Interpreting Scripture

In 01 Essential Background on 2011/10/17 at 9:12 AM

John Henry Newman frequently stated that “the first step in theology is investigation.”

Reason has ever been awake and exercised in the Church, with the religious in every age engaged in regulating themselves by Scripture, appealing to Scripture in proof of their conclusion and exhorting and teaching in the language of Scripture.  Scripture is the medium in which the Church has centered, developed and invigorates itself.

Newman also stated that “Holy Scripture contains the beginnings of all theology: for theology is nothing but the science of conclusions which are drawn from principles certain to the faith, so it follows that Holy Scripture lays down those principles of theology by which the theologian begets of the minds’s reasoning his demonstrations.”

Clement of Rome spoke of heretical teachers as perverting Scripture.  Many Jews in the days of the Early Church clung to the literal interpretations of the Scriptures and, therefore, rejected the Gospel.  The Christian Apologists, however, proved its divinity by means of spiritual interpretation and in context of Apostolic Tradition, those teachings passed down by the Apostles of Christ.

A literal interpretation of Scripture must be accompanied by the spiritual interpretation, which considers the context of the Word of God, Christ Incarnate.

One can demonstrate the difference between literal and spiritual interpretations of Scripture thus:

Literal interpretation: What does it say?
Spiritual interpretation:  What does it say?  How does it relate to Christ? How does it relate to me?

The spiritual interpretation is what has been recommended and applied by the Church since the time of the Early Christians to present.  It is the interpretation recommended by Benedict XVI today.


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