Interpreting the Truth Part I

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name- He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.   Jn.14:26  (NAB) 

After the last post, “Our Guide to All Truth”, we came to understand that the Holy Spirit reveals God’s Word as truth, Jesus as truth and the Church as truth. But the question still remains; How do we interpret the Scriptures?!

“To interpret the Scriptures correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words” (CCC 109). ” To truly discover the sacred authors intentions the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current”(CCC 110).” But since Sacred Scripture is inspired there is another, and no less important principal of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. It must be read and interpreted in light of the same Spirit by whom it was written. The second Vatican Council indicates three criteria for interpreting Scripture in accordance with the Spirit who inspired it”(CCC 111).

The first is;” Be especially attentive to the content and unity of the whole scripture. Different as the books that comprise it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since His Passover”(CCC112).

Second; “Read the Scripture within the living Tradition of the whole Church. According to a saying of the Fathers, sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture(” according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”, Origen, Hom. in Lev. 5,5: PG12, 454D”), (CCC113).

Thirdly; Be attentive to the analogy of faith(Rom.12:6). By “analogy of faith” we mean the coherence of the truths of the faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation” (CCC 114).

What does all this mean? Well ,what it means basically, is that there are rules to interpretation. It goes beyond just the Scripture itself, to the times and places and cultures long ago and far removed from us. We must step “back in time” as it were, to fully understand what was trying to be conveyed, and ask ourselves in the “here and now” what is God trying to show/teach me?

Next time, we will look at the senses of Scripture.

8 Responses

  1. Nice reflections… i await the ‘senses’ post!

    God bless you lots.
    Maria in the UK

  2. Thank you, Maria!

  3. Nice post. Could you elaborate a bit on point two?

  4. Thanks Jonathan, I’ll give it a try.
    This “living, Holy and/or Apostolic Tradition” of the whole Church was given to the Apostles by Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself, when He commanded them to preach the Gospel. In doing this they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men, and was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline (the Great Commission, Mt. 28:19-20). This command was “handed on” or “passed down” in two ways: orally and in writing.
    The oral would cover everything from their preaching, life-style, the institutions they established, everything they heard from Jesus’ lips, from His life-style, and what was revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. As John says at the end of his Gospel,” There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these things were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” Jn.21:25
    The written would include those who under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, committed the salvation message to writing(the New Testament).
    The Tradition covers both oral and written Tradition. What was taught from the beginning in the preaching, and continued as the “inspired” writers wrote to their communities and others.
    That is what is in the “heart of the Church” in it’s Tradition. The living memorial of God’s Word is the celebration of the Eucharist. The new and everlasting covenant, established by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. For not only did Christ die for our salvation, He rose on the third day and is living in the presence of the Father, interceding for us.
    Thus, when we speak of the “Church” in this way, we speak of the teaching offices. Which consists primarily of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
    Hope this clarifies point two.
    Thanks again.

  5. Tim — thanks for visting and feel free to stop in anytime. I appreciate your thoughts, and I agree that we need to study the word and see what God is saying to us in the here and now.
    In Him,

  6. Thank you Jamie, for your visit and comment. You are welcome anytime as well.

  7. Tim, I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading through your postings. 🙂


  8. Thank you, Kelsey. I hope you find them informative, encouraging and uplifting!

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