What is Catholic Bible Study?


Our parish and neighboring parishes have been offering Bible Study programs from Ascension Press. These include the Bible Time Line covering the historical books, the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the Book of Revelation, the Psalms, the Acts of the Apostles, and so forth. I have enjoyed these programs very much and would recommend them to anyone. Recently some of the parishioners coordinating the program have determined that the Ascension Press series is not Catholic enough because it gives a too literal interpretation of Scripture. The series is thought to be too right wing Catholic and they want something more middle of the road Catholic…

Apparently, the series would be more “Catholic” if it questioned whether some of the miracles in the Bible really occurred as described, whether St. Paul really went to all the places given in Acts, and whether the Transfiguration really occurred as described in the Gospels. Personally, I cannot understand how the authors of Sacred Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit could possibly write something that ordinary people could not read and understand. Was everyone expected to be a Bible scholar? I think this way of reading the Bible borders on heresy because it can lead to denying the historicity of certain events that determine key doctrines of our faith.

I need your help in addressing this issue in our Parish. I am not familiar with other Bible study series to know what is means to be less literal in interpreting Scripture. What would you suggest as an argument for keeping the Ascension Press Series?


Good question…looking forward to the answers.


I would refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church…

113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church").

In fact the whole section on Sacred Scripture is well worth reading as it talks about how Catholics should approach the reading/study of Sacred Scripture. The senses of Scripture, the unity of the OT and the NT, etc. (paragraph 101 to 141).


Have they specifically said that these are issues they have with this series?


The Bible Timeline by Jeff Cavins is very much a Catholic bible study.


Here is one review:

I am impressed with the methodology and growth of The Great Adventure: A Journey Through the Bible. The canonical approach that The Great Adventure employs is a marvelous way to introduce the faithful to salvation history. When Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium are all brought together in study the result is a clearer picture of God’s will, resulting in a roadmap for living. The Great Adventure, being faithful to Dei Verbum (the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Divine Revelation), is bearing much fruit in the Church today and contributing to a stronger, more informed laity. --Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago

The series has received an Imprimatur from Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

See also: ascensionpress.com/t/category/study-programs/catholic-bible-study

IMHO, you need a new leader for your group. If your parish priest is unaware of the difficulty, inform him ASAP.


The Ascension Press studies are very much Catholic Bible studies. I’ve been facilitating these studies at various parishes in my diocese for several years and the response has been beautiful.

Johnnyc176 refers to paragraphs 101-141 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to determine the proper way we study the Bible and that is exactly what Jeff Cavins teaches in The Bible Timeline and all the other studies Ascension Press produces. If you have someone objecting to them, then it’s them that aren’t Catholic, not the studies.


I sympathize for you on this delimma, I would ask them this, if its not Catholic enough then what Catholics are you talking about, the Catholics from the first 1900 years of Christianity, or the Protestant influenced school of thought that has become mainstream in a lot of the modern academia?

For me personally, me being highly traditional in Biblical exegesis, I would try to avoid switching to a non-traditional program. But since this may be a no-win situation, I personally would remove myself from that study if it went their way.


Clearly they were weaned on Raymond Brown and the other purveyors of specious “explanations” and liberal German Protestant “exegesis”. The quickest litmus test is to ask them about “Q”. If they wax eloquent about this imaginary Gospel, they’ve drank the Kool-Aid and cannot be helped. Believe me, I have been through this many times, even with the occasional parish priest.

Just enjoy a Catholic Bible Study and let the heathens rage outside the gates.


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