*Theological* errors in the Bible? (See example)


Fr Robert Spitzer is a modern and popular Catholic scientist-philosopher. He’s known for his various series on EWTN, and he is behind the Magis Center, as well as the author of several AWESOME books dedicated to the defense of foundational Christian doctrines, like the existence of God, Jesus’ resurrection, and the soul.

In his recent book on suffering, which is EXCELLENT, one of his observations is that Jesus alters the understanding of suffering from the Old Testament (as depicted in Job), that suffering from nature is the direct cause from God and can be direct punishment from sins of one’s parents.

According to Jesus, God causes rain and sun (representing bad/suffering and good) to fall on the good and the bad alike. And according to Jesus, suffering is not the result of parents’ sinning.

So basically according to Fr. Spitzer, Jesus’ teaching supersedes the understanding in the Old Testament. Does that mean the Old Testament taught error, and what are we to make of this, considering biblical inspiration?


The Bible is totally innerrant.


SO how would you answer the above?

I understand the (general) Catholic teaching on inerrancy, or else I would not have asked this Q.


No, the Old Testament did not teach error. However, not everything in the OT was dogma. Some OT passages were what the Church would categorize as “discipline” today.

There are also some teachings in the NT like this too. Esp the one regarding head coverings for women.

Deuteronomy is filled with a lot of the ancient Jewish version of Canon Law.

That’s not to say the some books contain no inspired Words of God, but some Books do have disciplinary teachings in addition to dogmatic teachings.

I pray this helps.

God Bless


I believe He’s right. Jesus clarified & transfigured the teachings of the Old Testament. As God the Son, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, He had the right to create a New Covenant. That He did. :slight_smile: And, I’m glad for it!

I would ask you how would answer your own question in light of Scripture, where Jesus plainly tells us in Luke 22:20 that “…This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”


The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 NABRE-USCCB: http://www.usccb.org/bible/acts/15

Where St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11 (BibleHub): 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

From Colossians 2 NABRE-USCCB:
You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
And even when you were dead [in] transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions;
obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross;
despoiling the principalities and the powers, he made a public spectacle of them,l leading them away in triumph by it.


Could you explain how the bible passages you cite address the question? Sorry, I just can’t tell what point you mean to make with them.


Nope! What that means is that revelation was incomplete.

Try not to read any more than that into it.

Read Tobit - it is the perfect bridge between Job and the Gospel.


Ven. Mary Agreda explained how suffering was changed with a certain verse from the Apocalypse.


It just means that there are over 30,000 verses in the bible and any one of them can be misunderstood or we simply don’t always know the author’s or God’s intent in any case. And this is why Catholic theology isn’t based on Scripture alone, but on the gospel revealed by Jesus Christ and received before a word of the New Testament was written along with continuing understanding given by the Holy Spirit.


Yes, I agree with this. He “clarified and transfigured” the old understanding of the Law, beautifully put. Just like He was transfigured on the Mountain, He has brought the Spirit behind the Law into focus.

He changed everything–how we understood God, the value of sacrifices of animals vs a sacrifice of the heart, what loving God and our neighbor really means.

The Old Testament is not theologically wrong. The whole Bible shows God carefully guiding us until we were ready for the ultimate expression of His love: the Law made flesh.


Only in matters of faith and morals. The NT is hidden in the OT and the OT is revealed in the NT. Vatican II.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that we have the Old Covenant, & in Christ, we have the New Covenant - the fulfillment in Christ of the Old Covenant…


YES!!! I agree. AMEN!!!


Vatican I:
“The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical. 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.” [Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter 2, On Revelation, n. 6-7.]


Pope Leo XIII:
"But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred. For the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage, we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it-this system cannot be tolerated. For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and unchanging faith of the Church, solemnly defined in the Councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican.” [Providentissimus Deus, n. 20.]


No. It means that God allowed the inspired writers to write according to their understanding and perception – and caused His meaning to come through, nevertheless.

So, it means that, perhaps, the Old Testament writers didn’t have the full understanding of God’s plan (not surprising, since they didn’t know about Jesus!), but not that the OT itself is flawed. :+1:


According to these guys, the Book of Job is clear that Job deserved none of his suffering, he wasn’t being punished:


This is a mild form of Marcion’s rejection of the Hebrew scriptures. There are several ways you might approach it.

  1. Denounce it as heresy and go nowhere near it.

  2. Understand that he has a point he is making, and try to figure out what that is.

  3. Understand that the OT has points to make that should nor be dismissed so glibly. The OT was written with a knowledge of Christ that may be greater than our knowledge of him despite the advantages we have been given, eg the life of Christ, the Gospels, centuries of people living with the mystery.

Let me also say, no one should come away from Job thinking misfortunes are a punishment for sin. That is a very shallow reading that ignores the conclusion of the book.


If you are saying that there is a contradiction between the Old and the New, or that Fr. Spitzer was claiming that, then you do not understand either.

The verb “cause” has many meanings. A more refined definition was being used in the New T. Revelation.

In the Old, when it said that God caused it was speaking of his permissive will, what he ordained as consequences of sin as allowed by His Divine Providence.



The book of Job actually repudiates the idea that suffering is the result of one’s actions. While Job’s friends speculated that Job’s suffering was due to sin, Job constantly maintained that he was not deserving of the suffering he was experiencing and that Job’s mediator before God would one day vindicate him. At the end of the book Job cries out to question God about his justice in causing him to suffer, hoping that God would answer. God does answer, and though he never provides the reason why Job is suffering, he displays his wisdom, might, and sovereignty to declare justice by referring to all of his works of creation. And in the end, God vindicated Job before his friends.

Psalms, wisdom literature such as Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, and the prophets often address suffering as well. While the wisdom literature often make the claim that suffering is due to one’s actions, these are not meant to be doctrinal statements, but pragmatic poetic statements meant to teach people to have the wisdom to love and obey God. They aren’t dogmatic, but rules of thumb. Psalms frequently does the same, but also shows us that the righteous often suffer, but are still better off than the unrighteous who might be profiting from his unrighteousness in the here and now. Prophets address suffering being brought about by the explicit revelation of God in response to Israel and Judah’s violation of the Siniatic convenient, but once again, these are not dogmatic statements about the nature of why we suffer. They are specific revelations to a specific people at a specific moment in time.

In addition to this, we see constantly in Paul’s writings and in Hebrews, that the OT heroes were justified by faith, not through their works.

So from this standpoint, Jesus isn’t changing our understanding of suffering. He is bringing it back into clarity. We live in a world that has been tainted by sin, and is in need of salvation just as much as mankind. Paul declares this in Romans 8. Contrary to the author, I don’t see any contradiction here.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.