.- Pope Benedict XVI surprised the Synod of Bishops this week by taking the microphone and addressing the prelates about issues related to the study of the Bible and encouraging theologians and biblical scholars to work together more closely.
Speaking in Italian, the Holy Father explained that in order to understand the Bible better, historical-critical scholarship must be united with a sound theological understanding in order to grasp the true meaning of the Scriptures.
The L’Osservatore Romano reported that the Pontiff made reference to the document on Biblical Interpretation which the Pontifical biblical Commission issued in 1993 under his guidance as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“We have heard about all of the good that can be derived from exegesis with this method,” the Pope said, “but we must consider its risks as well. The historical-critical method helps to understand that the sacred text is not mythology, but rather true history, and it helps to capture the profound unity of all Scripture. With contributions of an often very high academic level, it also helps us perceive the full reality of the event, but it also can lead us to think of the Bible as a book that only has to do with the past,” Benedict XVI said.
Speaking later about Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on Divine revelation, “Dei Verbum,” the Pope said, “If the hermeneutic of the faith disappears, in its place the positivistic or secularist hermeneutic is affirmed, according to which the divine does not appear in history.”
“And the human aspect is reduced,” as in the case of some exegesis in Germany, which denies “the resurrection of Christ and the institution of the Eucharist by the Son of God.”
The Holy Father said there is no reason for the dualism that current separates theology from exegesis to exist. A theology that is not based on the interpretation of Scripture is a theology without foundation, as an exegesis that is not theological has no foundation as well, he said.