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Reflections: Scripture (Old/New Testament)

Bible with Crucifix

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Holy Scripture:

Old / New Testament

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Old / New Testament



Old / New Testament

"Just as the one true God is the Creator of both temporal and eternal good things, so too is He the Author of both Testaments, because the New is prefigured in the Old, and the Old is unveiled in the New." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, circa 420 A.D.)

"[T]he New Law is compared to the Old as the perfect to the imperfect. Now everything perfect fulfills that which is lacking in the imperfect. And accordingly the New Law fulfills the Old by supplying that which was lacking in the Old Law." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A]ll the Scriptures of the Old Testament were a constant prophecy of Christ." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"[Jesus] did not reject the Old Testament, but only developed and explained it." (Bl. Alcuin)

"Or, the way is the New Testament, and the paths are the Old, because it is a trodden path. For it was necessary to be prepared for the way, that is, for the New Testament; but it was right that the paths of the Old Testament should be straightened." (St. Theophylact)

"The prophets, who were many, preach one God. They declare the One; and indeed, filled with the Spirit of God, they predicted, as if with a single and harmonious voice, things that were to be." (Lactantius, circa 304-310 A.D.)

"For the things that were said and done in the Old Testament were wisely ordained and disposed by God so that the past happenings might be a spiritual type of what would happen in the new covenant of grace." (Pope Leo XIII)

"[I]n that Old Testament were figures of things to come, which when the things themselves were brought in by Christ, ought to have been taken away, that in that very taking away the Law and the Prophets might be fulfilled wherein it was written that God gave a New Testament." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"[T]o have a better insight into what the truth is, we should study the figures of the old law: for what was to be accomplished in the New Testament, is prefigured in the Old, Christ at His Coming filling up the figure. Thus was the figure given by Moses, but the truth made by Christ." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Whatsoever is set down in the New Testament explicitly and openly as a point of faith, is contained in the Old Testament as a matter of belief, but implicitly, under a figure. And accordingly, even as to those things which we are bound to believe, the New Law is contained in the Old." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The New Testament is so called because it brings in the new. For men do not learn it, except those who have been renewed from their former state through grace and now belong to the New Testament, which is the kingdom of heaven." (St. Isidore, Doctor of the Church)

"This is the grace of the New Testament, which lay hidden in the Old, although there was no end of its being prophesied and foretold in veiled figures so that the soul might recognize its God, and by God's grace, be reborn to Him." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, circa 412 A.D.)

"The promise of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to the New Testament; in the Old Testament are contained promises of temporal things." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"For though formerly He willed that mankind should linger under a dispensation of types and figures, this was only done in condescension to human frailty, and to prepare men for the reception of the truth." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Under the Old Testament because of the promise of temporal goods and the threatening of temporal evils, the temporal Jerusalem begets slaves; but under the New Testament, where faith requires love, by which the Law can be fulfilled not more through fear of punishment, than from love of righteousness, the eternal Jerusalem begets freemen." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"For all things that, according to the Law, were prior...testified to Christ and foretold Christ's grace. And He is the end of the Law, not by annulling but by fulfilling what is signified. For although He is the Author both of the old ways and of the new, still, He changed the sacraments of the prefigured promises because He fulfilled the promises and put an end to the announcements by His coming as the Announced. But in the area of moral precepts, no decrees of the earlier Testament are rejected; rather, in the Gospel teaching many of them are augmented, so that the things which gave salvation might be more perfect and more lucid than those which promise a Savior." (Pope St. Leo I the Great, Doctor of the Church, circa 455 A.D.)

"Inasmuch as in the Law and in the Gospel the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord God whole-heartedly, and then there is another like it, to love one's neighbor as oneself, it is shown that the Law and the Gospel have one and the same Author. The precepts of the perfect life, since they are the same in both Testaments, point out the same God, who certainly has prescribed particular precepts adapted to each, while for the more prominent and greatest commandments, without which it is not possible to be saved, He recommends the same in both." (St. Irenaeus, 2nd century A.D.) 

"The sacred and holy ecumenical and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit, with the same three Legates of the Apostolic See presiding over it, keeping this constantly in view, that with the abolishing of errors, the purity itself of the Gospel is preserved in the Church, which promised before through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded 'to be preached' by His apostles 'to every creature' as the source of every saving truth and of instruction in morals [Matt. 28:19 ff., Mark 16:15], and [the Synod] clearly perceiving that this truth and instruction are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which have been received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the apostles themselves, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit, have come down even to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand, [the Synod] following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and holds in veneration with an equal affection of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament, since one God is the author or both, and also the traditions themselves, those that appertain both to faith and to morals, as having been dictated either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Spirit, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession. (Council of Trent, 1546 A.D.)

"The things in the Law and in the Prophets which Christians do not observe are those things which did but signify the things they do observe. They were but figures of things to come, which figures, now that the things themselves have been revealed and made present by Christ, must be removed, so that in the very fact of their removal the Law and the Prophets may be fulfilled...Thus those first Sacraments, which were observed and celebrated in obedience to the law, were by way of prior announcements of Christ who was to come. And when Christ, by His coming, and fulfilled them, they were taken away, and they were taken away because they were fulfilled; for He came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it. And now that the justice of faith has been revealed and the yoke of slavery, which had suitably been given to a hard and carnal people, has been taken way from the sons of God called to liberty, other Sacraments have been instituted, greater in strength, more beneficial in their use, easier of performance, and fewer in number." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, circa 400 A.D.)

"God, the inspirer and author of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New. For, though Christ established the new covenant in His blood (see Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25), still the books of the Old Testament with all their parts, caught up into the proclamation of the Gospel, acquire and show forth their full meaning in the New Testament (see Matt. 5:17; Luke 24:27; Rom. 16:25-26; 2 Cor. 14:16) and in turn shed light on it and explain it." (Second Vatican Council)

"For in the Books of both Testaments [St.] Jerome saw the Church of God foretold. Did not practically every one of the illustrious and sainted women who hold a place of honor in the Old Testament prefigure the Church, God's Spouse? Did not the priesthood, the sacrifices, the solemnities, nay, nearly everything described in the Old Testament shadow forth that same Church? How many Psalms and Prophecies saw he fulfilled in that Church? To him it was clear that the Church's greatest privileges were set forth by Christ and His Apostles. Small wonder, then, that growing familiarity with the Bible meant for Jerome growing love of the Spouse of Christ." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

"When I read the Gospel and find there testimonies from the Law and from the Prophets, I see only Christ; I so see Moses and the Prophets and I understand them of Christ. Then when I come to the splendor of Christ Himself, and when I gaze at that glorious sunlight, I care not to look at the lamplight. For what light can a lamp give when lit in the daytime? If the sun shines out, the lamplight does not show. So, too, when Christ is present the Law and the Prophets do not show. Not that I would detract from the Law and the Prophets; rather do I praise them in that they show forth Christ. But I so read the Law and the Prophets as not to abide in them but from them to pass to Christ." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ...'To such an extent, then,' says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, 'was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the many sacrifices [to Christ's sacrifice], that, as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom.' On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a bearer of death, in order to give way to the New Testament of which Christ had chosen the Apostles as qualified ministers" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943)

"In carefully planning and preparing the salvation of the whole human race the God of infinite love, by a special dispensation, chose for Himself a people to whom He would entrust His promises. First He entered into a covenant with Abraham (see Gen. 15:18) and, through Moses, with the people of Israel (see Ex. 24:8). To this people which He had acquired for Himself, He so manifested Himself through words and deeds as the one true and living God that Israel came to know by experience the ways of God with men. Then too, when God Himself spoke to them through the mouth of the prophets, Israel daily gained a deeper and clearer understanding of His ways and made them more widely known among the nations (see Ps. 21:29; 95:1-3; Is. 2:1-5; Jer. 3:17). The plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament: these books, therefore, written under divine inspiration, remain permanently valuable. 'For all that was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).. The principal purpose to which the plan of the old covenant was directed was to prepare for the coming of Christ, the redeemer of all and of the messianic kingdom, to announce this coming by prophecy (see Luke 24:44; John 5:39; 1 Peter 1:10), and to indicate its meaning through various types (see 1 Cor. 10:12). Now the books of the Old Testament, in accordance with the state of mankind before the time of salvation established by Christ, reveal to all men the knowledge of God and of man and the ways in which God, just and merciful, deals with men. These books, though they also contain some things which are incomplete and temporary, nevertheless show us true divine pedagogy. These same books, then, give expression to a lively sense of God, contain a store of sublime teachings about God, sound wisdom about human life, and a wonderful treasury of prayers, and in them the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way. Christians should receive them with reverence." (Second Vatican Council)

"The difference between the two Testaments may be explained in two words - love and fear. The one appertains to the old man, the other to the new. This is the principal difference. For the new law is that which God promises to impress upon the mind, to engrave on the heart, and that which is written on in giving us the Holy Ghost, which diffuses the requisite charity to make us love truth and justice. So that this new law induces us to love all that it commands, while the laws engraved on a stone only show the obligations of creatures, and threats in default of obedience. It is this difference which the apostle wished to point out in his Epistle to the Romans, where he says, 'We have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption of sons of God.' The spirit of bondage is that which creates fear, the spirit of adoption is that of love; fear makes us slaves, love makes us as children. The Jews, who acted only through fear of punishment, were slaves; the Christians, who love, are the true children." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"A testament is the disposal of a heritage. But God disposed of a heavenly heritage to men, to be bestowed through the virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ; because, according to Hebrews 9:16: 'Where there is a testament the death of the testator must of necessity come in.' Now Christ's blood was exhibited to men in two ways. First of all in figure, and this belongs to the Old Testament; consequently the Apostle concludes (Hebrews 9:16): 'Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood,' which is evident from this, that as related in Exodus 24:7,8, 'when every' commandment of the law 'had been read' by Moses, 'he sprinkled all the people' saying: 'This is the blood of the testament which the Lord hath enjoined unto you.' Secondly, it was shown in very truth; and this belongs to the New Testament. This is what the Apostle premises when he says (Romans 9:15): 'Therefore He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of His death ... they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance.' Consequently, we say here, 'The blood of the New Testament,' because it is shown now not in figure but in truth; and therefore we add, 'which shall be shed for you.' But the internal inspiration has its origin in the power of this blood, according as we are justified by Christ's Passion." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There was not grace in the Old Testament; for the law threatened, but assisted not, commanded, but healed not, showed our weakness, but relieved it not. It prepared the way however for a Physician who was about to come, with the gifts of grace and truth: whence the sentence which follows: For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth were made by Jesus Christ. The death of your Lord has destroyed death, both temporal and eternal; that is the grace which was promised, but not contained, in the law." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The New Law does not void observance of the Old Law except in the point of ceremonial precepts... Now the latter were figurative of something to come. Wherefore from the very fact that the ceremonial precepts were fulfilled when those things were accomplished which they foreshadowed, it follows that they are no longer to be observed: for it they were to be observed, this would mean that something is still to be accomplished and is not yet fulfilled. Thus the promise of a future gift holds no longer when it has been fulfilled by the presentation of the gift. In this way the legal ceremonies are abolished by being fulfilled." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"One thing may be contained in another in two ways. First, actually; as a located thing is in a place. Secondly, virtually; as an effect in its cause, or as the complement in that which is incomplete; thus a genus contains its species, and a seed contains the whole tree, virtually. It is in this way that the New Law is contained in the Old: for it has been stated that the New Law is compared to the Old as perfect to imperfect. Hence Chrysostom, expounding Mark 4:28, 'The earth of itself bringeth forth fruit, first the blade, then the ear, afterwards the full corn in the ear,' expresses himself as follows: 'He brought forth first the blade, i.e. the Law of Nature; then the ear, i.e. the Law of Moses; lastly, the full corn, i.e. the Law of the Gospel.' Hence then the New Law is in the Old as the corn in the ear." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The precepts of the New Law are said to be greater than those of the Old Law, in the point of their being set forth explicitly. But as to the substance itself of the precepts of the New Testament, they are all contained in the Old. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faustum Manichaeum xix,23,28) that 'nearly all Our Lord's admonitions or precepts, where He expressed Himself by saying: But I say unto you, are to be found also in those ancient books. Yet, since they thought that murder was only the slaying of the human body, Our Lord declared to them that every wicked impulse to hurt our brother is to be looked on as a kind of murder.' And it is in the point of declarations of this kind that the precepts of the New Law are said to be greater than those of the Old. Nothing, however, prevents the greater from being contained in the lesser virtually; just as a tree is contained in the seed... What is set forth implicitly needs to be declared explicitly. Hence after the publishing of the Old Law, a New Law also had to be given." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now two things of every law is to make men righteous and virtuous...and consequently the end of the Old Law was the justification of men. The Law, however, could not accomplish this: but foreshadowed it by certain ceremonial actions, and promised it in words. And in this respect, the New Law fulfills the Old by justifying men through the power of Christ's Passion. This is what the Apostle says (Romans 8:3,4): 'What the Law could not do... God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh... hath condemned sin in the flesh, that the justification of the Law might be fulfilled in us.' And in this respect, the New Law gives what the Old Law promised, according to 2 Corinthians 1:20: 'Whatever are the promises of God, in Him,' i.e. in Christ, 'they are Yea.' Again, in this respect, it also fulfills what the Old Law foreshadowed. Hence it is written (Colossians 2:17) concerning the ceremonial precepts that they were 'a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ'; in other words, the reality is found in Christ. Wherefore the New Law is called the law of reality; whereas the Old Law is called the law of shadow or of figure." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now things may be distinguished in two ways. First, as those things that are altogether specifically different, e.g. a horse and an ox. Secondly, as perfect and imperfect in the same species, e.g. a boy and a man: and in this way the Divine law is divided into Old and New. Hence the Apostle (Galatians 3:24,25) compares the state of man under the Old Law to that of a child 'under a pedagogue'; but the state under the New Law, to that of a full grown man, who is 'no longer under a pedagogue.' Now the perfection and imperfection of these two laws is to be taken in connection with the three conditions pertaining to law, as stated above. For, in the first place, it belongs to law to be directed to the common good as to its end... This good may be twofold. It may be a sensible and earthly good; and to this, man was directly ordained by the Old Law: wherefore, at the very outset of the law, the people were invited to the earthly kingdom of the Chananaeans (Exodus 3:8, 17). Again it may be an intelligible and heavenly good: and to this, man is ordained by the New Law. Wherefore, at the very beginning of His preaching, Christ invited men to the kingdom of heaven, saying (Matt. 4:17): 'Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Hence [St.] Augustine says (Contra Faustum Manichaeum iv) that 'promises of temporal goods are contained in the Old Testament, for which reason it is called old; but the promise of eternal life belongs to the New Testament.' Secondly, it belongs to the law to direct human acts according to the order of righteousness: wherein also the New Law surpasses the Old Law, since it directs our internal acts, according to Matthew 5:20: 'Unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Hence the saying that 'the Old Law restrains the hand, but the New Law controls the mind' (Sententiarum iii,40). Thirdly, it belongs to the law to induce men to observe its commandments. This the Old Law did by the fear of punishment: but the New Law, by love, which is poured into our hearts by the grace of Christ, bestowed in the New Law, but foreshadowed in the Old. Hence [St.] Augustine says (Contra Adimantum Manichaei discipulum xvii) that 'there is little difference between the Law and the Gospel - fear and love.' ... As the father of a family issues different commands to the children and to the adults, so also the one King, God, in His one kingdom, gave one law to men, while they were yet imperfect, and another more perfect law, when, by the preceding law, they had been led to a greater capacity for Divine things... The salvation of man could not be achieved otherwise than through Christ, according to Acts 4:12: 'There is no other name... given to men, whereby we must be saved.' Consequently the law that brings all to salvation could not be given until after the coming of Christ. But before His coming it was necessary to give to the people, of whom Christ was to be born, a law containing certain rudiments of righteousness unto salvation, in order to prepare them to receive Him." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

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