Monday, September 1, 2014

September

I'm starting out this month with some writing goals.  Hopefully that will mean more posts here!

This morning I began the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible's Commentary on Exodus.  The introduction, commentary, and notes are by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.  Both are respected Biblical Scholars.  Dr. Hahn is a discretionary lay consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, among other things.  

I mention this because I was reminded this morning of the diversity of opinion regarding some aspects of the Bible I rarely hear when I attend Mass.  I frequently hear more modern ideas regarding authorship and date of many books of the Bible, explained in such a way one would think that was the only position available.  This is not the case.  For instance, when hearing about Exodus, one might hear that the book was not written by Moses; that it was compiled by a variety of authors over a vast amount of time.  The introduction to the ICSB Exodus notes:

The Catholic Church takes no definitive stance on the authorship and date of the Pentateuch.  A range of views regarding the birth and development of these books is permissible so long as the Church's teaching on biblical inspiration is maintained and nothing contrary to the faith is promoted.  That said, it is noteworthy that the Pontifical Biblical Commission examined the origin of the Pentateuch in the early twentieth century and concluded that modern theories of compilation (such as the Documentary Hypothesis) were not sufficiently strong to render the tradition of Mosaic authorship unlikely.

Why does this matter?  It may not if you're less interested in the history of the documents and have faith God did it, regardless of how we hear it was compiled.  If you're like me and get hung up on such details, then it is good to know that what you hear may not always reflect the "official" viewpoint of the Church.

I'm fascinated by the Bible and the history and everything about God's plan for our salvation.  Reading the Bible has deepened my faith and allowed me to see the big picture a lot more easily, though certainly not as clearly as I'd like. It also has helped at Mass, where knowing the context of the readings compared to the whole story is a huge help.  The first two studies here would help anyone understand the bigger picture.  I also really like A Father Who Keeps His Promises.  JP Catholic has Biblical Theology Certificates online, which I've recommended before, as well as Pillars of Catholicism for a free short video course on what we believe.  Take some time and open up your understanding of the Scriptures!