"My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God" (Pro* 2:1-5)
How do we read Sacred Scripture?
There are many varying opinions on how Scripture should be read across the countless churches found in Christianity. Some churches prefer to place more emphasis on personal interpretation of scripture while others rely much more heavily on pastoral explanation. First and foremost, however, as Catholics we must adhere to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, when she states " Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written" (111). We must be unmistakably clear in our understanding that that the Holy Spirit is the primary interpreter of Scripture. This very fact is reaffirmed in Jn**14:26, when Christ says: "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things". This means for us to be able to fully grasp the power and meaning of scripture we must read it in light of the understanding that Scripture was written through an eternal spirit, and is not a simple narrative or myth.
I think we can all agree that any person or object works best, and it's fullest potential is only realized, when it is used for it's intended purpose. As such, "we should read the Bible according to the reason it was given to us; to bring us closer to God by helping us to grow in love for God and neighbor. To understand the Bible correctly we ought to read it with concern for holiness"(Beginning Apologetics: How to Read the Bible, 6). Another important aspect to remember is that the bible is the inspired word of God, and when read with faith it has the power to transform our lives. Also, we ought to not get discouraged if we find we are unable to understand certain sections of Scripture. "We... need to read the Bible with humility, recognizing that we are limited creatures reading the words of the limitless Creator"(7). One must also remember it is foolish to believe the bible is "outdated" or "not relevant" to our lives. The New Testament of the Bible has remained unaltered in written form for over 1500 years, and the majority of the Old Testament has existed for well over 2500 years (more on this in a future blog post). Does this not mean the Bible has been able to pass the test of time, having survived through countless ages of mankind and yet retaining relevancy throughout that time period?
"The idea that "old ideas" are not as not as solid as new ideas is not only stupid, it's dangerously prideful. Old ideas are often far better because they've held up over time... Yes, maybe you have the Internet, but [people from the past] knew how to build pyramids without cranes, harvest crops without tractors, heal without prescriptions, and chart stars without telescopes"(Truth Be Told,81).
Lastly, we must remember to "read the Scripture within the "living Tradition of the whole Church""(C.C.C***, 113). This means we ought to look at the Bible as a whole rather than read it in isolated fragments. As Beginning Apologetics states, "Reading only isolated passages, or taking paggages out of context, can seriously distort Scriptures meaning". For instance, " years ago on a television show, an atheist insisted that the Bible teaches there is no God. As the audience gasped, the Atheist opened his Bible to Psalm 14:1 and read, "There is no God." However, the whole passage reads, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" We should not chop the Bible up into contradictory pieces, but interpret it as a consistent whole"(7). It is important to remember the 2000 years worth of Catholic saints, historians, doctors, and theologians whose insight on Scripture have come before us. Often times we will find that their insights on Scripture have been invaluable in enriching the Church's understanding of Scripture, and as such may prove to be essential in furthering our defense of the faith.
** The Holy Gospel According to Saint John
*** The Catechism of the Catholic Church
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