Catholic vs. Jewish interpretation of the OT


Is the Catholic interpretation of the agreed upon books of the OT the same as the Jewish interpretation?

This stems from my confusion over how many “Christian” interpretations we have for the NT. If we (Catholics) believe that other Christian sects misinterpret the NT and use the argument that it is a “Catholic book”, I would think the Jews could also use this argument, if there is one, when it comes to the OT. I am of coarse speaking of the OT only.



The Catholic Church’s view of the Old Testament is that even though we recognize Christ as foreshadowed in its pages, the Hebrew Scriptures cannot be read totally independent of Jewish exegesis.

While the Church reads the Old Testament in the light of Christ, she also acknowledges that writers of the New Testament books and epistles gave implicit and explicit recognition of the Hebrew Scriptures and their underlying Jewish theology by what they wrote. These inspired writers also employed Jewish exegetical methods in their compositions.

In December of 2001, the Pontifical Biblical Commission released a study of major significance entitled *The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible. *Some twenty Catholic biblical scholars from around the world produced this work under then-cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who later become Pope Benedict XVI.

The study presents several important ideas that up till then had not previously appeared in a document from the Vatican. Among these is that the Church and Catholics can no longer approach the Scriptures in total ignorance of its Jewish origins and the theology that produced them. While the significance of this conclusion is yet to be fully realized, the study concluded:

In the past, the break between the Jewish people and the Church of Christ Jesus could sometimes, in certain times and places, give the impression of being complete. In the light of the Scriptures, this should never have occurred. For a complete break between Church and Synagogue contradicts Sacred Scripture.

While this is not to be seen as a carte blanche to accept all Jewish exegesis regarding the Hebrew Scriptures, it does signal a beginning of a new path that the Church is undertaking, especially in light of the events of the Shoah.


I can’t speak for the Hasidic Jews, but the American Orthodox and mainstay Israeli Jews take the Torah literally. Im sure the Hasidic Jews do as well. Many American reform Jews do as well. The Reconstructionist Jews in the US view the OT more like we do.


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