Guiding principles for Catholic Biblical exegesis

June 24, 2010

Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903): “[The expositor must] carefully observe the rule so wisely laid down by St. Augustine — not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires …

“It is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred … For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true” (Encyclical Providentissimus Deus, 1893; 15, 20).

Holy Office of Pope St. Pius X (reigned 1903-1914): “His Holiness … ordered that each and every one of [these] propositions be held by all as condemned and proscribed” … Condemned proposition no. 11: “Divine inspiration does not extend to all of Sacred Scripture so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error” (Decree Lamentabili Sane, 1907).  [N.B.: All Catholics must therefore hold as true the opposite proposition: “Divine inspiration extends to all of Sacred Scripture so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from error.”]

The vast majority of “Catholic” Biblical scholarship since the 1960s has, of course, ignored these pronouncements of the Popes, which are only two representative examples of the unanimous tradition of the Church until the mid-20th century.  A good analysis of how and why this has happened is provided by Dr. Robert Sungenis in an article beginning here:  The traditional principles are nevertheless still binding on every Catholic, and will be followed on this website.


One Response to “Guiding principles for Catholic Biblical exegesis”

  1. Lawrence Says:

    Just read your July comment to Dr. Sungenis about the Galileo Was Wrong book. I have read that tome five times now and, as an older Harvard grad in the biological sciences area, I felt like contacting another Harvard man who feels as I do.
    I’m a 1953 alumnus.

    Let me hear from you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: