New Sherwood

Quiz time

Who said the words reprinted below? (No Googling!)

a. Pope Benedict XVI

b. Hans Kung

c. Fr. Raymond Brown

d. Pope St. Pius X

e. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

f. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn

g. Karl Barth

h. Jerry Falwell

“In order to understand to some degree the culture of the word, which developed deep within Western monasticism from the search for God, we need to touch at least briefly on … ‘the Scriptures’, which, when taken together, are naturally regarded as the one word of God to us. But the use of this plural makes it quite clear that the word of God only comes to us through the human word and through human words, that God only speaks to us through the humanity of human agents, through their words and their history. This means again that the divine element in the word and in the words is not self-evident. To say this in a modern way: the unity of the biblical books and the divine character of their words cannot be grasped by purely historical methods. The historical element is seen in the multiplicity and the humanity. From this perspective one can understand the formulation of a medieval couplet that at first sight appears rather disconcerting: littera gesta docet – quid credas allegoria … (cf. Augustine of Dacia, Rotulus pugillaris, I). The letter indicates the facts; what you have to believe is indicated by allegory, that is to say, by Christological and pneumatological exegesis.

We may put it even more simply: Scripture requires exegesis, and it requires the context of the community in which it came to birth and in which it is lived. This is where its unity is to be found, and here too its unifying meaning is opened up. To put it yet another way: there are dimensions of meaning in the word and in words which only come to light within the living community of this history-generating word. Through the growing realization of the different layers of meaning, the word is not devalued, but in fact appears in its full grandeur and dignity. Therefore the Catechism of the Catholic Church can rightly say that Christianity does not simply represent a religion of the book in the classical sense.  It perceives in the words the Word, the Logos itself, which spreads its mystery through this multiplicity and the reality of a human history. This particular structure of the Bible issues a constantly new challenge to every generation. It excludes by its nature everything that today is known as fundamentalism. In effect, the word of God can never simply be equated with the letter of the text.

To attain to it involves a transcending and a process of understanding, led by the inner movement of the whole and hence it also has to become a process of living. Only within the dynamic unity of the whole are the many books one book. God’s word and action in the world are only revealed in the word and history of human beings.”

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October 6, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

10 Comments »

  1. Since there aren’t any others, I’ll make a guess. Pope Benedict XVI. It sounds to modern to be St. Pius X but too orthodox to be one of the heretics. And it has to be from a Catholic b/c it mentions the CCC.

    Like

    Comment by Sarah | October 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. Maybe it’s more heterodox than I thought, Peter believes it’s R. Brown.

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    Comment by Sarah | October 6, 2008 | Reply

  3. No, it’s B16 on the new synod this month. Great stuff.

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    Comment by Peter | October 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. Sarah and Peter are right: it’s B16. Unfortunately I don’t see any “great stuff” here, only modernist ambiguity and confusion in the style of de Chardin, Brown, Kung, and Rahner. I pray it never finds its way into an encyclical.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 6, 2008 | Reply

  5. Oh, good, you don’t like it. I could hardly bear to read it. I’m an analytic, not a continentalist.

    Jerry Falwell would’ve been better. At least he could say straight out what he meant. :-)

    Like

    Comment by Lydia | October 6, 2008 | Reply

  6. Lydia, I have tremendous respect for our Pope, but I could hardly bear to read it myself, and confess to having almost zero tolerance for such language.

    Alas, I don’t think this kind of thing will be with us much longer. Maybe 50 years on the outside. It’s a luxury the Church can’t afford.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. Kudos, Mr. Culbreath!

    This (like the previous post on Ms. Palin) is a well needed corrective to the times. This is a disturbing comment from the Holy Father.

    “To attain to it involves a transcending and a process of understanding, led by the inner movement of the whole and hence it also has to become a process of living. Only within the dynamic unity of the whole are the many books one book. God’s word and action in the world are only revealed in the word and history of human beings”- sound eerily similar to the de Chardin noosphere of becoming and being – all based on an “evolution” of man and his thought- scary. Just a thought

    Please keep up the good work!!

    Like

    Comment by Jeffrey S. Wilson | October 7, 2008 | Reply

  8. I’d appreciate a more detailed criticism. Though I admit it is written in an academic style, its supposed shocking nature is not evident to me.

    I even see his words against viewing Christians as a “people of the book” as a subtle attack upon that Islamic condescension which labels Christians as such.

    Like

    Comment by Kevin J Jones | October 7, 2008 | Reply

  9. Mr. Wilson, thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around what that passage really means. Fortunately the Holy Father has spoken much more beautifully and coherently at the Synod itself: http://tinyurl.com/4k8brv .

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 8, 2008 | Reply

  10. “I’d appreciate a more detailed criticism. Though I admit it is written in an academic style, its supposed shocking nature is not evident to me.”

    If it weren’t Pope Benedict XVI speaking here, I would consider it a thinly-veiled screed against the traditional (“fundamentalist”?) understanding of Scripture in the following areas:

    1. Genesis and creation
    2. Difficult passages in the OT
    3. Sin, hell and judgment
    4. Miracles
    5. Male headship in marriage and society
    6. Biblical inerrancy

    The real problem, though, is that the words don’t really say anything. That is very much the modernist style: don’t say anything very specific or concrete, but leave the hearer/reader with a distinct impression. The impression I get from these words is that the meaning of Scripture changes over time, that traditional methods of interpretation are wrong or inadequate, and that right interpretation is dependent upon the experiences of “the living community” which is constantly changing.

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | October 8, 2008 | Reply


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