Inspiration and Interpretation

Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture

Denis Farkasfalvy
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Inspiration and Interpretation
    Book Description:

    Inspiration and Interpretation provides readers with a much needed general theological introduction to the study of Sacred Scripture.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1808-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
    (pp. 1-13)

    This book is the fruit of a lifelong fascination with the presuppositions of biblical theology, specifically with the relationship between the doctrine of inspiration and hermeneutics. I can best introduce the book, then, by giving an account of its genesis.

    The present volume grew out of a project I undertook as a young student in Rome: an investigation of the biblical exegesis of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. As I realized the complexity of this topic, I began to research St. Bernard’s understanding of scriptural inspiration in the hope of finding a clearer approach to his exegesis as a whole. Soon...

  4. I. “ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES” The Old Testament in the Apostolic Church
    (pp. 14-24)

    At its first emergence, the Christian faith—the faith of the primitive Church—appeared to be in close connection with “scriptures,” the Holy Scriptures of Israel. The oldest extant document about the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, First Corinthians, from the years AD 54–57, explicitly states such a connection: “First of all I have given over to you what has been given over to me, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried and rose from the dead according to the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3–4).¹ It is not an easy task to determine...

  5. II. “I AM WRITING TO YOU” The Origins of the New Testament
    (pp. 25-51)

    As we observed before, the Christian faith was first spread not by written word but by missionaries who preached viva voce.¹ Narratives about the deeds and sayings of Jesus, as well as the memory of his teachings, were spread and preserved by live proclamation entrusted to oral tradition. To the extent we know, the first products of Christian literature did not deal with the life of Christ, not even with the collection of his sayings, but consisted of the exhortations and the theological, moral, or pastoral comments of missionaries.² As most contemporary scholars assume, none of the canonical gospels was...

    (pp. 52-62)

    When at its inception the early Christian Church began to use the Scriptures of Judaism, it adopted a certain way of looking at them as well as a certain way of speaking of them. Both these ways had their origin in the Old Testament. In other words, one might say that the Church’s faith in the Christian Bible continued and further developed the faith that the Jews had in their Scriptures. The earliest Christian texts contain the same formulas of quotation and reference—“For it is written,” “As Scripture says”—which are found in contemporary Jewish documents. These formulas not...

    (pp. 63-87)

    The literary heritage of the apostolic Church represented by the books of the New Testament is so closely and organically related to the Eucharist that one is entitled to state that all New Testament Scripture has a Eucharistic provenance.¹ This statement must not be regarded as intending to prove anything extraordinary or unexpected. Historians and Scripture scholars have, in fact, often recognized or at least tacitly presupposed that the texts that make up part of the New Testament originate in the historical, social, or cultic background of the early Church’s celebration of the Eucharist.

    The earliest Pauline letters were written...

  8. V. INTERPRETATION AND CANON IN THE SECOND CENTURY The Beginnings of Patristic Exegesis
    (pp. 88-119)

    The term “the patristic era” refers to a rather large time period of six to seven centuries that encompasses a wide diversity of theological schools and movements, and an immense amount of early Christian literature. Concerning too the use and interpretation of Scripture and views about the Bible, we find among the Fathers rich variety, which cannot be easily summarized without distortions or simplification. Nevertheless, with no pretense of completeness, we will attempt to sketch the process by which Christian thought gave its own account of the nature of Scripture and formed a certain method of interpretation. This method remained...

    (pp. 120-139)

    The theologians of the third century opened a new era in the history of Christian thought.¹ First of all, they began to exploit systematically and methodically the riches of the Old and New Testaments by using them as source material both for apologetics (the defense of the faith against Jews and heretics) and for doctrinal systematization.² The new developments can be summarized as follows.

    As indicated above, now in every debate against Jews or Gnostics, it became increasingly important for the exegete to determine the precise form of the biblical text. This apologetically motivated interest in a precise and faithful...

    (pp. 140-152)

    In the patristic era both theology and Christian life were based on the interpretation of the Bible. In the liturgy and in theological disputes the reading of biblical texts guaranteed close contact with the written records of revelation issuing from the preaching of God’s inspired word by “prophets and Apostles.” At the same time, the Church learned that the letter by itself is sterile and dead, and thus the Church’s living tradition must remain the context for interpretation; in other words, interpretation must be under the influence of the Spirit and under the teaching authority of the successors of the...

    (pp. 153-167)

    Much of the Middle Ages (at least as early as the ninth century) could be characterized as a chain of repeated “renaissances” or “returns to the sources,” which meant, in terms of Christian history, efforts to return to both the cultural standards of classical antiquity and the apostolic sources of the faith. An early example of such movements is the “Carolingian renaissance,” a movement promoted by the imperial court of Charlemagne and his successors. Another example is found in the reform of the monasteries of the eleventh and twelfth centuries after the Gregorian Reform and, subsequently, in the various waves...

    (pp. 168-202)

    The Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum was the product of a lengthy struggle. Even its final version is not the mature conclusion of the process which produced it. Here we must neither discuss its detailed history nor trace the path which the theology of revelation and inspiration traveled between the two Vatican Councils. We shall, however, engage partly in some historical inquiry to demonstrate the following double thesis:

    First, Dei Verbum has successfully restored the proper context in which Tradition developed and nurtured the theology of inspiration, inerrancy, and the ecclesial use of Scripture.

    Second, although in its chapters 3 through...

    (pp. 203-235)

    The previous chapters of this book have anticipated the method to be used for a systematic presentation of a “theology of Scripture.” I repeat here only that the lack of monographic studies on the doctrine of inspiration in ancient and medieval traditions presents today the greatest obstacle to the completion of this task.

    Particularly important when determining the point of departure for a systematic theological understanding of inspiration is this question: Is the “divine authorship” of the Bible the correct fundamental assertion on which the theology of inspiration is to be based? Karl Rahner, even while raising concerns about the...

    (pp. 236-240)

    We cannot demonstrate better the importance and actuality of the topics treated in this book than by showing their manifold connection to the proposals (Propositiones) formulated by the twelfth Synod of the Catholic Church, “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” held October 5–26, 2008. After Vatican II, such Synods of the Church have been held in order to exercise in pastoral practice the doctrine of collegiality among the bishops by means of regular meetings in which representatives of the worldwide assembly of the Catholic hierarchy discuss, at the discretion of the pope, the...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-246)
  16. Index
    (pp. 247-252)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 253-253)