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Bible Facts: Q & A (Cont.)

Bible Facts: Q&A | Bible Facts: Q&A/? Smry. | Scripture/Parables

Bible with Crucifix

Bible Facts: Q & A (Cont.)

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Q. Is the Church's traditional interpretation of Holy Scripture subject to correction?

A. No. This error was CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "The Church's interpretation of the Sacred Books is not indeed to be spurned, but it is subject to the more accurate judgment and the correction of exegetes." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.)

Furthermore, the First Vatican Council states that, "For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding. May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding." 

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Q. Is there any opposition between Scripture and Church dogmas?

A. There is no opposition between Scripture and Church dogmas. This error was CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "Opposition can and actually does exist between facts which are narrated in Sacred Scripture, and the dogmas of the Church based on these, so that a critic can reject as false, facts which the Church believes to be most certain." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.)

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Q. What are some items which should especially be kept in mind regarding the Book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse)?

A. The Apocalypse (or Revelation) uses a special literary style that can be especially difficult to understand. The reader should be aware that certain items are not to be taken literally, that the book is rich in symbolism, that the time frame may not be linear, and that elements of it may be applicable to the past, present, and future. Furthermore, Catholics should not fall into the anti-Catholic trap of associating Rome in the Apocalypse with the Catholic Church in Rome. At the time that the Apocalypse was written, the writer, St. John, had as his point of reference old pagan Rome which persecuted the Christians, not Christian [that is, Catholic] Rome.

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Q. Is everything in Scripture?

A. No. Everything is not in Scripture, as the Bible itself specifically indicates (for example, see 2 Thes. 2:15, Jn. 21:25, 3 Jn. 1:13).

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Q. Is the Bible the sole rule of faith?

A. No. As indicated in the Bible, both oral and written tradition are to be followed (see 2 Thes. 2:15). Furthermore, the bible could never have been considered the sole rule of faith for a variety of other reasons [e.g. it didn't exist for many years, it wasn't formally determined for four centuries, it was difficult to propagate without copiers / printing presses / etc. for most of the history of Christianity, Christianity pre-dated the bible, historically a large number of people have been illiterate, the Apostles were commissioned to preach not to write, faith comes through hearing (see Rom. 10:17), not reading, original manuscripts no longer exist, the Bible requires an authority even for its existence, the concept of 'bible alone' is not biblical, etc.]

Note: Click here for more on this topic (apologetics/Non-Catholics Section).

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Q. Why isn't the Catholic Church "bible only"?

A. The Catholic Church is not "bible only" because being "bible only" is not biblical (such a theory actually contradicts expressed teachings in Holy Scripture) and is not what Christ intended. Rather, it is an error held by heretics. The Church existed before the Bible and could have existed without it had God not chosen to give it to her. On the other hand, the Bible couldn't exist without the Church, who received, determined, and preserved it. Remember that none of the earliest Christians read the Bible, nor did the completed Bible exist for many years. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen stated, "If we had lived in the first twenty-five years of the Church, how would we have answered this question: 'How can I know what I am to believe?' We could not have said, 'I will look in the Bible.' For there was no New Testament Bible then. We would have believed what the Apostolic Church was teaching, and, until the invention of printing, it would have been difficult for any of us to have made ourselves so-called infallible private interpreters of the book."

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Q. Did the Church exist before the Bible?

A. Yes. As St. Thomas More states, "The Church was gathered and the faith was believed before any part of the New Testament was put in writing."

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Q. Does Christianity depend upon the Bible?

A. No. Christianity does not depend upon the Bible. In fact, Christianity [that is, Catholicism] existed before a word of New Testament Scripture was ever written. Rather, the Apostles were commissioned to preach. Furthermore, it took decades for the books of the New Testament to be completed and centuries before the canon of the New Testament was settled. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen states, "The Church was spread throughout the entire Roman Empire before a single book of the New Testament was written. There were already many martyrs in the Church before there were either Gospels or Epistles. An authoritative and recognized ministry was carrying on the Lord's work at His command, speaking in His name as witnesses of what they had seen, before anyone decided to write a single line of the New Testament." While it is true that Christianity did not depend upon the Bible, it is also true that the Bible DID depend upon Christianity. Again Archbishop Fulton Sheen states, "When finally the Gospels were written, they recorded a tradition, they did not create it. It was already there. After a while men had decided to put in writing this living tradition and voice, which explains the beginning of the Gospel of Luke: 'That thou mayest know the verity of those words in which thou hast been instructed.' The Gospels did not start the Church; the Church started the Gospels. The Church did not come out of the Gospels; the Gospels came out of the Church. The Church preceded the New Testament, not the New Testament the Church. First there was not a Constitution of the United States, and then Americans, who in the light of that Constitution decided to form a government and a nation. The Founding Fathers preceded the Foundation; so the Mystical Body of Christ preceded the reports written later by inspired secretaries. And incidentally, how do we know the Bible is inspired? It does not say is! Matthew does not conclude his Gospel saying: 'Be sure to read Mark; he is inspired, too.' Furthermore, the Bible is not a book. It is a collection of seventy-three books in all. It is worth opening a Bible to see if we have them all and have not been cheated. These widely scattered books cannot bear witness to their own inspiration. It is only by something outside the Bible that we know it is inspired." (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

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Q. Did the earliest Christians read the Bible?

A. No. The earliest Christians did not read a Bible because it did not yet exist. It took decades for all the writings of the Bible to exist and centuries for the Church to formally enumerate the 'canon' of the Bible. Furthermore, the earliest Christians were mostly illiterate and there was no way to easily propagate Bibles.

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Q. Does the Bible speak only of written tradition?

A. No. In various places, the Bible speaks also of oral tradition. For example, consider...

"Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." (St. Paul, 2 Thes. 2:15)

"The other matters I shall set in order when I come." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:34)

"Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete." (St. John, 2 Jn. 1:12)

As St. Epiphanius states, "The holy Apostles handed down some things in the Scriptures, other things in Tradition." (of Salamis, c. 374 A.D.)

As the Second Vatican Council states, "Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence... Sacred tradition and sacred scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, which is committed to the Church."

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Q. Is the Bible the pillar & foundation of truth?

A. No. According to Holy Scripture, the Church is the pillar & foundation of truth (see 1 Tm. 3:15).

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Q. Does faith come from reading the Bible?

A. No. As Scripture states, faith comes from hearing (see Rom. 10:17). This is further proven by the fact that the earliest Christians, who certainly had faith, never had Bibles (in fact, the New Testament scripture took decades to complete and most people were illiterate).

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Q. Throughout history, did most people have bibles?

A. No. Remember that throughout most of the past 2,000 years, many persons were illiterate and there was no easy way to propagate the bible. For most of the bible's existence, there have were no printing presses or copiers. Rather, bibles had to be laboriously hand copied at a great expense.

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Q. Was a Catholic bible the first book ever printed?

A. Yes. The first book ever printed was a Catholic bible, by Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press.

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Q. Did the Church previously prohibit vernacular translations of the Bible?

A. First, note that far from prohibiting vernacular translations, the Church actually produced a number of translations in the language of the people (contrary to the arguing of some heretics). Second, note that most of the people who could read were able to read Latin, the language of the Vulgate edition of the Bible, so translations were far less necessary. Lastly, note that there was a time that Church did prohibit vernacular translations - but this was not to keep people from reading the Bible, but because the translations were poor, and they were therefore dangerous to the faithful. It should be noted that it is a monumental task to accurately translate Scripture into the vernacular, especially before modern technology was available.

Some relevant quotations follow...

"We were overcome with great and bitter sorrow when We learned that a pernicious plan, by no means the first, had been undertaken, whereby the most sacred books of the Bible are being spread everywhere in every vernacular tongue, with new interpretations which are contrary to the wholesome rules of the Church, and are skillfully turned into a distorted sense. For, from one of the versions of this sort already presented to Us we notice that such a danger exists against the sanctity of purer doctrine, so that the faithful might easily drink a deadly poison from those fountains from which they should drain 'waters of saving wisdom' [Ecclus. 15:3]..." (Pope Pius VII, 1816 A.D.)

"For you should have kept before your eyes the warnings which Our predecessors have constantly given, namely, that, if the sacred books are permitted everywhere without discrimination in the vulgar tongue, more damage will arise from this than advantage. Furthermore, the Roman Church, accepting only the Vulgate edition according to the well-known prescription of the Council of Trent, disapproves the versions in other tongues and permits only those which are edited with the explanations carefully chosen from writings of the Fathers and Catholic Doctors, so that so great a treasure may not be exposed to the corruptions of novelties, and so that the Church, spread throughout the world, may be 'of one tongue and of the same speech' [Gen. 11:1]." (Pope Pius VII, 1816 A.D.)

"Since in vernacular speech we notice very frequent interchanges, varieties, and changes, surely by an unrestrained license of Biblical versions that changelessness which is proper to the divine testimony would be utterly destroyed, and faith itself would waver, when, especially, from the meaning of one syllable sometimes an understanding about the truth of a dogma is formed. For this purpose, then, the heretics have been accustomed to make their low and base machinations, in order that by the publication of their vernacular Bibles, (of whose strange variety and discrepancy they, nevertheless, accuse one another and wrangle) they may, each one, treacherously insert their own errors wrapped in the more holy apparatus of divine speech. 'For heresies are not born,' St. Augustine used to say, 'except when the true Scriptures are not well understood and when what is not well understood in them is rashly and boldly asserted.' But, if we grieve that men renowned for piety and wisdom have, by no means rarely, failed in interpreting the Scriptures, what should we not fear if the Scriptures, translated into every vulgar tongue [i.e. the languages of the people] whatsoever, are freely handed on to be read by an inexperienced people who, for the most part, judge not with any skill but with a kind of rashness?..." (Pope Pius VII, 1816 A.D.)

"The wickedness of our enemies is progressing to such a degree that, besides the flood of pernicious books hostile in themselves to religion, they are endeavoring to turn to the harm of religion even the Sacred Literature given to us by divine Providence for the progress of religion itself. It is not unknown to you, Venerable Brethren, that a certain 'Society,' commonly called 'Biblical,' is boldly spreading through the whole world, which, spurning the traditions of the Holy Fathers and against the well-known decree of the Council of Trent, is aiming with all its strength and means toward this: to translate - or rather mistranslate - the Sacred Books into the vulgar tongue of every nation... And to avert this plague, Our predecessors have published many Constitutions... We, also, in accord with our Apostolic duty, encourage you, Venerable Brothers, to be zealous in every way to remove your flock away from these poisonous pastures. 'Reprove, entreat, be instant in season, out of season, in all patience and doctrine' [2 Tim. 4:2], so that your faithful people, clinging exactly to the regulations of our Congregation of the Index, may be persuaded that, 'if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere without discrimination in the vulgar tongue, more harm will arise therefrom than advantage, because of the boldness of men.' Experience demonstrates the truth of this" (Pope Leo XII, 1824 A.D.)

"Among the special schemes with which non-Catholics plot against the adherents of Catholic truth to turn their minds away from the faith, the biblical societies are prominent. They were first established in England and have spread far and wide so that We now see them as an army on the march, conspiring to publish in great numbers copies of the books of divine Scripture. These are translated into all kinds of vernacular languages for dissemination without discrimination among both Christians and infidels. Then the biblical societies invite everyone to read them unguided. Therefore it is just as [St.] Jerome complained in his day: they make the art of understanding the Scriptures without a teacher 'common to babbling old women and crazy old men and verbose sophists,' and to anyone who can read, no matter what his status. Indeed, what is even more absurd and almost unheard of, they do not exclude the common people of the infidels from sharing this kind of a knowledge. But you know the aim of these societies. In his sacred writings, Peter, after praising the letters of Paul, warns that in these epistles 'certain things are difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable distort just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, which also leads to their destruction.' He adds at once, 'Since you know this beforehand, be on your guard lest, carried away by the error of the foolish, you fall away from your own steadfastness.' Hence it is clear to you that even from the first ages of Christianity this was a skill appropriate for heretics. Having repudiated the given word of God and rejected the authority of the Catholic Church, they either interpolate 'by artifice' into the Scriptures or pervert 'its meaning through interpretation.' Nor finally are you ignorant of the diligence and knowledge required to faithfully translate into another language the words of the Lord. In the many translations from the biblical societies, serious errors are easily inserted by the great number of translators, either through ignorance or deception. These errors, because of the very number and variety of translations, are long hidden and hence lead the faithful astray. It is of little concern to these societies if men reading their vernacular Bibles fall into error. They are concerned primarily that the reader becomes accustomed to judging for himself the meaning of the books of Scripture, to scorning divine tradition preserved by the Catholic Church in the teaching of the Fathers, and to repudiating the very authority of the Church. For this end the same biblical societies never cease to slander the Church and this Chair of Peter as if We have tried to keep the knowledge of sacred Scripture from the faithful." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Inter Praecipuas", 1844 A.D.)

"We must also be wary of those who publish the Bible with new interpretations contrary to the Church's laws. They skillfully distort the meaning by their own interpretation. They print the Bibles in the vernacular and, absorbing an incredible expense, offer them free even to the uneducated. Furthermore, the Bibles are rarely without perverse little inserts to insure that the reader imbibes their lethal poison instead of the saving water of salvation. Long ago the Apostolic See warned about this serious hazard to the faith and drew up a list of the authors of these pernicious notions. The rules of this Index were published by the Council of Trent; the ordinance required that translations of the Bible into the vernacular not be permitted without the approval of the Apostolic See and further required that they be published with commentaries from the Fathers. The sacred Synod of Trent had decreed in order to restrain impudent characters, that no one, relying on his own prudence in matters of faith and of conduct which concerns Christian doctrine, might twist the sacred Scriptures to his own opinion, or to an opinion contrary to that of the Church or the popes. Though such machinations against the Catholic faith had been assailed long ago by these canonical proscriptions, Our recent predecessors made a special effort to check these spreading evils. With these arms may you too strive to fight the battles of the Lord which endanger the sacred teachings, lest this deadly virus spread in your flock." (Pope Pius VIII, "Tradition Humilitati ", 1829 A.D.)

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Q. Is it true that the Catholic Church has prohibited lay people from obtaining a bible?

A. Yes and no. As Crocker states, "Before the Albigensians, the Church had happily translated the Bible into every vernacular tongue. But now the Church saw the authority of the Bible abused by cult leaders who preyed on the ignorance, or the latent extremism, of the people. In 1129, at the Council of Narbonne, in direct response to the abuses of the Albigensians and related heresies, the Bible was forbidden to all save priests, bishops, and others in religious vocations. The people would hear the Bible in church. But mad-eyed fanatics would not be allowed to wave the Bible above their heads and claim some new revelation, some special reading - to common people who were mostly illiterate - that denied the Trinity or endorsed fornication, abortion, and suicide as positive deeds." Note that this act, often condemned by those outside the Church, actually saved the lives of people who were spared from the deadly errors of heretics.

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Q. Is it true that the Catholic Church has burned bibles?

A. This question is commonly put forward by those outside the Catholic Church who are attempting to portray the Church as an enemy of the Bible. In reality, the Church is the Bible's greatest friend - it was her children (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) who wrote the Bible, it was she who gathered and preserved the books, and it was she who determined which books comprise the Bible. And, when poor translations have arisen, she has taken steps to prevent her children from reading these corrupt versions. The Church has not burnt bibles to keep Scripture away from people. The Church has burnt bibles - that is, poorly translated bibles - to protect her flock. Remember that St. Peter says that scripture can be distorted to one's destruction (see 2 Pt. 3:16), and history proves that corrupted scriptures can have dangerous consequences. Further, remember that the burning of dangerous books is itself a biblical practice (see Acts 19:19).

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Q. Is it true that the Catholic Church kept or tried to keep bibles from people?

A. If the Catholic Church kept bibles from people, it was to protect them (e.g. from the errors of heretics, from faulty translations, etc.). In truth, the Catholic Church received, attested to and protected the Bible. She also painstakingly propagated it by hand before printing presses were invented. She has also included Scripture in her liturgy, granted indulges for reading Scripture, taken songs and prayers from it, etc. If the Church has at times indicated that Bible reading may not be expedient for all, it should be noted that she has had good reason to do so. Remember that the Bible is a difficult book that is easily subject to misinterpretation. Certain uninstructed persons may misunderstand or misapply certain passages with very detrimental effects (e.g. tearing out one's eye, cutting off one's arm, promoting & justifying violence, etc.). It is fair to ask, even today, 'Would you want an uneducated person or your young child to read the Bible without proper instruction / assistance / cautions?' Furthermore, those who put forth the argument that the Catholic Church has kept bibles "chained up", should also realize that their own bank or supermarket may keep their pens chained up. While pens are "a dime a dozen", ancient bibles were laboriously hand-copied at a high cost. Ask yourself, if the bank had only a few pens and didn't chain them up, how long do you think it would be before there were no more pens for you to use? Does the bank's keeping the pens chained up keep you from using them or doesn't it really keep them there so that when you want to use them, they will be there. The same may be said of keeping ancient bibles "chained up" - this kept them available, not unavailable! As Pope Leo XIII states, "The calm and fair consideration of what has been said will clearly show that the Church has never failed in taking due measures to bring the Scriptures within reach of her children, and that she has ever held fast and exercised profitably that guardianship conferred upon her by Almighty God for the protection and glory of His Holy Word; so that she has never required, nor does she now require, any stimulation from without." (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893 A.D.)

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Q. Is it true that Catholics don't know the Bible?

A. Each Catholic is different. Some know Scripture better than others. The first Christians [that is, Catholics] would not have known any Scripture at all since it was not yet written. Later, many Catholics knew Scripture only through pictures and sermons since so much of the world's population has historically been illiterate. Despite this however, a Catholic who knows his faith well may be said to know the Bible 'implicitly', as it were. Furthermore, Catholics hear Scripture in Mass, Catholics are encouraged to read Scripture, Catholics are granted indulgences for the reading of Scripture, etc. While many so called "bible-only Christians" claim to relish the Bible, many really don't know the bible that well (they often just recite a few select verses). Furthermore, even what they do know is often corrupted / out of context / distorted / etc. They reject oral Tradition (which is unbiblical), reject the authority of the Church (who alone is able to properly interpret Scripture), claim that the Bible is the sole rule of faith (which is contrary to what the Bible itself teaches), reject much of the teachings in the Bible (e.g. teachings on the papacy, teachings against divorce, teachings regarding obedience, teachings regarding the sacraments, among other things), yet they claim to be biblical and they condemn Catholics (who do none of these things) as unbiblical!

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Q. Does the Catholic Church highly regard the Bible?

A. Yes. Not only has she received it, attested to it and protected it for 2,000 years, but she has also taken painstaking care to propagate it, despite the absence of printing presses / copiers / etc. She reads from it at every Mass, adorns her liturgy and writings with it, uses it in songs, etc. She grants indulgences for reading Holy Scripture and even requires that her members stand in respect for the reading of the Gospel at every Mass.

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Q. How important is the Bible to the Catholic faith?

A. Although the Bible is very important to the Catholic faith, the Catholic faith itself does not depend upon the Bible. Remember that the Church existed before the Bible and that the Church determined which writings comprise the Bible. Also, as the Bible states, not all things were handed on in Scripture (2 Thes. 2:15). Furthermore, the Bible indicates that the Church (not Holy Scripture) is the pillar and foundation of truth (see 1 Tm. 3:15), that faith comes through hearing - not reading (see Rom. 10:17), and it shows that the Apostles were sent for to preach, not to write (cf. Mk. 16:15). History shows that for the first few centuries the Church did not even have an official Bible. When it did, most people couldn't read it and all copies had to be made by hand (and were therefore hard to come by).

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Q. What are some benefits of Holy Scripture?

A. There are many benefits to be realized from Holy Scripture. For example, "...sacred scriptures...are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (St. Paul, 2 Tm. 3:15-17). Also, "Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart." (St. Paul, Heb. 4:12). The word of God is also called " the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17) through which we may be instructed and have hope (see Rom. 15:4).

Also consider the following...

"[F]rom the Bible's pages we learn spiritual perfection." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

"Love the knowledge of the Scriptures and you will not love the errors of the flesh." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]he Gospel is a rudder to steer our way through life, and helps us to reach the harbor of salvation." (St. Cyprian)

"Sacred Scripture is set up as a kind of lantern for us in the night of this life." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, c. 590 A.D.)

"The study of the inspired Scripture is the chief way of finding our duty." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Learn the Heart of God in the words of God, that you may long more ardently for things eternal." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Thanks be to the Gospel, by means of which we also, who did not see Christ when He came into this world, seem to be with Him when we read His deeds." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"If aught could sustain and support a wise man in this life or help him to preserve his equanimity amid the conflicts of the world, it is, I reckon, meditation on and knowledge of the Bible." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Just as at sea, those who are carried away from the direction of the harbor bring themselves back on course by a clear sign, so Scripture may guide those adrift on the sea of life back into the harbor of the divine will." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"When you are really instructed in the Divine Scriptures, and have realized that its laws and testimonies are the bonds of truth, then you can contend with adversaries; then you will fetter them and lead them bound into captivity; then of the foes you have made captive you will make freemen of God." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Holy Writ is set before the eye of the mind like a kind of mirror, that we may see our inward face in it; for therein we learn the deformities, therein we learn the beauties we possess; there we are made sensible of what progress we are making, there too how far we are from proficiency." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, c. 604 A.D.)

"The best guide you can find to the correct path is the serious study of the Bible. There we can find rules for the conduct of our life and, in the lives of great figures, living images of a life with God whose actions we are encouraged to copy. Each person can concentrate on the area where they feel themselves to be lacking and find, as in a hospital, a cure for their particular trouble." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

Note: Click here for more 'Praise / Benefits of Scripture' Reflections

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Q. Why does the Bible often speak in the masculine?

A. The Bible often speaks in the masculine because this is a customary mode of speech. Fortunately, the writers of Holy Scripture did not have to worry about being "politically correct" when authoring the sacred books. 

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Q. Do priests read the Bible?

A. Not only do priests read the Bible at Mass, in the Liturgy of the Hours, etc., but they are encouraged to read it on their own as spiritual reading.

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Q. What does Jesus say about Holy Scripture?

A. Not only did Jesus quote from Scripture, show concern about fulfilling prophecies of Scripture, say that "scripture cannot be set aside" (Jn. 10:35), but he said specifically that he had come to fulfill the law and the prophets (a reference to Old Testament Scripture) [see Mt 5:17]. He also quoted from Scripture while he hung on the cross (click here). As Pope Leo XIII has said, "...[Jesus] quotes [Scripture] against Sadducees and Pharisees, and retorts from them upon Satan himself when he dares to tempt Him. At the close of His life His utterances are from Holy Scripture, and it is the Scripture that He expounds to His disciples after His resurrection, until He ascends to the glory of His Father" (Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus). And, as Pope Benedict XV has stated, "We know what He felt about Holy Scripture: when He said, 'It is written,' and 'the Scripture must needs be fulfilled,' we have therein an argument which admits of no exception and which should put an end to all controversy. Yet it is worthwhile dwelling on this point a little: when Christ preached to the people, whether on the Mount by the lakeside, or in the synagogue at Nazareth, or in His own city of Capharnaum, He took His points and His arguments from the Bible. From the same source came His weapons when disputing with the Scribes and Pharisees. Whether teaching or disputing He quotes from all parts of Scripture and takes His example from it; He quotes it as an argument which must be accepted. He refers without any discrimination of sources to the stories of Jonas and the Ninivites, of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon, of Elias and Eliseus, of David and of Noe, of Lot and the Sodomites, and even of Lot's wife. (cf. Mt. 12:3, 39-42; Lk. 17:26-29, 32). How solemn His witness to the truth of the sacred books: 'One jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the Law till all be fulfilled' (Mt. 5:18); and again: 'The Scripture cannot be broken' (Jn. 10:35); and consequently: 'He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven' (Mt. 5:19). Before His Ascension, too, when He would steep His Apostles in the same doctrine: 'He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures. And He said to them: thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day' (Lk. 24:45)." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920 A.D.)

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Q. Did Jesus refer to the New Testament at all?

A. Jesus did not speak directly of New Testament Scripture since the New Testament was not written until years after His death and Resurrection.

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Q. In the New Testament, how did Jesus commonly speak?

A. We see in the New Testament that Jesus often spoke in parables. Some relevant quotations appear below.

"Yet He spoke not in parables to the disciples, but to the multitude; and even to this day the multitude hears in parables; and therefore it is said, And without a parable He did not speak to them." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"The reason why He spoke in parables the Evangelist subjoins, saying, That it might be fulfilled that was spoken by the Prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world (Mt. 13:35)." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"That which David had foretold in the person of Christ, 'I will open my mouth in parables', the Lord here fulfills; as it is said, And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spoke by a parable. But the Lord speaks by a parable, first indeed that He may make His hearers more attentive. For men were accustomed to exercise their minds on dark sayings, and to despise what was plain; and next, that the unworthy might not receive what was spoken mystically." (St. Theophylact)

"But to those who are unworthy of such mysteries, they are obscurely spoken. Hence it follows, But to the rest in parables, that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. For they think they see, but see not, and hear indeed, but do not understand. For this reason Christ hides this from them, lest they should beget a greater prejudice against them, if after they had known the mysteries of Christ, they despised them. For he who understands and afterwards despises, shall be more severely punished." (St. Theophylact)

"A parable is a comparison made between things discordant by nature, under some similitude. For parable is the Greek for a similitude, when we point out by some comparisons what we would have understood. In this way we say an iron man, when we desire that he should be understood to be hardy and strong; when to be swift, we compare him to winds and birds. But He speaks to the multitudes in parables, with His usual providence, that those who could not take in heavenly things, might conceive what they heard by an earthly similitude." ('Pseudo Jerome', as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

"Christ spoke certain things in secret to the crowds, by employing parables in teaching them spiritual mysteries which they were either unable or unworthy to grasp: and yet it was better for them to be instructed in the knowledge of spiritual things, albeit hidden under the garb of parables, than to be deprived of it altogether. Nevertheless our Lord expounded the open and unveiled truth of these parables to His disciples, so that they might hand it down to others worthy of it; according to 2 Timothy 2:2: 'The things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same command to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others.' This is foreshadowed, Numbers 4, where the sons of Aaron are commanded to wrap up the sacred vessels that were to be carried by the Levites." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Click here for more 'Parables' Reflections

Note: For more on parables, click here.

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Q. Should everyone read the Bible?

A. Surprising as it may sound to modern ears, we have been told that private reading of Holy Scripture may not be recommended for all. This may be because (1) not all are properly instructed, (2) Scripture is not easily comprehensible to all, (3) heretics may attempt to corrupt / twist Scripture (which has lead both to death and to spiritual ruin), and (4) Scripture may be distorted to one's own destruction (see 2 Pt. 3:15-16). Applicable teachings in this regard follow.

Error CONDEMNED in "Unigenitus": "The reading of Sacred Scripture is for all." (Errors of Paschasius Quesnel, Condemned in the dogmatic Constitution, "Unigenitus," Sept. 8, 1717)

Error CONDEMNED in "Unigenitus": "It is useful and necessary at all times, in all places, and for every kind of person, to study and to know the spirit, the piety, and the mysteries of Sacred Scripture." (Errors of Paschasius Quesnel, Condemned in the dogmatic Constitution, "Unigenitus," Sept. 8, 1716)

Error CONDEMNED in "Unigenitus": "The sacred obscurity of the Word of God is no reason for the laity to dispense themselves from reading it." (Errors of Paschasius Quesnel, Condemned in the dogmatic Constitution, "Unigenitus," Sept. 8, 1718)

Error CONDEMNED in "Unigenitus": "To forbid Christians to read Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, is to forbid the use of light to the sons of light, and to cause them to suffer a kind of excommunication." (Errors of Paschasius Quesnel, Condemned in the dogmatic Constitution, "Unigenitus," Sept. 8, 1720)

Error CONDEMNED in "Unigenitus": "To snatch away from the hands of Christians the New Testament, or to hold it closed against them by taking away from them the means of understanding it, is to close for them the mouth of Christ." (Errors of Paschasius Quesnel, Condemned in the dogmatic Constitution, "Unigenitus," Sept. 8, 1719)

"Therefore, in that famous letter of his to the faithful of the Church at Meta, Our predecessor, Innocent III, quite wisely prescribes as follows: 'In truth the secret mysteries of faith are not to be exposed to all everywhere, since they cannot be understood by all everywhere, but only by those who can grasp them with the intellect of faith. Therefore, to the more simple the Apostle says: 'I gave you milk to drink as unto little ones in Christ... [1 Cor. 3:2].' For solid food is for the elders, as he said: 'We speak wisdom ... among the perfect' [1 Cor. 2:6]; 'for I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified' [1 Cor. 2:2]. For so great is the depth of Divine Scripture that not only the simple and the unlettered, but even the learned and prudent are not fully able to explore the understanding of it. Therefore, Scripture says that many 'searching have failed in their search' [Ps. 63:7]." (Pope Pius VII, 1816 A.D.)

"... lest, indeed, any simple and ignorant person should presume to reach the sublimity of Sacred Scripture, or to preach it to others. For it is written: Seek not the things that are too high for thee [Sir. 3:22] Therefore, the Apostle warns not to be more wise than it behooveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety [Rom. 12:3]. But, noteworthy are the Constitutions, not only of Innocent III, just mentioned, but also of Pius IV, Clement VIII, and Benedict XIV in which the precaution was laid down that, if Scripture should be easily open to all, it would perhaps become cheapened and be exposed to contempt, or, if poorly understood by the mediocre, would lead to error. But, what the mind of the Church is in regard to the reading and interpretation of Scripture your fraternity may know very clearly from the excellent Constitution of another of Our predecessors, Clement XI, Unigenitus, in which those doctrines were thoroughly condemned in which it was asserted that it is useful and necessary to every age, to every place, to every type of person to know the mysteries of Sacred Scripture, the reading of which was to be open to all, and that it was harmful to withdraw Christian people from it, nay more, that the mouth of Christ was closed for the faithful when the New Testament was snatched from their hands" (Pope Pius VII, 1816 A.D.)

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Q. Should I read the Bible?

A. If you are a Catholic who is able to read the Bible with profit and to avoid all potential pitfalls, you most likely should read Holy Scripture. If so, remember to read it properly and "with the mind of the Church". Avoid the traps of private interpretation, misinterpretation, etc. Be sure you use an appropriate Catholic bible with footnotes that expound the traditional, true teachings of the Church. And, don't forget to partake of the generous indulgences which may be available for reading Scripture. If you are not able to avoid all potential pitfalls, you may wish to look for assistance (e.g. from a traditional Catholic priest / religious, from a traditional Catholic publication, etc.) so that you may eventually be able to read Scripture with profit and avoid all pitfalls.

Reminder: Interpretation and application of Scripture should not be contrary to the perennial, official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Do not take Scripture passages out of context. Do not inflict harm on yourself or others, break laws, take unsuitable/incautious or inappropriate/drastic actions, or take figurative items literally. 

Some quotations appear below...

"To be ignorant of the Scripture is not to know Christ." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"A man who is well grounded in the testimonies of the Scripture is the bulwark of the Church." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Our one desire for all the Church's children is that, being saturated with the Bible, they may arrive at the all surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

"The Emperor of heaven, the Lord of men and of angels, has sent you His epistles for your life's advantage - and yet you neglect to read them eagerly. Study them, I beg you, and meditate daily on the words of your Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God, that you may sigh more eagerly for things eternal, that your soul may be kindled with greater longings for heavenly joys." (Pope St. Gregory I, Doctor of the Church)

"Let us mull over the words of the Gospel in frequent meditation, let us ever keep in mind the examples of Mary, the blessed Mother of God, so that we also may be found humble in the sight of God, that being subject in due honor also to our neighbor, we may deserve together with her to be exalted forever." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"For if the devil will not dare to approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature, ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then thy soul, sanctify thy body, by having these ever in thy heart, and on thy tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"And Benedict XV, on the occasion of the fifteenth centenary of the death of St. Jerome, the greatest Doctor of the Sacred Scriptures, after having most solemnly inculcated the precepts and examples of the same Doctor, as well as the principles and rules laid down by Leo XIII and by himself, and having recommended other things highly opportune and never to be forgotten in this connection, exhorted 'all the children of the Church, especially clerics, to reverence the Holy Scripture, to read it piously and meditate it constantly'; he reminded them 'that in these pages is to be sought that food, by which the spiritual life is nourished unto perfection'" (Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu)

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Q. Should I love Scripture?

A. Yes, because "God Himself has composed them, and that they treat of God's marvelous mysteries, counsels and works" (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893 A.D.)

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Q. If I want to know what Scripture exists for a particular topic, do I have to comb through the entire Bible?

A. No. You may try a Bible concordance, a doctrinal index, a searchable Bible, or any other appropriate tool for quickly locating relevant information.

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Q. What if I feel "overwhelmed" by the Bible or find it hard to understand?

A. Don't be discouraged. Even experts admit that it is difficult reading. If you find the Bible "overwhelming", you may want to initially limit your reading to certain areas (e.g. the Gospels). If you find the Bible hard to comprehend, you may want to consider items which may make the Bible easier to understand (see question below).

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Q. What things may help make the Bible easier to understand?

A. There are a variety of tools to assist one in better understanding the Bible. For example, consider traditional Bible commentaries, sermons of the Saints, papal documents, writings of the early Church Fathers, etc. Note: Be cautious, however, of modern tools (e.g. 1960's and later) which may be "infected with modernism".

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Q. Is it always praiseworthy to quote Scripture?

A. Although it can be praiseworthy to quote Scripture, this is not always the case. Consider that:

* Even the devil quotes Scripture (Mt. 4:6)

* Scripture is easily taken out of context.

* Scripture can be difficult to understand and can be distorted to one's destruction (see 2 Pt. 3:15-16).

* Many people are simply taught to memorize a few "proof texts" without really understanding their meaning or considering their context.

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Q. Is there such a thing as "over-familiarity" with the Gospels?

A. Yes. As Cardinal Newman states, "Reading, as we do, the Gospels from our youth up, we are in danger of becoming so familiar with them as to be dead to their force, and to view them as mere history."

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Q. Are all bibles the same?

A. No. All bibles are not the same. Not only have heretics created their own 'bibles' (which are likely to omit books, corrupt text, add erroneous notations, etc.), but even so-called Catholic bibles may vary widely in quality / accuracy / orthodoxy / etc. (even regardless of an imprimatur).

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Q. Does it really matter what bible I read?

A. Yes. In fact, it matters very much. As indicated above, all bibles are not the same. Not only have heretics created their own 'bibles' (which are likely to omit books, corrupt text, add erroneous notations, etc.), but even so-called Catholic bibles may vary widely in quality / accuracy / orthodoxy / etc. (even regardless of an imprimatur). If you read a poor translation of Scripture, you may imbibe any number of potentially harmful errors. Some translations of the bible may rightly be called "spiritual poison" and warrant the anathemas mentioned by the Apostles St. Paul and St. John in Holy Scripture [St. Paul: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!" (Gal. 1:8-9) St. John (the "apostle of love"): "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (2 Jn. 1:10-11)].

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Q. Why are there so many editions of the Bible?

A. There various editions / translations of the Bible because publishers may be attempting to make them more "readable" or more faithful to the original (or, unfortunately, in some cases to advance a particular agenda). Some may attempt to update the bible into "modern language". Also, there may be numerous editions because publishers may try to appeal to different audiences (e.g. adults / teens / women / etc.) or to meet different needs (e.g. heirloom bible / study bible / large print bible / etc.). Note that various editions which may seem different (based on the cover) may actually contain the same translation inside.

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Q. Does an imprimatur guarantee that a Bible is orthodox / accurate?

A. No. As indicated above, it simply means that nothing was found to contradict faith or morals. Unfortunately, an imprimatur is only as good as the issuer. Sadly, recent history has shown that imprimaturs may sometimes be attached to translations which contain not only errors, but even items which may be judged heretical by the standard of the perennial Magisterium.

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Q. Which Bible should I use?

A. We, being mere laypersons with no authority in the Church, cannot provide Bible recommendations. Instead, we suggest you look to the pronouncements of the perennial Magisterium for recommendations.

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Q. How should I choose a Bible? / What things should I be careful of when selecting a Bible?

A. There are a number of things to look at and watch for when selecting a bible. For example:

* The physical qualities of the Bible [e.g. is the text size adequate, is it light enough/small enough for you to read/carry (if applicable), is it sufficiently durable, are the pages too thick or thin, are the margins sufficient (especially if you plan to mark in it), etc.]

* The ease of readability (e.g. is the Bible is a language you can understand, is the language understandable, etc.)

* The referencing (e.g. is each verse clearly numbered and easy to reference, is it easy to locate a particular verse, etc.)

* Are sufficient aids provided (e.g. indexes, definitions, maps, pictures, etc.)?

* Are the footnotes helpful/sufficient/appropriate (e.g. are there sufficient footnotes, are they easy to get to, are they easy to read, are they orthodox, etc.)?

* Is the Bible appropriate for the use you intend (e.g. as a study bible, heirloom bible, etc.)?

You should also verify that:

* The translation in question was not prepared in association with non-Catholics

* The translation in question does not contain inclusive language

* The translation in question does not disparage the Blessed Virgin Mary [it may be easiest to detect this by the wording and footnotes related to Gen. 3:15 (traditional translations say "she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel"), Lk. 1:28 (traditional translations say "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women"), Rv. 12:1 (traditional translations see the allusion to the Blessed Virgin, whereas others may see an allusion to anything but the Blessed Virgin)]

* The translation in question does not cast doubt on Jesus' miracles, the Resurrection, Catholic teaching, etc.

* Footnotes are traditional [e.g. contain quotes from many popes / saints / doctors of the Church]

* Phrases have not lost their meaning / import [e.g. consider the poor modern translation of certain phrases, traditionally worded as "peace to men of good will" (Luke 2:14) and "what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?" (Mk. 8:36)]

Of course you should also verify that:

* The Bible is truly Catholic

* The Bible contains a valid imprimatur (however, remember that an imprimatur still does not guarantee accuracy / orthodoxy / etc.)

Especially, you should use great caution with modern (that is 1960's and later) translations. Although they may be easier to read, they may distort the true meaning of various passages or even call into question traditional Catholic teachings. They may downplay the Virgin Mary's role and tend to explain away 'tough passages'. The worst ones even question Jesus' miracles and cast doubt on the Resurrection. You should avoid offensive modern translations no matter how widely they may be used.

Finally, you should remember that, unfortunately, many bible footnotes / bible translations / bible commentaries / etc. of today may be infected with errors and that various bibles purporting to be Catholic may actually be heterodox translations. Therefore, you should use great care in selecting a bible. Note: For more personal assistance in selecting a Bible, try contacting a good, traditional Catholic bookseller.

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Q. What are some criticisms of modern Bible translations?

A. As indicated above, modern bible translations (e.g. 1960's and beyond) may distort the true meaning of various passages or even call into question traditional Catholic teachings. They may have an anti-Marian bias. They may tend to explain away 'tough passages'. The worst ones even question Jesus' miracles and cast doubt on the Resurrection. They may have been made in conjunction with non-Catholics. They may contain inclusive language. They may be 'Catholic' editions of Protestant bibles. They may be heretical or support heresy. They may contain footnotes / commentaries / etc. which are infected by errors. Etc. Etc. Faithful Catholics should steer clear of such translations. 

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Q. What have the Popes said about Modernism?

A. The popes have warned about Modernists who use many methods to distort Scripture or to call it into question. Some relevant quotations regarding Modernists and Scripture appear below. Also, click here for more on Modernism [Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition Section]

"Nay, rather, they do in fact describe it with no hesitation, so that you would believe that they saw the very writers with their own eyes as they applied their hand in every age to amplifying the Sacred Books. Moreover, to support these actions they call to their aid a criticism which they call textual; and they strive to convince us that this or that fact or expression is not in its own place, and they bring forward other such arguments. - You would indeed say that they had prescribed for themselves certain types, as it were, of narrations and discourses, as a result of which they decide with certainty what stands in its own place or in a strange place. - Let him who wishes judge how skilled they can be to make decisions in this way. Moreover, he who gives heed to them as they talk about their studies on the Sacred Books, as a result of which it was granted them to discover so many things improperly stated, would almost believe that no man before them had turned the pages of these same books; and that an almost infinite number of doctors had not examined them from every point of view, a group clearly far superior to them in mind, and erudition, and sanctity of life. These very wise doctors indeed, far from finding fault with the Sacred Scriptures in any part, rather, the more thoroughly they investigated them, the more they gave thanks to divine authority for having deigned so to speak with men. But alas, our doctors with respect to the Sacred Books did not rely upon those aids on which the modernists did; thus they did not have philosophy as a master and guide, nor did they choose themselves as their own authority in making decisions. Now, then, we think that it is clear of what sort the method of the modernists is in the field of history. The philosopher goes ahead; the historian succeeds him; right behind, in order, works criticism, both internal and textual. And since it is characteristic of the first cause to communicate its power to its consequences, it becomes evident that such criticism is not criticism at all; that it is rightly called agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist; and that so, he who professes it and uses it, professes the errors implicit in the same and opposes Catholic doctrine. - For this reason it can seem most strange that criticism of this kind has such weight today among Catholics. This obviously has a twofold cause: first of all the pact by which the historians and the critics of this kind are so closely joined, the differences of nationality and the dissension of religions being placed in the background; then the endless effrontery by which all with one voice extol whatever each of them prattles, and attribute it to the progress of science; by which in close array they attack him who wishes to examine the new marvel or his own; by which they accuse him who denies it of ignorance, adorn him with praises who embraces and defends it. Thus no small number are deceived who, if they should examine the matter more closely, would be horrified. From this powerful domineering on the part of those in error, and this heedless compliance on the part of fickle souls, a corruption in the surrounding atmosphere results which penetrates everywhere and diffuses its pestilence." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi dominici gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Nor do modern innovators stop here: they even try to claim St. Jerome as a patron of their views on the ground that he maintained that historic truth and sequence were not observed in the Bible, 'precisely as things actually took place, but in accordance with what men thought at that time,' and that he even held that this was the true norm for history. A strange distortion of St. Jerome's words! He does not say that when giving us an account of events the writer was ignorant of the truth and simply adopted the false views then current; he merely says that in giving names to persons or things he followed general custom. Thus the Evangelist calls St. Joseph the father of Jesus, but what he meant by the title 'father' here is abundantly clear from the whole context. For St. Jerome 'the true norm of history' is this: when it is question of such appellatives (as 'father,' etc), and when there is no danger or error, then a writer must adopt the ordinary forms of speech simply because such forms of speech are in ordinary use. More than this: Jerome maintains that belief in the Biblical narrative is as necessary to salvation as is belief in the doctrines of the faith" (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920 A.D.)

"We, Venerable Brethren, for whom there is but one and only truth, and who hold that the Sacred Books, 'written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, have God for their author' declare that this is equivalent to attributing to God Himself the lie of utility or officious lie, and We say with St. Augustine: 'In an authority so high, admit but one officious lie, and there will not remain a single passage of those apparently difficult to practice or to believe, which on the same most pernicious rule may not be explained as a lie uttered by the author willfully and to serve a purpose'. And thus it will come about, the holy Doctor continues, that everybody will believe and refuse to believe what he likes or dislikes. But the Modernists pursue their way gaily. They grant also that certain arguments adduced in the Sacred Books, like those, for example, which are based on the prophecies, have no rational foundation to rest on. But they will defend even these as artifices of preaching, which are justified by life. Do they stop here? No, indeed, for they are ready to admit, nay, to proclaim that Christ Himself manifestly erred in determining the time when the coming of the Kingdom of God was to take place, and they tell us that we must not be surprised at this since even Christ was subject to the laws of life! After this what is to become of the dogmas of the Church? The dogmas brim over with flagrant contradictions, but what matter that since, apart from the fact that vital logic accepts them, they are not repugnant to symbolical truth. Are we not dealing with the infinite, and has not the infinite an infinite variety of aspects? In short, to maintain and defend these theories they do not hesitate to declare that the noblest homage that can be paid to the Infinite is to make it the object of contradictory propositions! But when they justify even contradiction, what is it that they will refuse to justify?" (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907)

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Q. How reliable is modern scholarship regarding Scripture?

A. Unfortunately, especially since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has been plagued by dissident biblical 'scholars'. Worse yet, many of these modernist 'scholars' are not censured for their heterodox works. While some recent scholarship may be beneficial, much seems in direct contradiction to the admonitions of the perennial Magisterium.

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Q. What does the 'attack on revelation' refer to?

A. The 'attack on revelation' may refer to modernists attempt to deny the supernatural in Scripture, explain it away, distort its meaning, etc. As Pope Leo XIII has said, "But first it must be clearly understood whom we have to oppose and contend against, and what are their tactics and their arms. In earlier times the contest was chiefly with those who, relying on private judgment and repudiating the divine traditions and teaching office of the Church, held the Scriptures to be the one source of revelation and the final appeal in matters of Faith. Now, we have to meet the Rationalists, true children and inheritors of the older heretics, who, trusting in their turn to their own way of thinking, have rejected even the scraps and remnants of Christian belief which had been handed down to them. They deny that there is any such thing as revelation or inspiration, or Holy Scripture at all; they see, instead, only the forgeries and the falsehoods of men; they set down the Scripture narratives as stupid fables and lying stories: the prophecies and the oracles of God are to them either predictions made up after the event or forecasts formed by the light of nature; the miracles and the wonders of God's power are not what they are said to be, but the startling effects of natural law, or else mere tricks and myths; and the Apostolic Gospels and writings are not the work of the Apostles at all. These detestable errors, whereby they think they destroy the truth of the divine Books, are obtruded on the world as the peremptory pronouncements of a certain newly-invented 'free science;' a science, however, which is so far from final that they are perpetually modifying and supplementing it. And there are some of them who, notwithstanding their impious opinions and utterances about God, and Christ, the Gospels and the rest of Holy Scripture, would fain be considered both theologians and Christians and men of the Gospel, and who attempt to disguise by such honorable names their rashness and their pride. To them we must add not a few professors of other sciences who approve their views and give them assistance, and are urged to attack the Bible by a similar intolerance of revelation. And it is deplorable to see these attacks growing every day more numerous and more severe. It is sometimes men of learning and judgment who are assailed; but these have little difficulty in defending themselves from evil consequences. The efforts and the arts of the enemy are chiefly directed against the more ignorant masses of the people. They diffuse their deadly poison by means of books, pamphlets, and newspapers; they spread it by addresses and by conversation; they are found everywhere; and they are in possession of numerous schools, taken by violence from the Church, in which, by ridicule and scurrilous jesting, they pervert the credulous and unformed minds of the young to the contempt of Holy Scripture. Should not these things, Venerable Brethren, stir up and set on fire the heart of every Pastor, so that to this 'knowledge, falsely so called,' may be opposed the ancient and true science which the Church, through the Apostles, has received from Christ, and that Holy Scripture may find the champions that are needed in so momentous a battle?" (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893)

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Q. What did the First Vatican Council say about those who deny miracles which are contained in Scripture?

A. According to the First Vatican Council, "If anyone says that all miracles are impossible, and that therefore all reports of them, even those contained in Sacred Scripture, are to be set aside as fables or myths; or that miracles can never be known with certainty, nor can the divine origin of the Christian religion be proved from them: let him be anathema."

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Q. Is it acceptable to say that inspiration of Holy Scripture is narrowed to certain parts of the Bible or regards only things of faith and morals?

A. No. As Pope Leo XIII has stated, "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 Ghost; 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 [First] Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: 'The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without error; but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author.' Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write - He was so present to them - that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. 'Therefore,' says St. Augustine, 'since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated.' And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: 'Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things - we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution." (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893)

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Q. Do all versions of the Bible agree on chapter / verse numbers?

A. Chapter / verse numbers may vary among bible translations. Especially note that traditional and modern chapter / verse numbers may vary.

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Q. Do the all versions of the Bible agree on book names?

A. Book names may vary among bible translations. Especially note that traditional and modern book names may vary.

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Q. How does bible referencing work?

A. Bible references usually contain the name of the book (or its abbreviation), along with the chapter and verse number(s). For example, the reference "Jn. 1:1" refers to the Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 1, Verse 1. The reference "Jn. 1:1-10" refers to the Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 1, Verses 1 through 10.

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Q. How is Scripture selected for Mass?

A. Traditionally, Scripture readings at Mass were based on a 1 year cycle. They were taken from the only 'canonized' translation of the Bible in the history of the Church (the Vulgate). Since the Novus Ordo Mass of the 1960's was imposed on the faithful (click here for more information), a 3 year cycle was adopted and readings are taken from a modern translation of the Bible. Adherents praise the fact that more Scripture is read at Mass. Others point to poor translations, heavily edited passages, important omissions, etc., and point out that less repetition leads to less retention and less familiarity. Also, there is concern that with the increase of Scripture and explanations of it at Mass (e.g. the often lengthy homily) as well as the increased emphasis of it at Mass (e.g. "the parade" of the book before the Gospel reading, the new Mass division - the "liturgy of the word", etc.), comes the decreased emphasis on the fact that Mass is a true Sacrifice and is the true re-presentation of Calvary (it is not 'Bible study'!). Note: For more on the difference between the Traditional Mass and the New (Novus Ordo) Mass, click here.

Top | Question Summary

Q. Why might this site quote from a modern Bible translation?

A. We may reference Scripture both from the Douay Rheims version of Scripture and also from modern translations. While we find some things in modern translations troubling, we also know that the certain truths speak for themselves, even despite potentially less desirable (or even less precise) wording and troublesome headers/footnotes. While we may not prefer modern Bible translations, we know that they may be the only translations that Catholics of today are familiar with. They may also be more easily understandable to "the average reader". Note: Click here for 'where do we stand/how traditional are we?'

Top | Question Summary

Q. Do you recommend any Bible translation that you quote from?

A. No. We do not recommend any particular Bible translation, even if we quote from it. As indicated previously, we, being mere laypersons with no authority in the Church, cannot provide Bible recommendations. Instead, we suggest you look to the pronouncements of the perennial Magisterium for recommendations.

Top | Question Summary

Q. How important are footnotes? Why are they not included with Scripture here?

A. Bible footnotes may be critical to understanding various passages of Scripture. They are not included here, however, since Scripture herein is not comprehensive. That is one reason why we recommend that you refer to your own appropriate Catholic Bible. Reminder: While Bible footnotes are very important, you should keep in mind that footnotes - especially in modern bible translations (e.g. 1960's and beyond) - may be troublesome / heterodox / erroneous / etc.

Top | Question Summary

Q. What are some things I should know regarding Scripture on this site?

A. Click here for 'Important Scripture Caution'

Top | Question Summary

Q. What is the difference between Catholic Scripture and Protestant 'bibles'?

A. Proper Catholic Bibles contain the true, complete, unadulterated word of God. Protestant 'bibles' may omit entire books or passages, include corrupted passages, contain heretical footnotes / comments, etc. Traditionally, they may be viewed as "spiritual poison".

Top | Question Summary

Q. Is it acceptable for Catholics to use Protestant bibles?

A. No. The use of Protestant 'bibles', which may corrupt passages, contain heretical footnotes / comments / etc. may be dangerous to the faith. As Scripture itself says, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!" (St. Paul, Gal. 1:8-9) And, "After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:10-11) Note that, traditionally, Protestant 'bibles' have been viewed as "spiritual poison".

Top | Question Summary

Q. Is it wrong to use a Protestant bible?

A. Yes. As the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X states, "The Church forbids Protestant bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith." Protestant 'bibles' may omit entire books or passages, they may corrupt various passages, they may contain heretical footnotes / comments, etc. Traditionally, they may be viewed as "spiritual poison".

Top | Question Summary

Q. Is it always dangerous to use non-Catholic bibles?

A. Generally speaking, yes. However, well-educated and prayerful persons may be able to make some use of these 'bibles' for apologetics purposes (note that it may be more effective to disprove Protestant errors using the error holder's own 'bible'). Remember, though, that one should not assume that he / she can "peruse heretical bibles unscathed". Even brilliant Doctors of the Church have recognized the danger and prayed that they would not be harmed when they engaged in such works.

Top | Question Summary

Q. Have some Protestants intentionally corrupted passages of Scripture?

A. Yes. For example, Martin Luther intentionally corrupted Rom. 3:28 to support his doctrine that one is saved by 'faith alone'. He knew that the original document did not support his addition, but he added it anyway.

Top | Question Summary

Q. How can I tell if a bible is Catholic?

A. To tell if a translation of Holy Scripture is Catholic, try examining who translated it. Look to see if there is an imprimatur (use special care with those issued in the 1960's and later). Look to see if it is missing books that Protestants reject (or if they are relegated to the back or between the Old and New Testaments or are otherwise segregated). If all else fails, consider some key Catholic phrases that a Protestant 'bible' is likely to attempt to contradict or gloss over (e.g. regarding the Papacy, Mary, necessity of works, etc.). Do not purchase a translation of the bible unless you are certain that it is an appropriate Catholic bible. If you need further assistance, try contacting a good, traditional Catholic bookseller.

Top | Question Summary

Q. Which books of Holy Scripture do Protestants reject? By what authority do they reject these books?

A. Typically, Protestants may reject the following books of Holy Scripture (the Deuterocanonicals): Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 Machabees, 2 Machabees, as well as parts of Esther and parts of Daniel. Note that some Protestant 'bibles' may contain these books (or may relegate them to the back or otherwise segregate them). Some heretics (e.g. Martin Luther) wanted to remove even more books (e.g. James and the Apocalypse). Those who reject the Church's canon and remove any books of Scripture do this on their own 'authority', basing their actions on the fact that Jews after Christ's death rejected these books. Remember, however that Jesus and the Apostles accepted the deuterocanonical books since they quoted from a translation of Scripture that contained these books (see "Deuterocanonicals" and "Septuagint" above). Furthermore, note that those who reject books of the bible are under the anathema of the First Vatican Council: "If anyone does not admit as sacred and canonical the complete books of Sacred Scripture with all their parts, as the holy Council of Trent enumerated them, or denies that they were divinely inspired: let him be anathema."

Top | Question Summary

Q. Where did Protestants get New Testament Scripture?

A. All New Testament Scripture that Protestants have they actually got from the Catholic Church (they would however proceed to corrupt some of it - and, by their own admission, even popular Protestant translations have been fraught with errors).

Top | Question Summary

Q. Does the Bible prove the Catholic faith? Does the Bible prove the Protestant faith?

A Yes, the Bible does prove the Catholic faith. Even Protestant 'bibles' may be used to prove the Catholic faith. True, uncorrupted translations of Scripture do not prove the Protestant faith. Although Protestants may believe their Protestant faith is proved by Scripture, knowledgeable Catholics know that their arguments are often illogical / taken out of context / distorted / etc. Even their basis of "bible alone" falls apart since the Bible actually condemns this central thesis of theirs (for example, see 2 Thes. 2:15). It should be noted that Protestants may believe that the Catholic faith is disproved by Scripture - and they may adduce certain passages of Scripture in an attempt to prove their point. Again, knowledgeable Catholics know that their arguments are often illogical / taken out of context / distorted / etc. Unfortunately, however, non-Catholics will often use these "proof texts" on unsuspecting, uneducated Catholics to dissuade them from their faith. Such unfortunate occurrences may be best prevented with proper education (including basic apologetics courses). It is a fact that the Catholic faith alone is the only truly biblical faith. Note: For more on errors of non-Catholics, try the Non-Catholics Section.

Top | Question Summary

Q. Is the Bible a "Protestant book"?

A. Of course not! The Bible is a Catholic work! Protestants wouldn't even have a bible (New Testament) if not for the Catholic Church who received, attested to, protected, and preserved Holy Scripture for around 1,500 years before the first Protestant even existed.

Top | Question Summary

Q. Should I engage in bible study with Protestants?

A. No. Considering that Protestants may be assumed to be biased against the Church and her teachings and closed to the teaching authority of the Church, and that they hold heretical doctrines, and considering that their 'bibles' contain omissions / corruptions / etc. (or "spiritual poison"), it is clearly unwise to engage in "bible study" with them. Furthermore, one should consider the admonitions of the popes / saints / etc. and especially consider what Scripture itself says, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!" (St. Paul, Gal. 1:8-9) And, "After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (St. Paul, Ti. 3:10-11)

Note: Click here for more Reflections regarding 'Heresy / Heretic'

Top | Question Summary

Q. Why should I not engage in scripture study with non-Catholics or read non-Catholic scripture items?

A. As indicated above, you should not engage in Scripture study with non-Catholics or read non-Catholic scripture items because it may present a danger to your faith. Consider the warning of St. Vincent of Lerins who states, "Here, possibly, some one may ask, Do heretics also appeal to Scripture? They do indeed, and with a vengeance; for you may see them scamper through every single book of Holy Scripture - through the books of Moses, the books of Kings, the Psalms, the Epistles, the Gospels, the Prophets. Whether among their own people, or among strangers, in private or in public, in speaking or in writing, at convivial meetings, or in the streets, hardly ever do they bring forward anything of their own which they do not endeavor to shelter under words of Scripture. Read the works of Paul of Samosata, of Priscillian, of Eunomius, of Jovinian, and the rest of those pests, and you will see an infinite heap of instances, hardly a single page, which does not bristle with plausible quotations from the New Testament or the Old. But the more secretly they conceal themselves under shelter of the Divine Law, so much the more are they to be feared and guarded against. For they know that the evil stench of their doctrine will hardly find acceptance with any one if it be exhaled pure and simple. They sprinkle it over, therefore, with the perfume of heavenly language, in order that one who would be ready to despise human error, may hesitate to condemn divine words. They do, in fact, what nurses do when they would prepare some bitter draught for children; they smear the edge of the cup all round with honey, that the unsuspecting child, having first tasted the sweet, may have no fear of the bitter. So too do these act, who disguise poisonous herbs and noxious juices under the names of medicines, so that no one almost, when he reads the label, suspects the poison... Heretics, in quoting Scripture, follow the example of the Devil. But some one will say, What proof have we that the Devil is wont to appeal to Holy Scripture? Let him read the Gospels wherein it is written, 'Then the Devil took Him (the Lord the Savior) and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple, and said unto Him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee, that they may keep thee in all thy ways: In their hands they shall bear thee up, lest perchance thou dash thy foot against a stone.' What sort of treatment must men, insignificant wretches that they are, look for at the hands of him who assailed even the Lord of Glory with quotations from Scripture? 'If thou be the Son of God,' saith he, 'cast thy self down.' Wherefore? 'For,' saith he, 'it is written.' It behooves us to pay special attention to this passage and bear it in mind, that, warned by so important an instance of Evangelical authority, we may be assured beyond doubt, when we find people alleging passages from the Apostles or Prophets against the Catholic Faith, that the Devil speaks through their mouths. For as then the Head spoke to the Head, so now also the members speak to the members, the members of the Devil to the members of Christ, misbelievers to believers, sacrilegious to religious, in one word, Heretics to Catholics." As St. Ambrose warns, "Let not the heretic entrap you by bringing examples from the Scriptures. The devil makes use of the testimony of the Scriptures not to teach but to deceive." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

Top | Question Summary

Q. What does the Church say about those who accept other 'scriptures' besides the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments?

A. Persons who accept other 'scriptures' besides the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments have been anathematized. Consider the following: "If anyone either believes that any scriptures, except those which the Catholic Church has received, ought to be held in authority or venerates them...let him be anathema." (Creed of the Council of Toledo, 400/447 A.D.)

Top | Question Summary

Q. Is it true that non-Catholics who call themselves 'Christian' should not even have Scripture?

A. According to Tertullian, heretics cannot be called Christians and not being Christians, they have no right to Christian literature (which can only have been obtained by taking it from the Catholic Church): "These things being so, in order that we may be judged to have the truth - we who walk in the rule which the [Catholic] Churches have handed down from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ, and Christ from God - admit that the reasonableness of our position is clear, defining as it does that heretics ought not to be allowed to challenge an appeal to the Scriptures, since we, without using Scripture, prove that they have nothing to do with the Scriptures. If they are heretics, they cannot be Christians, because it is not from Christ that they have gotten what they pursue of their own choosing, and from which they incur the name heretic. Not being Christians, they have acquired no right to Christian literature; and it might be justly said to them, 'Who are you? When and from where did you come? Since you are not of mine, what are you doing with what is mine? Indeed, Marcion, by what right do you chop in my forest? By whose permission, Valentine, do you do you divert my streams? By what authority, Apelles, do you move my boundary markers? And the rest of you, why do you sow and graze here at your own pleasure? This is my property, which I have long possessed, which I possessed before you came, and for which I have a sure title from the very authors whose property it was. I am the heir of the Apostles. As they carefully prepared their will, as they committed it to a trust, and as they sealed it with an oath, so do I hold the inheritance. You certainly, they always held as disinherited, and they rejected you as strangers and enemies." [Tertullian ("an excellent early Christian writer" - although he would ultimately fall into heresy), c. 200 A.D.]

Top | Question Summary

Q. Why do some non-Catholic religions feel they have the right to "re-make" or "add to" the Bible?

A. Such non-Catholic religions, being outside the only true religion, apparently do not feel bound by the fixed truths that were handed down by the Apostles. While we cannot speak to their motives, we can condemn their actions. Certainly no one on earth - not even the Pope - has the right to "add to" or "re-make" Holy Scripture.

Top | Question Summary

"For the Sacred Books were not given by God to men to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research, but, as the Apostle observes, in order that these Divine Oracles might 'instruct us to salvation, by the faith which is in Christ Jesus' and 'that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Divino Afflante Spiritu")

Also Try...

Scripture Reflections

Catholic Basics Section

Scripture / Parables Section

Word of God (Topical Scripture)

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