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Catholic Dictionary




The scientific study and analysis of the human elements that have entered into the composition and preservation of the Scriptures. This study has been encouraged and fostered by the Church. The two outstanding papal documents urging Catholic scholars to engage in a scientific study of the Bible were Pope Leo XIII's Providentissimus Deus (1893), and Pope Pius XII's Divino Afflante Spiritu (1943). In all biblical criticism the Catholic Church insists on her scholars' recognizing that the Bible is the inspired word of God and consequently may not be treated as merely a human piece of writing. Moreover, the Church considers herself the divinely authorized custodian and interpreter of Sacred Scripture. Catholic scholars must therefore recognize that the Church's magisterium has the final word on the conclusions reached by biblical criticism. (Etym. Greek kritikos, able to discern or judge.)