In October 2005, the Bishops of the United Kingdom released a joint "teaching document" entitled The Gift of Scripture.
PETER GRACE offers the following comments on the text:
• "... some time later, St. Willibrord and St. Boniface brought the light of the gospel to the peoples of continental Europe. Other men and women followed their example."
"Women"? Well, well. We’re talking about the 7th-8th centuries, and I must say that I am puzzled. I have never read of any woman engaged in travelling around Europe to spread the Faith.
• "The Catholic Church of today gratefully acknowledges the contribution of scholars from all Christian communities to the translation, study and exposition of the word of God in the Scripture."
No distinction is made between sound and erroneous Biblical scholarship. Unfortunately, even some Catholic scholars produce erroneous commentaries.
• "We are fed by the sacrament, but also by the word."
The wording of the next line indicates that ‘sacrament’ refers to the Blessed Eucharist, in which case the upper case should be used: Sacrament. Likewise with the Bread of life.
• "... both of the word of God and of the Body of Christ."
No distinction is made between the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament and the revelation of God’s life in the Scriptures.
• "In recent years, for example, we have seen considerable developments of Catholic teaching on various social issues, such as respect for human life from conception to death."
Some of the developments are erroneous, as seen in the violent reaction to Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of contraception in Humanae Vitae. So it is that, in my experience, the matter is never mentioned in homilies, despite the disastrous sexual corruption of society. And, of course, such opposition from some of the top academics contradicts the Bishops’ statement and has led to sexual malpractice among Catholics.
• "We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision."
The amazing thing is that such accuracy and precision are being increasingly found. Then there are the archaeological findings that establish the historicity even of Genesis (cf. The Bible in its World, K.A. Kitchen, and After the Flood, Bill Cooper.)
• "... just as once the Word of the eternal Father, when he [why not He?] took to himself the flesh of human weakness, was made like human beings."
We hope that this is a terminological oversight, since, e.g., being a scarecrow and being like a scarecrow mean rather different things: the former expressing substance, the latter similarity.
• "These techniques (for "nderstanding other ancient literature") generally come under the title of ‘historical-critical method’."
Those techniques are extensively marred by illogical methodology. The overrall effect since their inception at the end of the 18th century has been to nullify the truths of Sacred Scripture. (See my article "The Flight From Biblical Truth," and Fr. James P. Kelleher’s "Historico-Critical Sedition: The Why and How of the Catholic Crisis", in CO, March 2002.)
• "The fundamentalist approach disregards the diversity of views and the development of understanding which is found in the Bible and does not allow for the presence of ‘imperfect and time-conditioned elements’ within Scripture" [Quotation from Vatican II’s Dei Verbum.]. "...[fundamentalism] favours a superficial interpretation of biblical texts, in which there is insufficient consideration of the place of a given text within a developing tradition."
Now, what we have seen already of the Bishops’ espousal of the historico-critical method makes one wonder if "fundamentalism" is their term for the interpretation of Scripture according to the genuine Tradition vested in and preserved by the Magisterium of the Church.
• "The understanding of the unity of all Scripture among the Fathers of the Church led them to pay less attention to the historical development of revelation [here we go again!], and they often see, for example, hidden christological meanings even in the details of Scripture. Their use of such ‘allegorical’ interpretation can often seem exaggerated, but the Fathers nevertheless teach us to read the Bible with an authentic Christian spirit."
The word used in the texts themselves is ‘mystical’, and such interpretations explore the deeper meanings behind the Scriptures. Those probings beneath the surface are valid as far as they reflect the divine truths with which Jesus Christ sought to enlighten men and bring them ever more fully into His Kingdom.
• "... an increasing appreciation of the developing tradition of the Church both among Catholics and other Christians."
This statement smacks of false ecumenism. As stated above, the only true developments are those which are in accord with the true Tradition, preservation of which is vested in the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.
• "The Church both among Catholics and other Christians."
That reads as an inclusion of the heretical ‘churches’ in the Catholic Church, which is false ecumenism.
• "This developing understanding of Scripture in no way implies a disregard for the literal meaning of the texts, which is reached by searching for the intention of the human author, nor does it downplay the importance of the historico-critical method."
There you have epitomised the principal evil of the historico-critical method. It is assumed that the author was pursuing the interests either of himself or of the religious/social/political group to which he was attached. For instance, we have St. Mark sending Jesus off to Galilee after His Resurrection, because that was where His chief interest lay. Notice that Jesus is not said to have gone to Galilee because that is the fact being recorded, but because that was the statement that best served Mark’s purpose in writing the Gospel. Such a method of interpretation drains all assurance of truth from the text.
• "... it is not surprising that certain similarities are found between these religious stories of the early Chapters of Genesis and traditional material from cultures, notably from the ancient East. [Applying the historico-critical method] it became clear that the material found in these chapters of Genesis could not simply be described as historical writing."
And there we have the chief weapon wielded by the Modernists not only for undermining the credibility of Genesis, but also of the whole of the Old Testament. If the foundational chapter is just a myth and fairy tale, then what credibility can there be in the rest? Moreover, the Bishops’ contentious statement is made despite the extensive researches that have been made in science, geology, archaeology and history (cf. Science and Evolution, M. Bowden, and the aforementioned works by Kitchen and Cooper.)
• "The patriarchs and matriarchs of Genesis..."
The Bishops seem to be using a putative feminist dogma stating that if there were men in charge of some activity, then there will be women as well. Thus, if there were men commanding the ships at, let us say, the Battle of Trafalgar, then some ships were commanded by women. Perhaps one of them was tenderly caring for Nelson as he lay dying. Laughable? Perhaps, but then so is the Bishops’ statement.
The patriarchs of the Old Testament are listed in Chapters 10 and 11 of Genesis, forming the Table of the Nations. Women were not included in genealogical succession, hence there is no mention of matriarchs, either in the Hebrew/Aramaic of the Old Testament or in the Greek of the New Testament. It would therefore seem to be logical to assume that their erroneous inclusion in a Scriptural work can only be part of the Bishops’ policy to establish feminism as an integral part of their ‘theology’.
• "God reveals himself to Moses as ‘I am who I am (Exodus 3:14)."
Not very revealing. I, the writer, am who I am - I’m certainly no one else. To express the full sense requires passing on to the end of the Exodus verse: "I am has sent me to you." Here the Speaker identifies Himself with being. Neither I nor anyone else can do that - no one except God ("I am Who am") Himself.
• "We need to be aware that the gospels are a wonderful weaving together of history and theology, as they report the events of Christs’s life intertwined with later understandings of Christ from the communities of the first century."
More blatant historical-literary criticism. We no longer have the unadulterated word of Christ and the historically accurate account of the attendant events. Instead, we have the original accounts twisted around to suit the requirements of the people adapting the text with additions to spice up the originals.
That, of course, is where the accounts of miracles come from. Drive out the devils? Not at all. That is just a dramatic presentation of the improved condition of the psychopath to whom Jesus was able to do some good. Jesus’ calming of the stormy waves was just a dramatic addition to the story being spun by a catechist.
The trouble is that all this miracle business, so the argument goes, simply does not accord with what we know of the world today. We worship before the altar of science. Angels, of course, don’t stand a chance. "We no longer believe in angels," said Fr. Hubert Richards at a "renewal" course at Birmingham in 1967.
• "Despite the long-held view that the Gospel of Matthew was the first to be written, it is now believed by the vast majority of scholars that Mark’s gospel was written first. The Catholic Church has no difficulty with this contention, which seems to have been amply demonstrated by scholars for more than a century."
The liberal scholars have been at it for over two centuries, but the length of time over which an erroneous approach has been mouthed does not correct the basic error. The teaching referred to is known as the Marcan Priority. It is the most glaring example of "dependence," which assumes that every author has referred to some other author for his material. Taken to its logical conclusion, it means that the Synoptic Gospels are a mass of hearsay.
Matthew and Luke are supposed to have derived their material from Mark and from Q (German for Quelle, "spring, source"). The credibility of the text is thereby watered down, because each author is deemed to have moulded his text according to his individual purposes - preaching, religious, social, political propaganda, etc.
There is no genuine reason to suppose that a Q document was the prime source or that Mark wrote first. The general liberal theme is that the Gospels were assembled some time during the hundred years or so after the Resurrection. However, in The Origin and Evolution of the Gospels, Dom Bernard Orchard, OSB, argues convincingly for the priority of Matthew, who wrote soon after the Resurrection. [See also The Hebrew Christ by Claude Tresmontant, demonstrating completion of the Gospels within 40 years of the Resurrection - Ed.]
• "Jesus Christ is described as ‘Christ’ and ‘Son of God’ in the opening verse of the gospel as if to remind us that the gospels are primarily catechetical and given to us as preaching."
Only catechetical? Why not facts on which the catechesis depends for its validity?
• "Jesus proclaims God’s victory, the certain arrival of the reign of God, and he demonstrates the reality of that victory in his mighty deeds, which we describe as miracles."
That sounds discomfortingly Pharisaic: ‘He’s doing fine things, for sure, but accept His doings as miraculous? Well, now, we know better, don’t we? So we can’t say that they are miracles - we can just describe them as such.’
• HEADING: "Mark’s story of Jesus" - TEXT: "Mark then has Jesus make the difficult and dangerous journey to Jerusalem."
Mark simply tells a story, like Mum reading little Johnny a tale, such as Little Red Riding Hood. Johnny learns how nice little girls are and how nasty wolves are. Mark tells a story about Jesus; but what are the historical facts?
• "The evangelist Matthew adapts the story of Mark...."
But why should he? He was an Apostle (which is not mentioned) so why should he search for his material?
• "Matthew, unlike Mark, provides stories of the birth of Jesus..."
No historical facts, of course. (Refer to Dom Bernard Orchard’s abovementioned book.)
• "... Matthew also reflects the distance between Christians and Jews. The antagonism between the Jewish Christians and Jews who did not accept Jesus has profoundly influenced the gospel. Jesus’ opposition to the scribes and Pharisees is dramatically stressed (Matthew 23). Such antagonistic words must never be used as a pretext to treat members of the Jewish people with contempt."
This is truly a monstrous perversion of Biblical commentary. Jesus’ harsh words condemning the immorality of the Jewish leaders are not really His words, but injected by Matthew into the text to insult the non-Christian Jews on behalf of the Christian community. It is a damning example of the historical critical method at its worst.
Yet they are indeed Our Lord’s words, addressed to a small group of Jews, Pharisees, Lawyers, Scribes, whose minds and hearts He could read all too well, being the Son of God. It is obvious, however, that such words cannot be justly applied to a large group, in this case, the non-Christian Jews, that is, most of the Jews. But here are our liberal commentators accusing one of the Church’s great saints of putting those words into the mouth of the Son of God in order to insult most of the Jewish population!
• "The words of the crowd ‘His blood be on us and on our children! (Matthew 27:25) are an example of dramatic exaggeration, and must never be used ... to encourage hatred and persecution of the Jewish people."
More liberal nonsense. There is no reason to suppose that the words quoted are anything other than the historic truth.
• "Luke reports that certain women, among them Mary of Magdala, who Jesus had healed of serious sickness..."
The passage in Luke reads as follows:
"And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities; Mary, called Magdalene (i.e. of Magdala), from whom seven demons had gone out..."
That is the translation of the original Greek. According to the Bishops’ text, it was just a "serious sickness." In other words, it is a denial of the existence of evil spirits. Yet evil spirits are also mentioned 3 times in Acts, while devils, i.e. demons, evil spirits, are mentioned 42 times in the Synoptic Gospels.
We have seen already the denial of the existence of angels by Fr. Hubert Richards, who was Rector of Corpus Christi College until it was closed down by Cardinal Heenan, because erroneous doctrine was being taught. One can only comment that, according to the evidence quoted, Satan must be delighted with the support given by the liberal commentators. One wonders if the Bishops have ever done an exorcism, or appointed an exorcist.
• "As in the Gospel of Matthew, these arguments owe something of their animosity to the tense relations between Jews who had become Christians and those Jews who did not accept Jesus ... [last sentence in the paragraph] The negative portrayals of the Jews ...."
More of the same as on page 39 above.
• "John portrays Jesus as serene and courageous as He faces death. There is no agony of Jesus in Gethsemane, for it is those sent to arrest him who fall to the ground (John 18:16)."
John is simply adding a detail not mentioned by the other evangelists. He has no need to fill in the rest, since the details of the events would have been well known and meditated upon. The Navarre Bible commentary for St. John’s Gospel refers to yet another Old Testament prediction of Jesus’ Passion: "Then my enemies will be turned back in the day when I call" (Psalm 56/55:9).
• "Paul, on the one hand, encourages the ministry of women..." TEXT QUOATED: "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess in the church at Cenchrae." (Romans 16:1)
The Greek word, diakonos, has a general meaning, ‘servant, attendant’, and a particular one, ‘church officer’. Black’s Bible Dictionary defines it, as used in this quotation, as "(those) who attended to Church charities - people of character and common sense." The second quotation supporting this point is Philippians 4:2-3:
"I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you also, true yoke-fellow, to help these women, for they have laboured side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement..."
The Greek word for ‘gospel’ is euangelion, and the root of that is the adjective euangelos, ‘bringing good news’. That does not necessarily include the sense ‘deaconess’ - the paper-boy bringing the Evening News brings the news.
• "... and speaks of the role of both men and women in Christian liturgical meetings (1Corinthians 11:4-5): ‘Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonours her head...’."
Dr Alice von Hilderbrand treats of women’s nature and their areas of action in her book Women and the Priesthood. Commenting on the widespread use of veils (historically, and now largely among non-European cultures) as indicative of "the mystery of femininity," she says:
"Every woman carries within herself a secret most sacred, mysterious and sublime. This secret is life. Eve means ‘the mother of the living.’ In the mystery of the female body, human life finds its beginning, not in the male semen but in the fecundated egg, hidden in the cavern of the female body. There God creates a new soul, which is exclusively His work... This creation takes place when the male seed fecundates the female egg. Thus at that very moment a closeness exists between divine action and the female body which marks her as sacred ground. This is why the way that a woman dresses, the way that she sits, walks, laughs, should always be marked by a note of holy reserve." (pp. 65-66)
• "Elsewhere in the first letter to the Corinthians we find an instruction that women should be silent at meetings."(1 Corinthians 14:34-35)
Women naturally have a built-in tendency to talk, often when men are silent, which in keeping with their deeper sensitivity, enabling them to sense things which men, with their more abstract mentality, fail to perceive. It may well be that some women had persisted in chattering at meetings and earnt the censure found in Scripture.
• "Other texts deal with the relationship of husband and wife and seem to sanction a subordinate role for wives": Colossians 3:18 - "Wives, be subject, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them...", and Titus 2:4-5 (Bid the older women ... to teach what is good), and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be sensible, chaste, domestic, kind, and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be discredited."
"... seem to sanction...": What has sanctioning to do with it? St Paul makes clear in both Epistles that such is the will of God, that is the way He made things.
What goes without saying - or it did before the feminist onslaught on women - is that the supreme consideration is the production and proper upbringing of children, in which the vital, irreplaceable element is the mother. She carries the seed of life, and her motherly love and tenderness are essential for creating a happy family, and a happy family is essential if the children are to become well balanced, well behaved and responsible characters, not to mention devout members of the Church.
It is a sad day when the professed defenders of the Faith question God’s own words, conveyed through St. Paul, as a sop to the feminists.
• "... the testimony of the Gospels to Jesus’ inclusive behaviour."
We have yet another sop to feminism. The only inclusive behaviour on God’s part that I have encountered in a 70-year acquaintance with the Scriptures is the inclusion of all men (used in the Standard English collective sense: ‘all mankind’) in the Kingdom of God, if they will let Him. If anyone is excluded, it is because he has disqualified himself by sin.
We have already had the Bishops’ berating the evangelists for "exaggerating" the condemnatory language of Jesus in His dealings with the Jewish leaders. So much for inclusive behaviour.
• "The first and second letters to Timothy and the letter to Titus are sometimes considered to have been written by disciples of Paul."
Well, well - and when did you last see fairies at the bottom of the garden?
• "These letters emphasise the need for fidelity to the Tradition."
Tradition! So the Bishops actually acknowledge its existence, and with a capital letter. Miracles do happen!
• "... High priest..."
How about High Priest. We are talking about the Son of God.
• "The three letters of John have significant links with the Gospel of John, and seem to emerge from the same Christian community."
All that talk about Tradition has lasted 18 lines. We are now back to the subversions of historical-literary criticism. Of course, John didn’t write the letters bearing his name - they were concocted by some Christian community. Oh, dear!
• "The Church today must offer the gospel in ways that are appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries (General Directory for Catechesis 50)."
That does not mean that we can undermine its credibility by applying the methods and standards of a materialistic society, with particular reference to historical-literary criticism.
• "Given the richer provision of Scripture in our days, this role [of reader] has assumed a renewed importance."
Judging from the general standard of reading that I have encountered in the last 35 years, there does not seem to be anything systematic about reader-training, which should include training in elocution, enunciation, literary analysis (to determine the literal sense, tone, feeling and intention of the author) and the pronunciation of proper nouns (names).
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