Pope Francis: Understanding the Nature of the Bible

While speaking to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission this morning, Pope Francis emphasized that “the Word of God precedes the Bible and surpasses it” which is is why the center of the Catholic faith isn’t just a book but the person of Jesus Christ.

bible light“Sacred Scripture, is the written testimony of the divine Word, the canonical memory that attests to the event of Revelation,” the Holy Father told the Commission.

“However, the Word of God precedes the Bible and surpasses it. That is why the center of our faith isn’t just a book, but a salvation history and above all a person, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. It is precisely because the Word of God embraces and extends beyond Scripture that, in order to properly understand it, the Holy Spirit’s constant presence, who guides us ‘to all truth’, is necessary. It is necessary to place ourselves within the great Tradition that has, with the Holy Spirit’s assistance and the Magisterium’s guidance, recognized the canonical writings as the Word that God addresses to his people, who have never ceased meditating upon it and discovering inexhaustible riches from it.”

He went on to remind that the interpretation of Scripture is subject to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission of guarding and interpreting the word of God.

“In fact, Sacred Scripture is the Word of God in that it is written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Sacred Tradition, instead, transmits the Word of God in its entirety, entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors, so that these, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, might faithfully preserve it with their preaching, might expound and propound it.”

Interpretation of Sacred Scripture cannot be just an individual academic effort, he said, but must always be compared to, inserted within, and authenticated by the living tradition of the Church.

“The texts that God inspired were entrusted to the Community of believers, the Church of Christ, to nourish the faith and to guide the life of charity.”

He concluded his remarks by thanking the Commission for their work and expressing a desire that the Year of Faith “may help to make the light of Sacred Scripture shine within the hearts of the faithful.”

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