuratively speaking, there are no contradictions, and the truths revealed in scripture are coherent, and in fact supported by science and history. That’s my point.”
Okay, so is the resurrection of Christ supported by science and history? If not should I then not take the resurrection literally?
I’m not trying to beat you up. I just think that you are making a mistake by creating a straw man with the word “literal”.
I also think the idea of appealing to scientific or historical support for your understanding of Genesis is a mistake simply because those same standards, when applied to other books of the Bible, debunk the divinity and story of Christ and Christianity rather quickly.
How do you know that?
The Bible is a 'threat' to you?
I am not threatened by a book that describes talking donkeys. But, the Bible, just like the Koran, does contain threats.
You feel you can't live in peace wondering 'what if it is the inspired Word of God?
I live in peace wondering why do people believe in assumptions and then speak of them as if they were facts?
Don't take that as a threat but wisdom working
Whose wisdom? Yours?
“Not a straw man if I leave the term “literal” open to other possible meanings.”
Which you didn’t do UNTIL AFTER you had put forward the straw man. Too late.
“I’m not reducing “literal” to only this one meaning,...”
You said that a literal view of Genesis would be the same as viewing it as science or history. How is that NOT reducing it to one meaning?
Again, I’m not attacking you, but I think you need to be more careful with how you word things.
“Or do you believe just an assumption?”
By definition, assumptions are not proven. It is up to the other side in a discussion to decide if they will agree on the assumption.
Most people who say, “Scripture is true” are using shorthand for “I believe Scripture is true”.
The idea that God is provable is contrary to faith.
Hebrews 11 says, “1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
The word translated faith means:
“1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it
a) relating to God - 1) the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ
b) relating to Christ - 1) a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God
c) the religious beliefs of Christians
d) belief with the predominate idea of trust (or confidence) whether in God or in Christ, springing from faith in the same”
People regularly say they ‘know’ something, when what they really mean is that they have full confidence in it. If you wish for faith, ask God for it. If you do not wish, then do not ask.
Sorry for the cheap shot at Protestants in the last post. I meant to say that there are certain particular Protestant posters—who shall go unnamed—who seem to love mounting straw man arguments as a matter of habit. Catholics are not immune to fallacious arguments.
Nope...While many of the numbers have symbolic or even prophetic significance, they are to be taken literally as well...
The Church is in a crisis because many young people would sooner give up belief in the Bible than dispense with belief in the overwhelming evidence the sciences have collected on the cosmogenesis of the universe and evolution.
Overwhelming evidence of evolution??? Science has never proven the scriptures to be wrong and never will...The scriptures on the other hand, have proven science to be wrong on more than one occasion...
When the Bible is understood on the appropriate literary terms, and not taken as a science text, it can be understood to be entirely consistent with current scientific understanding, and in fact the sciences imply the necessity of a Creator.
You may be right on that one...IF you want to read the scriptures as tho it is a novel or a cookbook, you may be able to come to that conclusion...
Was Ahasiah 22- (2 Ki. 8:26), 32- (2 Ch. 21:20), or 42-years-old (2 Ch. 21:20) when he began to reign? etc. But since they are usually more symbolic in value than an actual record of exact numerical measurements, then that is not something to be concerned about.
With a little research you will find that there are two Ahasiahs involved...One is a son, the other is a son-in-law or step-son...God did not just throw in random numbers to fill up space...
I am not threatened by a book that describes talking donkeys. And then you say..I live in peace wondering why do people believe in assumptions and then speak of them as if they were facts? So, therefore, the why do people includes you.
I am not sure I follow you. I made no assumptions. I read the thread and saw statements like "God wrote the scripture through man..." Is that a fact? If so, please provide proof. Facts are provable; assumptions are not. I wonder why people believe that a donkey can talk rationally, or that diseases are caused by 'demons' just because someone wrote that in the Bible.
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