Bible literalism

Ummm… This is going to sound odd but, What is the Catholic Churchs postion on Bible Literalism (word?)? Thanks and God bless.

I don’t know if there is an “official” stance, since the Church has defined the end-all be-all interpretation for very very few passages. In general, I think the “official” position is that we are to take the Bible in the same sense as which the original human authors intended it. If a story was intended to be metaphorical, then we should take at such. If a story was a factual account of history, then we should take it as such. The tricky part is figuring out which is which. We should not, however, take the Bible literally (or literalistically) word-for-word. Some kind of interpretation is necessary - even for the historical accounts.

The position of the Catholic Church is that every word of the Bible is true. But true as understood by those who wrote those words, in the context of the times they were written in, according to the literary genre in which they were written.

It encourages research and investigation into these matters, so that we may understand the bible better and better.

Verbum

[quote=Montie Claunch]Ummm… This is going to sound odd but, What is the Catholic Churchs postion on Bible Literalism (word?)? Thanks and God bless.
[/quote]

The Church first takes the literal meaning of Scripture and then the spiritual which is divided into categories. It also considers the genre and authors intent. What the Catholic Church doesn’t do is take the Bible in a literalistic way, in other words it takes the idioms in their context as the author intended them to mean.
An example of taking the Bible in an over literal sense would be if the author said “it was raining cats and dogs” which means it was raining very hard, not that actual cats and dogs were falling from the sky! Unfortunately many Protestants who are fixated on eschatological issues take the book of Revelation to literalisticly which creates a whole host of problems when other verses are compared.

This is the way the Cathechism explains how the Catholic Church has always interpreted Scripture from the first centuries.

**

The Holy Spirit, Interpreter of Scripture109

In Sacred Scripture, God speaks to man in a human way. To interpret Scripture correctly, the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.**

110** In order to discover the sacred authors’ intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking, and narrating then current. “For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression.”****

111**** But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.”

The senses of Scripture****

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral, and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church. 110-114

")’>116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."1101

")’>117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.

  1. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction.”

  2. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.

**

Here is another example of a literalistic position instead of a literal one: 1 Thes 4:15-17 is a verse that Protestant rapturists often cite as Jesus coming to Earth to take away the saved who will be “caught up” (raptured) before the tribulation. The problem with their assertion is they take these verses in an over literal sense which falsely misleads them into thinking that this verse is literaly speaking of a rapture, yet they aren’t considering the idioms and genre of the text.

The Catholic Church takes them in a literal sense but as the author, Paul, meant to convey to us. The passage is using ancient Hebrew language where a dignitary comes to visit a city and those in charge go outside of the city to meet this dignitary before he comes into town. This even happens in our day when the President flies to a city and those in charge go out to meet him at the airport and escort him back the city.

[font=Arial]St. John Chrysostom (c.347-407) explained 1 Thes 4:15-17 this way:

“When a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but those who are condemned await the judge inside the city. And at the coming of an affectionate father, his children and all those who are worthy to be his children are taken out to him in a chariot, so that they may see him and kiss him. But those of this servants who have offended him ramain inside the house. We are carried upon the chariot of our Father. For He received Christ up in the clouds, and we shall be caught up in the clouds. Do you see how great is the honor? And as He descends, we go forth to meet Him—and what is most blessed of all, so shall we be with Him.” (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Thessalonians, Vlll.)

If one takes these verses out of the authors intent, a whole host of problem occur, hence the rapture, a view never held by the early Church fathers nor anyone else before the nineteenth century. Hope that helps :)[/font]

Check out this link to help you understand how the Catholic Church interprets Scripture:

clawww.lmu.edu/~fjust/Docs/PBC_Interp-FullText.htm

link is to The Pontifical Biblical Commission’s *The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church *

Pay special attention to section F- "Fundamentalist Interpretation"
Hope it helps!

Pax tecum

~Stephen

Our parish priest, at the time (7 yrs ago), explained to my teenage daughter that the Bible is simply a series of stories mean’t to explain God’s message(s) to us. I’m paraphrasing a lttle bit, but that is the jist of it.

Kind of disturbed me a little bit. I thought that was a very simplistic, possibly misleading, explanation of the Bible.

[quote=mikew262]Our parish priest, at the time (7 yrs ago), explained to my teenage daughter that the Bible is simply a series of stories mean’t to explain God’s message(s) to us. I’m paraphrasing a lttle bit, but that is the jist of it.

Kind of disturbed me a little bit. I thought that was a very simplistic, possibly misleading, explanation of the Bible.
[/quote]

Unfortunately, that is a very common (modernist) approach to viewing the Bible. The Bible IS God’s Word.

See this thread:

Is there error in the Bible?

Mark
www.veritas-catholic.blogspot.com

[quote=trth_skr]Unfortunately, that is a very common (modernist) approach to viewing the Bible. The Bible IS God’s Word.

See this thread:

Is there error in the Bible?

Mark
www.veritas-catholic.blogspot.com
[/quote]

If a priest said it, then it’s so, in my daughter’s mind.

[quote=Montie Claunch]Ummm… This is going to sound odd but, What is the Catholic Churchs postion on Bible Literalism (word?)? Thanks and God bless.
[/quote]

The Pontifical Biblical Commission wrote the following rather comprehensive document on the matter…

The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church
ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM


Keeping in mind that there’s a difference between the “literal” and the “literalist” sense of Scritpure, here are some excerpts:
“According to “Divino Afflante Spiritu,” the search for the literal sense of Scripture is an essential task of exegesis and, in order to fulfill this task, it is necessary to determine the literary genre of texts (cf. “Enchiridion Biblicum,” 560)”

Fundamentalist interpretation starts from the principle that the Bible, being the word of God, inspired and free from error, should be read and interpreted literally in all its details. But by “literal interpretation” it understands a naively literalist interpretation, one, that is to say, which excludes every effort at understanding the Bible that takes account of its historical origins and development… The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation… It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations… It often historicizes material which from the start never claimed to be historical. It considers historical everything that is reported or recounted with verbs in the past tense, failing to take the necessary account of the possibility of symbolic or figurative meaning.

[quote=mikew262]If a priest said it, then it’s so, in my daughter’s mind.
[/quote]

Then your daughter is conflating the opinions of one fallible priest with the infallible teaching of the Magisterium. She is going to be very disappointed when she discovers that priests are fallible.

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