Are Bible Scholars a Bunch of Heretics?

Frank - facade and statue

Frank - facade and statue

Have you ever delved into the notes provided in the New American Bible?

That is the translation used in the English Lectionary. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has the rights to it. If you quote more than a certain minimum in a publication of your own you must pay them royalties. Many Catholic schools give a copy of this very Bible to their students or require them to purchase one as early as sixth grade, so, theoretically, it can accompany them on their faith journey into adulthood.

Jesus did not preach the Beatitudes?

So imagine you’re reading the Sermon on the Mount, and you get to the Beatitudes, and you wonder, who exactly are the poor in spirit, or the meek, or what does clean of heart mean, or what does it take to be a peacemaker, and you look down at the footnote for help? Here is what you’ll read.

[5:312] The form Blessed are (is) occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the Wisdom literature and in the psalms. Although modified by Matthew, the first, second, fourth, and ninth beatitudes have Lucan parallels (Mt 5:3 // Lk 6:20; Mt 5:4 // Lk 6:21b; Mt 5:6 // Lk 6:21a; Mt 5:1112 // Lk 5:2223). The others were added by the evangelist and are probably his own composition. A few manuscripts, Western and Alexandrian, and many versions and patristic quotations give the second and third beatitudes in inverted order.

What? Besides the fact that nobody except maybe a Biblical scholar cares about Lucan parallels or whether some ancient manuscripts have inverted the order of two of them, the note claims that the third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth beatitudes are words Matthew put into the mouth of Jesus.

So, somebody important in the Catholic Church says Jesus never said:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

What else did Jesus never say?

So you wonder, what else did Jesus never say? Maybe you wonder, do I have to pay attention to anything Jesus allegedly said?

Today, for example, this country is upside down over what marriage is. One of the key Scriptural sources of Catholic teaching on marriage is Jesus’ return to the beginning when he said about Moses’ allowance of divorce: “In the beginning it was not so” (Mt. 19:8). Did Jesus maybe never say that either? Maybe Matthew was just a first century bigot whose words put into the mouth of Jesus can be discarded?

What Mary never said?

Or consider Our Lady’s Magnificat, recorded in the Gospel of Luke. This is her hymn of praise spoken to her cousin Elizabeth after Elizabeth exclaimed that her unborn son had leapt for joy in recognition of Mary’s unborn son. Alas, here our N.A.B. note says:

[1:4655] Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat. Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God’s favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.

So, Mary did not really speak the Magnificat? Luke either wrote this “hymn” himself or found it and inserted it into the text? What else did Luke make up? I guess we should be thankful that Glory and Praise was not around in the first century.

What is up with this?

These kinds of footnotes used to drive me up the wall until I read the 1964 Pontifical Biblical Commission’s Instruction Concerning the Historical Truth of the Gospel. Fr. Joseph A. Fitzmyer provided us a great service with both his English translation of the Instruction and his critical introduction to it.

In it, Fitzmyer tells us, the Magisterium signaled the legitimacy of the method called form criticism, even though it rejected all of the modernist heretical philosophical and theological presuppositions of the form critics. In other words, the method itself is sound. I think you will agree once you hear the Magisterium’s reasoning. The Church did not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Form criticism

This method sees “three stages of tradition by which the doctrine and the life of Jesus have come down to us” (Instruction §VI).

The first stage is “the things that Jesus actually did and said, with the things that the chosen disciples saw and heard.”

The second stage in this tradition is “the testimony of the apostles and the accommodations which they made in their message to the needs of those to whom they preached.” The Commission informs us, Fitzmyer says, that “the apostles passed on what Jesus had actually said and done ‘with that fuller understanding which they enjoyed’ as a result of the experience they went through at the first Easter and the illumination of the Spirit of Truth at Pentecost,” while also accommodating their preaching to their various audiences (Instruction §VIII).

And the third stage—the longest discussed by the Instruction—is what the Evangelists actually set down in writing. Each Evangelist, according to the Instruction, chose a “method suited to the peculiar purpose which each one set for himself” and followed a process of “selection, synthesis, and explication” adapting his source material “to the needs of the readers.” Fitzmyer tells us, “Because the Evangelist often transposed episodes from one context to another, it is necessary for the exegete to seek out the meaning intended by the Evangelist in narrating a saying or deed in a certain way or putting it in a different context.”

What kind of truth?

Since the Evangelist redacted material from the first and second stages, the question arises, What kind of truth are we dealing with? Fitzmyer says the Instruction says the answer is “Gospel truth.” Fitzmyer quotes the Instruction: “From the results of the new investigations it is apparent that the doctrine and the life of Jesus were not simply reported for the sole purpose of being remembered, but were ‘preached’ so as to offer the Church a basis of faith and of morals” (Instruction §X), so that Gospel truth is not a matter of, in Fitzmyer’s words, “fundamentalistic literalness.”

In Fitzmyer’s view, what is most important in the Instruction is that “when all is said and done . . . the Biblical Commission calmly and frankly admits that what is contained in the Gospels as we have them today is not the words and deeds of Jesus in the first stage of tradition, nor even the form in which they were preached in the second stage, but only in the form compiled and edited by the Evangelists.”

Gospel truth

And this final point is the most important. While what the Evangelists gave us “reflects the two previous stages, and the second more than the first,” what we have received is what was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is “Gospel truth . . . free from error.” Fitzmyer tells us that “The opposite of inerrancy is not simply historicity but truth.”

So we are back to the Gospels as inspired by the Holy Spirit and inerrant in presenting the truth.

Back to those footnotes

So, correct me if I’m wrong, but what many of the notes in the New American Bible do is speculate about the provenance of certain Biblical passages, within this three-stage understanding of the development of the Gospel, without telling the innocent reader that this is what they are doing.

We, the faithful, would be much better off if these kinds of speculative notes were left to scholarly articles and not part of a Bible intended to be read by ordinary folks, let alone sixth graders, let alone young adults trying to make sense of the Faith in an environment so hostile to truth. It would be much better if the notes revealed the “Gospel truth” that the Gospels reveal.

Heretics or . . .

So, while some Biblical scholars have been heretics—the original form critics being one notable example—the scholars who have provided us the footnotes for the New American Bible are not. They are just imprudent.

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38 thoughts on “Are Bible Scholars a Bunch of Heretics?”

  1. Thank you for explaining why I find the USCCB comments darn near useless and too often off-putting when I’m reading the Bible. (And why I am book-by-book acquiring the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible!)

  2. Here’s what I think Kevin Aldrich: you and I still believe Mary said the Magnificat. The PBC has no infallibility itself as per ” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Ludwig Ott/ introduction/ section8/ last par. None of the Vatican offices do have infallibility unless they are repeating an idea found infallible in another context. Here’s what happened. The note writer was very taken by Fr. Raymond Brown who decades ago in “Birth of the Messiah” on c. page 345 wrote that Mary never said the Magnificat but Luke probably got it from Palestinian anawim and put it in Mary’s mouth so she would sound like other Old Testament women who enunciated such a declaration when there was a great event ( most pointedly Hannah in I Sam.2: 1-10 who when finally pregnant makes the same partly military, partly rich/poor dichotomy canticle and yet it’s around the pregnancy event). The Bible note writer forgot Hannah’s precedent but remembered that very revered Raymond Brown said it was never said by Mary but forgot that context didn’t matter to Brown who said it’s contextless quality was beside the point….it was Old Testament tradition for women to do this formal out of context speech as in Hannah’s case ( cf too Deborah in Judges 5 and Miriam in Exodus 15:21 ). So the note writer has unwittingly corrected Brown in the (context matter is critical/ no it isn’t) department.
    A pox on both of them. Mary said the Magnificat. I do not have a chair of theology as Brown had several but I do have one of those recliners with the secret snack compartment under the arm rest…and let’s not disparage the wisdom behind that choice. Mary said it. Brown didn’t believe there was a massacre of the innocents, a flight into Egypt, or a census around the time of Christ’s birth. Since him…Catholic PBC members have been in a race to not believe as much as possible. In 2010 one of their papers said that the herem massacres never happened. Pope Benedict had said they happened but were sins and not ordered by God. They’re both wrong. They happened by God’s order or the Church must remove the entire 12 th chapter of Wisdom from the Bible. Let’s see if that ever happens. It won’t. Trust the recliner.

    1. I don’t find it hard to believe Mary said the Magnificat.

      She was without the effects of original sin, could have had a photographic memory of the speeches of the great women of the Bible, and been specially inspired by the Holy Spirit. In addition, she could have prayed the Magnificat every day for the rest of her life. How could it have ever gotten old for her?

      Then, when it was time, she shared her inner life with St. Luke.

  3. I agree 10000%. Why have confusing footnotes that add not a whit to what the passages mean? This is why Scott Hahn and his footnotes in the RSV-CE are sooooo much better…

  4. I have a 1960 version of the Douay Rheims Bible and even in it, I can see some questionable foot notes, not many, but some, had crept in that discounted the actual words in the Bible. Sadly, the Bible scholar problem was even starting to show up one hundred years ago during the time of Pope Pius X because he found it important to fight it with great effort. Thankfully he and the other Popes up through 1950 were able to stamp down this problem, at least in the open but it was still going on quietly within universities, colleges, and even seminaries so by the time of Vatican II it all came out in the open when they ‘opened the windows of the Church to let in a little fresh air’ (actually it appears that only toxic air came in).

    Likewise today we see coming out in the open heretical beliefs that had been stamped down during the papacies of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Just as then, these heresies will be ‘explored’ and promoted in many parts of the Church to the demise of many Catholic souls. I pray that we will see leadership which will see the danger of allowing Satan free reign in the Church. Just as our sinful tendencies need to be controlled, we must control the sinful ideals that Satan promotes through mans self deception.

    1. ” I have a 1960 version of the Douay Rheims Bible and … in it, I can see some questionable foot notes,”
      ” Sadly, the Bible scholar problem was even starting to show up one hundred years ago …”
      ” …Popes up through 1950 were able to stamp down this problem, at least in the open but it was still going on quietly within universities, colleges, and even seminaries.”

      Me thinks this “problem” has been growing for quite a bit longer. Imagine, “stamping down” a bible !

    2. Perhaps I used the wrong terminology and language. I guess I should have said that they told them to either be an evangelist for the Church or leave. When someone represents themselves as a Catholic Bible Scholar, they shouldn’t be questioning the truths of Jesus Christ. If they are, they are not Catholic. When one belongs to a religion, they are claiming to believe in that religion and it’s tenets. If they don’t, they start their own or join another religion. I look at it is like a sabature who enters a country in order to destroy its infrastructure, but in this case the sabature is out in the open destroying the faith of Catholics all along the way. As I used to believe, if the Catholic Church doesn’t have it right on this one item, it is all up for grabs and I finally left the Church.

    1. I think Fitzmyer means that the casual reader might read the Gospels like a verbatim recording of historical events.

      But the Gospels we have are the third stage of an authentic development culminating in what the Holy Spirt wanted set down.

      It began with what Jesus really said and did and what the Apostles heard and saw. Then, after the Resurrection and Pentecost, the Apostles preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles in different parts of the Mediterranean world and adapted what they remembered with these new insights to their audiences in their particular circumstances. Finally, the Evangelists set these things down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Sprit by as human authors, remembering, rearranging, adapting, and so on.

      If you doubt all this, just look at the Gospel of John. One of the most famous verses (“For God so love the world . . . “) is the theological interpretation of the evangelist, not the words of Christ.

      When a scholar is doing form criticism, he is trying to recreate the second and first stages. I think it is very speculative and pretty irrelevant to most of us, like turning your clothes inside out or even tearing them apart to see how they were made in the factory.

    2. “. . . like turning your clothes inside out or even tearing them apart to see how they were made in the factory.”

      Kevin, that’s a very interesting way to put it. God didn’t reveal Himself to us through Sacred Scripture in order to provide us with a means to dissect and dismember His message. That approach, the academic impulse, is from the wrong perspective. To approach the text that way completely misses the point.

      Clothes were made for us to wear, not to serve as a means to critique how cloth is made and utilized. So, the Bible is meant for us to “wear,” to “put on” and make our own, not to deconstruct and analyze in a way that takes us away from, even undermines, its purpose.

    3. ” God didn’t reveal Himself to us through Sacred Scripture in order to provide us with a means to dissect and dismember His message. ”

      Matt 10:34 ” I came not to bring peace but a sword.”
      Sounds to me like a pretty good thing to wield if you want to dissect and dismember.

    4. I think it is great to search into the truth of everything. As Aristotle said, “Man by nature desires to know.” God has implanted this desire in us. My criticism of the NAB notes is that they take a passage apart but don’t put it back together.

    5. Kevin, you’re right, if the intent of scholarship is the search for truth. A lot of modern biblical scholarship is proficient at taking apart, deconstructing, by not at putting back together. It is as if the purpose of much academic biblical scholarship is to discredit or undermine the traditional understanding, with no intent of replacing it with anything approaching a faith-based meaning.

      Why do you suppose that the NAB, the “official” Bible of the Catholic Church in America, used in the liturgy, would, in so many instances, take a passage apart with a modernist bent but, as you said, not make a concerted effort to, then, reconstruct it, but simply leave it deconstructed? Why would a faith community do this to its own sacred text?

    6. I would not say the NAB notes have a modernist bent. A modernist bent would mean things like “(1) the denial of a supernatural order (2) the denial of God’s intervention in the world in strict revelation; (3) the denial of the possibility and existence of miracles–the first three are inheritances from rationalism; (4) the incompatibility of faith with historical truth; (5) an almost a priori denial of the historical value and nature of the documents of revelation; (6) a disdain for apostolic testimony, and undue emphasis on the creative community in the early Church.”

      I have not seen that in the notes.

    7. Rereading my comment, I think you’re right, the “. . . with a modernist bent . . .” qualifier is too strong in that it implies too much and applies too broadly.

      But it is curious that, as with much biblical scholarship, there is the attempt to deconstruct certain passages in the text, with speculative assumptions buttressing that deconstruction, and then no attempt, as you said, to reconstruct in a way that clarifies the meaning of the text. It is still a valid question why those who have provided the notes in the NAB, in those instances where they are clearly in a position to clarify, would leave the deconstruction intact. Why, in the “official” Bible of the Catholic Church in America, even leave the impression of being, as you said, imprudent?

  5. The USCCB notes I find helpful and affirming. The Gospels were written to convey one truth, the truth of the risen Christ. This truth never waivers. The public life and teaching of Jesus are present in the whole. Learning something of the history of Gospel composition adds to my appreciation of the central truth. Some modern readers wants to parse the Gospels, “Did he say this just like this? Or just like that? Or something kind of similar in spirit?” To them, the USCCB notes give some answers. However, Jesus in his totality is in the totality of the Gospels.

  6. Thanks for this valuable article. I’ll definitely go read the Biblical Commission’s document.

    Though I have to disagree with your conclusion. It is not clear how the three criteria you cited for understanding scripture could justify the NAB notes you quoted. In effect, if the Gospels makes the factual claims “Mary said this” and “Jesus said such and such,” and someone says that this is false, then they are saying that the Gospel writers wrote something false. This goes against inerrancy.

    Also, I really don’t understand this quote: “The opposite of inerrancy is not simply historicity but truth.” Being true is practically the very definition of inerrancy!

    1. Thanks, I think that Ishould reformulate my objection more fully. So to restate the levels of tradition given here which enter into the composition of Scripture, there are: 1) Exactly and precisely what Jesus said and did. 2) The understanding and preaching by the apostles of these events in light of the resurrection and the action of the Holy Spirit. 3) The assembling and the editing of the apostles’ preaching by the evangelists.

      This means that Jesus’ precise actions and words have undergone two layers of editing. But it does not mean that the text can contain factual errors about them (when properly interpreted, of course). The apostles’ editing brings out the theological nuances of what was happening, and so it is true explanation. The evangelists’ editing can then leave out or accurately reformulate certain things, and so it is giving the apostles’ preaching an accurate communicable written form.

      It does not seem that these two interventions authorize the pure invention of things, such as “Jesus might have said ‘such and such’ but didn’t.” Your example “For God so loved the world,” seems to be a good exemplification of theological commentary or interpretation by an apostle, the second stage of tradition. Different narrations of the same events in various Gospels (though all accurate) are a good example of composition by the evangelists, the third stage of tradition. Though these two procedures do not authorize the fabrication of words of Jesus and Mary by the evangelists (such as in the NAB commentaries you cited here). This would be adding to what Jesus said and did, adding to the very first level of tradition, and not theological commentary/interpretation or editing.

      Let me know what you think! I don’t see a statement in the Biblical Commission’s statement
      which could justify that. After reading it and also Fr. Fitzmyer’s commentary, it seems that he is taking a more permissive approach to criticism than they are, and suggests a few things not found in the statement. In particular he argues that the truth mentioned by the Commission is not historical truth but “Gospel truth” (which he does not define). The original article by the Biblical Commission is great though!

    2. I agree with you.

      The Biblical Commission says,

      X. Unless the exegete pays attention to all these things which pertain to the origin and composition of the Gospels and makes proper use of all the laudable achievements of recent research, he will not fulfil his task of probing into what the sacred writers intended and what they really said. From the results of the new investigations it is apparent that the doctrine and the life of Jesus were not simply reported for the sole purpose of being remembered, but were “preached” so as to offer the Church a basis of faith and of morals. The interpreter (then), by tirelessly scrutinizing the testimony of the Evangelists, will be able to illustrate more profoundly the perennial theological value of the Gospels and bring out clearly how necessary and important the Church’s interpretation is.

      What is the theological value of sharing with ordinary Catholics one’s theory of the stages the composition of the Sermon on the Mount?

    3. Kevin, this is a bit of an aside, but it has always made me wonder: To what extent do many biblical scholars misuse the issue of “the author’s intent” and the fact that the Church teaches that, “God is the author of sacred Scripture” (CCC 105). By attributing primarily or solely human intentions to the sacred writer(s), do they, intentionally or unintentionally, undermine the fact that God is ultimately the true author of sacred Scripture. This then leads down the path of unsubstantiated speculation, attributing too much intention to the human aspect of the writing. This is the path to unwarranted deconstruction of the text.

      God had a specific intent with the words that he revealed to us and we should respect the words as given to us, not speculate too much on so-called human intent. Does that mean that we are permitted, even expected, to intently study and pray over the words that God has given us? Yes. But perhaps we should hesitate to willfully deconstruct those words too readily.

    4. I am not a Biblical scholar. If I were, I would want to know everything I could about the texts at hand, including how they came to be in the form that they are (if such a thing could be known). The reason for this is that everything thing about them could yield valuable insights into the divine truths they communicate and the human realities that went into them. But I hope when it was time to write about them that I would never write anything that would harm another’s faith.

    5. Kevin, with texts this important, so significant to mankind, what you say about knowing everything about them is true. We must strive to understand them in the deepest and broadest sense.

      But the benefit of the doubt must remain with the long-standing understandings that the Church has accumulated throughout history. It seems to me that too much speculation is present in modern-day biblical scholarship, or, as has been discussed before, the tendency to deconstruct the text without adequate reconstruction. This, especially from those within the Church and its educational institutions, is not a proper or faithful use of their academic position.

      I guess my point is that when we treat the texts as if they are primarily or solely of human origin, which it seems much of biblical scholarship now seems to do, then we are more likely to treat the texts in too free-wheeling a manner, as if they are human literature to be studied like any other human literature. That “God is the author of sacred Scripture” requires that we treat the text deliberately and with respect for tradition, not speculating too broadly with an insufficient foundation.

    6. What comes to mind is that during this time period, several important areas of US church’s faith were under some odd influences. For example, Cardinal Francis George has stated that the USCCB programs for catechetics used to have problems. What is reassuring though, is that the NAB translation itself does not have serious issues, even though many say it is lacking in certain ways.

  7. their treatment of Daniel is also rationalist. Augustine dethroned what would be used by rationalists to discredit Daniel’s plain prophetic sense in the 400s. Seeing most of Daniel as prophecy of great events following down for centuries beyond Babylon is a view that is common sense and fits all data perfectly in the places applied. One has to contort and twist and greatly deproximate passages to make it fit the coded comfort scenario of rationalists.

    Don’t believe me? Just compare the DH footnotes on much of Daniel to NAB, they are world’s different.

  8. “So, while some Biblical scholars have been heretics—the original form critics being one notable example—the scholars who have provided us the footnotes for the New American Bible are not. They are just imprudent.” Understand that you are violating the “judge not, lest ye be judged” directive. We are not told simply not to condemn, but also not to acquit, since that is also a judgement, and we cannot see the hearts of anyone — not even our own with sufficient clarity. “But to me it is a very small thing to be judged by you, or by man’s day; but neither do I judge my own self. For I am not conscious to myself of any thing, yet am I not hereby justified; but he that judgeth me, is the Lord. Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.”

    As for the overall dodginess of the NAB, it is not confined to the footnotes, and it is already evident in the second verse in the whole Bible.

    … and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters ….

    “A mighty wind”, not “the Spirit of God”, as in the Latin and every respectable translation:

    terra autem erat inanis et vacua et tenebrae super faciem abyssi et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas

    This translation completely ignores the resonance this has with Catholic Tradition and the way the passage has been understood for 2000 years. It is why I don’t use the NAB.

  9. Those notes are half the reason I despise the New American Bible, and do not own a copy. The other half of the reason is the NAB has absolutely no beauty to it at all – none. It reads like a newspaper article. Ugh! I can think of no better way to turn a person off from love of reading the Bible than by steering them towards this dreadful translation.

    I much prefer the Ignatius Press RSV/CE – beautiful language, faithful translation, and (in the “study” versions) solidly orthodox notes.

  10. I love Scripture and not being a scholar I was a little disturbed by this article, more so than any queries that I may have about footnotes, since it is the New American Bible that I read. But then I reflect back to my normal position of trust in the Church – all those scholars over all those years leave us with a simple book, inspiring by itself, but a living testament when read while listening to the Holy Spirit. I am as capable as the next man to play the scale on a piano, but can I make music to move the soul – no. We have to be grateful for the inspired authors of scripture to relate the beauty of a living Christ and to our Church for seeking to publish their original score.

    1. You give too much credit to these particular scholars. They did not write the Bible, and they are by no means the first to translate it. You have, in fact, other translations that have been approved by the Church and that are more reliable, notably the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition. Bad translations can leave one with important misconceptions.

  11. Finally, someone has noticed that much modern bible scholarship has the intellectual heft of a National Geographical special on Bigfoot. Speculation treated as fact, wild theories treated as if they are proven fact. hair brained theories treated as fact. We live in a time when the very worst people are housed in the universities.

  12. To be imprudent is to be taken seriously in today’s academic world. I jest, only slightly.

    First, there has been a move in many disciplines, really since the advent of modernism, to separate scholarship from faith, most notably in the area of biblical scholarship. Today, the Bible is approached, by many academics and others, as almost exclusively a work of human literature, subject to a particular kind of deconstructive critique.

    Second, the benefit of the doubt in scholarship is now often given to these deconstructive assumptions, with no firm basis in fact. It is simply assumed, as a virtual default position, that, in many instances, the “old” ways of seeing things are passe and no longer credible. No modern, intelligent or sophisticated person would hold them. Concepts like inspiration, miracles and divine authorship have slowly, and quietly, slipped into oblivion. To many scholars, they are almost an embarrassment. The Bible is now, almost exclusively, a human book, to be dissected and critiqued as any other form of human literature, only revealing that which can be demonstrated by a certain form of secular, human reason. If the Bible is to be taken seriously at all, it is only in the service of worldly objectives.

    To be respected today in much of the academic community, including the Catholic, one must adopt this stance or lose career status and advancement. Or get hired. To get noticed in the academic world, one must increasingly come up with theories and ideas that are counter-traditional.

    While there are some notable exceptions to these trends, they constitute, nevertheless, the dominant trend in today’s academic world.

    1. Sadly, you have hit the nail on the head, especially in the second paragraph where you point out that many modern scholars are just spouting their own opinions which are sheer guess work that basically ignores any real role for the Holy Spirit in all of this. Likewise, you are quite correct in seeing the role of the heresy of modernism (in your first paragraph) in all of this. The real disgrace, like the pedophilia scandal, is the role of the hierarchy in giving these people carte blanche to dump their theories on a basically innocent public who are unable to understand what nonsense is being stuffed into their heads. Your observations on career advancement are also true, and this is one of the reasons for so many abuses that arose in the seminaries right after the Council when a generation of devout young men lost their faith — whether or not they went on to be ordained

    2. Amen, TomD, amen. So true. The old, or really what should be, orthodox way, is to assume the text at face value unless some clear evidence or data suggests otherwise, noting that allegory is always possible if the blatant style indicates it.

      Now, miracles are assumed false until proven innocent.

      I have to wonder that some day, the liberals will push the envelope so far regarding what is really historical in OT, that the Church will dogmatically address what phases of OT history really ARE history in some sense, and also which involve a transcendant intervention, that is, declaring that such phases cannot be explained merely naturally, eg, the FLood, Babel, Exodus…

  13. ‘ … what was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is “Gospel truth . . . free from error.”

    Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is still at work (ie Francis) and truth will never be free from
    refinement via interpretation.

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