Whose interpretation of the bible do you go by?

Jesus taught us that we cannot go by human interpretation of the bible.

We are taught to go by the teachings of the Early Fathers of the Church.

That is why the RCC does not go by human interpretation. We were promised the Gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us at Pentecost until the end of time.

Whose interpretation of scripture does your Church go by?

Is it true that there are only 12 ‘passages’ from Scripture which the Catholic Church has infallibly confirmed the principal prophecy?

That is very relative to the often over reaction some charge against the Church’s divine office of interpreter of Sacred Scripture. Much interpretation is left open to the Christian, so long these 12 are not contradicted. Also, personal interpretations (as in personal, or group, study with whom the Spirit’s guidence is sought), though are free to be believed, cannot be held over other Christians with authority.

I can try to find the 12 passages and their interpretations, if anyone really wants to know. Or maybe someone with them on hand could post?

The most important question regarding scriptural interpretation is, “How does Scripture interpret Scripture?” If we can derive a hermeneutic of biblical interpretation from the Word of God itself, then we can be sure it is from God.

The “science” of theology comes down ultimately to biblical exegesis. The “source” must be God’s own Word - nothing less will suffice.

A Catholic might reply, that apart from Scripture, Jesus told the apostles that they personally were to make and teach disciples, teaching all Jesus had commanded them, and at another point promising them the Holy Spirit in their endeavor to remember and teach. The scripture itself records this happening, that it happened not by the disciples reading scripture, but by a real person telling it all to them with personal authority (that would be Jesus telling them, not the bible telling them).

This would then mean that the “remembrance” or “knowing” of the truth was in the hands of the bishops and pope (Apostles) and was subsequently passed on in succession. And then the Scripture which delineated all these things happening as I described are not for the purpose of personal learning from God, but instead the purpose of the evangelists’ words were to make a culture aware of the presence of the Church in the world, so that people would seek out the Apostles (or successors) and ask to be baptized and be taught - in other words, get saved by the Church and not by reading the bible, and believe the Church’s interpretation of the Bible, because the promise of remembering all he taught was promised to the apostles but not promised to anyone trying to get their own meanings out of the Bible.

Indifferently #3
The most important question regarding scriptural interpretation is, “How does Scripture interpret Scripture?”

Hardly, for Scripture itself points to the Catholic Church founded by Christ Himself through which the world was given His Church, and His Magisterium, and it is only through Her teaching that we have and know what books form the Word of God.

The reality:
The Ethiopian eunuch reading Isaiah was asked by Philip who had been moved by the Holy Spirit – “Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, ‘How can I unless some man show me?’ And he asked Philip to come and sit with him.” [Acts 8:30-31].

St Paul’s epistles have “some things hard to understand, which those who are unlearned and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” [2Pet 3:16]

“…no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man but, but holy men of God spoken as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” [2Pet 1: 20-21].

The “science” of theology comes down ultimately to biblical exegesis. The “source” must be God’s own Word - nothing less will suffice.

The reliance on personal exegesis has in fact resulted in the views of many thousands of sects all teaching something different instead of all of Christ’s truths; the loss of the priesthood, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, most of the seven sacraments and the teaching authority of Christ’s Magisterium instituted by Him – hence all of the errors also in morality re contraception etc.

Thus it is glaringly evident that the Sacred Scriptures cannot be left to the vagaries of those not of Christ’s Magisterium.

Sometimes I interpret it according to my understanding. Sometimes I interpret it according to the church’s understanding. Yet sometimes I submit to the church’s understanding even if I do not understand it myself.

It seems foolish to interpret the bible totally alone, because necessarily you will read things into it and ultimately you will ignore others before you. It seems you won’t be able to get anything out of the bible if you do not try to make a personal interpretation and read something of yourself into the text. It also seems prideful if you do not at some point submit to an understanding the church has universally had.

I don’t think there’s a perfect balance between these three thoughts, but I think the best balance is obtained in the Orthodox church.

IgnatianPhilo #6
Sometimes I interpret it according to my understanding. Sometimes I interpret it according to the church’s understanding. Yet sometimes I submit to the church’s understanding even if I do not understand it myself.

I don’t think there’s a perfect balance between these three thoughts, but I think the best balance is obtained in the Orthodox church.

Unfortunately such “balance” does not follow Christ’s teaching, but fidelity to His Church and Her dogma and doctrine does.

Thus He has taught through His Church the grave objective wrongness of contraception, of the denial of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and of the permission of divorce and remarriage.

As the faith and mind of Christ are made clear by His institution of primacy and infallibility in faith and morals in His chosen leader St Peter and his successors, so everything that is orthodox (faithful and universal) depends on that fact. Muddying the waters by expressing dissent against this fact and Magisterial teaching, by various opinions (theological or otherwise) distorts the essence of the message.

The key is that “there is no sure norm outside of the Catholic Church”, because only She teaches with the infallibility conferred by Christ. Error comes from fallible teaching and picking and choosing.

The mentality of many Catholics seems to leave people with the impression that no one is given the gift of hearing God speak to them through the Scriptures. This puts a bad taste in the mouths of someone who takes up the written Word and is moved to conversion of heart and hungry to learn about the Lord.

Even in the 12 passages that were interpreted infallibly by the Church, the Church has acknowleged various meanings that can be seen in them.

CCC #133

The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful… to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,’ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.’ "

This quote from paragraph 133 doesn’t deny the Magisterium’s authority nor that of Sacred Tradition, but calls for reading of Scripture so that a Catholic is not ignorant of why the Church is the Body of Christ and where they encounter Him personally in all his Grace and Truth and Authority.

The Ethiopian eunuch was not encouraged by Philip to read Isaiah and to interpret it himself and figure out Christ himself and start a church based upon his interpretation. Philip was glad he was reading Isaiah and Philip was glad to give him the true interpretation of Scripture with Authority and Spirit granted by Christ to the Apostles to know and explain the Truth and Grant participation in Christ personally in Baptism (a participation one cannot have simply by reading and privately interpreting Scripture).

The Church is literally Jesus, walking to Emmaus with the person reading the Scriptures, and their hearts burn within them as they walk together and the reader listens to the Church opening to them the meaning of what they are reading, that it was " ‘necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."

Scripture is an “instrument” or “tool” of the Church, and not a stand alone self-interpreting miracle that suddenly appeared from God on a bookstore shelf, but was written by and is carried by the Church as its tool for witness of the reality of the Church and our legitimate participation in Christ in the Church.

The whole Bible was written by the Church and acknowledge as a Canon in all its books and authors by the Church. Abraham was a member of the Church, knowing of Christ’s coming. Moses was a member of Christ and met him and wrote of him. David was a member of the Church and its earthly king and prophesied the words or Christ in the Psalms. Isaiah and all the prophets were members of the Church, telling of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, Jude, James, were all Catholics, and wrote of Christ to their congregations when they could not be there in person. And the Council gathered all these Scriptures together.

This is very Catholic. :thumbsup:

Since it is clear that deviating from what our Magisterum teaches will lead us to dissension, it would serve us well to follow the rules established our Magisterium:


Practical rules

  1. Mutual respect between the Churches which find themselves in difficult situations will increase appreciably in the measure that they will observe the following practical rules.
  1. These rules will not resolve the problems which are worrying us unless each of the parties concerned has a will to pardon, based on the Gospel and, within the context of a constant effort for renewal, accompanied by the unceasing desire to seek the full communion which existed for more than a thousand years between our Churches. It is here that the dialogue of love must be present with a continually renewed intensity and perseverance which alone can overcome reciprocal lack of understanding and which is the necessary climate for deepening the theological dialogue that will permit arriving at full communion.
  1. The first step to take is to put an end to everything that can foment division, contempt and hatred between the Churches. For this the authorities of the Catholic Church will assist the Oriental Catholic Churches and their communities so that they themselves may prepare full communion between Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The authorities of the Orthodox Church will act in a similar manner towards their faithful. In this way it will be possible to take care of the extremely complex situation that has been created in Eastern Europe, at the same time in charity and in justice, both as regards Catholics and Orthodox.

Since we so often point out how obedience and submission to the Church is of utmost importance, I am certain we can do a better job of demonstrating it by our behavior than by our words.

I didn´t realize I was trying to deny Authority. :rolleyes:

The vast majority of people are well aware of the authority which the Catholic Church claims. Why not post how the Catechism encourages the faithfull to interpret the Scriptures instead of giving them the impression that it impossible for the Holy Spirit to speak to them through its study?

No, you were not denying authority with your post, and I apologize for not being more clear in “why” I was writing.

One part of this thread has been to legitimize private interpretation with a logic of scripture interpreting scripture and with that logic people legitimizing their claims to various interpretations that are in disagreement with Church interpretations (I am not speaking of personal insights gained in reading, but development of private doctrine in conflict with the Church, such as the classic “Justification by Faith Alone” in the understanding of many protestant churches).

My goal in what I wrote was to not let that CCC quote be misread as a license to counter Catholic teaching. There is a difference between study and interpretation. As Catholics, it is our duty to study what our teachers call us to study, meaning we are obliged to study Scripture more than anyone, to know it more than anyone, and to understand it more than anyone.

Well said !

When I hear something in church that I think is " wrong" I go to who said it pull out the scriptures and have a discussion on what the whole Bible says about what was said. If I understood it wrong , I want to know. If someone teaching or preaching or just making a comment was wrong I want them to know that. Its not for my " Pride " its to get the word of God right for the Glory Of Jesus !!!

Hello Rick and welcome to CAF,

How do you know your understanding of said scripture would be correct as opposed to the one you would be correcting?:shrug:


" Surely, then, if the revelations and lessons in Scripture are addressed to us personally and practically, the presence among us of a formal judge and standing expositor of its words, is imperative. It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so systematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility."

  • John Henry Newman - [from The Nineteenth Century, Vol. 15, No. 84, Feb. 1884.]

The Bible was written by humans. Humans interpret the Bible. The CC is made up of humans that interpret the Bible. Jesus was fully human.

The Bible was inspired by God. God assists human interpretation of the Bible. The CC was founded and is guided by God. Jesus was fully God.

Both/and not either/or

Understanding literary genres and cultural practices as well as a host of other issues eg language are “outside the Bible” and necessary for and assist in the exegesis of Scripture in addition to the Scriptures themselves. In addition to these methods, nothing can take the place of interpretation through the lens of the Tradition of the CC. Scholars assist but the Episcopate decides.

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