The Pontifical Biblical Commission English Translation

I would like to learn about the Pontifical Biblical Commission of the Roman Curia.
Only I can’t find an English translation online.

This is straight from the Vatican website. Can someone translate this for me? Or provide a link to an English translation?

What is the Pontifical Biblical Commission? What do they do?

Thanks! :flowers:

What is the Pontifical Biblical Commission? What do they do?
The link is to a short article in the Catholic Encyclopedia (older edition that’s online). If you go to the New Advent website and type “pontifical biblical commission” in the Search box at the top, you’ll get several hits.

Why didn’t I think of that??? :rolleyes:


This is straight from the Vatican website. Can someone translate this for me? Or provide a link to an English translation?…cbible_en.html

Unfortunately the ( Catholic Encyclopedia is too old to contain anything about the newer document you linked. doesn’t provide an English translation. Have been searching online, but have not had any success. The only title given (Pontifical Biblical Commission) is too broad, and there’s no date on the document (which helps when googling). Years and years ago I knew Latin, but not anymore. :slight_smile:

Not sure what the original link was (when I clicked on it, it dropped through to the Vatican front page) but here’s a google translation of the description of the Pontifical Biblical Commission which is available only in Italian on the website. It’s not bad for a mechanical translation . . . . last section (Composition) snipped for length

Pontifical Biblical Commission

I. Profile

  1. The ancient Pontifical Biblical Commis de Re

The organization now known as Pontifical Biblical Commission was established by Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter Vigilantiae studiique October 30, 1902 (*** 35 [1902-1903] 234-238). The Pope gave the new institution with a triple role: a) promote effective among Catholic biblical study, b) conflict with the scientific means the misconceptions concerning the Holy Scriptures, c) explore and illuminate the issues discussed and problems emerging the biblical context.

Some years later, Pius X, Apostolic Letter Scripturae Sanctae 23 February 1904, gave the Biblical Commission the power to confer academic degrees and license doctorate in Biblical Science (Scripture) (*** 36 [1903-1904] 530-532).

Leo XIII and Pius X had granted to the Biblical Commission wide powers to emerging issues and controversies about biblical, caused by modern criticism. From February 13, 1905 until November 17, 1921 the Biblical Commission issued 14 decrees (or decisions) and 2 statements in the form of response to questions or concerns proposed. These decrees are collected in 'Enchiridion Biblicum. Under Pius XI (until 30 April 1934) followed two other decrees, for a total of 18 interventions.

  1. The new Pontifical Biblical Commission

On 27 June 1971 as part of the great work of post-conciliar reform, Paul VI, with the Motu proprio Sedula care (AAS 63 [1971] 665-669) established new rules for the organization and operation of the Biblical Commission to make its activities more fruitful for the Church and better suited to the current situation.

This apostolic letter marks a radical turning point regarding the role and organization of the Biblical Commission. Through 15 short articles is called the new structure: the members are no longer of Cardinals, assisted by advice, but teachers in the biblical sciences from various schools and nations, which are distinguished for their knowledge, wisdom and feelings about the Catholic Church’s Magisterium (Article 3).

This change of structure is necessarily a change in the nature and functions. No longer consisting of Cardinals on the model of the Roman Congregations, the new Biblical Commission became an advisory body, placed in the service of the Magisterium and connected to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (cf. art. 1), whose prefect is also the President of the Commission.

II. An Activity Documents

The Biblical Commission organizes its Plenary Assembly every year, in the second week after Easter, on a topic previously chosen by the Cardinal President, upon the proposal of various organizations, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Episcopal Conferences or the Commission itself.

The new Biblical Commission held its first general assembly in 1974, at which have been revised examination programs for the attainment of academic degrees in Biblical Sciences.

In the following years (1975-1976) the States have tackled the study of women in the Bible and, more specifically, the role of women in society according to the Holy Scripture. The conclusions to which the Biblical Commission came were not published, but only made available to the Holy See, as provided for in art. 10 of the Apostolic Letter Sedula care.

In 1977-1978 he was tackled the issue of the use of Sacred Scripture in the theology of liberation, then big and hot news, but without reaching any documents.

In the plenum of 1979 was in-depth the issue of inculturation in Sacred Scripture and the reports were published in a volume entitled Faith and culture in the light of the Bible (LDC, Torino 1981).

In 1980 he decided to tackle a very challenging and varied: one concerning the relationship between hermeneutics and Christology. The study lasted until the Plenary Assembly of 1983 and ended with the publication of Bible et Christologie (Cerf, Paris, 1984), immediately translated into major languages.

From 1985 to 1988, the Biblical Commission paused to study the complex relationships between local churches and universality of the one People of God, fostering an approach to biblical, ecclesiological and ecumenical. He developed a 20-page document entitled Unité et diversité dans l’Eglise which, together with the reports of the various members, was made public (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 1989) and translated in major languages.

In 1989 he was tackled the important issue of interpretation of the Bible. Several reports were presented and worked on many controversial issues that for some years aroused heated debate in scientific circles. This work continued for some years and in 1993, was finally published the document L’interprétation de la Bible dans l’Eglise (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, 1993).

From 1994 to 1996 the work of the Biblical Commission stopped to consider the issue of the universality of salvation through Christ and the diversity of religions. Since 1997, he was undertaking a thorough study about the relationship between New and Old Testaments, between Christians and Jews. This survey was completed at the plenary session of 2000 and in November 2001 has been published in several languages, a text entitled Le peuple Juif et ses Saintes écritures dans la Bible chrétienne.

In subsequent years the Commission has addressed an important new theme focuses on the relationship between the Bible and morality. Following that examination, on 11 May 2008 was published the document Bible and morality. Biblical roots of Christian.

Thank you NH…
This is the page I was interested in.
I knew there was a way to do that, but didn’t know how.

Thank you very much, and Happy New Year! :thumbsup:

From the 2003 Catholic Encyclopedia: part 1

In the history of the Pontifical Biblical Commission a sharp distinction must be made between its form and function before and after the Second Vatican Council.
Before Vatican II
The Pontifical Biblical Commission was created by Pope LEO XIII in 1902 through his Apostolic Letter Vigilantiae Its function was, according to this founding document, “to strive and effect with all possible care that God’s words will both be given, everywhere among us, that thorough study that our times demand and will be shielded not only from every breath of error but even from every rash opinion.”
The pre-Vatican II Commission consisted of a limited number of cardinals, named by the pope, the majority belonging to the Roman CURIA. To these members were joined as consultors Catholic biblical scholars from various tendencies and countries though most resided in Rome.

Activities. Between 1905 and 1953 a number of decrees or Responsa (“answers”) were issued. Some of those from the period 1905–1915 are well known for their negative impact, e.g., the Responsa on the narratives in the historical books (1905; EB 161), on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (1906; EB 181–184), on the authorship of the book of Isaiah (1908; EB 291–295), and on the historical character of the first three chapters of Genesis (1909; EB 336–343). Particular publications were judged to be inaccurate and their use in Catholic schools was forbidden.
The letter written by Commission’s secretary to Cardinal Suhard of Paris (1948) struck a positive note. It allowed Catholic scholars considerable liberty “concerning the time of the documents of the Pentateuch and concerning the literary genre of the first 11 chapters of Genesis” (EB 577–581). The last intervention of the Commission occurred during the Council by way of the instruction Sacra Mater Ecclesia (1964; DS 3999) on the historical truth of the gospels. The open-mindedness of the document was praised, especially because of its distinction among the three stages of the gospel tradition: what Jesus of Nazareth actually did and said, what the disciples and apostles preached about what Jesus said and did, and what the evangelists wrote down from that preaching. Consequently, the gospels cannot be regarded as direct reports of the facts about and the words of Jesus. The content of this instruction has been integrated into the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum of Vatican II (1964, paragraph 19).

Before its reorganization by Pope PAUL VI, the Pontifical Biblical Commission functioned as an organ of the magisterium. Twice, in 1907 and 1910, PIUS X emphasized that the decisions of the Commission require religious assent: “All are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Pontifical Commission pertaining to doctrine, whether already issued or to be issued in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Sacred Congregations approved by the Pontiff; nor can they avoid the stigma both of disobedience and temerity or be free from grave sin who by any spoken or written words impugn these decisions” (1910, EB 341).

The rise of MODERNISM in the early years of the Commission explains, to a great extent, the defensive and apologetic character of many Responsa that caused serious conflicts of conscience for many Catholic scholars. Later letters and instructions manifested a more open approach, especially thanks to the encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu (1943; EB 538–569).
From 1904 until 1928 the Pontifical Biblical Commission alone had the power to grant Catholic academic doctoral degrees in Scripture.

part 2: (edited for length)

After Vatican II
The Pontifical Biblical Commission was restructured by Paul VI through the promulgation of the apostolic brief Sedula Cura in 1971. The stated reasons for this action were both the prescription of Vatican II, “that the rich treasures of the word of God be made more amply and plentifully accessible to the faithful,” and the fact that “progress of modern scholarship daily presents new questions in this discipline which are not easy to solve.”
The two most notable changes in the nature of the reformed Biblical Commission are its close linking with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the constitution of its membership by biblical scholars and not, as formerly, by cardinals, who were assisted in their function by scholars merely as consultors.
The new regulation, which can be compared with the statutes of the International Theological Commission (created in 1969), is set forth in 15 points. (1) The chief function of the Commission remains that “of rightly promoting biblical studies and of offering assistance to the magisterium of the Church in interpreting Scripture.” (2) Its president is “the Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” (3) The membership is limited to 20 scholars “from various schools and nations,” considered to be “outstanding for their learning, prudence and Catholic regard for the magisterium.” (4) They are appointed by the pope on the recommendation of the cardinal president, “after consultation with the episcopal conferences,” for five years, a term that may be renewed. (5) The secretary is appointed by the pope for five years; he is also named a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (6) A plenary meeting of the Commission is to be convoked annually. (7) Subcommissions may be set up to study particular problems, and can consult “other experts, including non-Catholics.” (8) Consultation of the membership by letter is made possible. (9) The pope or the president designate the questions to be studied. These may be proposed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by the Synod of Bishops, the episcopal conferences, the Biblical Commission itself, or by Catholic universities and biblical societies. (10) Conclusions reached in plenary session are to be submitted to the pope for use by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.(11) This latter body may “publish with special mention of the Biblical Commission” instructions or decrees “which are the fruit of the scholarly investigation of the members.” (12) Relations with “institutions of biblical studies, both Catholic and non-Catholic,” are to be cultivated by the Commission. (13) Before new norms concerning Scripture are issued within the Church, the Commission is to be consulted. (14) The Commission continues to confer academic degrees in biblical studies, but its members do not, as such, conduct the examinations leading to these degrees, as formerly. (15) Finally, secrecy “in keeping with the character and importance” of its business is to govern its transactions.

It became known that a majority of the Commission was of the opinion that Scripture is not enough to exclude women from priesthood. In 1977 the first group of the Commission met for the last time. They dealt with the use of Scripture in the writings on liberation theology. No publication of texts followed. There was no plenary session in 1978 (nor for that matter in 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2001).

During that audience the Pontifical Biblical Commission submitted to Pope JOHN PAUL II its document The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church.
Why this new document? There have been, from different quarters, complaints about the scientific study of the Bible. Moreover, the historical-critical method is often attacked because of its so-called sterility; not seldom, it is said, doubt, if not unbelief, arises from its use. What about the new and seemingly more promising approaches? The Pontifical Biblical Commission was asked to reflect on this malaise.

In his address during the 1993 audience Pope John Paul II praised the document for the spirit of openness in which it was conceived, for its balance and moderation, for its stress on the fact that the biblical Word is at work speaking universally, in time and space, to all humanity. The reactions from both scholars and religious leaders, not only Catholics, underline the importance of this document.
In the sessions of 1994 and 1995 a new theme of discussion was brought forward: what does the Bible say about the universalism of salvation through Christ? Because of lack of time no final document could be achieved. The individual contributions, which had been updated after discussion in the plenary sessions, were brought together and presented to the Theological Commission.

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