Bible study and sola scriptura

I just began attending my first ever group bible study at my (Edited) parish. There is gospel reading and discussion. After a couple of sessions I am getting the feeling that some members of the group are gravitating toward a more protestant understanding of the role the Bible plays in our Catholic tradition. Am I reading too much into this, or is there potential danger of our Bible study groups becoming crypto-evangelicals? If so, is this a problem?

It can always be a problem. We need to be familiar enough with our Catholic faith first of all to be able to discern correct interpretations. Otherwise it can digress into an interpretation free-for-all. It’s enjoyable to read and discuss Scripture, offering personal opinions, and much of the bible is easy enough to understand, speaking in general terms about common human interests and concerns; proverbs and psalms come to mind. But unless your classmates are unconcerned with Church teachings the faith can easily be misrepresented-and that would be objectionable.

Not likely. If you wanna be real useful you might lead them all into a Bible study on Sola Scriptura…which since It’s NOT in the Bible, okay? should be very enlightening and prevent any such errant beliefs.

You can even have a look at 2 other threads that make it even more clear for everyone.
It’s NOT in the Bible, okay? (Part II)
“If anyone teaches/preaches something that is not in scripture”

One help might be for you to get a Navarre commentary for whatever book of the Bible you are currently studying. The Navarre is great for bringing in what the Early Fathers teach. It gives you a great sense of the history of faith handed down for generations.

I think you would have to thread carefully. People who maintain sola scipta, will find a lot of touble over certain concepts of the catholic faith, To give an example, there is nowhere in the bible that says Our Lady was immaculate conceived. Nor that she was taken to heaven body and soul. Try to convince hard line protestants on these dogmas. I once heard on EWTN that only catholics consider Mary as “all generations shall call me blessed”. They give no importance to the Manificat.

To be fair sola scriptura is more properly named " prima scriptura"

As Jesus wrote nothing but established His Church with Peter specifically to lead Her, guaranteeing that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven” (Mt 16:19), [Later to the Twelve, also], we have the Sacred Scriptures defined as the Word of God only on the authority of Christ’s Catholic Church, comprising 73 Books , no more and no less.

Only Christ’s Catholic Church can correctly interpret Her Sacred Scriptures.

Not really…prima scriptural holds the Canon is the first of many things that provide divine revelation (i.e., various charismatic gifts, sacred tradition, etc.), and sola scriptura contends nothing but scripture is complete and the only authority for issues of faith.

Is this distinction being made only by the Lutheran church as opposed to some/all of the evangelicals?

Yaroslav Pelikan, late distinguished professor of church history at Yale U, one wrote “scriptura” has never been “sola.”

This is contained in his five volume work on the history of christian doctrine.

The original question here is vague. Isn’t there a leader who keeps the session on track and has a wrap-up to summarize the Catholic perspective? That has been conspicuously missing from the parish studies that I have ever been in.

I find it’s hard to have an original thought about scripture. Most of the ideas that i have never heard of, I eventually track them down and somebody got there before me. So, there 's no shame in using commentaries, in addition to reading footnotes, to help raise up the quality of the session.

Dr. Scott Hahn talks about life-changing Bible study. I agree that every bible study session ought to make you think,perhaps about something you;ve never heard before, and for you to try to apply it to your life or at least hold it in your mind for further study.

For example, there’s a debate out there about the meaning of Genesis 1. Are the man and woman created there Adam and Eve? Well, actually, they’re not named. It isn’t until chapter 2 that God creates “Adam” and “Eve”. so, what is the basis for believing that the man and woman in Gen 1 are adam and eve? If they were separate people, it goes a long way to explaining more about how the human species got started. It didn’t depend all on Adam and Eve.

While such things won’t be settled in 60 or 90 minutes, it’s handy to bring them up, to let people express alternate views.

In your specific case, you might always ask, at the right time and place, what does the church say about “this.”

sirach2v4 #10
…there’s a debate out there about the meaning of Genesis 1. Are the man and woman created there Adam and Eve? Well, actually, they’re not named. It isn’t until chapter 2 that God creates “Adam” and “Eve”. so, what is the basis for believing that the man and woman in Gen 1 are adam and eve? If they were separate people, it goes a long way to explaining more about how the human species got started. It didn’t depend all on Adam and Eve.

The Catechism twice [28, 360] quotes Acts 17:26-28: “From one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth…” That the Catechism refers to a single person is confirmed in footnote number 226 [360] which cites Tobit 8:6, “Thou madest Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung…” Thus, the “one ancestor” could only be Adam. This is confirmed in [359] which quotes St Peter Chrysologus, “St Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ…The first man, Adam,…was made by the last Adam.” The Catechism clearly teaches that polygenism is irreconcilable with Catholic Tradition.

So what is the Catholic doctrine, compared with “out there”?

The first teaching comes from Leo XIII – Adam & Eve were our first parents, by direct divine intervention and Eve was created from a portion of Adam’s body (*Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII, 1880). Polygenism is thus impossible – that mankind arose from many first parents – the fairy-tale which is perpetrated today by most evolutionists.

Then from the Pontifical Biblical Commission in its response of 30 June, 1909, On the Historical Character of the First Three Chapters of Genesis, the declaration:
a) that those pseudoscientific exegetical systems elaborated for the purpose of “excluding the literal historical sense of the first three chapters of Genesis” are not based upon solid arguments (EB 324; DS 3512).

So as Fr Harrison rightly points out in Did The Human Body Evolve Naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration:
“We are not dealing here with a mere Allocution, a* Motu Proprio*, a Brief, an Apostolic Exhortation, or a Nuntius, but a fully-fledged piece of pontificating endowed with no less inherent or formal authority than *Humani Generis *or Providentissimus Deus: the Encyclical Letter *Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII on Christian Marriage, dated 10 February 1880.”

POLYGENISM. The theory that, since evolution is an established fact, all human beings now on earth do not descend from one human pair (Adam and Eve), but from different original human ancestors. This theory is contrary to the official teaching of the Church, e.g., Pope Pius XII, who declared: “It is unintelligible how such an opinion can be squared with what the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Magisterium of the Church teach on original sin, which proceeds from sin actually committed by an individual Adam, and which, passed on to all by way of generation, is in everyone as his own” (Humani Generis, 1950, para. 38). (Etym. Latin poly, many + gen, race + ism.)

Infallible doctrine is: Adam & Eve were our first parents, by direct divine intervention and Eve was created from a portion of Adam’s body (*Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiæ *of Pope Leo XIII, 1880). Polygenism is impossible.

It sounds like you need a structured Catholic-centric bible study to work from and someone to facilitate it and keep you on track. There are a great many awesome ones available. My men’s bible study has been using the Agape Bible Study series for several years. We’ve gone through their awesome study on Salvation History which took us through the Old Testament prophesies of the promise of Salvation to be found in the New Testament.

As for a focus on the Bible as the authority of beliefs, you might gently guide your group back to the fact that the bible as we know it only evolved from the authority of the Church as taught by Jesus and evangelized through the apostles. Scripture in support of our beliefs? Yep it’s there, but it doesn’t mean that scripture is the basis of our beliefs, but rather a guide book to keep us on track, as long as you read ALL the words, and don’t pick and choose the parts that reinforce YOUR interpretation.

Just as a shameless promotion, I’ve posted a web page; that provides scriptural references to a wide variety of Catholic issues that you might find helpful. Check out the scriptural references to every word spoken at the Mass under “Catholics Not Scriptural?”

Wowee! Great site with references that is super fast and displays great on the Ipad mini. Just what I need.

I must say I need to voice something regarding something i feel to be important. Obviously all English translations are ‘off the mark’, but I have some MAJOR issues with the parts of the NABRE to the point I recommend to use other translations that are more traditional to support Catholic faith (which is often the Douay, NKJV, KJV, and especially the Wycliffe version).

For instance, what the NABRE did to Luke 1:28 is an ‘unforgivable offense’ - ESPECIALLY when factoring in the commentary it adds NEEDLESS insult to injury. It makes my heart cry that these things were allowed to happen. For a Catholic that is one of the most important verses as it plays into the legality of rosary. What is the new Catholic supposed think over the conflict?

Here is Luke 1:28 in the Wycliffe Bible (the oldest English Bible translation directly from the Latin Vulgate in 1390): “And the angel entered to her, and said, Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed be thou among women.”

Here is Luke 1:28 in the 1899 Douay Rhiems: “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

Here is Luke 1:28 in the NABRE (Lord forgive me for posting it): "And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”.

Its almost like a bad dream. It must be a sign of some sort. I dont know if people truly understand the amount of theology, doctrines, and dogmas that are built off that one verse.

Anyhow, its things like this which do NOT support the Catholic Faith but cause people to raise inner doubts they dont mention publically. These seeds of doubt stay in their souls and build for years. If you promote things like above verse on your site, you could possible take a share in this. At least on these cases offer an alternative verse.

Personally I find the NABRE to be the best ‘newer’ translations, although has much needless ‘softening’ of verses. The NABRE has the best, most accurate, and comprehendable Romans 11 of any English translation. Romans 11 is used as a source of modern Chrstian heresies causing bloodshed as we speak do to carnal mis-understandings of the difficult to read Romans 11 in the KJV.

I then use NKJV out of end-user necessity so its my primary, but sometimes I find ONLY the KJV for unknown reasons truly support the Catholic faith. The Wycliffe is my gold standard of accuracy and Truth and is what i use to compare the other bible versions to. The group of these 4 Bibles are all together accurate with each other overall and jive together for unknown reasons. Thats just some rambling…

Wow! Thanks for your response! I’m glad you like my site, it’s been several years in the making.

I get your concerns with the various bible translations, in my studies, I’ve been digging in to a wide variety of them. As an American Catholic, I choose to use the NABRE for several reasons. First, I was able to provide links to the USCCB web site and it’s treasure chest of footnotes and clarifications directly on line with confidence that it is accurate and approved by the American Bishops. I am not entirely confident in the many other translations and descriptions posted by so many others with no known authority.

While I agree that there are some passages that don;t translate as we might wish, the Lord’s Prayer being a standout example (It’s not even the way we say it at Mass) as well as the passages you mention, I felt the need to focus on one translation in order to complete the task in a somewhat timely manner.

My first task was to simply get the site up and running. Phase two as you can see in the section about the Mass is to offer commentary and explanation within the various sections.

Perhaps n the future I will spend some time offering additional translations and study of those differences.

As a Presbyterian convert to Catholicism, my intent is to promote the biblical references and arguments in favor of Catholicism for those Christians who believe that Catholics are not biblical, or that some if not all our traditions are made up with no consideration for the bible.

At any rate, I’m glad it is helpful, and if, when you are using it, you see something that is actually incorrect or mistaken, or simply a typo, please send me a PM and let me know.

I’ve had a Deacon and a Priest review it, but the more eyes the better. I am greatly concerned that whatever I put out to the public be accurate and true to the Catholic Church.

Thanks for your message and God bless!

First of all I see no reason why anyone should not study the Bible or Scripture, but that being said, because there are so much that is difficult to understand, there is a need to have among us those who can explain that which is hard to understand what the intended meaning is and what Scripture is actually saying.

However, sola scriptura implies only Scripture has authority, yet, there is nothing that says that anyone can understand it or interpret it correctly as to what it says and means. While everyone should read and study Scripture, it does not mean that everyone can know all or understand Scripture. The biggest problem with sola scriptura id that so many think they are being guided by the Holy Spirit in their understanding of whatever part they are reading and interpreting. Now say two or more read the same passage of Scripture and each has a quite different understanding all the while saying that they are being guided by the Holy Spirit to the particular interpretation and understanding. Who is correct as they all can’t be correct.

Most Protestants that I know take their Bible to church, which seems OK, but many take it to make sure that their paster does not teach something that is not found in the Bible nor teach something different from what they think and believe and to make sure the paster is on tract with what they themselves believe, which in effect makes them the real authority rather than the Bible they profess to be the only authority.

At the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, those leaders of that movement decided that they were not going to submit to the authority of the Catholic Church so they needed to replace that authority, and so the Bible became that authority, to which Luther said something to the effect that anyone should be able to read the Bible and understand it without anyone interpreting it for them. I know that it is not exact as what Luther said but I think close enough. While Bible study is good and worth while how reliable is the one teaching it? That is really the question when it comes to Bible study.If anyone can just teach what the Bible means and says we won’t know for sure if what we are studying is correct. This is where i believe that the Catholic Church has the responsibility to decide who teaches Scripture since it is to the Catholic Church who decided what Scripture was and was not, so has the final authority to decide what Scripture says and mean. That is just my opinion for what it is worth.

It would be useful for the Church to publish a bible with official interpretations. Does such a bible exist?

There does exist; especially when NOT being guided by a Priest for what you fear to happen.

Might I suggest you being a discussion along these lines:

From a purely historical perspective the bible was not fully authored until the END of the 1st Century; or perhaps very early 2nd Century.

Christ Dies and Ascended between 30 and 36 A.D.; so at a minimum there was 60+ years that the Church not only exited without a bible; BUT grew as well.

Then add to this these facts of that time and place:

Illiteracy was the NORM; not the exception it is today

Writing material were scarce AND VERY expensive

The Bible was NOT fully assembled and the 73 books selected until the fourth century

Take these 3 facts [four actually] together and it is obvious [or ought to be] that some OTHER influence was at work here. That influence was [and is] the Holy Spirit:thumbsup:

John 14:26
But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

John 15:26
But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me

John 16:13
But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you

CHECK out this site: it’s free and its awesome:thumbsup:

God Bless you,



Well said, and I second the Agape site, our Men’s Bible Study has been using it for about four years now. See if you can’t steer your group towards the study on Salvation History. It will take you through most of the Old Testament and highlights the wealth of evidence that the Savior is coming. You will be amazed at how it ties the entire bible into a single unified work of the Holy Spirit.

God bless!

For me, bible study is important, and serious study of the Scriptures must be grounded in a proper linguistic and theological context. Maybe I’m more of a progressive, but bible study for me is grounded in Reason and Sacred Tradition, and makes use of both traditional and academic commentaries.

The Latin Vulgate and the Douay Bible in English.:thumbsup:

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