Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Faith Is Necessary For Biblical Exegesis

“The chief gain among the Christian exegetes has been the general acknowledgement not merely of the legitimacy but of the necessity of faith in anyone who approaches the Bible with the hope of receiving what it has to offer. They recognize now that coldly scientific—in the sense of rationalistic—objectivity is quite incapable of even perceiving, let alone exploiting, the religious values of Scripture. There must be first the commitment, the recognition by faith the divine origin and authority of the book; then the believer can properly and profitably apply all the most conscientious techniques of the subordinate sciences, without in the least infringing their due autonomy or being disloyal to the scientific ideal…The chief problem that still remains unsolved for them—and I would say it is insoluble as long as they do not recognize the living authority of the Church—is that of authority: What guarantees the Bible’s claim on our acceptance, and, in the last analysis, what guarantees a given interpretation of it? What criterion is to be used for distinguishing the less perfect from the more perfect? What about ‘demythologizing’? It is perfectly true that eternal truths must be disengaged and drawn clear of their presentation in terms of a particular language, culture, psychology, and so forth. But it is no good immediately reinvolving them, as Bultmann does, in the pseudo-scientific mythology of the twentieth century. The criterion for their ‘pure’ statement must be the living spirit of faith, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and that means, ultimately, the authority of the Church.”

-Fr. Roderick Mckenzie, S.J., "The Concept of Biblical Theology" in Studies in Salvation History.

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