Studying the Scriptures

Pointing out the absurdity of reducing the Scriptures to just a literary study, Amy Welborn responds:

The question has been asked, ”Why a Synod on the Word of God?” Because one of the most damaging tendencies of the last few decades in Catholic catechesis and preaching has been the way in which Church leaders, preachers and teachers have approached Scripture and, in turn, communicated the meaning and importance of Scripture to those in the pews or the desks. Historical-Critical methodology has been adopted as the sole prism through which to explain and teach Scripture – the Church, as usual, about 100 years behind the Protestants. It is ironic that this approach gained so much force in Catholic circles just when Protestant Scripture scholars were beginning to re-evaluate where their own scholarly trajectory had taken them.

(If you want to know what I mean by this critique – and we have talked about this quite a bit on this blog – just consider how the Scriptures are often preached in your parish. If a homily on the Sermon on the Mount is centered on explaining how different Matthew and Luke’s settings of the beatitudes are, and then ends with a general exhortation to have hope when you are sad…there you go. If your kids come out of high school religion class knowing their letters: J,P,D and Q – and unable to talk about the scope of salvation history and what it has to do with them, today…there you go. For once it all just literary business, who cares?

It is not that the scholarship is unimportant (and do understand that the H-C methodology is only one branch of Scripture scholarship) – by no means is it so. The problem is, as Ratzinger pointed out frequently before he became Pope and many times afterwards, it strips the Scriptures of their power and their connection to the deeper Word. Hence, a Synod.)

Which reminds me of Flannery O’Connor’s comment regarding communion as a mere memorial.

One’s exegesis must not be narrowminded but rather combine scholarship with spiritual depth, as Pope Benedict XVI models in his Jesus of Nazareth book. While the mixture will certainly vary in different settings, it is both…and rather than either…or.

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