Monday, October 26, 2009

Faith Is Key to Interpreting Scripture, Says Pope

Addresses 100-Year-Old Pontifical Biblical Institute

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2009 ( The historical-critical method of interpreting biblical texts is legitimate and necessary, but it must not be forgotten that the key to the interpretation of Scripture is the faith of the Church, says Benedict XVI.

"If exegesis also wishes to be theology," he told the Pontifical Biblical Institute today, "it must acknowledge that the faith of the Church is that form of 'sim-patia' without which the Bible remains as a sealed book."

The Pope received in audience the professors and students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute on the occasion of the institute's 100th anniversary. Pius X founded the institute in 1909, and entrusted its direction to the Society of Jesus.

Benedict XVI alluded to the debate on the historical-critical method of sacred Scripture, which aims to understand Scripture in light of the historical context and worldview of the era.

The Holy Father explained that the Second Vatican Council clarified in the dogmatic constitution "Dei Verbum" that the historical-critical method is legitimate and necessary, "reducing it to three essential elements: attention to literary genres; study of the historical context; examination of what is usually called Sitz im Leben" (roughly translated as "setting in life").

"The foundation on which theological understanding of the Bible rests is the unity of Scripture," the Pope affirmed, which implies "the understanding of the individual texts from the whole."

"Scripture being only one thing starting from the one people of God, which has been its bearer throughout history, consequently to read Scripture as a unit means to read it from the Church as from its vital place, and to regard the faith of the Church as the real key to interpretation," he added.


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