Link back to index.html
On Divine Revelation---Vatican II
All the passages below are taken from “The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II.” It was published in 1967 by the Daughters of St Paul, Philippines.
DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION
1. Hearing the word of God with reverence and proclaiming it with faith, the sacred synod takes its direction from these words of St. John: "We announce to you the eternal life which dwelt with the Father and was made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we announce to you, so that you may have fellowship with us and our common fellowship be with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:2-3). Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council, this present council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on, so that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love.l
2. In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (Ephesians 2:18; 2 Peter 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17) out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (see Exodus 33:11; John 15:14-15) and lives among them (see Bar. 3:38), so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself. This plan of revelation is realized by deeds and words having an inner unity: the deeds wrought by God in the history of salvation manifest and confirm the teaching and realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and clarify the mystery contained in them. By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation.2
3. God, who through the Word creates all things (John 1:3) and keeps them in existence, gives men an enduring witness to Himself in created realities (Romans 1:19-20). Planning to make known the way of heavenly salvation, He went further and from the start manifested Himself to our first parents. Then after their fall His promise of redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (Genesis 3:15) and from that time on He ceaselessly kept the human race in His care, to give eternal life to those who perseveringly do good in search of salvation (Romans 2:6-7). Then, at the time He had appointed He called Abraham in order to make of him a great nation (Genesis 12:2). Through the patriarchs, and after them through Moses and the prophets, He taught this people to acknowledge Himself the one living and true God, provident father and just judge, and to wait for the Savior promised by Him, and in this manner prepared the way for the Gospel down through the centuries.
4. Then, after speaking in many and varied ways through the prophets, "now at last in these days God has spoken to us in His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2). For He sent His Son, the eternal Word, who enlightens all men, so that He might dwell among men and tell them of the innermost being of God (John 1:1-18). Jesus Christ, therefore, the Word made flesh, was sent as "a man to men."3 He "speaks the words of God" (John 3:34), and completes the work of salvation which His Father gave Him to do (John 5:36; 17:4). To see Jesus is to see His Father (John 14:9). For this reason Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through His whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth. Moreover He confirmed with divine testimony what revelation proclaimed, that God is with us to free us from the darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to life eternal.
The Christian dispensation, therefore, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away and we now await no further new public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:14 and Titus 2:13).
5. "The obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26; 1:5; 2 Corinthians 10:56) "is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,"4 and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him. To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving "joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it."5 To bring about an ever deeper understanding of revelation, the same Holy Spirit constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.
6. Through divine revelation, God chose to show forth and communicate Himself and the eternal decisions of His will regarding the salvation of men. That is to say, He chose to share with them those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind.6
As a sacred synod has affirmed, God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from created reality by the light of human reason (Romans 1:20); but teaches that it is through His revelation that those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by all men with ease, with solid certitude and with no trace of error, even in this present state of the human race?
HANDING ON DIVINE REVELATION
7. In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations. Therefore Christ the Lord in whom the full revelation of the supreme God is brought to completion (2 Corinthians 1:20; 3:16; 4:6), commissioned the Apostles to preach to all men that Gospel which is the source of all saving truth and moral teaching1 and to impart to them heavenly gifts. This Gospel had been promised in former times through the prophets, and Christ himself had fulfilled it and promulgated it with His lips. This commission was faithfully fulfilled by the Apostles who, by their oral preaching, by example, and by observances handed on what they had received from the lips of Christ, from living with Him, and from what He did, or what they had learned through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The commission was fulfilled, too, by those Apostles and apostolic men who under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.2
But in order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their successors, "handing over" to them "the authority to teach in their own place."3 This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face (1 John 3:2).
8. And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have learned either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thessalonians 2:15), and to fight in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (Jude 3).4 Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the People of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes.
This tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit.5 For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (Luke 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.
The words of the holy fathers witness to the presence of this living tradition, whose wealth is poured into the practice and life of the believing and praying Church. Through the same tradition the Church's full canon of the sacred books is known, and the sacred writings themselves are more profoundly understood and unceasingly made active in her; and thus God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her, in the world, leads unto all truth those who believe and makes the word of Christ dwell abundantly in them (Colossians 3:16).
9. Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.6
10. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (Acts 2:42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.7
But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on,8 has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church,9 whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit; it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.
It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one can not stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.
SACRED SCRIPTURE, ITS INSPIRATION AND DIVINE INTERPRETATION
11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20; 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.1 In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him2 they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them,3 they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.4
Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings5 for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Greek text).
12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion,6 the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.
To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture.7 For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another.8
But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the same spirit in which it was written,9 no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.10
13. In Sacred Scripture, therefore, while the truth and holiness of God always remain intact, the marvelous "condescension" of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, "that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature."11 For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men.
THE OLD TESTAMENT
14. In carefully planning and preparing the salvation of the whole human race the God of infinite love, by a special dispensation, chose for Himself a people to whom He would entrust His promises. First He entered into a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:18) and, through Moses, with the people of Israel (Exodus 24:8). To this people which He had acquired for Himself, He so manifested Himself through words and deeds as the one true and living God that Israel came to know by experience the ways of God with men. Then too, when God Himself spoke to them through the mouth of the prophets, Israel daily gained a deeper and clearer understanding of His ways and made them more widely known among the nations (Psalms 21:29; 95:1-3; Isaiah 2:1-5; Jeremiah 3:17). The plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament: these books, therefore, written under divine inspiration, remain permanently valuable. "For all that was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)
15. The principal purpose to which the plan of the old covenant was directed was to prepare for the coming of Christ, the redeemer of all and of the messianic kingdom, to announce this coming by prophecy (Luke 24:44; John 5:39; 1 Peter 1:10), and to indicate its meaning through various types (1 Corinthians 10: 11). Now the books of the Old Testament, in accordance with the state of mankind before the time of salvation established by Christ, reveal to all men the knowledge of God and of man and the ways in which God, just and merciful, deals with men. These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy.1 These same books, then, give expression to a lively sense of God, contain a store of sublime teachings about God, sound wisdom about human life, and a wonderful treasury of prayers, and in them the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way. Christians should receive them with reverence.
16. God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New.2 For, though Christ established the new covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the Gospel,3 acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (Matthew 5:17; Luke 24:27; Romans 16:25-26; 2 Corinthians 3:14-16) and in turn shed light on it and explain it.
THE NEW TESTATMENT
17. The word of God, which is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16), is set forth and shows its power in a most excellent way in the writings of the New Testament. For when the fullness of time arrived (Galatians 4:4), the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us in His fullness of graces and truth (John 1:14). Christ established the kingdom of God on earth, manifested His Father and Himself by deeds and words, and completed His work by His death, resurrection and glorious ascension and by the sending of the Holy Spirit. Having been lifted up from the earth, He draws all men to Himself (John 12: 32, Greek text), He who alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). This mystery had not been manifested to other generations as it was now revealed to His holy Apostles and prophets in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:4-6, Greek text), so that they might preach the Gospel, stir up faith in Jesus, Christ and Lord, and gather together the Church. Now the writings of the New Testament stand as a perpetual and divine witness to these realities.
18. It is common knowledge that among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence, and rightly so, for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our Savior.
The Church has always and everywhere held and continues to hold that the four Gospels are of apostolic origin. For what the Apostles preached in fulfillment of the commission of Christ, afterwards they themselves and apostolic men, under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, handed on to us in writing: the foundation of faith, namely, the fourfold Gospel, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.1
19. Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (Acts 1:1-2). Indeed, after the ascension of the Lord the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done. This they did with that clearer understanding which they enjoyed2 after they had been instructed by the glorious events of Christ's life and taught by the light of the Spirit of truth.3 The sacred authors wrote the four Gospels, selecting some things from the many which had been handed on by word of mouth or in writing, reducing some of them to a synthesis, explaining some things in view of the situation of their churches, and preserving the form of proclamation but always in such fashion that they told us the honest truth about Jesus.4 For their intention in writing was that either from their own memory and recollections, or from the witness of those who "themselves from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word" we might know "the truth" concerning those matters about which we have been instructed (Luke 1:2-4).
20. Besides the four Gospels, the canon of the New Testament also contains the epistles of St. Paul and other apostolic writings, composed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by which, according to the wise plan of God, those matters which concern Christ the Lord are confirmed, His true teaching is more and more fully stated, the saving power of the divine work of Christ is preached, the story is told of the beginnings of the Church and its marvelous growth, and its glorious fulfillment is foretold.
For the Lord Jesus was with His apostles as He had promised (Matthew 28:20) and sent them the advocate Spirit who would lead them into the fullness of truth (John 16:13).
SACRED SCRIPTURE IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
21. The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body. She has always maintained them, and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith, since, as inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, they impart the word of God Himself without change, and make the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and Apostles. Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture. For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. Consequently these words are perfectly applicable to Sacred Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active" (Hebrew 4:12) and "it has power to build you up and give you your heritage among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32; see 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
22. Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful. That is why the Church from the very beginning accepted as her own that very ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament which is called the Septuagint; and she has always given a place of honor to other Eastern translations and Latin ones especially the Latin translation known as the Vulgate. But since the word of God should be accessible at all times, the Church by her authority and with maternal concern sees to it that suitable and correct translations are made into different languages, especially from the original texts of the sacred books. And should the opportunity arise and the Church authorities approve, if these translations are produced in cooperation with the separated brethren as well, all Christians will be able to use them.
23. The bride of the incarnate Word, the Church taught by the Holy Spirit, is concerned to move ahead toward a deeper understanding of the Sacred Scriptures so that she may increasingly feed her sons with the divine words. Therefore, she also encourages the study of the holy Fathers of both East and West and of sacred liturgies. Catholic exegetes then and other students of sacred theology, working diligently together and using appropriate means, should devote their energies, under the watchful care of the sacred teaching office of the Church, to an exploration and exposition of the divine writings. This should be so done that as many ministers of the divine word as possible will be able effectively to provide the nourishment of the Scriptures for the People of God, to enlighten their minds, strengthen their wills, and set men's hearts on fire with the love of God.1 The sacred synod encourages the sons of the Church and Biblical scholars to continue energetically, following the mind of the Church, with the work they have so well begun, with a constant renewal of vigor.2
24. Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation. By scrutinizing in the light of faith all truth stored up in the mystery of Christ, theology is most powerfully strengthened and constantly rejuvenated by that word. For the Sacred Scriptures contain the word of God and since they are inspired, really are the word of God; and so the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology.3 By the same word of Scripture the ministry of the word also, that is, pastoral preaching, catechetics and all Christian instruction, in which the liturgical homily must hold the foremost place, is nourished in a healthy way and flourishes in a holy way.
25. Therefore, all the clergy must hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study, especially the priest of Christ and others, such as deacons and catechists who are legitimately active in the ministry of the word. This is to be done so that none of them will become "an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly"4 since they must share the abundant wealth of the divine word with the faithful committed to them, especially in the sacred liturgy. The sacred synod also earnestly and especially urges all the Christian faithful, especially Religious, to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the "excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:8). "For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ."5 Therefore, they should gladly put themselves in touch with the sacred text itself, whether it be through the liturgy, rich in the divine word, or through devotional reading, or through instructions suitable for the purpose and other aids which, in our time, with approval and active support of the shepherds of the Church, are commendably spread everywhere. And let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for "we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying."6
It devolves on sacred bishops "who have the apostolic teaching"7 to give the faithful entrusted to them suitable instruction in the right use of the divine books, especially the New Testament and above all the Gospels. This can be done through translations of the sacred texts, which are to be provided with the necessary and really adequate explanations so that the children of the Church may safely and profitably become conversant with the Sacred Scriptures and be penetrated with their spirit.
Furthermore, editions of the Sacred Scriptures provided with suitable footnotes, should be prepared also for the use of non-Christians and adapted to their situation. Both pastors of souls and Christians generally should see to the wise distribution of these in one way or another.
26. In this way, therefore, through the reading and study of the sacred books "the word of God may spread rapidly and be glorified" (2 Thessalonians 3:1) and the treasure of revelation, entrusted to the Church, may more and more fill the hearts of men. Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similarly we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which "lasts forever" (Isaiah 40:8; see Peter 1:23-25). [373-385]
COMMENTARY ON THE
DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION
"...if you wish to pass from the sphere of natural revelation to that of supernatural Revelation, that of the Bible, of positive religion of Christianity and of our faith, will the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation have nothing to say to the scholar or to the simple member of the flock? Will it have nothing to say on the doctrine of God's Word to man, on the authority of Sacred Scripture, on the exhortation to return to study and meditation and spiritual reflection on the Divine Book? What a wealth of religious life can flow into our souls, what a renewal, what an approach to our separated brethren who have always been so attached to the Bible, what a gratitude to the Church's teaching authority which guards and dispenses the Divine Word, and what a new spiritual springtime can burst into bloom in this arid century of ours!" PAUL VI (1-26-1966)
Revelation and the Teaching Authority of the Church
Paul Emile Cardinal Leger, Archbishop of Montreal (Canada): "The text is excellent and in perfect harmony with the spirit of the biblical movement which is producing such remarkable fruits in the Church today. The solution of the difficult problem of the one or two founts of Revelation, namely, avoiding any solemn conciliar pronouncements, is very wise. The Schema should stress the transcendence of the apostolic deposit transmitted to us through Sacred Scripture and Tradition. Divine Revelation transcends the entire life of the Church and all the acts of its teaching authority. In the strict sense only Revelation is the Word of God. It is most fitting that the Church should turn to Revelation as the source of inspiration for her renovation." (10-1-1964).
Revelation Contained in Words, Deeds, and Facts
Juan Cardinal Landdzuri Ricketts, Archbishop of Lima (Peru): "The text should make it clear that Revelation is contained in words, deeds and facts. It should also distinguish between natural and supernatural Revelation. The text is not entirely exact when it states that the Christian economy will never disappear. It will disappear in the sense that it will be followed by the definitive Christian economy to be realized at the end of time. We need to distinguish also between that Tradition which must be accepted by faith and certain merely ecclesiastical, even human, elements in the life of the Church. Revelation is not a closed deposit but is a living, dynamic reality" (10-1-1964).
Revelation a Complete Historical Fact
Archbishop Lorenz Jaeger, of Paderborn (Germany): "Several observations are in order to insure completeness in the text of the Schema. Revelation should be described as a colloquy of God with man through Christ. This is the idea expressed by Pope Paul VI in 'Ecclesiam Suam'. Likewise the relation should be clarified between Revelation and the history of salvation. The historicity of Revelation is of prime importance today for dialogue, both inside and outside the Church. Revelation must never be separated from the historical situation in which it took place. The Schema should declare that Christ is at one and the same time God revealing and God revealed. We should point out how the inner action of grace flows from the outward act of preaching and is the work of the Holy Spirit. Revelation should be set forth as a complete historical fact. The doctrine on the growth of Tradition is the position of St. Thomas Aquinas, who describes it as one of the truths of the Holy Spirit's gift of wisdom" (10-1-1964).
The Church is the Spouse in Endless Dialogue
Bishop Emilio Guano, of Livorno (Italy): "The Schema should explain more clearly the full meaning of the Revelation of the Word of God. As is insinuated in St. John and frequently also in St. Paul, we must go further than mere intellectual assent. The text appears to set up too sharp a separation between Sacred Scripture and Tradition. It is not exact to say that they are just two rivulets which happen to meet occasionally by chance. It should be stated more clearly also that Tradition deals not only with truth, but with the entire life of the Church, with all that the Church is and all that she has. Tradition also concludes the way in which the faithful contribute to the life of the Church. The Church should be contemplated as the Spouse in endless dialogue, having been called by the Father through the Son, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." (1-10-1964).
Christ is the Revelation of the Father
Archbishop (now Cardinal) Paul Zoungrana, of Ouagadougou (Up
per Volta): "The Schema should make a clear statement that the very person of Christ is Revelation. This is in harmony with the mind of Sacred Scripture and with the scope of the Council, as also with the religious mentality prevailing today. On several occasions Christ made it clear to his Apostles that in his person they were to find a Revelation of the Father. The Father manifests himself to us in and through Christ. The acceptance of Christ as divine Revelation would renew in the Church the spectacle of love and brotherhood which characterized the first Christian communities." (10-1-1964).
Not Alone Inerrancy in the Bible
Albert Gregory Cardinal Meyer, (deceased) Archbishop of Chicago,
Illinois: "The Schema contains an excellent summary of principles to guide scriptural study. It provides an effectual instrument for hermeneutics in a spirit of respect for the content of the whole of Sacred Scripture in the framework of the living tradition of the Church. However, we need to get a fuller explanation. Scripture is the word of God and we know that all words go beyond their simple expression. A word fulfills three functions: 1) it represents something; 2) it reveals the speaker and his character; 3) it is addressed to others and provokes reactions in them. The Word of God admirably fulfills these three functions. If we approach our appreciation of Scripture along these lines, we will then be able to understand Revelation correctly as something much more than a series of disjointed propositions setting forth the truth. We will express not only the negative element of inerrancy but will put strong emphasis on Scripture in a genuinely positive light. Lastly, this approach will provide a better context for a clearer understanding of the idea of inerrancy." (10-5-1964).
The Value of the Old Testament
Augustine Cardinal Bea, President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity: "The text would seem to be defective in one sense because it does not pay sufficient attention to the value of the Old Testament. The revealed books of the Old Testament present to us especially a unique school of prayer and also a school ethics, while providing us with inspiring teachings on Divine Providence. This value is not put in sufficiently clear relief in the text. We should distinguish between the books of the Old Testament and the Old Testament itself as special covenant between God and His Chosen People" (10-5-1964).
Avoiding Pan-Christianism and Syncretism
Bishop Smiljan Cekada, of Skoplje (Yugoslavia): "After the learned discourses of erudite scholars, the Council is now asked to listen to the humble voice of a simple Pastor. The Church should insist on providing translations on a wide scale in order to bring the Scriptures to the people. There are some nations even in this 20th century which have no complete version of the New Testament in their own language. The Holy See should set up an international biblical society to work out translations of Scripture in all languages. An example of this is the organization for the distribution of English texts of the Scriptures throughout the world. In many localities, Catholics have had to use such versions because there were no others available." (10-6-1964). [388-391]
1. cf. St. Augustine, "De Catechizandis Rudibus," C. IV 8: PL. 40, 316.
2. cf. Matthew 11:27; John 1:14 and 17; 14:6; 17:1-3; 2 Corinthians 3:16 and 4, 6; Ephesians 1:3-14.
3. Epistle to Diognetus, c. VII, 4: Funk, Apostolic Fathers, I, p. 403.
4. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 3, "On Faith:" Denzinger 1789 (3008).
5. Second Council of Orange, Canon 7: Denzinger 180 (377); First Vatican Council, loc. cit.: Denzinger 1791 (3010).
6. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 2, "On Revelation:" Denzinger 1786 (3005).
7. Ibid: Denzinger 1785 and 1786 6004 and 3005).
1. cf. Matt. 28:19-20, and Mark 16: 15; Council of Trent, session IV, Decree on Scriptural Canons: Denzinger 783 (1501).
2. cf. Council of Trent, loc. cit.; First Vatican Council, session III, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 2, "On Revelation:" Denzinger 1787 (3006).
3. St. Irenaeus, "Against Heretics" III, 3, 1: PG 7, 848; Harvey, 2, p. 9.
4. cf. Second Council of Nicea: Denzinger 303 (602); Fourth Council of Constance, session X, Canon 1: Denzinger 336 (650-652).
5. cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 4, "On Faith and Reason:" Denzinger 1800 (3020).
6. cf. Council of Trent, session IV, loc. cit.: Denzinger 783 (1501).
7. cf. Pius XII, apostolic constitution, "Munificentissimus Deus," Nov. 1, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950) p. 756; Collected Writings of St. Cyprian, Letter 66, 8: Ilartel, III, B, p. 733: "The Church (is) people united with the priest and the pastor together with his flock."
8. cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 3 "On Faith:" Denzinger 1792 (3011).
9. cf. Pius XII, encyclical "Humani Generis," Aug. 12, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950) pp. 568-69: Denzinger 2314 (3886).
I. cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, "On Chap. 2 Revelation:" Denzinger 1787 (3006); Biblical Commission, Decree of June 18, 1915: Denzinger 2180 (3629): EB 420; Holy Office, Epistle of Dec. 22, 1923: EB 499.
2. cf. Pius XII, encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu," Sept. 30, 1943: A.A.S. 35 (1943) p. 314; Enchiridion Biblic. (EB) 556.
3. "In" and "for" man: cf. Heb. 1, and 4, 7; ("in"): 2 Sm. 23, 2; Matt. 1:22 and various places; ("for"): First Vatican Council, Schema on Catholic Doctrine, note 9: Coll. Lac. VII, 522.
4. Leo XIII, encvclical " Providentis simus Deus," Nov. 18, 1893: Denzinger 1952 (3293); EB 125.
5. cf. St. Augustine, "Gen. ad Litt." 2, 9, 20: PL 34, 270-271; Epistle 82, 3:PL 33, 277: CSEL 34, 2, p. 354.
St. Thomas, "On Truth," Q. 12, A. 2, C.; Council of Trent, session IV, Scriptural Canons: Denzinger 783 (1501); Leo XIII, encyclical "Providentissimus Deus:" EB 121, 124, 126-127; Pius XII, encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu:" EB 539.
6. St. Augustine, "City of God," XVII, 6, 2: PL 41, 537: CSEL. XL, 2, 228.
7. St. Augustine, "On Christian Doctrine" III, 18, 26; PL 34, 75-76.
8. Pius XII, loc. cit. Denzinger 2294 (3829-3830); EB 557-562.
9. cf. Benedict XV, encyclical "Spiritus Paraclitus" Sept. 15, 1920: EB 469. St. Jerome, "In Galatians" 5, 19-20: PL 26, 417 A.
10. cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 2, "On Revelation:" Denzinger 1788 (3007).
11. St. John Chrysostom, "In Genesis" 3, 8 (Homily 17, 1): PG 53, 134; "Attemperatio" [in English "Suitable adjustment"] in Greek "synkatabasis."
1. Pius XI, encyclical "Mit Brennender Sorge," March 14, 1937: A.A.S. 29 (1937) p. 51.
2. St. Augustine, "Quest. in Hept." 2, 73: PL 34, 623.
3. St. Irenaeus, "Against Heretics" III, 21,3: PG 7,950; (Same as 25,1: Harvey 2, p. 115). St. Cyril of Jerusalem, "Catech." 4,35; PG 33,497. Theodore of Mopsuestia, "In Suph." 1,4-6: PG 66, 452D-453A.
1. cf. St. Irenaeus, "Against Heretics" III, 11; 8: PG 7,885, Sagnard Edition, p. 194.
(Due to the necessities of translation, footnote 2 follows footnote 3 in text of Article 19.)
2. cf. John 14:26; 16:13.
3. John 2:22; 12:16; cf. 14:26; 16:12-13; 7:39.
4. cf. instruction "Holy Mother Church" edited by Pontifical Consilium for Promotion of Bible Studies; A.A.S. 56 (1964) p. 715.
1. cf. Pius XI1, encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu:" EB 551, 553, 567.
Pontifical Biblical Commission, Instruction on Proper Teaching of Sacred Scripture in Seminaries and Religious Colleges, May 13, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950) pp. 495-505.
2. cf. Pius XII, ibid: EB 569.
3. cf. Leo XII1, encyclical "Providentissimus Deus:" EB 114; Benedict XV, encyclical "Spiritus Paraclitus:" EB 483.
4. St. Augustine, Sermons, 179,1: PL 38,966.
5. St. Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah, Prol.: PL 24,17; cf. Benedict XV, encyclical "Spiritus Paraclitus:" EB 475-480; Pius XII encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu:" EB 544.
6. St. Ambrose, On the Duties of Ministers I, 20, 88: PL 16,50.
7. St. Irenaeus, "Against Heretics” IV, 32,1: PG 7, 1071; (Same as 49,2) Harvey. 2. p. 255.
Link back to index.html