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The MOST Theological Collection: A Basic Catholic Catechism

"Appendix: Additional Material on Holy Scripture"

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SCRIPTURE: TO SEARCH FOR TRUTH

We want to find the truth, especially the truth about what this life really means, and how we can reach life forever, with happiness forever.

Should we begin with Holy Scripture, the Word of God? Scripture is the Word of God, but before we can start with it, we have to find out which writings or books really are the Word of God, which are inspired by the Holy Spirit. For inspiration really means that God Himself is the chief author of the Scriptures. He uses a human agent, in so marvelous a way that the human writes what the Holy Spirit wants him to write, does so without error, yet the human writer is free, and keeps his own style of language. It is only because God is transcendent that He can do this--insure freedom from error, while leaving the human free. To say He is transcendent means that He is above and beyond all our human classifications and categories. A poetic Portuguese proverb says: God can write straight with crooked lines!

In the early centuries, there were many books in circulation that called themselves Gospels--the Gospel of James, of Peter, of Thomas, and others. Today we do not look on these as part of the Word of God.

How then can we know what books are part of the Word of God?

We are going to start with the Gospels--but we must be very careful. For we could have a vicious circle, like a dog chasing its tail. That is, we might say: Believe the Gospels because the Church tells us to do it--believe the Church because the Gospels tell us to believe it. That would get us nowhere except chasing our tails.

Preliminary Checking

But there is a way out. We are still going to start with the Gospels we know, but at the start we will not take it for granted that they are sacred or inspired. We will look at them, for the time being, as just books that came down to us from ancient times. No one could doubt that they are ancient books.

We will have to check them, the same way we check other ancient works. We must look to see if our copies are at least basically the same as the original copies. That is easy with the Gospels--our copies of them are much closer to the originals than are, for example, the copies of Caesar or other ancient works. There is a whole science called Textual Criticism that knows how to do this work. And what does it say? It says the Gospels pass this first test better than Caesar's works could.

Then we would like to know what kind of literature the Gospels are supposed to be. Are they poetry? Or science fiction? Or an historical novel? Or what? Which kind we find they are tells us a lot about how to take them. For example, a modern historical novel about the war between the states is supposed to be part history, part fiction. The main line is history, the background pictures fit (can have steam trains and telegraphs, but not planes or TV). But there is a lot of fiction in the fill-ins--perhaps conversations, word for word, of Lincoln and Grant. But we know how to take such a work; we know what we might call the rules. The name for one of these patterns is genre. We have many patterns in English, and there are many in the ancient Semitic culture to which Scripture belongs. So we need to look to see which pattern we have on hand in the Gospels, and what are, as it were, the rules by which we know how to take them. Otherwise we could misunderstand.

What Do We Mean by "Literal Sense"?

In passing: If we try to get the sense the author intended--taking into account the things we have just said--this will be the literal sense. But we need to be careful. When some people speak of literal sense they really mean something else. They mean the sense we would take from the text if we ignored all these things about patterns of writing--if instead, we took things just as if they had been written by a modern American. But that is foolish; someone who does that is not really trying to find what the author meant to say--instead, he is imposing his own ideas on the text.

So what are the Gospels supposed to be? We find they are accounts of a great man called Jesus. They mean to tell us the facts about what He taught, for He claimed what He taught was the way to everlasting life. That alone would make the writers extra careful to get at least the basic things right. They give us the facts, plus interpretations for faith.

Written When and By Whom?

But could the writers really get at the truth about that man Jesus? Jesus, according to the latest research, was born about 3 B.C., and died 30 or 33 years later. When were the Gospels written? People give different dates. Most of those who have studied the case think that Mark was written a bit before Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 70 A.D. and that Matthew and Luke came in the period 80 to 90 A.D. Really, the reasons they give for making Matthew and Luke that late are not strong. Chiefly, they think they are too clear in reporting predictions by Jesus of the fall of Jerusalem. Luke even says there was an army surrounding Jerusalem. But every ancient siege had that. The critics are not being very sharp. The trouble is such critics have the preconceived notion that there can be no real prophecies of the future, no real miracles--even though there are many even today, checked to the hilt by modern science.

But even if we let them pick those dates, 80-90, we have no problem. For example, Pope Clement I of Rome who wrote a letter--which we have--to Corinth, around 95 A.D., said Peter and Paul were from his own generation. That figures out well. Peter and Paul died around 66 A.D. Clement became Pope in 92 A.D. So unless he were a teenager when elected Pope--not credible--he would have been around at the time of the preaching of Peter and Paul. Peter was with Jesus so much. Paul tells us that he learned the facts from a vision of Jesus, on the road to Damascus to arrest some Christians. So Clement would have an easy time getting the facts in 92 A.D.--which is after the time many think Matthew and Luke wrote. Also, Quadratus, who wrote to defend the Christian Church against pagan attacks, around 123 A.D., says that in his day, some were still alive who had been cured or even raised from the dead by Jesus. That would not have to be 123 A.D., but it would surely cover the period 80-90 A.D.

So it would not be hard to get the facts. And the writers depended on getting the facts about Jesus. Of course, then they would write them up carefully.

The Six Basic Facts

After seeing that the writers of the Gospels could get the facts, and wanted them eagerly, we look for a few very simple facts in the Gospels--we mean things that are not tangled up with an ancient culture, which we might find hard to understand.

1) First, we see there was a man named Jesus. That is very obvious. Even a pagan historian, Tacitus, writes about him, says he was executed by Pontius Pilate. And we already mentioned Clement I and Quadratus.

2) Second, Jesus claimed He was sent by God, as sort of a messenger.

3)He did enough to prove He was that by working miracles. But not just any miracle will do--it must be a case where there is a connection between the miracle and His claim. For example, when a paralytic was let down through the roof, Jesus told him his sins were forgiven. Then He asked: "What is easier to say: `Your sins are forgiven,' or `Take your bed and walk'?" He meant that nobody could check to see if sins were forgiven, but they could see the cure. He would do the cure to prove He had forgiven the sins. Since that power to cure came from God, God would not give it if Jesus used it to prove a lie. So Jesus was a messenger from God, greater than any older prophet, for they did not dare to forgive sins.

4)Besides, Jesus spoke more to a smaller group who followed Him --we would expect that.

5) He told them to continue His work, His teaching--we would expect that, too.

6) And also, He said God would protect their teaching: "He who hears you hears me."

Once we reach this point, what is in front of us? A group, with a commission to teach, from a man sent by God, and promised God's protection on their teaching. Now that group or Church can tell us which books are written with divine inspiration. And they can also tell us many other things, e.g., that the messenger, Jesus, is God Himself.

Relation of Scripture and Tradition

Let us take a minute to see how the Gospels developed. Then we can see better what is the relation of Scripture and Tradition.

First came the teaching and acts of Jesus. Of course, He, like any good speaker, would adjust His wording to the audience. Second, the men Jesus sent out, the Apostles, would preach what He had said and done. They too would adjust their wording to the audience, but of course would be careful to keep the same meaning. Third, some individuals, inspired by the Holy Spirit, would write down part of this basic preaching; that became the Gospels.

So the Gospels are really part of the original ongoing teaching of those commissioned to teach by Jesus. So the Church has something more basic than even the Gospels--its own ongoing teaching! This living, ongoing teaching is really what we mean by Tradition. (We notice it is Tradition with a capital "T"--with a small "t" it would mean just various customs, which can and do shift. )

Vatican II, in its Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum, hereinafter DV), #9, tells us:

Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are closely connected with each other. For both coming from the same divine font, in a way coalesce into one, and tend to the same goal. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is set down in writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; Sacred Tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and hands it on to their successors to be transmitted in full purity.

Hence, the Council added, "It is not only from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws its certainty about all revealed things." Its own ongoing teaching, Tradition, is also a place where revelation is to be found, and also interpreted, since the Gospels are really part of that Tradition, written down under inspiration. Section 10 of the same Dei Verbum adds, logically: "The task of authoritatively interpreting the Word of God, whether written or handed on [Scripture or Tradition] has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."

The Protestant Way vs. the Catholic Way

This, then is the critical difference between Protestant and Catholic. Both will start with the sources of revelation. In them there are some things whose meaning is quite obvious, such as we saw in our six points. But there are other things not so obvious. The Yellow Pages in the telephone book prove it, if we look under the word, "Churches." Each of numerous churches claim to know the meaning. Clearly, not all can be right. Further, the second epistle of St. Peter warned us (2 Peter 3:16), speaking of the Epistles of St. Paul, "In them there are many things hard to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable twist to their own destruction."

Sadly, not a few Catholics today are doing their thinking in a Protestant way: they look to their own opinion, not to the teaching of the Church.

Further Plans of Our Father

Dei Verbum #7 explains how God made provision for us: First,

Christ Jesus, in whom the whole revelation of the supreme God is made perfect, gave a command to the Apostles that they preach to all, the Gospel promised long ago through the Prophets and fulfilled and promulgated by His own mouth, as the source of all saving truth and moral teaching. He gave them divine gifts to do this properly. The Apostles, faithfully did this; in oral teaching; example and institutions they handed on the things they had received from the mouth and works of Christ, and from living together with Him, and things which they had learned by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles and apostolic men under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, set down in writing the message of salvation.

Further (in DV #7), "so that the Gospel might be kept whole and living constantly in the Church, the Apostles left behind Bishops as their successors, giving them the authority to teach in their place."

The Deposit of Faith and Development

Hence there is a deposit of faith which is not to be changed for "the Christian regime, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and now no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ" at the end (DV 4).

This does not mean there should be no progress in the doctrine of the Church: At the Last Supper, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into all truth (John 14:26; 16:13). He did not mean there would be new public revelations. He did mean the Church would be led over the centuries to an ever deeper understanding of the truths contained in the original deposit of faith (which was complete when the last Apostle died and the New Testament was finished).

Hence it happened, for example, that the Immaculate Conception, which was not explicitly mentioned in the fist centuries, and was even denied by some great theologians in the Middle Ages, finally, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, emerged to be defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

Gradual Understanding of Which Books are Inspired: The Canon

So it is not strange that the process of developing a complete formal list of all inspired books stretched over some time. (There was rather general informal agreement even earlier.) On February 20, 405 A.D., Pope Innocent I wrote to Bishop Exuperius of Toulouse, and sent him at his request, a list of the books that are part of the Bible (DS 213). The Ecumenical Council of Florence, on February 4, 1441, for the sake of reconciliation of Copts and Ethiopians, gave a complete list (DS 1334-35). The Council of Trent made the matter entirely final, giving the same list as Pope Innocent I had given centuries before.

When Luther and others broke with the Church, they tried to find a base from which to stand up against the Church. They chose Scripture. But at once they had a severe problem: Which books are Scripture? Luther said that if a book preached justification by faith strongly, it is inspired. But he never proved that was the standard.

This failure was pointed out keenly when a Baptist professor, Gerald Birney Smith, gave a talk at a national Baptist convention in 1910. In it he went through all possible ways to know which books are inspired. He found only one way that could work: if there would be a teaching authority to assure us. He did not believe there was such an authority--which left him not knowing which books are part of the Bible! How then could he appeal to the Bible as a divine source? Very illogical of him! Professor Birney Smith admitted that Luther "never applied this test applied this test [preaching justification by faith] minutely or critically." It could not be done. Really, Luther could have written a book to preach justification by faith-- or so could this writer--but those would not be inspired. So Luther failed. Calvin (Institutes I. vii) said: "The word will never gain credit [belief] in the hearts of men till it be confirmed by the internal testimony of the Spirit." But this is sadly subjective. So Calvin, too, failed.

What Professor Birney Smith thought did not exist really does exist. For we have just proved that there is a group, a Church, commissioned to teach by the Divine Messenger, and promised protection. That Church has told us which books are part of the Bible, are inspired.

So we see a most astounding fact: Those who want to contradict the Catholic Church cannot even know what Scripture is unless they lean on the authority of the Catholic Church to tell them what books are Scripture! Small wonder many Protestants have given up trying to solve the question of which books are inspired.

Much more recently, a Lutheran professor, Gerhard Maier (The End of the Historical Critical Method, Concordia, 1977, pp. 61 and 63), wrote: "Only Scripture can say in a binding way what authority it claims and has.... Scripture considers itself as revelation." That is a most blatant vicious circle.

Suppose someone asks you: Where do you find the Immaculate Conception in the Bible? The best answer would be: How do you know what books are part of the Bible? Only by the authority of the Church, which it received from Jesus, can anyone know. So the questioner would, without realizing it, be leaning on the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. As we said, the Church has something more basic than the Gospels--its own ongoing teaching. It is that ongoing teaching that can assure us of such doctrines as the Immaculate Conception.

The Analogy of Faith

The Church has not made a definite statement on many texts of Scripture. However, the analogy of faith helps us very much in addition. It means this: we should compare any interpretations of Scripture we think up with her own teaching; we can tell definitely which teachings are false. So, as we saw above, the Vatican II Council wrote: "The work of interpreting, with authority, the word of God--whether written or handed on--has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ." If we think over each group of words in that sentence, we find it is just the logical windup of our six points.

Claims of Errors in Scripture

Some people today say there are a lot of errors in the Bible. But the Church says there are not. On the authority of Christ, we believe what she says.

But even working on our own we can see for ourselves there are no errors. We mentioned just in passing a while ago that it is important to check and see what kind of writing we have on hand in each of the ancient works. We used the example of an historical novel to illustrate that.

Working this way helps us to solve a lot of problems in Scripture, cases in which there seems to be an error or contradiction. Of course there are no errors or contradictions in Scripture, since the Holy Spirit is the chief author. But we like even so to see how to handle these difficulties.

For example, when we consider the pattern or genre, we are rescued from some crude interpretations of Genesis 1-11. Pope Pius XII, in Humani generis, 1950, said that the genre of these chapters is not the same as the way we write history today, or the way ancient Greeks and Romans wrote it-- but yet they "pertain to history" in some way, which needs further study. If we follow up on that here is what we could find: The inspired author made use of a story form, to convey certain things that really happened, and so do pertain to the pattern of history writing. For example, the story makes clear that God created all things and that He in some special way created the first humans (the Church does not mind if we consider bodily evolution as a possibility, if only we do not make it atheistic, or claim more for it than the evidence shows). We see that He gave them some kind of a command--it may or may not have been about a fruit tree. We see that whatever the command was, they violated it and fell from His favor. As a result, their children were born without His favor or grace, which is what we mean by original sin. We do not have to take crudely the 6 days of creation, so as to say that they must mean 6 times 24 hours. Nor do we say God acted like a sculptor, and made a statue, and then breathed on it. Nor do we have to say God physically took a rib from Adam, and built it up into Eve. Pope John Paul, using this genre approach, said that when Genesis says God put Adam to sleep, it stands for a sort of return to the moment before creation, so Adam could reemerge in his double unity, male and female. In other words, that episode is just a way of teaching the unity of the human race. Again, some of the years given in the book of Daniel do not seem to fit with what we know of secular history. But no problem, we know there was a pattern of writing in use in those early centuries in the ancient Near East in which they used a story (like the Assyrian story of Ahiqar) to give a spiritual life--so not all details in Daniel would have to be factual. The story would have the same relation to strict history as science fiction has to science.

And so on for countless other cases. We now can solve problems that were insoluble to people even as close as the start of this century. Those early scholars were men of faith. They could not always find the answer to a problem in Scripture, but they said to themselves: Even if we cannot find it, we know there must be an answer, for Scripture, the work of the Holy Spirit, cannot be in error. They were quite right. Today, we are privileged to know how to solve numerous problems earlier times could not handle.

Something very strange is going on today--just at the very time when we have discovered how to solve these problems by the approach through genres, and other new discoveries, some scholars, who know the right methods, are throwing up their hands, saying they cannot find the answer, and even saying Scripture is full of errors. Instead of being men of faith, they have a sort of faith in reverse that Scripture must be wrong!

We should thank God for giving us Scripture, and His Church to interpret it for us.

The Sweep of Our Father's Plans for Us

Our Father began to plan to give us this revelation of which we have been speaking at the very beginning of the human race. Hence DV 3 says: "After their fall, by promising the redemption, He lifted them up into the hope of salvation (cf. Genesis 3:15)." In the Constitution on the Church (hereinafter LG) #55, the Council said:

"These primeval documents [Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah 7:14] as they are read in the Church and are understood in the light of later and full revelation, gradually bring more clearly to light the figure of the woman, the Mother of the Redeemer. She, in this light, is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise, given to our first parents... of victory over the serpent (cf. Genesis 3:15)."

In passing we notice that the Council said that it is clear now, thanks to later and full light of the Holy Spirit, that the woman of Genesis 3:15 is Mary. It does not say the human writer of Genesis saw that much; we simply do not know what he saw. But for certain, the Holy Spirit, the Chief Author of Scripture, could see more in the words than the human writer may have perceived.

Even the ancient Jews, in their Targums (Aramaic versions, usually free, with added interpretations of the Old Testament) knew that in some way Genesis 3:15 was Messianic.

Centuries passed, and God began His clearer revelation through and to Abraham, the Father of the Chosen People. He gave Abraham a promise of a great progeny, and of the land of Canaan. Abraham believed God (Genesis 15:1-6) and "it was credited to him as righteousness," that is, as St. Paul insistently points out (Galatians 3:6-9; Romans 4:1-23), God gave this without asking Abraham to earn it (Romans 4:4-5); he got it by faith. St. Paul, by that word faith, means not just mental belief, but also confidence in the promises of God, and also obedience to His commands, all to be done in love. All these were surely found in Abraham. And God promised that all nations would be blessed in him (Genesis 12:3 and 18:18, cf. Galatians 3:7 and Romans 4:11 and 16-18). St. Paul takes this to mean that those who imitate the faith of Abraham are made just.

God had promised Abraham to make him the father of a great nation. But then, when his son, Isaac, was still a little boy, before the process could begin, God told him to sacrifice Isaac on a certain mountain (Genesis 22:1- 18). Abraham, in magnificent faith, did not ask questions, he just started out, in the obedience of faith (cf. Romans 1:5). He had Isaac bound on the altar, was ready to plunge the sword into him, when an angel of God told him to stop. He offered a ram instead. The Fathers of the Church see in Isaac carrying the wood for his own sacrifice, a foreshadowing of Jesus carrying His cross.

About that word foreshadowing: God can and did give prophecies in two ways- -in words, and in actions or the very existence of a person or situation. So the sacrifice of Isaac was a prophecy in action of the sacrifice of Jesus.

God gave us again a type or hint of the Eucharist to come when Melchizedek, King of Salem (Genesis 14:18), offered bread and wine after Abraham's victory and rescue of Lot.

When Jacob was dying in Egypt, he gave a great prophecy (Genesis 49:10): "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes," that is, the one who was to be sent. This prophecy was most dramatically fulfilled. For the Jews did always--in spite of the overlordship of Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia--have their own rulers of some sort from that tribe of Judah until 41 B.C., when Rome imposed a foreigner on them as Tetrarch (later, in 37 as king), Herod, who was not of the tribe of Judah, but was by birth, half-Idumean, half-Arab. Had they not been unfaithful so many times, the fulfillment doubtless would have been more glorious, in greater rulers of the tribe of Judah and the line of David.

Later, Jacob, the son of Isaac, and his twelve sons, went down into Egypt because of a famine, and were still later enslaved by the Pharaoh. This is parallel to our own enslavement to sin and satan. The Jews were delivered through Moses; we are delivered by Jesus, the New Moses.

On the very night of their deliverance from Egypt, Moses told them to smear the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts, so that the destroying angel would pass over their houses. Thus began the Passover, foreshadowing the eternal Passover in which Jesus, within the same ritual that the ancient Hebrews had used, and bringing to our minds again the sacrifice of Melchizedek, as the true High Priest, offered the sacrifice of His own body and blood, before physically giving up that body and blood on the next day.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, points out all the foreshadowings that the ancient people had of our sacraments:

"Our Fathers... were under the cloud, and all went through the sea, and all were baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, but the rock was Christ."

Obviously, St. Paul sees in these events a forecast of baptism and the Eucharist.

When the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert--a type of our own life in this exile--in the desert of Sinai, God did sustain them by that food, manna, like the Eucharist. During that time He prescribed a ritual of sacrifices, and a tabernacle and priestly vestments--we could look at their sacrifice, their temple, the vestments of their priests, and could almost think ourselves in our own Church with its sacred rites, in which the true Lamb is offered.

After the 40 years, the people crossed the Jordan, into the promised land, as we cross over into the eternal Jerusalem in the next life at our deaths.

The people of Israel were unfaithful so many times--and so are we--but God forgave them when they repented, as He also forgives us in the Sacrament of Penance. Moses even, at one point, when they were being afflicted by saraph serpents because of their complaining, was ordered by God to put up a bronze serpent on a pole, so that whoever would look at it would be healed (Numbers 21:5-6)--a forecast of Jesus on the Cross.

After they were established in the promised land, God sent them kings, the greatest of whom was David, from whose line Jesus was to come.

Our Father announced that coming of Jesus more than once, in much detail. Thanks again to those Targums of which we spoke, we can see how the Jews, even without seeing things fulfilled in Christ, understood the prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah, Jesus.

Thus Isaiah (7:14), prophesied: "Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel." At the time of Christ, the great teacher Hillel said that this meant the Messiah, though he thought that Hezekiah, son of King Achaz, to whom Isaiah spoke, was the Messiah. Really, it seems many Old Testament prophecies have more than one fulfillment--not surprising, since they are divine words. Thus we could see in Isaiah 7:14 both Hezekiah and Jesus, for the wording partly fits one, partly the other.

The same Isaiah, a bit further on, speaking of the same child as in 7:14, added (9:5-6):

"A child is born to us, a Son is give us, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called: Wonderful counsellor, God the Mighty, Father forever, the Prince of Peace."

The Targums did know this child was the Messiah (and so must have thought the child of 7:14 was the Messiah too, for the child is the same in both verses), though they probably had trouble with his title of God the Mighty (that is really the correct translation of Hebrew El Gibbor), since it had been hammered into the Jews that there is only one God. But we today can see--and His Blessed Mother must have seen all that the Jews saw, and far more, being full of grace.

Isaiah even foresaw, in prophetic light, that the line of David--which at his time was reigning in power--would be reduced to a stump, which later could put forth a shoot (11:1-3):

"There will come a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch will grown from his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord."

Later, in his wonderful chapter 53, Isaiah spoke vividly of the death and even the resurrection of Jesus--for in verses 10-13, after describing His suffering and death, we read: "If he makes himself a sin-offering, He shall see his offspring, He shall prolong His days. He shall see the fruit of the labor of His soul and be satisfied." The Targums did know this chapter 53 referred to the Messiah, though after the Christians began to see Jesus in the passage, they (as several prominent Jewish scholars today admit) deliberately distorted it, making the meek lamb led to the slaughter into an arrogant conqueror.

Finally, they knew, from Micah 5:1-4, that He would be born in Bethlehem-- the Jewish scholars had no hesitation in saying that, when Herod sought the information for the Magi. At that very time, there was great Messianic expectation among the people, for they could not help seeing that for the first time they lacked a ruler from Judah, so that the time announced in Genesis 49:10 was at hand: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes who is to be sent." Yes, at last He was at hand, to bring the full revelation of the Father to us, to offer Himself as the lamb so long foreshadowed, to give us His Gospels, and to found on Peter the Rock, a Church to teach us all truth, and to assure we would not err in understanding them.

Truly did the Psalmist say (90:4): "In your sight, a thousand years are like yesterday when it is past." From all eternity He had planned, and in many and various ways had spoken "of old to our Fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He spoke to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things" (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2).

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