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Title: Chapters of Bible Study - A Popular Introduction to the Study of the Sacred Scriptures
Author: Heuser, Herman J.
Language: English
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123 E. 50th Street

New York


Nihil Obstat:
  D. J. McMAHON,
    _Censor Librorum_.

    _Archbishop of New York_.



The following pages are printed from notes used in a series of lectures
before the "Catholic Summer School of America" at Pittsburgh.  They are
neither an exhaustive nor a scientific exposition, but are meant as a
suggestive introduction, in popular form, to the intelligent reading of
the Bible.  Some of the answers to questions proposed by members of the
"School" during the course have been inserted where it seemed most

I take occasion here to express my deep appreciation of the courtesy
shown to its visitors by the Directors of the "Catholic Summer School."
Their self-sacrificing spirit has secured to the organization the
earnest co-operation of many gifted men and women animated by that
refined Catholic feeling which constitutes the highest type of a truly
cultured society.  Nothing could have placed the institution on a
firmer basis, or could better have given it that guarantee of success
to which the last session has borne witness.

H. J. H.


     I. The Ancient Scroll
    II. Strange Witnesses
   III. The Testimony of a Confession
    IV. The Stones Cry Out
     V. Heavenly Wisdom
    VI. The Vicious Circle
   VII. The Sacred Pen
  VIII. The Melody and Harmony of the "Vox Coelestis"
    IX. The Voice from the Rock
     X. A Source of Culture
    XI. The Creation of New Letters
   XII. English Style
  XIII. Friends of God
   XIV. The Art of Prospecting
    XV. Using the Kodak
   XVI. The Interpretation of the Image
  XVII. "Deus Illuminatio Mea"
 XVIII. Bush-Lights
   XIX. The Use and the Abuse of the Bible
    XX. The Vulgate and the "Revised Version"
   XXI. The Position of the Church
  XXII. Mysterious Characters
 XXIII. Conclusion
  XXIV. Appendix




If a mysteriously-written document were brought to you, and its bearer
assured you that it contained a secret putting you in possession of a
great inheritance by establishing your relationship to an ancient race
of kings, of which you had no previous knowledge, how would you regard
such a document?

You would examine its age, the character of the manuscript, the quality
of the paper or parchment; you would ask how it had come to you, and by
whom it had been transmitted through successive generations before it
reached you.  And when, after careful inquiry, you had established the
age and authenticity of the document, then you would study its
contents, examine the nature of its provisions, and, having clearly
understood its meaning, ask yourself: How can I carry out the
conditions laid down in this testament, in order that I may obtain the
full benefit of the generous bequest left by my noble ancestor?

It is on similar lines that I propose to treat our subject.  We shall
take up the Bible just as we would take up any other written work,
requiring, for the time being, simply so much faith--no more, but also
no less than we would exact in the fair examination of any other work,
whether of fact or of fiction.

When we have assured ourselves that the Bible is really as old and as
truthful a record of history as it pretends to be, and that it has for
it such human testimony as leads us to admit historic facts in general,
we shall occupy ourselves with its contents, with the influence which
this wonderful book, this ancient testament of our royal Sire,
exercises upon the heart, the mind, the general culture, by which it
leads us to our inheritance, and enables us to assume our place in our
destined home.

The Bible, looking upon it as a merely human production, is a
collection of documents of various antiquity, containing historic
records of successive generations, going back to a very remote period.
It relates the valiant deeds of valiant men and women, written either
by themselves or by men of their own race.  It contains, furthermore, a
great number of principles, doctrines, rules, and laws for the moral
and external government of individuals and communities, particularly of
the families and tribes of the Hebrew nation.  Finally, we find in this
ancient scroll certain predictions and prophecies which, if we can show
that they were definitely made long in advance of the events foretold
by them, become a strong argument in favor of the supernatural origin
of the work.  However, this last point we shall leave entirely out of
view for the present.

It is very clear that the book which we have in our hands, and which we
call the Bible, or The Book _par excellence_, has been printed and
reprinted during four hundred years, in millions of copies, all of
which agree substantially, not excepting the Bible of the so-called
"reformers," with whom, on the whole, we differ rather in the
interpretation than in the wording of its contents.  There are indeed
some disagreements on subjects touching religious doctrines, which,
whilst very important if we accept the Sacred Scriptures as the
inspired word of God, hardly count for anything in a merely historical
work; and this is the light in which we regard the Bible just at

The Bibles which are printed to-day are practically and substantially
the same as those which were printed four hundred years ago.  A great
number of copies of first editions in different languages may still be
found in public and private libraries.  The New Testament version, from
which Luther principally made his translation, was an edition by the
well-known humanist, Erasmus.  All the modern European translations,
including that made into English five hundred years ago by Wiclif, had
for their original an ancient Latin version which was employed in the
service of the churches, and of which copies in manuscript, made over a
thousand years ago, are still extant.  One of the oldest uncial Latin
manuscripts is the "Vercelli Gospels," attributed to the hand of
Eusebius.  The Corpus Christi College Library at Cambridge has a
manuscript copy said to have been made by St. Augustine.  Of Greek
copies we have a very famous one in the Vatican Library, probably the
oldest preserved in the world--about 350; another manuscript, called
the Codex Sinaiticus, is in the Imperial Library of St. Petersburg; and
a third, of nearly the same age (IV. century), is the "Codex
Alexandrinus," at present in the British Museum.  Manuscripts older
than these are wanting, not only of the Bible, but of any other book,
except fragments of writings on parchment and certain manuscripts
rescued from Egyptian tombs, and papers discovered in the recent
excavations of Herculaneum, near Naples, in Italy.  Parchment, on
account of the expensive preparation required to make it suitable
material for writing, was sparingly used by the ancients at any time.
They preferred to employ the so-called papyrus, made of the fibrous
pith of a kind of rush growing abundantly in Egypt, and brought to
Europe by Eastern merchants.  This, and other kinds of vegetable fibre
from which paper suitable for writing was prepared since the days when
Moses, as we must presume, practised the art of writing in the schools
of Egypt, do not withstand the destructive influence of time.
Experience proves that the ordinary atmosphere has completely corroded
cotton paper of nine hundred years ago; the same is true of the linen
paper made in the time of Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas.  Those
exceptional treasures of Egyptian papyrus referred to above, which have
been found of late years, owe their preservation to the fact that they
were enclosed in almost air-tight tombs, in a singularly dry climate;
the same is the case with regard to the manuscripts discovered in
Herculaneum, which have been kept hermetically sealed by the tight
lava-cover from Mount Vesuvius for a space of more than seventeen
hundred years.

However, among such manuscripts as have been preserved under ordinary
conditions, by far the greatest number are copies, in various tongues,
of the Bible, and some of these carry us back to the fourth century.
We have Bible manuscripts written on paper in Hebrew, Syriac, Greek,
Latin, in the dialects of the Copts, the Arabs, the Armenians, the
Persians, the Ethiopians, the Slavs, and the Goths, who were among the
earliest nations converted to Christianity.  Now all these manuscript
Bibles, more than fourteen centuries old, substantially correspond to
our Catholic Bibles of this day.

The early Christian missionaries who introduced the word of God to the
pagan nations speaking a strange tongue must have had some uniform
source whence to make their translations.  So many persons in different
parts of the world, unacquainted with one another's language, could
not, except by some incredible miracle, have composed out of their
fancy so large a book, agreeing page for page, nay, line for line.
They must have had some original at their disposal whence to make a
uniform copy.  The fact is, we find that original book in the churches
of Italy, Greece, Asia, and Africa.  The apostolic Fathers speak of it
as known to everybody; they read from it on Sundays and festivals; they
quote long passages, and the young candidates for Holy Orders are
taught, like the Hebrew levites of old, to memorize the psalms and
moral books of the Bible.  Among these witnesses is St. Clement of
Koine.  According to Tertullian, who lived near his time, he was
ordained by St. Peter the Apostle; at any rate, St. Paul speaks of him
in his Epistle to the Philippians.  Other disciples of the Apostles
were St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, St. Polycarp, the friend of St.
John.  These are followed by St. Justin, who wrote a famous defence of
the Catholic faith called the "Apology," which he presented to the
Emperor Antoninus.  The latter, convinced of the young convert's
sincerity, put a stop to the cruel persecutions which were then going
on against the Christians.  The Emperor Marcus Aurelius also received a
copy of the "Apology" from St. Justin.  In this well-known work the
Saint states that "_the Gospels, together with the writings of the
prophets, are publicly read in the assemblies of the Christians._"[1]
He also affirms that they were written in part by the Apostles
themselves and partly by their disciples.  This was shortly after the
year 138, when men were still alive who had conversed with St. Paul,
and who could well remember the sweet admonitions of brotherly love
given by the aged St. John, who tells us that he had seen with his own
eyes the things which he writes.[2]  The chain of apostolic writers
from St. Peter to St. Augustine, _i.e._, from the first century to the
fourth or fifth, bears witness that this wonderful book was used in
every Christian community from the regions of the Jordan, whence St.
Justin came, to the confines of Spain, where Isidore of Cordova wrote
his commentaries; from the northernmost part of Dalmatia, where Titus
had preached the doctrine delivered him by St. Paul, to the limit of
the African desert, whence one of the oldest Latin versions of the
Scriptures was brought to St. Ambrose.

It is interesting to be able to cite the testimony of pagan as well as
of Jewish writers concerning the great events which the Christian
Gospels record.  We have the historic fact of Christ's person and work
attested in the "Annals" of Tacitus, the greatest of Roman
historians,[3] who was consul of Rome in 97.  His statements are
corroborated by Suetonius, secretary to the Emperor Adrian, by Pliny,
the Viceroy of Bithynia and friend of the Emperor Trajan, by the Jewish
writers Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Christ, and the
historian Flavius Josephus, and by the rabbis who collated the
traditions of the Talmud.  All these, whilst they wrote but briefly of
the subject, bear indirect witness to the belief and to the practice by
the earliest Christians of the Gospel precepts, although the books of
the New Testament had not at that time been formed into a definite
canon.  Thus the unbroken evidence of the existence of the Christian
Scriptures goes back to the very time of their first composition.

We come to the Old Testament.  That the Jews in the time of Christ
possessed a collection of sacred books is recorded on every page of the
New Testament, of whose authentic source there can be no reasonable
doubt.  There are altogether about two hundred and seventy passages in
the New Testament books which are quotations from the Old Testament.
There are innumerable references in the Gospels and Epistles, and in
the early Christian writers, to the sacred law of the Jews, among whom
the first converts were made; for these converts continued to use the
Mosaic writings and the prophetical books.  Christ Himself had
beautifully illustrated this practice, from the first, in His teaching.
"He came to Nazareth," St. Luke tells us, "where He was brought up; and
He went into the synagogue, according to His custom, on the sabbath
day; and He rose up to read.  And the Book of Isaias the Prophet was
delivered unto Him.  And as He unfolded the book He found the place
where it was written: _The spirit of the Lord is upon me, wherefore He
hath anointed me; to preach the gospel to the poor He hath sent me; to
heal the contrite of heart.  To preach deliverance to the captives, and
sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach
the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of reward_.  And when He
had folded the book He restored it to the minister and sat down.  And
the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.  And He began to
say to them: _This day is fulfilled this Scripture in your ears_.  And
all gave testimony to Him."[4]

Any attempt to corrupt the Old Testament writings, or to change and
destroy them, even in part, became impossible after the Gospels had
been written.  It would at once have aroused marked attention among
both Jews and Christians, who with equal reverence regarded the Book as
the sacred and inviolable word of God, however mutually hostile their
feelings were regarding the interpretation of its meaning.  For if ever
there existed a document whose authority was sanctioned and whose
preservation was guaranteed by the severest laws and most minute
precautions, it was the code of sacred writings known to the Jews as
the "Law and the Prophets."  It was read in every synagogue on the
sabbath and festival days.  Every Jew above the age of twelve was
obliged to repeat certain parts of the Sacred Book each day, morning
and night.  Thrice dispersed among the Gentile nations, north, west,
and south, the Jews carried with them the book of the Law and the
Prophets, and we find them repeat its sweet words of hope and trust in
Jehovah by the rivers of Babylon as under the glimmer of the
torchlights in the caverns of Samaria or rocky Arabia.  Their faces
were forever turning towards Jerusalem.  Nay, when the language of
their fathers had ceased to be spoken during generations of enforced
exile, the children still repeated the Hebrew words of the Law in the
temple, even though they had versions made for the people by rabbis who
were under sacred vow not to change an iota of the Lord's written word.
We have in the present Hebrew Bibles some remnant of the traditional
care with which the Jew guarded the letter of the Law, whatever might
be the spirit in which he interpreted it.  In order that the Sacred
Text might never be tampered with, even by the addition or omission of
a single letter or word, the scribes were obliged to count the verses,
words, and characters of each book.  They knew by heart every
peculiarity of grammatical or phonetic expression.  Thus the young
rabbi must verify that the Book of Genesis contains 1,534 verses; that
the exact middle of the book, counting every letter from the beginning
and from the end, occurs in chapter xxvii. 40.  He knew that there were
ten verses in the Scriptures beginning and ending with the letter
[Hebrew: nun] (_nun_) (as in Lev. xiii. 9); two in which every word
ends with the letter [Hebrew: final mem] (_mem_).  The letter [Hebrew:
ayin] (_ayin_), in Ps. lxxx. 14, is the exact middle of the Psalter.
The letter [Hebrew: aleph] (_aleph_) occurs 42,377 times, [Hebrew:
beth] (_beth_) 38,218 times, [Hebrew: ghimel] (_ghimel_) 29,537 times,
and so of every letter in the alphabet.  These, and a thousand other
peculiarities which made the corruption of the Hebrew text an almost
absolute impossibility, were in later ages collected into a glossary
called the Masorah, which forms a sort of separate commentary to the
Bible.  If you open the Hebrew volume of the Old Testament, just as it
is printed to-day, you will find many of these warnings inserted in the
very text.  Thus at the end of the Book of Chronicles we have this
sentence: "The printer is not at fault, for the sum total of verses in
the whole Book of Chronicles is 1650."  Then, lest the reader might
forget this number, a verse is attached which contains the letters
representing the same number.  The verse, which is taken from the I.
Samuel vi. 13, reads: "_They saw the ark and rejoiced in seeing it_."
Just as the words "_MeDiCaL VIrtue_" might stand in English for the
same number.

Many other peculiarities in the manner of copying the Hebrew text have
been transmitted for ages without change.  Thus in the Book of Numbers
xi. 1 we find the letter [Hebrew: nun] (_nun_) written backward
[Hebrew: reversed nun], to express more emphatically the meaning of
"perversity," mentioned in the verse.  In Job xxxviii. 13 the letter
[Hebrew: ayin] (_ayin_) in the word [Hebrew: final mem, yod, ayin,
shin, khaf] (_reshachim_), "ungodly," is raised above the line, to
indicate how God will shake up into the air, like chaff, the ungodly of
whom the Prophet speaks.

But it is needless to point out in detail all the odd precautions which
were invented by the rabbis that they might exercise a most rigorous
control over the Hebrew text; and although these methods are the
results of a later school of Hebraists, they go to show the sense of
responsibility which the Jews must always have felt regarding the
preservation of the ancient Testament.  Even at this day you can hardly
discover a substantial departure from the original in the numerous
manuscript copies extant.  Kennicott, an English Biblical scholar,
brought together five hundred and eighty Hebrew manuscripts of the
Bible which, after careful study and comparison, revealed scarcely any
differences of the text.  An Italian, Prof. de Rossi, who died in 1831,
had collected seven hundred and ten manuscripts, and had seen in
various libraries one hundred and thirty-four more, all of which he
examined critically without finding any notable differences.  I am
speaking, remember, of such differences as would affect the historical
identity of these manuscript copies with their original.  It would be
folly to assert that these manuscripts, which reached the number of
over 1,600, are copies made by the same scribes; for some of them were
discovered in Arabia, others in old Jewish settlements in China; one,
the oldest in existence, as some believe, was found in a synagogue in
the Crimea, by a Jewish rabbi named Abraham Firkeowicz.

[1] _Apolog._, i. 67.

[2] Ep. St. John, chap. i. 1.

[3] Tacit., _Annal_., xv. 38-44.

[4] St. Luke iv. 16-22.



If there remained no trace of the original writings of the Old
Testament books preserved for us in the Hebrew tongue, we should still
possess very reliable witnesses of ancient date to testify to their
existence in substantially the same form in which we have them; for the
children of Jewish exiles, who were forced gradually to substitute the
language of their conquerors for their mother tongue, had well
authenticated translations for their use in the synagogues.  The most
remarkable of such translations is the so-called Greek Septuagint,
commonly believed to have been made for the Alexandrian Library by
seventy Jewish rabbis at the request of King Ptolemy Philadelphus.  We
shall have occasion, later on, to revert to the significance of this
Greek version.  For the present it is only necessary to mention that it
was so highly esteemed by the Jews themselves that they used it for
several centuries in their reading to the people, many of whom
understood only the Greek.

Even the enemies of the Jews bear witness to the unchanged character of
the oldest portion of the Hebrew Bible for centuries before the coming
of our Lord.

About the year 536 B.C., on the return of the Jewish exiles from
Babylon, the Samaritans, a mixed race of Jewish and Aramaic stock,
sought from the temple authorities at Jerusalem the privilege of
worshipping with the rest of the Jews in the holy city.  This was
refused.  Shortly afterwards one of the priests at Jerusalem was
excommunicated for having married the daughter of a Samaritan prince.
He sought refuge in Samaria, and having built a temple on Mount
Garizim, induced the people to worship according to the Mosaic Law.
They were found to possess a copy of the Pentateuch, which they had
transcribed in Samaritan characters; and whilst the Jews of Southern
Palestine held no communication with them, and the Samaritans on their
part looked upon the Jews as schismatics who had changed the ancient
observances of the Law, yet both recognized the same sacred code as the
rule of their conduct and religion.

A copy of this valuable version, which at a later date was translated
into the actual Samaritan dialect, was discovered at Damascus in 1616,
and has since been printed in several editions at Paris and London.  It
is of great importance, as it establishes a perfect accord with the
reading of the Jewish Hebrew text.  These versions, made at different
times, in places widely apart, and by men who were decidedly hostile to
each other on religious as well as on national grounds, force us to
admit a well-fixed, universally known, and trusted original of the
books of Moses; for where there is a copy there must be something
copied from, just as when we see the well-defined shadow of an object
we know that the object itself exists.

The antiquity of the Hebrew Bible is indeed attested by many no less
conclusive arguments than those we have given, which, from the
historian's point of view, stamp it as the most important monument of
antiquity which we have, and whose genuine character is proved by the
most trustworthy documentary evidence.  There is no page of historical
account in existence to-day that has such overwhelming testimony in
favor of its authentic origin as these books of the Bible.  Known by
generations as the inviolable law of God, guarded with scrupulous
solicitude as their greatest religious treasure, read sabbath after
sabbath in the synagogues, not alone of Palestine, but of Arabia,
Assyria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome--in short, wherever the
sons of Abraham had been dispersed in the course of more than twenty
centuries--who was it, friend or foe, that could have dared to change
this royal mandate of the Most High to His chosen people!  If a man
were to-day to print a copy of the Constitution, or a history of the
formation of the American Republic, introducing some hitherto
unheard-of statements, or omitting some important words or facts, how
long would such imposition remain unnoticed or unchallenged?  Yet it
would be infinitely easier in our times, and under our conditions, for
such change to pass unnoticed than it would have been among the Jews.
The Oriental races are intensely averse to anything that threatens to
alter their traditions.  The customs of the Eastern peoples to-day are
the same as they are described by Isaias seven hundred years before
Christ, and the Jew of Isaiah's time reflects in every act the manners
of another seven hundred years before, when Moses describes his people
as imitating the domestic virtues and habits of Abraham's day, a time
which carries us back still another seven centuries.  A thousand years
make no perceptible change in Oriental civilization.  You may see it
every day.  Take as a ready instance Algeria, visited annually by many
Americans, who go to Europe by the southern route.  It is a coast city,
lying in the full glare of European civilization; nay, modern life has
forced itself upon this town with the captivating aggressiveness of
French manners, French magnificence, French soldiery, and a system of
commerce which, within the last sixty years, has caused the European
population to outnumber the original Arab inhabitants of Algiers by
two-thirds.  Yet the daily and forced contact, for two whole
generations, between the Arab and the European has produced hardly any
change in the habits of the former.  The Mussulman passes through the
splendid streets of the French portion of the town when necessity urges
him, in silence and with apparent disdain.  He prefers his cavern-like
habitation, with small square holes for windows, and an iron grating
instead of glass, to the spacious and lightsome palaces built by the
French and English colonists.  The Arab woman feels no desire for the
pretty vanities of modern fashion, for the graceful freedom and
intellectual intercourse with men; she conceals her form in the
traditional wide robe of the East, with a veil over her head, a row of
shining coins or beads hanging down from the forehead, and a kerchief
over her face hiding all but the gazelle-like eyes.  You see in that
one city, open to the constant changes arising from the innumerable
relations of travel and commerce, two worlds of men: one busy, fitful,
gay, and splendidly modern; the other silent, immovable, almost
scornful, and in dwelling and dress, in manner and language, just the
same as you might have observed them ages ago.

Such precisely were the people who guarded and delivered to us the
books of the Old Testament.  Their religious, civil, and domestic
practices, everywhere and at all times of their history, correspond so
perfectly with what we read in any part of this volume that, even if
portions of the Bible were lost, we should have the living tradition to
witness to the omission, since we know that the life of the Hebrew was
ever subject to the regulations of the law of Jehovah, which was to him
the supreme expression of all that is great and good and wise.
"Uniformity of belief and ritual practice," says the Protestant
Geikie,[1]" was the one grand design of the founders of Judaism; the
moulding the whole religious life of the nation to such a machine-like
discipline as would make any variation from the customs of the past
well-nigh impossible.  A universal, death-like conservatism, permitting
no change in successive ages, was established as the grand security for
a separate national existence....  For this end, not only was that part
of the Law which concerned the common life of the people--their
sabbaths, feast-days, jubilees, offerings, sacrifices, tithes, the
Temple and Synagogue worship, civil and criminal law, marriage, and the
like--explained, commented on, and minutely ordered by the Rabbis, but
also that portion of it which related only to the private duties of
individuals in their daily religious life."  And to this day the
orthodox Jew observes the same rites and ceremonies which marked the
service of his forefathers, whether in Judea or Samaria, on the banks
of the Nile under the Ptolemies, at Babylon under the Seleucides, or at
Niniveh under Nabuchodonoser.  "What event of profane history," writes
the Abbé Gainet, "can boast of an unbroken succession of 3,500
anniversaries such as those of which we have assurance in the history
of the Jews?"[2]

[1] "Life of Christ," chap. xvii.

[2] La Bible sans la Bible, vol. I., Etude préliminaire.



The argument of the last chapter leads us to another evidence which
points to the historical authenticity of the Hebrew Bible.  It is
plain, even upon superficial examination of this book, that it
contains, beside the severest penalties for sin, the most stinging
accusations of infidelity against the people of God, and the most
scorching rebukes of their crimes; it relates the transgressions of
their kings and princes and priests; in short, it records everything
which the Jewish nation and their rulers must have been anxious to keep
silent, or to mitigate where it was necessary to write it down.  Every
reason of prudence and national self-love must have suggested to them
to destroy such records where they existed, because they made their
vaunted glory a story of everlasting shame.  Compare this historical
record of the Jewish people with the contemporary annals of the
Assyrian, Persian, Greek, or Roman monarchs.  These are full of
extravagant laudations, of royal deeds of valor, of the splendor of
their victories over other nations; whereas the statements of the Bible
are simple, the narrative of heroic acts and signal divine favors is
constantly mingled with incidents deeply self-humiliating for a race
that called itself chosen of God above all the Gentiles.  The Jews
record numerous defeats, shameful treacheries, and errors of their most
beloved kings.  They rebel, they commit every crime forbidden by the
Law; yet whilst they kill the prophets who charge them with
ingratitude, they patiently suffer the record of it all to go into the
books which they know will be read to all the people for their shame.
They make no attempt to minimize or to excuse themselves to their
children, however much they love the glory of Israel and the splendor
of Jerusalem as the one nation and city worthy of the most exalted
patriotic praise.  Other nations made themselves a religion in harmony
with their passions, so as to soothe the conscience.  But the Jew finds
a law of life given him in the great book of Moses.  He may fall from
his ideals, he may worship idols, but he never ceases to recognize that
this is wrong because it is contrary to the law of Jehovah.



The chain of documentary and circumstantial evidence which points to
the preservation, substantially intact, of the Bible as an historic
record of the highest possible trustworthiness is completed by the
daily increasing store of monuments which are brought to light,
especially in Palestine, Assyria, and Egypt.  Up to the middle of the
present century the largest part of our knowledge of the ancient
nations was drawn from the Bible.  It was the one great treasure-house
wherein the history of the East was to be found.  We had Greek and
Roman and some Egyptian historians, but their knowledge was confined to
their own people, and needed to be supplemented by the details related
in the Pentateuch, in Josue, Judges, Ruth, the two Books of Samuel, the
Books of Kings, Paralipomenon, Esdras, Tobias, Judith, Esther, and the
Machabees, all of which are historical books containing facts,
statistics, constitutions, and dynastic lines, without which profane
history would still be a doubtful and barren field of study.

But, lately, the studious industry of scholarly men has gone over the
ground of the old events, to test with the instruments of historic
criticism the veracity, and, incidentally, the authenticity of the
Bible record.  Aided by the royal munificence of governments and
private corporations, scholars went to search out and examine the
monuments of antiquity in those parts where the Jewish race had dwelt
during the periods recounted in the Bible.  They found, mostly below
the earth, and sometimes beneath the flood-beds of streams and lakes,
traces in stone or clay or metal which pointed to their containing
valuable information regarding the Persian, Assyrian, Egyptian, and
other nations with whom the Hebrew people had come in contact.  These
traces were sometimes in signs and languages not understood or wholly
unknown in our learned world, but with assiduous study the mysteries
came, in course of time, to be unravelled.  The story of these
discoveries is in various ways extremely interesting, and we shall
speak of them more in detail later on.

Besides the primitive inscriptions just referred to, a number of cities
have been discovered which lay buried for many centuries beneath the
ground upon which afterwards other races dwelt and built their homes.
Excavations in Palestine go, day by day, to explain, where they do not
simply corroborate, the statements of the Bible.  The diggings about
the supposed ancient site of Nineveh, in Babylonia, have unearthed the
ruins of an immense library.  Sir A. H. Layard, and subsequently Mr.
George Smith and Hormuzd Rassam, have brought together a number of clay
tablets which open an immense world of Assyrian and Babylonian
literature, whose existence was hitherto known only by the indications
given in the Book of Daniel and other historical portions of the Bible
concerning the conquerors of the Jews.  These discoveries, as Mr. A. H.
Sayce remarks in his "Fresh Lights from Ancient Monuments" (page 17),
have not only "shed a flood of light on the history and antiquity of
the Old Testament, but they have served to illustrate and explain the
language of the Old Testament as well."

The evidence brought to light by these monuments has left no doubt in
the minds of scientific men as to the facts that occurred three and
four thousand years ago.  We read the inscriptions which bear witness
to the work of the Chaldean king Nimrod, to Zoroaster the Elamite, to
Khamu-rabi, the Arab of the days of Moses; we treasure as of primary
historical importance the account of Herodotus, who visited Babylon at
the time when Esdras and Nehemias, who were both ministers at the court
of Artaxerxes, wrote their continuation of the Book of Chronicles for
the Jewish brethren in Palestine.  When we read the works of Tacitus
and Suetonius, of Cicero and Virgil, all of whom indicate that they had
some knowledge of the Jewish sacred books,[1] we entertain no doubt as
to their existence or the authenticity of their writings; yet men under
the guise of scientific criticism have sought to cast doubts upon the
Biblical records which have in their favor a documentary evidence a
hundred times more accurate and trustworthy than any work of antiquity
without exception in the whole range of history.  If apologists were
silent, the very stones would begin to cry out in behalf of the
authenticity and antiquity of the Biblical records.  Every day is
bringing this truth into stronger relief.  "Discovery after discovery,"
says Prof. Sayce, "has been pouring in upon us from Oriental lands, and
the accounts given only ten years ago of the results of Oriental
research are already beginning to be antiquated....  The ancient world
has been reawakened to life by the spade of the explorer and the
patient skill of the decipherer, and we now find ourselves in the
presence of monuments which bear the names or recount the deeds of the
heroes of Scripture."

[1] Cf. Hettinger-Bowden, "Revealed Religion," page 158.



  "Whence but from heaven could men, unskilled in arts,
  In several ages born, in several parts,
  Weave such agreeing truths?"
            (Dryden, _Religio Laici_.)

The Bible, regarded as a work of history which offers us proofs of
credibility beyond those of any secular work of the same kind, has in
its composition and style a refinement and loftiness of tone far
superior to other writings of equal age which have come down to us.
The Jews "attributed to these books, one and all of them, a character
which at once distinguishes them from all other books, and caused the
collection of them to be regarded in their eyes as one individual
whole.  This distinguishing character was the divine authority of every
one of those books and of every part of every book."[1]  This belief of
the Jews was so strong, so universal, so unchanging that, as has
already been said, it pervaded and regulated their entire religious,
political, and social life during all the eventful centuries of
Israelitish history.

That our Lord knew of this belief, that He endorsed it, preached and
emphasized it repeatedly, is very evident from the authentic narrative
of the Gospels.

Expressions indicating this are to be found everywhere in the writings
of the evangelists: "Have you never read in the Scriptures?"  He says
to the Scribes in referring to the words of the Psalmist (cxvii. 22):
The stone which the builders rejected, etc. (St. Matthew xxi. 42.)
Again, a little later on, He charges the Sadducees who say there is no
resurrection: "You err, not knowing the Scriptures" (Ibid. xxii. 29).
In the Garden of Olives He bears witness to the prophetic character of
the Book of Isaiah: "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled" (Ibid.
xxvi. 54)?  And the historian, a friend and Apostle of Christ, adds:
"Now all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be
fulfilled" (Ibid. 56).  St. John's Gospel, especially, abounds in
references like the foregoing, which point to the intimate relation
between the Messianic advent of Christ and the figures of the Old Law,
and assure us that the books of the Prophets, as well as the
accompanying historic accounts of the Scriptural books generally, were
regarded as the sacred word of God, not only by the Jews, but by the
disciples of Christ.

This sacred collection was generally spoken of as consisting of three
parts, namely, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.  Philo and
Josephus, both trained in the schools of the Pharisees, mention the
division as one well understood among the Jews of their time.  Christ
Himself speaks of the Sacred Scriptures, in different places, with this
same distinction.

Now the testimony of Christ, who proved Himself to be the Son of God,
and therefore unerring truth, is explicit in so far as it appeals with
a supreme and infallible authority to the Jewish Scriptures as to a
testimony _not human, but divine_.  "Have you not read that which was
spoken _by God_?" He says, referring to the Mosaic Law in Exodus iii. 6
(St. Matt. xxii. 31).  Many times He speaks of the Scriptures "that
they may be fulfilled," thus indicating that they contain that which
lay in the future, and whose foreknowledge must have come from God.
This testimony of Our Lord is strengthened by the interpretation of His
Apostles in the same sense.

Yet although the testimony of Christ and the Apostles regarding the
fact that the Books of the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms are
divinely inspired, is very explicit, we have nowhere a clear statement
or a catalogue which might assure us what books and parts of books are
actually comprised in this collection of the Sacred Scriptures of which
our Lord speaks.  Christ approves as the word of God those writings
which were accepted as such among the Jews of His day, but He does not
give us any definite security by this general endorsement that every
chapter, every verse, much less every word of the Bible, as we have
received it, is actually inspired.  We are not therefore quite sure
from the evidence thus far given that the Old Testament, as we have it,
has in every part of it the sanction of Christ's testimony to its being
truly the word of God.  As to the New Testament, we know that, however
accurate and trustworthy as a history of the times in which it was
composed it may be, yet it could not have had the explicit approval of
our Lord, simply because it had not been written and was not completed
for about a hundred years after His death and glorious resurrection.

Yet we accept the New Testament as also inspired in just the same
authoritative way as we receive the Hebrew writings of the Old Law.
And nothing but a divine testimony, such as that of Christ, could
assure us sufficiently that in the Sacred Scriptures we have the word
of God.

What criterion have we by which to determine precisely what books and
parts belong to this collection of Old Testament writings of which
Christ speaks as the word of God?  What authority have we, moreover,
for believing the entire New Testament inspired, since it was written
after the time of Christ?  If Luther and other reformers, so-called,
threw out some portions of the sacred text, by what standard or
criterion were they guided?  Some have answered that we need not the
testimony of Christ or any other equally explicit proof to determine
what parts belong to this collection of writings representing the
inspired word of God.  They hold, with Calvin, that a certain spiritual
unction inherent in the Sacred Scriptures determines their source, and
produces in the devout reader an interior sensation which gives him an
absolute conviction of the truth.  But common experience teaches that
devout feelings may be produced by books which are not inspired, nay,
by positively irreligious books, which appeal to our better sensitive
nature in some passages whilst they destroy a proper regard for virtue
in others.  Moreover, the "absolute conviction of the truth" to be
deduced from the reading of the Sacred Scriptures is belied by a
similar experience, since various sects draw opposing conclusions from
the same texts.  As truth cannot contradict itself, and as Christ
prayed that His followers all be of one mind, we do not feel safe in
admitting mere subjective feeling and judgment as a test of what is
God's word.

Therefore we must look for some other criterion.  Indeed, if our Lord
wished us to accept the Sacred Scriptures, including the New Testament,
which was written many years after His time, and for a long time was
known only to very much separated portions of the faithful, we may be
quite sure that He provided a means, an authoritative and clear method,
which would lead us to an unerring conclusion in regard to what is and
what is not the inspired word of God.  This would be all the more
necessary for those who regard the Bible as the principal rule and
source of their faith.

It is a well-established historical fact that Christ taught some "new
doctrines," as they were called, and that He gave a commission to His
followers, which they repeated and carried out at the sacrifice of
their lives.  There is no obscurity whatever about certain words and
precepts given by our Lord, historically recorded by six of His
Apostles and by many of His disciples who had heard and seen Him, who
honestly and intelligently believed in Him, and who were prepared to
die, and in some cases actually did suffer martyrdom for the assertions
they made.  He bade them teach all nations the things He had taught
them.  He did not give them a book, as He might have done, nor did He
tell them to write books; for some of the Apostles never wrote
anything; and of those who did write in later days, some had actually
never seen our Lord.  Such is the common belief regarding St. Paul, who
wrote more than any other of the evangelical writers.  St. Luke, in the
very opening of his Gospel, tells us that he wrote what had been
delivered to him by those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the
word.  Our Lord did not, therefore, give His disciples a book, but He
was very explicit in making them understand and feel that He gave them
an unerring Spirit, who would be just the same as Himself, verily
identical with their living Master and Teacher, Christ, who would abide
with them to the end of time.  "_Behold, I am with you all days, even
to the consummation of the world._"  To the consummation of the world?
And were they never to die?  Were they actually to go, as some believed
of St. John, to perpetuate the kingdom of Christ, wandering over the
earth until all the nations were converted?  Not so.  They were to
deliver His doctrine to their successors, and the Holy Spirit, the
Paraclete, would watch over it until the end of ages.  St. Peter would
live, in this sense, forever, and all the opposing forces of error, the
mighty gates of hell, would not overcome that Spirit any more than they
would triumph over Christ, who had "overcome the world."  To St. Peter
He said: "To thee I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven;" "Confirm
thou thy brethren."  All this was to go on and on, so that every human
creature could come into possession of truth through this unerring
Spirit that presided over the Christian doctrine.  And this perpetual
transmission of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who would guide
the future teachers and preside over their councils as at the first
councils of Antioch and Jerusalem,--this perpetual transmission through
a body like the apostolic body, ever living, ever guarded from error,
ever triumphant amid humiliations, what else is it but the Church, that
glorious heritage of ages, which we recognize through all time in every
land, holding every class and condition with the wondrous power of its
unity of doctrine and discipline!

Now it is this body, this ever-living and unchanging organism, this
grand apostolic tribunal, which Christ established, and without which
His mission to men would really have remained incomplete, that tells us
that the things which some of the Apostles and some of the disciples
wrote for our instruction and edification are inspired by the same holy
and infallible Spirit which guided the Apostles in their oral teaching.
Not all things were written there, as St. John tells us, but many
things which they had taught, and which would keep the people, with
whom the Apostles could not be ever present, in mind of that doctrine.
The written things were not intended to replace the spoken word of
doctrinal jurisdiction, for the evangelical teaching of the spoken word
was to go on to the end; besides, there were many who could not read,
and many who might listen but would not read.  Furthermore, there would
be need of a living apostolic tribunal, since a written doctrine, like
a written law, is liable to various and sometimes contradictory
interpretations.  We have constitutions and laws, but we need judges
and courts to decide the meaning and application, and if it were not
that men forget the order of justice, or are too remote from the
centres of jurisdiction, we should not need any written laws at all.
Communities may be governed by a wise superior without any written
laws, and in no case does the written law dispense with the necessity
of a discretionary living authority.  It is quite evident that in the
matter of truth God wished His Apostles to use _all the instruments_ by
which that truth might be safely and rightly communicated, and thus the
written word was added to the living teaching which the Holy Ghost was
ever to direct and safeguard.

I repeat: Christ did not give His disciples a book, but a living,
infallible spirit, abiding with them to the end of time, as He said;
and since the Apostles were not to remain on earth to the end of the
world, what else could our Lord have meant but that others would take
their place on the same conditions, with the same prerogatives!  That
He wished and said this is written over and over again in the sacred
volume, and by men who, if they had held this grand trust only for
themselves, would have had every reason to say so.  But they state the
contrary.  St. Peter ordains St. Paul; St. Paul sends Timothy and Titus
to the new converts on the same conditions, bidding them to preserve
intact the grace that is in them "through the imposition of hands."
And the successive generations of Pontiffs who take the place of Peter
and Paul and Timothy and Titus are the grand tribunal for the
transmission of Christ's doctrine.

That tribunal, from St. Peter down to Leo XIII., is the authority:
"Christ having sent them, even as the Father had sent Him," which tells
us that the books of the Sacred Scriptures, such as we have them, and
as they are singly defined in what is called the Catholic Canon of
Biblical Books, are truly and really the word of God, and were written
under the impulsion of the Holy Spirit.

[1] "The Sacred Scriptures," Humphrey.



In the preceding chapter it was said that the Sacred Scripture of the
New Testament contains Christ's statements according to which He
founded an ever-living tribunal of doctrine which decided the question
of what books are, and what books are not inspired, whenever there is
any doubt about such books.  Perhaps you will say: "But is this not
arguing in a circle--a vicious circle, as philosophers say?  You prove
the existence of the Church as the tribunal to determine what books
belong to the Sacred Scriptures from the words of the Bible; and then
you turn about and prove the inspiration of the Bible from the
authority of the Church."  Now mark the difference.  When in my first
argument I refer to the Bible as containing Christ's statement and the
commission given to His Apostles, I am taking the testimony of the
Bible, not as an inspired or divine book, but simply as a trustworthy
historical record which tells us the fact, repeated by several
eye-witnesses and sincere men, such as the evangelists and apostolical
writers, that Christ, of whose divinity they were convinced, had said
and emphasized the fact that He meant to found a Church.  And as that
Church was to have the divine spirit abiding in it, guiding its
decisions, it came naturally within the province of that Church to
define whether certain books were to be regarded as really inspired by
that Holy Spirit.  Thus the Church placed upon these books the mark and
sign-manual of that commission which she had unquestionably received.

But I am constrained, for the sake of completing our present aspect of
the subject, to say something on the character and extent of that
divine element which Jews and Christians recognize when they accept the
Sacred Scriptures as the word of God.



We have seen that the Biblical writings bear the unmistakable impress
of a divine purpose.  The nature of that purpose is likewise clearly
enunciated on every page of Holy Writ.  Man in his fallen condition
stands in need of law and example, of precept and promise.  These God
gives him.  We read in Exodus (Chap. iii.) that He first speaks to
Moses, giving him His commands regarding the liberation and conduct of
His people out of Egypt.  Later on, in the desert on Mount Sinai,
"Moses spoke, and God answered him" (Chap. xix. 19); and "Moses went
down to the people and told them all" (Ibid. 25).  Next we read (Chap.
xxiv. 12) that the Lord said to Moses: "I will give thee tables of
stone, and the law, and the commandments which _I have written, that
thou mayest teach them_."

Here God announces Himself as the writer of "the Law and the
Commandments," although we receive them in the handwriting of Moses.
Is Moses a mere amanuensis, writing under dictation?  No.  He is the
intelligent, free instrument, writing under the direct inspiration of
God.  In this sense God is the true author or writer of the Sacred
Scriptures, making His action plain to the sense and understanding of
His children through the medium of a man whom He inspires to execute
His work.

How does this inspiration act on the writer who ostensibly executes the
divine work?  We answer: _God moves the will of the writer, and
illumines his intellect, pointing out to him at the same time the
subject-matter which he is to write down, and preserving him from error
in the completion of his committed task_.

Looking attentively at this definition of Scriptural inspiration, a
number of questions arise at once in our minds.  God moves the will,
enlightens the mind, and points out the subject-matter which the
inspired writer commits to paper.  Is the writer under the influence of
the divine impulsion so possessed by the inspired virtue that he acts
without any freedom, either as regards the manner of his expression or
the use of previously acquired knowledge concerning the subject of
which he writes?

I answer: No.  God moves the will of the writer; He does not annihilate
it or absorb it, unless in the sense that He brings it, by a certain
illumination of the intellect, to a conformity with His own.  Hence the
manner and method of expression retain the traces of the individuality
of the writer, that is to say, of his views and feelings as determined
by the ordinary habits of life and the range of his previous knowledge.
The idea of the divine authorship of the Sacred Scriptures by no means
requires that the truths which God willed to be contained therein could
not or should not have been otherwise known to the inspired writers:
"Their use of study, their investigation of documents, their
interrogation of witnesses and other evidence, and their excuses for
rusticity of style and poverty of language show this only, that they
were not inanimate, but living, intelligent, and rational
instruments--that they were men, and not machines....  They were
employed in a manner which corresponded to, and which became the
nature, the mode, and the conditions of their being.  Previous
knowledge of certain truths by men can be no reason why God should not
conceive and will such truths to be communicated by means of Scripture
to His Church....  Hence the idea of inspiration does not exclude human
industry, study, the use of documents and witnesses, and other aids in
order to the conceiving of such truths, so long as it includes a
supernatural operation and direction of God, which effects that the
mind of the inspired writer should _conceive_ all those truths, and
those only which God would have him communicate."[1]  And herein lies
the difference between inspiration and revelation, the latter being the
manifestation of something previously unknown to the writer.

The second question, which naturally occurs in connection with the one
just answered, is whether we are to consider that the words, just as we
read them in the Bible, are inspired in such wise that we may not
conceive of the sacred text having any other meaning than that to which
its _verbal expression_ limits it.

There are many reasons why we need not feel bound to accept the theory
of literal or _verbal inspiration_ of the Bible, although such opinion
has been defended by eminent theologians, who wished thereby to defend
the integrity of the sacred volume against the wanton interference with
the received text on the part of innovators and so-called religious

In the first place, the theory of verbal inspiration is not essential
to the maintenance of the absolute integrity of a written revelation.
That revelation proposes truths and facts, and whilst the terms
employed for the expression of these truths and facts must fit
adequately to convey the sense, they admit of a certain variety without
thereby in the least injuring the accuracy of statements.  This is
applicable not only to single words, but to phrases and forms of
diction, and to figures of illustration.

Secondly, the sacred writers themselves abundantly indicate the freedom
which may be exercised or allowed in the verbal declaration of divinely
inspired truths.  Many of them repeat the same facts and doctrines in
different words.  This is the case even with regard to events of the
gravest character, such as the institution of the Blessed Eucharist, in
which there can be no room for a difference of interpretation as to the
true sense.

St. Matthew (xxvi. 26-28), for example, records the act of consecration
by Our Lord on the eve of His passion in the following words: "Take ye
and eat: This is My Body....  Drink ye all of this, for this is My
Blood of the new Testament, which shall be shed for many for the
remission of sins."

St. Mark (xiv. 22-24) writes: "Take ye.  This is My Body....  This is
My Blood of the new Testament, which shall be shed for many."

St. Luke (xxii. 19-20) says: "This is My Body, which is given for
you....  This is the chalice, the new Testament in My Blood, which
shall be shed for you."

St. Paul (I. Cor. xi. 24-25) has it: "This is My Body, which shall be
delivered for you....  This chalice is the new Testament in My Blood."

These four witnesses cite very important words spoken by our Lord on a
most solemn occasion.  St. Matthew was present at the Last Supper.  He
wrote in the very language employed by our Lord, and we have every
reason to believe that he could remember and wished to remember exactly
what our Lord had said on so important a subject, especially when he,
with the other Apostles, was told to do the same act in remembrance of
their Master when He should be no longer with them in visible human
form.  St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. Paul nevertheless vary the
expression of this tremendous mystery in all but the words: "This is My
Body."  They drew their knowledge of the form of the institution of the
Blessed Sacrament from St. Peter; at least we know that St. Peter
revised and approved of St. Mark's Gospel,[2] and St. Paul and St. Luke
evidently obtained their knowledge of the Christian faith from a common
source, which the chief of the Apostles controlled.  They had every
opportunity to consult St. Mark, and there might have been reason for
doing so since they wrote in Greek, whereas St. Matthew retained the
Hebrew idiom, but evidently neither they nor St. Peter deemed a literal
or verbal rendering of the sacramental form essential, provided the
true version of our Lord's action was faithfully given.

Furthermore, the claim of verbal inspiration implies a necessity of
having recourse to the original language in which the inspired writers
composed their works, since it is quite impossible that translations
can in every case adequately render the exact meaning conveyed by an
idiom no longer living.  But the necessity of referring to the Hebrew,
Chaldee, or Greek text in order to verify the true sense of an
expression would place the Bible beyond the reach of all but a few
scholars, for whose exclusive benefit the generally popular style of
the Bible forbids us to think they were primarily intended.

Finally, we have the indication by writers of both the Old and New
Testaments that what they wrote was not conveyed to them by way of
dictation, but that the divine thought conceived in their own minds was
rendered by them with such imperfections of expression as belonged
wholly to the human element of the instrument which God employed, and
could in nowise be attributed to the Holy Ghost, who permitted His
revelation to be communicated through channels of various kinds and
degrees of material form.  Thus the writer of the sacred Book of
Machabees (II. Mach. ii. 24, etc.) apologizes for his style of writing.
St. Paul (I. Cor. ii. 13; II. Cor. xi. 6) gives us to understand that
his words fall short of the requirements of the rhetorician, but that
he is satisfied to convey "the doctrine of the Spirit."

[1] Vid. "The Sacred Scriptures; or, The Written Word of God."  By
William Humphrey, S. J.--London, Art and Book Co., 1894.

[2] Clement Alex.--Euseb., H.E., II. xv. 1; VI. xiv. 6; XX. clxxii.
552.  Also Hieron., De Vir. Ill., VIII. xxiii. 621, etc.



But, you will say, whilst it is plain that we need not adhere to the
text of Holy Writ so strictly as to suppose that each single word is
the only exact representation of the thought or truth with which God
inspired the writer, it seems difficult to see where you can draw the
line between the teaching of God and its interpretation by man who is
not bound by definite words.  In other words, if verbal inspiration is
not to be admitted, how far does inspiration actually extend in the
formation of the written text?

I should answer that inspiration extends to the _truths_ and _facts_
contained in the Bible, _absolutely_; that it extends to the terms in
which these truths and facts are expressed, _relatively_.  The former
cannot vary; the latter may vary according to the disposition or the
circumstances of the writer.  It may be allowable to express this
distinction by a comparison of Biblical with musical inspiration.
Taking music, not as a mechanical art, but as an expression of the
soul, or, as Milton puts it, of

  "Strains that might create a soul,"

we distinguish between the conception of the melody and its
accompaniment of harmonious chords.  The former constitutes, so to
speak, the theme, the truth, or motive of the artistic conception,
which the composer seizes under his inspiration.  When he goes to
communicate the expression of this musical truth or melody through the
instrument he at once and instinctively avails himself of the chords
which, by way of accompaniment, emphasize the musical truth which his
soul utters through the instrument, according to the peculiar nature or
form of the latter.  These chords of the accompaniment are not the
leading motive or truth of his theme, but they are equally true with
it.  They may vary, even whilst he uses the same instrument, but the
melody must ever observe the exact distances between the sounds in its
finished form, and cannot be altered without changing the motive of the

The inspiration of the Sacred Text offers an analogy to that of the
artist musician.  The divine melody of truths and facts is definitely
communicated to the inspired composer of the Sacred Books.  Sometimes
he sings loud and with strong emphasis, sometimes he barely breathes
his heavenly tones, yet they are no uncertain notes; they allow of no
alteration, addition, or omission.  But in the accompanying chords he
takes now one set, now another, remaining in the same clef, ever true
to the melody, yet manifold in the variety of expressing that truth.
Even the seeming discords, which, taken by themselves, look like
errors, prove to be part of the great theme; when rightly understood
they are but transition chords which prepare us for the complete
realization of the succeeding harmony into which they resolve



Does the Church indorse the definition of Scriptural inspiration which
has been given in the two preceding chapters?  The Church has said very
little on the subject of the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures, but
enough to serve us as a definition and as an expression of its
limitations.  The Councils of Florence and Trent simply state that "the
Sacred Scriptures, having been written under the inspiration of the
Holy Ghost, have God for their author."  How much may be deduced from
this was made clear by the late Vatican Council (Constit., _de Fide_,
cap. ii.), which holds that "the Church regards these books (enumerated
in the Tridentine Canon), as sacred and canonical, not because, having
been composed through the care and industry of men, they were
afterwards approved by the authority of the Church, nor simply because
they contain revealed truth without error, but because they were
written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in such a way as to
have God for their author...."[1]

By this definition two distinct theories of inspiration are censured as
contrary to Catholic teaching.  The first is that which has been called
_subsequent_ inspiration, according to which a book might be written
wholly through human industry, but receiving afterwards the testimony
of express divine approval, might become the written word of God.  This
teaching is not admissible inasmuch as it excludes the divine
authorship of the Scriptures.

A second theory condemned by the above clause of the Vatican Council as
untenable on Catholic principles is that which is called _negative_
inspiration.  Its defenders hold that the extent of the divine action
in the composition of the Sacred Scriptures is limited to the exclusion
of errors from the sacred volume.  This would restrict the value of the
truth revealed in the Bible to a mere exposition of human knowledge
containing no actual misstatements of fact.

[1] See on this subject P. Brucker's recently published work
"_Questions Actuelles d'Ecriture Sainte_," _par le R. P. Jos. Brucker,
S. J.: Paris, Victor Retaux_, which treats admirably this part of our



Among the many interesting letters which St. Jerome has left us there
is one to Laeta, a noble lady of Rome, regarding the education of her
little daughter, Paula.  An aunt of the child was at the time in
Bethlehem, where, amid the very scenes where our Lord was born, she
studied the Holy Scriptures in the Hebrew and Greek tongues, as was
then the habit of educated Christian ladies.  St. Jerome would have the
child Paula trained in all the arts and sciences that could refine her
mind and lead it to its highest exercise in that singularly gifted
nature.  To this end he bids Laeta cultivate in the child an early
knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures.  With a touching simplicity the
aged Saint enters into minute details of the daily training,--how the
childish hands are to form the ivory letters, which serve her as
playthings, into the names of the prophets and saints of the Old
Testament; how later she is to commit to memory, each day, choice
sayings, flowers of wisdom culled from the sacred writers, and how,
finally, he [Transcriber's note: she?] is to come to the Holy Land and
learn from her aunt the lofty erudition and understanding of the Bible,
a book which contains and unfolds to him who knows how to read it
rightly all the wisdom of ages, practical and in principle, surpassing
the classic beauty of those renowned Roman writers of whose works St.
Jerome himself had been once so passionately fond that they haunted him
in his dreams.

It must not be supposed, however, that the judgment of so erudite a man
as St. Jerome in placing the study of the Sacred Scriptures above all
other branches of a higher education was based upon a purely
_spiritual_ view.  He realized what escapes the superficial reader of
the inspired writings: that they are _not only_ a library of religious
thought, but, in every truest sense of the word, a compendium of
general knowledge.  The sacred volumes are a code and digest of law, of
political, social, and domestic economy; a book of history the most
comprehensive and best authenticated of all written records back to the
remotest ages; a summary of practical lessons and maxims for every
sphere of life; a treasury of beautiful thoughts and reflections, which
instruct at once and elevate, and thus serve as a most effective means
of education.  That this is no exaggeration is attested by men like the
pagans of old, who, becoming acquainted with the sacred books, valued
them, though they saw in them nothing of that special divine revelation
which the Jew and Christian recognize.  We read in history how, nearly
three hundred years before our Lord, Ptolemy Philadelphia, the most
cultured of all the Egyptian kings, and founder of the famous
Alexandrian University, which for centuries outshone every other
institution of learning by the renown of its teachers, sent a
magnificent embassy to the High-priest Eleazar at Jerusalem to ask him
for a copy of the Sacred Law of the Jews.  So greatly did he esteem its
possession that he offered for the right of translating the Pentateuch
alone six hundred talents of gold ($576,000), and liberty to all the
Jewish captives in his dominion, to the number of about 150,000 (some
historians give the number at 100,000, others at 200,000).

There exists a spurious account, ascribed to Aristeas, one of Ptolemy's
ministers, who is said to have accompanied the royal embassy to
Jerusalem for the purpose of urging the king's request.  According to
this story, which is in form of a letter written by Aristeas to his
brother Philocrates, six rabbis, equally well versed in the Hebrew and
Greek languages, were selected by the high-priest from each of the
twelve tribes.  The seventy-two rabbis were invited to the palace of
the king, who, whilst entertaining them for some time, publicly asked
them questions relating to civil government and moral philosophy, so
that by this means he might test their knowledge and judgment.  Many of
these questions, curious and quaint, have been preserved, and are
intended to show the wisdom of Ptolemy and his desire to raise his
government to a high level of moral and political perfection.  Among
the guests who were present at the king's table we find Demetrius
Phalereus, the famous librarian, Euclid, the mathematician, Theocritus,
the Greek poet philosopher, and Manetho, the Egyptian historian,
together with other equally learned and illustrious scholars and
literary artists.

Later on the seventy-two translators, according to the same tradition,
which has come to us through some of the old ecclesiastical writers,
were brought to the island of Pharos, where they went to work in
separate cells, undisturbed and living according to a uniform rule,
until the entire work of translation had been accomplished.  Then the
results were compared, and it was found that the translations of all
agreed in a wonderful manner, and the Jews accepted it as a work done
under the special protection of Jehovah.

Whatever we may hold as to the accuracy of the above account and its
pretended origin, it is certain that the story was current before the
time of Christ, it being credited by Philo, who repeats it in his Life
of Moses, and by Josephus, as well as by St. Justin Martyr and others
of the early Christian Fathers.  All agree that the Septuagint
translation was made about the time of Ptolemy, and that the Jews of
Alexandria and Palestine held it in equal veneration as a faithful copy
of the Mosaic books, whilst the pagans regarded it in the light of a
wonderfully complete code of laws--civil, domestic, and moral.

Reference has already been made to the Sacred Scriptures as
constituting the oldest and best-authenticated record of ancient
history.  From it we draw the main store of our information regarding
the beginnings of human society in the Eastern countries of
Mesopotamia, early Chaldea, Assyria, Persia, Arabia, and Egypt, all of
which are grouped around the common centre, Palestine, where the
principal scenes of the Old and New Testament narrative are laid.

But it is not only in the departments of history and geography that the
Bible represents the most extensive and reliable source of information
hitherto open to the student of mental culture.  The sacred books,
although never intended to serve a purely scientific purpose, have
within recent years become recognized indicators which throw light upon
doubtful paths in the investigation of certain scientific facts.  Sir
William Dawson, one of the leading investigators of our day, has lately
published his Lowell lectures, in which he shows how science at last
confirms and illustrates the teaching of Holy Writ regarding geology
and the creation of man.[1]  Similar conclusions are being daily
reached in different fields of scientific research, and the words of
Jean Paul regarding the first page of the Mosaic record, as containing
more real knowledge than all the folios of men of science and
philosophy, are proving themselves true in other respects also.  We may
be allowed to cite here from Geikie's "Hours With the Bible" the
testimony of the late Dr. McCaul, who gives us a legitimate view of the
latest results of science as compared with the Mosaic record of the

"Moses," he says, "relates how God created the heavens and the earth at
an indefinitely remote period, before the earth was the habitation of
man: Geology has lately discovered the existence of a long prehuman
period.  A comparison with other Scriptures (_i.e._, those written
after the Pentateuch, or Mosaic account) shows that the "heavens" of
Moses include the abode of angels and the place of the fixed stars,
which existed before the earth: Astronomy points out remote worlds,
whose light began its journey long before the existence of man.  Moses
declares that the earth was or became covered with water, and was
desolate and empty: Geology has found by investigation that the
primitive globe was covered with a uniform ocean, and that there was a
long azoic period, during which neither plant nor animal could live.
Moses states that there was a time when the earth was not dependent on
the sun for light or heat; when, therefore, there could be no climatic
differences: Geology has lately verifed this statement by finding
tropical plants and animals scattered over all places of the earth.
Moses affirms that the sun, as well as the moon, is only a light
holder: Astronomy declares that the sun is a non-luminous body,
dependent for its light on a luminous atmosphere.  Moses asserts that
the earth existed before the sun was given as a luminary: Modern
science proposes a theory which explains how this was possible.  Moses
asserts that there is an expanse extending from earth to distant
heights, in which the heavenly bodies are placed: Recent discoveries
lead to the supposition of some subtile fluid medium in which they
move.  Moses describes the process of creation as gradual, and mentions
the order in which living things appeared: plants, fishes, fowls, land
animals, man: By the study of nature, geology has arrived independently
at the same conclusion.  Whence did Moses get all this knowledge?  How
was it that he worded his rapid sketch with such scientific accuracy?
If he in his day possessed the knowledge which genius and science have
attained only recently, that knowledge is superhuman.  If he did not
possess the knowledge, then his pen must have been guided by superhuman
wisdom" (Aids to Faith, p. 232).

Some years ago much ado was made by certain sceptics about the
chronology of the Bible, as if the discrepancies of a few figures could
undo the manifest authenticity of the vast store of facts vouched in
the grand collection of Biblical books.  These discrepancies are being
gradually explained.  It may be that we err in properly understanding
the Oriental habits of counting genealogies, or that the method of the
first transcribers led to inaccuracy, despite the care used in the
copying and preservation of the text.  When we remember that Hebrew
signs, very closely resembling each other, denote often great
differences, clear enough, no doubt, at first, but becoming indistinct
in the course of time, we cannot wonder that some words and expressions
present to the ordinary reader a mystery, or even seeming
contradiction.  It is not necessary to understand the ancient tongue in
order to realize this fact.  In the first place, the similarity of
Hebrew characters which represent great numerical differences must have
easily led to errors by the copyists, which caused difficulty to the
later transcribers unless they had a reliable tradition to correct the
mistake.  Thus the letter [Hebrew: Beth] (_Beth_) represents _two_,
whilst [Hebrew: Kaph] (_Kaph_) represents _twenty_.  By placing two
small dots above either of these two characters you multiply them by a
thousand, [Hebrew: Beth with two dots] representing _two thousand_ and
[Hebrew: Kaph with two dots] _twenty thousand_.  The letter [Hebrew:
Vav] (_Vav_) is equivalent to _six_, another letter very like it in
form, [Hebrew: Zayin] (_Zayin_), is _seven_, whilst both of these
characters represent a variety of meanings: oftenest [Hebrew: Vav]
(_Vav_) is a copula, at other times it stands at the beginning of a
discourse, or introduces the apodosis, or is simply an intensive, or
adversative; sometimes it is prefixed to a future tense, and turns it
into an imperfect, etc.  Again, there are special reasons why certain
combinations of letters stand for numerals, contrary to the ordinary
rule.  Thus _fifteen_ is expressed by [Hebrew: vav, tet]=9+6, instead
of [Hebrew: tav, vav, he, yod], because the name of God commences with
the latter characters [Hebrew: ] (Jehovah), etc.

Furthermore, many of the signs used as numerals had fixed symbolical
significations, and were not meant to be taken as literal quantities.

Moreover, in all the old Hebrew writings the consonants only are
expressed.  Thus it happens that the same written characters may denote
different things, sometimes contradictory, unless living tradition
could supply the true signification.  Thus the word [Hebrew: resh, kaf]
means _son_ (Ps. ii. 12), or it may be an adjective signifying _chosen_
(Cant. vi. 9), or, again, _clear_ (Cant. vi. 10), or _empty_ (Prov.
xiv. 4).  Besides these primary meanings it stands for _corn_ or
_grain_, for _open fields_ or _country_, for a _pit_, for _salt of lye_
(vegetable salt), and for _pureness_.  The true signification in each
passage is not always clear from the context, and critics are
frequently at a loss to divine the sense intended by the writer.

But whilst these discrepancies and obscurities are a momentary source
of distraction, they arouse not only zeal for the study of the sacred
languages, by which means philological mysteries are frequently cleared
up, but they give us often an insight into the wonderful genius of the
Semitic languages, with their peculiar imagery, which associates ideas
and feelings apparently wholly distinct from each other according to
the use of modern terms.

The last-made reflection suggests another advantage, in an educational
point of view, which the study of the Sacred Scriptures opens to those
who possess sufficient talent and opportunity for its pursuit.  I mean
the power of thought and reflection which comes with the study of a
foreign language.  There are portions of the Old Testament which we
cannot rightly read and understand without _some_ knowledge of the
tongue in which they were originally written.  This is one of the
several reasons which the Church has for not sanctioning, without
certain cautions, the indiscriminate reading of the Sacred Scriptures
in the form of translation.  Let me give you a very good authority for

About the very time when Ptolemy Philadelphus, of whom I have spoken in
the beginning, sent to Jerusalem in order to procure the Greek
translation of the Thorah, or Hebrew law (Pentateuch), a holy Jewish
scribe was inspired to write one of the later Scriptural books.  It
appears that He was among the seventy learned scribes who had been sent
by the High-priest to Alexandria for the purpose of making the
translation for the king, and that afterwards, whilst still there, he
composed the sacred book known as _Ecclesiasticus_.  This book he wrote
in the Hebrew tongue.  Many years after, a grandson of this inspired
writer, who is called Jesus son of Sirach, came upon the book and
resolved to translate it into Greek, in order that it might be read by
many of his brethren in the foreign land, who no longer spoke the
Hebrew language, though they believed in the law of their forefathers.
To this translation he wrote a short preface which, though it does not
belong to the inspired portions of the text, has been preserved and is
found in our Bibles.  Let me read it to you, because it demonstrates
the truth of what I have just said, namely, that our understanding of
the Bible is rendered difficult when we are obliged to depart from the
original language in which it was written.  The younger Jesus Sirach,
who spoke both the Hebrew and Greek tongues equally well, at a time
when they were still living languages, writes as follows about the
translation of his grandfather's work:

"The knowledge of many and great things hath been shown us by the Law
and the Prophets, and others that have followed them, for which things
Israel is to be commended for doctrine and wisdom; because not only
they that speak must needs be skilful, but strangers also, both
speaking and writing, may by their means become most learned.

My grandfather Jesus, after he had much given himself to a diligent
reading of the Law and the Prophets, and other books that were
delivered to us from our fathers, had a mind also to write something
himself pertaining to doctrine and wisdom; that such as are desirous to
learn and are made knowing in these things may be more and more
attentive in mind, and be strengthened to live according to the Law.  I
entreat you, therefore, to come with benevolence, and to read with
attention, and to pardon us for those things wherein we may seem,
_while we follow the image of wisdom, to come short in the composition
of words: for the Hebrew words have not the same force in them when
translated into another tongue.  And not only these, but the Law also
itself, and the Prophets and the rest of the books, have no small
difference when they are spoken in their own language_.  For in the
eighth and thirtieth year coming into Egypt, when Ptolemy Euergetes was
king, and continuing there a long time, I found these books left, of no
small and contemptible learning.  Therefore I thought it good and
necessary for me to bestow some diligence and labor to interpret this
book; and with much watching and study, in some space of time, I
brought the book to an end, and set it forth for the service of them
that are willing to apply their mind, and to learn how they ought to
conduct themselves, who purpose to lead their life according to the Law
of the Lord" (Prologue to Ecclesiasticus).

[1] "Meeting-place of Geology and History," 1894.  Fleming H. Revell
Co., New York.



It is a fact not generally known or realized that if it were not for
the Bible some of the richest and most beautiful languages of antiquity
would now be entirely lost to us; nay, more, there are whole nations
who would in all probability never have had a written language or
literature except for the Bible.

Of the ancient Semitic tongues only two remain living languages, that
is, the Arabian, and, in a modified form, the Syrian.  The Chaldee, the
Samaritan, the Assyrian, the Phoenician, the Ethiopia are dead and
would hardly be known to us except for the remnants of them which we
trace through the sacred books of the Scripture.  We have no relic of
the Hebrew tongue but the Bible; and this language, with all its
wondrous musical forms, its strange capacity of eliciting and
expressing the deepest feelings of the human heart, and its charming
touches of Oriental genius, would be entirely dead outs, if we had not
the Bible.

Our own English tongue bears the traces of another written language,
now entirely dead, but which was actually created by the study of the
Bible.  I mean the Gothic, of which no other written document exists
to-day except some portion of the Holy Scriptures translated by Ulfilas
in the fourth century.  When he came as a missionary among the Goths he
found them ignorant of the art of writing.  In order to Christianize
the rude people he invented for them an alphabet, gathered their
children into Christian schools, and taught them to write and to read.
The first book, and the last, too, of that once powerful race was a
Bible.  When the Goths had died out in the ninth century, their written
copy of the inspired word of God still continued to live, and we can
trace in our unabridged dictionaries to-day the original meaning of
many a Saxon word by reference to this solitary copy of a part of the
Sacred Scriptures.

What has been said of the Gothic is equally true of the written
language of the Armenians (for whom the anchorite Miesrop devised an
alphabet and translated the Bible); also of the Slavonic nations (for
whom SS. Cyril and Methodius made an alphabet and Bible translation);
and others--races who, like our own Indian tribes, lived only long
enough as representatives of a separate language to learn the rudiments
of Christianity.

All this must convince us that those who have the required means should
seek to master one or several of the Biblical languages, since the
ancient tongues, less subject to the caprice of political changes than
those of later ages, open to the mind avenues of original thought and
sentiment which modern literature and education have not been capable
of retaining without them.

You will say that it is impossible for most, or perchance nearly all of
you to give yourselves to the study of Hebrew or Greek or Latin in
order to gain that profit from the intelligent reading of the Bible
which it yields to the man of learning.  Very well; if so, the fact of
our deficiency must caution us in reading and rashly interpreting
according to our fancy what can only be determined by the wisdom of
those who act the legitimate part of divinely-appointed judges.  As in
the Old Law the High-priest and the great council of the Sanhedrin were
the infallible interpreters of the divine decrees, so the Church, which
is the continuation and perfection of the Synagogue, completes the
Messianic mission by interpreting for each succeeding generation the
meaning of the inspired words written in the sacred volume.



But there still remains for all of us the reading of the English Bible,
with the aids of interpretation which render it intelligible for a
practical purpose, and in so far as it is an expression of the natural
moral law.  This of itself contributes very largely to the perfection
of our use of the mother tongue.  For it is always true of this sacred
book, as Dryden says, that in

              "... Style, majestic and divine,
  It speaks no less than God in every line;
  Commanding words! whose force is still the same
  As the first _fiat_ that produced our frame."
              (Dryden, _Relig. Laic._, i. 152.)

Yes, its frequent reading helps much to the formation of good English.
This is not simply fancy, but the verdict of those who have experienced
and proved the benefit of frequent use of the Bible as a means of
fashioning and improving a beautiful style of English writing.  Some
years ago Mr. Bainton, a lover of English literature, requested the
best of living writers to give their opinion as to what class of
reading had most contributed to their attaining the elegance or force
of beauty for which their writings were generally admired.  To the
surprise of many it appeared in the answers that the reading of the
Bible was considered the secret of a charming style, even by authors
who wrote in that lighter, sparkling vein which seems so remote from
the gravity and solidity of the sacred books.  To give one example of
this let me quote the words of Mr. W. S. Gilbert, the author of the
delightful "Bab Ballads," and a long series of light operas and
sparkling plays.  After referring to the advantage of studying the
English of the late Tudor and early Stuart periods, he adds: "But for
simplicity, directness, and perspicuity, there is, in my opinion, no
existing work to be compared with the historical books of the Bible."

Mr. Marion Crawford, much read of late, and criticized for fostering a
faulty ideal, but whose vigorous expression, power of analysis, and
correct delineation of character will hardly be denied by any one
capable of judging, gives his ideas of attaining to good English style
in the following words: "The greatest literary production in our
language is the translation of the Bible, and the more a man reads it
the better he will write English."  He adds: "I am not a particularly
devout person, though I am a good Roman Catholic, and I do not
recommend the Bible from any religious reason.  I distinctly dislike
the practice of learning texts without any regard to the context....
But if we were English Brahmans, and believed nothing contained
therein, I should still maintain that the Bible should be the _first
study_ of a literary man.  Then the great poets, Shakespeare, Milton,"
etc.  I have quoted Mr. Crawford because he is not merely a good
English writer, but a real scholar, familiar with many languages,
classic and modern, and therefore all the better qualified to judge of
our subject.

There are, of course, instances in the Bible when the grammatical rules
of Brown and Murray forbid satisfactory parsing.  The reason of this is
the natural wish of the translators, anxious to preserve the literal
form of the original, not to sacrifice accuracy to the nicety with
which they might round their phrases.  They were intent alone upon
truth; and it is precisely in this element that eloquence finds its
first and most powerful incentive.  Beauty of language has two sources
of inspiration.  One is that of truth, which arouses in the heart a
love lifting the mind with a burning enthusiasm into the regions of all
that is fair and chaste and grand; and the language of him who has
mastered it assumes the sound and form of these lofty emotions.  There
is indeed another source of inspiration.  It is that from which
emanates the brilliant but ephemeral beauty of the literature of the
day.  It is not love of unchanging truth, but the captivating passion
of the hour, which, as someone has said, acts upon the brain "like the
foaming grape of Eastern France--pleasant to the sense of taste, yet
sending its subtle fumes to the brain, and stealing away the judgment."
Truth in literature possesses a power of eloquence of which fiction is
but a shadow at best, varying in size, and dwarfed or magnified in
proportion as it approaches and recedes from the object which occasions



And with this study of truth there is added to knowledge and power and
beauty of expression another vital element, which gives these
acquisitions an infinite value: I mean the gift of wisdom as distinct
from knowledge.  Read the Sapiential book of Solomon, and mark what he
there says.  He had learnt all things that human industry could
suggest, but the science of things earthly was as nothing to the wisdom
which, as he says, "went before me; and I knew not that it was the
mother of all."  And when he had learnt wisdom in listening to the
breathing of that sacred voice whose words he recorded for our
instruction, he describes it as a sacred fire of genius, "holy, one,
manifold, subtle, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that
which is good, quick, which nothing can oppose, beneficent, gentle,
kind, steadfast, assured--a breath of the power of God--making friends
of God, and prophets, for God loveth none but him that dwelleth with
wisdom--more beautiful than the sun" (Sap. vii. 22-29).

Surely, it makes us friends of God and prophets.  But not only this.
It keeps high ideals before us, and we become like to the things we
love.  Look on Abraham, whom the Arab calls even to this day by no
other name but _El Khalil Allah_--that is, "the friend of God"--chosen
the father of a holy race whence eventually was to spring the Messias;
look on Moses, the meekest of men, as he is called in Holy Writ, or on
David, the man "according to God's own heart;" look on the later
prophets, whose words set the nations aflame, and made kings tremble
who had never felt fear of men or God.  We see Jeremiah, the youth at
Anathoth, "gentle, sensitive, yielding, yearning for peace and love,
averse by nature from strife and controversy," stepping forth at the
urging of motives such as speak to each of us from these pages of the
Bible.  Boldly he announces the judgments of God to his faithless
people.  "During that long ministry" of forty years, says Geikie, "no
personal interest, comfort, or ease, no shrinking from ridicule,
contumely, or hatred, could turn him from the task imposed upon him,
with awful sanctions, by the lips of the Eternal God."[1]

Or take the noble women with whose lofty virtue the inspired writers
fill the sacred volumes, and whose names some of the books bear.

There is the sacred Book of _Ruth_, she who is called "friend" or
"lover" in the Hebrew tongue, fair image of filial affection as she
walks beside the aged Noemi along the weary roads north from Moab, to
conduct her mother to her native land.  There, at noon and eve, we see
her scan the fresh-mown fields for the gleanings which the law of Moses
allowed the poor, in order that she might honorably keep the humble
home of her widowed parent.  Another sacred book we have which bears
the name of _Judith_, the woman who, strengthened in the loyal love of
her father's nation, by valiant deed set herself to defend the children
of Israel from ignominious captivity.  In the Book of _Esther_ we have
the history of her whose name signifies "myrtle," symbol among the Jews
of joyous gratitude.  Full of that modest wisdom of which
Ecclesiasticus tells us that it "walketh with chosen women" (i. 17),
her influence is typical of that which the Virgin Queen, fair Mother of
the Christ, in later day did exercise upon the children of Eve.  Ah,
truly, "the word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways
are everlasting commandments" (Ecclesiastic.).

But it would be a lengthy task to point out all the details of manifold
utility in the intellectual and practical, as well as the moral order,
which come from the study of the Sacred Scripture.  We have seen in a
limited measure what it does for history, for language, for the science
of government, for the development of general knowledge, and the
cultivation of a graceful and vigorous style in writing.  These books
hold the key to true wisdom.  "All Scripture," writes St. Paul to the
young bishop Timothy, whom he himself had taught from the day he took
him to himself as a boy at Lystra, "all Scripture, inspired by God, is
profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct."

Yet there are those, the same Apostle says, "who, always learning,
never attain to the knowledge of truth" (II. Tim. iii. 7).  Why?
Because they do not study rightly.

[1] Geikie, "Hours With the Bible," v. 134.



"Man is the perfection of creation, the mind is the perfection of man,
the heart is the perfection of the mind," says St. Francis de Sales.

Our aim is to become perfect in mind and heart, in character and
disposition.  Books are the readiest means of study to this end.  They
are at our command at all times.  When we have discovered a beautiful
thought, a strong chain of reasoning, which, whilst convincing,
attracts and leads us into the domain of truth, however partial, we
ponder it and make it our own, and we feel stronger in the permanent
possession of it.  We desire truth, and we look for it in books,
mostly.  Yet we may be anxious for knowledge, and worry or dream out
our days in a course of reading without gaining any real advantage from
it.  Perhaps we fail in the proper choice of books, or else we do not
observe the right method in reading and study.

Yet it is impossible for most men to go in search of and test
everything that is labelled "_truth_."  Is there no remedy provided
against the danger of oft going wrong in order to find the right?  Yes.
God has given us a compendium of everything that fosters true knowledge
and wisdom in a book consigned to the direction of an old, experienced,
and wise teacher.  That book is the Bible, and the teacher is the
Church of Christ.  In the book we find a store of great truths, of all
that is beautiful and ennobling, an infallible manual in the school of
human perfection, which leads us so high that, having mastered its
contents, we touch the very gates of heaven, where we may commune with
the Creator of wisdom and of all that our souls are capable of knowing.

There are many who are thoroughly convinced of this.  They believe that
the Bible is the most perfect book on earth, that it is the book of
books, as it has been called from time immemorial; for the word _Bible_
means simply a book, _the_ book of all others by excellence, as if
there were none so worthy of study, and none which could not be
dispensed with rather than this.  And so it is.  It contains all
knowledge worthy of the highest aspirations and of the exercise of the
best talents.

Yet, as a traveller in search of fortune may pass over seemingly barren
tracts of desert land or mountain ridge, which treasure beneath the
surface richest mines of gold, and caverns of splendid crystal and
rarest marble, so the reader of the sacred books, in search of
knowledge, may wearily tread along the paths of Bible truths, his eye
bewildered by endless repetitions of precepts and monotonous scenes and
seemingly uninteresting facts, unconscious of what wealth and beauty
lie beneath him.  And the reason of this listless and tiring sense in
scanning over the pages of this book, which has from the first
captivated the admiration of the noblest minds of every race and age,
is the lack of sufficient preparation.  The traveller looks for mines
of gold and diamonds, but he has never learnt the art of prospecting.
He stumbles over the heavy, dark ore, and the clods of metallic sand,
and his feet toil along the path lined with pebbles that, if polished,
would rival the stars of heaven, but they are a hindrance to him, for
he does not know _that_ or _how_ he should examine and utilize their
precious contents.  He requires the previous training of the
prospector, the sharp eve of the skilled mining master, and the
unwearied courage to go down to examine the often crude-looking stones.
Without these qualities he not only fails in his attainment of wealth,
but becomes discouraged and even sceptic of its existence.

In other words, there are certain essential conditions required upon
which depends the acquisition of that excellent knowledge which the
Scriptures contain for every sphere of life.  They are conditions which
affect us in our entirety as men--I should say as the images of God, in
whose likeness we were created.  Sin has tarnished this image, and we
are to restore it to its original beauty by correcting it.  Our model
is God Himself.  The Bible is the text-book containing the image of
this Model, drawn by Himself, and He has provided the preceptor to
explain the various meanings of lines, lights, and shadows, and the use
of the instruments which must be employed in completing the process.
It is a little tedious, as all art training is in its beginning.
Sometimes we copy with tracing-paper, and of late the kodak has done
much to help us by the aid of photography.



You know that through the art of photography a perfect picture of an
object may be produced by the action of light upon a smooth and
sensitive surface.  The light reflected from the object which is to be
photographed enters through a lens into the dark chamber of the camera,
and makes an impression upon the plate which is rendered sensitive by a
film of chloride (or nitrate) of silver.  To produce a good picture,
therefore, three things are principally required:

1. _A faultless sensitized plate_ on which the reflection of the object
is to be made;

2. _A concentrated light_; that is, the rays must enter the camera
through a lens, but be excluded from every other part;

3. _The right focus_; that is to say, you must get the proper distance
of your object in order to preserve the just proportions between it and
its surroundings.

The same requisites may be applied to ourselves when we wish to image
in our souls the object of divine truth, which is identical with God.

1. The sensitive plate of our hearts and minds must be clean, without
flaw, so as to admit the ray of heavenly light, and let it take hold
upon its surface.  A tarnished mirror gives but a blurred and imperfect
reflection.  Just so the mind occupied with the follies and vanities of
worldliness, the heart filled with the changing idols of unworthy
attachments, is no fit surface for the delicate impressions of those
chaste delineations of truth which are nothing else but the image of
God in the human soul.  To His likeness we were created, and to His
likeness we must again conform ourselves by a right study of truth.

2. Next, in order to obtain a correct impression of the sublime truth
contained in the sacred volumes, we must concentrate our lights.  That
is to say, we must read with assiduity, must study with earnestness,
and also with prayer, to obtain the light of the Divine Spirit who
caused these pages of the Bible to be traced for our instruction--for,
as one of our greatest English writers, though not a Catholic, has
beautifully said:

  "Within that awful volume lies
  The mystery of mysteries!
  Happiest they of human race
  To whom God has granted grace
  To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
  To lift the latch and force the way;
  And better had they ne'er been born,
  Who read to doubt, or read to scorn."[1]

This implies that all side-lights which may distract the mind from this
concentrated attention and reverend attitude should be excluded.  To
read the Sacred Scriptures in a flippant mood, or even in an irreverent
posture, and without having previously reflected on the fact that it is
God's word, is to lessen immeasurably one's chance of profiting by the
reading.  The Mahometan or Jew in the East reverently lifts each piece
of paper or parchment which he finds upon the road, for fear that it
might contain the name of Allah or Jehovah, and be profaned by being
trodden under foot.  We owe no less to the inspired word of God, above
all if we would gain the key to its intelligence.

The concentration into a focus is obtained through a perfectly-shaped,
convex lens.  Now this lens, which is capable not only of bringing into
one strong point all the scattered rays of light, but under
circumstances gathers the particles to intensity of heat producing a
flame, is that centre of the affections commonly termed the heart.
There is a tendency among those who seek intellectual culture to
undervalue this quality of the heart, which nevertheless contains the
secret power of generating supreme wisdom.  We are considering true
wisdom, not superficial, exclusively human wisdom, which is the very
opposite, and which debases man to a mere repository of facts and
impressions, like an illustrated encyclopedia, or makes of him a shrewd
egotist, whose cleverness we may admire as we admire the antics of a
dancing serpent without wishing to come in contact with its slimy body
or its poisonous fangs.

"As in human things," says Pascal, "we must first know an object before
we can love it, so in divine things, which constitute the only real
truth at which man can worthily aim, we must love them before we can
know them, for we cannot attain to truth except through charity."  "In
all our studies and pursuits of knowledge," says Watts, "let us
remember that the conformation of our hearts to true religion and
morality are things of far more consequence than all the furniture of
our understanding and the richest treasures of mere speculative

If it be true that "nothing is so powerful to form truly grand
characters as meditation on the word of God and on Christian truths,"
then we must suppose an inclination, a love for the lofty ideals which
Christianity sets before us.  "To whom has the root of wisdom been
revealed?" asks that wise and noble old rabbi, son of Sirach; and he
answers: "God has given her to them that love Him."  If the wise man in
the sacred book tells us that "wisdom walketh with chosen women," may
we not assume that it is because woman enjoys the prerogative of those
qualities of heart which make her counsels so often far surer than the
carefully pondered reasons of men?

If the fear of the Lord is the _beginning_ of wisdom, is not charity or
love its consummation?  "Blessed is the man that shall continue in
wisdom.  With the bread of life and understanding God's fear shall feed
him, and give him the water of wholesome wisdom to drink, and ... shall
heap upon him a treasure of joy and gladness, and shall cause him to
inherit an everlasting name.  But ... foolish men shall not see her:
for she is far from pride and deceit....  Say not: It is through God
that she is not with me, for do not thou the things that He hateth"
(Eccles., ch. xiv. and xv.).

But there is no need of multiplying these sayings of God.  The
knowledge we seek here is the knowledge which comes from the Divine
Spirit, source of all science as of all goodness and beauty.  What the
fruits of that spirit are we are told by St. Paul: Charity, joy, peace,
patience, etc.; and we know how the Apostle of the Gentiles, who had
learnt much in many schools, at the feet of Gamaliel and in the halls
of the Greek philosophers, valued these fruits of wisdom above all the
doctrines of men.

Catholics are fortunate in this, that they may gain from the study of
the Bible that purest light of wisdom which is only partially
communicated to those who find no way, through the sacraments, of
cleansing their souls,--that mirror in which God's image can show
clearly only when it is polished and purified from the dust-stains of
our earthly fall.  Whatever opportunities for thorough study of the
Bible we may have, there can be no doubt that this is one of the most
important conditions for its proper and fruitful appreciation, because
the intelligence is always warped by sin.

A correct knowledge of our faith, as the primary rule of our conduct,
is, of course, supposed.  We cannot understand the written word of God
unless we have become accustomed to the language He speaks to the
heart, and that language is taught in our catechisms and textbooks of
religion.  Some need less of this knowledge than others, so far as the
difficulties and controversies of religion are concerned.  The Bible is
a book of instruction for all, and hence the preparatory knowledge
required varies with the mental range and ability, and the consequent
danger of doubts and false views of each individual.  A child knows the
precepts and wishes of its parent often by a look or gesture, without
receiving any explicit instruction, because love and the habit of faith
supply intelligence.  Others require a certain amount of reasoning to
move their hearts to the ready acceptance of divine precepts.  This
reasoning is supplied by the study of popular theologies, of which we
have a good number in English.

3. Lastly, we must not only get a right glass, a good lens, but we must
likewise get the right focus for our picture.  We must know the
distance of our objects and their surroundings, the lights and shades,
the coloring, natural and artificial.  In other words, we must become
familiar with the circumstances of history, the dates, the places, the
customs and laws, national and social, which throw light upon the
meaning of the incidents related in the Sacred Scriptures, and which
often aid us in the interpretation of passages mysterious and
prophetic.  Hence we have to give some attention to, and study what we
can, of the ancient records and monuments brought to light by the
archæologist and the historian.  We must likewise inquire into the
origin, history, authority, purpose, and general argument of each of
the inspired books.  All this is the object of what is called
_Introduction to the Study of the Sacred Scriptures_, and is nothing
else but a becoming and essential preparation for the right use of the

  Ah, may our understanding ever read
  This glorious volume which God's wisdom made,
  And in that charter humbly recognize
  Our title to a treasure in the skies!

[1] Scott, _The Monastery_, c. xii.



The Bible is not only a text-book which leads us to the acquisition of
the highest of arts--that of fulfilling the true purpose of life--but
it is itself, as has already been suggested, a work of fairest art
inasmuch as it contains a perfect delineation of the divine Beauty
drawn by the sovereign Artist Himself.

Now true art needs, as a rule, an interpretation; for the outward form
which appeals to the senses may have its deeper and real meaning
disguised beneath the figure, so as to be understood only by the finer
perceptions of the intellect and heart.  Take, for example, a canvas
such as Millet's popular picture entitled "The Angelus."  It is a
small, unpretentious-looking work, representing a youth and a maid in a
fallow field, a village church in the distance, all wrapt in the gloom
of eventide.  Ask a child looking at the picture what is the meaning of
it, and it will probably answer: "Two poor people tired of work."  Ask
a countryman, without much education, and he will say: "Two poor lovers
thinking of home."  But to the poet who has perchance dwelt in some
village of fair Southern France, and knows the simple habits of
devotion among the peasant folk, the picture will awaken memories of
the sound of the Angelus:

  "Ave Maria," blessed be the hour,
  The time, the clime, the spot where I so oft
  Have felt that moment in its fullest power
  Sink o'er the earth, so beautiful and soft,
  While swung the deep bell in the distant tower,
  Or the faint dying day-hymn stole aloft,
  And not a breath crept through the rosy air.

And the reflecting, devout Catholic will see in that picture even more
than the thoughts it suggests to the poet.  It will speak to him of the
angelic salute to a Virgin fair at Nazareth; it will touch a chord of
tender confidence and hope in the Madonna's help and sympathy; it will
arouse a feeling of gratitude for the mystery of the Redemption.  And
all this difference of judgment arises from the varying degrees of
intelligence and knowledge with which we approach the image.

Now the Sacred Scriptures present just such a picture, only larger,
more comprehensive, truer, deeper, containing all the fair delineation
of God's own image, the pattern according to which we are to correct
the same divine likeness in our souls, spoiled somewhat and blurred by

Let us look at the outline.  There are words and a fact.  In the words
truth is enunciated, in the fact those words are exhibited as being a
divine utterance.  In their _literal_ meaning the word affects us just
as a picture would at first sight.  In the one case we have a precept
or an incident or a scene in the life of our Lord; in the other case we
have an act of prayer or a scene from the daily life of French
peasants.  But just as in the picture we may, by reason of artistic and
spiritual culture, recognize not simply an ordinary scene of peasant
life, but a poetic thought, or a practical moral lesson calling for
imitation, or, finally, a mystery of religion, so in the Sacred
Scriptures we may see below the literal sense one that is internal,
hidden, and in its character either simply figurative, or moral, or
mystically spiritual.  An old ecclesiastical writer has given us a
Latin hexameter which suggests these various senses in which the sacred
text may at times be understood:

    Litera _gesta_ docet, quod credas _allegoria_;
    _Moralis_ quid agas, quo tendas _anagogia_.

An example of the four different senses (namely, the _literal_, the
_allegorical_, which appeals to our faith, the _moral_, and the
_mystic_) in which a word or passage of Holy Writ may be interpreted is
offered in the term "Jerusalem."  If we read that "they went up to
Jerusalem every year," we understand the word Jerusalem to represent
the chief city of the Hebrews, situated on the confines of Judah and
Benjamin.  If we happen upon the passage of St. John where he says: "I,
John, saw a holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
from God; ... behold the tabernacle of God with men, and He will dwell
with them," we know that this _new_ Jerusalem on earth can be no other
than the Church, where God has His tabernacle, dwelling with men.  The
word is used _allegorically_, that is to say, it appeals to our faith;
to the internal, not to our external sense.  Again, the word
"Jerusalem" may be used in the sense which its etymology suggests
without reference to any city.  Etymologically it consists of two
words, signifying _foundation_ and _peace_.  A rabbi might, therefore,
bid his disciples to strive to build up "Jerusalem," meaning that they
should seek to lay solid foundations of peace by conforming their lives
to the law of Jehovah.  This would give the word Jerusalem simply a
_moral_ signification.  Finally, the word is used as a synonyme for
"heaven," as in Apoc. xxi. 10: "And He took me up in spirit, ... and He
showed me the holy city Jerusalem, ... having the glory of God."  Here
we have the term in its _anagogical_ sense, that is, referring to the
future life.

Without entering into the various figures of speech with which the
language of the Hebrews abounds, let me suggest some points which must
be observed in order that the true sense of the Sacred Scriptures may
not escape us so as to mislead the mind.

For the discovery of the literal sense we must, of course, be guided by
the rules of ordinary grammatical construction.  Where this proves
insufficient we must have recourse to the idiomatic use of language,
the habits of speech, which prevailed among the Hebrews or those with
whose utterances or history we are concerned.  This is very important
in order that we may get a right understanding of the expressions
employed.  As an instance of misconception in this respect may be cited
the words of our Lord to His holy Mother at the nuptials of Cana, which
literally sound like a reproof, yet are far from conveying such a sense
in their original signification.  The like is true of the use of
certain comparisons which to our sense seem rude and cruel, yet which
were not so understood in the language in which they were originally
spoken or written.  Thus when our Lord said to the Canaanitish woman
who followed Him in the regions of Tyre and Sidon that it is not right
to give the bread of the children to "dogs," He seemed to spurn the
poor mother, who prayed Him for the recovery of her child, as a man
spurns a cur.  Yet such is not the sense of the expression, which
hardly means anything more than what we would convey by "outside of the
pale of faith."

Besides the usage of speech peculiar to a people or district or period
of time, we must have regard to the individuality of the writer.  His
subjective state, his temperament, education, personal associations,
and habits of thought and feeling necessarily influence the style of
his writing.  Thus in the letters of St. Paul we recognize a spirit
which the forms of speech seem wholly inadequate to contain or express.
He writes as he might speak, impatient of words.  His thoughts seem
often disconnected; he omits things which he had evidently meant to
say, and which the hearers might have supplied from the vividness of
the image presented, but which become obscure to the reader who only
sees the cold form of the written page.  There is no end of
parenthetical clauses in his discourses; often he begins a period and
leaves it unfinished.  Sometimes there appears a total absence of
logical connection in what he intends for proofs and arguments; then,
again, there is a wealth of imagery, which suggests the quick sense and
power of comparison peculiar to the Oriental mind, but slow to impress
itself on the Western nations.  All this makes it necessary to _study_
St. Paul rather than to read him, if one would understand the Apostle.
Of this St. Peter shows himself conscious when he writes that certain
things in the Epistles of St. Paul are "_hard to be understood_, which
the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures,
to their own destruction" (II. Pet. iii. 16).

Another element which contributes to the right interpretation of the
Sacred Text is the knowledge of what may be called the historical
background of a passage or book.  This includes the various relations
of time, place, persons addressed, and other circumstances which
exercise an influence upon the material, intellectual, and moral
surroundings of the writer.  Accordingly, different parts of the Sacred
Scriptures require different treatment and different preparation on the
part of the reader.  Thus to comprehend the full significance of the
Book of Exodus we must study the geographical and ethnographical
condition of Egypt.  For a right understanding of the Book of Daniel we
should first have to become acquainted with the history of Chaldea and
Assyria, especially as lit up by the recent discoveries of monuments in
the East.  The Canticle of Canticles presupposes for its just
interpretation a certain familiarity with the details of Solomon's life
during the golden period of his reign.  The Letters of St. Paul, in the
New Testament, reveal their true bearing only after we have read the
life of the Apostle as it is described in the Acts; and so on for other
parts of the Sacred History.

Finally, a proper understanding and appreciation of the inspired books
depend largely on our realization of the proximate scope and purpose,
the character and quality, of the subject treated by the sacred writer.
The Bible is a wondrous combination of historic, didactic, and
prophetic elements.  Each of these goes to support or emphasize the
other, but each of them has its predominant functions in different
parts of the grand structure.  Hence we may not judge a prophecy as we
judge the historical narrative which introduces and supports it; we may
not interpret in its literal sense the metaphor which is simply to
convey a moral lesson to the mind.



The subject-matter of the Bible obliges us, however, to apply not only
the various cautions and methods of interpretation which are required
for the understanding of the classics generally, but it exacts more.
The Sacred Scriptures, as a grand work of art, have not only a human,
but primarily a divine conception for their basis.  Hence it does not
suffice to have mastered the meaning of the words and the outline of
the subject, or the individual genius and human ideal of the writer who
acted merely as the instrument executing a higher inspiration.  We must
enter into the conception of the divine mind.  If the principal and
all-pervading motive of the great Scriptural composition is a religious
one, it stands to reason that it can be comprehended only when judged
from a religious point of view.

Now the divine mind is so far above us that we can reach it only if God
Himself brings it down to us.  He has to descend, to lift the veil from
His immensity, not by opening to us, before the time, those sacred
precincts which "eye hath never seen," but by emitting a ray of light
to clear up our darkness, to give us a glimpse of the awful splendor
which vibrates in those celestial realms where light and sound and
warmth of eternal charity mingle in the sweet harmony of the divine
Beauty whose tones speak now to our senses in separate forms.  God
descends to our humility to interpret His own image.  First He came in
human form, and told us all the things we were to believe and do.  Then
He sent the Paraclete, and under His direction men of God taught the
same things.  Then they wrote them, or, as St. John tells us, some of
them.  The Paraclete veils Himself, as our Lord had announced to His
Apostles, in the Church, whose divinely constituted earthly chief was
to be Peter--to the end of time.  The Church, therefore, founded by
Christ, and an ever-living emanation of the incessant activity of the
Holy Spirit, although necessarily speaking to men through men, is the
first and surest interpreter of the purpose and meaning of each and
every part of Holy Writ.

And because God cannot contradict Himself it follows that every truth
of the written word must correspond with every truth of the spoken
word.  In doubtful cases, therefore, as to the meaning of a word or
text in the Sacred Writings, we have recourse to the supreme,
divinely-guided judgment of the Church.  Her doctrines, defined, are
the first and most important criterion of Scriptural truth.

But the Church has not defined every expression of truth, though she
holds the key to all truth.  She points to the light which illumines
our night; she declares the stars whence that light issues directly or
by reflection; but she does not always indicate where the rays of the
one body begin to mingle with those of the other, or what precise
elements determine the motion or stability of each.  Only when there
are conflicts or threatened disturbances of the centres of attraction
and repulsion she reaches out her anointed hand, informed with the
magic power of her Creator and founder, and directs the courses of
bodies that otherwise would clash unto mutual destruction.  Hence the
freedom of investigation allowed the Catholic student of the Scriptures
is limited only by the rules of faith taught by the same divine Teacher
who watches over the spoken and written revelation alike.  And as, in
cases where we have not the express command of a superior, we interpret
his will by his known desires and views in other respects, so in the
interpretation of those parts of Holy Writ regarding the meaning of
which we have no definite expression in the doctrinal code of the
Church, we follow the _analogy of faith_; which is manifest from the
general consent of the Christian Fathers and Doctors, and from the
teaching of learned and holy commentators.  These we may safely follow
in all doubtful cases, that is to say, where there is no evidence to
show that they were mistaken, either through want of certain sources of
information or proofs which we have at our command presently, or
because they accepted the views of their time and people, feeling that
any departure from the received tradition would make disturbance, and
fail of its intended good effect.

It is safe to say that the conditions of one age and the modes of
thought and feeling of one generation are not a just standard by which
to judge the conditions and views of another age or generation.  This
is an important fact to remember for those who are inclined to look in
every part of the Sacred Scriptures for a verification of the
sentiments which they feel, and of the views and opinions of things
which they hold.



There is a method of interpreting the Bible which, although it affords
a temporary satisfaction to the heart, is misleading to the mind.  I
mean private interpretation in the sense in which it is generally
practised and defended by our Protestant brethren.  To take a good
photograph you must have sunlight; candles, gas, even electric lights,
unless they be flash-lights, which don't suit all purposes of accurate
reproduction, will not accomplish it.  For vegetable growth you need
sunlight; artificial light will give neither healthy fruit nor even
color to the plant.  So it is with the divine image traced in the
Sacred Scriptures.  We cannot reproduce it in our souls by any earthly
light.  Now human judgment is an earthly light, because it is
constantly influenced by feelings, prejudices, attachments, and partial
views of things.  Some of us accept an opinion because it suits our
conditions of life, is agreeable to our sense of ease or vanity,
relieves us from certain responsibilities to God and our neighbor which
a severer statement of the case would exact.  Others endorse a view
because it is held by a person whom they love or respect.  Others,
again, maintain an opinion because it is contrary to the one held by a
person whom they dislike.  And there is a vast number of people who
take a view simply because it is the first that presents itself to
them, and they are as well pleased with it as with others which they
don't know.  It must be remembered, moreover, that man is not naturally
inclined toward the right.  The world loves darkness since its eyes
were hurt by the wanton effort to see God and to be like Him in a way
which was against His law.  Amid this darkness, intellectual and moral,
which surrounds man, and which for the moment pleases him because it
relieves him of a strain, we need a guide.  We must follow a leader who
knows all the ways and enjoys the full light of heaven.

The defence in favor of private interpretation of the Bible usually
rests in the assumption of God's goodness, who must needs furnish an
inward light to man lest he go wrong in his search after truth.  But
God's goodness gives you a guide, well accredited with testimonials
from Himself, against whose efficiency the inward light compares like a
rush-light against the sun.

The red cross of the Alpine Club marks the safe passage down the rocky
mountain paths of Switzerland.  We recognize the stones which are
landmarks because they bear the conventional sign of an authorized body
of mountaineers.  They lead our way, and we follow without hesitation.
But if the mark of the red cross of the Alpine Club were not visible,
if we had to trust to the inward light or to our instinct to guide us,
we should run the risk of losing our way and lives, though the stones
which marked the path of former travellers are still there.

Nor does it seem according to the divine wisdom to give man a written
law and then to leave him to Himself for its interpretation.  No other
written law was ever given under such conditions by or to man.  It
would frustrate the fundamental purpose of any written law to allow the
individual to interpret it, because it would lead to contradictions and
confusion, which it is the very object of laws to prevent.  That the
divine Law, in its written form, is no exception to this rule is proved
from the effects of the theory of private interpretation, which have
grown into a history of many sects, conscientiously protesting one
against the other because of the inferences which each draws from the
one sacred code of Christian law and doctrine.  Thus the written word
of God would frustrate its own manifest purpose, nay, give occasion to
a thousand justifications of separation and hostility, which its
fundamental canon, charity in the union of Christ, expressly forbids.

What other conclusion, therefore, remains than to accept the warning of
St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, who, speaking of the reading of the
Sacred Scriptures, wishes the converts to understand "_this, first,
that no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation_,"[1]
because "_the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost_" (II.
Pet. i. 20, 21).

And this disposes, in the mind of the sincere Christian, of all the
theories of interpretation advanced by rationalist and naturalist
philosophers, who render their arguments a trifle more consistent than
Protestants by denying from the outset the divine inspiration of the
Sacred Scriptures.

[1] The Protestant (King James) version of this passage reads: "That no
prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation."  The late
revision of the New Testament omits the word _any_.



"Revelation and a Church are practically identical.  Revelation and
Scripture are not."[1]  Though _revelation_ is necessary to guide the
human mind, prone to error, and to sustain the human will, weak by
reason of an hereditary fall, we have seen that the Bible is but _one_
channel of that revelation, and that a complementary, secondary one.
It neither contains all revealed truth, nor can the truth which it
contains be clearly and completely understood without the guidance of
an intelligent interpretation.  A teacher of any science or art may
give a book into the hands of his pupils to serve as a text, as a
reminder of his precepts, as a compend of his methods and practice; but
no book, no matter how perfectly written, will make us dispense with
the teacher.  The education, in any direction, which rests upon the
sole use of books is essentially defective and misleading.

This is eminently true of the Bible as a text or guide in the
acquisition of the highest of arts, the profoundest of sciences, which
leads us to the recognition of absolute truth, with an ever-increasing
apprehension, because its scope is immeasurable, eternal.

The teacher of revelation, in its first and most important
signification, is Christ.  He is the central historical figure,
announced to man immediately after his fall in Paradise foreshadowed by
the prophets in the Jewish Church, and completing His mission in the
Christian Church.  As the Holy Ghost animated the prophets to foretell
Him, and the priests of the synagogue to announce Him in the Old Law,
so the Holy Ghost animates the Church to continue His work in the New
Law.  As books were written by the prophets of old to perpetuate the
remembrance of what Jehovah had spoken through them to His people
regarding the coming of the Messias, so books were written by the
Apostles and disciples of the New Law to perpetuate the remembrance of
what that Messias had said and done, and of what He wished us to do.
But as the old written Law was not to be a substitute for the
commission of teaching and guiding the people through the Jewish
Synagogue, so neither was the new written Law intended to be a
substitute for the commission of teaching and guiding those who seek
salvation through Christ.  The Bible alone, as we have already seen,
cannot satisfy us in such a way as to supply the full reason for our
faith in Christ's teaching.  For this we have a Church to whom Christ,
as God, gave a direct commission, without adding a book, or an express
command to write a book.

But a book was written, written under the guidance of the divine
Spirit, who had been promised to the Church whenever it would speak,
whether by word of mouth or by epistle and written gospel.  And that
book, though not containing all truth, contains truth only.  Therefore
it is useful, as St. Paul says, II. Tim. iii. 16: "All Scripture
inspired of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to
instruct in justice, that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to
every good work."  The use, then, of the Bible is to teach, to instruct
in justice, primarily; to make man perfect, furnished to every good
work.  Mark the twofold term: to _teach_ and to _instruct_; both
teaching and instruction to serve the one end--to make a perfect man,
"furnished to every good work."

That the principal purpose and scope of Scripture is to teach the
truths of religion has been demonstrated in a former chapter.  I have
here only to add that, as an instrument of Apologetics, and in
discussion with Protestants who admit the divinity of Christ and the
inspired character of the Sacred Scriptures, reference to the teachings
of the Bible plays a very important part.  Whether we are defending our
faith against misrepresentation, or desirous of convincing other
sincere and open minds of the justness of the claims which the Catholic
Church makes as the only true representative of Christ's divine mission
to teach the nations, the Bible is a safe and commonly recognized
meeting-ground for a fair discussion of the subject.

Even when we have to speak of religion with practical infidels, who
read the Bible, or have some knowledge of its contents, that book will
serve us as a powerful weapon of defence and persuasion.  Few
intelligent men or women of to-day, especially if they are earnest, and
have a real regard for virtue and truth, though they may consider them
as mere gifts of the natural order, fail to recognize that Christianity
is a power for good, and that Christ, its Author, is and ever will be
the great teacher of mankind, in whose true following man becomes
better, nobler, and happier.  To illustrate this fact, we may be
permitted to quote at some length from an article by Baron Von Hügel in
a recent number of the _Dublin Review_ (April, 1895).  Speaking of
Christ, he cites from various writers, as follows:

Thus "Ernest Rénan, sceptical even to his own scepticism, addresses him
and says: 'A thousand times more living, a thousand times more loved,
since thy death than during thy passage upon earth, thou wilt become
the corner-stone of humanity, to such a point, that to blot out thy
name out of the world would be in very truth to shake its very
foundations.'[2]  John Stuart Mill, who tells us of himself: 'I never
lost faith, for I never had it,' proclaims at the end of his long
life's labors: 'Whatever else may be taken from us by rational
criticism, Christ is still left; a unique figure, not more unlike all
his predecessors than all his followers, even those who had the direct
benefit of his personal teaching.  It is no use to say that Christ in
the Gospels is not historical, and that we know not how much of what is
admirable has been superadded by the tradition of his followers.  For
who among his disciples or their proselytes was capable of inventing
the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life and character
revealed in the Gospels?  Certainly not the fishermen of Galilee, as
certainly not St. Paul, whose character and idiosyncrasy were of a
totally different sort; still less the early Christian writers, in whom
nothing is more evident than that the good which was in them was all
derived, as they always professed that it was derived, from the higher
source.'[3]  Even so purely Deistic a critic as Abraham Kuenen
declares: 'The international religion which we call Christianity was
founded, not by the Apostle Paul, but by Jesus of Nazareth, that Jesus
whose person and whose teaching are sketched in the Synoptic Gospels
with the closest approximation of truth.'  'The need of Christianity is
as keen as ever.  It is not for less but for more Christianity that the
age cries out.  Even those many who do not identify Christianity with
the ecclesiastical form in which they themselves profess it, and who
have no confidence that the world will necessarily conform to
them--even these may be at peace.  The universalism of Christianity is
the sheet-anchor of their hope.  A history of eighteen centuries bears
mighty witness to it; and the contents of its evidence and the high
significance they possess are brought into the clearest light by the
comparison with other religions.  We have good courage then.'[4]  So
advanced a critic and sensitively loyal a Jew as Mr. Claud Montefiore
tells us: 'Some of the sayings ascribed to Jesus have sunk too deep
into the human heart, or shall I say into the spiritual consciousness
of civilized mankind, to make it probable that any religion which
ignores or omits them will exercise a considerable influence outside
its own borders.  It may be that those who dream of a prophetic
Judaism, which shall be as spiritual as the religion of Jesus, and even
more universal than the religion of Paul, are the victims of a
delusion.'[5]  So largely naturalistic a critic as Julius Wellhausen
writes of our Lord's teaching and person: 'The miraculous is impossible
with man, but with God it is possible.  Jesus has not only assured us
of this, but he has proved it in his own person.  He had indeed lost
his life and saved it, he could do as he would.  He had escaped the
bonds of human kind and the sufferings of self-seeking nature.  There
is in him no trace of that eagerness for action which seeks for peace
in the restlessness of its own activity.  The completely super-worldly
standpoint in which Jesus finds strength and love to devote himself to
the world has nothing extravagant about it.  He is the first to know
himself, not simply in moments of emotion, but in completest
restfulness, the child of God; before him no one so felt or so
described himself.'  'Jesus not only prophesies the kingdom of God, but
brings it out of its transcendence on to earth; he plants at least its
germ.  The new times already begin with him: the blind see, the deaf
hear, the dead arise.  Everywhere he found spaciousness for his soul,
nowhere was he cramped by the little, much as he put forward the value
of the great; this we should do, and not leave that undone.  He was
more than a prophet; in him the word had become flesh.  The historic
overweightedness, to which the Jews were succumbing, does not even
touch him.  A unit arises in the dreary mass, a man from among the
rubbish which the dwarfs, the rabbis, had heaped up.  He upsets the
accidental, the caricature, the dead, and collects the eternally valid,
the human divine, in the focus of His individuality.  "Ecce homo," a
divine wonder in this time and this environment.'"

Such being the view of religiously disposed persons outside of the
Catholic Church regarding the New Testament teaching of Christ, it
would seem easy at first sight to convince them of the Catholic
doctrine by reference to the words of Christ and the Gospels, which
contain explicit, if not complete testimony in behalf of the Catholic
teaching.  There is one difficulty in the way of this, and that is that
Protestants themselves distrust the meaning of the New Testament words
except in so far as it expresses their own feelings.  The principle of
private interpretation necessarily leads to this one-sided view.  A
hundred persons appeal to the one Book as an infallible expression of
God's will and truth.  Now, some of these infallible expressions
manifestly contradict one another as Protestants interpret them.  Yet
the consequences of such contradictions are vital, and involve eternal
life or death.  Take the doctrine of baptism by water as essential to
salvation, according to the reading of some Protestants; yet the
Quaker, no less sincere than his Baptist neighbor, and claiming a
special inward light, consciously neglects baptism, holding that the
teaching of the New Testament is only meant in a spiritual sense.
Equally awful in their consequences are the two contrary doctrines
regarding the Eucharistic presence of Christ as declared in the New
Testament, one believer drawing the conclusion that he must adore God
under the veil of bread, the other equally convinced from the same
Scriptures that such a view is sheer idolatry, and that there is
nothing divine under the appearance of bread.  This appeal to private
judgment makes most Protestants sceptical if you attempt to prove to
them Catholic doctrine from the New Testament; and unless you can first
convince them that the Church has a greater claim to declare the sense
of the Bible than any private individual, they will consider their
opinion of its meaning and purpose just as good as yours.

But it is different if you appeal to the Old Testament for a
confirmation of Catholic doctrine.  And I would strongly urge this
method for various reasons.  Every Protestant will admit that the Old
Testament is not only inspired and divine in its origin, but that in
its historic expression, even the deutero-canonical portion, contains
the application of its meaning and purpose.  In other words, that God
not merely gave the Israelites a law, but also shows us how He meant
them to interpret that law in their lives--domestic, social, and
religious.  Here, therefore, we have little need, or even opportunity,
for private interpretation as to God's meaning.  That meaning becomes
clear from the action of His people.

At the same time it is also clear and generally admitted that the Old
Testament is a foreshadowing of the New Law, hence that the doctrines
and practices of the Christian Church have their counterpart in the Old
Law.  Protestants readily agree to this, in proof of which fact I may
be allowed to quote Prof. Robertson Smith:

"Christianity can never separate itself from its historical basis, or
the religion of Israel; the revelation of God in Christ cannot be
divorced from the earlier revelation on which our Lord built.  Indeed,
the history of Israel, when rightly studied, is the most real and vivid
of all histories; and the proofs of God's working among His people of
old may still be made, what they were in time past, one of the
strongest evidences of Christianity."[6]

Dr. A. B. Bruce in his _Apologetics_, 1892, p. 325, says: "The Bible,
instead of being a dead rule, to be used mechanically, with equal value
set on all its parts, is rather a living organism, which, like the
butterfly, passes through various transformations before arriving at
its highest and final form.  We should find Christ in the Old Testament
as we find the butterfly in the caterpillar."[7]

Hence if you can show to the average intelligent Protestant that a
doctrine or practice distinctively of the Catholic Church prevailed in
the Jewish Church, you have established an _a priori_ argument for its
reasonableness.  This applies particularly to such doctrines and
practices as Protestants condemn or censure in the Catholic Church from
a mere habit of not finding them in their own churches, or from some
prejudice nourished by bigotry of early teachers, or by the popular
literature of the anti-Catholic type.  I only mention such topics as
Indulgences, Confession, the Infallibility of the Pope, Celibacy of the
clergy and religious, and such like.  Now all these things existed in
the Old Law, not so completely developed as in the Christian Church,
but sufficiently pronounced to establish a motive of credibility for
their existence in the Church of Christ.  Thus we have the
reasonableness of the practice of Confession plainly indicated in the
Mosaic times: "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Say to the children
of Israel, when a man or woman shall have committed any of all the sins
that men are wont to commit, and by negligence shall have transgressed
the commandment of the Lord, and offended, they shall confess their
sin, and shall restore the principal itself, and the fifth part over
and above, to him against whom they have sinned" (Num. v. 6-7; also
13-14).  The Infallibility of the Pope finds its perfect counterpart in
the oracular responses given by the Jewish high-priest when he wore the
Urim and Thummim in his breastplate, which covers the precise ground of
Papal decisions regarding faith and morals, the breastplate being
called "the rational of judgment, doctrine, and truth" (See Exod.
xxviii. 30; Levit. viii. 8; Num. xxvii. 21; Deut. xxxiii. 8, etc.).

As to the practice of virginity, we know that it existed among the
Jews, as an exceptional condition; but as such it had the sanction of
God.  Thus the Prophet Jeremias receives the command of virginity from
Jehovah directly: "And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Thou
shalt not take thee a wife; neither shalt thou have sons and daughters
in this place" (Jer. xvi. 2).

Thus practical arguments, of which I can here only indicate a few, may
be found for each and all of the usages of the Catholic Church.  And
any censure of the latter will cast its reflection upon the Jewish
dispensation, of which God was Himself the Author and Guardian.  For if
God sanctioned ceremonies in worship, and infallibility in the
high-priest, and virginity in the Prophet whom He selects for a special
mission, and confession, with penance and the obligation of
restitution, why should Protestants think it so strange to find us
practise the same things which have the seal of divine approbation!

Thus they may be inclined more readily to accept the more explicit
arguments in favor of Catholic doctrine and discipline as given in the
New Testament, which is but the fulfilment of the types suggested in
the Old Law.

It is hardly necessary for me to point out in this connection the
advantages of being able to disabuse Protestants of the impression that
Catholics do not honor the Bible as the word of God.  Those who, as
Protestants, do not recognize any other source of divine revelation
than the written word are, of course, obliged to occupy themselves
wholly and entirely with its study, whilst Catholics look upon that
same written word, not with less reverence, but with less consciousness
of having to rely upon it as the only symbol and exponent of their
faith.  If we refuse on general principles to have the Bible read to
our Catholic children in a public school from a Protestant translation,
it is simply because the admission of such a practice implies an
admission of a Protestant principle, and might leave a wrong impression
upon our children as to the value of the true version of their
religion.  The Protestant translation of the Bible contains a great
deal of truth, _but some errors_ which we cannot admit in our teaching.
To give it to our children in the schools is something like planting a
Southern flag upon some public institution of the United States.  Some
may say it is better than none, because it begets patriotism, and as
there is no difference in the two flags except the slight one of a few
stars and stripes, most people might never notice it.  But we know that
if they did notice it, it would create considerable disturbance,
because it implies something of disloyalty to "Old Glory."

For a like reason Catholics often refuse to kiss the Protestant Bible
in court.  They prefer simply _to affirm_.  And in this they are
perfectly right, although to attest one's willingness to tell the truth
on such occasions is not supposed to be a trial of one's faith, and
hence it does not involve anything of a denial of Catholic truth.

But I must pass on to one or two illustrations to show in what fields
the Bible is _not_ to be used.  For though it furnishes most apt means
for imparting a knowledge and inciting to the further study of history,
languages, the principles of government and ethics, together with the
development of a graceful and withal vigorous style of English writing,
yet there are limits to its use in some directions.  Thus the Bible
cannot be considered as replacing the exact sciences.  We are quite
safe always in affirming that the Bible never contradicts science; that
where it does not incidentally confirm the results of scientific
research it abstracts from the teaching of science.  Its language
relating to physical facts is popular, not scientific.  There is no
reason to think that the inspired writers received any communication
from heaven as to the inward workings of nature.  They had simply the
knowledge of their age, and described things accordingly.  Leo XIII. in
his recent Encyclical on the study of the Sacred Scriptures strongly
reiterates this doctrine, advanced by many Doctors of the Church,
namely, that the _sacred writers_ had no intention of initiating us
into the secrets of nature or to teach us the inward constitution of
the visible world.  Hence their language about "the firmament," and how
"the sun stood still," as we still say "the sun rises."[8]

If, then, we are confronted with some statement by scientists affirming
that there is a scientific inaccuracy in the Bible, we have no remark
to make but that the Bible was not meant to be a text-book of exact
science.  If it is urged that there are contradictions between the
Bible and science, then the case demands attention.  We know that truth
cannot contradict itself; but we know that we may err in apprehending
it, and that science may err in its assumptions of fact.  Hence in the
matter of Biblical Apology, when dealing with science, it is of the
first importance that we render an exact account to ourselves of what
_science affirms_ and of what the _Sacred Scripture affirms_.  It is
important to note here the distinction which P. Brucker points out;
namely, what _science affirms_, not what _scientists affirm_.  "The
latter often mingle _conjecture_, more or less probable, with the
definitely ascertained results of scientific experiment; they often
accept as facts certain observations and plausible conclusions which
are not always deduced from legitimate premises nor in a strictly
logical method."  The human mind is always prone to accept the
plausible for the true, the appearance of things for their substance,
the general for the universal, the part for the whole, or the probable
for the proved.  This is demonstrated by the history of scientific
hypotheses in nearly every department of human knowledge.

In the next place, we must be quite sure to ascertain _what the Sacred
Scriptures affirm_.  Apologists place themselves in a needlessly
responsible position when, in the difficult task of determining a
doubtful reading of the Sacred Text, they assume an interpretation
which may be gainsaid by scientific _proof_.  The teaching of St.
Augustine and St. Thomas on this subject is that we are not to
interpret in any _particular_ sense any part of Sacred Scripture which
admits of a different interpretation.  And here Leo XIII. in his
Encyclical gives us an important point to consider when he says that
the defenders of the Sacred Scriptures must not consider that they are
obliged to defend _each single_ opinion of isolated Fathers of the
Church.[9]  There is a difference between a _prudent conservatism_ and
a timid and slavish repetition of time-honored views.  Also between _an
intelligent advance_ of well-founded, though _new_ views, and an
excessive temerity, which rashly replaces the tradition of ages by the
suggestions of new science.

"Hence any attempt to prove that the statements of the Bible imply in
every case exact conformity with the latest results of scientific
research is a needless and, under circumstances, a dangerous
experiment; for although there are instances where (as in chap. i. of
Genesis) the Bible statements anticipate the exactest results of
scientific investigation by many centuries, yet it is not and need not
be so in all instances.

"Yet whilst we may not consider Moses as anticipating the
investigations of a Newton, a Laplace, or a Cuvier, there are cases
where the natural purpose and context of the sacred writers develop an
exact harmony with the facts of science of which former ages had no
right conception.  Such are the creation by successive stages, the
unity of species, and origin of the human race, etc.  But these facts
are _not proposed as scientific_ revelations."

In all important questions as to the agreement of the Bible with the
results of scientific research we may have recourse with perfect
confidence to the living teaching of the Church; where she gives no
decision there we are at liberty to speculate, provided the results of
our speculation do not conflict with explicit and implied doctrines of
truth, that is to say, they must be in harmony with the general analogy
of faith.

There is one other topic which I would touch upon in speaking of the
use and abuse of the Bible; it is a view which the late Oliver Wendell
Holmes is supposed to have advocated.  The author of "The Professor at
the Breakfast Table" believed that it would be advantageous if the
Bible were, as he terms it, _depolarized_, that is to say, if the
translations or versions made from the originals were put in such form
as to appeal to the imagination and feelings of the present generation
by substituting modern terminology and figures of speech for the old
time-honored words of Scriptural comparisons.  The aim would be, as I
understand it, to do for the written word of God what the Salvation
Army leaders are attempting to do for nineteenth century Christianity
in general.

In answer to this suggestion it may be said that the attempt has been
made in various ways, and seemingly always without result for the
better.  As we have versions of St. Paul's Epistles in Ciceronian
Latin, so we have had travesties of the Gospels intended to popularize
the moral maxims they contain.  If it is question of making the Bible
accessible to the people for the purpose of getting them to read it,
devices of this kind may succeed to a degree with those who look for
novelty.  As to its essential form, the Bible is popular,--appeals to
all minds and conditions.  This is proved by the experience of
centuries, in every clime and among all races.

Those parts which do not directly appeal to a popular sentiment are of
a nature to forbid depolarization as above suggested, since in changing
them they would necessarily lose their identity, the inherent proofs of
their origin, and their underlying mystic and spiritual meaning.  So
far as they were written, the truths contained in the Bible were to
serve all time.  To change their form is to tamper with the spirit of a
divine language, which, although it comes to us in human sounds,
variable according to nationality and time and place, still has an
unction, a breath of heaven accompanying it which would vanish as the
perfume vanishes from the transplanted flower.  There are some truths,
some ideas and feelings, which cannot be expressed in popular fashion
without losing their essential qualities.  One might urge the same
reasons in behalf of painting the old Greek statues, because the common
people would find it possible to admire them if gaudy coloring helped
their imagination to interpret the action of the figures in marble.
Some things in the Bible were not written for all, and appeal only to
refined and spiritual minds.  Others can be easily understood and
assimilated, and there are preachers commissioned to make attractive
and intelligible that which of itself does not appeal to the rude.
There is such a thing as _accommodating_ the words of the Sacred
Scripture for the purpose of impressing a truth by analogy, and of the
use of this method we have beautiful illustrations in the writings of
the Fathers and in the Offices of the Breviary.  But the sense _by
accommodation_, as it is called by writers on hermeneutics, does not
take liberties with the Sacred Text itself in the manner suggested by
the advocates of _depolarization_.  For the rest there is a difference,
there always will be a difference, between the qualities that call upon
the senses and attract, perhaps, the larger circle of admirers, and
that choicer spirit which reaches the soul.  You cannot substitute one
for the other; their domain is widely apart, though they may use the
same instrument.

  One tunes his facile lyre to please the ear,
  And win the buzzing plaudits of the town;
  The other sings his soul out to the stars,
  And the deep hearts of men.

You cannot depolarize, without destroying, Dante, or Milton, or any of
our great poets; no more can you depolarize the great masterpiece of
the Bible.  Let us take it as we receive it under the guardianship of
the Church.  Its apparent imperfections are like the surroundings and
exterior of its Founder: a scandal to the Greek, a stumbling-block to
the Jew, because they could not realize that a God was hidden in the
imperfect guise of poor flesh.

What we consider imperfections to be remedied in the Bible were
recognized by the Apostles, and by the chief of them, St. Peter, who
writes, II. Pet. iii. 16: "Our dear brother Paul, according to the
wisdom given him, has written to you; as also in all his Epistles; in
which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and
unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to their own
destruction."  Here was room for depolarization, yet St. Peter did not
take it in hand, neither should we desire scholars of perhaps greater
knowledge but less wisdom to do so.

[1] Humphrey, "The Sacred Scriptures," _l.c._

[2] "Vie de Jésus," 1864, p. 426.

[3] "Three Essays on Religion," 1874, p. 258.

[4] "Hibbert Lectures," 1882, pp. 196, 197.

[5] Ibid., 1892, p. 551.

[6] "The Old Testament in the Jewish Church," 1892, p. 11.

[7] See _Dublin Review_, article cited above.

[8] See Humphrey, "The Sacred Scriptures;" also "_Questions Actuelles
d'-Ecriture Sainte_," by Brucker, S. J.

[9] See Appendix.



In instituting here a comparison between the two approved and typical
English Versions of the Bible as in use among Catholics and Protestants
respectively, I have no intention to be aggressive or polemic.  As from
the first we have taken what may be called the common-sense point of
view in judging the Bible as an historical work, which verifies its
claims to be regarded as an organ communicating to us divine knowledge,
so we proceed to make a brief suggestive examination of two English
Bibles: one found in the homes of Catholics, the other in those of our
Protestant friends and neighbors, many of whom believe with all
sincerity that among the various doubts and difficulties of life they
can consult no truer guide than that sacred volume.

Taking the two volumes as a whole, and considering only their general
contents, there is but little difference between them.  I compared them
in a former chapter to the two American flags of North and South:
viewed in themselves, these are both of the same origin, copied from
the same pattern, and emblems, both, of American independence.  Though
they differ only in some detail that might escape the superficial
observer, they nevertheless represent very widely different principles,
for which the men of the South as of the North were willing to stake
their lives.  They might meet in friendly intercourse in all the walks
of daily life, but if you ask a Union soldier to carry the Southern
flag, he will say: No; for though it looks very much like my own, there
is a difference, and that difference constitutes a vital principle with

Catholics have to make much the same answer when told that they might
accept the Protestant Bible in their public relations with those who do
not recognize the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church has the old
Bible, as it came down the ages, complete and without changes.  She has
no reason to discard it, and she has good reason not to accept another
Bible, though its English be sweeter and its periods fall upon the ear
like the soft cadences of Southern army songs.  We cannot sing from its
tuneful pages, because it represents the principle of opposition to its
original source and parent-stock, and no union can be effected except
by the elimination of that principle.

Catholics claim that their Bible, in point of fidelity to the
original--and this is the _essential_ point when we speak of a
translation of such a book--Catholics claim that their Bible, in point
of fidelity to the original, is as superior to the Protestant English
Bible of King James as it is, we admit, inferior in its English.  "The
translators of the Catholic Version considered it a lesser offence to
violate some rules of grammar than to risk the sense of God's word for
the sake of a fine period."[1]

What proof have we for such a claim?  I answer that we have the
strongest proof in the world which we could have on such a subject
outside of a divine revelation, namely, the admission on the part of
the guardians and translators themselves of the Protestant Bible.  Now,
when I say guardians and translators of the Protestant Bible, I do not
mean merely the testimony of a few great authorities in the past or
present who may have expressed their opinion as to the faults and
defects of the latest English Protestant translation.  That would not
be fair.  But I mean that the history itself of Protestant translations
made since the days of King James, not to go back any farther, is a
standing argument of the severest kind:

First, _against_ the correctness of the _Protestant_ English Versions;

Secondly, _for_ the correctness of the _Catholic_ English Version.

For if we compare the first Protestant English Version (which departed
considerably from the received Catholic text of the Vulgate) with all
the succeeding revisions made at various times by the English
Protestants, we find that they have steadily returned towards the old
Catholic Version.  This is not only an improvement as an approach to
the Catholic teaching, but it is also a confession, however reluctantly
made, of past errors on the part of former Protestant translators.

At the time of their separation from the Catholic Church the reformers,
so-called, had to give reasons for their defection.  They found fault
with one doctrine or another in the old Catholic Church, such as the
supremacy of the Roman Pontiff, the jurisdiction of bishops, the Holy
Sacrifice, celibacy, confession, etc.  To justify the rejection of
these doctrines they must appeal to some authority: if not to the
Pontiff, then to the king, or to the Bible, or to both simultaneously.
But though the king might favor their novelties of doctrine inasmuch as
they relieved his conscience of the reproach of disobedience to the
Pontiff, who knew but one law of morals for the prince and the peasant,
the Bible as hitherto read was against them.  Now, Luther had given
distracted Germany an example of what might be done in the way of
whittling down the supernatural, and eliminating some of the irksome
duties imposed by the old Church.  He had made a new translation of the
Bible, threw out passages, nay, whole books,[2] which did not meet his
views, and added here and there a little word which did admirable
service by setting him right with a world that for the most part could
neither read Hebrew nor Latin nor Greek, and trusted him for a learned

In similar fashion an English translation had already been attempted by
Wiclif about 1380, and almost simultaneously by Nicolas of Hereford.
There existed in England at the time of Luther an edition of the
Scriptures called the "great Bible."  It was Catholic up to its fourth
edition, that of 1541.  Then, as is generally supposed, it was revised
by the Elizabethan bishops in 1508, and in 1611, after a more
lengthened revision, it appeared as a King James "Authorized Version."
Since then various revisions and corrections of this Bible have been
printed, each succeeding one eliminating some of the previous errors.
Mr. Thomas Ward has made up an interesting book called "Errata--the
truth of the English translations of the Bible examined," or "a
treatise showing some of the errors that are found in the English
translation of the Sacred Scriptures used by Protestants against such
points of religious doctrine as are the subject of controversy between
them and the members of the Catholic Church."  Dr. Ward's book embraces
a comparison between the Catholic English translation and the various
Protestant versions up to the year 1683, for since then no changes were
made in the English Protestant Bible called the authorized version
until 1871, when the work of a new revision, published between 1881-85,
was undertaken, which is not included in Dr. Ward's "Errata."

Why was this last revision made?  Was not the King James version of
1611, for the most part, beautiful English?  As to the rest, was it not
for every Protestant an absolute, infallible rule of faith?  The
language was good, the truth still better; what need, then, was there
to revise?

The revisers of 1881 tell us that the language of the old English
version could be improved, and that they meant to improve it.  The
older translators, they say, "seem to have been guided by the feeling
that their version would secure for the words they used a lasting place
in the language; ... but it cannot be doubted that the studied
avoidance of uniformity in the rendering of the same words, even when
occurring in the same context, is one of the blemishes in their work."

But are the changes of language or expression all that the reviewers of
this infallible text-book aim at?  No.  Listen to what Dr. Ellicott in
the Preface to the Pastoral Epistles says:

"It is vain to cheat our souls with the thought that these errors are
either insignificant or imaginary.  There _are_ errors, there _are_
inaccuracies, there _are_ misconceptions, there _are_ obscurities, not,
indeed, so many in number or so grave in character as some of the
forward spirits of our day would persuade us; but there _are_
misrepresentations of the language of the Holy Ghost; and that man who,
after being in any degree satisfied of this, permits himself to bow to
the counsels of a timid or popular obstructiveness, or who,
intellectually unable to test the truth of these allegations,
nevertheless permits himself to denounce or deny them, will, if they be
true, most surely at the dread day of final account have to sustain the
tremendous charge of having dealt deceitfully with the inviolable Word
of God."[3]

So this book, the infallible voice of God revealing His ways, this sole
rule of faith for millions of Englishmen, and by which millions had
lived and sworn and died during more than two centuries, had to be
revised, not only as to the form, but in the matter also.  Two
committees were formed, about fifty of the members being from England,
thirty from America--Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc.
Cardinal Newman and Dr. Pusey were invited, but declined to attend.
Mr. Vance Smith, a Unitarian, a distinguished scholar, but certainly no
Christian, received a place in the New Testament committee.  These
gentlemen set to work in earnest to revise the Word of God and settle
the Bible of the future.  They had to consider the advance made in
textual criticism represented by Lachmann, Scholz, Tregelles,
Tischendorf, and Drs. Westcott and Hort.

They labored ten years and a half, as Dr. Ellicott assures us, "with
thoroughness, loyalty to the authorized versions, and due recognition
of the best judgment of antiquity.  One of their rules, expressly laid
down for their common guidance, was to introduce as few alterations as
possible into the text of the authorized version."

How many corrections, think you, were made in the New Testament alone?
About 20,000, of which fifty per cent. are textual, that is "9 to every
five verses of the Gospels, and 15 to every five in the Epistles."
Besides these changes, which must be a shock to many an English
Protestant who has accustomed himself by long reading of the Bible to
believe in verbal inspiration, there are a number of omissions in the
New Revised Text which in all amount to about 40 entire verses.  It
appears, then, that the King James Bible of some years ago has not been
as most Protestants of necessity claimed for it--the pure, authentic,
unadulterated Word of God.  And if not, what guarantee have we that the
promiscuous body of recent translators, however learned, withal not
inspired, have given us that pure, authentic, unadulterated Word of God?

Let us glance over a few pages of the New Testament to see of what
nature and of what importance, from a doctrinal point of view, are the
changes made by the late revisers of the "Authorized (Protestant)

In the first place, they have acknowledged the reading of I. Cor. xi.
27, regarding communion under one kind, by translating the Greek
[Greek: gamma] by _or_, and not by _and_, an error which had been
repeated in all the Protestant translations since 1525, and which gave
rise to endless abuse of the Catholic practice of giving the Blessed
Sacrament to the laity under only one species.  "Whosoever shall eat
the bread _or_ drink the cup" is the reading in the Greek as well as in
the Latin Vulgate, and nothing but "theological fear or partiality," as
Dean Stanley expressed it, could have warranted this mistranslation,
which may be found in all the editions of 1520, 1538, 1562, 1508, 1577,
1579, 1611, etc.

But this is only one of many acts of justice which the learned revisers
have done to Catholics by restoring the true reading; they have given
us back the _altar_ which, together with the Holy Sacrifice and
confession and celibacy, had become obnoxious to the "reformers."  We
now read, I. Cor. x. 18, that "those that eat the hosts" are in
"communion with the _altar_," where formerly they were only "partakers
of the temple."

Having restored the Catholic practice of Holy Communion under one kind,
and likewise the altar, we are not surprised that the "overseers" of
the King James version should have become _bishops_, as in Acts xx. 28,
although a good many of the _overseers_ have been left in their places,
possibly because the "elders" (Acts xv. 2; Tit. i. 5; I. Tim. v. 17 and
19, etc.) have not yet become _priests_, as they are in the Rhemish
(Catholic) translation.  However, the "elders" are likely to turn out
priests at the next revision, because they are not only "ordained," but
also "appointed," whereas in the old English revisions of 1562 and 1579
they were ordained elders "by election in every congregation," which is
still done in Protestant churches where there are no bishops, and even
in some which have "overseers" with the honorary title of "bishop."

As to the celibacy question, the revisers have not thought fit to
endorse it by translating [Greek: _àdelphên gynaicha_] a "woman," a
sister; but they adhere to the old "wife," as Beza, in his translation,
makes the Apostles go about with their "wives" (Acts i. 14).

In the matter of "confession" we have got a degree nearer to the old
Catholic version and practice likewise.  The Protestant reformers had
no "sins" to confess; they had only "faults."  Hence they translate St.
James v. 16 by "confess your faults."  But the revisers of 1881 found
out that these "faults" were downright sins, and so they put it.
Accordingly we find that the Apostles have power literally "to forgive"
sins, whereas formerly, the sins being only faults, it was enough to
have them "remitted," which means a sort of passive yielding or
condoning on the part of the overseers in favor of repentant sinners,
but did not convey the idea of a sacramental power "binding and
loosening" in heaven as on earth.

Our dear Blessed Lady also receives some justice at the hands of the
new translators.  She is not simply "highly favored" as in the times of
King James and ever since, but now is "endued with grace," though only
in a footnote.

"It was expected," says an anonymous writer in the above cited article
of the _Dublin Review_,[4] "that the revisers, in deference to modern
refinement, would get rid of 'hell' and 'damnation,' like the judge who
was said to have dismissed hell with costs.  'Damnation' and kindred
words have gone....  A new word, 'Hades,' Pluto's Greek name, has been
brought into our language to save the old word 'hell' from overwork.
The Rich Man is no longer in 'hell,' he is now '_in Hades;_' but he is
still 'in torment.'  So Hades must be Purgatory, and the revisers have
thus moved Dives into Purgatory, and Purgatory into the Gospel.  Dives
will not object; but what will Protestants say?"

An important change has been introduced in their treatment of the
Lord's Prayer.  Protestants, for over three hundred years, have
concluded that prayer with the words: "for Thine is the kingdom and the
power and the glory forever."  These words were to be found in St.
Matt. vi. 13 according to the Protestant text.  They were certainly
wanting in St. Luke xi. 2, who also gives us the words of the "Our
Father" with a very slight change of form.  Catholics were reproached
for not adding the 'doxology,' which proved to be a custom in the Greek
Catholic Church, very much like our use of the "Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son," etc., at the end of each psalm recited or sung at
Vespers.  Examination showed that the phrase "for Thine is the
kingdom," etc., was to be found principally in versions made by and for
the Catholics of the Greek Church, and this explained how the same had
crept into the copyists' Greek version.  This fact is recognized at
length in the late revision where the words are omitted from the text
of St. Matthew, whilst a footnote states that "many authorities, some
ancient, but with variations, add: 'for Thine is the kingdom and the
glory forever.'"

The American revisers had made a number of very sensible suggestions,
which would have brought the new Protestant version of the Bible still
nearer to the old Catholic translation of Rheims and Douay; but their
voice was not considered weighty enough, and Mr. Vance Smith openly
blames the English committee on this score, saying that "they have not
shown that judicial freedom from theological bias which was certainly
expected from them."  On the other hand, the American revisers showed
their national spirit and liberality to a degree which must have
horrified the orthodox members of the Anglican Community.  The
Americans "suggested the removal of all mention of the sin of
heresy--heresies in their eyes being only 'factions.'  They desired
also that the Apostles and Evangelists should drop their title of
Saint, and be content to be called plain John, and Paul, and Thomas.
This resulted, no doubt, from their democratic taste for strict
equality, and their hatred of titles even in the kingdom of heaven."[5]

After all this the principle of faith in the Bible alone became
somewhat insecure, and we find the revisers making a silent concession
on this point by allowing something to the Catholic principle of a
living, perpetually transmitted _tradition_.  St. Paul, who speaks of
the _altar_ and of _bishops_, and who allows _Communion under one
kind_, and who had no wife, and wanted none (I. Cor. vii.), praises the
Corinthians, not simply for keeping his "ordinances," as in the time of
King James, but for keeping the _traditions_ as he had delivered them
to the Greek churches before he found opportunity to write to the

There is one other point of difference between the Catholic and
Protestant Bibles to which it is instructive to call attention.  It is
in regard to the writing of proper names, especially in the Old
Testament.  Thus where we in the Catholic Bibles have _Nabuchodonosor_
for the king of Babylon, son of Nabopollassar, the Protestant version
has _Nebuchadnezzar_; where we have _Elias_ and _Eliseus_, the
Protestant version has _Elijah_ and _Elisha_, and so forth regarding
many Hebrew names of persons and places.  You will ask whence the
difference, and which is right?

The difference arises from the fact that the Protestant Version follows
the present Hebrew text of the Bible, whilst the Catholic Version
follows the Greek.  Which is the safer to follow on such points as the
pronunciation of proper names--the Hebrew or the Greek?  You will say
the Hebrew, but it is not so.  The old Hebrew writing had, as I
mentioned before, no vowels.  Hence it could not be read by any one who
had not heard it read in the schools of the rabbis.  Some _six
centuries after our Lord_, certain Jewish doctors who were called
Masorets, anxious to preserve the traditional sounds of the Hebrew
language, supplied vowels in the shape of points, which they placed
under the square consonants, without disturbing the latter.  Hence the
present vowel system in Hebrew, or, in other words, the present
pronunciation of Hebrew according to the reading of the Bible, is the
work of men who relied for the pronunciation of words on a tradition
which carried them back over many centuries, that is, from the time
when Hebrew was a living language to about six hundred years after
Christ.  It is not difficult to imagine how in such a length of time
the true pronunciation may have been lost or certainly modified in some
cases; for though the Hebrew words were there on the paper, written in
consonants of the old form, the pronunciation of the vowels must have
been doubtful if resting on tradition alone, since the Hebrew had
already ceased to be a living language for many centuries.

In the meantime, the true pronunciation of the Hebrew proper names
could have been preserved in some of the translations made long before
the Masoretic doctors supplied their vowel points.  One of these
translations from the Hebrew is the Greek Septuagint.  It was made, as
we have seen, in the time of Ptolemy, _i.e._, some two and a half
centuries before Christ.  The learned Jews who made this translation
knew perfectly well how the Hebrew of their day was pronounced, and we
cannot suppose that they would mutilate the proper names of their
mother tongue in the translation into Greek which, possessing written
vowels, obliged them to express the full pronunciation of the persons
and places which they transcribed.

Accordingly, we have two sources for our pronunciation of Hebrew proper
names: one which dates from about the sixth or seventh century of the
present era, when the Hebrew had become a dead language; and another,
made about _nine hundred years earlier_ by Jewish rabbis, who spoke the
language perfectly well, and who could _express the pronunciation of
proper names_ accurately because they wrote in a language which had
_written_ vowels, and with which they were as conversant as with their
own, the Hebrew.

Furthermore, we have other versions, made long before the Masoretic
Doctors invented their vowel-points in order to fix the Hebrew
pronunciation as they conceived it.  Among these is the Latin Vulgate
which, like the Greek of the Septuagint, should give us the correct
pronunciation--because it was made by St. Jerome, who had studied the
Hebrew and Chaldee in Palestine under a Jewish rabbi.  He knew,
therefore, the pronunciation of the Jews in his day (331-420), and
there was no reason why he should not give it to us in his several
different translations, whilst there might have been some cause why the
Masoretic Jews who lived two or three centuries later should dislike to
accept either the Greek or the Latin versions for an authority, because
both versions were used and constantly cited by the Christians as proof
that the Messiah had come.

Incidentally, the late archeological finds confirm this.  Thus the name
of Nabuchodonosor (IV. Kings xxiv. 1) (Protestant, Nebuchadnezzar),
mentioned above as an example, reads in the cuneiform inscription of
the Assyrian monument Nebukudursur, which is evidently the same form of
vowel pronunciation as that employed in the Catholic version.

In comparing the two versions thus far little has been said as to the
peculiar character or merits of the English Catholic version commonly
called the Vulgate English or Douay Bible.  But the main purpose of the
present chapter has been attained by the necessary inference which the
reader must have drawn, namely, that the old Catholic version is the
more faithful, and that, after all, the Bible is not a safe guide
without a Church to guard its integrity and to interpret its meaning.

But let me say just a word about the Vulgate.  The Catholic Vulgate is
practically the work of St. Jerome, and our English Catholic edition is
made as literally as may be from this Latin Vulgate, "diligently
compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and other editions in divers
languages."  The copies, most in use now, were made from an edition
published by the English College at Rheims in 1582, and at Douay in
1609, revised by Dr. Challoner.

The need of a new revision has been recognized, and an effort to supply
the want was made by the late Archbishop Kenrick, whose translation was
recommended by the Council of Baltimore in 1858, although it has not
been generally adopted.  However, the changes to be made in the
translation of the Catholic Bible in English cannot be very numerous
nor affecting doctrines defined by the Church; nor is any accidental
change of words or expressions so vital a matter to the Catholic mind
as it must be with those who have but the Bible as their one primary
rule of faith.  So far Protestant revisions have done Catholics a
service in removing by successive corrections one error after another
from the "reformed" Bible, thus demonstrating the correctness of the
old Vulgate; but they have also led Protestants to reflect seriously,
and to realize that the "Bible only" principle is proved to be false
and dangerous.  They must see that the Scripture is powerless without
the Church as the witness to its inspiration, the safeguard of its
integrity, and the exponent of its meaning.

[1] Cf. a paper on the subject of the New Revision in the _Dublin
Review_, 1881, vol. VI., ser. iii.

[2] These books have been mostly retained in the Protestant Bible under
the name of _Apocryphal_, _i.e._, not inspired.  The Church accepts and
defines their inspiration, and in this is supported by the strong
testimony of apostolic tradition.

[3] "Pastoral Epistles," p. 13.

[4] Vol. VI., ser. iii.

[5] _Dublin Review_, _l.c._



In one of the old churches of Wales you may see the Ten Commandments
written upon the wall, and beneath them the following inscription, the
meaning of which, it is said, had for a long time remained a mystery to
the people:

  P R S V R Y P R F C T M N,
  V R K P T H S P R C P T S T N.

Some one supplied the key to the interpretation by suggesting the
letter E.  Then everybody read the lines, and the old folks told their
children, who inform the casual visitor that the strange letters
plainly mean: _Persevere ye perfect men, ever keep these precepts ten_.

The inscription in the old Welsh church is a good illustration of the
old text of the Bible, which had no vowels, no division of words and
sentences.  God gave the key to its meaning through an intelligent
interpreter, and the men of learning supply the divisions--even in this
sense that they sometimes dispute the place where to insert and where
to omit the E.

The original obscurity has induced many to study the Bible, and the
grand result of this study in our day has been to lead the great
majority of scientific men, whether they are believers in the divine
origin of the Book or not, to the conclusion that it is, to say the
least, an historical monument of the highest antiquity, the contents of
which have come down to us in that genuine and authentic form which is
claimed for it; that is to say, that it has not been tampered with or
falsified to such an extent as would render its statements materially
other than they were from the beginning.

Tischendorf, one of the leading Biblical text critics in recent times,
allows indeed some 30,000 variations for the New Testament alone in the
different manuscripts of which we possess any trace.  Although these
variations are on the whole very slight, so as not to affect the
genuineness of the Scripture documents, they establish the fact that we
do not possess the text of the Bible in the _literal_ form in which the
inspired writers originally wrote it down.

Whatever changes have crept into the text of the Bible, through
inadvertence of copyists or defective translations into other
languages, it is a settled fact among Catholic divines that they do not
affect the moral and dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church.  They
regard either purely historical incidents or scientific facts, neither
of which are the object of the doctrinal definitions or moral teachings
of the Church.  They are the proper subject for the study of human
reason and investigation.  Hence philological science may very
becomingly occupy itself with the verbal criticism of the language and
thought of the Bible.  But the Catholic Church, as a teacher of
religious truth, has an interest in these studies of verbal criticism
in so far only as they may become a help or a hindrance to her
legitimate activity of preaching and preserving the truth of
Christianity.  As a rule, the Church anticipates the dangerous issues
arising from the misuse of such studies by deliberately defining not
only the right use of the instruments employed for the purpose of
criticism, but also what she herself deems the subject-matter lying
outside of the domain of such criticism.  Thus, in a negative way, she
points out the field for the exercise of theories, or rather she
defines the lines beyond which speculation may not safely go.  The
Church would have no end of tasks if she undertook to defend her
position against the continuously proposed hypotheses by which any
chance comer might venture to challenge her veracity or authority.
Most theories are ephemeral; two, succeeding each other, are often
mutually destructive.  Prof. H. L. Hastings in his "Higher Criticism"
tells us that since 1850 there have been published 747 theories, known
to him, about the origin and authenticity of the Bible.  Of these 747
theories he counts 608 as now defunct, and as the Professor wrote
several years ago, we may assume that nearly all of the remaining 139
are dead by this time, although a few new ones have come in to take
their place for a day.[1]

What, then, is the position of the Catholic Church, as limited  by
_positive definition_, with regard to the text of the Bible, by which
she limits the aggressiveness of Biblical criticism?

The Catholic Church gives us a very ancient and well-attested text of
the entire Bible in the Latin tongue, and in virtue of her commission
to teach, which includes the right and duty to appoint the text-book
for that teaching, she says: _The sacred Council of Trent, believing
that it would be of great advantage to the Church of God to have it
known which of the various Latin editions of the Bible is to be held
authentic, hereby declares that the ancient edition commonly known as
the Vulgate, which has been approved by the long-standing use of ages
in the Church, is to be considered as the authentic Bible for official
uses of teaching_ (Trent, vi. 12).

You notice that the Council of Trent does not say that the Vulgate
corresponds exactly to the literal original text, nor that it is the
best of all known translations.  The Council states only, but states
explicitly, that the Vulgate edition of the Bible is a reliable source
of the written revelation in matters of faith and morals.  And the
reason which the Council alleges for this preference of the Vulgate
over other editions is its constant use for centuries in the Church; in
other words, that it represents the best tradition of the received
text-form of the Sacred Scriptures.  But the definition of the Council
implies not only that the contents of the Vulgate in their entirety are
reliable and authentic, but that each of its statements is authentic in
its dogmatic contents, since the whole Vulgate, _i.e._, in all its
parts, is said to constitute a medium or instrument of official
teaching in the Church.  The declaration of the Council is regarding
the _Latin_ Vulgate; hence all translations must conform to _its_ text,
that is to say, the corrected text of 1592, called the Clementine

It is noteworthy that, whilst the Church points out a text which is to
be the official pattern in her liturgy and in the defence of Catholic
teaching regarding faith and morals, she does not define anything
regarding other texts or versions of the Bible.  Neither the Hebrew nor
the Greek texts are mentioned, although the Church gives to them, and
the Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian versions, an implied approbation by
tolerating their liturgical use in the Oriental churches.

What the Church has defined, therefore, regarding the Vulgate is this:
It has declared its _dogmatic integrity_.  This implies that the
contents of the Vulgate give in their entirety and in their details a
reliable version of the inspired text as an instrument of teaching
Catholic truth and morals.

From a scientific point of view the Vulgate enjoys the advantage of
being the oldest of all the Scriptural versions.  In the Old Testament
it represents a text more ancient than the Hebrew of the Masoretic
doctors.  The New Testament is likewise older than the oldest Greek
text extant, as Lachmann in his critical edition has demonstrated.
Moreover, its composition is the result of the best scientific
apparatus of early Christian times, which St. Jerome possessed in a
phenomenal degree, both as to his person and also as to the
circumstances in which he was placed.  Finally, it has an historical
support of unequalled superiority, inasmuch as it has been from the
beginning the means of Christianizing the nations of Europe.

All this is being verified, not only by textual critics, but by the
more recent discoveries in the study of Christian paleography.

Such is the position in which scientific research finds the Church.
The multiform theories about the Bible, and the various possible senses
of its words and passages, only affect her in a limited degree.
Catholic apologists are obliged to deal with these theories so far only
as they affect the positive teaching of the Church in faith and morals,
although the analogy of faith demands that the Catholic scientist test
his opinions by weighty tradition and approved practice.  Whilst the
_dogmatic_ integrity of the Sacred Scriptures is thus secured, the
examination of the critical integrity of individual parts leaves a wide
field open to Catholic Biblical students.  The work done by
non-Catholic scholars who have examined the Bible, either to bring out
the verbal meaning of its text, or to verify some historical or
philological hypothesis, is astounding.  Catholic students owe a great
debt to the first gleaners in this field; for though we have neither
felt impelled to look for the rule of our faith in the Bible
exclusively, nor always been inclined to accept the dicta regarding the
literal sense of so sacred a document from the professors of
philological discipline, we have incidentally profited by all these
searchings.  They have illustrated the excellence of our faith, both as
a system and as a moral principle.  They have thrown light upon
problems of exegesis.  All the doctrines and practices of the Catholic
Church have found their confirmation in the analysis of Biblical terms
as the result of textual criticism.  The words of the Bible have been
thrown into the crucible, and the gold of Catholic doctrine has been
the outcome--purer, brighter, more refined, and still weighty.  Each
verified theory regarding the sense of old forgotten Hebrew terms has
received the impress of Catholic approbation, and served to give the
doctrine of the Church a more ready currency.  Scientists, often
reluctantly, are pointing out golden opportunities for Catholic

It does not come within our present scope to speak of the various
methods employed by the science and art of Biblical criticism, nor to
retail the separate results to which the inquiry into the authenticity
(Higher Criticism) and the integrity and purity of the text (Lower
Criticism) has led.  The history of the New Testament, which is the
best witness to the authenticity and integrity of the Old Testament
books, provided we admit the divinity of Christ, which in its turn
rests upon the strongest historic evidence, has received an immense
amount of confirmatory argument in numerous discoveries of ancient
documents.  Within the last forty years have been found, among other
valuable writings, the famous _Codex Sinaiticus_ by Tischendorf (1859),
one of the oldest Greek texts of the Bible.  In 1875 Archbishop
Briennios found in Constantinople the MS. Epistles of Clement of Rome,
which not only confirm the apostolical writings and evangels as being
received in the Church of his day, but furnish the oldest liturgical
prayer and sermon of post-apostolic times.  Another document of the
same character, in Latin, was discovered by Morin in 1893.  Next we
have the celebrated _Diatessaron of Tatian_, the oldest gospel harmony
in existence, which, known to Eusebius, but lost in the meantime, was
recovered lately, with a parallel manuscript found in Egypt, and
published last year in English.  This takes us back to the time of St.
Justin.  Another most important find is the MS. of the so-called
"Teaching of the Twelve Apostles."  The document was discovered by
Briennios, and published in 1883.  It throws much light on the
ecclesiastical discipline of the early Christian Church (about A.D.
120), speaks of the written Gospels, etc.  Another valuable MS.
(Syriac) was found in 1889 by Professor Harris.  It is the "Apology of
Aristides," brought from the convent of St. Catharine on Mt. Sinai, and
dates about the year 140, as it is addressed to the Emperor Hadrian,
and offers him the Christian Scriptures to read.

I pass over a host of other important finds of the same nature, of
unquestioned authenticity, which carry us back to the apostolic age.

[1] See Hettinser's "Apologie," Preface xi.



Whilst Biblical criticism and constantly increasing discoveries of new
treasures, such as we mentioned in the last chapter, are adding their
approving light to the ancient and unchanged traditions of the Catholic
Church regarding the Bible and its exegesis, the finds of archeology
are confirming the statements of the Bible, especially the Old
Testament history, with an accuracy which forces even the infidel
scientist to bear witness to the historical truth of the inspired

A century ago Biblical antiquity received its side-lights, for the most
part, from rabbinical literature, and from newly-discovered methods of
interpreting those classics which dealt with the Oriental world
incidentally.  But in modern times an immense literary field has been
opened by the discovery of ancient monuments in Egypt, Assyria,
Babylonia, Syria, Asia Minor, Palestine, and the surrounding countries.
These monuments place us in position to trace the condition of these
nations to very remote periods, and give us a key to the explanation of
the Biblical documents.  Extraordinary labor, coupled with all-sided
knowledge, a refined method of observation, and untiring patience, have
made it possible to read the hieroglyphics and the so-called cuneiform
inscriptions.  It is interesting to trace the gradual progress by which
definite results were attained in deciphering certain inscriptions
whose language was entirely unknown to any living man.  I may be
allowed to give here an illustration, taken from Mr. Sayce's excellent
little work, "Fresh Lights on Ancient Monuments," in which he describes
the manner of unravelling the mysterious threads of the old Persian

"Travellers had discovered inscriptions engraved in cuneiform, or, as
they were also termed, arrow-headed, characters on the ruined monuments
of Persepolis and other ancient sites in Persia.  Some of these
monuments were known to have been erected by the Achæmenian
princes--Darius, the son of Hystaspes, and his successors--and it was
therefore inferred that the inscriptions also had been carved by order
of the same kings.  The inscriptions were in three different systems of
cuneiform writing; and, since the three kinds of inscription were
always placed side by side, it was evident that they represented
different versions of the same text.  The subjects of the Persian kings
belonged to more than one race, and, just as in the present day a
Turkish pasha in the East has to publish an edict in Turkish, Arabic,
and Persian, if it is to be understood by all the populations under his
charge, so the Persian kings were obliged to use the language and
system of writing peculiar to each of the nations they governed
whenever they wished their proclamations to be read and understood by

"It was clear that the three versions of the Achæmenian inscriptions
were addressed to the three chief populations of the Persian empire,
and that the one that invariably came first was composed in ancient
Persian, the language of the sovereign himself.  Now this Persian
version happened to offer the decipherer less difficulties than the two
others which accompanied it.  The number of distinct characters
employed in writing it did not exceed forty, while the words were
divided from one another by a slanting wedge.  Some of the words
contained so many characters that it was plain that these latter must
denote letters, and not syllables, and that consequently the Persian
cuneiform system must have consisted of an alphabet, and not of a
syllabary.  It was further plain that the inscriptions had to be read
from left to right, since the ends of all the lines were exactly
underneath one another on the left side, whereas they terminated
irregularly on the right; indeed, the last line sometimes ended at a
considerable distance from the right-hand extremity of the inscription.

"The clue to the decipherment of the inscriptions was first discovered
by the successful guess of a German scholar, Grotefend.  Grotefend
noticed that the inscriptions generally began with three or four words,
one of which varied, while the others remained unchanged.  The variable
word had three forms, though the same form always appeared on the same
monument.  Grotefend, therefore, conjectured that this word represented
the name of a king, the words which followed it being the royal titles.
One of the supposed names appeared much oftener than the others, and,
as it was too short for Artaxerxes and too long for Cyrus, it was
evident that it must stand either for Darius or for Xerxes.  A study of
the classical authors showed Grotefend that certain of the monuments on
which it was found had been constructed by Darius, and he accordingly
gave to the characters composing it the values required for spelling
'Darius' in its old Persian form.  In this way he succeeded in
obtaining conjectural values for six cuneiform letters.  He now turned
to the second royal name, which also appeared on several monuments, and
was of much the same length as that of Darius.  This could only be
Xerxes; but if so, the fifth letter composing it (r) would necessarily
be the same as the third letter in the name of Darius.  This proved to
be the case, and thus afforded the best possible evidence that the
German scholar was on the right track.

"The third name, which was much longer than the other two, differed
from the second chiefly at the beginning, the latter part of it
resembling the name of Xerxes.  Clearly, therefore, it could be nothing
else than Artaxerxes, and that it actually was so was rendered certain
by the fact that the second character composing it was that which had
the value of r.

"Grotefend now possessed a small alphabet, and with this he proceeded
to read the word which always followed the royal name, and therefore
probably meant 'king.'  He found that it closely resembled the word
which signified 'king' in Zend, the old language of the Eastern
Persians, which was spoken in one part of Persia at the same time that
Old Persian, the language of the Achæmenian princes, was spoken in
another.  There could, consequently, be no further room for doubt that
he had really solved the great problem, and discovered the key to the
decipherment of the cuneiform texts.

"But he did little further himself towards the completion of the work,
and it was many years before any real progress was made with it.
Meanwhile, the study of Zend had made great advances, more especially
in the hands of Burnouf, who eventually turned his attention to the
cuneiform inscriptions.  But it is to Burnouf's pupil, Lassen, as well
as to Sir Henry Rawlinson, that the decipherment of these inscriptions
owes its final completion.  The discovery of the list of Persian
satrapies in the inscription of Darius at Naksh-i-Rustem, and above all
the copy of the long inscription of Darius on the rock of Behistum,
made by Sir H. Rawlinson, enabled these scholars independently of one
another to construct an alphabet which differed only in the value
assigned to a single character, and, with the help of the cognate Zend
and Sanskrit, to translate the language so curiously brought to light.
The decipherment of the Persian cuneiform texts thus became an
accomplished fact; what was next needed was to decipher the two
versions which were inscribed at their side.

"But this was no easy task.  The words in them were not divided from
one another, and the characters of which they were composed were
exceedingly numerous.  With the assistance, however, of frequently
recurring proper names, even these two versions gradually yielded to
the patient skill of the decipherer; and it was then discovered that
while one of them represented an agglutinative language, such as that
of the Turks or Fins, the other was in a dialect which closely
resembled the Hebrew of the Old Testament.  The monuments found almost
immediately afterwards in Assyria and Babylonia by Botta and Layard
soon made it clear to what people this dialect must have belonged.  The
inscriptions of Nineveh turned out to be written in the same language
and form of cuneiform script; and it must therefore have been for the
Semitic population of Assyria and Babylonia that the kings of Persia
had caused one of the versions of their inscriptions to be drawn up.
This version served us a starting-point for the decipherment of the
texts which the excavations in Assyria had brought to light."

In this way results which stood the test of severe criticism were
obtained until the most difficult inscriptions have become a
comparatively open book to the historian of to-day.  Thus it has come
about that, as Prof. Ira Price says: "Since 1850 the Old Testament has
been gradually appearing in the ever-brightening and brighter light of
contemporaneous history.  The new light now pours in upon it from all
sides.  It is the one history made rich by that of all its neighbors.
Israel is the one people whose part in the drama of ancient nations is
just beginning to be understood....  The cuneiform letters discovered
at Tel el-Amarna in Egypt, in 1887, have opened up new territory in the
fifteenth century, B.C.  They are despatches and official
communications sent by a large number of rulers, kings, and governors,
mainly of countries and provinces and cities of Southwestern Asia, to
the king of Egypt.  These documents disclose a marvellously advanced
stage of development, intellectually, politically, and socially, among
the people who were soon to be Israel's nearest neighbors.  They formed
the early background of Israel's settlement in Canaan, and prepare us
for no surprises in Israel's growth.  In fact, we see that Joshua and
his army actually settled in a land of cities and fortresses, already
containing many of the elements of civilization, but sadly reduced by
internal and external warfare."

The labor of the excavator in the Biblical countries, such as the
unearthing of the immense library of brick tablets in the neighborhood
of Nineveh, and the result of new discoveries which the ground of
Palestine, so long and strangely neglected, promises to yield, widen
the field of Biblical research immensely, and from it all we may with
perfect assurance look for fresh arguments in behalf of the
authenticity and substantial integrity of the Sacred Scriptures.  At
the same time the interpretation of many of its passages, now obscure,
will become clearer in the light of contemporary history.

Surely this is a hopeful sign, and should encourage us in the study of
the Bible, which is on so many accounts a source of intellectual
pleasure, of abiding peace of heart, and of that high moral refinement
which comes from contact with noble minds.  There are none better on
earth than the sacred writers--men who walked and spoke with God, and
whose living contact we may enjoy in the participation of that
celestial inspiration which breathes through their writings.


The foregoing chapters are nothing more than a brief illustration of
the principles laid down by the Sovereign Pontiff, Leo XIII., in his
Encyclical Letter "On the Study of the Sacred Scriptures."[1]  The
careful reading of this Letter must convince us how important a part
the study of the Bible has always played in the Church.  The
conclusions of Leo XIII. are not of yesterday, nor does he claim them
as of his own invention.  He cites the Fathers and Doctors of the
Church, and the Decrees of Councils, from Antioch to Trent and the
Vatican, as witnesses to the fact that all Catholic teaching rests upon
the Sacred Scriptures as one of the two great foundation stones which
support the grand archway leading into the domain of divine truth.
God, in order that He may reveal Himself to man, sends His messengers,
the Prophets and the Apostles, to announce with living voice His
promises and His judgments; then, as if to confirm their mission for
all time to come, He bids them take a letter, written by Himself, and
addressed "to the human race on its pilgrimage afar from its
fatherland" (Encycl.).  That letter is the Holy Scripture.  "To
understand and to explain it there is always required the 'coming' of
the same Holy Spirit" who was to abide with the Church.  And she, "by
her admirable laws and regulations, has always shown herself solicitous
that the celestial treasure of the Sacred Book ... should not be
neglected" (Ibid.).  If men have grown remiss at any time in the use of
that heavenly gift, it cannot be said that the Church failed to keep
before them its admirable utility.  "She has arranged that a
considerable portion of it should be read, and with pious mind
considered by all her ministers in the daily office of the sacred
psalmody."  For centuries past the solemn promise of every ordained
priest throughout the Catholic world to recite each day the Hours of
the Breviary testifies to the constant practice of not only reading,
but meditating a fixed portion of the Scriptures, so that under this
strictest of his priestly obligations he has practically completed the
entire sacred volume within the limit of each ecclesiastical year.
"She has strictly commanded that her children shall be fed with the
saving word of the Gospel, at least on Sundays and on solemn feasts."
If these laws and this practice receive a fresh impulse from the
Sovereign Pontiff in our day, it is because there have arisen men who
teach that the Sacred Scriptures are the work of mere human industry,
that they contain only fables, which have no claim to be respected as
coming from God.  "They deny that there is any such thing as divine
revelation, or inspiration, or Holy Scripture at all.  They see in
these histories only forgeries and falsehoods of men....  The
prophecies and the oracles of God are to them either predictions made
up after the event, or forecasts formed by the light of nature.  The
miracles and manifestations of God's power are not what they profess to
be, but are either startling effects which are not beyond the force of
nature, or else mere tricks and myths.  The Gospels and apostolic
writings are not, they say, the work of the authors to whom they are
assigned" (Ibid.).  To confute these errors Leo bids us engage voice
and pen.  In the limited space allowed us we have only been able to
indicate the arguments which prove the historical authenticity and the
essentially divine character which points to the true origin of the
Sacred Text, and at the same time to lead the earnest student into the
way of reading with pleasure and profit the grandest of all written

[1] Litteræ Encyclicæ, "Providentissimus Deus," Nov. 17, A.D. 1893.



_Encyclical Letter of Leo XIII._



_To Our Venerable brethren, all Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and
Bishops of the Catholic World, in grace and communion with the
Apostolic See._



_Health and Apostolic Benediction._

The God of all Providence, who in the wondrous counsel of His love
raised the human race in its beginning to participation of the divine
nature, and afterwards delivered it from universal guilt and ruin,
restoring it to its primitive dignity, has, in consequence, bestowed
upon man a singular safeguard--making known to him, by supernatural
means, the hidden mysteries of His divinity, His wisdom, and His mercy.
Although in divine revelation some things are comprehended which are
not beyond the reach of human reason, they are made the objects of
revelation in order that all may come to know them with facility,
certainty, and freedom from all error.  It is not, however, on this
account that revelation can be said to be absolutely necessary; but
because God of His infinite goodness has ordained man to a supernatural
end.  This supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the
universal Church, is contained both in unwritten Tradition and in
written Books.  These are called sacred and canonical because, being
written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for
their author, and as such have been delivered to the Church.  This
belief has been perpetually held and professed by the Church with
regard to the Books of both Testaments.  There are well-known documents
of the gravest character, coming down to us from the earliest times,
which proclaim that God, who spoke first by the Prophets, then by
Himself, and thereafter by the Apostles, composed the Canonical
Scriptures.  These are divine oracles and utterances--a Letter, written
by our heavenly Father, and transmitted by the sacred writers to the
human race on its pilgrimage afar from its fatherland.  If, then, such
and so great is the excellence and the dignity of the Scriptures that
God Himself has, as the author of them, composed them, and that they
treat of God's deepest mysteries, counsels, and works, it follows that
the branch of sacred theology which is concerned with the defence and
interpretation of these divine books must be most excellent and in the
highest degree profitable.

Now We, who by the help of God, and not without fruit, have by frequent
letters and exhortation endeavored to promote other branches of study,
which seemed well fitted for advancing the glory of God and
contributing to the salvation of souls, have for a long time cherished
the desire to give an impulse to the most noble study of the Sacred
Scriptures, and to impart to it a direction which is suitable to the
needs of the present day.  The solicitude of the Apostolic office
naturally urges, and even compels Us, not only to desire that this
grand source of Catholic revelation should be made more safely and
abundantly accessible to the flock of Jesus Christ, but also to prevent
it from being in any way violated, on the part either of those who
impiously and openly assail the Scriptures, or of those who are led
astray into fallacious and imprudent novelties.

We are not ignorant, indeed, Venerable Brethren, that there are
Catholics not a few, men abounding in talent and learning, who do
devote themselves with alacrity to the defence of the Divine Books, and
to making them better known and understood.  But while giving to these
men the commendation which they deserve for their labor and the fruits
of it, We cannot but earnestly exhort others also, from whose skill and
piety and learning we have a right to expect the very best results, to
give themselves to the same most praiseworthy work.  It is Our wish and
fervent desire to see an increase in the number of approved and
unwearying laborers in the cause of Holy Scripture; and more especially
that those whom Divine Grace has called to Holy Orders should, day by
day, as is most meet, display greater diligence and industry in
reading, meditating, and explaining it.  Among the reasons for which
this study is so worthy of commendation--in addition to its own
excellence and to the homage which we owe to God's word--the chief
reason of all is the manifold benefit of which it is the source.  This
we know will flow therefrom on the most certain testimony of the Holy
Ghost Himself, who says: "All Scripture, inspired of God, is profitable
to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, that the man
of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work."  That such was
the purpose of God in giving the Scriptures to men is shown by the
example of Christ our Lord and of His Apostles.  He who obtained
authority by miracles, merited belief by authority, and by belief drew
to Himself the multitude, was accustomed in the exercise of His Divine
Mission to appeal to the Scriptures.  He uses them at times to prove
that He was sent by God, and that He is God.  From them He draws
arguments for the instruction of His disciples and the confirmation of
His doctrine.  He vindicates them from the calumnies of objectors.  He
quotes them against Sadducees and Pharisees.  He retorts from them upon
Satan himself, when he impudently dares to tempt Him.  At the close of
His life His utterances are from Holy Scripture.  It is the Scripture
which He expounds to His disciples after His resurrection, and during
all the time till He ascends to the glory of His Father.  Faithful to
His precepts, the Apostles, although He Himself granted "signs and
wonders to be done by their hands," nevertheless used with the greatest
efficacy the sacred writings, in order to persuade the nations
everywhere of the wisdom of Christianity, to break down the obstinacy
of the Jews, and to suppress the outbursts of heresy.  This is manifest
in their discourses, especially in those of St. Peter.  These were
almost woven from sayings of the Old Testament, which made in the
strongest manner for the new dispensation.  We find the same thing in
the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. John, and in the Catholic Epistles.
Most remarkably of all is it to be found in the words of him who boasts
that he learned the law at the feet of Gamaliel, in order that, being
armed with spiritual weapons, he might afterwards say with confidence:
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty unto God."

Let all, therefore, especially the novices of the ecclesiastical army,
understand how much the divine Books should be esteemed, and with what
determination and reverence they should approach this great arsenal of
heavenly arms.  Those whose duty it is to handle Catholic doctrine
before either the learned or the unlearned will nowhere find more ample
matter or more abundant exhortation, whether on the subject of God, the
supreme and all perfect Good, or of the works which display His glory
and His love.  Nowhere is there anything more full or more express on
the subject of the Saviour of the human race than that which is to be
found throughout the Bible.  St. Jerome has rightly said "ignorance of
the Scripture is ignorance of Christ."  In its pages His Image stands
out as it were alive and breathing; diffusing everywhere consolation in
trouble, encouragement to virtue, and attraction to the love of God.
As regards the Church, her institutions, her nature, her functions, and
her gifts, we find in Holy Scripture so many references, and so many
ready and convincing arguments, that, as St. Jerome again most truly
says: "A man who is thoroughly grounded in the testimonies of the
Scriptures is a bulwark of the Church."  If we come to moral formation
and to discipline, an apostolic man finds in the sacred writings
abundant and most excellent aid, precepts full of holiness,
exhortations framed with sweetness and force, shining examples of every
kind of virtue, and, finally, the promise of eternal reward, and the
threat of eternal punishment, uttered in weightiest terms, in God's
name and in God's own words.

This peculiar and singular power of the Scriptures, springing from the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost, adds to the authority of the sacred
orator, fills him with apostolic liberty of speech, and communicates to
him a forcible and convincing eloquence.  Those who infuse into their
speech the spirit and strength of the Word of God speak, "not in words
only, but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fulness."
Hence those preachers are foolish and improvident who, in preaching
religion and proclaiming the precepts of God, use no words but those of
human science and human prudence, trusting to their own reasonings
rather than to those that are divine.  Their discourses may be
glittering with lights, but they must be cold and feeble, for they are
without the fire of the utterance of God.  They must fall far short of
that power which the speech of God possesses.  "The Word of God is
living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword; and
reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit."  All the more
far-seeing are agreed that there is in the Holy Scriptures an eloquence
that is marvellous in its variety and richness, and that is worthy of
the loftiest themes.  This St. Augustine thoroughly comprehended, and
this he has abundantly set forth.  It is confirmed also by the best of
the preachers of all ages.  They have gratefully acknowledged that they
owed their repute chiefly to assiduous familiarity with the Bible, and
to devout meditation on the truths which it contains.

The Holy Fathers well knew all this by practical experience.  They
never cease to extol the Sacred Scripture and its fruits.  In
innumerable passages of their writings we find them applying to it such
phrases as--"an inexhaustible treasury of heavenly doctrine," or "an
overflowing fountain of salvation," or as "fertile pastures and most
lovely gardens, in which the flock of the Lord is marvellously
refreshed and delighted."  Let us listen to the words of St. Jerome, in
his Epistle to the cleric Nepotian: "Often read the divine Scriptures;
yea, let holy reading be always in thy hand; study that which thou
thyself must preach....  Let the speech of the priest be ever seasoned
with Scriptural reading."  St. Gregory the Great, than whom no man has
more admirably described the functions of the pastors of the Church,
writes in the same sense: "Those," he says, "who are zealous in the
work of preaching, must never cease from study of the written word of
God."  St. Augustine, however, warns us that "vainly does the preacher
utter the word of God exteriorly unless he listens to it interiorly."
St. Gregory instructs sacred orators "first, to find in Holy Scripture
the knowledge of themselves, and then to carry it to others, lest in
reproving others they forget themselves."  This had already, after the
example and teaching of Christ Himself, who "began to do and to teach,"
been uttered far and wide by an apostolic voice.  It was not to Timothy
alone, but to the whole order of the clergy, that the command was
addressed: "Take heed to thyself and to doctrine; be earnest in them.
In doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee."
For the saving and for the perfection, both of ourselves and of others,
we have at hand the very best of aids in the Sacred Scriptures, and
most abundantly in the Book of Psalms.  Those alone will, however, find
it who bring to the divine oracles not only a docile and attentive
mind, but a habit also of will which is both pious and without reserve.
The Sacred Scripture is not to be regarded like an ordinary book.
Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains matters of the most grave
importance, which in many instances are difficult and obscure.  To
understand and to explain them there is always required the "coming" of
the same Holy Spirit; that is to say, His light and His grace.  These,
as the Royal Psalmist so frequently insists, are to be sought by humble
prayer, and to be preserved by holiness of life.

It is in this that the watchful care of the Church shines forth
conspicuously.  By her admirable laws and regulations she has always
shown herself solicitous that the celestial treasure of the Sacred
Books, so bountifully bestowed upon man by the Holy Spirit, should not
lie neglected.  She has arranged that a considerable portion of them
should be read, and with pious mind considered by all her ministers in
the daily office of the sacred psalmody.  She has ordered that in
cathedral churches, in monasteries, and in convents of other regulars,
which are places most fit for study, they shall be expounded and
interpreted by capable men.  She has strictly commanded that her
children shall be fed with the saving word of the Gospel at least on
Sundays and on solemn feasts.  Moreover, it is owing to the wisdom and
the diligence of the Church that there has always been, continued from
century to century, that cultivation of Sacred Scripture which has been
so remarkable and which has borne such ample fruit.

And here, in order to strengthen Our teaching and Our exhortations, it
is well to recall how, from the first beginnings of the Christian
religion, so many who have been renowned for holiness of life and for
sacred learning have given their deep and most constant attention to
Holy Scripture.  If we consider the immediate disciples of the
Apostles, St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St.
Polycarp--or the Apologists, such as St. Justin and St. Irenæus, we
find that in their letters and in their books, whether in defence of
the Catholic faith or in commendation of it, they draw faith and
strength and unction mainly from the word of God.  When there arose, in
various Episcopal Sees, catechetical and theological schools, of which
the most celebrated were those of Alexandria and of Antioch, there was
little taught in those schools but what consisted in the reading, the
unfolding, and the defence of the divine written word.  From these
schools came forth numbers of Fathers and of writers whose laborious
studies and admirable writings have justly merited for the three
following centuries the appellation of the golden age of biblical

In the Eastern Church, the greatest name of all is Origen.  He was a
man remarkable alike for quickness of genius and for persevering labor.
From his numerous writings and his immense work of the _Hexapla_ almost
all who came after him have drawn.  Others who have widened the field
of this science may also be named.  Among the more excellent,
Alexandria could boast of Clement and Cyril; Palestine, of Eusebius and
the other Cyril; Cappadocia, of Basil the Great and the two Gregories,
Nazianzen and Nyssene; and Antioch, of St. John Chrysostom, in whom
skill in this learning was rivalled by the splendor of his eloquence.

In the Western Church there were many names as great: Tertullian,
Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great; most famous
of all, Augustine and Jerome.  Of these two the former was marvellously
acute in penetrating the sense of God's word, and most fertile in the
use that he made of it for the promotion of Catholic truth.  The latter
has received from the Church, by reason of his pre-eminent knowledge of
Scripture and the greatness of his labors in promoting its use, the
name of the "Great Doctor."

From this period, down to the eleventh century, although biblical
studies did not flourish with the same vigor and with the same
fruitfulness as before, they nevertheless did flourish, and that
principally through the instrumentality of the clergy.  It was their
care and solicitude that selected the most fruitful of the things which
the ancients had left behind them, placed these in digested order, and
published them with additions of their own--as did Isidore of Seville,
Venerable Bede, and Alcuin, among the most prominent.  It was they who
illustrated the sacred pages with "glosses," or short commentaries, as
we see in Walafrid Strabo and Anselm of Laon, or who expended fresh
labor in securing their integrity, as did Peter Damian and Lanfranc.

In the twelfth century many took up with great success the allegorical
exposition of Scripture.  In this Bernard is easily pre-eminent.  His
writings, it may be said, are Scripture all through.  With the age of
the scholastics there came fresh and fruitful progress in the study of
the Bible.  That the scholastics were solicitous about the genuineness
of the Latin version is evident from the _Correctoria Biblica_, or list
of emendations, which they have left behind them.  They expended,
however, more of their study and of their industry on interpretation
and on explanation.  To them we owe the accurate and clear distinction,
such as had not been given before, of the various senses of the sacred
words; the weight of each word in the balance of theology; the division
of books into parts, and the summaries of the various parts; the
investigation of the purpose of the writers, and the unfolding of the
necessary connection of one sentence with another.  No man can fail to
see the amount of light which was thus shed on the more obscure
passages.  The abundance of their Scriptural learning is to be seen
both in their theological treatises and in their commentaries.  In this
Thomas of Aquin bears the palm.

When Our predecessor, Clement V., established chairs of Oriental
literature in the Athenæum at Rome, and in the principal Universities
of Europe, our students began to labor more minutely on the original
text of the Bible, as well as on the Latin version.  The revival
amongst us of Greek learning, and, much more, the happy invention of
the art of printing, gave the strongest impetus to the study of Holy
Scripture.  In a brief space of time innumerable editions, especially
of the Vulgate, poured from the press, and were spread throughout the
Catholic world; so honored and loved were the divine volumes during
that very period against which the enemies of the Church direct their

Nor must we forget how many learned men there were, chiefly among the
religious orders, who did excellent work for the Bible between the
dates of the Councils of Vienne and Trent.  These men, by employment of
modern means and appliances, and by contribution of their own genius
and learning, not only added to the rich stores of ancient times, but
prepared the way for the pre-eminence of the succeeding century--the
century which followed the Council of Trent.  It then seemed almost as
if the great age of the Fathers had returned.  It is well known, and We
recall it with pleasure, that Our predecessors from Pius IV. to Clement
VIII. caused to be prepared the celebrated editions of the Vulgate and
the Septuagint, which, having been published by the command and
authority of Sixtus V. and of the same Clement, are now in common use.
At this time, moreover, were carefully brought out various other
ancient versions of the Bible, and the Polyglots of Antwerp and of
Paris, most important for the investigation of the true meaning of the
text.  There is not any one Book of either Testament which did not find
more than one expositor, nor is there any grave question which did not
profitably exercise the ability of many inquirers.  Among these there
are not a few--more especially of those who made most study of the
Fathers--who have made for themselves names of renown.  From that time
forward the labor and solicitude of our students have never been
wanting.  As time has gone on, eminent scholars have carried on
biblical study with success.  They have defended Holy Scripture against
the cavils of _rationalism_ with the same weapons of philology and
kindred sciences with which it had been attacked.  The calm and fair
consideration of what has been said will clearly show that the Church
has never failed in any manner of provision for bringing the fountains
of the Divine Scripture in a wholesome way within reach of her
children, and that she has ever held fast and exercised the
guardianship divinely bestowed upon her for its protection and glory.
She has never, therefore, required, nor does she now require, any
stimulation from without.

We must now, Venerable Brethren, as Our purpose demands, impart to you
such counsels as seem best suited for carrying on successfully the
study of biblical science.  We must, in the first place, have a clear
idea of the kind of men whom we have to oppose, their tactics and their

In earlier times the contest was chiefly with those who, relying on
private judgment and repudiating the divine tradition and the teaching
authority of the Church, held the Scriptures to be the one and only
source of revelation and the final appeal in matters of Faith.  Now, we
have to meet the Rationalists, the true children and heirs of the older
heretics.  Trusting in their turn to their own judgment, they have
rejected even the scraps and remnants of Christian belief handed down
to them from their fathers.  They deny that there is any such thing as
divine revelation, or inspiration, or Holy Scripture at all.  They see
in these histories only forgeries and falsehoods of men.  They set down
the Scripture narratives as stupid fables or lying tales.  The
prophecies and the oracles of God are to them either predictions made
up after the event, or forecasts formed by the light of nature.  The
miracles and manifestations of God's power are not what they profess to
be, but are either startling effects which are not beyond the forces of
nature, or else mere tricks and myths.  The Gospels and apostolic
writings are not, they say, the work of the authors to whom they are
assigned.  These detestable errors, whereby they think to destroy the
truth of the divine Books, are obtruded on the world as the peremptory
pronouncements of a newly-invented "free science."  This science,
however, is so far from final that they are perpetually modifying and
supplementing it.  There are some of them who, notwithstanding their
impious opinions and utterances about God and His Christ, the Gospels,
and the rest of Holy Scripture, would fain be regarded as being
theologians and Christians and men of the Gospel.  They attempt to
disguise under such names of honor their rashness and their insolence.
To them we must add not a few professors of other sciences who approve
and sustain their views, and are egged on to attack the Bible by
intolerance of revelation.  It is deplorable to see this warfare
becoming from day to day more widespread and more ruthless.  It is
sometimes men of learning and judgment who are assailed; but these have
little difficulty in standing on their guard.  The efforts and the arts
of the enemy are chiefly directed against the more ignorant masses of
the people.  These men diffuse their deadly poison by means of books
and pamphlets and newspapers.  They spread it by means of addresses and
of conversations.  They are found everywhere.  They are in possession
of numerous schools for the young, wrested from the guardianship of the
Church.  In those schools, by means of ridicule and scurrilous jesting,
they pervert the credulous and unformed minds of the young to contempt
of Scripture.  Should not these things, Venerable Brethren, stir up and
set on fire the heart of every Pastor, so that to this "knowledge,
falsely so called," may be opposed the ancient and true science which
the Church, through the Apostles, has received from Christ, and that
the Sacred Scriptures may find champions that are strong for so great a

Let our first care, then, be to see that in Seminaries and Academical
foundations the study of Holy Scripture is placed on such a footing as
both the importance of it and the circumstances of the time demand.
With this view, that which is of first importance is a wise selection
of professors.  Teachers of Sacred Scripture are not to be appointed at
hap-hazard out of the crowd.  They must be men whose character and
fitness have been proved by great love of, and long familiarity with,
the Bible, and by the learning and study which befits their office.

It is of equal importance to provide in due time for a continuous
succession of such teachers.  It will be well, wherever this can be
done, to select young men of promise, who have studied their theology
with distinction, and to set them apart exclusively for Holy Scripture,
affording them time and facilities for still fuller study.  Professors
thus chosen and appointed may enter with confidence on the task that is
set before them.  That they may be at their best, and bear all the
fruit that is possible, there are some other hints which We may
somewhat more fully set before them.

At the commencement of a course of Holy Scripture, let the professor
strive earnestly to form the judgment of the young beginners, so as to
train them equally to defend the sacred writings and to penetrate their
meaning.  This is the object of the treatise which is called
"Introduction to the Bible."  Here the student is taught how to prove
its integrity and authority, how to investigate and ascertain its true
sense, and how to meet and refute all captious objections.  It is
needless to insist on the importance of making these preliminary
studies in an orderly and thorough way, in the company and with the aid
of Theology.  The whole of the subsequent course will rest on the
foundation thus laid, and will be luminous with the light which has
been thus acquired.

Next, the teacher will turn his earnest attention to that most fruitful
branch of Scripture science which has to do with interpretation.
Therein is imparted the method of using the word of God for the
promotion of religion and of piety.  We are well aware that neither the
extent of the matter nor the time at disposal allows every single Book
of the Bible to be separately studied in the schools.  The teaching,
however, should result in a definite and ascertained method of
interpretation.  Hence the professor should at once avoid giving a mere
taste of every Book, and the equal mistake of dwelling at too great
length on merely a part of some one Book.  If most schools cannot do
what is done in the larger institutions--that is, take the students
through the whole of one or two Books continuously, and with some
considerable development--yet at least those parts which are selected
for interpretation should be treated with some fulness.  In this way
the students may be attracted, and learn from the sample that is set
before them to love and read the rest in the course of their after
lives.  The professor, following the tradition of antiquity, will use
the Vulgate as his text.  The Council of Trent has decreed that "in
public lectures, disputations, preaching, and exposition," the Vulgate
is the "authentic" version; and this is the existing custom of the
Church.  At the same time, the other versions which Christian antiquity
has approved and used should not be neglected, more especially the more
ancient MSS.  Although the meaning of the Hebrew and the Greek is
substantially rendered by the Vulgate, nevertheless, wherever there may
be ambiguity or want of clearness, the "examination of older tongues,"
to quote St. Augustine, will be of service.  In this matter we need
hardly say that the greatest prudence is required, for the "office of a
commentator," as St. Jerome says, "is to set forth not that which he
himself would prefer, but that which his author says."  The question of
"readings" having been, when necessary, carefully discussed, the next
thing is to investigate and expound the meaning.  The first counsel to
be here given is this: that the more our adversaries strive in the
contrary direction, so much the more solicitously should we adhere to
the received and approved canons of interpretation.  Hence, while
weighing the meanings of words, the connection of ideas, the
parallelism of passages, and the like, we should by all means make use
of external illustrations drawn from other cognate learning.  This
should, however, be done with caution, so as not to bestow on such
questions more labor and time than that which is spent on the Sacred
Books themselves, and not to overload the minds of the students with a
mass of information which will be rather a hindrance than a help.

The professor may now safely pass on to the use of Scripture in matters
of Theology.  Here it must be observed that, in addition to the usual
reasons which make ancient writings more or less difficult to
understand, there are some which are peculiar to the Sacred Books.  The
language of the Bible is employed to express, under the inspiration of
the Holy Ghost, many things which are beyond the powers and scope of
human reason--that is to say, divine mysteries and many matters which
are related to them.  There is sometimes in such passages a fuller and
a deeper meaning than the letter seems to express or than the laws of
hermeneutics indicate.  Moreover, the literal sense itself frequently
admits other senses, which either illustrate dogma or commend morality.
It must therefore be recognized that the sacred writings are wrapt in a
certain religious obscurity, and that no one can enter into them
without a guide.  God has so disposed it that, as the Holy Fathers
teach, men may investigate the Scriptures with greater ardor and
earnestness, and that what is attained with difficulty may sink more
deeply into the mind and heart.  From this also, and mainly, men may
understand that God has delivered the Scriptures to the Church, and
that in reading and treating of His utterances they must follow the
Church as their guide and teacher.  St. Irenæus long since laid it down
that where the _Charismata_ of God were placed, there the truth was to
be learnt, and that Scripture is expounded without peril, by those with
whom there is apostolic succession.  His teaching, and that of other
Fathers, is embraced by the Council of the Vatican which, in renewing
the decree of Trent, declares its mind to be this--that "in matters of
faith and morals, which belong to the building up of Christian
doctrine, that sense is to be considered the true sense of the Sacred
Scripture which has been held and is held by our Holy Mother the
Church, whose place it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation
of the Scriptures; and therefore that it is permitted to no one to
interpret the Sacred Scripture contrary to this sense, or contrary to
the unanimous consent of the Fathers."  By this law, most full of
wisdom, the Church by no means prevents or restrains the pursuit of
biblical science.  She, on the contrary, provides for its freedom from
error, and greatly advances its real progress.  A wide field lies open
to any teacher, in which his hermeneutical skill may exercise itself
with signal effect and for the welfare of the Church.  On the one hand,
in those passages of Scripture which have not as yet received a certain
and definitive interpretation, such labors may, in the sweetly ordered
providence of God, serve as a preparation for bringing to maturity the
judgment of the Church.  In passages already defined, a private doctor
may do work equally valuable, either by setting them forth more clearly
to the commonalty of the faithful, or more learnedly before the
learned, or by defending them more powerfully from adversaries.
Wherefore the first and most sacred object of the Catholic commentator
should be to interpret those passages which have received an authentic
interpretation--either from the sacred writers themselves, under the
inspiration of the Holy Ghost (as in many places of the New Testament),
or from the Church, under the assistance of the same Holy Spirit,
whether by her solemn judgment or by her ordinary and universal
authoritative teaching--in that identical sense, and to prove, by all
the resources of learning, that sound hermeneutical laws admit of no
other than that interpretation.  In the other passages the analogy of
faith should be followed, and the Catholic doctrine, as authoritatively
proposed by the Church, should be held as the supreme rule.  Since the
same God is the author both of the Sacred Books and of the doctrine
committed to the Church, it is clearly impossible that any teaching can
by legitimate interpretation be extracted from the former which shall
in any respect be at variance with the latter.  Hence it follows that
all interpretation is unfounded and false which either makes the sacred
writers disagree one with another, or is opposed to the doctrine of the

The professor of Holy Scripture, therefore, amongst other
recommendations, must be well versed in the whole of Theology, and
deeply read in the commentaries of the Holy Fathers and Doctors, and
the best of other interpreters.  This is inculcated by St. Jerome, and
still more by St. Augustine, who thus justly complains: "If there is no
branch of teaching, however humble and easy to learn, which does not
require a master, what can be a greater sign of rashness and pride than
to refuse to study the Books of the divine mysteries by the help of
those who have interpreted them?"  Other Fathers have said the same,
and have confirmed it by their example.  They endeavored to acquire
understanding of the Holy Scriptures, not by their own lights and
ideas, but from the writings and authority of the ancients, who in
their turn, as we know, received the rule of interpretation in direct
line from the Apostles.

The Holy Fathers, to whom, after the Apostles, the Church owes its
growth--who planted, watered, built, fed, and nourished it--are of
supreme authority whenever they all interpret in one and the same
manner any text of the Bible as pertaining to doctrine of faith or
morals.  Their unanimity clearly evinces that such interpretation has
come down from the Apostles as a matter of Catholic faith.  The opinion
of the Fathers is also of very great weight when they treat of these
matters in their capacity of private teachers; not only because they
excelled in knowledge of revealed doctrine and in acquaintance with
many things useful for the understanding of the apostolic Books, but
also because they were men of eminent sanctity and of ardent zeal for
the truth, on whom God bestowed a more ample measure of His light.  The
commentator, therefore, should make it his care to follow in their
footsteps with reverence, and to avail himself of their labors with
intelligent appreciation.

He must not, however, on that account consider that it is forbidden,
when just cause exists, to push inquiry and exposition beyond what the
Fathers have done--provided he religiously observes the rule so wisely
laid down by St. Augustine: not to depart from the literal and obvious
sense, except where reason makes that sense untenable or necessity
requires.  This is a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere
strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained
license of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate.
Neither should those passages be neglected which the Fathers have
understood in an allegorical or figurative sense, more especially when
such interpretation is justified by the literal sense, and when it
rests on the authority of many.  This method of interpretation has been
received by the Church from the Apostles, and has been approved by her
own practice, as her liturgy attests.  The Holy Fathers did not thereby
pretend directly to demonstrate dogmas of faith, but used it as a means
of promoting virtue and piety, such as, by their own experience, they
knew to be most valuable.

The authority of other Catholic interpreters is not so grave.  Since,
however, the study of Scripture has always continued to advance in the
Church, their commentaries also have their own honorable place, and are
serviceable in many ways for the refutation of assailants and the
unravelling of difficulties.  It is, moreover, most unbecoming to pass
by, in ignorance or contempt, the splendid works which our own scholars
have left behind them in abundance, and to have recourse to the works
of the heterodox, and to seek in them, with peril to sound doctrine and
not seldom with detriment to faith, the explanation of passages on
which Catholics have long ago most excellently expended their talents
and their labor.  Although the studies of the heterodox, used with
prudence, may sometimes be of use to the Catholic interpreter, he
should nevertheless bear well in mind this repeated testimony of the
ancients,--that the sense of the Sacred Scriptures can nowhere be found
incorrupt outside the Church, and that it cannot be delivered by those
who, being destitute of the true faith, only gnaw the husk of Scripture
and never reach its marrow.

Most desirable it is, and most essential, that the whole course of
Theology should be pervaded by the use of the Divine Scripture, which
should be, as it were, the soul thereof.  This is what the Fathers and
the greatest theologians of all ages have professed and practised.  It
was chiefly out of the sacred writings that they endeavored to proclaim
and establish the Articles of Faith and the truths which are their
consequences.  It was in them, together with divine tradition, that
they found the refutation of heretical error, and the reasonableness,
the true meaning, and the mutual relation of the truths of the Catholic
faith.  Nor will any one wonder at this who considers that the Sacred
Books hold such a pre-eminent position among the sources of Revelation
that without the assiduous study of them Theology cannot be rightly
treated as its dignity demands.  Although it is right and proper that
students in academical institutions and schools should be chiefly
exercised in acquiring a scientific knowledge of dogma by means of
reasoning from the Articles of Faith to their consequences, according
to the rules of approved and solid philosophy, nevertheless a grave and
learned theologian will by no means overlook that method of doctrinal
demonstration which draws its proof from the authority of the Bible.
Theology does not receive her first principles from other sciences, but
immediately from God through Revelation.  And therefore she does not
receive from other sciences as from superiors, but uses them as her
inferiors and her handmaids.  It is this view of doctrinal teaching
which is laid down and recommended by the prince of theologians, St.
Thomas of Aquin.  He also shows--such being the essential character of
Christian Theology--how a theologian can defend his own principles
against attack.  "If the adversary," he says, "do but grant any portion
of the divine revelation, we have an argument against him.  Against a
heretic we can employ Scripture authority, and against those who deny
one article we can use another.  If our opponent rejects divine
revelation altogether, then there is no way left to prove the Articles
of Faith by reasoning.  We can only solve the difficulties which are
raised against the faith."  Care must be taken, then, that beginners
approach the study of the Bible well prepared and furnished; otherwise,
just hopes will be frustrated, or perchance--and this is worse--they
will unthinkingly risk the danger of error, and fall an easy prey to
the sophisms and labored erudition of the rationalists.  The best
preparation will be a conscientious application to philosophy and
theology under the guidance of St. Thomas of Aquin, and a thorough
training therein--as We Ourselves have elsewhere shown and prescribed.
By this means, both in biblical studies and in that part of Theology
which is called _Positive_, they will pursue the right path and make
solid progress.

To prove, to expound, to illustrate Catholic doctrine by the legitimate
and skilful interpretation of the Bible is much; but there is a second
part of the subject of equal importance and of equal
laboriousness,--the maintenance in the strongest possible way of the
fulness of its authority.  This cannot be done completely or
satisfactorily except by means of the living teaching authority of the
Church herself.  The Church, by reason of her wonderful propagation,
her shining sanctity, and her inexhaustible fecundity in good, her
Catholic unity, and her unshaken stability, is herself a great and
perpetual motive of credibility, and an unassailable testimony of her
own divine mission.  But since the divine and infallible teaching
authority of the Church rests also on the authority of Holy Scripture,
the first thing to be done is to vindicate the trustworthiness of the
sacred records at least as human documents.  From this can clearly be
proved, as from primitive and authentic testimony, the divinity and the
mission of Christ our Lord, the institution of a hierarchical Church,
and the primacy of Peter and his successors.  It is most desirable,
therefore, that there should be many members of the clergy well
prepared to enter upon a contest of this nature, and to repulse the
attacks of the enemy, chiefly trusting in that armor of God which is
recommended by the Apostle, but at the same time not unacquainted with
the more modern methods of attack.  This is beautifully alluded to by
St. John Chrysostom.  Describing the duties of priests, he says: "We
must use our every endeavor that the 'word of God may dwell in us
abundantly.'  Not merely for one kind of light must we be prepared, for
the contest is many-sided, and the enemy is of every sort.  They do not
all use the same weapons, nor do all make their onset in the same way.
It is needful that the man who has to contend against all should have
knowledge of the engines and the arts of all.  He must be at once
archer and slinger, commandant and officer, general and private
soldier, foot-soldier and horseman, skilled in sea-fight and in siege.
Unless he knows every trick and turn of war, the devil is well able, if
only a single door be left open, to get in his ferocious bandits and to
carry off the sheep."  The sophisms of the enemy and the manifold
strategy of his attack We have already touched upon.

Let Us now say a word of advice on the means of defence.  The first
means is the study of Oriental languages and of the art of criticism.
These two acquirements are in these days held in high estimation.  The
clergy, by making themselves more or less fully acquainted with them,
as time and place may demand, will the better be able to discharge
their office with becoming credit.  They must make themselves "all
things to all men," always "ready to satisfy every one that asketh them
a reason for the hope that is in them."  Hence it is most proper that
professors of Sacred Scripture and theologians should master those
tongues in which the Sacred Books were originally written.  It would be
well that Church students also should cultivate them, more especially
those who aspire to academic degrees in Theology.  Endeavors should be
made to establish in all academic institutions--as has already been
laudably done in many--chairs of the other ancient languages,
especially the Semitic, and of subjects connected therewith, for the
benefit principally of those who are destined to profess sacred
literature.  These latter, with a similar object in view, should make
themselves well acquainted with and thoroughly exercised in the art of
true criticism.  There has arisen, to the great damage of religion, an
artificial method, which is dignified by the name of the "higher
criticism."  It pretends to judge of the origin, the integrity, and the
authority of every Book from internal indications alone.  It is clear,
on the other hand, that in historical questions, such as the origin and
the handing down of writings, the witness of history is of primary
importance, and that historical investigation should be made with the
utmost care.  In this matter internal evidence is seldom of great
value, except by way of confirmation.  To look upon it in any other
light will be to open the door to many evil consequences.  It will make
the enemies of religion much more bold and confident in attacking and
endeavoring to destroy the authenticity of the Sacred Books.  This
vaunted "higher criticism" will resolve itself into the reflection of
the bias and the prejudice of the critics.  It will not throw on the
Scriptures the light which is sought, or prove of any advantage to
doctrine.  It will only give rise to disagreement and dissension, those
sure notes of error, which the critics in question so plentifully
exhibit in their own persons.  Seeing that most of them are tainted
with false philosophy and rationalism, it must lead to the elimination
from the sacred writings of all prophecy and all miracle, and of
everything else that lies outside the natural order.

In the second place, we have to contend against those who, abusing
their knowledge of physical science, minutely scrutinize the Sacred
Books, in order to detect the writers in a mistake, and so to vilify
the books themselves.  Attacks of this kind, bearing as they do on
matters of experience of the senses, are peculiarly dangerous to the
masses, and also to the young, who are but beginning their literary
studies.  The young, if they lose their reverence for divine revelation
on any one point, are but too easily led to give up believing in
revelation altogether.  It need scarcely be pointed out how the science
of nature, just as it is so admirably adapted to show forth the glory
of the Great Creator, provided it be rightly taught, so, if it be
perversely imparted to the youthful intelligence, it may prove most
fatal in destroying the principles of true philosophy, and in the
corruption of morality.  Hence to the professor of Sacred Scripture a
knowledge of natural science will be of the greatest service in
detecting and meeting such attacks upon the Sacred Books.

There can never, indeed, be any real discrepancy between the theologian
and the physicist, as long as each confines himself within his own
lines, and so long as both are careful, as St. Augustine warns us, "not
to make rash assertions, or to assert that which is not known as if it
were really known."  If dissension should arise between them, here is
the rule, laid down by St. Augustine for the theologian: "Whatever they
can really demonstrate to be true of physical nature, we must show to
be not contrary to our Scriptures.  Whatever they assert in their
treatises which is contrary to these Scriptures of ours, that is, to
Catholic faith, we must either prove it, as well as we can, to be
entirely false, or at all events we must, without the smallest
hesitation, believe it to be so."  To understand how just is the rule
here formulated we must remember, first, that the sacred writers, or,
to speak more accurately, the Holy Ghost, who spoke by means of them,
did not intend to teach men those things (that is to say, the essential
nature of the things of the visible universe)--things which are in no
way profitable unto salvation.  The sacred writers did not seek to
penetrate the secrets of nature.  They rather described and dealt with
things in more or less figurative language, or in terms which were
commonly used at the time, and terms which in many instances are in
daily use at this day, even amongst the most eminent men of science.
Ordinary speech primarily and properly describes that which falls under
the senses.  Somewhat in the same way the sacred writers--as the
Angelic Doctor reminds us--"went by what sensibly appeared," or put
down that which God, speaking to men, signified in a way which men
could understand, and to which they were accustomed.

The strenuous defence of the Holy Scripture, however, does not require
that we should equally uphold all the opinions which every one of the
Fathers, or which subsequent commentators have set forth in explaining
it.  It may be that, in commenting on passages where physical matters
are in question, they have sometimes expressed the ideas of their own
times, and have thus made statements which in these days have been
abandoned as unfounded.  In their interpretations, therefore, we must
carefully note that which they lay down as belonging to faith, or as
intimately connected with faith, or that in which they are unanimous.
"In those things which do not come under the obligation of faith, the
Saints were at liberty to hold divergent opinions, even as we ourselves
are," says St. Thomas.  In another place he says most admirably: "When
philosophers are agreed upon a point, and that point is not contrary to
faith, it is safer, in my opinion, neither to lay down such a point as
a dogma of faith, even though it is perhaps so presented by the
philosophers, nor to reject it as against faith, lest we thus give to
the wise of this world an occasion of despising the doctrine of the
faith."  The Catholic commentator, although he should show that those
facts of natural science which investigators affirm to be now in these
days absolutely certain are not contrary to Scripture rightly
explained, must nevertheless always bear in mind that much which has
been held as proved and certain has afterwards been called in question
and rejected.  If writers on physics travel outside the boundaries of
their own department, and carry their erroneous teaching into the
domain of philosophy, let them be handed over by the theological
commentator to philosophers for refutation.

The principles here laid down will apply to cognate sciences, and
especially to history.  It is a lamentable fact that there are many men
who with great labor make and publish investigations on the monuments
of antiquity, the manners and institutions of nations, and other
illustrative subjects, and whose chief purpose in all this is too often
to try to find mistakes in the sacred writings, and so to shake and
weaken their authority.  Some of these writers display not only extreme
hostility, but also great unfairness.  In their eyes a profane book or
an ancient document is accepted without hesitation.  Scripture, if they
can only find in it a suspicion of error, is set down with the
slightest possible discussion as being entirely untrustworthy.  It is
true, no doubt, that copyists have made mistakes in the text of the
Bible.  This question, when it arises, should be carefully considered
on its merits.  The fact, however, is not to be too easily admitted,
but only in those passages where the proof is clear.  It may also
happen that the sense of a passage remains ambiguous.  In this case,
sound hermeneutical methods will greatly aid in clearing up obscurity.
It is absolutely wrong, however, and it is forbidden, either to narrow
inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that
the sacred writer has erred.  The system of those who, in order to rid
themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that
divine inspiration regards matters of faith and morals, and nothing
beyond them, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth
or falsehood of a passage we should consider not so much what God has
said as the reason and purpose which He had in mind in saying it,
cannot be tolerated.  All the books which the Church receives as sacred
and canonical were written wholly and entirely, with all their parts,
at the dictation of the Holy Ghost.  So far is it from being possible
that any error can co-exist with inspiration, inspiration not only is
essentially incompatible with error, but it excludes error as
absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the
Supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true.  This is the ancient
and unchanging faith of the Church.  It was solemnly defined in the
Councils of Florence and of Trent.  It was finally confirmed and more
expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican.  These are the
words of that Council: The Books of the Old and of the New Testament,
whole and entire, with all their parts, as they are enumerated in the
decree of the same Council (Trent), and as they are contained in the
old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.
The Church holds them as sacred and canonical, not because, having been
composed solely by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her
authority, nor only because they contain revelation without error, but
because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost,
they have God for their Author.  Hence we cannot say that, because the
Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, it was these inspired
instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary
Author.  By supernatural power He so moved and impelled them to
write--He was so present to them--that all the things which He ordered,
and those things only, they first rightly conceived, then willed
faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in adequate words and
with infallible truth.  Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the
Author of the whole of the Sacred Scripture.  Such has always been the
persuasion of the Fathers.  "Therefore," says St. Augustine, "since
they wrote the things which He showed and said to them, it cannot be
said that He did not write them.  His members executed that which their
Head dictated."  St. Gregory the Great maintains: "Most superfluous it
is to inquire who wrote these things;--we loyally believe the Holy
Ghost to be the Author of the Book.  He wrote it who dictated it to be
written.  He wrote it who inspired its execution."

It follows that those men who maintain that an error is possible in any
genuine passage of the sacred writings, either pervert the Catholic
notion of inspiration, or make God Himself to be the Author of error.
So emphatically were all the Fathers and Doctors agreed that the divine
writings, as left by the hagiographers, are entirely free from all
error, that they labored earnestly, with no less skill than reverence,
to reconcile one with the other those numerous passages which seem to
be at variance--the very passages which in great measure have been
taken up by the "higher criticism."  The Fathers were unanimous in
laying it down that those writings, in their entirety and in all their
parts, were equally from the divine _afflatus_, and that God Himself,
speaking through the sacred writers, could not set down anything that
was not true.  The words of St. Augustine to St. Jerome may sum up what
they taught: "On my own part, I confess to your charity that it is only
to those Books of Scripture which are now called canonical that I have
learned to pay such honor and reverence as to believe most firmly that
no one of their writers has fallen into any error.  If in these Books I
meet with anything which seems contrary to truth, I shall not hesitate
to conclude either that the text is faulty, or that the translator has
not expressed the meaning of the passage, or that I myself have not
understood it."

But with all the weapons of the best of arts, fully and perfectly to
fight for the holiness of the Bible is far more than can be looked for
from the exertions of commentators and theologians alone.  It is an
enterprise in which we have a right to expect the co-operation of all
Catholic men who have acquired reputation in other branches of
learning.  As in the past, so at the present time the Church is never
without the graceful support of her accomplished children.  May their
services to the Faith ever grow and increase!  There is nothing which
We believe to be more needful than that truth should find defenders
more powerful and more numerous than are the enemies whom it has to
face.  There is nothing which is better calculated to imbue the masses
with homage for the truth than to see it joyously proclaimed by learned
men who have gained distinction in some other faculty.  Moreover, the
bitter tongues of objectors will be silenced.  At least they will not
dare to insist so shamelessly that faith is the enemy of science when
they see that scientific men, of eminence in their own profession, show
towards the faith most marked honor and reverence.

Seeing, then, that those men can do so much for the progress of
religion on whom the goodness of God has bestowed, together with the
grace of the faith, great natural talent, let such men, in this most
savage conflict of which the Scriptures are now the object, select each
of them the branch of study which is best adapted to his circumstances,
and endeavor to excel therein, and thus be prepared to repel with
effect and credit the assaults on the word of God.  It is our pleasing
duty to give deserved praise to a work which certain Catholics have
taken in hand--that is to say, the formation of societies, and the
contribution of considerable sums of money, for the purpose of aiding
certain of the more learned in the pursuit of their study to its
completeness.  Truly, an excellent method of investing money!  It is an
investment most suited to the times in which we live!  The less hope of
public patronage there is for Catholic study, the more ready and the
more abundant should be the liberality of private persons.  Those to
whom God has given riches will thus use them to safeguard the treasure
of His revealed doctrine.

In order that such labors may prove of real service to the cause of the
Bible, let scholars keep steadfastly to the principles which we have in
this Letter laid down.  Let them loyally hold that God, the Creator and
the Ruler of all things, is also the Author of the Scriptures--and that
therefore nothing can possibly be proved, either by physical science or
by archeology, which can be in real contradiction with the Scriptures.
If apparent contradictious should be met with, every effort should be
made to meet them.  Theologians and commentators of solid judgment
should be consulted as to what is the true or the most probable meaning
of the passage in discussion.  Adverse arguments should also be
carefully weighed.  Even if the difficulty is not after all cleared up,
and the discrepancy seems to remain, the contest must not be abandoned.
Truth cannot contradict truth.  We may be sure that some mistake has
been made, either in the interpretation of the sacred words, or in the
polemical discussion itself.  If no mistake can be detected, we must
then suspend judgment for the time being.  There have been objections
without number perseveringly directed against the Scriptures for many a
long year.  These have been proved to be futile, and they are now never
heard of.  Interpretations not a few have been put on certain passages
of Scripture (not belonging to the rule of faith or morals), and these
have been rectified after a more careful investigation.  As time goes
on mistaken views die and disappear.  Truth remaineth and groweth
stronger for ever and ever.  Wherefore, as no one should be so
presumptuous as to think that he understands the whole of the
Scriptures--in which St. Augustine himself confessed that there was
more that he did not know than that which he did know--so, if one
should come upon anything that seems incapable of solution, he must
take to heart the cautious rule of the same holy Doctor: "It is better
even to be oppressed by unknown but useful signs than to interpret them
uselessly, and thus to throw off the yoke of servitude only to be
caught in the nets of error."

As regards those men who pursue the subsidiary studies of which We have
spoken, if they honestly and modestly follow the counsels and commands
which We have given--if by pen and voice they make their studies
fruitful against the enemies of the truth, and useful in saving the
young from loss of faith--they may justly congratulate themselves on
worthy service to the Sacred Writings, and on their having afforded to
the Catholic religion that aid which the Church has a right to expect
from the piety and from the learning of her children.

Such, Venerable Brethren, are the admonitions and the instructions
which, by the help of God, We have thought it well, at the present
moment, to offer to you on the study of the Sacred Scriptures.  It will
now be for you to see that what We have said be held and observed with
all due reverence, that so we may prove our gratitude to God for the
communication to man of the words of His wisdom, and that all the good
results which are so much to be desired may be realized, especially as
they effect the training of the students of the Church, which is matter
of Our own great solicitude and of the Church's hope.  Exert yourselves
with glad alacrity, and use your authority, and your persuasive powers,
in order that these studies may be held in just regard, and that they
may flourish in the seminaries and in the educational institutions
which are under your jurisdiction.  May they flourish in the
completeness of success, under the direction of the Church, in
accordance with the salutary teaching and the example of the Holy
Fathers, and the laudable traditions of antiquity.  As time goes on,
let them be widened and extended as the interests and glory of the
truth may require--the interests of that Catholic Truth which comes
down from above, the never-failing source of the salvation of all
peoples.  Finally, We admonish with paternal love all students and
ministers of the Church always to approach the sacred writings with the
most profound affection of reverence and of piety.  It is impossible to
attain to a profitable understanding thereof unless, laying aside the
arrogance of "earthly" science, there be excited in the heart a holy
desire for that wisdom "which is from above."  In this way the mind
which has once entered on these sacred studies, and which has by means
of them been enlightened and strengthened, will acquire a marvellous
facility in detecting and avoiding the fallacies of human science, and
in gathering and utilizing solid fruit for eternal salvation.  The
heart will then wax warm, and will strive with more ardent longing to
advance in virtue and in divine love.  "Blessed are they who examine
His testimonies; they shall seek Him with their whole heart."

And now, filled with hope in the divine assistance, and trusting to
your pastoral solicitude--as a pledge of heavenly graces and in witness
of Our special good will--to all of you, and to the clergy, and to the
whole flock which has been intrusted to you, We most lovingly impart in
our Lord the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at St. Peter's, at Rome, the 18th day of November, 1893, the
sixteenth year of Our Pontificate.


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