Day #7: Dei Verbum 11

We cap off our first week of reading with another very important passage from the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.  We are now moving into Chapter III on the Inspiration and Interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.(1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4)

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation. Therefore “all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

1. cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 2 “On Revelation:” Denzinger 1787 (3006); Biblical Commission, Decree of June 18,1915: Denzinger 2180 (3629): EB 420; Holy Office, Epistle of Dec. 22, 1923: EB 499.

2. cf. Pius XII, encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu,” Sept. 30, 1943: A.A.S. 35 (1943) p. 314; Enchiridion Bible. (EB) 556.

3. “In” and “for” man: cf. Heb. 1:1, and 4:7; (“in”): 2 Sm. 23:2; Matt.1:22 and various places; (“for”): First Vatican Council, Schema on Catholic Doctrine, note 9: Coll. Lac. VII, 522.

4. Leo XIII, encyclical “Providentissimus Deus,” Nov. 18, 1893: Denzinger 1952 (3293); EB 125.

5. cf. St. Augustine, “Gen. ad Litt.” 2, 9, 20:PL 34, 270-271; Epistle 82, 3: PL 33, 277: CSEL 34, 2, p. 354. St. Thomas, “On Truth,” Q. 12, A. 2, C.Council of Trent, session IV, Scriptural Canons: Denzinger 783 (1501). Leo XIII, encyclical “Providentissimus Deus:” EB 121, 124, 126-127. Pius XII, encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu:” EB 539.

This passage spells out what the Church means by saying that Sciprture is inspired and how the inerrancy of Scripture naturally flows from that.  The biblical authors were not mere vessels whom God dictated the Scriptures to verbatim.  Both the human authors and God (the Divine Author) are truly the authors of Sacred Scripture.  The human authors used all of their skills, talents, and intellect to write down everything God wanted in there and only what He wanted in there.  There is nothing superfluous.

I have always thought of the dual authorship of Scripture as analogous to the two natures of Christ in the hypostatic union.  Jesus is not 50% human and 50% divine; He is fully human and fully divine.  So, too, both the human authors and the divine author are both fully the authors of Scripture.  It’s not that God contributed 50% and the human authors 50% (or 70/30 or 80/20 or 99/1 or however one might break it down).  They both gave 100%.

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