Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The divine inspiration and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture

St. Jerome, tireless scholar of the Bible

Last Sunday, I gave the third talk in a four-part series on the Second Vatican Council. The topic this week was, “Vatican II and the Bible.” In fact, the relevant council document (Dei Verbum) places the Bible within the larger context of the revelation which is given us in Christ Jesus, the Word of God. This revelation has been communicated to the Church through both Tradition and Scripture, moreover the Church’s Magisterium is the authentic interpreter and servant of the word of God.

Below, I have posted both a handout on divine origin of Sacred Scripture (i.e. that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit) and on Biblical inerrancy (i.e. that everything written in the Bible is true, when interpreted properly).

The inspiration of Sacred Scripture

For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men. (DV 13)

            A. The inspiration of the Holy Spirit
Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (DV 11)

                        1. Everything is inspired and nothing is not inspired. There is no error in the Bible.
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 which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. (DV 11)

                        2. God is the author, but the men are also real and true authors
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 which He wanted. (DV 11)

Sacred Scripture is the word of God set down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In this way one recognizes the full importance of the human author who wrote the inspired texts and, at the same time, God himself as the true author" (Verb Dom 19).

However, 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. (DV 12)

            B. The Gospels
                        1. What Jesus really did and said
Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1). (DV 19)

The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus. (DV 19)

                        2. The Gospels are founded on the Apostles
The Church has always and everywhere held and continues to hold that the four Gospels are of apostolic origin. For what the Apostles preached in fulfillment of the commission of Christ, afterwards they themselves and apostolic men, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing. (DV 18)
                                                i. Matthew, apostle
                                                ii. Mark – disciple of Peter, apostle
                                                iii. Luke – disciple of Paul, apostle
                                                iv. John, aptostle