Interpreting Scripture

Pope Benedict recently addressed the Pontifical Biblical Commission and reiterated that Sacred Scripture can only be understood within the “community of believers” that is the Church.

This reality is something that bothered me in my seven years of exposure to “higher” Catholic study of Scripture. While I would advocate a reading of the text consistent with Scripture, my professor would often chide me: “That’s one possible interpretation.” But after a year focused on the Word of God–both through a synod on the subject and through honoring one of the Church’s most prominent preachers, St. Paul–we would do well to remember the centrality of the Word of God in our theology and Christian life.

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As Pope Benedict has noted before, the Word of God must be understood primarily as Christ Himself, the Logos Who entered the world to reveal the very life of God. This life took shape in and through the Church, which spread the word throughout the world. The development of the texts we have today developed in conjunction with the development and geographical diaspora of the Church.

“Sacred Scripture,” the pope says, “is the Word of God in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Tradition, on the other hand, integrally transmits the Word of God as entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors so that they, illuminated by the Spirit of truth, could faithfully conserve, explain and spread it through their preaching.”

Part of this connection between Scripture and Tradition is, of course, interpreting the sacred text in communion with the Church’s teaching: We must “reject[ ] all interpretations that are subjective or limited to mere analysis.” We must, in essence, read catholicly and Catholicly.

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