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The MOST Theological Collection: The Living God

"I. Revelation"


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Table of Contents for this Work

1) Natural Knowledge of God

Vatican I defined (DS 3026) defined that the existence of God can be known with certainty through the use of natural reason.

Problem: How can the Church define anything about revelation, when the right of the Church to teach needs first to be established from revelation found in Scripture? Is there not a vicious circle?

Solution: We begin with the Gospels, but do not at first look upon them as sacred or inspired. We treat them as ancient documents, and give them the same sort of checking we give other ancient documents -- transmission of the text shown by textual criticism -- Is it possible to have any reliable history at all (historicism)? -- Can one trust even eyewitnesses? --What is the genre of the Gospels -- Can one distinguish between facts and interpretations, i.e. is there such a thing as a non-interpreted statement? (Distinguish simple physical facts from complex realities, and note that some things are so simply perceived there is no room for interpretation, e.g., if a leper stands before Jesus, asks to be healed, and He says: I will it: be healed.) --Did the authors live at a time when information was to be had -- Did they have motive to report accurately. --

The foregoing are preliminaries. Once we know that the Gospels can give us at least a few simple physically observable facts, we look for and find six of them: (1) There was a man named Jesus; (2) He claimed to be a messenger sent by God; (3) He did enough to prove this, by miracles in contexts such that a connection was established between the claim and the miracle. (On the side: show by modern instances, Lanciano, Lourdes, Guadalupe -- that miracles are possible because science proves they do happen - contrast view of R. Bultmann, who said: "Conclusive knowledge is impossible in any science or philosophy" [Kerygma and Myth , ed. H. W. Bartsch, tr. R. H. Fuller, N. Y. , Harper & Row, Torchbooks, 1961, 2d ed. volume I- hereafter KM -KM 195] and "It is impossible to use electric light and wireless... and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles."[KM 5]; (4) As expected, He had an inner circle to whom He spoke more; (5) Also as expected, He told them to continue His work, His teaching; (6) He also - a thing one would expect if the messenger from God had the means to do it - promised God would protect their teaching: "He who hears you, hears me"(Lk 10. 16). --- After this point, that body, commissioned to teach by a messenger from God, and promised protection on its teaching, can tell us that Scripture is inspired, and that it contains revelation. There is no other means to know which books are inspired - cf. Luther, Calvin, and Gerald Birney Smith in Biblical World 37 (1910) pp. 19-29. Cf. W. Most. Free From All Error hereafter FFAE Cap 2.

So the Epistle to the Romans is inspired, and it tells us in 1. 20 that we can know the existence of God by thinking about His works in creation. Hence Vatican I could define that God can be known in this way.

The Council did not specify which proofs are valid - philosophers work on that, but must admit that in some way it can be proved.

Did St. Paul mean formal argumentation - or just thinking in general on creation? Unclear. But the intricate structure of creation, observed by the naked eye, or with the help of modern science, reveals the wonders of design, which suppose a designer. Cf. on complexity of creation: E. S. Ayensu (Smithsonian Institution) and Philip Whitfield (King's College, Univ. of London), Editors, The Rhythms of Life, Crown Publishers, NY. 1981.

This does not rule in or out theistic evolution. It of course rules out atheistic evolution. (More on evolution later, in unit III).

Ontological Argument: The most famous form of it comes from St. Anselm in 11th century. In his Proslogium, chapter 2, he argues: "Certainly that than which a greater cannot be thought of cannot exist in the intellect alone. For if it exists in the intellect alone it can be thought of as also existing in the world of reality -- which is greater. If therefore, that than which a greater cannot be thought of, exists solely in the intellect, the very thing than which a greater cannot be thought of, is that than which a greater can be thought of. But this surely cannot be. [It is a direct contradiction]. Without a doubt, therefore, there exists something than which a greater cannot be thought of, both in the world of the intellect and the world of reality". The trouble is that the idea does not guarantee the extramental existence of the Being.

St. Thomas: Specially famous are the five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa I. 2. 3.

Aristotelian Proof: Aristotle himself did not develop this argument as we are giving it, but it is based on his own principles: 1. Something has a change -- it rises from Potency to Act. - It cannot rise on its own, for it cannot give itself the extra being it does not yet have. ( We call it a rise since at the top of the rise, after the change, more or higher being is present - before the change there was a privation to be filled).

2. So it needs to get its actuality from another being or source that is already in act, i. e, has the added being. But that being earlier had to get up from potency to act - and so on, but not infinitely, or we would never have a solution to the problem.

3. So finally, we need to find a being that does not have the problem of getting up to act, because it simply is Act: That is the First Cause, or Ultimate Mover, or God. (If it had potency, it would still have the problem of getting up to act, and so we would not yet have reached the answer to our problem).

4. What is this Act like:

a) It is unmoved - for it has no potency, and potency is needed for anything to be moved.

b) It is eternal- (Taking eternity in strict sense of a duration with no change, with everything simultaneously present). Time is a measure of change - no potency = no change.

c) It is Infinite. Potency is not only capacity but limit - a 12 oz. glass has a potency for 12 oz, but it also is limited to 12 oz.

d) It is One - If there were two Infinites, they would coincide.

e) It is Spiritual - Matter is potency. This First Cause has no potency, and so, no matter.

f) It is the cause of existence of all else - To reach existence is a rise from potency to act. That rise needs the First Cause. -- So, we see another reason why the First Cause is Infinite -- The rise from zero to something is an infinite rise.

NOTE: 1. All this reasoning can be made without becoming religious; to be religious we would have to add reverence or worship. We have given a purely intellectual exercise. Hence to say there was creation, is not necessarily religious. -- Further, the translation of Genesis 1. 1 is debatable. It could also be: "When God set about to form heaven and earth."

2. Aristotle was uncertain how many unmoved movers there are. He used two starting points (a) From Reason: he said that if a simpler answer will do, it is better, (b) From Astronomy: he said in Meta 12. 6. 1073b that the number of unmoved movers, "must be investigated by the aid of that branch of mathematical science which is most akin to philosophy, i.e., astronomy." Astronomy in his day held for many spheres in the skies. Unclear how many Aristotle thought, probably either 49 or 55. See G. E. LLoyd, Aristotle, The Growth and Structure of His Thought (Cambridge, 1968) pp. 148-53.

2) Man's need of revelation:

a) Some truths are inaccessible to human knowledge, e.g., the Holy Trinity. To know these, revelation is indispensable.

b) Some truths can be known by reason, but only with difficulty.

1) Plato, Phaedo 85 D: Simmias says, after trying to follow difficult arguments: "I think, as you probably do, that to know clearly about such matters in this present life is either impossible, or altogether difficult... for it is necessary to do one of two things: either to find where truth is, or if that be impossible, to pick the best and hardest to refute of human reasonings, and to sail through life as it were dangerously, on a raft, unless he could make his journey more safely and less dangerously on some more secure conveyance, a divine revelation."

2) Aristotle wrote (Meta 2. 1): " The search for truth is in a way hard, in a way easy. A sign of this is the fact that no one gets it fully, but we do not all miss it altogether."

3) History of Philosophy: Shows that no matter what standard we would use to grade a philosopher , most of them of all times get less than 60% of the truth. -- This does not mean give up - it means be very careful - and, like Simmias, wish for a divine revelation. We have that. We can compare truths reached by reason with revelation - this is like looking up the answers in the back of a mathematics book.

In this sense, we can have a Catholic philosophy. Problem: can there be such, since philosophy uses only reason, not authority? Yes, if we work the way we do with a math book. If we are working in philosophy we try to work by reason first, as in the math book, we work problems without looking in the back. If we are in theology, we use revelation first.

4) Eunomius (follower of Arius). He seems to have said that we can completely understand God in this life, in that he insisted divinity consists in being agennetos -- no other designations count. -- Was answered by St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa in their Against Eunomius. Cf. Gregory, Book II: "They maintain that the divine nature is simply being agennetos per se, and declare this to be sovereign and supreme, and they make this word comprehend the whole greatness of divinity."

Note: There are two similar Greek words: agennetos, from gennao to beget; an agenetos from ginomai (= older gignomai) to become, to be born. Both were used alike before the Council of Nicea. Thus the Creed from Nicea has (DS 125) gennethenta ou poiethenta: begotten, not made). Compare Creed of

Constantinople DS 130.

The Fathers, in contrast to the errors of Eunomius understood God is inexpressible:

a) Arnobius, Against Nations 1. 31:"To understand you, we must be silent, and for fallible conjecture to trace you even vaguely, nothing must even be whispered."

b) Pseudo-Dionysius, Mystical Theology 1. 2: God is best known by "unknowing".

c) St. Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses (PG 44. 376): "The true vision of the One we seek, the true seeing, consists in this: in not seeing. For the One Sought is beyond all knowledge."

d) St. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana (1. 6. 6): "He must not even be called inexpressible, for when we say that word we say something."

e) St. Thomas Aquinas (In: Maritain, Angelic Doctor, S. W. London, 1933 p. 51): "Such things have been revealed to me that the things I have written and taught seem slight to me." He never went back to his Summa after that revelation.

f) Plato, Republic 6. 509B: Good (which he probably identifies with God) is "beyond being".

5) St. Thomas Aquinas. Summa I. 1. 1."It was necessary for human salvation that there be a certain doctrine according to divine revelation, in addition to philosophical disciplines.... First, because man is ordered to God as to a certain end which goes beyond the comprehension of reason... But the end should be known to men in advance, who should order their intentions and actions to the goal... even for those things which can be investigated by human reason it was necessary that man be instructed by divine revelation. For the truth about God which can be investigated by reason would be known by few, and for a long time, with a mixture of many errors."

6) Salvation of Infidels. The above comments of St. Thomas might tempt one to think there is no hope of salvation for those who do not know the Church. We must not take his images like a picture of a material road. The real question on reaching the goal is this:What does God want me to do? God makes this essential known within each one by the moral law known in conscience, as we see from the following:

a) St. Justin Martyr in his Apology 1. 46 wrote "Christ is the Logos (Divine "Word] of which the whole race of men partake. Those who lived according to Logos are Christians even if they were considered atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus. In Apology 2. 10 he ads that the Logos is within each one of us. Now, the Logos, a Spirit, does not take up place. When we say a Spirit is present we say it is producing an effect there. What effect? We turn next to Romans 2: 14-16.

b) Romans 2. 14-16:"The gentiles who do not have the law, do by nature the things of the law. They show the work of the law written on their hearts, while their conscience bears witness along with [their good life, or: with the law, in their hearts] and their thoughts will in turn either accuse or even defend them on the day on which God will judge the secret things of men, according to my Gospel, through Jesus Christ."

COMMENT 1. Some commentators refuse to admit Paul teaches gentiles can be saved - they do not see that Paul alternates between de facto and focused views. In a focused view of the law (As if we are looking through a tube, and so see only the things within the circle made by te tube) , for example, Paul would say: The law makes heavy demands -gives no strength - to be under heavy demands without strength makes a fall certain. Hence he can saw dreadful things about the law: no on can keep; it is the ministry of condemnation etc. In the factual view he talks differently: The law makes heavy demands, gives no strength - BUT -- off to the side, in no relation to the law there is grace given even in anticipation of Christ. With it, one need not fall etc. In fact he calls the law a great privilege of the people of God e. g, in Romans 3 and 9 , and says in Phil 3:6 that he kept it perfectly. Here he uses a de facto view. This is supported by the Magisterium texts we shall shortly quote.

COMMENT 2:Some think Socrates was homosexual. Far from it. Plato frequently quotes Socrates as saying that the man who seeks the truth, to be a philosopher, must have as little as possible to do with the things of the body: Phaedo 82-83;66; Republic 485-86, 519.

c) Pius IX, Quanto conficiamur moerore, August 10, 1862:"God... in His supreme goodness and clemency, by no means allows anyone to be punished with eternal punishments, who does not have the guilt of voluntary fault. But it is also a Catholic dogma that no one outside the Catholic Church can be saved, and that those who are contumacious against the authority of the same Church [and ] definitions and who are obstinately [pertinaciter] separated from the unity of the Church and from the Roman Pontiff... cannot obtain eternal salvation."

COMMENT: Pius IX stresses need of the Church, and at the same time, the truth [in saying that this point "is also a Catholic dogma, he implies that the fact that no one is lost without grave personal fault is also a Catholic dogma. He does not explain HOW this works out. He makes clear that if someone keeps the moral law as he knows it, he will actually be saved- so that somehow-- he does not say how-- this requirement of membership will be fulfilled. He does help, however, by noting that only those who are obstinately and contumaciously rejecting the Church are lost. This implies that those who reject in good faith, without obstinacy, can be saved For full treatment of the solution, cf. the Appendix to W. Most, Our Father's Plan.

d) Holy Office, by order of Pius XII, in a letter of August 9, 1949, and basing itself on teaching in Mystici Corporis, condemned L. Feeney: "It is not always required that one be actually incorporated as a member of the Church, but this at least is required: that one adhere to it in wish and desire. It is not always necessary that this be explicit... but when a man labors under invincible ignorance, God accepts even an implicit will, called by that name because it is contained in the good disposition of soul in which a man wills to conform his will to the will of God." Pius XII, in Mystici Corporis had taught that a man can be "ordered to the Church by a certain desire and wish of which he is not aware."(DS 3821).

e) Vatican II, On the Church §16:"For they who without their own fault do not know of the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but yet seek God with sincere heart, and try, under the influence of grace, to carry out His will in practice, known to them through the dictate of conscience, can attain eternal salvation."

f) John Paul II, Redemptoris missio, Dec. 7, 1990:"The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. B ut it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel Revelation or to enter the Church.... For such people, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation."

NOTE: We compare St. Justin Martyr, Apology 1. 46 with the above, and note it carries same ideas as Romans 2. 14-16: "Christ is the Logos [Divine Word], of whom the whole race of men partake. Those who lived according to Logos are Christians, even if they were considered atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus."

The above texts show merely the fact that some can be saved without formal entry into the Church. As to the how, we will add theological reasoning later, in speaking of the election of Israel.

3) The concept of salvation history; words and deeds of God

In studying any part of Scripture, we must first determine the literary genre. The case of Genesis 1-11 is special. Starting with chapter 12 many think the genre shifts to epic.

Genre of Genesis 1-11:

(1) Pius XII, Humani generis, DS 3898: "We must deplore a certain way of interpreting the historical books of the Old Testament too freely. The first 11 chapters of Genesis, though they do not strictly conform to the rules of historical writing used by the great Greek and Latin historians or historians of our time, yet pertain to history in a true sense, to be further studied and determined by Scripture scholars."

COMMENT: We could satisfy this requirement by saying that these chapters do report, by the vehicle of stories, things that really happened -- in this way they do pertain to history in a true sense. Chiefly the following: God made all things; in some special way He made the first human pair; He gave them some sort of command (we do not know its nature), they violated it, and fell from His favor. (Note that favor even though the word is not used in the text, would be chen in Hebrew, which is the closest word to grace. Hence they lost grace, and did not have it to pass on to their descendants. (Cf. New Catholic Encyclopedia s. v. "grace, in the Bible"). So original sin is contained in the narrative. Really, if we said God did no more than smile at a person, and gave him nothing, and the person could do good by his own power - it would be Pelagianism. Hence favor must imply grace.

(2) John Paul II, Audience of Sept 19, 1979: "The whole archaic form of the narrative... manifests its primitive mythical character." In note 1, he cites at length P. Ricoeur, speaking of "the Adamic myth". However, on Nov 7, 1979 the Pope also said: "... the term 'myth' does not designate a fabulous content, but merely an archaic way of expressing a deeper content." Also in note 1 on Sept 19: "If in the language of the rationalism of the 19th century, the term 'myth' indicated what was not contained in reality... the 20th century as modified the concept of myth.... M. Eliade discovers in myth the structure of the reality that is inaccessible to rational and empirical investigation. Myth, in fact, transforms the event into a category and makes us capable of perceiving the transcendental reality."

ADDENDUM: On Sept 12, 1979: "... the first account of man's creation is chronologically later than the second. The origin of this latter is much more remote. This more ancient text is defined as 'Yahwist. '" -- In note 1 on Nov. 7: "After the creation of the woman, the Bible text continues to call the first man 'adam (with the definite article), thus expressing his 'corporate personality', since he has become the 'father of mankind', its progenitor and representative...." -- God called Adam after the fall and Adam replied: "I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself."-

It is easy to gather what the inspired writer meant to convey by this narrative. Before the sin, Adam was naked; after the fall, the same. But before the fall it did not bother him, afterwards it did. Clearly, the sex drive, the most rebellious of all, had begun to assert itself. Before the fall Adam must have had some gift that made it easy to keep all drives in proper balance. Each was good in itself, but each would work blindly, without regard for the other drives or for the whole person. So, as we said, a coordinating gift was needed. It used to be called the Gift of Integrity.

History of the term salvation history

1) W. Vatke, a disciple of Hegel, in his The Religion of Israel, 1835 spoke of Heilsgeschichte [salvation history]:True religion he said was revealed slowly, going through the stages of simile, allegory, myth, and climaxing in the historical revelation of Jesus Christ.

2) J. T. Beck, 1804-78 in reacting against rationalistic biblical interpretation dropped the dictation theory of inspiration, said that the Bible is an organic whole and that the unity and continuity of the OT are to be found in salvation history.

3) J. von Hofmann, 1810-77, similarly viewed the OT as a the history of salvation.

Stages of salvation history

There are two separate, though related, developments we must follow: (1) The prophecies of eternal salvation for all through the Messiah. (2) The choice of Israel as God's special people--a help to eternal salvation. The word salvation has three meanings in Scripture: (a) rescue from temporal evils; (b) entry into the Church of the NT; (c) Final eternal salvation: heaven.

The promise of the Messiah actually referred to eternal salvation. The Jews, and perhaps the Sacred Writers too, seem not to have understood this fact at first. They tended to think of the Messiah as going to rescue them from temporal evils. And the promises God made at Sinai, choosing them as a special people, literally referred at first to temporal things - the land plus added favor. As the centuries went on, the tendency grew to reinterpret the promise to refer to eternal life, as St. Paul does, for example, in Galatians 3. 15ss. Yet the Apostles seem to have taken the Messiah as a temporal savior, and hence did not grasp His prophecies about His death and resurrection.

We will consider each current separately. (Choice or election will be later on)

(1) Prophecies of the Messiah

We will make much use of the Targums here. They are ancient Aramaic versions of th Old Testament, mostly free, and with fill-ins which show how the Jews understood them without seeing them fulfilled in Christ.

Date of the Targums. Many scholars today ignore the Targums, out of ignorance or because they think the dates too uncertain. Some of these same exegetes say the OT prophecies of the Messiah are so vague one can get something out of them only by hindsight, e.g., R. E. Brown, The Virginal Conception & Bodily Resurrection of Jesus, Paulist, 1973, pp. 15-16. But we can be sure of an early date of at least the Messianic prophecies in them for the following reasons:

a) Jacob Neusner, in Messiah in Context made a complete survey of all Jewish literature after 70 AD up to and including the Babylonian Talmud (completed 500-600 AD). He found that up to, not including that Talmud, there was scant interest in the Messiah. In the Talmud interest revived, but even then, the only one of the great prophecies spoken of was that the Messiah would be of the line of David. It is hardly conceivable that these Targums on the prophecies could have been composed in a period when there was no, or later, little interest in the material they covered.

b) Samson Levey, The Messiah, An Aramaic Interpretation, Hebrew Union College, 1974, helps us to know that the rabbis even steered clear of some Messianic things in the Targums. Ps. 80, 15-18 asked God to visit this vine "and the stock which your right hand has planted.... Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, upon the son of man whom you have strengthened for yourself." Levey comments (pp. 119-20):"It would appear that the Targum takes the Messiah to be the son of God, which is much too anthropomorphic and Christological to be acceptable in Jewish exegesis." He notes that neither the earlier nor the later rabbis picked up this interpretation of the Targum. Instead, he says that some of the later rabbis "carefully steer clear of any messianic interpretation" from the Targum for this passage. So the Targum interpretation could hardly have been written at that period.

Interestingly, Ps 80, as cited above, even uses the words son of man to refer to the Messiah. Not for certain, but probably, the rabbis would not have written this Targumic line after Jesus began to use the expression to refer to Himself.

Similarly Ps 45, 7-8 says: "Your throne, God is ever and ever.... God your God has anointed you with the oil of rejoicing." Even though some think that Psalm was occasioned by the marriage of Joram to Athalaia, the Targum saw it as messianic. Levey even remarks (pp. 111-12) that the Hebrew word for king, melech "in verses 2, 6, 12, 15 and 16 is understood as God." And the passage in general means the Messiah according to the Targum, Yet: "Rabbinic views of this Psalm are not Messianic." Again, this Targumic passage could not have been written late.

In 445 BC, Ezra may have begun the practice of giving an Aramaic paraphrase after the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures. In Nehemiah 8:7-8:[while Ezra read the Law] "... the Levites helped the people to understand the law.... And they read from the book, from the law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading."-- There must have been period of oral Targums before they were written down.

Regardless of the date of the Targums, they surely show the ancient Jewish understanding made without the use of hindsight, without seeing them fulfilled in Jesus, whom they hated.

We have the following Targums on the Pentateuch: Onkelos, Pseudo-Jonathan, Neofiti, and Fragmentary Targum (also called Jerusalem Targum. For the prophets, we have Targum Jonathan. For the prophets: Targum Jonathan. For the Hagiographa, Aramaic renderings did evolve except for Daniel and Ezra-Nehemiah.

We will now examine the chief messianic prophecies, with the help of the Targums and the Magisterium.

Genesis 3:15

(a) Targums: Fragmentary Targum says God will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between the offspring of serpent's children and hers. When the woman's children toil at Torah and keep it, they will strike the serpent on the head and kill it; when they refuse to toil, the serpent's offspring will bite their heel. "There will be a remedy for the children of the woman, but for you [serpent], there will be no remedy. They will make peace with one another in the days of the King Messiah." Pseudo-Jonathan is about the same. Neofiti is about same but uses singular: "There will be a remedy [for his wound] for the son of the woman, but for you, serpent, no remedy."--Onkelos, as so often, does not speak of a messianic nature.

Neusner, Messiah in Context, p. 242: "In the days of the King Messiah, the enmity between the serpent and woman will come to an end Gen 3:15.... ) "

NOTE: The Jews seem on the whole not to have thought of original sin, from this verse or elsewhere. However it is easy to see: God had given our first parents not only human nature, but also grace and the gift of integrity. They lost all but human nature by their fall - so they lost His favor, and therefore did not have grace - and so did not have that to pass on to their children. To arrive in this world without favor/grace is the same as to come with original sin. Cf. A. M. Dubarle, OP, Le Péché Originel dans l'Ecriture, Cerf. 1958 edition, pp. 39-74.

(b) Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus: "The Fathers and ecclesiastical writers... in commenting on the words, ' I will put enmity between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed', have taught that by this utterance there was clearly and openly foretold the merciful Redeemer of the human race... and that His Most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was designated, and at the same time, that the enmity of both against the devil was remarkably expressed." -- We notice that Pius IX does not say in his own words that Gen 3:15 is messianic. He says that the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers say that.

(c) Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus: "We must remember especially that, since the 2nd century, the Virgin Mary has been presented by the Holy Fathers as the New Eve, who, although subject to the New Adam, was most closely associated with Him in that struggle against the infernal enemy which, as foretold in the protoevangelium, was to result in that most complete victory over sin and death. Wherefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and final sign of this victory, so also that struggle, which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son, had to be close by the glorification of her virginal body."

COMMENT: He speaks of the struggle against the infernal enemy as foretold in the protoevanglium, Gen. 3. 15. Even though he does so in passing, yet he clearly takes it for granted that the protoevangelium does foretell that victory, a victory which is an essential part of his thought. Incidentally we notice the strong language on coredemption -- the "struggle" was a work in common, so much in common that there had to be a common result from a common cause - glorification for both Him and for her. [In passing: John Paul II, in Osservatore Romano, English, March 11, 1985 spoke of "Mary's role as co-redemptrix"].

(d) Pius XII, Fulgens corona (1953): "... the foundation of this doctrine [Immaculate Conception] is seen in the very Sacred Scripture in which God... after the wretched fall of Adam, addressed the... serpent in these words, which not a few of the Holy Fathers and doctors of the Church, and most approved interpreters refer to the Virgin Mother of God: 'I will put enmity.... '"

COMMENT: If the IC is contained in Gen 3:15, then of course she is contained in it.

(e) Vatican II, Dei Verbum 3:"After their fall, by promising the redemption, He lifted them up into the hope of salvation (cf. Gen 3, 15... )."

Yet LG 55, below, indicates we cannot be sure that the original writers of Gen 3:15 and Is 7:14 saw in those texts what the Church now sees. This is possible: at first Adam and Eve did perceive the promise of a Redeemer. Later, by the time Genesis was written, that knowledge had been forgotten.

(f) Vatican II, Lumen gentium 55: "These primeval documents, 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, who had fallen into sin, of victory over the serpent (cf. Gen 3, 15)."

COMMENTS: The council was careful not to say flatly that the original human author of Genesis saw her as the woman - hence the cf. Yet later and full revelation, guided by the Holy Spirit, does see that she is the one. 2) In Dei verbum § 12, the Council said: "Since however in Sacred Scripture God has spoken through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, to see what He intended to communicate with us, must investigate attentively what the sacred writers really intended to convey and what it pleased God to manifest by their words." The Theological Commission commented (Cf. A. Grillmeier in H. Vorgrimler, Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder & Herder, 1969, III, p. 220) commented on the under lined words "and what": If quidque be written [instead of et quid] the question [on the existence of a fuller sense] would be settled in the affirmative. The expression [actually used] is neutral." "Fuller sense" would be the position that the Holy Spirit, the Chief Author might have in mind and intended to express more than the human author saw. At this point, the Council had a chance to positively endorse the idea of a fuller sense, but instead chose ambiguous language. Quidque, using the enclitic -que to mean and would tie the two clauses more closely than the actual et quid for et is a looser conjunction. So all this means that the Council at this point refused to explicitly approve or disapprove the position of a fuller sense. But yet in its practice, as in LG 55, it did use it on Gen 3. 15 and Isa 7. 14. Really, it is clearly possible that the Holy Spirit, the chief author, could have in mind more than the human writer saw. Jeremiah 31. 31 ff. , the prophecy of the New Covenant, seems to be an example. Jeremiah hardly saw that the essential obedience of the New Covenant would be that of Christ. Also, St. Irenaeus, in his knot comparison (3. 22. 4) implied more than he likely saw. And it seems Vatican II also, in LG chapter 8, said more than it realized. At the start, it said it would not settle debates in Mariology. Yet one can make a fine case that it did: cf. W. Most, "Mary's Cooperation in the Redemption" in Faith and Reason, 1987, pp. 28-61. In fact, Msgr. G. Philips of Louvain, chief drafter of that chapter, seems not to have fully understood what he wrote: cf. ibid, pp. 54-55.

COMMENT: Now in spite of the cf. the text says flatly that after the fall God gave them hope of redemption. The only place that could be is Gen 3. 15. So that text is clearly called messianic. John Paul II, in Mulieris dignitatem II §11: "At the same time it [Genesis] contains the first foretelling of victory over evil, over sin. This is proved by the words which we read in Genesis 3:15...." Further, in Redemptoris Mater §24 he links together the use of the word "woman" in Genesis 3:15, Cana, the foot of the Cross, and Apocalypse/Revelation 12. The word seems chosen to show she is the same one in each text.

2) Genesis 49. 10: "The scepter shall not depart from Juda, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and his shall be the obedience of the peoples."

Targums: Neofiti: "Kings shall not be lacking from the house of Judah... until the time at which King Messiah will come." Onkelos (which sees messianism only here and in Numbers 24. 17-24 (Balaam) agrees, as do Pseudo-Jonathan, and Fragmentary Targum.

Levey. the Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation, p. 8:"Other rabbinic sources, both Midrashic and Talmudic, also take this passage as Messianic." Genesis Rabbah 98. 8 "Until Shiloh comes: he to whom kingship belongs." Sanhedrin 98b:"What is His [Messiah's] name? The school of R. Shila said, 'Shiloh" as it is written, until Shiloh come." Lamentations Rabbah I. 16. 51:"The school of R. Shila said: The Messiah's name is 'Shiloh", as it is stated, Until Shiloh come (Gen xxlix, 10), where the word is spelt Shlh." Levey adds in note 23(p. 149):"A play on the similarity of the names, thus rendering honor to their teacher. The Talmud continues that the school of R. Jannai claimed the Messiah's name was Jinnon, and the school of R. Hananiah said it was Hananiah, each quoting an appropriate proof-text."Cf. G. F. Moore, Judaism II, pp. 348-49 for a similar claim. COMMENT: Levey overlooks the fact that all but the school of Shila have no basis that is solid- The School of Shila does have such a base in the Targumic and Rabbinic view, and in the MT reading, Shiloh. Cf. Moses Aberbach & Bernard Grossfeld, Targum Onkelos on Genesis 49 Scholars Press. Missoula, p. 14.

Neusner, Messiah in Context, p. 242:"It is difficult to imagine how Gen 49:10 could have been read as other than a messianic prediction."

There may be echoes of Gen 49. 10 in Ez 21. 17:"It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightly belongs. To him I will give it". and Jer 33. 14 :"Behold the days are coming-- Oracle of Yahweh- and I will perform the good word which I spoke to the house of Israel and the house of Judah." The word seems to be that of Gen 49. 10.

Modern scholars object that the Hebrew is corrupt because shiloh is feminine while the verb is masculine. Reply: 1) Shiloh stands for a man, agreement by sense. 2) There are some parallels in OT: Jer 49. 16 where a feminine noun, tiplaset, your horror, has a masculine verb. Also Ezech 1. 5-10 where the noun hayoth is feminine, yet the suffixes in the next verses referring to the living creatures shift between masculine and feminine. This sort of shift was common in Mishnaic Hebrew.

Historical fulfillment: The Jews did have some sort of ruler from tribe of Judah until Rome imposed Herod on them as Tetrarch in 41 BC- soon (38 BC) he made self king. Herod was Jewish by religion (Jews had forced it on Idumea), but lived up to it poorly and, most importantly, by birth he was not of the tribe of Judah - half Idumean, half Arab. The fulfillment would have been more glorious had they not been so unfaithful so often. Neusner reports that Messianic expectation was strong at the time of Christ.

3) Isaiah 9. 5-6:"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

We take up this text before Is 7. 14 since it is easier to study, and since it is generally agreed today that both texts belong to the same Book of Emmanuel (6. 1- to 12. 6). Hence the child is the same in both texts.

The Targum definitely takes 9. 5-6 as Messianic. The translation of the Targum is debated. J. F. Stenning of Oxford: "And his name has been called from of old, Wonderful counsellor, Mighty God, He who lives forever, the Anointed one (or, Messiah), in whose days peace shall increase upon us." We note that Stenning does say Mighty God is part of His name. Samson Levey(p. 45) renders: "And his name has been called by the One who gives wonderful counsel, the Mighty God, He who lives forever: Messiah, in whose day peace shall abound for us."

Levey can so translate because he takes Aramaic min qedem to be mean by. This is linguistically possible. Stenning takes the same words to mean "from of old". That too is linguistically possible. Levey's version has a strain in it, in that it is hard to know which titles belong to the one who calls, which to the one who is named. It is certain that the Jews would have had a hard time digesting the idea that the Messiah was God. -- Yet, we do have the evidence of Psalms 45 and 80, cited above, which seem to say that. We could add also Mal 3. 1:"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before my face. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight." Even R. H. Fuller observes, speaking of the citation of the text by Jesus in Mt 11. 14 (Foundations of NT Christology, p. 48): "The starting point for this expectation is Mal 4:5f. (Mt 3:23f). In this passage, an editorial note commenting on Mal 3:1, Elijah appears as the forerunner not of the Messiah but of Yahweh himself... followed by the coming of Yahweh to his temple for the eschatological judgment...." (Fuller uses the numbering 4. 5, with some English versions and the Vulgate, for what the Hebrew and most others number as 3. 23-24). Jesus in Mt 11. 3-10 identifies John with Elijah (multiple fulfillment), which implies that the one for whom John was the forerunner was Yahweh Himself = Jesus.

The Targum, however, does not speak of Mal 3. 1 as Messianic. We can gather that as a matter of fact it was messianic, fulfilled when Jesus came to the Temple.

El gibbor [Mighty God] occurs also in: Is 10. 22; Dt. 10. 17; Jer 32. 18; Neh. 9. 32. It always means only Mighty God, and Levey so renders it in his versions of the Hebrew and of the Targum. It does not mean God-Hero as the NAB has it.

4) Isaiah 7. 14 :"Behold, the almah shall conceive and bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel."

The Targum as we have it does not call this verse messianic. Yet the child in it is clearly the same as that of 9. 5-6, which is marked as messianic by the Targum. And Neusner, Messiah in Context , p. 174 cites Hillel, great teacher of the time of Christ:" R. Hillel said. There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they have already enjoyed him in the days of Hezekiah."(Citing from Sanhedrin 99a). Levey, note 33 (found on p. 154) cites R. Johanan b. Zakkai: "Prepare a throne for Hezekiah, king of Judah, who is coming". Berakot 28b. Levey adds: "Johanan's statement is especially significant, for it was he who salvaged what little he could in 70 C. E." Levey also gives reference to Bar Kappara in Lamentations Rabbah on 1:16.

Neusner on p. 190 says: "Since Christian critics of Judaism claimed that the prophetic promises of redemption had all been kept in the times of ancient Israel, so that Israel now awaited nothing at all, it was important to reject the claim that Hezekiah had been the Messiah."

So this is why Targum does not call 7. 14 Messianic. Levey, on p. 152, in note 10 says that "Christians tended to base their arguments against Judaism on verses of Scripture, and the Targum interpretation of those verses was often deliberately designed to exclude the Christian argument." (Levey is quoting J. Bowker, and agrees substantially. H. J. Schoeps, Paul p. 129: "... it was felt to be undesirable to lend support to the Christian interpretation [of Is 53]. Again with the same motive and in order to eliminate the reference of Isaiah 53 to Christ, atoning power was imputed to the death of Moses."

The Septuagint does take Hebrew almah as parthenos [virgin]. Laurentin, in the original French edition of his Les Evangiles de l'Enfance du Christ, argued on p. 486 that the Septuagint is loose in use of parthenos - he pointed to case of Gen 34. 4 - Dina is called a virgin after being violated. He did not check the Hebrew or the Greek, used only a French translation. LXX has paidisken, which is vague [young women]. Hebrew has yaldah, also vague. In the English translation of the same book, he moved back to Gen 34. 3, which is ambiguous -- probably is a case of concentric ring presentation. I have personally checked every instance where LXX uses parthenos, found all are accurate. In fact, the LXX is sometimes more precise than the Hebrew, as judged by the Hebrew context. There are a few doubtful examples of looseness in pagan Greek, but even if they were clear, pagan usage does not prove LXX usage.

Laurentin also says that the LXX in reading "you will call" receded from the Hebrew tradition "she will call". We reply: a) Sometimes the Mother did give the name, when not a virgin: Gen 4. 1 & 25; 19. 36-38. 29. 32 b) The text of the Masoretic Text was not yet stabilized at the time the LXX was made - they could have had a reading different from our MT.

Who was the child of 7. 14? Some today say Hezekiah -- the sign should not be something far in the future. A heir to the line of David would be a sign. On other hand, the description of the child in 9. 5-6 is too grandiose for Hezekiah. And the solemnity of the scene--offering a sign in the sky or in the depths-- suggests more than just an ordinary heir to the throne. So it is probable this is a case of multiple fulfillment. On that cf. Free From All Error, chapter 5.

5) Isaiah 53. The Hebrew speaks of the Suffering Servant as having no form or comeliness, despised and rejected by men, he has borne our griefs and was wounded for our transgressions. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet did not open his mouth, like a lamb being led to the slaughter.

The Targum recognizes this as messianic, yet distorts it greatly. Hebrew v. 3:"He was despised and rejected by men."

Targum:"Then the glory of all kingdoms will be despised and cease."

Hebrew v. 5:"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities."

Targum: "He will rebuild the sanctuary, polluted because of our sins, handed over because of our iniquities."

Hebrew v. 7:He was "like a lamb being led to the slaughter."

Targum: "He will hand over the mighty ones of the peoples, like a lamb to the slaughter."

Why? 1) The belief was common the Messiah would be a conqueror and live forever. This would be strengthened by 2 Sam 7. 11-16 where God promised David's line would last forever. 2) This was probably written or revised at time of the revolt of Bar Kokhba (132-35AD), whom many thought was the Messiah. 3) There was probably deliberate distortion to keep Christians from using it. Cf. remarks of Levey and H. J. Shoeps cited above.

This is a case of "the Lady doth protest too much".

6) Micah 5. 1-3. When the Magi came, Herod consulted the Jewish scholars, who without hesitation replied (Mt 2. 5):"They said to him, in Bethlehem of Juda, for so it is written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem of the land of Judah are no the least among the rulers of Juda. For out of you shall come forth the captain who shall govern my people Israel." Micah said: "And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are little to be among the thousands of Judah. From you shall come for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from the days of eternity."

Targum Jonathan: "From you will come forth before me the Messiah... whose name was spoken from days of old, from the days of eternity." Levey comments (p. 93) that the words "from of old, from the days of eternity" seem to imply a pre-existent Messiah. The Targum could be taken the same way.

B. Talmud, Pesahim 4. 4. 54a:"Seven things were created before the creation of the world, namely, Torah, repentance, paradise, gehenna, the throne of majesty , the temple and the name of the Messiah. --Pesikta Rabati (a Midrash from about 8th century AD) Piska 33. 6:"You find that at the very beginning of the creation of the world, the king Messiah had already come into being, for he existed in God's thought even before the world was created." E. Isaac, editor of 1 Enoch in J. H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha I, p. 9:"The Messiah in 1 Enoch, called the Righteous One, and the Son of Man, is depicted as a preexistent heavenly being who is resplendent and majestic, possesses all dominion, and sits on the his throne od glory passing judgment upon all mortals and spiritual beings." The actual text of 1 Enoch 48. 1-6 (Charlesworth, p. 35):"... even before the creation of the sun and moon, before the creation of the stars, he was given a name in the presence of the Lord of Spirits. . he was concealed in the presence (of the Lord of Spirits) prior to the creation of the world and for eternity." Isaac thinks 1 Enoch originated in Judea, and was in use in Qumran before the Christian period. --Levey, p. 70 in giving rabbinic parallels to Targum on Jer 23. 1-8 says: "'What is the name of the King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is 'the Lord' as it is stated. And this is the name whereby he shall called. The Lord is our righteousness (Jer 23. 6) " Lamentations Rabbah 1. 51. Levey's note 83, on p. 156 gives the Hebrew of Lord in the above quote as Yahweh.


1) There are many more texts on the Messiah himself, and on his age. There are also texts where we can see things by hindsight that the Jews did not see.

2) If even the stiff-necked Jews (cf. Ex. 33. 3 and 5. Dt 9. 6 & 12 and 31. 27). could see this much without the help of hindsight -- (cf. R. Brown, Virginal Conception, p. 15) -- how much more could she who was full of grace would see? Cf. W. Most, "The Knowledge of Our Lady" in Faith & Reason, XI. 1985, pp. 51-76.

3) Sacred Scripture

a) Revelation compared to inspiration: Revelation conveys new information. Inspiration as such does not do that.

b) Nature of Inspiration of Scripture

(1) God is principal Author- and so no error of any kind:

(a) Vatican I (DS 3006): "The Church considers them (books of Scripture) sacred and canonical, not that they were written by mere human diligence and then approved by her authority, nor only that they contain revelation without error, but because, being written with the Holy Spirit inspiring them, they have God as their author and as such were handed down to the Church herself".

(b) Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus (1893):"It is altogether not permitted to either limit inspiration to only some parts of Sacred Scripture, or to say that the sacred author himself was in error. Nor is the method tolerable which to get out of the difficulties just mentioned, does not hesitate to say that divine inspiration pertains to matters of faith and morals and nothing more.... For all the books, the complete books, which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, were written, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Spirit. It is so far from possible that any error could underlie divine inspiration that it of itself not only excludes all error, but excludes and rejects it as necessarily as it is necessary to say that God, the supreme Truth, is the author of no error."

(c) Pius XII, Divino afflante Spiritu (1943) (EB538) quoted the words of Vatican I cited above and commented: "But when certain Catholic authors, contrary to this solemn definition of Catholic doctrine... dared to restrict the truth of Holy Scripture to matters of faith and morals... our predecessor of immortal memory, Leo XIII, in the Encyclical Providentissimus Deus... rightly and properly refuted those errors."

(d) Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11:"Since, then, everything that the inspired authors or hagiographers assert should be held as asserted by the Holy Spirit, hence the books of Scripture are to be professed as teaching firmly, faithfully and without error, the truth which God for the sake of our salvation willed to be confided to the Sacred Letters."

The Council in note 4 refers us to Leo XIII (EB 121, 124, 126-27. EB 124 was cited above, excluding errors of every kind) and Pius XII (EB 539 - which cites EB 124-25 of Leo XIII, insisting we may not limit inspiration to just some parts of Scripture. Rather error is necessarily excluded since God is the Author of all of Scripture). Three notes, 1-3, on the previous paragraph refer us also, inter alia, to Vatican I DS 3006, cited above, and to Pius XII EB 556, cited above saying the human writer is the instrument of the Holy Spirit, but the human still, under transcendence, uses his own faculties, and writing style).

NOTES: 1. In spite of the above, Cardinal Koenig at the Council on Oct. 2, 1964 charged errors in Scripture. (Cf. A Grillmeier, in his commentary on this chapter in H. Vorgrimler, ed. , Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder & Herder, 1969, III pp. 205-06).

2. R. Brown, Critical Meaning of the Bible, p. 18:"Many of us think that at Vatican II the Catholic Church 'turned the corner' in the inerrancy question by moving from the a priori to the a posteriori in the statement of Dei verbum 11." - cited above. Brown thinks the words we underlined above allow us to say inspiration covers only those things needed for salvation. All else-- matters of natural science, history and religion not needed for salvation- may be in error. He give examples, especially on pp 16. 17 of Job 14. 13-22, and says to try to explain Job otherwise is "an unmitigated disaster". Really, it is easy to explain. Cf. Wm. Most, Free From All Error, pp. 39-46.

Brown ignores the fact that the claims of Cardinal Koenig were not put into the final document. He ignores the references the Council gave, as we noted above, to earlier documents insisting on no error of any kind at all. He ignores fact Pius XII said, cited above, that the words of Vatican I on this were a solemn definition. Brown admits, p. 18, that the words in question are ambiguous- then how can be claim the Church contradicted a solemn definition, did so in unclear form, and giving references to texts that reaffirm?

Brown in New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p 1169 strongly repeats the same position.

3. Thomas Hoffman, S. J. in CBQ 44(1982) p. 451. n. 17 says " the term inerrancy is dropped in this paper as having no positive theological contribution to make." He added (p. 452) that to try to answer all charges of error is "basically patching holes on a sinking ship". And on p. 467 he said if one has real faith he will not want such answers! (Cf. Bultmann saying faith should have no foundation: KM 211). On p. 457 he says that what the Apostolic Church meant by an inspired work was one "in which they experienced the power, truth etc. , of the Spirit of Christ." -- Sounds like Calvin!

4. New Methods. It is ironic at the very time when we can solve problems formerly insoluble that so many, like Hoffman, are claiming they cannot be solved. Especially the use of literary genres helps, plus some help from form & redaction criticism.

(a) Some examples of eye-closing:

(1) J. Fitzmyer, Paul and His theology, Prentice Hall, 1978, p. 12-- speaks of three problems in accounts of Paul's conversion, comments: "Puzzling , however, are the variant details in the account.... The failure to harmonize such details reflects Luke's lack of concern for consistency."

(2) Joseph a Callaway, "The Settlement in Canaan" in: Ancient Israel, ed. Hershel Shanks, Biblical Archaeology Society, Washington, 1988, p. 84. "... there are two or three traditions in 1 Samuel that give conflicting opinions. In 1 Samuel 8:6-22 Samuel is instructed by Yahweh to oppose the appointment of a king; in 1 Samuel 9:15-24, Samuel is instructed to anoint Saul secretly as king." COMMENT: really, 6-22 reports God told Samuel to pick a king even though Samuel did not like it. Here it seems the author is eager to find a contradiction where there is none, instead of resolving real conflicts. --There can be variant traditions and still no error- cf. FFAE chapter 15.

(3) Many more instances in appendix 3 of W. Most, Catholic Apologetics Today.

How Inspiration functions:

Pius XII, Divino afflante Spiritu (EB 556): "The sacred writer, in producing the sacred book, is the organon, that is, the instrument of the Holy Spirit, an instrument living and endowed with reason.... He, working under inspiration, still uses his own faculties and powers in such a way that all can easily gather from the book he produces 'the proper character, and as it were, the individual lines and characteristics'" of the human writer. (Internal quote from Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus EB 448).

As we mentioned in passing above, the Holy Spirit can use the human writer, leave him free as to his style, and yet see that he writes all He wills, and only what He wills, and without error. This can be through transcendence - i.e., God is above and beyond all our categories and classifications.

To illustrate: we know either in the active or the passive mode. In the passive, we take on an impression and information we lacked, and we are passive --B ut God cannot lack anything, cannot receive anything, so this is not possible in Him. In the active mode, a blind man knows a chair is moving only because he is pushing it - but we surely cannot limit or reduce God to the level of a blind man.

So we say: He works above and beyond our categories.

Some not understanding this, claim He knows only by causing things, i. e, in the active mode. St. Thomas Aquinas many times, e. g, in De veritate 2. 12. c explains God's ability to know future contingents by saying that although as future, they are unknowable, yet to Him they are present, by way of eternity. But he stops there - does not say how they are known within eternity. He does not know, nor do we, except that we invoke transcendence. There would be no reason for Thomas to carefully explain how eternity can make a future contingent present, if he believed God knows only by causing things. Then Thomas could have said at once: God know what will be because He intends to cause it. -- So, no need to mention eternity at all. Cf. W. Most, New Answers to Old Questions §§ 463-79.

Still more remarkably, He knows the futuribles, as we can see from Scripture, e. g, 1 Sam 23. 10-13; Jer 38. 17-23; Mt 11. 21-23; Lk 10. 13. - A futurible is what would be if some conditions would be present. Eternity cannot make a futurible present, but it never will be, it only would be. Further, it is general teaching that if one prays for something that would be harmful if it would be granted, God will not grant it- implying He knows futuribles. But in knowing these, recourse to eternity to make them present does not help-- for they never will be, only would be. Some authors, who think He knows only by way of causality, say He does not know the futuribles--would require an infinite set of decrees within Him. Cf. P. de Lesdema, De Divinae Gratiae Auxiliis, a. 18.

Again, Plato, Republic 6. 509B (cf. Plotinus, 6. 8. 9) speaks of Good, which he seems to identify with God, as beyond being. He means that the word good, as applied to creatures, and as applied to God, has something in common, but far more difference- hence, the only slightly exaggerated statement: He is beyond being.

In a parallel way, we can say the Holy Spirit moves the human writer and leaves him free as to style.

Relation of Scripture and Tradition

(a) The debates at Vatican II on Dei verbum were long and bitter. (Cf. H. Vorgrimler, ed., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Herder & Herder 1969, vol. III -- various authors. ). The first draft by the Theological Commission, November 1962, was rejected. The majority wanted it rewritten. The vote was less than 2/3 but John XXIII overrode, called for rewriting. Rewritten version was ready for second session, 1963. Brought up for more discussion and votes at 3rd session, 1964. More changes. Some last minute changes suggested by Paul VI. Finally approved by almost unanimous vote on Nov. 18, 1964.

(b) Three questions were especially hot: ) Tradition: What is it in itself? Relation of Scripture & Tradition: one or two sources? 2) Inerrancy 3) Historicity of the Gospels.

The preface to DV said that the Council "adhering to the steps of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, intends to propose the true doctrine about divine revelation and about its transmission." But Joseph Ratzinger (In Vorgrimler, p, 167) said: "The brief form of the Preface and the barely concealed illogicalities that it contains betray the confusion from which it has emerged."

(c) Revelation of a Person and of Doctrines: There was a tendency to say (Ratzinger, p. 171): "Instead of the legalistic view that sees revelation largely as the issuing of divine decrees, we have a sacramental view." That is, God has revealed Himself in Christ - true - but tends to leave out the fact that He also has revealed specific truths, many by the mouth of Christ.

(d) End of public revelation. It is true however that the Christian economy is definitive. DV 4: "The Christian economy, as the new and definitive covenant, will never pass away, and no new revelation is now to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." St. Paul expressed this forcefully in Gal. 1. 8-9: "Even if we, or an angel from the sky, were to preach to you other than we have preached, let him be cursed." Montanus, a mid-second century heretic, tried this, with his third stage of revelation. So did Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism.

(e) Judaism. The fact that the Christian economy is definitive implies also that Judaism is no longer sufficient. It was a preparation for Christ, is fulfilled in Christ. The Jews who rejected Christ have falllen out of the original olive tree, the People of God, and so are no longer members of the People of God. God still calls them to become members, but they are not accepting: Rom 11:1 and 11:29. To say they could be saved without accepting Christ means they did not need Him, as a Redeemer! It is also true that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, of its prophecies of the Messiah and aspirations. Christians are, as St. Paul puts it, engrafted into the tame olive true, which stands for the original People of God: Romans 11. 17-21.

(f) Private revelations We notice DV speaks of no new revelation - it means no new public revelations. Public revelation is that which is contained in Scripture and Tradition, and this is complete. The promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit to lead into all truth (John 16:13 did not mean new public revelations, but a deeper penetration into the original deposit of faith. Hence we have had new definitions and new clarity even in our day. Cf. the case of the Immaculate Conception. The commission of the Church to teach, which we saw in our sketch of Apologetics, refers only to public revelation. Any other revelation is called private, even if addressed to the world, as Fatima was. The Church does not have the commission to interpret private revelation. At most it can do the following - often does nothing: 1) can declare the private revelation does not clash with public revelation. If it did , that part would have to be rejected. 2) May add that it seems to deserve human acceptance, in contrast to the virtue of faith. As to our response to the Church on private revelations: 1) We are not obliged to believe a decision on authenticity, since Church claims no commission on these. We should be respectful at least 2) If the local Bishop prohibits pilgrimages to the site of an alleged revelation, he has that authority, even if his decision on authenticity might be in error. So we must obey. If there seem to be further apparitions after disobedience on this point, we can be sure they are spurious. God and His Saints will not appear in order to promote disobedience.

g) Ongoing revelation?: Gabriel Moran and Sister Maria Harris, in "Revelation and Religious" , in National Catholic Reporter, Nov. 22, 1967, p. 6:"... revelation as used here denotes a present happening.... . It is impossible to come to a present, personal, social revelation by building upon a thing that is handed down from the past.... God reveals himself in the fleshly existence of each man. He reveals himself too , in the universal drives of a mankind that seeks to improve the cosmos. The one way that God does not speak is in generalities to the general mass."-- Of course, this contradicts DV 4, which we just saw. But the theory of Moran had great influence on catechetics.

h) Interpreting revelation. DV 10: "the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively (soli) to the living Magisterium of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."--This is really the conclusion we reached in our sketch of apologetics. Only the magisterium of the Church has been commissioned to teach by Jesus, the Messenger sent from God. No one else has that right.

In studying Scripture there should be two phases: 1) Work by the best exegetical methods - this is a human means; 2) Then compare with the statements of the Magisterium, which alone are final. If there are no statements on a given text - and there are such on very few texts--then we note DV 12: "Since Sacred Scripture is to be read and interpreted by the same Spirit by which it was written, to rightly extract the sense of the sacred texts, one must look not less diligently to the content and unity of all of Scripture, taking into account the living Tradition of the whole Church and the analogy of faith." We gather two things:

(a) Since all Scripture has for its principal Author the Holy Spirit, therefore, there can be no contradiction. We may find differences in scope and presentation in different parts, e. g, in different Gospels. But there will never be a clash.

(b) We must see how our proposed interpretation fits with the living Tradition of the Church, i.e., its ongoing teaching, and with the "analogy of faith." This means that even where there is no explicit statement of the Church on a given text, yet any interpretation that clashes, even by implication, with any of the established truths taught by the Church, must be rejected. In this way we have a means of ruling out in advance many false interpretations. This is largely a negative sort of help - ruling out the false. It may not give us much on the positive side, i.e., what positively is true. Part of this analogy of faith is also found in what LG 12 speaks of: "The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of faith." This is sometimes called passive infallibility. It means that if the whole Church, people and authorities both, have ever, even for one period of history, believed (accepted as revealed) some truth, that cannot be in error. It is infallible.

Four levels of teaching: In regard to the texts of the Magisterium too, we need to notice that there are four levels of teaching, all binding:

First level: the solemn definition. LG 25 repeats the fact that the Pope can act alone, without collegiality, even in defining if he so wills. As a matter of fact, practically all major decisions in past history have been collegial. LG 25 adds that his definitions need no assent of the Church or approval of anyone else, nor do they admit room for appeal to any authority at all.

Second Level: LG 25:"Although individual bishops do not have the prerogative of infallibility, they can yet teach Christ's doctrine infallibly. This is true even when they are scattered around the world, provided that, while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with the successor of Peter, they concur in a teaching as the one which must be definitively held."

Third Level: Pius XII, in Humani generis, 1950, DS 3885: "Nor must it be thought that the things contained in Encyclical letters do not of themselves require assent of the mind on the plea that in them the pontiffs do not exercise the supreme power of their magisterium. These things are taught with the ordinary magisterium, about which it is also true to say, 'He who hears you, hears me'" (Lk 10. 16). And Pius XII added: "If the supreme pontiffs in their Acta expressly pass judgment on a matter debated until then, it is obvious to all that the matter, according to the mind and will of the same pontiffs cannot any longer be considered a matter open for discussion among theologians."

So these statements, under the conditions given, come under the promise: "He who hears you, hears me." Now he who hears Christ is never in error- so these teachings are really also infallible. Hence it follows that the matter in question is no longer open for debate among theologians or others.

LG §25 seeming to speak of the same thing specifies only "religious submission", instead of something that depends on faith in the words of Christ. Even so, it remains true that if a Pope intends to make anything definitive, it is infallible. No special form of words is needed. For example, in the familiar form of "si quis dixerit... AS" from Councils sometimes we find only disciplinary matters, not definitions. Yet in Vatican I (DS 3006) we read that the books of Scripture have God as their author. But this, though in a capitulum, not in a canon, was called a "solemn definition" by Pius XII, in Divino afflante Spiritu (EB 538). So all that is required to make something infallible, and coming under the virtue of faith, is the intent to make the item definitive, plus writing in such a way as to make that intent clear. The conditions given by Pius XII in Humani generis, cited above, do make that clear, namely , removing a thing from debate, and bringing it under Lk 10:16. So such things are infallible. LG §25 states that the Pope, without consulting anyone, can define. This is true since he can speak for the whole Church. (Similarly LG §22 speaks of the Pope's supreme authority in giving commands, without consulting anyone else).

Fourth level: Canon 752:"Not indeed an assent of faith, but yet a religious submission of mind and will must be given to the teaching which either the supreme pontiff or the college of bishops pronounces on faith and morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by a definitive act."

We notice there are some things not taught by a definitive act - not intended to be completely final. The intention is the critical factor. So these are not infallible, and do not fall under the virtue of faith, hence the assent called for is a religious submission.

Vatican II, in LG 25 spoke broadly enough to cover both levels 3 and 4: "Religious submission of mind and of will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman pontiff even when he is not defining, in such a way, namely, that the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to according to his manifested mind and will, which is clear either from the nature of the documents, or from the repeated presentation of the same doctrine or from the manner of speaking."--So again, the intention of the Pope is critical. He may intend to make something definitive, when he explicitly teaches a position on a previously debated matter, or when his teachings form part of a thing taught repeatedly on the ordinary magisterium level (below level 1). Such things are infallible. But he may also not make clear that he wants a thing to be definitive, or may speak in such a way that we at least cannot be sure it is meant that way. Then we have a teaching that comes on level 4. Yet we notice again that LG §25 is not fully clear, since it speaks only of religious assent, not of assent of faith, as explained above.

How can we make an assent to a teaching which is not intended to be infallible? In everyday life we do this - we eat food from a can, without a lab check for botulism. A criminal court may sentence a man to life in prison or death even though the judge has told the jury they should find his guilt proved only "beyond reasonable doubt." Not every tiny doubt need be excluded. This is what is called moral certitude - enough for practical living.

An example of Scriptural work that ignores the fact that the Holy Spirit is author of all of Scripture, and so feels free to claim that one Gospel can contradict another is found in many authors today, e.g., Wilfrid Harrington (Mark, Glazier, Wilmington, l979, pp. 47-48). He thinks that Mk 3. 31-35 speaks of the same group as those in 3. 20-21, and concludes His Mother did not believe in Him and so the passage "may be seen to distinguish those who stood outside the sphere of salvation, and those who are within it." She then would be outside the sphere of salvation. This would clash with Luke, who praises her faith from the beginning. It is outrageous!

i) Tradition: In itself it is merely the ongoing teaching of the Church. It is found in Patristic writings, but also in today's teachings. We distinguish Tradition from tradition with a small t-- merely customary things.

It grows as the Holy Spirit leads the Church into ever deeper penetration into the deposit of faith.

There was a striving for unclarity at Vatican II- some wanted to say, to please Protestants, that there is only one source. The final statement is in DV 9:"Both, coming from the one divine source coalesce as it were into one and tend to the same end." This is unfortunate lack of clarity. It really means: There is only one source, God. But what He reveals is found in two places, Scripture and Tradition. For Tradition contains things not found in Scripture. at least not clearly, e.g., the Immaculate Conception.

It is only Tradition that lets us know which books are inspired. Luther, trying to make Scripture stand aside against the Church, tried to find a criterion for inspiration. He said if a book preaches justification by faith strongly, it is inspired. Foolish! He could have written such a book, and I too, but the books would not have been inspired. And he had not proved such was the criterion. Calvin thought a book is inspired if it gives edifying thoughts. Terribly subjective. Many Protestants today give up the attempt, cf. Professor Gerald Burney Smith, who in 1910 gave a paper to the 28th annual Baptist Congress--published next year in Biblical World 38, pp. 19-29. He reviewed all ways of trying to find out, concluded it could be done only if we had a teaching authority to tell us. He did not think we did. Details chapter 2 of FFAE.

j) Historicity of the Gospels. There was intense discussion at Vatican II on this. Behind it was the idea that there are errors in Scripture, as we saw above.

DV 18: "The Church always and everywhere has held and still holds that the four Gospels have an Apostolic origin." This is not the same as saying they are all by Apostles-- Mark and Luke surely are not. And even with Matthew and John - the statement is not precise enough to make definite that those Apostles were the authors. Really, a question of authorship is not a matter of revelation. But there is apostolic origin for certain in this: DV 18:"The things which the Apostles, by command of Christ, preached later, they themselves, and apostolic men, handed down to us, the foundation of the faith, namely the four-fold Gospel, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John". So the Apostles were the origin, whether or not they were the authors of the writing.

Really, as Form and Redaction Criticism has shown, there are three stages in the genesis of the Gospels: (1) the words and acts of Jesus, with His words adapted to His current audience. (2) The way the Apostles and others reported these-- again, with adaptation in wording to their audience (3) Some individuals within the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put down in writing some part of that original teaching.

DV 19 adds: "Holy Mother Church firmly and most constantly has held and does hold that the four Gospels just mentioned, whose historicity she affirms without hesitation, faithfully hand down what Jesus, the son of God, living among men, really did and taught (reapse fecit et docuit) for their eternal salvation...."

We note the word 'historicity." The writers of DV shied away from the word history, since, thanks to confusion in Germany, there is a distinction: Geschichte is not the event in itself, but what the proclamation conjures up in the mind, irrespective of its actual content. Historie is the grasping of the event through reason according to the laws of historical criticism." R. Bultmann had said we can know hardly anything about Jesus in Himself, beyond His existence . We believe the proclamation - and there is a problem of what is the gap between the reality and the proclamation.

Paul VI had suggested, not commanded, using "vera seu historica fide digna"= true, worthy of historical belief, instead of what we actually find, "quae reapse fecit et docuit." The problem of the two German words led to not following his suggestion. Bede Rigaux, in his commentary on this passage in Vorgrimler, p. 259, wrote: "Throughout all these discussions and misgivings we can see the clear will of the Church to accord to these synoptic Gospels their value as testimony to the reality of the events that they narrate and to the certainty with which they present us with the Person, the words and acts of Jesus."

DV 19 adds that "The Apostles indeed, after the ascension of the Lord, handed on to their hearers what He had said and done, with the fuller understanding which they enjoyed after being instructed by the glorious events of Christ and taught by the light of the Spirit of Truth." - This was not a process of first idealizing, then divinizing. No, rather, they understood more fully that He was really was divine, and this would spur their memories, and make them all the more careful to report things correctly, knowing that their eternity depended on the truth about Jesus. They did not hide their own dullness and lack of understanding that was shown earlier. (Cf. Acts 1:6 shows that even just before His ascension they still did not have the true notion of the Messiah. But they did, then, later, grasp the full meaning of things they had not really seen before, and they understood His prophecies --especially of His death and resurrection-- and probably the OT Prophecies about Him as well. Definitely we can see that the primitive Church saw Him in Isaiah 53-- the Targums also saw the Messiah there, but distorted, as we saw above. Another example: John 2. 19-21 ("Destroy this temple, and in three days I will rebuild it."). Other examples: Jn 3:22; 6:6; 12:16; 20:9.

DV 19 adds: "Moreover, the sacred authors of the four Gospels, selecting certain things out of many things, handed down orally or in writing, putting certain things into a synthesis, or explaining them for the state of the Church, finally, kept the form of preaching in such a way that they always communicated to us the honest truth (vera et sincera) about Jesus." This implies we watch for the genre of the Gospels - but it is such a genre that there are two things in it- facts are reported, with proclamation or presentation designed for faith. But that second point did not lead to any distortion or inaccurate reporting. They told rather "what He really did and said."

So it is likely that Matthew grouped sayings into the Sermon on the Mount. And Luke grouped parables.

Also from DV 19:"The fact that the Evangelists report the words or deeds of the Lord in different order does not affect at all the truth of the narrative, for they keep the sense, while reporting His statements, not to the letter but in different ways."

This means for one thing, that the order was not always chronological. It also means that in presenting things--as we noted in describing the three stages of the genesis of the Gospels-- they might change the words, to adapt to their audience, and to the special scope of each Gospel. But they would give the truth faithfully even so.

k) What is faith, our response? We distinguish the full Pauline sense of the word faith from the narrower sense of intellectual acceptance.

As to intellectual acceptance, we explained what is required in speaking of the four levels of teaching.

As to the fuller Pauline sense of faith- DV 5 explains: "The 'obedience of faith' (Rom 16, 26, cf. Rom 1. 5; 2 Cor 10, 5-6) by which a man commits himself wholly and freely to God, 'giving to God who reveals full obedience of mind and will' and voluntarily assenting to the revelation given by Him."(DS 3008).

This full sense of faith, or total commitment to God, includes the following things:1) If God speaks a truth, we must believe it in our minds; 2) if He makes a promise, we must be confident He will fulfill it; 3) if He tells us to do something, we do it, the 'obedience of faith" i. e, the obedience that faith is. 4) All is to be done in love, for faith works through love (Gal 5. 6). (Actually, to love God is to obey Him).

With this sense of the word faith, we can hold as St. Paul does, for justification by faith. However, Luther took faith to mean merely confidence that the merits of Christ have been applied to me- giving infallible salvation, for no matter how many sins I have committed, or am committing or will commit- His merits always outweigh them. Hence Luther could write to Melanchthon (Letter 501, Aug. 1, 1521):"Pecca fortiter, sed crede fortius." Even if you sin greatly, believe more greatly - that it is all paid for. So you cannot help being saved, no matter what sins you will commit. (And they have the nerve to say indulgences are a permission to sin!) . Luther also said (Weimar Edition vol 3, cap 26. p. 412): "No sin will separate us from the Lamb even though we commit fornication and murder a thusand times a day."

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