[quote=Gottle of Geer]## Why do all these threads always focus on Father Brown ? . . .
It’s as though this method historical criticism ]- which is fully endorsed by the Popes, as it so happens
To one and all, historical criticism is not the be-all and end-all of biblical exegesis.
Go to the EWTN website and download Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1988 essay on “Biblical Interpretation in Crisis.” First, for the edification of some, there is no mention of Fr. Raymond Brown.
Second, read the link to Dave Armstrong’s website and the article on “Fr. Raymond E. Brown and the Demise of Catholic Biblical Interpretation.” Brown was a quite influential fellow, and he was on the Pontifical Biblical Commission for the last years of his life.
Ratzinger spells out the problems with historical criticism, and he focuses on the fact that as far as it has developed so far, it has approached the study of scripture with biases and a pre-existing philosophy. This has led to notable errors.
Ratzinger is an intellectual far above me and he goes on, best understood in his own words, to say that historical criticism needs a new philosophy, which will undoubtedly take an entire generation to rebuild it. And, in his view, historical criticism will take its place along side and not replacing the patristic understanding and traditional interpretations of the Bible.
A sampling of what you will see Ratzinger say is this:
"Modern exegesis, as we have seen, completely relegated God to the incomprehensible, the otherworldly and the inexpressible in order to be able to treat the biblical text itself as an entirely worldly reality according to natural-scientific methods. "
"Thus the exegete should not approach the text with a ready-made philosophy, nor in accordance with the dictates of a so-called modern or “scientific” worldview, which determines in advance what may or may not be.
and of Dibelius and Bultmann he says of their results
“Judgments which derive from such a point of view are certainly persuasive for people of today, since they fit nicely into their own patterns of expectations. There is, however, no evidence in reality to support them.”
Constructively Ratzinger says
"Certainly texts must first of all be traced back to their historical origins and interpreted in their proper historical context. But then, in a second exegetical operation, one must look at them also in light of the total movement of history and in light of history’s central event, Jesus Christ. Only the combination of both these methods will yield understanding of the Bible. "
And, in concluding, he says
“[exegesis ] It must come to acknowledge this faith as a hermeneutic, the space for understanding, which does not do dogmatic violence to the Bible, but precisely allows the solitary possibility for the Bible to be itself.”
In a more recent essay (in the EWTN library) on the ten-year anniversary of the CCC, Ratzinger makes extended remarks about historical criticism and related matters, in the context of the catechism. (Wading through this document, I lost the sense that he was talking about the CCC anymore. But, that was a quick read-through.)
I would be surprised if Pope Benedict did not get around to a major encyclical on this subject, God willing.