Hebrew Text of Scripture

Course Description

In this course you will dive deeply into one of the Church’s most precious heirlooms: Sacred Scripture.

In God’s plan of loving goodness and wisdom he has desired to make known the mystery of his will for our lives. God, “who dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim 6:16), has desired to reveal himself in order to bring all people into closer bonds of communion and love with himself. After gradually revealing himself throughout the period of the Old Testament, “in the fullness of time” (Gal 4:4) he sent his only Son into the World: Jesus Christ, the “Word made flesh” (Jn 1:14). And as the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum has clearly said, just as the eternal Word of the father took to himself the flesh of human weakness and was in every way made like men, except for sin, so too “the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse” (n.13). These “words of God” are contained in sacred Scripture.

It is one thing to know that Scripture is the Word of God and another to know how to interpret it correctly. Like every piece of literature, Scripture too must be interpreted with the view to obtaining the author’s intention. For this reason, following the Church Fathers, Dei Verbum states that “since God speaks in sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words” (n.12).

This course is designed to take you on an amazing journey into the depths of Scripture by studying the age old methods of biblical interpretation, outlined by the Church Fathers and solidified in the Church’s teaching. You will explore the threefold criteria laid down by Dei Verbum (n.12 §3) for the correct interpretation of Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it (see CCC, n.111), along with the now famous fourfold Senses of Scripture. You will also investigate the meaning of Inspiration of Scripture along with Scripture’s Inerrancy and Infallibility.

After we have investigated these essential aspects of Scripture we will look at the different genres of Scriptural books, whether they are historical narrative, poetry, philosophical reflection, pastoral instruction, apocalyptic literature, myth or any of the many other forms of literature found in Scripture.

The course will conclude with a brief study of some of the most salient points of the most important documents released by the Church in the last 120 years relating to the study of Scripture. These documents are: Pope Leo XIII’s Providentissimus Deus (18 November, 1893), Pope Benedict XV’s Spiritus Paraclitus (15 September, 1920), Pope Pius XII’s Divino Afflante Spiritu (30 September, 1943), the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution: Dei Verbum (18 November, 1965), and most recently Pope Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini (30 September, 2010).

Course Objectives

  1. To receive the methods for correctly interpreting sacred Scripture.
  2. To see the fundamental difference between Scripture and all other literature.
  3. To know and apply the threefold criterion lay down by the Church of correct biblical interpretation.
  4. To learn about the meaning of the Inspiration of Scripture.
  5. To grasp the link between the Inspiration of Scripture, Scriptures’ Inerrancy and its Infallibility.
  6. To understand and be able to identify the various types of literary genre in Scripture.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

Catholic Church. Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum.

Shea, Mark P. Making Senses out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did. San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999.

Popular Level Reading:

Achtemeier, Paul J. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 1999.

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homebush: St Pauls, 1994.

_________. The Historicity of the Gospels: Instruction of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1964.

_________. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church: Address of His Holiness John Paul II and Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: St Paul Books and Media, 1993.

_________. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Dauphinais, Michael and Matthew Levering. Holy People, Holy Land: A Theological Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. Scripture, the Soul of Theology. New York: Paulist Press, 1994.

Geisler, Norman L. and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011.

Hahn, Scott. A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture. Michigan: Servant Publications, 1998.

_________. A Pocket Guide to the Bible. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Division, 2008.

_________. Letter and Spirit: From written Text to Living Word in the Liturgy. Great Britain: Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 2006.

_________. Scripture Matters: Essays on Reading the Bible from the Heart of the Church. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road, 2003.

Hahn, Scott and Curtis Mitch. The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study: The New Testament. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010.

Sri, Edward. The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures. West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2009.

Stravinskas, Peter M.J. The Catholic Church and the Bible. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the New Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

_________. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

Thematic Works for this Course:

Béchard, Dean P. ed. and trans. The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teachings. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002.

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981.

Farkasfalvy, Denis. Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture. Washington DC. The Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Bartholomew, Craig, et al (ed.). Cannon and Biblical Interpretation (Scripture & Hermeneutics Series. Vol. 7). United Kingdom: Paternoster Press, 2006.

Beale, Gregory K. A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.

_________. Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.

_________. The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2008.

Beale, Gregory and D.A. Carson, (eds.). Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007.

Burtchaell, James T. Catholic Theories of Biblical Inspiration since 1810. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Dungan, David, Laird. A History of the Synoptic Problem: The Canon, the Text, the Composition, and the Interpretation of the Gospels. New York: Doubleday, 1999.

Levering, Matthew. Participatory Biblical Exegesis: A Theology of Biblical Interpretation. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.

Rahner, Karl. Inspiration in the Bible. New York: Herder and Herder, 1961.

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. God’s Word: ScriptureTraditionOffice. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008.

Rogers, Jack B. and Donald k. McKim. The Authority and Interpretation of the Bible: An Historical Approach. New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1979.

Schniedewind, William M. How the Bible Became a Book. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Stein, Robert H. The Synoptic Problem: An Introduction. Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Books, 1987.

Woodbridge, John D. Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982.

Wright, N.T. The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture. United Kingdom: HarperOne, 2005.

Zia, Mark J. What are they saying about Biblical Inspiration? New York: Paulist Press, 2011.

Scholarly Journal Articles:

Barron, Robert. “Biblical Interpretation and Theology: Irenaeus, Modernity, and Vatican II.” Letter & Spirit 5 (2009): 173-192.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von. “The Word, Scripture, and Tradition.” Letter & Spirit 2 (2006): 189-202.

Baglow, Christopher T. “Rediscovering St. Thomas Aquinas as Biblical Theologian.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 137-146.

Bea, Augustin Cardinal. “Vatican II and the Truth of Sacred Scripture.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 173-178.

Crehan, J.H. “Verbum Dei Incarnatum and Verbum Dei Scriptum in the Church Fathers.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 345-348.

D’Ambrosio, Marcellino. “The Spiritual Sense in De Lubac’s Hermeneutics of Tradition.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 147-158.

Driscoll, Jeremy. “The Word of God in the Liturgy of the New Covenant.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 87-100.

Dulles, Cardinal Avery. “The Church and the Kingdom: A Study of their Relationship in Scripture, Tradition and Evangelization.” Letter & Spirit 3 (2007):23-38.

_________. “Vatican II on the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture.” Letter & Spirit 2 (2006): 17-26.

Durrwell, F.X. “The Sacrament of Sacred Scripture.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 167-172.

Fastiggi, Robert. “Communal or Social Inspiration: A Catholic Critique.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 247-264.

Gadenz, Pablo T. “Magisterial Teaching on the Inspiration and Truth of Scripture: Precedents and Prospects.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 67-92.

Griesz Germain. “The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 181-190.

Hahn, Scott W. “Worship in the Word: Towards a Liturgical Hermeneutic.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 101-136.

_________. (ed.). “For the Sake of Our Salvation: The Truth and Humility of God’s Word.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010).

Harrison, Brian W. “Restricted Inerrancy and the ‘Hermeneutic Of Discontinuity.’” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 225-246.

Healy, Mary. “Inspiration and Incarnation: The Christological Analogy and the Hermeneutics of Faith.” Letter & Spirit 2 (2006): 27-42.

Levering, Matthew. “The Inspiration of Scripture: A Status Quaestionis.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 281-314.

McGovern, Thomas. “The Gospels as History.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 333-344.

Pitre, Brant. “The Mystery of God’s Word: Inspiration, Inerrancy, and the Interpretation of Scripture.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 47-66.

Waldstein, Michael Maria. “Analogia Verbi: The Truth of Scripture in Rudolph Bultmann and Raymond Brown.” Letter & Spirit 6 (2010): 93-140.

Wilken, Robert Louis. “Allegory and the Interpretation of the Old Testament in the 21st Century.” Letter & Spirit 1 (2005): 11-22.