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Study the Bible - 1943

Pope Pius XII encouraged Bible study.


On this day, 30 September 1943 Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical known as Divino Afflante Spiritu, affirming the inerrancy of Scripture, urging a thorough and careful revision of the Vulgate, reaffirming its authority, and advocating a more thorough scholarship. He urged scholars to make use of ancient writings, archaeology, language studies, the homilies and teachings of early Christians and so forth to arrive at a more perfect understanding of Scripture, which was given as a gift by God. Here are two selections from his lengthy teaching.


“23. Being thoroughly prepared by the knowledge of the ancient languages and by the aids afforded by the art of criticism, let the Catholic exegete undertake the task, of all those imposed on him the greatest, that namely of discovering and expounding the genuine meaning of the Sacred Books. In the performance of this task let the interpreters bear in mind that their foremost and greatest endeavor should be to discern and define clearly that sense of the biblical words which is called literal. Aided by the context and by comparison with similar passages, let them therefore by means of their knowledge of languages search out with all diligence the literal meaning of the words; all these helps indeed are wont to be pressed into service in the explanation also of profane writers, so that the mind of the author may be made abundantly clear.

“24. The commentators of the Sacred Letters, mindful of the fact that here there is question of a divinely inspired text, the care and interpretation of which have been confided to the Church by God Himself, should no less diligently take into account the explanations and declarations of the teaching authority of the Church, as likewise the interpretation given by the Holy Fathers, and even ‘the analogy of faith’…” 


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