Understanding the Bible


I have a few questions about the Old & New Testaments. In a sense, this is related to the thread regarding ‘the Roman church not permitting translations,’ but, my queries are more fundamental & I look forward to your various responses.

*]Were the various books written by Catholics, or Jews?
*]Who is best able to interpret and teach on the various books of each?
*]Are any Jewish interpretations of any OT book considered definitive by Catholics?
*]Do we have any of the original texts of any book in either the Old or New Testament? How do we know that what we now have is what the author wrote; and, how do we know that editors did not alter texts over time?
*]How important is an understanding of the milieu, i.e. the socio-politic circumstances that gave rise to each book, and the attendant literary genres, to understanding any book? [/LIST]
A related query concerns familiarization with the OT: what is required to understand the NT, e.g. how does Elijah relate to the Ascension?

*]How literally must one take the story/history/dictates contained?[/LIST]

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