Old Testament

Are we as Catholics not really concerned so much with the OT ? I notice at Mass there are a couple of readings for the OT by the lectors, lay people. And then the Gospels are read by a Deacon or Priest. I know we acknowledge and read it but our doctrines that are biblical are basically from the New Testament right? Other than the Magisterium and tradition.

The book of Genesis is very important in our understanding of the corruption of the world and mankind. As well as the need of a saviour to restore mankind to his happiness.

And we also see God working in this world thru time, along with all the images and prophecies about Christ.

There is much to be learned by the mistakes and lives of those who lived before Christ which hold true for man today. The Psalms are still prayed in the LOTH and used in our Mass. The faith and courage displayed in the OT holds up for us examples to be remembered and copied.

“I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard. I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.” Isaiah 50;6

One thing that I do notice is that since I have the Tanaukh too which is very interesting some changes in the KJV’s OT. Now I have not made comparisons with Our NT texts. I like NAB, new NAB, DR and the RSV-CE. The DR being if I understand correctly, the closest to the Vulgate. Unless stated in the NT specifically a reference to the OT being fulfilled I am careful. For example, the messiah was always to die for the sins of his people. But we know they didn’t receive him so he turned to the gentiles. “By his injury we are healed”. The KJV anyway says, “By his stripes we are healed” such little things can mean a lot. “We” being the people of Israel. So who was being talked about? If the NT doesn’t say specifically :shrug: We may have yet to find out. The Jews, the Essenes anyway mention “several” messiahs. But perhaps that is really no matter.

But I see what you are saying.

source: agapebiblestudy.com/hebrews/Hebrews_Lesson_10.htm

emphasis in bold, mine…

“From chapter 8:1 to 10:18 the focus of the inspired writer will be the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old. This superiority does not mean that when we study sacred Scripture that the Word of God in the Old Testament has less value than the Word of God in the New. Quite the contrary, for we cannot expect to understand the truths revealed in the New Testament without studying it in light of the promises of God make to the patriarchs and prophets of old, nor can we understand the Old Testament unless we read and study it by the light of Jesus Christ. The Church has always taught that the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New. St. Augustine of Hippo [354-430] is credited with this famous quote [Quaestiones in Heptateuchum 2.73], but it is a teaching that comes from the Apostolic Age, the very earliest years of the Church, and continues to this present day.”

I see. Maybe it’s the way I am looking at it from the Mass liturgy. Lay people read the OT and the ones with holy orders have to be the ones to read from the NT. Perhaps that is confusing me.

Not quite. Only the ordained can proclaim the Gospel at Mass. The Epistles from the NT are read by the lay readers.

Actually if all you do is Sunday Mass, it might seem so. Since Sunday Mass attendance is obligatory for all Catholics, you get the most concise picture of our faith therein. As Christians most of the basics require a focus upon viewing the Hebrew Scriptures through the lens of the New Testament.

However, Sunday Mass is really just scratching the surface. The next step down in importance of liturgical actions is the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours. Also known as the Divine Office, the major hours of each day are blessed with prayers from the Psalms, morning, noon, evening, and night, with a full reading from the Scriptures in the Office of Readings. Every four weeks you will have prayed through all 150 Psalms before beginning the four-week cycle again. You will also prayerfully read through all the major oracles of the Prophets and commentary from the Church Fathers regarding these over the period of a year. All Catholics ar encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It is the official prayer of the Church.

Add to this daily Mass has longer readings from the Old Testament than Sunday Mass and will cover most of the major parts of the Hebrew Scriptures in the First Reading over its Two-Year cycle.

The Church recommends that we read and study the entire Bible regularly. In the United States the Old Testament of the NABRE has recently been released, a revision of the 1970 NAB text, and all US Catholics have been encouraged to see this as a call to read the Old Testament anew.

As a Hebrew Catholic of Sephardic heritage, I am what is often called a Crypto-Jew. For centuries my family kept their Jewish customs alive and well even though some of us have been Christians before any Gentiles joined the Church! Today, especially since the end of the 20th century, the Catholic Church has encouraged me and other Catholics of Jewish heritage to live our ethnic customs freely and fully, just as others of other ethnicities live theirs. Reading and studying the Old Testament or Tanakh, especially Torah, plays a significant part in our Catholic life. We are fully Catholic, and like the original Jewish Christians, living our life in the light of Christ is quite centered on the Old Testament as well as embracing the New.–Acts 21.

The Old Testament is very important to Catholic life. It gets covered, reviewed, and studied as much as the effort you are capable to put into it. If you are not getting a balanced coverage of both parts of Scripture in your Catholic way of life, why not explore other ways which the Church already has in place?

Catholics are concerned with all of Sacred Scripture.

Non gospel passages from the New Testament are also read by laity. The Gospel reading is reserved to the priest or deacon during Mass (not at other times).

Our doctrines are from the deposit of faith-- which includes Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Sacred Scripture is composed of both the Old and New Testaments.

So, no, our doctrines are not “basically from the New Testament”. They are from the entire deposit of faith.

Post script: One more thing. Catholic doctrine is not “based” upon what is written in the New Testament. The Catholic religion came first because it is based on Jesus Christ. The books of the New Testament were chosen for the canon because these highlight, support and show the origin of Catholic doctrine. The books were composed by faithful Christians who already belonged to the one Apostlic Church which already had doctrines and practices when they composed them.

In other words the Catholic Church is not based upon the New Testament. The New Testament is based upon the faith of the Catholic Church.

The Pontifical Biblical commission issued a document


in which Cardinal Ratzinger says that without the Old Testament, the New Testament doesn’t make sense.

The OT contains a lot of “wisdom” writings which can be very helpful to us spiritually and actually. The Psalms are said to contain all sorts of prayers that can apply to our lives. I have to say that I don’t know the Psalms all that well, although some have been set to music and are very popular, consider


Leviticus is often considered too difficult to read, but I think it’s not that hard. Apparently it’s just my opinion, but it looks like an OT form of confession – where the sacrifices and rituals are spelled out. ( If we see you taking your prime bull to be sacrificed at the altar, we know that you’ve been naughty. ) You have to tell the temple priest your sin, so that he know the correct ritual, etc. the latter chapters in the book deal with the holiness codes, which are very related to confession – the reason for confession.

Perhaps its tough for a Catholic to dig into the OT because the study bibles are so sketchy about the meaning of things in the OT. I would suggest that you have The Jewish Study Bible 2nd Ed alongside your Catholic Bible. the JSB has a lot of essays and viewpoints that Catholics don’t bring out, e.g. what is the significance of the red heifer? (I have seen no study bible or commentary that I consider complete.) When I read about the holiness of the ark of the covenant and the Temple, I wonder why Catholics aren’t more respectful and courteous in church (not talking out loud, etc.).

The NT makes no sense without the OT. Jesus fulfilled the OT, without an understanding of the OT Jesus would have fulfilled nothing. Without that foundation the NT is some random philosophy and not the divine gospel.

Careful. The Church does draw on the Sacred Scriptures for her faith, since they were delivered to her. Moreover, while you probably mean well, the statment “the books of the New Testament were chosen for the canon because these highlight, support and show the origin of Catholic doctrine” is not correct. The Church “chose” (a better word would be determined) which books to put into the canon because of their inspiration, that is, Divine authorship. The First Vatican Council declared:

These books * the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.

  • Dei Filius*

In other words, inerrancy of revelation was used to test the inspiration of the Scripture, but was not the reason that they were included, which is because the God wrote them with intention of delivering them to the Church.

Benedicat Deus,

Have heard it said that while it is useful to khave read the OT it is the NT we live by… I was of course raised Church of England with a very very sound and solid Bible education. So I cannot imagine not knowing the Bible through and through .

How does the church of England btw explain the Queen or whomever the monarch is as the head of the Church? :shrug: It was founded by Henry VIII because of divorce problems he had with the Church.

I was taught at RCIA in my understanding anyway. The magisterium scripture and tradition was where the Church drew its’ doctrine.

For those who want to see some very practical application of the relationship between the OT and the NT, get the book by Brant Pitre: “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist”.

The British Monarch is Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In terms of the history of how and why the English Church broke from Rome, perhaps you could do a bit of reading up. Or look up all of GKC’s posts. He is our resident expert and can clear up your misconceptions.

That is a very simplistic and naive Catholic interpretation… It was already happening in hearts amd souls before that for many valid reasons

I’ve heard this too, but it’s not really a very good intepretation (I know it’s meant well, though). Divine Revelation is handed on in Scripture and Tradition. The Magisterium, or Teaching Office of the Church, is the Divinely authorized intepreter and expounder of that Revelation handed on in Scripture and Tradition. In doing this, she has been guaranteed infalliblity by Christ Himself when she authoritatively and definitively determines that some teaching is contained in Scripture and Tradition and thus obliges all persons to hold such a truth without wavering. In other words, the Magisterium cannot define as a dogma, that which is not contained in Scripture or Tradition. She, has as a corollary to this right, the ability to make determinations of facts related to dogmas (dogmatic facts), and to give meaning to philosophical concepts which are employed in the definition of revealed truths, and in all this she is infallible, and they are to be believed with ecclesiastical faith, but they are not properly speaking dogmas, since they are not revealed strictly speaking.

As to the original question about paying less attention to the Old Testament, I’ve though about this as well. On the one hand, the Old Testament is in figure what the New Testament is in substance. Thus, there is some degree of sense in paying closer attention to the New Testament. Of course, some truths of faith are revealed explicitly and directly in the Old Testament, such as the unity of God and His principal attributes, the creation of all things by God out of nothing, individual and general judgment etc. Books such as 2 Maccabees are used exensively by the Catholic Church to prove such doctrines, as praying for the dead, the resurrection of the body etc. However, I agree that it;s a real tragedy that Catholics aren’t more active in defending the historical and doctrinal truth of the Old Testament.

Benedicat Deus,

Well if you are Anglican maybe you would know. I too as a matter of fact have seen certain seats in the House of Lords are indeed reserved for certain members of the Church of England.

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