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By Peter S. Williamson / Pontifical Biblical Institute / 2001
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This volume identifies the key principles of Catholic biblical interpretation proposed in the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s document The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church. The meaning of each of these twenty principles is explained and their significance is explored in light of commentary on Scripture and contemporary scholarly discussion. Featuring a preface by Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission Albert Vanhoye, the volume also includes a glossary and a bibliography of works about the Commission’s document and of works cited.
Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture is split into six parts. Part I considers the foundational principle, that Sacred Scripture is “The word of God expressed in human language.” Part II addresses the “human language” dimension and the use of “scientific” or scholarly means to interpret it. Part III presents principles which consider Scripture as “the word of God” and relates the interpretation of Scripture to Christian faith. Part IV treats the literal, spiritual, and fuller senses of Scripture. Part V discusses the methods and approaches used by exegesis and the ways in which their use is conditioned by the unique object of their study. Part VI treats the role of the exegete and the theoretical and practical principles that guide actualization, enculturation, and the use of the Bible in the life of the Church. The study concludes with an evaluation of the Biblical Commission’s achievement, an agenda for further discussion, and remarks on the challenge ahead for Catholic exegesis.
The interpretation of Sacred Scripture is of paramount importance for Christian life. Every age of the Church has found it necessary to develop a way of interpreting the Bible that corresponds to the needs and mentality of the time while remaining faithful to the Word of God. As stated in The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, "The Scriptures belong to the entire Church…and all of the members of the Church have a role in the interpretation of Scripture." Regardless of your denomination, Catholic Principles for Interpreting Scripture will help you take on that role competently and responsibly.
Peter S. Williamson received his M.A. in theology from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and his S.T.B., S.T.L. and S.T.D. in biblical theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He is a married layman who has been involved for nearly 30 years in evangelization and pastoral ministry in the United States, and more recently in Lithuania and Kazakhstan. He presently serves as a mission associate of Renewal Ministries and teaches Scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Michigan and St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario.