Scriptural Exegisis

In 06 Conclusion on 2011/09/19 at 10:48 AM

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.  The Word of God and his action in the world are revealed only in the word and history of human beings.

The whole drama of this topic is illuminated in the writings of Saint Paul.  What is meant by the transcending of the letter and understanding it solely from the perspective of the whole, he forcefully expressed as follows:  “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6).   And he continues: “Where the Spirit is … there is freedom (cf. 2 Cor 3:17).  But one can only understand the greatness and breadth of this vision of the biblical word if one listens closely to Paul and then discovers that this liberating Spirit has a name, and hence that freedom has an inner criterion:  “The Lord is the Spirit.  Where the Spirit is … there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).  The liberating Spirit is not simply the exegete’s own idea, the exegete’s own vision.  The Spirit is Christ, and Christ is the Lord who shows us the way.  With the word of Spirit and of freedom, a further horizon opens up, but at the same time a clear limit is placed upon arbitrariness and subjectivity, which unequivocally binds both the individual and the community and brings about a new, higher obligation than that of the letter: namely, the obligation of insight and love.  This tension between obligation and freedom, which extends far beyond the literary problem of scriptural exegesis, has also determined the thinking and acting of monasticism and has deeply marked Western culture.  This tension presents itself anew as a challenge for our own generation as we face two poles: on the one hand, subjective arbitrariness, and on the other, fundamentalist fanaticism.  It would be a disaster if today’s European culture could only conceive freedom as absence of obligation, which would inevitably play into the hands of fanaticism and arbitrariness.  Absence of obligation and arbitrariness do not signify freedom, but its destruction.

Pope Pope Benedict2008  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2008/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080912_parigi-cultura_en.html



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