Living Tradition
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No. 61 Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program November 1995


by Brian W. Harrison

        We have dwelt at length on the conflicting interpretations given to Pope Pius XII's encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu in recent decades because it is the correct (although now generally forgotten) interpretation of that encyclical - that is, the 'non-revolutionary' reading given to it by Fr. Augustin Bea in 1943 - which enables us to see more clearly the continuing value of Pope Benedict XV's encyclical of a quarter-century earlier. For if, indeed, Pius XII's much-heralded observations about the discernment of literary genres in Scripture was intended as little more than a formal, explicit and more detailed recognition of hermeneutical principles which had already been accepted in essence by his predecessors (and increasingly employed by approved exegetes), then this certainly suggests that the teachings of those predecessors remain perennially worthy of close attention.

        For, while today's conventional revisionist view would have us see Divino afflante Spiritu as pointing only 'forward,' toward an ill-defined but 'liberated' exegetical future in which the pre-1943 magisterial rulings on Scripture would recede ever further into a well-deserved oblivion, the truth is that Pius XII was more concerned to look backward than forward. Those very passages of his encyclical which today's "progressive" Scripture scholars love to quote ceaselessly and selectively were intended not to 'liberate' exegetes of the future, but to celebrate exegetes of the past. The Pope had in mind, that is, those biblical scholars whose patient, scientific, and yet faith-filled erudition had already accomplished so much since 1893 under the inspiration of Leo XIII's magna carta and in strict obedience to his successors. While he certainly wanted to encourage present and future exegetes to grapple with still-unresolved problems and obscurities, and to press on toward an ever more profound understanding of Sacred Scripture, Pius XII made a point of stressing that this program could be implemented not by relaxing or discarding the caveats and prohibitions of his predecessors, but only by scrupulously adhering to them! 49 In a key passage of Divino afflante Spiritu, wherein he sums up his appreciation for the pastoral and scholarly advances up till that moment as well as his hopes for the future, the Pontiff affirms:

These and other accomplishments, which every day are becoming more widely diffused and more firmly established, ... give Us firm hope that in the future the veneration, use, and knowledge of the Sacred Writings will make constant progress, for the good of souls. But this will happen only as long as the program of biblical studies prescribed by Leo XIII, and explained still more admirably and completely by his successors, is upheld by everyone with increasing firmness, eagerness and confidence. For that program, confirmed and extended by Us, is in fact the only one which is safe and proved by experience. 50

        The Pope of Divino afflante Spiritu, therefore, exhorts us to return with careful attention to the encyclical of Benedict XV, since this was certainly the most authoritative among those documents of Leo XIII's successors which "explained still more admirably and completely" the program laid down in Providentissimus. Spiritus Paraclitus was issued in the middle of that half-century between 1893 and 1943, at a time when the progress of the new biblical movement set in motion by Leo XIII could be duly evaluated in the light of experience, and when the resulting hermeneutical developments later recommended by Pius XII were being carefully delineated and purified from rationalistic distortions and exaggerations.

        A. Positive and Pastoral Aspects   In the first place, a fair-minded reader of Spiritus Paraclitus will be struck by the fact that the general spirit and content of this document reflect quite the opposite of that "negative approach to Scripture" which many modern exegetes tend to find in it. Pope Benedict certainly takes a "negative approach" to false interpretations of Scripture and of Providentissimus Deus; but even this corrective or apologetic section (which we shall consider shortly) occupies only 13 of the encyclical's 68 numbered sections (nos. 18-30) 51 - less than one-fifth of the whole. By far the greater part of the encyclical is dedicated to a highly positive presentation of the inestimable value and the great spiritual fruits to be gained from a deeper knowledge of Scripture on the part of all Catholics.

        To begin with, this encyclical teaches us much about St. Jerome's perennial relevance to all students of Sacred Scripture. Apart from the introductory section, which gives a brief biography of the Saint, Benedict XV accomplishes this purpose mainly by direct quotation: no less than 127 passages are cited from this great Doctor of the Church whose fifteenth centenary the encyclical is honouring. Now, in the 1990s, when the highest ecclesiastical authorities are drawing attention to "new attempts to recover Patristic exegesis and to include renewed forms of a spiritual interpretation of Scripture," 52 Spiritus Paraclitus provides a succinct and instructive overview of some of the key thoughts of this most outstanding of all the Fathers in matters of Scripture. Jerome's teaching is presented on the Bible's truth, its inerrancy, its historical value, the Church as its authentic interpreter, the need for spiritual preparation in studying Scripture, the importance of loving, reading daily and meditating constantly on the divine Word, and its practical value for lay people as well as for clergy who are charged with preaching and expounding Scripture. Indeed, Pope Benedict's call for more Scripturally-based homilies anticipates that of Vatican Council II and the post-conciliar liturgical reform.

        His encyclical on St. Jerome turns out to be 'modern' in another and perhaps even more unexpected way. Today, when militant feminist forces are wont to charge the Catholic Church with having traditionally spurned women, keeping them marginalized and ignorant, Spiritus Paraclitus is a welcome reminder of the honour in which women were held by this eminent Father of the ancient Church, who made a special apostolate of inculcating the love and knowledge of Scripture among Roman girls and ladies. The encyclical is liberally sprinkled with examples of Jerome's advice to maidens and matrons such as Demetrias, Paula, Læta, Eustochium, Fabiola and Marcella. We learn, for instance, the suggested program for a Catholic girl's biblical education which he set out in a letter to Læta, who was home-schooling her daughter:

Every day she should give you a definite account of her Bible-reading. ... For her the Bible must take the place of silks and jewels. ... Let her learn the Psalter first, and find her recreation in its songs; let her learn from Solomon's Proverbs the way of life, from Ecclesiastes how to trample on the world. In Job she will find an example of patient virtue. Thence let her pass to the Gospels; they should always be in her hands. She should steep herself in the Acts and the Epistles. And when she has enriched her soul with these treasures she should commit to memory the Prophets, the Heptateuch, Kings and Chronicles, Esdras and Esther: then she can learn the Canticle of Canticles without any fear. 53

        The admiration which Jerome had for the astonishing erudition, as well as the sanctity, of another lady, Paula, is recalled by the Pope in his citation of an epitaph written on the occasion of Paula's death. Here the great Doctor also seems concerned, in passing, to rebut the contemporary prejudices of those who would belittle the intellectual capacities of women:

I will tell you another thing about her, though evil-disposed people may cavil at it: she determined to learn Hebrew, a language which I myself, with immense labour and toil from my youth upwards, have only partly learned, and which I even now dare not cease studying lest it should quit me. But Paula learned it, and so well that she could chant the Psalms in Hebrew, and could speak it, too, without any trace of a Latin accent. We can see the same thing even now in her daughter Eustochium. 54

        Benedict XV's repeated appeals to St. Jerome's insistence on the necessity of regular Bible study for all Christians, lay men and women as well as clerics, also strikes another distinctly modern note; or, rather, it reminds us that what some Catholics regard as a brand-new achievement of the 'modern' Church is really very traditional. For the revisionist biblical scholars we have already criticized often seek to 'revolutionize' Vatican Council II as much as Divino afflante Spiritu. How often have we heard it asserted, for instance, that until the Council promulgated its pastoral recommendations on Scripture, 55 Catholic Church authorities had for centuries taken a negative and 'fearful' approach towards the use of the inspired Books by the laity, because of a 'Counter-Reformation mentality' that associated emphasis on the Bible with the danger of Protestant heresy!

        One of the most egregious examples of this kind of myth-making is found in the widely-diffused 'Abbott' edition of the Vatican II documents. In commenting on the statement in Dei Verbum, 22, that "Easy access to sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful," Fr. Roderick MacKenzie tells his readers, "This is perhaps the most novel section of the Constitution. Not since the early centuries of the Church has an official document urged the availability of the Scriptures for all." 56 Fr. MacKenzie had evidently forgotten Spiritus Paraclitus, whose author not only enthusiastically recommended the widest possible diffusion of Scripture among the laity, but even sponsored the founding of an international society to further that aim! Let Benedict XV speak for himself - over forty years before Vatican II:

Hence, as far as in us lies, we, Venerable Brethren, shall, with St. Jerome as our guide, never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles (numquam desinemus, ut [Christifideles omnes] ... Evangelia, itemque Acta Apostolorum et Epistolas cotidiana lectione pervolutare ... studeant), so as to gather thence food for their souls.

Our thoughts naturally turn just now to the Society of St. Jerome, which we ourselves were instrumental in founding; its success has gladdened us, and we trust that the future will see a great impulse given to it. The object of this Society is to put into the hands of as many people as possible the Gospels and Acts, so that every Christian family may have them and become accustomed to reading them. This we have much at heart, for we have seen how useful it is. We earnestly hope, then, that similar Societies will be founded in your dioceses and affiliated to the parent Society here. Commendation, too, is due to Catholics in other countries who have published the entire New Testament, as well as selected portions of the Old, in neat and simple form so as to popularize their use. Much again must accrue to the Church of God when numbers of people thus approach this table of heavenly instruction which the Lord provided through the ministry of his Prophets, Apostles and Doctors for the entire Christian world. 57

        We hear a good deal today about the post-conciliar "biblical renewal" which has supposedly brought a much better and more widely diffused knowledge of Scripture to the laity. Let us hope that this is so - although this writer has doubts about the value of many recent courses in Scripture, whose presenters have often seemed more interested in "updating" lay Catholics with the latest unapproved critical speculations, or in promoting a left-wing "liberationist" or feminist reading of Scripture, than in explaining the life and authentic teaching of Our Lord. Whatever about that, it remains true that Benedict XV was no less zealous than any Church leader of the modern conciliar era in encouraging Bible reading among the laity. And we suspect that the modest, but eminently practical, program outlined in Spiritus Paraclitus - simply distributing copies of the most important and readily intelligible parts of the New Testament to as many Catholics as possible, and encouraging them to read God's Word for themselves - may well have been more educationally and spiritually fruitful than many of our much-vaunted post-conciliar seminars and adult education courses on Scripture. (These in any case tend to reach only an élite of already-committed lay people, not the masses of merely nominal Catholics who most need to become acquainted with the Gospel.)

        Let us return to the 'Abbott' edition of the Vatican II documents. When the Council goes on to say that translations of the Scriptures "from the original texts" are especially favoured, 58 Fr. MacKenzie's comment reflects the revisionist tendency to exaggerate the novelty of Pope Pius XII's encyclical on Scripture. He writes: "This draws the practical consequence from the affirmation of 'Divino Afflante Spiritu': 'The original text has more authority and more weight than any translation, old or new.'" 59 But Benedict XV, more than two decades earlier, had already reminded the Church that this norm is as old as the Patristic age. He recalls that, when St. Jerome, at the behest of Pope St. Damasus, began correcting the received Latin texts in the light of the original Greek and Hebrew, he had to endure the narrow-minded attacks of "little men" (the Dolindo Ruotolos of the 4th century!) who accused him of presuming to "make corrections in the Gospels in the face of the Fathers and of general opinion." 60 Pope Benedict continues:

Jerome's first rule is careful study of the actual words so that we may be perfectly certain what the writer really does say. He was most careful to consult the original text, to compare various versions, and, if he discovered any mistake in them, to explain it and thus make the text perfectly clear. 61

        Another emphasis of 'post-conciliar' Scripture studies which we find anticipated in Spiritus Paraclitus is the human or "incarnational" aspect of the inspired Word in Scripture. In the most recent important statement of the Church's Magisterium on Sacred Scripture, Pope John Paul II's allocution of 23 April 1993 on the 100th anniversary of Providentissimus Deus and the 50th of Divino afflante Spiritu, this is the principal theme, expounded mainly in the section entitled "The Harmony between Catholic Exegesis and the Mystery of the Incarnation." 62 The Holy Father sums up the true sense in which this "harmony" is to be understood in what could well be seen as the most important statement of the allocution - a reference to Pius XII's encyclical and the Vatican Constitution on Divine Revelation:

The strict relationship uniting the inspired biblical texts with the mystery of the Incarnation was expressed by the Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu in the following terms: "Just as the substantial Word of God became like men in every respect except sin, so too the words of God, expressed in human languages, became like human language in every respect except error" (EB, 559). Repeated almost literally by the conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum (13), this statement sheds light on a parallelism rich in meaning. 63

        This appreciation of the "condescension" of God in speaking within the confines and limits of human language - and yet without error - was notably expressed in antiquity by St. John Chrysostom, as Pius XII noted further on in the passage cited here by John Paul II. It has also attracted renewed attention by some of the best pre- and post-conciliar Scripture scholars of this century. 64 But if we depend on those writers who accept the contemporary revisionist view of recent exegetical history, we will again be left with the impression that nothing of much value on this subject was admitted by the Church's Magisterium before Divino afflante Spiritu - or even before Vatican II.

        Take, for instance, what is said about the human characteristics of Scripture in a recent and authoritative book on "Christian Exegesis Today," 65 edited by Fr. Ignace de la Potterie, one of the "elder statesmen" of post-conciliar biblical studies, and generally considered to be a conservative exegete within the contemporary spectrum. Besides two essays by Fr. de la Potterie himself, the book contains contributions by (among others) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Msgr. Giuseppe Colombo, a well-known Italian theologian. Both Fr. de la Potterie and Msgr. Colombo make the extraordinary mistake of asserting that before Vatican II the Magisterium had never described the inspired writers as "authors" of the biblical books. Once asserted, this non-fact then becomes the foundation upon which is constructed a theological sand-castle about 'new doors' being opened by the Council which will lead to valuable new insights about the 'human' or 'incarnational' side of Scripture.

        Fr. de la Potterie seems quite enthused by this 'discovery,' which he attributes to the Spanish Scripture scholar A.M. Artola. After making the required revisionist genuflection to Divino afflante Spiritu for having "put an end" to the disputes that broke out "during the dark era of modernism" because of Leo XIII's "obsession with inerrancy," 66 he continues:

Vatican II, however, ... opened up new vistas, but these have not been used to advantage; they have not even been noticed. ... We note in the first place a novelty in the use of the word "author" in Dei Verbum. In continuity with Vatican I, the Constitution affirms that the sacred books "have God as their author" (11, 1). But this formula, more than in the past, must be understood in an analogical sense, since, in the same context, and for the first time in a document of the Magisterium, the word "author" is also applied to the inspired writers. Indeed, the Constitution insists on this point: when the biblical authors, under the action of God, have produced their written texts, they have acted as "true authors" (here the contribution of Divino afflante Spiritu is integrated). 67

        Msgr. Colombo uses the same "novelty" of Vatican II as a key point in his argument that Artola is correct in discerning a "trajectory" between Vatican I and Vatican II which can be described by the slogan "from 'God, author of the sacred books' to 'the Bible as a literary work.'" 68 Referring to the points in Vatican II which supposedly manifest this "trajectory," he writes:

First of all there is the explicit attribution of the quality of "author" to the inspired writer, reinforced in the final redaction of the text ... by the adjective "true," and hence to be understood in the proper sense of literary author, or writer. A consequence of this is that it renders problematical the attribution [of authorship] to God - the only authorship recognized in the texts of the preceding Council and the preceding magisterium. 69

        Then, building a house of cards on top of this castle of sand, Msgr. Colombo gravely informs us that this and other supposedly novel "elements" in Vatican II's teaching now render fatally obsolete (fatalmente obsolete), because fundamentally improper, such expressions (which are still current) as 'the divine book' ('libro divino') to describe the Bible. Insofar as it is taken to mean that God is the author of the Bible, this expression is now seen as not very coherent with the intention of the Council (meno coerente con l'intenzionalità del Concilio). 70

        It is not explained why the same Council document, apart from explicitly repeating that the books of Scripture "have God as their author" (even citing in witness two of those "negative" and "stifling" magisterial decrees from the anti-modernist era), 71 goes on to use no less than seven times the kind of language which (according to Msgr. Colombo) is "not very coherent" with its own intention. 72 Much more important, however, is the fact that he, Artola, and de la Potterie are all making a theological mountain, not out of a molehill (which would be the case if Dei Verbum were indeed the first magisterial document to call the inspired writers "authors"), but out of nothing at all (because in fact it is not).

        The truth is that the Magisterium has never had any scruple about calling the inspired writers "authors" of the biblical books, since it has been understood from the analogy with the Incarnation that this no more makes their divine authorship "problematical" than Christ's humanity makes his divinity "problematical." (Such intimate union between the divine and human is mysterious, of course, but not "problematical," a word which insinuates inappropriateness or doubt of some kind.) For the record, the word "author(s)" is used to describe the human writers at least five times by Leo XIII in his great encyclical of 1893, 73 and by speaking of God in another passage as the "primary author," 74 it implies that they are "secondary authors" - which is certainly all that Vatican II allows them to be, even though it does not use that term. 75 The Pontifical Biblical Commission repeatedly called the human writers of Scripture "authors" from 1906 76 onward, at times even in the very titles of its Responses. 77 So did Spiritus Paraclitus. 78 But lest it be insisted that Vatican II was at least "novel" in calling these men "true" (veri) authors - an insistence which would at best have little weight, since it would be gratuitous to assume that the earlier documents had meant they were "authors" but not true authors - it should be pointed out that the 1920 encyclical whose anniversary we are honouring gives a much fuller description of the truly human and incarnational character of the inspired writers' authorship than does Vatican II itself! Was Benedict XV the real "revolutionary," then? Not at all. He gave this description in the context of showing how it was the teaching of none other than Saint Jerome. After recalling Jerome's insistence that the Scriptures indeed "have God for their Author," the Pope pointed out that the great Doctor nonetheless saw their production as the result of a "partnership of God with man" (Dei cum homine communitatem laboris). That is:

He never questions but that the individual authors of these Books (singuli eorum auctores) worked freely under the Divine afflatus (operam afflanti Deo libere naverint), each of them in accordance with his individual nature and character (pro sua quisque natura atque ingenio). Thus he is not merely concerned to affirm as a general principle - what indeed pertains to all the sacred writers - that they followed the Spirit of God as they wrote, in such sort that God is the principal cause of all that Scripture means and says; but he also accurately describes what pertains to each individual writer. In each case Jerome shows us how, in composition, in language, in style and mode of expression, each of them uses his own gifts and powers (quemque facultatibus ac viribus usos esse); hence he is able to portray and describe for us their individual character, almost their very features; this is especially so in his treatment of the Prophets and of St. Paul. 79

        After this, what remains of the "novelty" - supposedly fraught with such far-reaching and "problematical" implications for the divine authorship of Scripture - which revisionist scholars claim to have found in Vatican Council II? The Council's reference to God's use of the human authors' "gifts and powers" is itself a quotation from the above passage of Spiritus Paraclitus; but since the relevant part of that passage was quoted by Pius XII in Divino afflante Spiritu, and since the Council in turn cited only this quotation, 80 those who think that serious Catholic biblical scholarship really only began in 1943 may never learn its ultimate source. Even when Spiritus Paraclitus is explicitly cited by Vatican II, Fr. de la Potterie seems to ignore the footnote reference. When Dei Verbum speaks of the need to read and interpret Scripture "in the same Spirit in which it was written," he assures us:

Certainly, this principle was already invoked before Vatican II (fin da prima del Vaticano II), but in a secularized manner: "in the spirit (with a small 's') of the human author" ("nello spirito {con la minuscola} dell'autore humano") ... In Dei Verbum, 12, 3 Spiritu has a capital letter, and designates the Holy Spirit. 81

        Now, in the Council's footnote 9 to this statement, both Spiritus Paraclitus and St. Jerome are cited, referring to EB 469; but on turning to that passage we find that these authorities - both of them decidedly pre-Vatican II - in fact use a capital 'S,' signifying the Holy Spirit. One final example: Fr. de la Potterie claims to have unearthed yet another conciliar novelty, that of proposing to "integrate Scripture with Revelation," and tells us that, with this end in view, Vatican II "goes so far as to make the audacious statement (giunge fino a dire audacemente) that the study of Sacred Scripture should be like the soul of theology." 82 "Audacious"? Perhaps "venerable" or "time-honoured" would be more apt descriptions, for at this point (note 3 to Dei Verbum, 24) Vatican II refers us not to one, but two pre-conciliar encyclicals, Providentissimus Deus and Spiritus Paraclitus, 83 as precedents for recommending Scripture as the "soul of theology."

        B. Corrective and Apologetic Aspects   If, as we hope to have shown, Spiritus Paraclitus is for the most part a serene, spiritual, and eminently pastoral document - one which in some ways anticipates and even 'outdoes' Vatican II's teaching on Scripture - then why is it now upbraided for its "negative" approach to Scripture by prominent modern exegetes? The answer, clearly, is to be found in that relatively short section of the encyclical 84 in which St. Jerome's principles for interpreting Scripture are contrasted with certain dangerous tendencies which Benedict XV felt it necessary to reprove in the liberal exegetical circles of his time - tendencies which in some cases remain widespread today. As we saw at the beginning of this essay, the two charges laid to this Pontiff's door by Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer are those of "insisting on [the] inerrancy" of Scripture and of "in effect, denying that one had to interpret the Bible according to its literary forms." 85 We shall consider these criticisms in turn.

        B.1. The Question of Biblical Inerrancy.   To the first of the above charges Benedict XV would certainly have pleaded guilty - defiantly so! So would all of his predecessors and successors in the See of Peter. Indeed, there could surely be no more eloquent symptom of the malaise afflicting contemporary Catholic Scripture scholarship than the fact that a leading modern exegete can not only depict "insistence" on biblical inerrancy as a vice, not a virtue, but can do so without apology or explanation, evidently on the calm assumption that the great majority of his readers will unhesitatingly agree with him. The integral truth, or inerrancy, of Scripture - a necessary and ineluctable consequence of its divine inspiration - seems in fact to have become a kind of new 'taboo' subject among many contemporary exegetes: one avoids all mention of it, as far as possible.

        Consider, for instance, the approach of Fr. Ignace de la Potterie. While Vatican II insists (like all previous magisterial documents) that "everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held as asserted by the Holy Spirit" (who cannot err), 86 Fr. de la Potterie evidently does not hold this position. In fact, he unambiguously rejects it when he criticizes "the concordist tradition of the 19th century" for "attribut[ing] the absence of error to all the assertions of the biblical authors." 87

        Moreover, what he calls the "concordist tradition" - namely, the commitment of Scripture scholars to search for the correct reconciliation between specific biblical affirmations (whether on history, science, or any other matter) which might appear to be incompatible - is by no means just a "19th century" tradition. Can Fr. de la Potterie, a scholar justly distinguished in the field of Patristic exegesis, have forgotten momentarily that all the ancient Fathers, as well as all subsequent Doctors and theologians before the 19th century, believed such "concordism" to be their sacred duty when explaining the sacred Books? And has he also forgotten how Vatican II's theological Commission responded to the objections of some Fathers who feared that mentioning the Bible's "salvific" purpose in connection with the consequences of divine inspiration might be taken as leaving its specific statements about 'profane' matters with no guarantee of inerrancy? In the final revision of this passage in Dei Verbum, the Commission sought to dispel those fears by adding to the pertinent footnote, among other things, a reference to Pope Leo XIII's explicit insistence on what is now slightingly called "concordism." In this passage of Providentissimus Deus, now confirmed explicitly by Vatican II, that Pontiff affirmed:

All the Fathers and Doctors were so utterly convinced that the divine Writings ... are absolutely immune from all error that they laboured with no less ingenuity than devotion to harmonize and reconcile those many passages which might seem to involve some contradiction or discrepancy (and these are for the most part the same passages as are now raised as objections in the name of modern science). They professed unanimously that these Books, entire and in their parts, were equally inspired by God Himself, who, in speaking through the sacred authors could not have uttered anything at all which was foreign to the truth. What Augustine wrote to Jerome is equally valid for all: "For I confess to your charity that I have learnt to regard those books of Scripture now called canonical - and them alone - with such awe and honour that I most firmly believe none of their authors has erred in writing anything. And if I come across anything in those Writings which troubles me because it seems contrary to the truth, I will unhesitatingly lay the blame elsewhere: perhaps the copy is untrue to the original; or the translator may not have rendered the passage faithfully; or perhaps I just do not understand it." 88

        The whole thrust of Fr. de la Potterie's highly questionable reading of Vatican II is to downplay and minimize the 'profane' aspects (history, cosmology, and so on) of the biblical record, distinguishing them so sharply from the supernatural or "heavenly" aspects - which are supposedly the only concern of "biblical truth" - that he leaves the former open to error. Fr. de la Potterie displays a certain joyous relief at having been dispensed by Vatican II (so he thinks) from the arduous and "concordist" task of having to defend the truth of all these merely earthly or human assertions in the Bible:

... the pre-conciliar problematic of the absolute inerrancy of all the Bible's propositions has been completely transcended (completamente superata). This does not mean that the idea of the Bible's truth has been abandoned. On the contrary! But the "truth" is now seen on another plane, which is no longer just that of historical truth (la "verità" è vista ormai su un altro piano, che non è più quello della sola verità storica). ... Truth, taken in this biblical sense, designates here divine Revelation, ... to the order of which the reality of "salvation" also belongs. ... It can therefore be seen that from this perspective we are clearly going beyond (si supera chiaramente) the level of the human sciences, among which is the science of language; we are also going beyond the level of the mere historical truth of the biblical accounts (il livello della sola verità storica dei racconti biblici); the "truth" of Scripture is that of its deep meaning (senso profondo), of the revelatory and divine meaning of the Word of God, which goes "beyond" ("al di là") the literal and historical sense of the individual texts, because it unveils the plan of salvation, the mystery of Revelation. 89

        It is in reading such passages that one can see the pressing relevance today of Spiritus Paraclitus; for it is not easy to see how a hermeneutical approach which identifies "the 'truth' of Scripture" with its salvific, "revelatory," "deep," and "divine" meaning could be very different in its practical applications from another approach rebuked long ago by Benedict XV's encyclical. In Providentissimus his predecessor Leo XIII had already clearly and repeatedly rejected the idea that error of any sort could be found in Scripture; but because in one passage he associated this false opinion with the idea that "divine inspiration extends only to those things regarding faith and morals," 90 some Catholic exegetes in the following decades developed an ingenious theory which professed an unlimited extension of the Bible's inspiration, but not of its inerrancy. Pope Benedict gave this more sophisticated - but still sophistical - theory short shrift:

Yet no one can pretend that certain recent writers really adhere to these [i.e., Leo XIII's] limitations. For while conceding that inspiration extends to every phrase - and, indeed, to every single word of Scripture - yet, by endeavouring to distinguish between what they style the primary or religious and the secondary or profane element in the Bible, they claim that the effect of inspiration - namely, absolute truth and immunity from error - are to be restricted to that primary or religious element. Their notion is that only what concerns religion is intended and taught by God in Scripture, and that all the rest - things concerning "profane knowledge," the garments in which Divine truth is presented - God merely permits, and even leaves to the individual author's greater or lesser knowledge. Small wonder, then, that in their view a considerable number of things occur in the Bible touching physical science, history and the like, which cannot be reconciled with modern progress in science! 91

        Benedict XV was not, of course, the only Pope to condemn this exaggerated and perilous distinction between the divine and human (or sacred and profane) aspects of the Bible's content - although it is his condemnation which is the most pointed, detailed and explicit. We have already seen that Pope Pius XII made clear his wholehearted endorsement of the teaching of Spiritus Paraclitus, as well as of Providentissimus. 92 But it is worth adding that, in recalling Leo XIII's original censure of rationalistic errors, Pius XII added his own personal condemnation of the misleading distinction we are considering. This is found right at the beginning of Divino afflante Spiritu, in a passage which is rarely, if ever, quoted by the revisionist exponents of this encyclical. After referring to Vatican I's solemn affirmation of the plenary inspiration of Scripture, Pius XII recalled the continued undermining of that doctrine which prompted his predecessor's intervention in 1893:

Subsequently, however, certain Catholic writers dared to restrict the truth of Sacred Scripture to matters of faith and morals alone, relegating everything else, whether of a physical or historical character, to the status of "obiter dicta" which (so it was claimed) are in no way connected to the faith. But since this was opposed to [the First Vatican Council's] solemn definition of Catholic doctrine, which insists that the biblical books, "entire and with all their parts," are endowed with such divine authority as to enjoy freedom from all error, Our Predecessor of immortal memory Leo XIII responded in the Encyclical Letter Providentissimus Deus ... by justly and fittingly striking down those erroneous opinions, while at the same time laying down very wise precepts and norms for the study of the Divine Books. 93

        In short, it seems rather disingenuous for Fr. de la Potterie to describe the "pre-conciliar" position which affirmed "the absolute inerrancy of all propositions in the Bible" as being nothing more than the ephemeral opinion of a particular theological school ("the concordist tradition of the 19th century"). Benedict XV's ample exposition of the thought of St. Jerome made it clear that this was the great Doctor's firmly held faith, 94 and Leo XIII, whose encyclical was confirmed unreservedly by his successors, declared that it is no less than "the ancient and constant faith of the Church, which, after also having been defined by solemn judgments of the Councils of Florence and Trent, was at length confirmed and more expressly declared by the [First] Vatican Council." 95

        Nevertheless, did not Vatican Council II change all that? Not at all. Indeed, it is important to note that it could not have done so; for it would be impossible, in view of Christ's promises to his Church, that the Spirit of Truth could allow an ecumenical council to contradict what had been repeatedly declared by Peter's Successors to be "the ancient and constant faith of the Church." Nevertheless, that developing and increasingly dominant historical revisionism which we are questioning in this essay has been proclaiming for decade after decade that Dei Verbum's teaching on the truth of Scripture substantially changed traditional Catholic doctrine so as to limit biblical inerrancy to "that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation." 96 This and other similar translations of Dei Verbum, 11, lend themselves to the idea that the Catholic Church now views the Bible as a collection of writings into which a certain precious leaven of revealed, spiritual and moral teaching has, as it were, been injected or diffused by God "for the sake of our salvation"; and that since only this "salvific" element is guaranteed to be free from error, Scripture may contain errors when it speaks of other matters. This has every appearance of being just another form of the false opinion we have already examined at length, and which, according to Pius XII in 1950, had been "so often condemned already." 97 Nonetheless, Fr. Raymond Brown is quite blunt in presenting this opinion as the teaching of Vatican II:

In the last hundred years we have moved from an understanding wherein inspiration guaranteed that the Bible was totally inerrant to an understanding wherein inerrancy is limited to the Bible's teaching of "that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation." In this long journey of thought the concept of inerrancy was not rejected but was seriously modified to fit the evidence of biblical criticism which showed that the Bible was not inerrant in questions of science, of history, and even of time-conditioned religious beliefs. 98

        Ambiguous and misleading translations do nothing to promote an understanding of the Council's true meaning. Within the next year or so the present writer hopes to publish a detailed study of this conciliar passage in which (on the basis of its textual history, the relator's official explanations to the Council Fathers, 99 certain generally ignored nuances of the Latin terminology and syntax, and the rigorously traditional doctrine contained in the references given in footnote 5 100) it will be argued that the true meaning of Vatican II's teaching on biblical inerrancy is expressed in the following translation of the last two sentences of Dei Verbum, 11:

Therefore, since everything affirmed by the inspired authors, or sacred writers, must be held as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must in consequence acknowledge that the books of Scripture teach the truth firmly, faithfully, and without error - keeping in mind that it was for the sake of our salvation that God wanted this truth recorded in the form of Sacred Writings. Thus, "all Scripture is inspired By God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16-17). 101

        Few readers are likely to dispute that this version presents the Council's teaching in a rather different light from that suggested by the standard translations of this passage. This new (and, I think, more faithful) translation makes much clearer Vatican II's harmony with the traditional doctrine of inerrancy - and thus, its discord with the very diluted version of that doctrine which for thirty years has been so widely propagated in the name of the Council.

        B.2. The Question of Literary Genres in Scripture.   Among the various errors rebuked by Benedict XV in Spiritus Paraclitus, there were two which have been long since dropped from the liberal exegete's armory, since they were rather inept and transparently sophistical methods of "saving" the Bible's inerrancy in cases where its historicity seemed problematical for one reason or another. One was the theory of "relative" rather than "absolute" historical truth, according to which the truth of a historical narrative in Scripture is supposed to be sufficiently upheld provided one can show that it faithfully reflects what was commonly held as historical truth among the unsophisticated Israelites, regardless of how well it tallies with the facts as they actually occurred. 102 The other theory, closely related, was the abusive appeal to "tacit" or "implicit" quotations. What the Pope rejected here was the attempt to deal with apparent historical contradictions or errors in Scripture by the facile expedient of postulating that the author was not really affirming the problematical statements himself, but was merely reporting (without error) someone else's statements - in the absence, however, of any serious literary evidence that this is in fact what the inspired author was doing. 103

        Much more enduring than these two censured approaches in the repertoire of modern exegetes has been another one which cannot simply be rejected - for it is valid and important in itself - but which is nonetheless very open to abuse and manipulation. It is arguable that there is no area of biblical scholarship in more urgent need of further clarification, even though the subject has been discussed, debated and pronounced upon by Catholic exegetes and the Magisterium since the beginning of the century. This is the question of Scripture's varying literary genres, which have to be taken into account in evaluating the truth, meaning, and historicity of the various books (or parts thereof) forming the biblical canon. The main difficulty consists in deciding under what circumstances one can be justified in concluding that certain parts of Scripture, presented in narrative form and traditionally presumed to be straightforward accounts of historical fact, were not really intended as such by their respective authors.

        As we have seen, Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer accuses Spiritus Paraclitus of "in effect, denying that one had to interpret the Bible according to its literary forms." From the evidence already presented in this essay, it should be clear that Pope Pius XII would not have agreed with this criticism of his predecessor. Pius XII certainly emphasized in Divino afflante Spiritu the importance of taking literary forms into account; but he insisted at the same time that the Magisterium of his predecessors retained its full and perennial validity. Indeed, far from seeing any inconsistency or discontinuity between what he was recommending in 1943 and what had already been permitted in the 'twenties and 'thirties, when Spiritus Paraclitus was, as it were, the 'reigning' biblical encyclical, Pius XII was conscious that his own teaching on literary genres was merely a more explicit and formal magisterial approval of the progress that had been made in that period, with the full blessing of his predecessors.

        The fact is that right from the beginning of the century the Magisterium had admitted cautiously the possibility that Scripture could contain "narratives which are historical only in appearance." The Pontifical Biblical Commission decided in 1905 that as a rule the existence of such genres should not be admitted in Scripture; but it allowed that there might be exceptions ("not to be easily or rashly admitted") if there turned out to be cases where it could be "proved with solid arguments that the inspired writer did not intend to write history in the true and proper sense, but rather, under the appearance and form of history, to propose a parable, an allegory or some other meaning distinct from the proper literal or historical meaning of the words." 104

        And, indeed, was not this decision (even though coming from what Scripture scholars now commonly consider the anti-modernist 'Dark Ages') a perfectly sane and measured response to the problem? After all, would even the most 'progressive' exegete today want to maintain with a straight face that responsible scholarship could actually reject the Commission's advice on this point? Since when can researchers in any field of science or scholarship feel free to dispense with "proofs" and "solid arguments" before asserting new conclusions, particularly if these happen to be contrary to what other experts in the field have long held? Benedict XV simply maintained this prudent norm, and in no way "denied" - either in theory or "in effect" - that the Bible should be "interpreted according to its literary forms."

        In fact, as Fr. Jean Levie (by no means a conservative exegete) recognized half a century ago, Spiritus Paraclitus had, if anything, the opposite of a "stifling" or "negative" impact on biblical studies. Unlike Fr. Fitzmyer, Fr. Levie (born c. 1880) was already active as a Scripture professor during the inter-war period and so could speak from personal experience. In the historical part of his 1946 commentary on Divino afflante Spiritu, he saw the 1920 encyclical as part of a trajectory of gradually increasing recognition of biblical literary genres by the Magisterium, beginning from the 1905 decision. The French scholar recalled that after a "temporary halt on discussions" of this difficult theme at the height of the anti-modernist conflicts following Pascendi and Lamentabili (1907), Benedict XV's encyclical "accepted more explicitly the principle of 'literary genres' in history, while reproving the excessive use of that principle." 105 Indeed, as we have seen, its application to the Book of Judith was accepted widely in the inter-war period by the most thoroughly approved and trusted exegetes; and during the same period it was already commonplace for exegetes to appeal - without hindrance from the Holy Office, the Biblical Commission, or the Pope - to ancient Semitic forms of language and expression in order to explain, for instance, the apparently conflicting genealogies in Matthew and Luke, and to postulate a reasonable doubt as to whether the Genesis author really intended to assert the true geographical (or even anthropological) universality of the Great Flood. 106

        What, then, did Benedict XV actually say about these matters? While it is true that he was concerned to issue a strong denunciation of the errors currently in circulation, he was also careful to preface his condemnations by positive encouragement for exegetes. Using the same sort of language which today's conventional exegetical wisdom headlines as "boldly innovative" or "progressive" when it occurs in more recent magisterial statements, 107 the Pope said:

We fully approve, of course, the project of those who, in order to help themselves and others find a way out of difficulties in the sacred text, are using new avenues and new methods of investigation, relying on every means of assistance that can be afforded by critical scholarship in the effort to clear up those difficulties. 108

        The Pontiff immediately went to add, however: "But we remind them that they will only come to miserable grief if they neglect our predecessor's injunctions and overstep the limits set by the Fathers." 109 In regard to the specific question of literary genres, this was treated together with the theory of "tacit quotations" which we have already mentioned. The Pope rebuked

... those who, in appealing to certain principles which indeed are valid if kept within certain definite limits, abuse them to the extent of shaking the foundations of biblical truth and undermining the common Catholic doctrine handed down from the Fathers. If Jerome were alive now, he would certainly be hurling his sharpest verbal missiles at those who set aside the mind and judgment of the Church and take refuge too readily in the appeal to "implicit quotations" and "narratives historical only in appearance." No less severe would he be with those who claim to have found in the sacred Scriptures certain literary genres which would be incompatible with the integral and perfect truth of God's word; or with those who speculate about the origins of the biblical books in such a way as to weaken their authority, or even destroy it altogether. 110

        Thus, it is not the principle of "literary genres" (or of "narratives historical only in appearance") which the Pope condemns, but only the abuse of that principle, either by abandoning too quickly one's confidence in the historical intention of the sacred author as a facile means of explaining away difficulties, or of pretending to find "literary genres" which in any case would be incompatible with the Bible's divine inspiration and inerrancy. (These would include, for instance, 'legends' and 'folkloric history', which are by nature misleading or deceptive: they are stories about events believed by simple or primitive people to have really taken place in the past, but which never in fact took place.)

        One of the basic fallacies or dangers in this area had been accurately spotted already by the beginning of the century, as Fr. Bea recalled in his authoritative 1943 commentary on Divino afflante Spiritu. He quoted the German exegete Goettsberger, who in 1905 criticized certain of his colleagues as follows: "Here the direction of the argument seems to be inverted: no longer do they deduce the non-historical character of the content from an independent knowledge of the literary genre; instead, they are deducing the existence of the literary genre from the very fact that the content is considered non-historical." 111

        That, clearly, was a sophistical approach which Pope Benedict was right to condemn as an "abuse" of a valid principle. Instead of effectively defending the doctrine of biblical inerrancy from the attacks of secular historians, such an approach only exposes that doctrine to greater ridicule on their part. For, if we have before us a text (biblical or otherwise) which shows every sign of having been written as history - that is, it is in narrative form and has no literary devices or other stylistic or structural traits signalling to its original readers that the genre was intended as imaginative rather than historical 112 - and if this text turns out to contain assertions on the part of the author which demonstrably do not correspond to past events as they are known to have actually occurred, 113 then correct scientific historical method will require us to conclude that the author has either lied or made honest mistakes. Therefore, if such a text were to be found in the Bible - and faithful Catholics must believe firmly that such never has been nor ever will be found therein - that same scientific method would require us to abandon belief in the fundamental Christian dogma of the Bible's divine authorship, since God can neither deceive nor fall into error. To cling to one's Christian faith, under those circumstances, by taking refuge in the hypothesis of a 'non-historical genre' would be gratuitous and unscientific. One would thereby 'save' the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the text only at the expense of falling prey to a reductio ad absurdum rebuttal from the scientific historian: he would be quick to point out that by resorting to this ploy (i.e., by taking non-correspondence with the known facts as being in itself sufficient evidence of an imaginative literary genre in which no such correspondence was ever intended) one could uphold with the greatest of ease the "inerrancy" of any piece of narrative prose ever written! Which would plainly be ridiculous.

        This abuse of the 'literary genres' concept can in fact be seen as a theological counterpart to the abuse of narcotic drugs. That alluring two-word formula holds out to the typical post-conciliar exegete the beguiling promise of an escape-route - a 'quick fix' - by which he can have his cake and eat it too. That is, it seems to offer him the attractive prospect of being able to continue believing in the divine inspiration of Scripture (and so avoid the trauma of losing his faith) while easily relieving himself of the faith-challenging difficulties, uncertainties and perplexities involved in the painstaking work of defending the truth of Scripture's concrete historical statements. As we all know, the euphoric sense of peace and well-being produced by a stiff dose of narcotics is achieved only at the cost of slipping into a hazy world of illusion and unreality. Similarly, in smiling with condescension at the 'pre-critical' and 'futile' efforts at 'concordism' of all those pre-1943 Catholic exegetes (and present-day 'fundamentalists') with no access to the instant relief which he can now enjoy at will, today's revisionist Scripture scholar basks in the relaxing glow of his 'literary genre' panacea for all objections to biblical inspiration only at the risk of letting his faith decompose into the groundless illusion of fideism. Having surrendered to rationalist criticism the high ground of Scripture's historical reliability, he not only empties divine inspiration of its true meaning, but opens himself to being left with a "faith" ungrounded in historical reality, and, hence, with no rational basis. 114

        In arguing that the historicity of the Gospel Infancy Narratives is "extremely dubious," 115 Fr. Raymond Brown seems to have adopted this fallacious and perilous 'inversion' we have been analyzing. For he evidently takes it for granted, as a methodological principle, that if a Catholic exegete thinks he has discovered significant historical improbabilities in a biblical narrative, then on this basis alone he is entitled - as a believer in the divine inspiration of that narrative - to presume that it was written according to a non-historical literary genre. After summarizing in two pages what he calls the "principal reasons" for doubting the historical reliablity of the Infancy Narratives - and these "reasons" all turn out to be drawn from the affirmations or silences of contemporary Roman and Jewish historians, or from other supposedly problematical affirmations and silences of these two Gospels themselves - Fr. Brown shouts his doubts at the reader in block letters: "THE BURDEN OF PROOF LIES ON THOSE WHO AFFIRM HISTORICITY." 116 In other words, we are to act on the assumption that these narratives belong to a "non-historical genre" unless the contrary should one day be proven.

        Raising one's voice, however, does nothing to strengthen a weak argument. To begin with, careful analysis of the "reasons" given for the alleged historical improbability of Matthew's and Luke's narratives would undoubtedly show that they are not such serious reasons as Fr. Brown claims they are. 117 The point being emphasized, however, is that even if they were as serious as he claims they are, reasons of that sort would still in no way be sufficient to justify him, as a Catholic scholar, in doubting the actual historical reliability of the Infancy Narratives, and in postulating that they belong to some less-than-historical literary genre. For Fr. Brown, who acknowledges in these same pages both the divine inspiration of the Infancy Narratives 118 and the inconclusive nature of the objections he has raised, 119 is obliged by the exigencies of faith (as well as those of reason) to avoid carefully that abusive appeal to 'literary genres', condemned by Benedict XV, which leads toward the disastrous dissolution of rational Christian faith which we have outlined above.

        First, what are the exigencies of reason? Given the fact that these early chapters of Matthew and Luke indisputably appear in the form of historical narratives recording events related to Jesus' birth and childhood, sound literary theory requires us to presume that they were written with the intention of persuading readers that the said events really did take place, unless it can perhaps be shown that the authors indicated the contrary intention to their prospective readership by some kind of literary device. In the absence of any such device, the literary critic will be left with only two real possibilities: either the authors intended to write true history, i.e., to use the literary genre of true history, 120 or (conceivably) they meant to deceive their readers by writing propaganda, i.e., either pure fabrication or a plausible mixture of truth and falsehood.

        Secondly, what are the exigencies of faith? For the Catholic, these derive from what Vatican II confirms as the "apostolic faith" of Holy Mother Church that her canonical books, "entire and with all their parts, ... have God as their author." 121 This consideration clearly rules out immediately the possibility of deceptive propaganda as the 'literary genre' of the Infancy Narratives. With equal immediacy it rules out the possibility that the human authors honestly intended to write true history about Our Lord's birth and childhood, but got some of their factual statements wrong; for God was also the author of each of those statements.

        As a faithful Catholic commentator on the Infancy Narratives, therefore, Fr. Brown is now left with only two possibilities: either these Gospel accounts are completely reliable as history in spite of the difficulties he has noted (difficulties which in any case he has freely admitted are not overwhelming), or else Luke and Matthew both indicate clearly to their intended readership by some means or other that they do not intend everything stated in these narratives to be understood as historically true. But, since Fr. Brown has not made the slightest attempt in these pages to show that the inspired authors gave the original readers of the Infancy Narratives any such indication, his Capitalized Conclusion (i.e., that in the present state of scholarship their non-historicity is to be presumed) is plainly a non sequitur.

        Indeed, how would Fr. Brown argue plausibly that Matthew and Luke did somehow signal a non-historical intention to their readers? For both of them actually signalled the exact opposite! Luke unambiguously spells out his historical intention at the beginning of his Gospel (1:1-4), as does Matthew (1:18): "Now the generation of Christ was in this wise" (Douay Rheims version). 122 In short, far from the burden of proof's lying on those Catholics who affirm the historicity of the Infancy Narratives, there is a crushing burden of proof lying on those Catholics who deny it, or even doubt it. All the more so since Vatican Council II declared, in one of the most solemn doctrinal affirmations to be found in any of its documents, that the "historicity" of the four Gospels 123 is something which "Holy Mother Church" has not only "held firmly and with absolute constancy, and continues to hold," but also "unhesitatingly asserts." Nothing in the text or debates suggests that the Fathers meant to exclude the Infancy Narratives when they referred to the historicity of the Gospels. On the contrary, they quoted Acts 1:1-2 (i.e., Luke's retrospective reference to his Gospel as a whole - "from the beginning until the day he ... was taken up into Heaven"), to make it clear that this historicitas refers to the Infancy Narratives as well as the Resurrection Accounts. 124

        It is precisely in regard to such disputes over the historicity of the Gospels that Spiritus Paraclitus seems at its freshest and most relevant seventy-five years after its publication. Neither Providentissimus Deus nor Divino afflante Spiritu devoted much specific attention to this grave issue; but Benedict XV wrote at a time when, under the influence of German liberal Protestant exegesis, the fallacies of form-criticism were starting to gain ground, dissecting the canonical texts into a jig-saw puzzle of supposed literary units welded together gradually by unknown "communities" and anonymous "redactors." The result of such pseudoscientific criticism was - and is - an all-pervasive scepticism as to which Gospel passages (if any) represent the true actions or teachings of Our Lord, since each form-critical scholar inevitably has his own shifting and tentative personal opinions about such matters.

        The seductiveness of this method lay (and still lies) above all in the magic of the word "science." Modern form-criticism claims to be "objective" and "scientific" - just like physics or chemistry, it would seem. But precisely in its attempt to imitate the natural sciences, this method fails to observe the proper norms of historical science, which knows nothing of this chopping-up of homogeneous texts into "early" and "later" strata on the basis of certain alleged "laws" or predictable stages of formation. Moreover, whereas the natural sciences can test their working hypotheses by experiment and direct observation, the innumerable form-critical hypotheses as to how each passage of the Gospels gradually reached its present form can never (given the unavailability of time machines) be tested by that sort of on-the-spot enquiry, and so be either proved or disproved. They remain forever speculations, and indeed, gratuitous speculations, because they were not even arrived at by well-reasoned historical methodology. Yet because their protagonists label them 'science'; because they are constantly changing and being 'updated' (as all good scientific investigations are supposed to be); and because of a strong secular bias which renders them overtly or covertly sceptical about the supernatural, they have gained an unmerited aura of incontestable and 'objective' validity.

        How refreshing, then, are the following astringent and prophetic words of Benedict XV, which might well be employed today as a complement to the more irenic but doctrinally harmonious affirmations of Dei Verbum, 19!

What can we say of men who in expounding the very Gospels so whittle away the human trust we should repose in them as to overturn Divine faith in them? They refuse to allow that the things which Christ said or did have come down to us unchanged and entire through witnesses who carefully committed to writing what they themselves had seen and heard. They maintain - and particularly in their treatment of the Fourth Gospel - that much is due of course to the Evangelists - who, however, added much from their own imaginations; but much, too, is due to narratives compiled by the faithful at other periods, the result, of course, being that the twin streams now flowing in the same channel cannot be distinguished from one another. Not thus did Jerome and Augustine and the other Doctors of the Church understand the historical trustworthiness of the Gospels. 125

        Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in the recent Italian publication which has repeatedly been cited in these pages, recognizes the severity of that "state of emergency" (stato d'emergenza) 126 in which the Church's faith now finds itself as a result of the revisionary approach of many biblical scholars to Tradition and the Magisterium. He writes: "Dogma, deprived of its scriptural foundation, is no longer holding up. The Bible, which has separated itself from dogma, has become a document of the past which belongs to the past." 127 Today, therefore, in the effort to overcome this crisis, should we not all heed the lessons taught by Benedict XV's encyclical? Its assertive vigilance against errors which today are once again widespread, combined with its eminently pastoral approach, its spiritual emphasis, and its encouragement of Scripture scholars to adopt what would be in effect a neo-Patristic method (i.e., a synthesis of modern historical and scientific knowledge with the basic hermeneutical approach of St. Jerome and the other great Fathers) - all this would furnish a harmonious complement to Vatican Council II's doctrinal and pastoral teaching on the Bible. If seriously implemented, it would surely do much to lead the People of God to a truer, more extensive, and more fruitful knowledge of Sacred Scripture - ignorance of which, as Jerome insisted, "is ignorance of Christ."

        It was, in fact, Vatican II which brought that saying of the ancient Church's champion of Scripture back to our attention; and it did so in a context that might surprise many biblical scholars today. Those exegetes who now remember Benedict XV's teaching only in order to disparage it could do worse than reflect for a moment on the fact that, in recalling St. Jerome's dictum, the Council which they claim was bent on canonizing the final victory of their own revisionism over the "negative" and "stifling" attitude of the pre-war Magisterium has directed us all, in its footnote, to consult one page of Divino afflante Spiritu (1943) - but four pages of Spiritus Paraclitus (1920). 128

49. After recalling and summing up the insistence of Providentissimus Deus on the absolute inerrancy of Scripture, Pius XII affirmed: "This, therefore, was the doctrine expounded with such gravity by Our Predecessor Leo XIII; We too by Our authority propose this doctrine, and insist that it be scrupulously held by all. (Hanc igitur, quam Decessor Noster Leo XIII tanta cum gravitate doctrinam exposuit, Nos quoque auctoritate Nostra proponimus et, ut ab omnibus religiose teneatur, inculcamus)" EB 540.

50. "Ex hisce igitur aliisque inceptis, quæ in dies latius propagantur et invalescunt, ... spem concipimus haud dubiam fore, ut in posterum et reverentia et usu et scientia Sacrarum Litterarum etiam atque etiam ad animorum bonum ubique proficiant, dummodo studiorum biblicorum rationem a Leone XIII præscriptam, ab eius Succesoribus luculentius perfectiusque declaratam, a Nobis vero confirmatam et auctam - quæ quidem unice tuta est atque experimento comprobata - firmius, alacrius, fidentiusque retineant omnes" (EB 545 - emphasis added).

51. We shall give English quotations of Spiritus Paraclitus (SP) from the translation found in Rome and the Study of Scripture (Grail Publications, 1953), pp. 43-78, which is reproduced in Claudia Carlen (ed.), The Papal Encyclicals 1903-1939 (McGrath Publishing Co., 1981), pp. 177-194. The section numbers used in this version are not found in the original Latin text (cf. EB 440-495).

52. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "Preface to the Biblical Commission Document," cited in Fitzmyer, op. cit., p. 14. In his allocution for the centenary of Providentissimus Deus, Pope John Paul II also noted with satisfaction that "exegetes of various confessions" - that is, not only Catholics - are now "being more attentive to the contributions of patristic exegesis" (ibid., p. 7).

53. Jerome, Epist. ad Lætam, 107, 9, 12, cited in SP 41 (EB 475).

54. Jerome, Epist. 108, sive Epitaphium S. Paulæ, 26, cited in SP 42 (EB 475).

55. Cf. Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, Chapter VI.

56. W.M. Abbott (ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), pp. 125-126, n. 50. Fr. MacKenzie is not identified as the author of the comments on Dei Verbum in or near the conciliar text itself. However, his signature appears on the introductory essay preceding the text of the Dogmatic Constitution (ibid., p. 110), and an editorial note at the beginning of the book says that the unofficial notes to each conciliar document are the work of the scholar "whose name is at the end of the essay introducing the document" (ibid., p. xiv).

57. SP 43-44 (EB 477-478).

58. Dei Verbum, 22.

59. Abbott (ed.), op. cit., p. 126, n. 52.

60. Jerome, Epist. ad Marcellam, 27, 1, 1, cited in SP 13 (EB 450).

61. SP 50 (EB 485).

62. Cf. Fitzmyer, op. cit., pp. 4-8 ( EB 1245-1252).

63. Ibid., p. 4 (EB 1245).

64. Cf., for instance, the review of 20th-century studies on this theme in M.A. Tabet, "Ispirazione, condiscendenza ed incarnazione nella teologia di questo secolo," Annales Theologici, 8 (1994) pp. 235-283.

65. I. de la Potterie (ed.), L'esegesi cristiana oggi (Casale Monferrato: Edizioni Piemme, 1991).

66. "È stato soprattutto a causa di questa 'ossessione dell'inerranza' (A.M. Artola) che è scoppiata la famosa 'questione biblica', durante l'oscura epoca del modernismo. Ed è stato merito di Pio XII l'avere posto fine a tale questione con la sua enciclica Divino afflante Spiritu (1943)." I. de la Potterie, "L'esegesi biblica, scienza della fede," ibid., p. 140 (emphasis in original).

67. Ibid., p. 141 (emphasis added). The Italian original of the emphasised words is "... e per la prima volta in un documento del Magistero, la parola 'autore' è applicata anche agli agiografi."

68. "... da 'Dio autore dei libri sacri' al 'la Scrittura come opera letteraria.'" G. Colombo, "Intorno all''Esegesi Scientifica,'" in I. de la Potterie (ed.), L'esegesi cristiana oggi (Casale Monferrato: Edizioni Piemme, 1991), p. 198.

69. Ibid., p. 201 (emphasis added). The Italian original of the emphasised words is "... con la conseguente problematizzazione dell'attribuzione a Dio, esclusiva nei testi del Concilio e del magistero precedenti."

70. Ibid., p. 202.

71. Note 1 to Dei Verbum, 11, cites not only Vatican Council I's solemn statement of this truth, but also its emphatic and rigorous reassertion in the Biblical Commission's Response of 18 June 1915 on the parousia in St. Paul's Epistles (EB 415 in the latest edition), and in the 1923 Holy Office condemnation of a modernistic biblical manual (EB 499).

72. Dei Verbum, 21 (the beginning of Chapter VI), starts conspicuously with the words "The divine Scriptures" (Divinas Scripturas). No. 23 speaks of the "divine Writings" (divinas Litteras) and, in the next line, of the "divine word" (divini verbi). Then the Council Fathers produce a passage positively brimming over with that language which, according to our distinguished theologian, they themselves have rendered "fatally obsolete": no. 25 speaks again of Scripture as the "divine word" (verbi divini), the "divine Scriptures" (divinarum Scripturarum), and the "divine oracles" (divina oracula). It then finishes off with the selfsame expression which Msgr. Colombo uses as his archetypal example of what "is not very coherent with the intention of the Council": the "divine books" (divinorum librorum). Who, we must ask, is likely to be a better judge of the Council's "intention": the Council itself or Msgr. Colombo?

73. Cf. the following passages in Providentissimus Deus: EB 109 ("sacros auctores" and "inspiratos auctores"); EB 120 ("auctoribus"); EB 124 ("sacrum ... auctorem"); EB 127 ("sacros auctores").

74. Cf. ibid., EB 125 ("primario auctori").

75. Dei Verbum, 11, reaffirms that the books of Scripture "have God as their author," and no. 12 states that "God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion."

76. The Biblical Commission then ruled that, while one could not simply deny that Moses was the "author" (auctorem) of the Pentateuch (EB 181), one could nevertheless admit that some editing and additions to the text were carried out after the time of Moses "by an inspired author" (ab auctore inspirato) (EB 184).

77. Cf. De libri Isaiæ indole et auctore, 28 June 1908 (EB 276-280) and De auctoribus et de tempore compositionis Psalmorum, 1 May 1910 (EB 332-339).

78. Cf. SP 8 (EB 448).

79. Ibid.

80. That is, EB 556, cited in note 2 to Dei Verbum, 11.

81. I. de la Potterie, op. cit., (cited in notes 65 and 66 above), p. 144 (emphasis in original). Fr. de la Potterie's insistence on reading Scripture "in the Spirit," while of course perfectly correct per se, needs to be evaluated in the light of his project of sharply distinguishing the human sense of Scripture from its divine sense, implying that the former can be in error (cf. ibid., pp. 139-144). See discussion of this point below, pp. 8-10.

82. I. de la Potterie, ibid.

83. EB 114 and EB 483 respectively. In the passage from Leo XIII's 1893 encyclical, the editors of EB have placed this phrase in bold type at the top of the page: "La Scrittura anima della teologia."

84. SP 18-30 (EB 453-463).

85. Fitzmyer (ed.), op. cit., p. 20, n. 10.

86. Dei Verbum, 11.

87. "La tradizione concordista del sec. XIX, la cui mentalità si manifestava ancora nella schema preconciliare, era dominata quasi esclusivamente dal problema dell'inerranza assoluta della Bibbia. Attribuiva l'assenza di errore a tutte le asserzioni degli autori biblici." I. de la Potterie, "Il Concilio Vaticano II e la Bibbia," in I. de la Potterie (ed.), loc. cit. (cited in n. 65 above), p. 33 (emphasis in original). How is it possible that a scholar of such international standing should thus show himself forgetful of the fact that it was not only the "preconciliar schema," but also the finally promulgated text of Dei Verbum, that made the "attribution" he criticizes? The reason he finds it untenable is that it would (so he says, quoting Fr. Pierre Grelot) require us to accept "the cosmology of the sacred authors, their geography, their botany, etc., ... as being equally the Word of God (accolti come altrettante Parole di Dio)" (ibid). But this is to caricature the traditional position (which Vatican II reaffirmed), since it insinuates that the said position requires us to accept all that the ancient authors believed or took for granted about cosmology, geography, etc. In fact, it requires us to accept only what they asserted about such topics, taking into account, moreover, the popular approximations, prescientific forms of speech, and descriptions "according to appearances" by which the ancients commonly described such matters.

88. This is the complete paragraph EB 127, cited in note 5 to Dei Verbum, 11 (with emphasis added). The original of the emphasised words is: "... non pauca illa, quæ contrarii aliquid vel dissimile viderentur afferre (eademque fere sunt quæ nomine novæ scientiæ nunc obiiciunt), non subtiliter minus quam religiose componere inter se et conciliare studuerint." The following passage from St. Augustine's letter (Epist. 82, 3) was also included in the conciliar footnote separately and in its own right, as part of this final revision; and since the sentence preceding Leo XIII's quotaton of it (i.e., "They professed ... to the truth") adds nothing to what was already included in other footnote references, it follows that the Commission's - and the Council's - specific purpose in citing EB 127 can only have been to recall the first part of that paragraph, viz., Leo XIII's praise of "all the Fathers and Doctors" for their commitment to what is now called "concordism."

89. I. de la Potterie, "L'esegesi biblica ...," loc. cit. (cited in n. 66 above), pp. 142-143 (emphasis in original).

90. EB 124.

91. SP 19 (EB 454).

92. Cf. citation over n. 47 above.

93. EB 538.

94. Cf. SP 13-15 (EB 448-451).

95. EB 125, referring to the Bull Cantate Domino of the Council of Florence (EB 47), the first Decree of the Council of Trent on Sacred Scripture (EB 57), and the Constitution Dei Filius, ch. 2, of Vatican I (EB 77-78).

96. Abbott (ed.), op. cit. (cited in n. 56 above), p. 119.

97. Less than a decade after Divino afflante Spiritu, Pius XII had occasion to reprobate yet again the same basic error which, in slightly different words and with minor variations, is being propagated as the teaching of Vatican II by not a few contemporary commentators. On reading the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, one can sense the Pontiff's irritation at having to insist time and again on the same point: "Some are boldly perverting the sense of the [First] Vatican Council's words which define God to be the author of Sacred Scripture, and are reviving the opinion - so often condemned already - that would restrict the inerrancy of Scripture to what concerns God, and matters of religion and morals. Indeed, they speak falsely of a human sense of the Bible, under which is supposed to lie hidden the divine sense - the only infallible one, they claim" (EB 612).

98. Brown, op. cit. (cited in n.3 above), pp. 8-9. There are other less direct ways which can be used to expound what in practice amounts to the same view. To avoid openly contradicting Dei Verbum by saying that an inspired writer - and therefore the Holy Spirit! - may at times "affirm" what is erroneous, some commentators argue that the question as to whether or not the author does in fact "affirm," (or "assert," or "teach") a given expression appearing in the Bible is to be decided not by the normal criteria of vocabulary, syntax, literary genre, and the analogy of faith, but on the basis of the reader's prior judgment as to whether that expression has any salvific value or not. If he decides it has not, then he is to conclude that, notwithstanding all possible linguistic appearances to the contrary, such a statement or proposition is not really "affirmed" by its author. Hence, it may be freely admitted as erroneous without prejudice to the Catholic doctrine of biblical inerrancy! This procedure seems nothing more than thinly-veiled sophistry, because it will "defend" biblical inerrancy only at the cost of allowing words to mean whatever one wants them to mean. (Q: What looks like an affirmation, walks like an affirmation and talks like an affirmation - but isn't an affirmation? A: a non-salvific biblical proposition!) This hermeneutical sleight-of-hand seems to be implied by Fr. Roderick MacKenzie's exegesis of Dei Verbum, 11. He tells readers of the 'Abbott' Documents that the whole text of Scripture "is authoritative and inerrant in what it affirms about the revelation of God and the history of salvation. According to the intentions of its authors, divine and human, it makes no other affirmations." (Abbott {ed.}, op. cit., p. 119, note 31). Professor Germain Grisez (whose work in moral theology is highly esteemed by this writer) is more explicit in treading this perilous path. He writes, "The result of careful interpretation will be to discern as asserted by the sacred writers only propositions which do pertain to faith or morals, at least in some indirect way." The Way of the Lord Jesus, Vol. I: Christian Moral Principles (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1983), p. 839.

99. The Council Fathers were officially informed, for instance, that the inclusion of the references to Scripture's salvific purpose must not be taken to imply the kind of limitation on biblical inerrancy which the pre-conciliar Magisterium had repeatedly condemned. Rather, they were told, "it indicates Scripture's formal specification, the nature of which must be kept in mind in deciding in what sense everything affirmed in the Bible is true - not only matters of faith and morals and facts bound up with the history of salvation. (... indicat eius specificationem formalem, cuius ratio habeatur in diiudicando quo sensu non tantum res fidei et morum atque facta cum historia salutis coniuncta ... sed omnia quæ in Scriptura asseruntur sunt vera)," Acta Synodalia IV, V, 708 (emphasis in original).

100. This is note 32 in the Abbott edition (p. 119).

101. The original of these two sentences in Dei Verbum, 11, is: "Cum ergo omne id, quod auctores inspirati seu hagiographi asserunt, retineri debeat assertum a Spiritu Sancto, inde Scripturæ libri veritatem, quam Deus nostræ salutis causa Litteris Sacris consignari voluit, firmiter, fideliter et sine errore docere profitendi sunt. Itaque, 'omnis Scriptura divinitus inspirata et utilis ad docendum, ad arguendum, ad corripiendum, ad erudiendum in iustitia: ut perfectus sit homo Dei, ad omne opus bonum instructus' (2 Tim 3:16-17, gr.)." The case for the above translation cannot be argued in full here. Briefly, however, it can be said that consignare in Latin does not mean "consign," but "record," and takes no indirect object. Thus, Litteris Sacris is in the ablative case, not the dative: i.e., the Sacred Writings are not that to which truth is "consigned," or into which it is "put," as though the Bible were a sort of container for salvific truth (immune from error) as well as some other kind of truth (which might be contaminated by error). Rather, these writings are that by means of which (or in the form of which) God's saving truth is recorded. In other words, a good translation must make it clear that, according to Vatican II, everything affirmed in Scripture by the human authors is there "for the sake of our salvation," and is necessarily true by virtue of its simultaneous divine authorship. Clearly, the salvific relevance of many affirmations will very often be rather remote, partial or indirect, as in the case of large tracts of secondary historical, physical or other miscellaneous data. Cumulatively, however, these data make up narratives, legislation, etc., recording God's saving action in history, with and for His elect people. The link between the Bible's salvific purpose and its inerrancy is an apologetic one: in order to qualify as 'true' in a work whose ultimate purpose (finis operantis) is saving (religious and moral) truth, such secondary statements need not always be as precise, orderly or complete as would be required in works (especially modern academic works) dedicated to history or science from a purely secular viewpoint. Approximations, 'telescoped' accounts, hyperboles, popular descriptions, etc., in such matters cannot, given their biblical context, be fairly described as errors.

102. Cf. SP 22-24 (EB 455-460).

103. Cf. SP 26-27 (EB 461).

104. "... sub specie et forma historiæ, parabolam, allegoriam, vel sensum aliquem a proprie litterali seu historica verborum significatione remotum proponere." This was the Pontifical Biblical Commission's "Response" of 23 June 1905 (EB 161).

105. "... Encyclique "Spiritus Paraclitus' de Benoît XV (1920), acceptant plus explicitement le principe des 'genres littéraires' en histoire, mais en blâmant l'emploi excessif" Levie, op. cit. (cited in n. 31 above), p. 782.

106. Such trusted scholars (auctores probati) as Fr. G. Ricciotti and Fr. A. Vaccari freely published their "non-literal" interpretations of these and other passages long before the supposed "liberation" of 1943. Cf. n. 40 above and corresponding text regarding the Book of Judith; also F.S. Porporato, "La Verità nei libri storici della Bibbia," La Civiltà Cattolica, IV, quad. 2241, 28 October 1943, pp. 137-149, for a survey of these sorts of applications of the "literary genre" principle, which had already been widely published without any objections from the Magisterium, well before the advent of Divino afflante Spiritu. Like Fr. Bea's commentary (cf. n. 41 above), Fr. Porporato's article appeared in this authoritative Roman journal immediately after the publication of Pius XII's encyclical - obviously to give some concrete and approved illustrations of how its distinctive teachings were to be understood and applied. Needless to say, there is nothing at all "revolutionary" in these illustrations.

107. Displaying the typical contemporary neglect of the pre-1943 Magisterium, Fr. Raymond Brown tells his readers that it was not until 1968 that a Pope "could firmly laud critical scholars of the Bible." But the words from an allocution of Paul VI which he cites to make his point are no more laudatory of critical scholarship than those of Benedict XV nearly half a century earlier. Cf. n. 108 below and R.E. Brown, Biblical Exegesis and Church Doctrine (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1985), pp. 10-11.

108. "Equidem illorum comprobamus consilium, qui ut semetipsos aliosque ex difficultatibus sacri codicis expediant, ad eas diluendas, omnibus studiorum et artis criticæ freti subsidiis, novas vias atque rationes inquirunt" (EB 453). The English translation above is our own, since the Grail version normally used in this essay in this case weakens the Pope's words of approval for modern scholarship. It reads: "We warmly commend, of course, those who, with the assistance of critical methods, seek to discover new ways of explaining the difficulties in Holy Scripture, whether for their own guidance or to help others" (SP 18).

109. Ibid.

110. "... qui rectis quidem, si intra certos quosdam fines contineantur, principiis sic abutuntur, ut fundamenta veritatis Bibliorum labefactent et doctrinam catholicam communem a Patribus traditam subruant. In quos Hieronymus, si adhuc viveret, utique acerrima illa sermonis tela coniiceret, quod, sensu et iudicio Ecclesiæ posthabito, nimis facile ad citationes quas vocant implicitas vel ad narrationes specie tenus historicas confugiunt; aut genera quædam litterarum in libris sacris inveniri contendunt, quibuscum integra ac perfecta verbi divini veritas componi nequeat; aut de Bibliorum origine ita opinantur, ut eorundem labet vel prorsus pereat auctoritas" (EB 461, emphasis added). This again is our own translation, which seems more accurate than that given in the Grail version (SP 26).

111. Cited in Bea, (art. listed in note 41 above), pp. 221-222.

112. In English literature, for instance, opening expressions such as "Once upon a time" or "Once, in a far-off land" are literary devices telling the reader or listener that what follows is to be taken not as fact, but as fiction.

113. This does not mean that, in order to belong to the genre of history, and to be free from error, a narrative must not contain any metaphors or other figures of speech. Like any form of normal prose, history may contain such words and phrases, which the intended readership will recognize as such rather than interpreting them in the most slavishly or superficially literal sense.

114. It is no accident that, ever since this hermeneutical malady reached its present epidemic proportions soon after Vatican II, quickly becoming enshrined in such monuments as The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1969), the very notion of rational apologetics has been neglected and even scorned by systematic theologians who trustingly depend on the data furnished by exegetes. The contamination of faith at this academic level then flows on into popular catechesis, which has presented our religion to a whole generation of baptized Catholics as being justifiable mainly in terms of subjective emotional and volitional categories: "choice of lifestyle," "decision," "leap of faith," "personal journey of faith," "experience," "commitment," "self-fulfilment," "opting for Jesus," and so on. Not surprisingly, many or most young Catholics find nothing of any substance in all this, and simply give up practising their religion.

115. Brown, Biblical Exegesis ..., loc. cit., p. 68.

116. Ibid., p. 69.

117. One of these "reasons" is that, according to Fr. Brown, the two Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke are mutually incompatible. But in arguing for this incompatibility, Fr. Brown sets up anachronistically rigorous standards of temporal precision which neglect Vatican II's teaching on the salvific (not academic) purpose of Scripture. Cf. B.W. Harrison, "The Truth and Salvific Purpose of Sacred Scripture According to Dei Verbum, Article 11," Living Tradition, No. 59 (July 1995), p. 19, n. 59. For a critique of the historical method employed by Fr. Brown in The Birth of the Messiah (Doubleday, 1977) in regard to the genealogies of Christ within the Infancy Narratives, cf. J.F. McCarthy, "New Light on the Genealogies of Jesus," Living Tradition, No. 11 (May 1987), and "The Historical Meaning of the Forty-Two Generations in Matthew 1:17," Living Tradition, No. 13 (September 1987). A similar critique of Brown's treatment of John 1:29-51 can be found in J.F. McCarthy, "A Neo-Patristic Return to the Calling of Nathanael," Living Tradition, No. 42 (July 1992).

118. The acknowledgement is implied, but clear enough. After making his ringing declaration that we must presume non-historicity in the case of the Infancy Narratives, Fr. Brown writes: "One cannot avoid this issue by facilely speaking of inspiration, for as I insisted above (p.12), inspiration does not tell us what type of literature we are dealing with: the infancy narratives might be inspired history or they might be inspired popular imaginative accounts, or some other less-than-history genre. Nor can one resort to the principle that in the Bible one presupposes history unless there is evidence to the contrary. A recent papal statement ... insists that the Bible is a library, and in a library one has no right to make an assumption about the nature of a book until one has investigated that book" (Brown, Biblical Exegesis ..., loc. cit., p. 69). Fr. Brown jousts with two men of straw in this passage. No Catholic theologian or exegete, ancient or modern, has ever suggested that the fact of a book's inspiration does "tell us what type of literature we are dealing with." Nor has any theologian or exegete ever been so foolish as to suggest that a biblical book must be "presupposed" as history "unless there is evidence to the contrary." (Who has ever "presupposed" the Psalms, Proverbs, or the Apocalypse to be history until reading them and discovering the contrary?) What I am maintaining, in line with warnings given by the Church's Magisterium, is that a biblical book or passage appearing in the form of a narration of past events cannot be regarded as belonging to a "less-than-history genre" unless the inspired author either states that his intention is less than historical, or clearly implies this by some kind of literary device or technique which would have prevented his original readers from being deceived.

119. "In evaluating the above, I would insist that the four difficulties do not prove that the Infancy Narratives are not historical. That is why I have consistently resisted statements such as: 'There were no magi;' 'there was no star'" (ibid., p. 68).

120. The fact that a work belongs to the literary genre of true history does not necessarily mean that it is historically reliable. There are works of history which are done diligently and competently, and others which are not. The genre of any piece of writing depends on what the author intended it to be, not on the quality of his work.

121. Dei Verbum, 11.

122. The comment in n. 113 above is pertinent here.

123. The word "historicity" (historicitas) is explained in the text as bearing its normal sense, i.e., "handing on faithfully what Jesus really did and said" (Dei Verbum, 19).

124. Ibid. (Abbott edn. translation, emphasis added).

125. SP 27 (EB 462).

126. J. Ratzinger, "L'interpretazione biblica in conflitto" (see note 62 above), p. 98.

127. "Il dogma, deprivato del fondamento della Scrittura, non regge più. La Bibbia, che si è separata dal dogma, è divenuta un documento del passato; appartiene essa stessa al passato" (ibid., p. 100).

128. Cf. note 5 to Dei Verbum, 25, referring to Spiritus Paraclitus (EB 475-480) and Divino afflante Spiritu (EB 544).

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