Providentissimus Deus (1893)


#1

I am an amateur Biblical scholar and have led a Bible study group in my parish. I have been reading Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Providentissimus Deus again and I am struck by the clarity and brilliance of its messages to Catholics about how they should approach the Bible and how we should study it.

vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_18111893_providentissimus-deus_en.html

I am wondering, if anyone knows, what influence PD had on the formulation of Dei Verbum at the Second Vatican Council, as I find the ideas in PD more clearly expressed than those in Dei Verbum. I am sort of wondering why Dei Verbum was necessary (noting also Pope Pius XII's contribution in Divino Afflante Spiritu) when a small revision of PD may have achieved a good outcome. I realise that DV is a conciliar document and I am not trying to start a war over Vatican II. I was just curious as to whether anyone knew more about PD, its formulation and then its influence over Catholic Biblical scholarship.

Thanks to all concerned.


#2

I haven't read PD for some time, but it is credited with being the start of modern Biblical studies in the Church.

yes, there is clear language about Bible study back then and what the Pope thought was wrong with it.

I seem to recall Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN crediting PD as encouraging Bible study by lay Catholics, by attaching an indulgence to the same.

I think VD at VatII was a more general and comprehensive overview of Biblical study than was PD. There was some tricky words and catchy phrases in VD, one of which is that scripture "contains" the Word of God versus "is" the Word of God. I think it was a way of leaving scholars some wiggle room about problems and issues that crop up in the holy book.

It was also a more logical exposition that Divine Revelation consists of both Scripture and Sacred Tradition. That should have been a surprise to no one, as it is an old position of the Church. VatII raised the bar about scripture in that it proclaims that Christ is really present in the proclamation of the word -- from which time candles have been lit on either side of the pulpit / ambo.


#3

Congratulations on all your interest and enthusiasm. I'm surprised by how many people say the same thing, that they are leading a study group in their parish (or wherever). I had trouble doing just that, in a number of places.

Put on your short-term reading list

THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THEIR SACRED SCRIPTURES
IN THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE
ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCJWSCR.HTM

and

THE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE IN THE CHURCH
Pontifical Biblical Commission
ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM

and

Verbum Domini by Pope Benedict XVI
ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/b16verbumdom.HTM

You can download these in a matter of minutes from the EWTN website.

The first and third say among other things, that you can use Jewish commentaries on scripture, with caution, knowing the difference between Christians and Jews. This comment was probably intended, first, for Catholic Bible scholars, then others like us.

The first states emphatically that the New Testament wouldn't make sense without the Old Testament.

The scond one is hard to read (for me). It takes a long-winded approach to saying that the Church does not endorse any one single approach for studying scripture. For the novice Bible student, it says to read the Bible with a commentary book nearby. This is not idle advice, because you will hear priests say that you need to have a qualified person teaching you, to study the Bible.

Verbum Domini basically says that if you've read all those encyclicals, the Vat II document, and others, and the Catechism that's still not enough. This document was the result of a personal effort by our Pope Emeritus, who is a distinguished world class Bible scholar.

In addition to those, you should obtain and put Benedict's three volumes on Jesus of Nazareth on your reading list. There's an enormous amount of insight and scholarship in these books. The first of these books has a lot on countering certain Biblical critics.


#4

Thank you very much. I do appreciate it. Being a historian by undergraduate degree, I approached this by reading PD first and then plan to re-read the other Bible encyclicals in order. I just felt quite invigorated by reading PD, which for me is no mean feat!

I read Verbum Dei last year and I came away less than inspired. I found it much less convincing than so critical a document as one should be concerning the Church's approach to the Bible. Perhaps an encyclical written by a Pope (especially one as brilliant as Leo XIII) is going to be better expressed, written in a more lively manner, than a document produced by a committee, however eminent.

I am very much a supporter of Josef Ratzinger (whether as Pope Benedict, Cardinal and theologian) and my only consolation at his resignation is that we may have lost a great pastor but he may still yet have more writing in him.


#5

Dei Verbum doesn’t deal just with Scripture, but with all of Revelation and its relationship to the Church. Dei Verbum cites to PD three times and PD was an important reference for the sections dealing with Scripture along with the encyclicals of Benedict XV and Pius XII.

PD’s citation at key points is also provides an important hemeneutic for Dei Verbum against those who try and claim it teaches a limited inerrancy.


#6

[quote="Genesis315, post:5, topic:318055"]
Dei Verbum doesn't deal just with Scripture, but with all of Revelation and its relationship to the Church. Dei Verbum cites to PD three times and PD was an important reference for the sections dealing with Scripture along with the encyclicals of Benedict XV and Pius XII.

PD's citation at key points is also provides an important hemeneutic for Dei Verbum against those who try and claim it teaches a limited inerrancy.

[/quote]

Yes, thank you for these insights. That is an excellent point about inerrancy. One point I made to a Protestant friend was that Catholic Biblical scholarship was not (officially anyway) infected by the critical German scholarship of the 19th century whereby the whole Bible was open for debate and the liberals tried to effectively say the Bible was a collection of stories not history. My friend is a good "Bible-believing Christian" of an Anglican bent and I sent him PD which he had never read before. Suffice to say that he found that the force and clarity of PD and its denunciation of what were then modernist approaches was very impressive and I have since found PD and Pius XII's encyclical very useful for explaining the necessity of the Church's authority to safeguard the Faith from error.

As a Bible enthusiast who is often in dialogue with Protestants, I would strongly advise apologists to use PD and like documents to establish the rigour and robustness of the historic Catholic approach to the Bible. I have shown the Church's documents on the Bible to numerous Protestant friends and none have found anything to disagree with except the use of Tradition. But it gets a conversation going and good comes from there.


#7

Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Providentissimus Deus

I first read that in the front of my Douay-Rheims Challoner some years ago, & it struck me as the :thumbsup::thumbsup:best thing I had ever read in regard to Bible reading, study, & scholarship.
I remember thinking at the time that I wished I could "pop in" a copy of it with every Bible. Such clarity of expression, such wisdom in the presentation!
If anyone reading this thread has not yet read it--click on OP's link & read it now. It is just** tremendous**.

God bless all here.


#8

[quote="Zooey, post:7, topic:318055"]
I first read that in the front of my Douay-Rheims Challoner some years ago, & it struck me as the :thumbsup::thumbsup:best thing I had ever read in regard to Bible reading, study, & scholarship.
I remember thinking at the time that I wished I could "pop in" a copy of it with every Bible. Such clarity of expression, such wisdom in the presentation!
If anyone reading this thread has not yet read it--click on OP's link & read it now. It is just** tremendous**.

God bless all here.

[/quote]

Well said. I agree.


#9
One problem is that the writers of DV did not have the Church audience solely in mind, but were trying to avoid even the tone of command and authority. Unsurprisingly, they produced nothing that sounded particularly inspiring, because they were doing their best to be utterly bland, innofensive, non-confrontational and encouraging all at once; and they succeeded in doing just that, and in spreading that tone throughout the homiletic life of the Church. The hideous original version of the New American Bible was one consequence of the approach. (I haven't read the revised edition.) By their fruits . . .

However, Pope Francis’ homilies so far show no sign of blandness or generic encouragement.


#10

[quote="KnightIHSV, post:1, topic:318055"]
I am wondering, if anyone knows, what influence PD had on the formulation of Dei Verbum at the Second Vatican Council, as I find the ideas in PD more clearly expressed than those in Dei Verbum. I am sort of wondering why Dei Verbum was necessary (noting also Pope Pius XII's contribution in Divino Afflante Spiritu) when a small revision of PD may have achieved a good outcome. I realise that DV is a conciliar document and I am not trying to start a war over Vatican II. I was just curious as to whether anyone knew more about PD, its formulation and then its influence over Catholic Biblical scholarship.

[/quote]

Genesis 315 above was basically right. DV was very orthodox/traditional and in many places emphasized the entirety of Scripture is inspired and that Scripture taught real historical events. It quoted many of the prior popes and I'm pretty sure Vatican1.

There is an unfortunate infection of Liberalism-Modernism in most of Catholic "scholarship" the last few decades that has tried to undermine plenary inspiration of Scripture, but they are going directly contrary to the message of DV.

DV actually was one of the best and straightforward documents of VII. :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="Catholic_Dude, post:10, topic:318055"]
Genesis 315 above was basically right. DV was very orthodox/traditional and in many places emphasized the entirety of Scripture is inspired and that Scripture taught real historical events. It quoted many of the prior popes and I'm pretty sure Vatican1.

There is an unfortunate infection of Liberalism-Modernism in most of Catholic "scholarship" the last few decades that has tried to undermine plenary inspiration of Scripture, but they are going directly contrary to the message of DV.

DV actually was one of the best and straightforward documents of VII. :thumbsup:

[/quote]

Oh, I agree that DV was one of the better V2 documents. I just think that PD is written with a purpose and vigor that is absent from DV, which of course was probably written by a committee.


#12

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