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Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > April 2011 > Pope Benedict and How to Read the Bible
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Steve
Great insight. The human authors could only know their times and the historical perspective helps us understand what they thought and how their message went out to the people of thier time. We do have to also consider the "divine authorship" and what does the passage mean for us today! Ultimately what they meant for the time helps us apply that message to our daily lives. We need to live it out. Thanks!
5/20/2011 5:05:25 PM
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Lindsay
Father Barron:

You forgot (or maybe the Pope does not deal with)another problem with the historical-critical method. It is highlighted in C.S. Lewis' 1959 essay, "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism". I quote:

“What the value of such reconstructions is I learned very early in my career. I had published a book of essays; and in the one into which I had put most of my heart, the one I really cared about and in which I discharged a keen enthusiasm, was on William Morris. And in almost the first review I was told that this was obviously the only one in the book in which I had felt no interest. Now don't mistake. The critic was, I now believe, quite right in thinking it the worst essay in the book; at least everyone agreed with him. Where he was totally wrong was in his imaginary history of the causes which produces its dullness.
Well, this made me ***** up my ears. Since then I have watched with some care similar imaginary histories both of my own books and of books by friends whose real history I knew. Reviewers, both friendly and hostile, will dash you off such histories with great confidence; will tell you what public events had directed the author's mind to this or that, what other authors had influenced him, what his overall intention was, what sort of audience he principally addressed, why - and when - he did everything.

"Now I must record my impression; then distinct from it, what I can say with certainty. My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of these guesses has on any one point been right; that the method shows a record of 100 per cent failure. You would expect that by mere chance they would hit as often as the miss. But it is my impression that they do no such thing. I can't remember a single hit…. And yet they would often sound - if you didn't know the truth - extremely convincing.

"Now this surely ought to give us pause. The reconstruction of the history of a text, when the text is ancient, sounds very convincing. But one is after all sailing by dead reckoning; the results cannot be checked by fact. In order to decide how reliable the method is, what more could you ask for than to be shown an instance where the same method is at work and we have facts to check it by? Well, that is what I have done. And we find, that when this check is available, the results are either always, or else nearly always, wrong. The 'assured results of modern scholarship' as to the was in which an old book was written, are 'assured', we may conclude, only because the men who know the facts are dead and can't blow the gaff.

"…while I respect the learning of the great Biblical critics, I am not yet persuaded that their judgement is equally to be respected. But, secondly, consider with what overwhelming advantages the mere reviewers start. They reconstruct the history of a book written by someone whose mother-tongue is the same as theirs; a contemporary, educated like themselves, living in something like the same mental and spiritual climate. They have everything to help them. The superiority in judgement and diligence which your are going to attribute to the Biblical critics will have to be almost superhuman if it is to offset the fact that they are everywhere faced with customs, language, race-characteristics, class-characteristics, a religious background, habits of composition, and basic assumptions, which no scholarship will ever enable any man now alive to know as surely and intimately and instinctively as the reviewer can know mine. And for the very same reason, remember, the Biblical critics, whatever reconstructions they devise, can never be crudely proved wrong. St. Mark is dead. When they meet St. Peter, there will be more pressing matters to discuss.”
7/6/2011 12:40:21 AM
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roy m nakamoto
Yes, the Bible is God expression of his love for me.
7/11/2011 9:05:09 PM
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theresa Dunn
This is a glorious day. I have found a person who knows God and can tell us about him in a way I can hear and understand and enjoy. I shall keep this place close to my mind and heart.
10/30/2011 8:52:24 PM
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