Scott Hahn and "Prima Scriptura"?

Martino,

I think Jimmy Akin was actually referring to *Dei Verbum * 10, not 11. Moreover, when citing DV, Akin wasn’t referring to Scripture having primacy over Tradition, but over the Church. Here’s the relevant passage from DV:“But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.”

I think the point being missed is that neither scripture nor tradition is authoritative in the sense being discussed. The Pope and the Magesterium are authoritative. Both scripture and tradition are measured by that authority.

That being said, in at least one of Dr. Hahn’s books (first comes love), he prefaces much of his writing by saying something to the effects of ‘If anything I write is shown to be out of line with teachings of the Church, I will immediately disown them and humbly submit.’ These don’t seem to be the comments of a man who is prima scriptura, prima tradition, or prima anything else. Instead they seem to be the comments of faithful, orthodox Catholic.

all of Tradition comes from scripture in some form or another (whether explicit or implicit). Tradition is the churches interpretation of scripture which is why the written word is “prima”. is doesn’t mean better or higher, it just means first. there is no Tradition which contradicts scripture because all of it comes from scripture. scripture does not come from Tradition.

[quote=bengal_fan]all of Tradition comes from scripture in some form or another (whether explicit or implicit). Tradition is the churches interpretation of scripture which is why the written word is “prima”. is doesn’t mean better or higher, it just means first. there is no Tradition which contradicts scripture because all of it comes from scripture. scripture does not come from Tradition.
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Tradition does not all come from Scripture. It predates Scripture and was the measuring stick by which works were judged for admission to the canon. Tradition also contains things not found in Scripture, which is in agreement with Paul, who tells us to adhere to all that has been passed on, whether orally or in writing. It’s important to remember, though, that Scripture and Tradition are not two things that can be set in opposition to one another, rather they are both part of the one revelation of God. When Dei Verbum refers to the Word of God, it is not referring to the Scriptures alone, but to this entire deposit of faith.

As far as prima Scriptura goes, the simplest forms of it I’ve seen described above don’t seem to have anything to do with placing Scripture in some sort of superior position to Tradition, simply stating that theological arguments should base themselves first on Scripture. This seems to me to be more of a strategic preference rather than a statement of an absolute imperative, a preference which would be extremely reasonable when in dialogue with Protestants who will disregard information from Tradition anyway. If, however, someone is more familiar with the actual works advocating prima Scriptura thinks it actually does intend a necessary preference for scriptural over traditional argument, feel free to correct me.

I actually purchased that book that had the paper by Dr. Hahn entitled Prima Scriptura. The book is The Church and the Universal Catechism, ed. Fr. Anthony Mastroeni (a very obscure book to say the least). Coincidentally the book arrived today and I have been spending the morning researching the topic again and reading the article by Dr. Hahn. In reality, only two pages seem to deal directly with the issue at hand, and the remainder of his paper concerns the use of biblical language, though it is colored by the two pages that I am about to comment on.

There are three main points that I take issue with Dr. Hahn regarding Prima Scriptura. Here are the three points that he made. (please keep in mind that this was published in 1992, and I am using it to speak of Prima Scriptura and not Dr. Hahn personally for I do not know if he holds the same positions now)

  1. God is not the author of Sacred Tradition.

  2. Sacred Tradition is not Inspired.

  3. The Magisterium is a channel of Divine Revelation along with Scripture and Tradition.

If the different advocates of Prima Scriptura have something in common, which is essential James Atkins and Dr. Scott Hahn at this point, it is point #2, that Sacred Tradition is not Inspired. That is really what defines the term “Prima Scriptura”. Thus Scripture is the only inspired source (though they still maintain that Tradition is infallible).

My sister works with a friend and former student of Dr Hahn’s. Ken has always had nothing but good things to say about Dr Hahn. He did say that Dr Hahn was a tough teacher, and after reading several of his books, doing some onling bible study he has authored, I am not surprised he is a tough teacher.

my two cents worth

Sid

[quote=Andreas Hofer]Tradition does not all come from Scripture. It predates Scripture and was the measuring stick by which works were judged for admission to the canon. Tradition also contains things not found in Scripture, which is in agreement with Paul, who tells us to adhere to all that has been passed on, whether orally or in writing. .
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actually, no. scripture predates tradition. in the early church the first cue was taken from the old testament prophecies. the new testament was written with the old testament in mind. the early traditions came from the old testament and as the new testament was being written, tradition is the interpretation of the scriptures. this does not pit one against the other but instead causes them to go hand in hand, but we always begin with scripture because that is where we get tradition from (the church’s infallible interpretation of scripture).

on a side note, scripture is not infallible it is inerrant. it might just be semantics but i thought i should point it out (as karl keating does in another thread).

[quote=bengal_fan]actually, no. scripture predates tradition. in the early church the first cue was taken from the old testament prophecies. the new testament was written with the old testament in mind. the early traditions came from the old testament and as the new testament was being written, tradition is the interpretation of the scriptures. this does not pit one against the other but instead causes them to go hand in hand, but we always begin with scripture because that is where we get tradition from (the church’s infallible interpretation of scripture).

on a side note, scripture is not infallible it is inerrant. it might just be semantics but i thought i should point it out (as karl keating does in another thread).
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Hm let’s take that thought back a bit. Where was the information that became the scripture book of Genesis before it came to the author of Genesis? That was Tradition too.

Though I’ve read very little of what Professor Hahn has written, I’ve heard him speak many times. He refers to his view specifically as “prima scriptura” in his St. Joe’s audio series entitled, “The Bible Alone?”

[quote=Katholish] There are three main points that I take issue with Dr. Hahn regarding Prima Scriptura. Here are the three points that he made. (please keep in mind that this was published in 1992, and I am using it to speak of Prima Scriptura and not Dr. Hahn personally for I do not know if he holds the same positions now)

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[quote=Katholish] 1. God is not the author of Sacred Tradition.

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I believe that what he would say is that God is the “protector” of Sacred Tradition. The charism of infallibility, he says, is a negative protection against error, not the positive quality of having the Holy Spirit be the primary author of your text (whether a Magisterial conciliar document or a papal encyclical).

[quote=Katholish] 2. Sacred Tradition is not Inspired.

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Yes, Hahn would say this and mean by it that God is the primary author (which is what inspiration means) of Sacred Scripture with the human authors being secondary causes of the writings. This quality is absent from all conciliar docs, encyclicals, etc. Hence, the qualitative difference between the Scriptures and Tradition is not infallibility, but that only the former are inspired.

[quote=Katholish] 3. The Magisterium is a channel of Divine Revelation along with Scripture and Tradition.

If the different advocates of Prima Scriptura have something in common, which is essential James Atkins and Dr. Scott Hahn at this point, it is point #2, that Sacred Tradition is not Inspired. That is really what defines the term “Prima Scriptura”. Thus Scripture is the only inspired source (though they still maintain that Tradition is infallible).
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Yes, in a nutshell, the Scriptures occupy a place of primacy among all revelation as being the only God-breathed revelation there is, though all is equally infallible and authoritative.

So, what is the problem with this view again?

[quote=jpusateri]Hm let’s take that thought back a bit. Where was the information that became the scripture book of Genesis before it came to the author of Genesis? That was Tradition too.
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genesis is a history book and doesn’t contain instuction on faith and morals (other than things that may have been universal). the other books of the torah (the pentatuech) were written by moses (as was genesis) as the law was given to him by God so they didn’t have to be handed down in a tradition. so the argument doesn’t really hold water. genesis was reminding the jewish nation what they had forgotten while in captivity in egypt. it reminded them of their history and that they had a covenant with God that He was about to renew through the law.

[quote=bengal_fan]genesis is a history book and doesn’t contain instuction on faith and morals (other than things that may have been universal). the other books of the torah (the pentatuech) were written by moses (as was genesis) as the law was given to him by God so they didn’t have to be handed down in a tradition. so the argument doesn’t really hold water. genesis was reminding the jewish nation what they had forgotten while in captivity in egypt. it reminded them of their history and that they had a covenant with God that He was about to renew through the law.
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I am sorry. I don’t get your point. I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but the information that eventually went into Genesis came from where, if not from word of mouth?

The Joseph story which does contain faith and moral teaching was not witnessed by Moses. Somebody had to pass it down.

The facts of what happened and what it means to us is Tradition.

Magnanimity,

I will address the third point first as it will aid in the other two.

  1. The Magisterium is a channel of Divine Revelation along with Scripture and Tradition.

The problem is that the Magisterium is not a part of Divine Revelation at all. Divine Revelation is the Word of God, it is the Deposit of Faith.

The Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum:

  1. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. (7)

It is this Deposit of Faith that the Church is entrusted with to authentically interpret as Dei Verbum goes on to say.

The Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum:

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8) has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9) whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

The Magisterium interprets Divine Revelation, but is not itself part of Divine Revelation (its existance and authority are, but not its acts). The Magisterium is infallible so that it correctly interprets the Word of God, however.

That is the problem with point #3. The Magisterium is the servant of Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Scriptures, it is not their equal. It interprets the Deposit of Faith, but it not itself part of that Deposit.

Now we can move on to points #1 and #2, has they are very nearly the same. but I will have to do that in part 2 of this message.

(continued)

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  1. God is not the author of Sacred Tradition.
  2. Sacred Tradition is not Inspired.

The Council of Trent clearly shows the Divine source of Tradition, either from the mouth of Christ, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Spirit dictating.

The Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session IV, Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures:

This [Gospel], of old promised through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures,[1] our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, promulgated first with His own mouth, and then commanded it to be preached by His Apostles to every creature[2] as the source at once of all saving truth and rules of conduct.

It also clearly perceives that these truths and rules are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves,[3] the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand.

Following, then, the examples of the orthodox Fathers, it receives and venerates with a feeling of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and New Testaments, since one God is the author of both; also the traditions, whether they relate to faith or to morals, as having been dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church in unbroken succession.

The Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session VI, Decree Concerning Justification, Introduction:

Since there is being disseminated at this time, not without the loss of many souls and grievous detriment to the unity of the Church, a certain erroneous doctrine concerning justification, the holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the most reverend John Maria, Bishop of Praeneste de Monte, and Marcellus, priest of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, cardinals of the holy Roman Church and legates Apostolic a latere, presiding in the name of our most holy Father and Lord in Christ, Paul III, by the providence of God, Pope, intends, for the praise and glory of Almighty God, for the tranquillity of the Church and the salvation of souls, to expound to all the faithful of Christ the true and salutary doctrine of justification, which the Sun of justice,[1] Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith[2] taught, which the Apostles transmitted and which the Catholic Church under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost has always retained; strictly forbidding that anyone henceforth presume to believe, preach or teach otherwise than is defined and declared in the present decree.

Sacred Tradition is part of the Word of God, it is His Word, He is the source of it. Some seem to be confusing Sacred Tradition with the Magisterium. The role of Tradition is not to interpret the Scriptures, it is the role of the Magisterium to interpret both.

Sacred Tradition is truly inspired as God is its source. It is not proclaimed by man and merely protected from Error by God, but it is rather part of Divine Revelation, God’s Own Word.

Dei Verbum, 9:

Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence.(6)

[quote=bengal_fan]all of Tradition comes from scripture in some form or another (whether explicit or implicit). Tradition is the churches interpretation of scripture which is why the written word is “prima”. is doesn’t mean better or higher, it just means first. there is no Tradition which contradicts scripture because all of it comes from scripture. scripture does not come from Tradition.
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The Magisterium is the Church’s interpretation of Scripture, not Sacred Tradition.

Dei Verbum:

  1. Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end.

Sacred Tradition includes that which is not necessarily expressed in the Sacred Scriptures, though the two, being inerrant could never and do never contradict. The Assumption of our Lady into Heaven for instance is an instance of Sacred Tradition that is not contained in the Scriptures.

[quote=jpusateri]I am sorry. I don’t get your point. I am truly not trying to be argumentative, but the information that eventually went into Genesis came from where, if not from word of mouth?

The Joseph story which does contain faith and moral teaching was not witnessed by Moses. Somebody had to pass it down.

The facts of what happened and what it means to us is Tradition.
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the facts of what happened is history (not tradition) what it means to us (i.e. the interpretation of the history) is tradition. no one had interpreted genesis before egypt as they were living it, and no one interpreted genesis (and i don’t mean the book but the events) during egypt because they forgot it. moses wrote it down and then interpreted it to the nation and instituted the priesthood of aaron. my point is that their is a difference between the history of genesis and the tradition dealing with faith and morals (dogma) coming from genesis. the latter of which didn’t come until moses who did so while writing it down and receiving it from God. the history went through word of mouth through generations but the law and dogmas (tradition) came directly from God to moses who then wrote it down and interpreted it to the nation of israel.

[quote=Katholish]Sacred Tradition includes that which is not necessarily expressed in the Sacred Scriptures, though the two, being inerrant could never and do never contradict. The Assumption of our Lady into Heaven for instance is an instance of Sacred Tradition that is not contained in the Scriptures.
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revelations 12 shows mary in heaven and is the beginning of defining the dogma of the assumption. yes, it is talked about in early writings of the church fathers but when it was defined as dogma, it was scripture that was used (as well as logic and church fathers) to defend it.

[quote=bengal_fan]revelations 12 shows mary in heaven and is the beginning of defining the dogma of the assumption. yes, it is talked about in early writings of the church fathers but when it was defined as dogma, it was scripture that was used (as well as logic and church fathers) to defend it.
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Instead of arguing about the particular doctrine, I will reassert the teaching of the Church in this regard as set forth by the First Vatican Council

The Vatican Council, Session 3:

  1. And so we, following in the footsteps of our predecessors, in accordance with our supreme apostolic office, have never left off teaching and defending Catholic truth and condemning erroneous doctrines. But now it is our purpose to profess and declare from this chair of Peter before all eyes the saving teaching of Christ, and, by the power given us by God, to reject and condemn the contrary errors. This we shall do with the bishops of the whole world as our co-assessors and fellow-judges, gathered here as they are in the Holy Spirit by our authority in this ecumenical council, and relying on the word of God in Scripture and tradition as we have received it, religiously preserved and authentically expounded by the Catholic Church.

Vatican Council I, Session 3, Chapter 2:

  1. Now this supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal Church, as declared by the sacred Council of Trent, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions, which were received by the apostles from the lips of Christ himself, or came to the apostles by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, and were passed on as it were from hand to hand until they reached us [16].

Vatican I, Session 3, Chapter 3:

  1. Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.

Divine Tradition is just that, Divine. It is revealed by Christ and therefore is not a mere interpretation of previous revelations of God’s Word, but rather the living Word of God.

When the First Vatican Council defined papal infallibility it appealed to Tradition.

Vatican I, Session 4, Chapter 4:

  1. Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.

Bengal Fan, can I ask you this question.

Is Sacred Tradition part of Divine Revelation?

[quote=bengal_fan]the facts of what happened is history (not tradition) what it means to us (i.e. the interpretation of the history) is tradition. no one had interpreted genesis before egypt as they were living it, and no one interpreted genesis (and i don’t mean the book but the events) during egypt because they forgot it. moses wrote it down and then interpreted it to the nation and instituted the priesthood of aaron.
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I can agree on your distinction. But you must admit that unless God told Moses what happened from creation onwards, (i.e. that the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was UNKNOWN until the exodus) that an oral tradition brought the story to him to write down. I want to make the distinction between “scripture” (written words) and tradition (what it means to us). Until the time it was written, there was NO scripture. Only a mix of story/what it means. So in relation to the orignal post I made, tradition did not start in NT times.

How do you know that they forgot it?

[quote=bengal_fan]my point is that their is a difference between the history of genesis and the tradition dealing with faith and morals (dogma) coming from genesis. the latter of which didn’t come until moses who did so while writing it down and receiving it from God. the history went through word of mouth through generations but the law and dogmas (tradition) came directly from God to moses who then wrote it down and interpreted it to the nation of israel.
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Okay it sounds like you are saying that an unwritten, uninterpreted, word-of-mouth history was passed down. That no Hebrew saw God working in Joseph’s life until Moses wrote it down. And then Moses put the tradition (interpretation) into scripture at the same time. So the Hebrew teachers believed that there was no meaningful tradition that was NOT written down?

Interesting. Any way to back that up? I am listening.

“Therefore both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence.”
-Dei Verbum
We are to give the same devotion and reverence to both, are we not?

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