Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation: Dei Verbum

Last week I finished the Book of Amos so this week I thought we could look at something about reading the Bible. Dei Verbum is one of the Constitutions set forth at Vatican II and from the title it refers to the Word of God. This document basically talks about how the Catholic Church see the Bible and what it means.

It is broken into six chapters and begins with a preface, which basically says nothing. It is following the lead of the Councils of Trent and Vatican 1 and hopes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on, so that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love. The first Chapters focuses on revelation. It goes through time and talks about how God has revealed himself to various individuals and this was done through his love for us. God speaks to us as a friend and not only reveals how we should live but also reveals himself to us. To read scripture is to get to know God.

In the second chapter it talks about the Bible itself is a mirror which we can see God. This “Word of God” is an ancient thing as well that has been passed down since the Apostles and it isn’t only the Bible but also the Liturgy, prayers and teachings of the Church passed down to us from Apostles and from the Bishops (Cardinals/Popes) today. Most importantly it notes that although you can read the Bible the official interpreter of the document is the Church herself and it is not above the word itself. The third chapter looks at the “the words of God, expressed in human language” and how the books of the Bible itself were written by many different individuals and the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.

The next two chapters look at the Old and New Testaments respectively. The God of infinite love chose the people of Israel and the Old Testament is where God laid the groundwork for Jesus to come. The New Testament specifically the Gospels are key to the faith. They were written for a certain people in a time and place so that they could see that salvation. Finally the last chapter focuses on how the Church uses Sacred Scripture. It is the heart of the Church and is a living thing. It is present at most liturgical events and should be present in the life of all Christians. Scripture is alive and living. As the Council Father note as they close “Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similar we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God,”

Over the next two week I will look at Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini and Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu.



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