In the Bible, God speaks to us in a human way; that is, ways we can understand. It is important to be attentive to what the human writers wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words.
Thus, we need to take into account the conditions, time and culture of the writers themselves and their communities of faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists three essential points to understanding Sacred Scripture.
- Be attentive to the content and the unity of the whole of Scripture
- Read the Scripture within the living Tradition of the whole Church
- Be attentive to the analogy of faith (stated differently: striving to explain Scriptural passages in such a way that the sacred writers will not be set in opposition to one another or to the faith and teaching of the Church)
There also are two senses of Scripture that can be distinguished: literal and spiritual.
Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind when interpreting Scripture.
- God inspired the human authors of The Bible to write to the whole of humanity throughout all of history. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write for our spiritual advantage.
- The Bible was written in three different ancient languages: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.
- The writers are no less human than we are, driven by common motivations including pride, greed, prestige, ambition, etc … also, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness, etc…
- Much of The Bible makes use of actual historical events. Its purpose is not to record news but always to provide authoritative testimony of faith that give us ultimate spiritual advantage in daily living. While The Bible uses history, the focus always is on the writers’ and peoples’ relationship with God.
- Seen in their appropriate biblical context, historical contradictions often compliment each other theologically and spiritually.
- We do not have the original biblical text – only copies of copies.
Some Reliable Catholic Biblical Commentaries
- The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (New Testament only)
- The Great Adventure Catholic Bible
More Excellent Catholic Biblical Resources