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Unit One
The Bible is a collection of various literary forms inspired by the
Holy Spirit that represent the story of the loving relationship between God and
humankind. Known as the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures contain the truth
that is necessary for our salvation.
I. What is the Bible all about?
A. The great story of God’s love for his people (Salvation History) involves the
four Cs: Creation, Covenant, Christ, and His Church.
B. Not one book, but a collection of books written by many authors. Every book
of the Bible is written by human authors inspired by the Holy Spirit.
1. Inspired by God does not mean dictation directly by God. The Holy Spirit
guided the human authors.
2. The truths found in Scripture are expressed according to the cultural and
intellectual experiences of the authors.
3. Religious truth should not be equated with scientific truth or historical
4. Religious truths revealed in the Bible are without error.
This is called inerrancy. The religious truths of the Bible are universal
and timeless - the Holy Spirit continues to speak to us through the study
of the Bible.
C. The Bible represents a record of 4000 years of Judeo-Christian faith, history
and culture.
II. The Bible as Revelation.
A. Revelation is God’s loving self-disclosure concerning His nature and purpose
for creation.
B. The two major forms of revelation for Catholic Christians are:
1. Scripture (the Bible)and
2. Tradition - the religious beliefs and practices handed down to the faith
community from the teachings of the Apostles.
As with Scripture, we believe Tradition is inspired by God and that these two
forms of revelation are connected and support each other.
III. The Five Stage Process of the Formation of the Bible.
A. Experiencing God in events of Salvation History.
B. Sharing stories by word of mouth (this is called oral tradition).
C. Writing down these stories.
D. Editing these written stories (see the Gospel of Luke 1).
E. Selecting which stories would be included in the final collection.
Lived experience-->Oral Teachings-->Written Word -->Editing -->Final assembly
IV. The Importance of the Bible to our Faith.
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
St. Jerome
Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Ps. 25:4
A. Revelation leads to faith. Faith in God would not be possible without the
revelation of God we receive through the Bible.
B. By developing a close relationship with the Bible, we in turn grow
in our relationship with God both personally and communally.
C. The study of the Bible helps us to better understand God's plan for us.
D. The Scriptures allows us to develop:
1. Spiritual identity.
2. Moral and social responsibility.
3. As co-creators willfully participating in salvation history.
E. The study of the Bible strengthens us academically.
1. We gain knowledge of ancient civilizations.
2. We come to understand the impact that the Bible has had on our
contemporary culture (art, music, literature, law, politics).
V. The Relationship between the Old and New Testaments.
A. The Bible is organized into two major sections: the Old and New Testaments.
1. The Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Scriptures.
2. The Promise and the Fulfillment.
B. The Old and New Testaments cannot be studied as separate entities.
1. Each of these sections of the Bible are parts of our salvation history –
both are the Word of God.
2. The Old Testament prepared for the New, and the New Testament fulfills
the Old - O.T. prophesies of the Messiah --> Jesus as the Christ.
C. Our ancestry as Christians grew out of Judaism and its sacred texts.
To truly understand our Christian beliefs and practices, we must have an
understanding of the Old Testament.
1. Jesus was a Jew.
2. The first followers of the gospel were Jews.
3. Christianity as a missionary religion spread through the
Mediterranean world because of the Jewish faith.
D. The O.T. is longer because it has many authors and was written over
a longer period of time - the N.T. had fewer authors and was written
during a fifty year period.
VI. The Canon of Holy Scripture. The Catholic Bible has 73 books.
A. The Canon Scriptures are the authentic and authoritative books revealed by
1. The Catholic Old Testament consists of 46 books.
a. The Pentateuch (five scrolls)/ Hebrew Torah (law) – 5 books that
comprise the account of creation, ancestral stories, early
Israelite history, and the Jewish codes of law.
b. The Historical Books – 16 books about the history of the Israelite
people and nation.
c. The Wisdom Books – 7 books that offer wise teachings
insight into the human condition and God’s relationship with
d. The Prophets – 18 books that relate the visions and
teachings of the religious reformers of the Jewish faith.
2. The New Testament consists of 27 books.
a. The four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
b. The 21 Letters – 13 Pauline Epistles/8 other Epistles.
c. The Acts of the Apostles.
d. The Book of Revelation.
B. The order of the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament are not
in chronological order according to date of authorship.
C. The Catholic Bible includes 7 books – called the Deuterocanonicals that are
not found in the Hebrew or Protestant writings:
Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach and Tobit.
VII. Interpreting Scripture.
A. “The Word of God in the words of men.” The Bible is both divine and human. It
is the Word of God, but is also the work of human authors.
B. Biblical exegesis is the explanation or the critical interpretation of a
passage of scripture. Exegesis includes:
1. Historical Criticism –historical/cultural setting in which the author
2. Literary or Form Criticism – understanding the literary form chosen by
the author. This will reveal the intentions of the author (should the text
be understood in a literal and/or spiritual sense).
Origin stories – explanation of how something came to be.
Psalms – poem/song.
Folklore – old stories that teach cultural truths.
Parables – short story conveying a deep truth.
Oracle – words of wisdom.
Genealogies – history of a people.
Myth – a cultural symbolic story.
Apocalyptic literature – writings concerning the future reign of God.
3. Textual Criticism – interpretation of scripture in relation to the
languages it was written in (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic).
4. Redaction Criticism – focuses on the effects of editorial activity on the
original text.
5. Source Criticism - what are the origins of the writings.
C. There are two ways to read and study the Bible:
1. Fundamentalism – a literal interpretation of every word/book of the
2. Contextualism – understanding the Bible in terms of historical,
redaction, literary, source and textual criticism.
a. * One must read an individual passage or book in the context
of the entire Bible message.
b. * Objective Historical Perspective – to read scripture from an
understanding of the time and place of the author apart from
21st century cultural biases.
c. * Actualization – the ability to apply the religious truths of the
Bible to our contemporary lives.
D. The Church Magisterium (the teachings of the popes and bishops throughout
the history of the Church) is the official interpreter of Sacred Scripture.
VIII. When were most of the Books of the Bible Written?
A. The bulk of Old Testament literature was written from oral tradition during the
Babylonian Exile - 587B.C. - in order to protect the faith. Twenty years after the
war with Rome, the Jewish canon was established in 90A.D.
B. The New Testament was written from oral tradition between 51- 100A.D. The
Christian Canon was established after the year 387A.D.
Vocabulary - Unit One
Bible -
Salvation History -
Revelation -
Tradition -
Inspiration -
Inerrancy -
Canon Scripture -
Deuterocanonicals -
Fundamentalism -
Contextualism -
Objective Historical Perspective -
Actualization -
Magisterium -