St Augustine's guide to the Bible


“If you accept only that which you like in the Gospel, and reject that which you dislike, all you’ve done is accept yourself.”

–St. Augustine of Hippo

A thought worth pondering and one worth repeating.


What does “accept” and “reject” mean?


According to Dei verbum?

  1. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)

But, since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10)

  1. In Sacred Scripture, therefore, while the truth and holiness of God always remains intact, the marvelous “condescension” of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, “that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature.” (11) For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men.


It means like…“this is my body”.


I like the quote.


I like this quote. It shows a crucial thing: You need the Spirit of God to understand scripture properly which is what the Catholic Church has taught based upon this scripture from Peter. ‘‘20Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. 21For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.’’ 2 Pet 20-21.

Understanding that prophecy in a biblical sense (as in the New Testament) is the gift of the Holy Ghost to interpret Scripture. Thats why Paul says this in 1 Cor 14:5 ''And I would have you all to speak with tongues, but rather to prophesy. For greater is he that prophesieth, than he that speaketh with tongues: unless perhaps he interpret, that the church may receive edification. ‘’


“This is my body” is fairly unequivocal, especially in light of John chapter 6…

However 7 “days” of creation are not quite so clear cut.

So what exactly do you think Augustine is saying? Read ALL scripture the same, or read it in the spirit it was written?

And do you think Augustine should have precedence over Dei Verbum?


Originally by triumphguy,
This is my body" is fairly unequivocal, especially in light of John chapter 6…

It may be unequivocal, but some dislike it, and reject it.


Catholics believe that God does not reveal something contrary to what He has already revealed.


OK - what about less equivocal parts of the bible. How should we read them?


Read them in the right way.


Which is?

I’m asking because you seemed to have a point to make in the original post, but you don’t seem willing to share any more thoughts.


I like with the sentiment of the quote, and I hate to be that guy, but did St. Augustine actually say this quote? If so, where? I very much doubt it is authentic.


I googled it and can’t find the quote, except here.


Well the Jews whom stumbled at the New Testament might have a coronary over you saying that. Now I do not think they are contrary but it just goes to show that God allows misunderstandings of doctrine to occur within the church, presumably because a greater good arises from it, and that’s why the Gift of Prophecy is still quite important in the Church.


It is utterly amazing that I should, after thousands of visits to CAF, should come upon this quotation from Augustine at this moment.

First, consider: 2 Tim 3:12-17: “Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from childhood you have been acquainted with the Sacred Writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” RSV-2CE

Second, consider that the scripture Paul is referring to here is THE SEPTUAGINT, from which all New Testament citations of the Old Testament are taken.

My aunt, who is evangelical, told me (I’m 65 years old) that 100% of Catholics are condemned, because we don’t ‘accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior.’ Last evening, I finally responded to her that 100% of Protestants are reading the wrong Bible, because, in defiance of I Tim 3:12-17, Martin Luther threw 7 books out of the Bible, when he translated it into German.

It’s stunning to realize that even Jesus didn’t do such a thing (in fact said he didn’t come to take one one jot or tittle), but Martin Luther DID. It is stunning that Luther’s followers, all Protestants today, violate one of the “scriptures” that they take most pride in.

Can this be denied?


Thanks, Fred, for being a great straight man for me today.


Thanks for all the responses from triumphguy,Nelka, God I love, Guanaphore, Qndnndqdce, and sirach2v4.
Liked them all and particularlly the story about your grandma,Sirach. She sounds like a real down to earth person full of spunk. I enjoyed that very much.

There has been a question of the authenticity of this quote and I can appreciate that. I can’t give you the place in Augustine’s writtings where he wrote it because I copied this quote from someone else who didn’t give where Augustine said this. So my bad if this didn’t come from him.

I posted it because I thought it hit home in such a clever way that we accept the bible’s teachings because if we reject some then we replace ourselves as the highest authority and have changed nothing.
It was just masterfully said.

He didn’t say that there wouldn’t be passages or times when a person would struggle with the meaning. But even in these cases, just because we don’t like the passage, we shouldn’t just reject it, which would include avoiding it.

And in those passages which are clear, try to twist them in some other way to please ourselves.
Myself, I felt after reading the quote, if we are in the mood only to hear only what we want, then we are only trying to verify our own thoughts and we are our own bible…so why read this one.

The saying of Augustine just seemed to hit on the hot spot so perfectly reflecting his genius, and I think God smiled on that one. And so I thought others too would enjoy it.

Praise to our Creator of all blessings.


Thanks for that.:thumbsup:


This is a very scriptural view:

18 For, in the first place, when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. I Cor 11

So, how would those who are genuine be recognized? The Apostles and their successors the Bishops were centered around the authentic Eucharist. We know by reading the Fathers that the authentic Church founded by Christ is that which is centered around the Bishop and the valid Eucharist in his care.

You are right that a greater good will arise from divisions.


Your mooooooooooore than welcome. :tiphat:

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