Objective: To learn the Catholic approach to interpreting the Bible.

Many people have misconceptions about Catholics and the Bible. For example, older Catholics may have heard that Catholics are not allowed to read the Bible or to interpret it for themselves. People interested in coming into the Catholic Church, especially from a more fundamentalist background, may be familiar with a much different way of reading and interpreting the Bible. A mini-course introducing the Catholic approach to Scripture, based on Church teaching and the work of contemporary Scripture scholars, will help such people understand how the Catholic Church reads and interprets Scripture.

A four-week core course would include:

The Bible from Square One By Elizabeth McNamer. N0194

This issue tackles some basic questions about the Bible. The formation of the Canon, the invention of the printing press, the impact of the Reformation and the Council of Trent, and modern biblical scholarship are all here.

Where Did We Get Our Bible? By Elizabeth McNamer. N0796

This article outlines the creation and codification of the Hebrew Scriptures from the time of King David to the first century C.E., the various writings of first- and second-Century Christianity and the process by which the 27 books that we now have in the New Testament canon emerged.

What Scripture Says...and Doesn't Say: Reading the Bible in Context By Margaret Nutting Ralph. N0396

This Scripture from Scratch explores the impact of culture and literary forms on the words of the Bible. Ralph reminds us that the Scriptures do not necessarily hold the same meaning we may want to attach to the words. The biblical authors intended to say and teach certain truths, and we need to root our understanding of Scripture first and foremost in the intent of the authors.

Interpreting the Bible: The Right and the Responsibility By Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M. N0997

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, many Catholics began to discover the Bible. This clear and concise issue gives a brief history of biblical interpretations, counsels Catholics to avoid the extremes in interpreting the Bible, and offers simple and practical guidelines to help the reader understand the word of God.

For a six-week course, add:

Inspiration: God's Word in Human Words By George Martin. N0794

What do we mean when we say that the Bible is the inspired word of God? What makes the inspiration of Isaiah, Luke and Paul something quite different from the inspiration of Beethoven, Michelangelo and Shakespeare? Martin looks for the answers to these questions in the Scriptures themselves, the documents of Vatican II and recent papal addresses.

Seeking the Language of God By Virginia Smith. N0695

This issue explains some of the difficulties involved in translating God's word, offers a brief history of translations of the Bible into English and offers suggestions for picking a translation for personal reading and prayer and for public proclamation.

For an eight-week course, add:

The Use and Abuse of the Bible By Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. N0899

An unlikely assortment of groups and individuals make use of the Bible, often to underscore the validity of their claims. Sadly, the biblical meanings are often distorted, even to the point of completely distorting their intended sense. Witherup leads his readers through this minefield, providing a clear sense of direction in determining what a given scriptural passage really means.

The Need for Biblical Criticism By Alan C. Mitchell. N0800

Biblical criticism, as pointed out in this issue, should not be defined as an exercise in picking the Bible to pieces, but rather as a close examination of the biblical texts much as one would critique secular literature. Literary forms, sources, editing, historicity and other vital areas come under scrutiny. Lacking any original biblical manuscripts, the importance of comparing such early copies as we do have also comes into play.

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Scripture from Scratch Mini-Courses

Catholic Approach to Scripture
Hebrew Scriptures
Morality and Justice
Nature of God