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In all these questions we seek first if there be any authoritative teaching on the subject. In the present instance we find that in his universal proposition, all Scripture is inspired, St. Paul extends inspiration to all Scripture. The same persuasion is in Christ in his use of Scripture. He cites it as a thing of absolute authority: he bases the great proofs of his character and mission on the statement: It is written. The very fact that a thing is written in Holy Scripture was an absolute proof. The Apostles and other inspired writers did the same. The Fathers are unanimous in asserting that all Scripture is inspired. The councils of the Church have defined this by asserting that all the books with all their parts are inspired.

But now we must see in what sense all Scripture is inspired.

The question of the inspiration of obiter dicta is a celebrated one in Biblical Criticism. obiter dicta may be called those details of minor moment related in Holy Writ, which are inserted en passant, not seemingly comprised in the main scope and intention of the writer. The passage in Tobias 11:9 relating to the wagging of the tail of Tobias dog: blandimento suæ caudæ gaudebat, and the passage in St. Pauls letter to Timothy, 2 Tim. 4:13. relating to the cloak left at Troas: Penulam, quam reliqui Troade apud Carpum, veniens affer tecum, are usually quoted as examples of obiter dicta. Concerning these, two questions may be raised: 1. Are the Obiter Dicta inspired? 2. Is it of faith that these are inspired? Catholic theologians generally answer the first question in the affirmative. And, in truth, such must be defended, for the same danger would menace us as before mentioned, were we to reject the inspiration of these passages, namely, that of gradually widening the circle of these, and inducing uncertainty into the Scripture, by the freedom with which men might reject these details.

Card. Newman asserted that, in his opinion, these were not of faith. Patrizi, quoted by Lamy, and by him followed, does not dare condemn the opinion of those who deny that the Obiter Dicta are of faith. Schmid says: Credimus doctrinam quam proposuimus quoad illam specialem assertionem, quæ immunitatem ab errore, divinam auctoritatem, et inspirationem ipsam ad res indifferentes etiam minimas extendit, non esse de fide, et contrariam non esse haeresim. Nihilominus, persuasum nobis est doctrinam nostram omnino certam esse, nec contrariam ullo modo probabilem aut tolerabilem judicamus.

Newman, in the 19th Century for 1884, excludes from the fide divina credenda obiter dicta; such as, for instance, that Nabuchadnezzar was king of Niniveh, Judith 1:7; or that Paul left his cloak at Troas; or that Tobias dog wagged his tail. Tob. 11:9: And here I am led on to inquire whether obiter dicta are conceivable in an inspired document. We know that they are held to exist and even required in treating of the dogmatic utterances of Popes, but are they compatible with inspiration? The common opinion is that they are not. Professor Lamy thus writes about them, in the form of an objection: Many minute matters occur in the sacred writers which have regard only to human feebleness and the natural necessities of life, and by no means require inspiration, since they can otherwise be perfectly well known, and seem scarcely worthy of the Holy Spirit, as for instance, what is said of the dog of Tobias, St. Pauls penula, and the salutations at the end of the Epistles. Neither he nor Fr. Patrizi allow of these exceptions; but Fr. Patrizi, as Lamy quotes him, damnare non audet eos qui hæc tenerent, viz., exceptions, and he himself, by keeping silence, seems unable to condemn them either.

By obiter dicta in Scripture I also mean such statements as we find in the Book of Judith, that Nabuchodonosor was king of Nineveh. Now it is in favor of there being such unauthoritative obiter dicta, that unlike those which occur in dogmatic utterances of Pope and Councils, they are, in Scripture, not doctrinal, but mere unimportant statements of fact; whereas those of Popes and Councils may relate to faith and morals, and are said to be uttered obiter, because they are not contained within the scope of the formal definition, and imply no intention of binding the consciences of the faithful. There does not then seem any serious difficulty in admitting their existence in Scripture. Let it be observed, its miracles are doctrinal facts, and in no sense of the phrase can be considered obiter dicta.

The Fathers were concurrent in extending inspiration to everything contained in Holy Scripture. I believe, says St. Augustine, that no Sacred writer has been deceived in anything. (Epist. 72. ad Hieron.) St. J. Chrys., Hom. XV. in Gen., says that every word is to be pondered, as they are the words of the Holy Ghost (i. e. the sense of the words.) So, St. Jerome reproaches, for the same reason, those who do not receive the Epistle to Philemon. St. Thomas, Summa Theol. I. Q. 1. art. 10. ad. 3.: It is evident that there never can be falsehood contained in the literal sense, and Q. 32. art. 4: A thing pertains to faith in two ways. In one way, directly, as those things which are principally cosigned to us; as for instance, that God is triune. Things pertain indirectly to faith, from whose contrary would follow something pernicious to faith; as, for instance, if one were to say that Samuel were not the son of Helcana; for from this it would follow that the Scriptures were false.

The encyclical Providentissimus Deus in express terms condems the theory that exempts the obiter dicta from, inspiration: But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the Sacred Writer has erred. inspirationFor the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of those difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that Divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, 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 when saying it—this system cannot be tolerated. For all the Books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it 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 solemnly defined in the councils of Florence and of Trent, and finally confirmed and more expressly formulated by the Council of the Vatican. These are the words of the last: The Books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated by the decree of the same Council (Trent) and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as Sacred and Canonical. And the Church holds them as Sacred and Canonical, not because having been composed 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. [Sess. III. C. II. de Rev.] Hence, because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot, therefore, say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary Author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write—He was so present to them—that the things which He ordered, and those only, they first rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. Therefore, says St. Augustine, since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the Writer; for His members executed what their Head dictates. [De consensu Evangel. L. 1, C. 35.] And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: most superflous 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 for writing; He wrote it who inspired its execution. [Praef. in Job, n. 2.]

It follows that those 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 the author of such error.

The error of those who have excluded the obiter dicta from inspiration seems to be to regard these details in themselves, without considering their relations to the general text. Considered apart from the other portions of the book, they are unimportant: they could have been omitted without substantial loss to the book. They are not written for their own sake; they are a part of the setting of more important truth. The inspired writer under the influence of inspiration conceives his book in his human mind. It is written in a human manner of expression. These details are not irrelevant; they fit in naturally into the account. The motive moving us to extend inspiration to them is not their own importance; but the fact that if they be denied inspiration the integrity of the Holy Books is assailed. Who shall fix the limits of the obiter dicta? Hence they claim inspiration not on account of their own importance but because they are parts of an inspired book. Their claim to inspiration rests on the basic truth that there can not be error in any part of the Bible. The positive teaching of the Church condemns the opinion which asserts that some parts of the Bible are inspired and others are not. The obiter dicta can not be said to be so few as not to form a part as here contemplated. The greater part of the XVI. Chapter of Romans is made up of salutations which are set down as obiter dicta.

It seems therefore to follow from the definitions of the Church that inspiration must be extended to all the parts of Holy Scripture.

In answer to the second question, Is it of faith that the obiter dicta are inspired? we believe that a negative answer must be returned. Bellarmine, however, holds that it is of faith: It is heresy, to believe that in St. Pauls Epistles and in other sacred books not all things are written at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; but that some things proceeded solely from human reason and judgment. (De Verbo Dei, Lib. I.) Melchior Canus (De Locis Theol. Lib. 2, 16) calls the theory an impious error: How impious is the error to assert that in the canonical books the writers at times wrote as mere men without the divine and supernatural revelation (inspiration), I demonstrate first by the argument that in this opinion the authority of the Holy Scriptures is in great part shaken. He proceeds then to show how easy it were to widen the field of the obiter dicta; and then concludes: Let us therefore confess that everything whether great or small was written by the sacred writers under the dictation of the Holy Ghost.

But the Church has not defined the issue with sufficient clearness to warrant a theological censure of the opposite opinion.

In relation to the inspiration of dicta aliorum, no definite rule can be given. The character of the person, the circumstances in which such saying is uttered, the mode of quoting, and the nature of the proposition must be weighed. For instance, the sayings which the inspired writers make their own by their approbation are inspired. St. Peter was inspired, when he confessed the divinity of Christ, not when he denied Christ. The words of impious men sometimes are quoted, but in persona illorum, not intending them to be as truths. In regard to these, although no fixed rule can be laid down, still there is no difficulty in distinguishing the true from the false.

Sometimes the statements are formulated as the sayings of others, but are in reality the creations of the author himself. He sometimes expresses the ideas of impious men in order to condemn them. Thus in the book of Wisdom, speeches are placed in the mouths of Epicureans in order to illustrate and condemn these errors.

Again, the inspired writer may reproduce the words of good men and approve them, without thereby extending the prerogative of absolute infallibility to them. Thus in Acts St. Luke relates St. Stephens great discourse before the Sanhedrim. He declares also that Stephen was filled with the Holy Ghost in his discourse. And yet St. Luke does not become responsible for the lapse of memory whereby Stephen declares that Abraham bought the tomb for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor in Shechem (Acts 7:16). Genesis (33:18–19) states that Jacob bought this tomb, and the context warrants the statement of Genesis.

The divine inspiration of Luke aided him faithfully to report Stephens words. Stephen, though filled with the Holy Ghost, was not inspired as an inspired writer. The main truth of his words is not affected by the accidental error. St. Luke approves the substantial truth of Stephens words.

Again, it may happen that a writer may present his teaching in a species of drama. Care must be taken then to discern when the actors in the drama convey the ideas of the writer of the book. Thus in Job there are various speakers who discuss the great questions of human life and destiny. With consummate art the writer has so conceived the discourses that, though there is an error of fact in Jobs friends, inasmuch as they believe him guilty of grave sin, nevertheless they discourse rightly upon the great issues of human life.

If the inspired writer relates the words of others without either implicit or explicit approbation, the words thus related do not become a part of divinely inspired Scripture, but have only their own intrinsic authority. This principle will apply to the letters written to the Jews by the Spartans, and by the Romans, and according to some to the letters (2 Maccab. 1:15, seqq.; 9:1 seqq.) written by the Jews to their compatriots in Egypt. In a word therefore, the sayings of others related in Holy Scripture are inspired if they become the sense of the inspired writer.

Sometimes the writers express an indetermination of mind, or a state of doubt; or they express an estimate of certain things. St. Luke seems to have been uncertain whether it were eight or ten days that Festus tarried at Jerusalem (Acts 25:6); St. John describes the water pots as holding two or three firkins (John 2:6); the number fed by the multiplication of the loaves was not with mathematical precision known to St. Matthew; but it was a number which the correct judgment of men would estimate at five thousand. The truth of history demands nothing more for such a statement. The state of indetermination is not to be ascribed to the Holy Ghost. He uses human instruments to deliver all truth as required by the nature of the things written. It is an inspired fact that Festus tarried at Jerusalem a period of time of which an adequate idea was conveyed by declaring that it was eight or ten days; and so in all other cases. This principle is very useful in its application to such biblical facts as the size of armies, the number of the slain, etc. We must distinguish between these numbers as they came from the inspired writers and the present numbers of the text. Many accidental errors have crept into the present numbers.

It is clear also that opposed to the very nature of inspiration is the theory that the inspired writer may declare a thing which is false in the sense which the human writer intended to convey; but true in the sense that the Holy Ghost delivered thereby. Gods action as the principal cause of the writing excludes such a condition in the instrument; for an essential element of inspiration is the illumination of the mind of the inspired writer that he may rightly conceive what he is to write.

It would be the opposite extreme to hold that inspiration banished all ignorance and false persuasion from the mind of the inspired writer. As far as regards the things which they were not called to write as inspired agents God left them to their own resources; not, of course, excluding that illumining influence that grace works in all the saints. Thus for instance it is clearly proclaimed in revelation that the day of general judgment is hidden from all creatures. This all the inspired writers accepted as a fundamental truth. Yet from their own human reasoning some of them at least seem to have believed that such event was near at hand. This is not in any way prejudicial to inspiration. They do not proclaim that it is near at hand. Perhaps some of their arguments relating to human conduct in a certain sense imply that they believed that the consummation were not far off; but the arguments do not assert it, nor do they become false from the fact that ages have elapsed since they wrote. The uncertainty of that great day is a true incentive to a right order of life; and thus they used it.

A most important and most difficult question is to determine what influence the Holy Ghost has on the words of Holy Scripture. This question is usually treated of under the heading of Verbal inspiration. The term verbal in this connection is badly chosen; for it admits of such meanings that to the question, Are the Holy Scriptures verbally inspired? we may return an affirmative and negative answer, both true. Hence we have need to present the question in clearer terms.

The words of Holy Scripture may be divided into formal words and material words. The formal words are the mental conceptions of the writer, and corresponds to the ideas expressed in the books. In this sense all the words of Holy Scripture are the words of God; they are all inspired; and are free from error.

The external signs by which these ideas are expressed are conveniently called material words; and the question is now to be discussed: Are these inspired? Here again we must distinguish. All must admit a certain influence of the Holy Ghost on the words. The question therefore narrows itself down to this. In what sense are the material words of Holy Scripture inspired?

We can readily understand that the mental word conceived in the mind in one sense compels and determines the material word; and in another sense leaves it free. For example: the inspired writer under the influence of divine inspiration conceives the idea: The Son of God became man. The nature of human speech limits him to a certain range of words and expressions to convey that idea. But still within that range there is a latitude of freedom. If the writer knows more than one language he may choose one or the other. Thus Matthew had a choice between Hebrew and Greek for his Gospel. We do not deny that God may determine the tongue to be used, but such determination would not be of the essence of inspiration. Again, the writer may express the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity as the Son of God, or the Word of God, and the same freedom of choice is applicable to the predicate.

Let us take as another example the truth: Jesus Christ died for us. A man may express that truth in different material words, viz., The Son of God gave his life for us; The Redeemer suffered death for all mankind, etc.

Now the question to answer is, Did God in inspiration determine the Holy Writers to use one form of expression instead of another, when both were equally apt? Some of the early protestants answered this question in the affirmative. It was a part of that exaggerated sentimentalism which endeavored to set aside the Magisterium of the Church, and set up the Scriptures as the sole rule of faith. We have seen that this error died amid its worshippers. In Catholic thought there have been certain changes of thought and certain differences of opinion in those things in which the Church has not defined.

The Fathers at times, speaking oratorically, in their desire to demand for the Scriptures fitting reverence, speak in such terms that without due caution one might be led to believe that they held the theory of absolute inspiration of the material words. But a deeper insight into the consistent principles of the Fathers, and a comparative study of the system of their faith will persuade that what they demanded for the Holy Scriptures was reverence for every truth of Holy Scripture as it exists clothed in fitting words for us. Though we believe that the inspired writer had a certain liberty in choosing words and expressions, providing they be fitting, when he has made this choice and clothed an inspired idea in words, these words become sacred as signs of a divinely inspired idea, and they will merit the veneration which the Fathers paid them. Moreover, since the writers intellectual faculties are supernaturally enlightened by the action of inspiration, this illumination will influence the choice of words; the inspired writer will be aided by God to convey his inspired concepts in a manner that befits the infallible message of God; hence our purpose here is not to deny a certain verbal inspiration, but to prevent its exaggeration.

The Fathers used synonymously the two expressions, The Holy Scriptures are inspired by God, and, The Holy Scriptures are dictated by God. Their clear statements demonstrate that they did not use the term dictation to signify the mechanical theory of inspiration. All will consider Origen a capable witness of tradition, the greatest mind of his age. Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. VI. 25) transmits to us the following testimony of Origen on the Epistle to the Hebrews:

That the verbal style of the epistle entitled To the Hebrews, is not rude like the language of the apostle, who acknowledged himself rude in speech, [2 Cor. 11:6] that is, in expression; but that its diction is purer Greek, any one who has the power to discern differences of phraseology will acknowledge. Moreover, that the thoughts of the epistle are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged apostolic writings, any one who carefully examines the apostolic text will admit.

If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the diction and phraseology are those of some one who remembered the apostolic teachings, and wrote down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this. For not without reason have the ancients handed it down as Pauls. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. The statement of some who have gone before us is that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and of others that Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts, wrote it.

We may logically argue that if Origen considered it not inconsistent with inspiration that another should write down the inspired writers thoughts at his leisure as he remembered them, he was far from holding the absolute inspiration of the material words. At times we find that under the prepossession of his excessive mysticism, Origen extended inspiration to the very material letters of Holy Writ, (Hom. in Ps. 1:4) but he tempered this extreme view by statements such as we have adduced.

St. Ambrose in many things followed the excessive mysticism of Origen. Touching our present theme he says: Though sometimes, according to the letter, the Evangelists seem at variance, the truths they utter are not discordant, for the mystery is the same. (On Luke 10:171) Again he says (On Luke 8:63): In the Holy Scriptures it is not the order of words but the substance of the things which we should consider.

St. John Chrysostom is sometimes cited as an advocate of inspiration of the material words of Holy Scripture. In his Homily on Genesis, II. 2, he writes thus: Ye have heard just now the Scripture declaring: But for Adam there was not found a help meet for him. What is the meaning of the brief clause: But for Adam? Why does (the Scripture) place there the conjunction (δέ)? Did it not suffice to say: For Adam? It is not from vain curiosity that we discuss these things, but that by interpreting all things we may teach you not to pass over any brief saying, or even syllable of Holy Scripture. For they are not mere words, but the words of the Holy Ghost, and therefore a great value may be found in one syllable. Again in the same work, XXI. 1, he continues: In the Holy Scriptures there is nothing written which has not a great wealth of meaning; for since the prophets spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, therefore the writings proceeding from the Holy Ghost contain in themselves a great treasure. There is not a syllable or tittle in Holy Scripture in whose depths there is not a great treasure. In his Homily on Salute Priscilla and Aquila, Chrysostom declares the purpose of his homily to be that ye may know that in the Holy Scriptures there is nothing superfluous, even though it be an iota or a tittle. And even a simple salutation opens up to us a vast sea of meaning. And why do I say, a simple salutation? often even the addition of one letter adds the value of sentences. This may be seen in the name of Abraham. A man who receives a letter from a friend, not only reads the body of the letter, but also the salutation at the end, and concludes from it the writers affection; and since Paul, or rather not Paul, but the grace of the Holy Ghost, dictates a letter to a whole city, and a numerous people and through them to the whole world, is it not most unbecoming to judge that any thing therein is superfluous and pass it by, not realizing that thus everything is perverted?

This is a strong patristic argument for the inspiration of the obiter dicta, but it does not maintain the absolute inspiration of the material words. In the first place if we press the testimony too much it becomes absurd, and we are unwilling to believe that the mighty mind of Chrysostom should have so betrayed him. He well knew that the material words of the Old Testament were not the material words of the inspired writer, but the words of an interpreter, and as Ambrose rightly says: We must always seek the sense, which the frequent translations from Hebrew into Greek, and from Greek into Latin attenuates. (On Ps. 37:49).

Chrysostom himself admits the same principle: We have not the Old Testament writ in our mother tongue: it was composed in one tongue; we read it in another. It was first written in Hebrew; we have received it in Greek. By its translation into another tongue it becomes difficult. All who are versed in many tongues know that it is impossible with equal clearness to translate everything from its own language into another. This is a cause of difficulty in the Old Testament. (On The Obscurity of Proph. II. 2.) Therefore the letters and tittles of the Greek text could not have been considered by Chrysostom as dictated by the Holy Ghost. St. Chrysostoms meaning is therefore that the deep sense of Holy Scripture is to be sought in every word of Holy Scripture. Acting within that range of liberty that we have explained the writers chose certain words and expressions as the sensible signs to convey their inspired ideas. Therefore the ideas which might have been expressed in other ideas, de facto lie in these words. We may therefore call these words inspired; for by them as sensible signs the conceptions of inspired minds are delivered to us. The words therefore merit all reverence, and we can not come at the deep sense of Holy Scripture without weighing every word. The conjunction in Genesis specified by Chrysostom has a value, for it makes more forcible the contrast between the completeness of the other orders of creation, and the incompleteness of the human race as existing in Adam. We must also know that Chrysostom spoke oratorically, and used the arts of oratory. In other works he distinguishes between the inspired sense and the material word. In his work Contra Judæos II. XLVIII. he says: When thou hearest Paul crying out and saying: behold, I Paul say to you, if you be circumcised, Christ profits you nothing, the voice, φωνή, only recognize to be that of Paul, but the sense and the dogma recognize to be of Christ by whom he was interiorly taught.

St. Jerome is most reverent to the syllables, tittles, points, etc. of Holy Scripture, since they are of divine origin and full of meaning, (On Eph. V. 6). Again he declares: For I myself not only admit but freely proclaim that in translating from the Greek, except in the case of Holy Scriptures, where even the order of the words is a mystery, I render sense for sense, and not word for word. (Epist. LVII. 4.)

A superficial observation of such passages might move one to believe that Jerome asserted the mechanical theory of verbal inspiration; but deeper study of his works demonstrates that he allowed to the human writers the same range of liberty in the use of words and expressions for which we are pleading. In his commentary on the well known hyperbaton of Ephesians, 3:1, Jerome declares: I believe that the expression here is defective. Jerome could not attribute a defective expression to the Holy Ghost. Again St. Jerome in his CXX. Epistle, 11, has this testimony: Though he (Paul) had knowledge of all the Scriptures, and knew many tongues, he was unable to render the august sense of the Holy Scriptures fittingly in Greek. He had therefore Titus as an interpreter, as Peter had Mark, whose Gospel was composed by Peters dictation and Marks writing. Moreover the two epistles which are called Peters differ in style, character, and composition of words. From which we know that by the necessity of the case, Peter used different amanuenses. Jerome will not be said to have held that God inspired thoughts to Paul and Peter, and words to different interpreters who wrote their thoughts.

Jerome traces a mans origin and education in his inspired writings: We must know that Isaiah is eloquent in speech, being a man of noble birth and of cultured eloquence, and free from everything uncouth. (Prof. on Is.) Jeremiah the prophet is held by the Hebrew to be ruder in speech than Isaiah and Hosea and other prophets, but he equals them in sense, for he prophesied in the same spirit. The plainness of his language comes from the place of his birth. He was of Anathoth, a village to this day, three miles distant from Jerusalem. (Prol. On Jer.) Amos the prophet was of the shepherds, unskilled in speech, but not in knowledge; for the same Spirit who spoke by all the prophets spoke by him. (Prol. On Amos.) This is a clear argument that the Holy Ghost delivered the sense of the Holy Scriptures through men, leaving to them to employ words and expressions in conformity with their education.

A strong argument against the theory of the inspiration of the material words is the fact that the inspired writers of the New Testament, when quoting from the Old Testament do not quote the exact words, but only the sense. Now if the material words were inspired by the Holy Ghost, they would have taken care to reproduce them. Jerome develops this argument at great length: In Matthew [27:9, 10.] when the thirty pieces of silver are returned by the traitor Judas, and the potters field is purchased with them, it is written:—Then was fulfilled that which was spoken of by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, and they took the thirty pieces of silver the price of him that was valued which they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potters field, as the Lord appointed me. This passage is not found in Jeremiah at all but in Zechariah, in quite different words and an altogether different order. In fact the Vulgate renders it as follows:—And I will say unto them, If it is good in your sight, give ye me a price or refuse it. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Put them into the melting furnace and consider if it is tried as I have been tried by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them into the house of the Lord. [Zech. 11:12, 13, Vulg.] It is evident that the rendering of the Septuagint differs widely from the quotation of the evangelist. In the Hebrew also, though the sense is the same, the words are quite different and differently arranged. It says: And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and, if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter; [statuarius.] a goodly price that I was priced at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. [Zech. 11:12, 13.]

They may accuse the apostle of falsifying his version seeing that it agrees neither with the Hebrew nor with the translators of the Septuagint: and worse than this, they may say that he has mistaken the authors name putting down Jeremiah when it should be Zechariah. Far be it from us to speak thus of a follower [pedissequus.] of Christ, who made it his care to formulate dogmas rather than to hunt for words and syllables. To take another instance from Zechariah, the evangelist John quotes from the Hebrew, They shall look on him whom they pierced, [Joh. 19:37: Zech. 12:10] for which we read in the Septuagint And they shall look upon me because they have mocked me, and in the Latin version, And they shall look upon me for the things which they have mocked or insulted. Here the evangelist, the Septuagint, and our own version [i. e. the Italic, for the Vulgate, which was not then published; accurately represents the Hebrew.] all differ; yet the divergence of language is atoned by oneness of spirit. In Matthew again we read of the Lord preaching flight to the apostles and confirming His counsel with a passage from Zechariah. It is written, he says, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. [Matt. 26:31; Zech. 13:7.] But in the Septuagint and in the Hebrew it reads differently, for it is not God who speaks, as the evangelist makes out, but the prophet who appeals to God the Father saying:—Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. In this instance according to my judgment—and I have some careful critics with me—the evangelist is guilty of a fault in presuming to ascribe to God what are the words of the prophet. Again the same evangelist writes that at the warning of an angel Joseph took the young child and his mother and went into Egypt and remained there till the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. [Matt. 2:13–15.] The Latin manuscripts do not so give the passage, but in Hosea [Hos. 11:1.] the true Hebrew text has the following:—When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. Which the Septuagint renders thus:—When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called his sons out of Egypt. Are they [i. e., the Septuagint and Vulgate versions] altogether to be rejected because they have given another turn to a passage which refers primarily to the mystery of Christ?… Once more it is written in the pages of the same evangelist, And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. [Matt. 2:23.] Let those word fanciers and nice critics of all composition tell us where they have read the words; and if they cannot, let me tell them that they are in Isaiah. [Isa. 11:1.] For in the place where we read and translate, There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots, [So AV.; the Vulg. varies slightly.] in the Hebrew idiom it is written thus, There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a Nazarene shall grow from his root. How can the Septuagint leave out the word Nazarene, if it is unlawful to substitute one word for another? It is sacrilege either to conceal or to set at naught a mystery.

Let us pass on to other passages, for the brief limits of a letter do not suffer us to dwell too long on any one point. The same Matthew says:—Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel. [Matt. 1:22, 23; Isa. 7:14.] The rendering of the Septuagint is, Behold a virgin shall receive seed and shall bring forth a son, and ye shall call his name Emmanuel. If people cavil at words, obviously to receive seed is not the exact equivalent of to be with child, and ye shall call differs from they shall call. Moreover in the Hebrew we read thus, Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. [AV.] Ahaz shall not call him so, for he was convicted of want of faith, nor the Jews, for they were destined to deny him, but she who is to conceive him, and bear him, the virgin herself. In the same evangelist we read that Herod was troubled at the coming of the Magi, and that gathering together the scribes and the priests he demanded of them where Christ should be born, and that they answered him, In Bethlehem of Judah: for thus it is written by the prophet; and thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah art not the least among the princes of Judah, for out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel. [Matt. 2:5., 6.] In the Vulgate [i. e. the Versio Itala which was vulgata or commonly used at this time, as Jeromes Version was afterwards] this passage appears as follows:—And thou Bethlehem, the house of Ephratah, art small to be among the thousands of Judah, yet one shall come out of thee for me to be a prince in Israel. You will be more surprised still at the difference in words and order between Matthew and the Septuagint if you look at the Hebrew which runs thus:—But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel. [Mic. 5:2.] Consider one by one the words of the evangelist:—And thou Bethlehem in the land of Judah. For the land of Judah the Hebrew has Ephratah while the Septuagint gives the house of Ephratah. The evangelist writes, art not the least among the princes of Judah. In the Septuagint this is, art small to be among the thousands of Judah, while the Hebrew gives, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah. There is a contradiction here—and that not merely verbal—between the evangelist and the prophet; for in this place at any rate both Septuagint and Hebrew agree. The evangelist says that he is not little among the princes of Judah, while the passage from which he quotes says exactly the opposite of this, Thou are small indeed and little; but yet out of thee, small and little as thou art, there shall come forth for me a leader in Israel, a sentiment in harmony with that of the apostle, God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty. [1 Cor. 1:27.] Moreover the last clause to rule or to feed my people Israel clearly runs differently in the original.

I refer to these passages, not to convict the evangelists of falsification—a charge worthy only of impious men like Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian—but to bring home to my critics their own want of knowledge, and to gain from them such consideration that they may concede to me in the case of a simple letter what, whether they like it or not, they will have to concede to the Apostles in the Holy Scriptures. Mark, the disciple of Peter, begins his gospel thus:—The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah: Behold I send my messenger before thy face who shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [Mark 1:1–3.] This quotation is made up from two prophets, Malachi, that is to say, and Isaiah. For the first part: Behold I send my messenger before thy face who shall prepare thy way before thee, occurs at the close of Malachi. [Mal. 3:1] But the second part: The voice of one crying, etc., we read in Isaiah. [Isa. 40:3.] On what grounds then has Mark in the very beginning of his book set the words: As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold I send my messenger, when, as we have said, it is not written in Isaiah at all, but in Malachi the last of the twelve prophets? Let ignorant presumption solve this nice question if it can, and I will ask pardon for being in the wrong. The same Mark brings before us the Saviour thus addressing the Pharisees: Have ye never read what David did when he had need and was hungry, he and they that were with him, how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the highpriest, and did eat the shewbread which is not lawful to eat but for the priests? [Mark 2:25, 26.] Now let us turn to the books of Samuel, or, as they are commonly called, of Kings, and we shall find there that the highpriests name was not Abiathar but Ahimelech, [1 Sam. 21:1.] the same that was afterwards put to death with the rest of the priests by Doeg at the command of Saul. [1 Sam. 22:16–18.] Let us pass on now to the apostle Paul who writes thus to the Corinthians: For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. [1 Cor. 2:8, 9.] Some writers on this passage betake themselves to the ravings of the apocryphal books, and assert that the quotation comes from the Revelation of Eliah; [This book is no longer extant. It belonged to the same class as the Book of Enoch.] whereas the truth is that it is found in Isaiah according to the Hebrew text: Since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee what thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee. [Isa. 64:4, LXX. AV. has what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.] The Septuagint has rendered the words quite differently: Since the beginning of the world we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen any God beside thee and thy true works, and thou wilt shew mercy to them that wait for thee. We see then from what place the quotation is taken and yet the apostle has not rendered his original word for word, but, using a paraphrase, he has given the sense in different terms. In his epistle to the Romans the same apostle quotes these words from Isaiah: Behold I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence, [Rom. 9:33.] a rendering which is at variance with the Greek version [Lit. with the old version.] yet agrees with the original Hebrew. The Septuagint gives an opposite meaning, that you fall not on a stumblingstone nor on a rock of offence. The apostle Peter agrees with Paul and the Hebrew, writing: but to them that do not believe, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence. [1 Pet. 2:8; AV. is different.] From all these passages it is clear that the apostles and evangelists in translating the old testament scriptures have sought to give the meaning rather than the words, and that they have not greatly cared to preserve forms or constructions, so long as thy could make clear the subject to the understanding.

Luke the evangelist and companion of apostles describes Christs first martyr Stephen as relating what follows in a Jewish assembly. With threescore and fifteen souls Jacob went down into Egypt, and died himself, and our fathers were carried over [So the Vulg.: AV. punctuates differently.] into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor [i. e. Hamor] the father of Sychem. [Acts 7:15, 16.] In Genesis this passage is quite differently given, for it is Abraham that buys of Ephron the Hittite, the son of Zohar, near Hebron, for four hundred shekels [Drachmæ.] of silver, a double cave, [Spelunca duplex.] and the field that is about it, and that buries in it Sarah his wife. And in the same book we read that, after his return from Mesopotamia with his wives and his sons, Jacob pitched his tent before Salem a city of Shechem which is in the land of Canaan, and that he dwelt there and bought a parcel of a field where he had spread his tent at the hand of Hamor, the father of Sychem, for an hundred lambs [AV. marg.], and that he erected there an altar and called there upon the God of Israel. [Gen. 33:18–20; AV. varies slightly.] Abraham does not buy the cave from Hamor the father of Sychem, but from Ephron the son of Zohar, and he is not buried in Sychem but in Hebron which is corruptly called Arboch. Whereas the twelve patriarchs are not buried in Arboch but in Sychem in the field purchased not by Abraham but by Jacob. I postpone the solution of this delicate problem to enable those who cavil at me to search and see that in dealing with the scriptures it is the sense we have to look to and not the words.

None of the Fathers treated the question of verbal inspiration with the clearness and depth of Augustine. He distinguishes between sense and material word, and declares that in employing the material word, the writers use that liberty that we here demand for them. A good specimen of St. Augustines principles concerning this question is found in his Harmony of the Evangelists, Bk. II., 27–29:

If now the question is asked, as to which of the words we are to suppose the most likely to have been the precise words used by John the Baptist, whether those recorded as spoken by him in Matthews Gospel, or those in Lukes, or those which Mark has introduced, among the few sentences which he mentions to have been uttered by him, while he omits notice of all the rest, it will not be deemed worth while creating any difficulty for oneself in a matter of that kind, by any one who wisely understands that the real requisite in order to get at the knowledge of the truth is just to make sure of the things really meant, whatever may be the precise words in which they happen to be expressed. For although one writer may retain a certain order in the words, and another present a different one, there is surely no real contradiction in that. Nor, again, need there be any antagonism between the two, although one may state what another omits. For it is evident that the evangelists have set forth these matters just in accordance with the recollection each retained of them, and just according as their several predilections prompted them to employ greater brevity or richer detail on certain points, while giving, nevertheless, the same account of the subjects themselves.

Thus, too, in what more pertinently concerns the matter in hand, it is sufficiently obvious that, since the truth of the Gospel, conveyed in that word of God which abides eternal and unchangeable above all that is created, but which at the same time has been disseminated throughout the world by the instrumentality of temporal symbols, and by the tongues of men, has possessed itself of the most exalted height of authority, we ought not to suppose that any one of the writers is giving an unreliable account, if, when several persons are recalling some matter either heard or seen by them, they fail to follow the very same plan, or to use the very same words, while describing, nevertheless, the self-same fact. Neither should we indulge such a supposition, although the order of the words may be varied; or although some words may be substituted in place of others, which nevertheless have the same meaning; or although something may be left unsaid, either because it has not occurred to the mind of the recorder, or because it becomes readily intelligible from other statements which are given; or although, among other matters which (may not bear directly on his immediate purpose, but which) he decides on mentioning rather for the sake of the narrative, and in order to preserve the proper order of time, one of them may introduce something which he does not feel called upon to expound as a whole at length, but only to touch upon in part; or although, with the view of illustrating his meaning, and making it thoroughly clear, the person to whom authority is given to compose the narrative makes some additions of his own, not indeed in the subject-matter itself, but in the words by which it is expressed; or although, while retaining a perfectly reliable comprehension of the fact itself, he may not be entirely successful, however he may make that his aim, in calling to mind and reciting anew with the most literal accuracy the very words which he heard on the occasion. Moreover, if any one affirms that the evangelists ought certainly to have had that kind of capacity imparted to them by the power of the Holy Spirit, which would secure them against all variation the one from the other, either in the kind of words, or in their order, or in their number, that person fails to perceive, that just in proportion as the authority of the evangelists [under their existing conditions] is made pre-eminent, the credit of all other men who offer true statements of events ought to have been established on a stronger basis by their instrumentality: so that when several parties happen to narrate the same circumstance, none of them can by any means be rightly charged with untruthfulness if he differs from the other only in such a way as can be defended on the ground of the antecedent example of the evangelists themselves. For as we are not at liberty either to suppose or to say that any one of the evangelists has stated what is false, so it will be apparent that any other writer is as little chargeable with untruth, with whom, in the process of recalling anything for narration, it has fared only in a way similar to that in which it is shown to have fared with those evangelists. And thus as it belongs to the highest morality to guard against all that is false, so ought we all the more to be ruled by an authority so eminent, to the effect that we should not suppose ourselves to come upon what must be false, when we find the narratives of any writers differ from each other in the manner in which the records of the evangelists are proved to contain variations. At the same time, in what most seriously concerns the faithfulness of doctrinal teaching, we should also understand that it is not so much truth in mere words as rather truth in the facts themselves, that is to be sought and embraced; for as to writers who do not employ precisely the same modes of statement, if they only do not present discrepancies with respect to the facts and the sentiments themselves, we accept them as holding the same position in veracity.

With respect, then, to those comparisons which I have instituted between the several narratives of the evangelists, what do these present that must be considered to be of a contradictory order? Are we to regard in this light the circumstance that one of them has given us the words, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, whereas the others speak of the unloosing of the latchet of the shoe? For here, indeed, the difference seems to be neither in the mere words, nor in the order of the words, nor in any matter of simple phraseology, but in the actual matter of fact, when in one case the bearing of the shoe is mentioned and in the other the unloosing of the shoes latchet. Quite fairly, therefore, may the question be put, as to what it was that John declared himself unworthy to do—whether to bear the shoes, or to unloose the shoes latchet. For if only the one of these two sentences was uttered by him, then that evangelist will appear to have given the correct narrative who was in a position to record what was said; while the writer who has given the saying in another form, although he may not indeed have offered an [intentionally] false account of it, may at any rate be taken to have made a slip of memory, and will be reckoned thus to have stated one thing instead of another. It is only seemly, however, that no charge of absolute unveracity should be laid against the evangelists, and that, too, not only with regard to that kind of unveracity which comes by the positive telling of what is false, but also with regard to that which arises through forgetfulness. Therefore, if it is pertinent to the matter to deduce one sense from the words to bear the shoes, and another sense from the words to unloose the shoes latchet, what should one suppose the correct interpretation to be put on the facts, but that John did give utterance to both these sentences, either on two different occasions or in one and the same connection? For he might very well have expressed himself thus, whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose, and whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: and then one of the evangelists may have reproduced the one portion of the saying, and the rest of them the other; while, notwithstanding this, all of them have really given a veracious narrative. But further, if, when he spoke of the shoes of the Lord, John meant nothing more than to convey the idea of His supremacy and his own lowliness, then, whichever of the two sayings may have actually been uttered by him, whether that regarding the unloosing of the latchet of the shoes, or that respecting the bearing of the shoes, the self-same sense is still correctly preserved by any writer who, while making mention of the shoes in words of his own, has expressed at the same time the same idea of lowliness, and thus has not made any departure from the real mind [of the person of whom he writes]. It is therefore a useful principle, and one particularly worthy of being borne in mind, when we are speaking of the concord of the evangelists, that there is no divergence [to be supposed] from truth, even when they introduce some saying different from what was actually uttered by the person concerning whom the narrative is given, provided that, notwithstanding this, they set forth as his mind precisely what is also so conveyed by that one among them who reproduces the words as they were literally spoken. For thus we learn the salutary lesson, that our aim should be nothing else than to ascertain what is the mind and intention of the person who speaks.

In view of this clear testimony, it is strange that Père Lagrange hesitates not to say: That we maintain, with the Fathers, that inspiration extends itself to everything, even to the words, is precisely to the end to establish that the term inspiration is not synonymous with the dictation (Revue Biblique, 1904, p. 293). While such reckless disregard of historical facts and such party spirit prevail in those who demand a more liberal exegesis, there is no hope of effecting a harmony among Catholic scholars. Far more truthful is the doctrine which Venerable Bede drew from the Fathers, that the prophets secretly were taught the mysteries by clear mental visions, that they might make these things known to their hearers by whatever words they pleased. (On 2 Peter 1.)

Most of the older scholastic writers did not expressly treat the question of verbal inspiration. St. Thomas leaves men in doubt as to his view. However, in his prologue to Hebrews, he declares that in this epistle Paul is more elegant in style, because although he knew all tongues (1 Cor. 14:18) nevertheless, he knew better the Hebrew as his mother tongue in which he wrote this epistle. And therefore he could speak more eloquently in that tongue than in another.… Luke, a most excellent interpreter, transferred that eloquence from Hebrew into Greek. This certainly admits the human element in the words of Scripture for which we are contending.

Henry of Ghent, a disciple of Albertus Magnus, asserted verbal inspiration, but no other writer of authority is found of that opinion among the older scholastics.

After the Council of Trent opinion was divided on the question. Towards the end of the XVIII. Century, the opinion denying verbal inspiration in the material sense became the common opinion. Marchini (†1773) expresses the common opinion of his day as follows: The divine afflatus and inspiration can have place even though God by special action furnishes neither words nor sentences. Truly if the Holy Ghost is present to the writer whom he has moved to write; if, in case memory should fail the writer, (the Holy Ghost) opportunely suggests what he wishes written; if he enlightens the mind with a light that dispels all ignorance and lack of judgment; if he strengthens the mind with such power that all things are written faithfully, plainly and consistently; if he brings to the mind hidden, sublime, and unknown things; if he leaves no part of Scripture devoid of his care, verily the books will be written by the inspiration of God, although the speech, and the expressions proceed for the most part from the genius, memory, study, meditation, and diligence of man. (De Div. et Can. Sac. Lib.)

The sense and the words are the effect of a man writing under the influence of divine inspiration, and in that sense the words are influenced by divine inspiration; but this influence leaves to the writer more of the human element in the words than in the sense; for the sense is the direct object of Gods action: the words are intended only as a means of conveying the sense. God as the principal author can not be indifferent as to the sense of any part of Holy Scripture, for the sense of every part is attributable to Him. He may and does permit a liberty of choice of words to convey this sense, provided they be an apt medium to express his mind. God inspired writers in order that they should write determinate truths, not determinate words; he inspired them to write his message in fitting words which their faculties furnished.

There are times when the Holy Ghost determines the material words, but this pertains not to the essence of inspiration, and more rarely is verified. Again when God gives command to speak the words of God, or to write the words of God it is evident that the meaning is to deliver to men the formal words of God, not the material words.

A legitimate argument against the inspiration of the material words of Scripture may be drawn from the following consideration. In Gods plan entities are not to be multiplied without necessity. God employs the ordinary course of created agents where their causality is adequate to attain the end. Now there is no reason why God should have exercised a special action in determining words and expressions for the inspired writers. That God could have thus acted on the inspired writers, all admit. It may be that he did determine the very material words in some instances; but the evidence is against admitting that such determination pertains to the essence of inspiration. Many of the arguments against verbal inspiration have already been adduced. An additional argument may be drawn from the manner in which the inspired writers record facts.

In the Scriptures, sometimes the same fact is related by different writers in different ways. For instance, the consecration of the chalice is related in four different ways by St. Matt., 26:28; St. Mark, 14:24; St. Luke, 22:20, and St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:25. These speak of the same words of Christ, as He used them once for all at the Last Supper. If the Holy Ghost had inspired the words, how could we account for these divergencies? Here applies aptly what St. Augustine said of the inspired writers: Ut quisque meminerat eos explicasse manifestum est.

We may add that certainly the determination of the material words can not enter into the essence of the message of God, for such message was destined for the whole world, which it did not reach, and could not reach in the original words in which it was first delivered.

It may be said that the same argument evinces the same latitude for the things of Scripture that pertain not to faith and morals. In the versions accidental errors have crept into these in more or less degree; therefore, why demand a more absolute standard of inerrancy in the original? To answer this difficulty we must know that the conditions of the sense of Holy Scripture differ from the conditions of the words. It is defined by the Church that God is the Author of the entire Scriptures with all their parts, for the reason that they were written by men inspired by the Holy Ghost. This definition extends inspiration to every enunciation of Holy Scripture, and the definition goes farther, and declares that the whole Scriptures thus inspired contain no error. Now if we exempt certain passages of Holy Writ from this infallible inspiration, we sever the vital unity of the Scriptures, we practise vivisection in the strict sense. A proposition may be enunciated in different words, and still preserve its identity of sense; but a sentence can not be true and false at the same time. When we say that inspired writers wrote the message of God with infallible truth, but with words which they themselves determined within the range of fitting words, we leave to God his rightful character as Inspirer and Author of the Scriptures; but when we say that the inspired writers wrote partly true things and partly false, we can not make God the Author of such a medley of truth and falsehood. The divine action of inspiration enlightens the mind of the writer to conceive ideas of the truths he is to deliver. These concepts must be true. Truth is one. But without detriment to their truth these concepts may in general be expressed by different words. They demand apt words, but not determinate forms of expression; and here we place the liberty of the inspired writer. When Abraham goes down with his wife Sarah into Egypt, and she is taken from him into the house of Pharaoh, there is but one concept that corresponds to it. It may be expressed in different words, but the event has an individual unity, and there can be but one true idea of it. Therefore when the writer records that event, he must reproduce that determinate fact. Therefore when we find such historical statements in the Bible we must conclude that they are historically true. They cannot be allegories, or parables: all the characteristics of allegory and parable are absent. They form a part of a real history; their context shows that the writers meant them as real history. If we characterize them as myth and folk-lore, we impeach the veracity of the word of God.

The reasonableness of the doctrine just enunciated can be seen from a commonplace example. A professor delivers his lecture to his hearers, and they commit the sense of his discourse to writing, each in a different manner. Provided they relate faithfully the sense of what he says they may all be said to have his lecture; though the words differ, the sense remains the same, and the sense is the proper result of inspiration.

In the latter part of the last century a new theory was proposed regarding verbal inspiration. The advocates of the new theory refuse to admit that Gods inspiring act affected the ideas differently from the words. They extend the act of inspiration to the sense and the words. They depart from the cruder mechanical theory of verbal inspiration, and raise the question more into the psychological order. But among the advocates of this new view of verbal inspiration there is not a consensus. Some of them in substance are in accord with the views which we here defend. It is in many cases merely a question of terms. We admit an influence of God on the words; and the words of Scripture are inspired words, because they are the signs of inspired ideas. We do not say that God is the Author of the ideas, and man is the author of the words; because the inspired writer was under the influence of inspiration when he wrote the words, and the action of God upon his faculties is reflected in the words he employed; but we believe that Gods action left to man to use his faculites in expressing the conceptions of his mind, even while he remained under the influence of inspiration. Hence, as Jerome says, Paul may have used a defective expression in Ephesians, though the expression can at no time be so defective as not to convey Gods meaning.…

Lagrange, though an advocate of verbal inspiration, is obliged to admit that the action of God does not affect the words in the same manner as the sense: Without doubt between the thought and the word there exists an intrinsic difference; therefore inspiration does not affect them in the same manner. The thought should be true, the word should be apt; therefore under the influence of the divine light the judgment will be true, the terms and other accessories will be fittingly chosen. If this is what certain modern writers mean in distinguishing between inspiration for the thoughts and assistance for the words we are substantially in accord with them. (Revue Biblique, 1896, p. 215.)

It would seem at first sight that there were no substantial difference of opinion between the advocates of the new exegesis and us on the subject of inspiration, but in reality one of the fundamental tenets of their system lies here. While they grant to the inspired author the same liberty that we grant him, they insist that his material words be still termed inspired. They do this for the purpose of demanding the same liberty of the human element in the thoughts themselves. Thus Lagrange proposes the system: It would be unreasonable to say that God in the same manner wills the thoughts and the words, that he attaches the same importance to the words as to the thoughts, or inspires both in the same manner. We do not wish to be narrower than Franzelin, but broader. He abandoned the theory that the words were the (material) words of God, because he found it difficult to find in them the perfection of things immediately revealed. We demand the same liberty for the thoughts, and it is scarcely exact to call them (the thoughts) sensa Dei, an expression which easily might become exclusive (Revue Biblique, 1904, p. 294). The argument here is most illogical and inconsistent. If, by his own admission, the thoughts are more important than the words; if inspiration affects them differently, how can he demand the same liberty for the thoughts as Franzelin demands for the words?

In his work, (Die Schriftinspiration, 1891), Dr. Dausch declared: To separate inspired elements from non-inspired elements of Holy Writ is like the distinction between verbal inspiration and sense inspiration, more or less a vivisection of the living efficacy of the Spirit. This phrase has been adopted by many to support the theory of verbal inspiration. Without doubt to remove the influence of God entirely from the actual words of Holy Scripture might be called vivisection; but that term can not apply to the theory which we have defended. We believe therefore that inspired thoughts influence the words by which, with Gods assistance, they are expressed; we believe that the supernatural enlightenment of the mind favorably reacts upon the power of expression; we believe that God assisted the writers so that infallible truth was competently expressed; but we believe at the same time that the writers exercised a certain liberty in the choice of words and expressions; that they reveal their genius and education in these; that certain literary defects are found in the words; and that certain things might have been better expressed. We believe also that the action of God is directed, as to its more immediate object, to the sense of Holy Scripture; and consequently the human element is greater in the words than in the thoughts.

The authoritative teaching of the Catholic Church proclaims the Scriptures to be Gods infallible word, and consequently free from error. It is clear that it is the mind of the Church to make the inerrancy of the Scriptures the effect of its inspired character, to derive it from Gods authorship. If a man denies the infallibility of Holy Scripture in things of faith and morals he is a heretic: if he limits the inerrancy of Holy Scripture to things of faith and morals only he is not far from being a heretic. Of course this applies to the Scriptures as they came from the inspired writers; and to the versions in the measure that they are authentic. The definition of the Council of Trent guarantees that the Vulgate is authentic in things of faith and morals.

While all Scripture is true, all Scripture is not true in the same way. The sense that the Scriptures affirm is always true. The parable and allegory are not true as history, because they are not written as history. They are true as moral illustrations, because their sense is a moral illustration. That which is written as parable is true as parable; that which is written as poetry is true as poetry; that which is written as allegory is true as allegory; that which is written as history is true as history; and that which is written as doctrinal or moral teaching is a true law of belief and conduct. For this cause the historical method of Lagrange is rejected, because it makes a congeries of folk-lore, legends, and myths that which is written as history.

There may be times when it is difficult to discern that which is strictly historical from that which is fictitious history. Such difficulty will never obscure the way of belief or conduct. Some believe that Tobias or Judith or Ruth is a fictitious history. The Church has not defined the question. To deal with it, one must examine the evidence, and see whether the object of the writer be to write real or fictitious history. The object of the writer is always to write the truth; his fictitious history is not less true than his real history: it is true in the sense proper to its nature as a genus of literature which the Holy Scripture can use. It inculcates principles of truth and duty by concrete examples. While conservative opinion holds that Job is a historical personage, the great drama of the Book of Job is largely a creation of the poets inspired mind to illustrate infallibly true principles. Hence in judging of an inspired book, we must have regard to its character to determine in what sense it is true. Prophecy has its peculiar character, its visions and its symbols; poetry has its poetic flights of imagination; parable and allegory make fictitious entities act and speak their message; while real history declares its message by relating facts. There is no place in Scripture for folk-lore or myth, for these relate the legends of a people as real history.

We must realize also that inspiration is only a partial participation of the divine light. God does not speak to us in the Scriptures more divino, but in a human manner. He condescends to us as we condescend to address a child. The books therefore of Holy Scripture contain the evidences of imperfection due to their human origin; but Gods inspiration moves the writers to write nothing but the truth. The writers were not critical historians; but the Spirit of God supplied where human knowledge failed.

Another important hermeneutical principle is that the sense of an inspired writer may have a wider range than he comprehends. That which he means to utter is the sense of God, but that very sense may be greater than he comprehends. This principle was clearly admitted by the Fathers: Perhaps not even St. John spoke (of the Word) as it is, but as he, being a man, was able; because he, a man, spoke of God, he was verily inspired but still a man.… Therefore being a man inspired, he uttered not all; but what he could, being a man. (Aug. On John I., 1.) St. Jerome (On Eph. III., 5) admits that the mystery of the incarnation was not known to the patriarchs and prophets as it is now known to the apostles and saints: it is one thing to know future things in a vision; it is another thing to contemplate them now fulfilled. St. Thomas sums up the question in his usual clear way: We must know that since the mind of the prophet is an imperfect instrument, even the true prophets did not know all that the Holy Ghost intended in their visions, words, and deeds. (2. 2. 173. 4.) This principle is also promulgated in the bull Providentissimus Deus.

It results therefore that the Church, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, may grow in the understanding of certain truths whose full import not even the original writers grasped. We see also a certain growth in the clearness of the revelation of Christ in the Old Testament, and those closer to the fulfillment of the prophecies saw with clearer view than those of old. Similarly in the Church there is a lawful growth in the understanding of doctrine. The Church has always taught the infallible truth; has always been adequately equipped to teach men; and must always preserve an identity of doctrine. But she is a living Church; and the Holy Ghost abides with her all days to teach. It follows from her life, and from the abiding of the Spirit that she grows in knowledge of the truths which were delivered to her in the beginning. Thus her unity and identity of teaching stand with her growth in knowledge.

We have before spoken of the manner in which the inspired Scriptures deal with natural sciences. St. Augustine rightly declares: It is not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: I send you the Paraclete who shall teach you of the course of the sun and the moon. He wished to make them Christians, not mathematicians. (De actis cum Felice Manichaeo, I., 10.)

It does not follow from this that when the Scriptures speak of the stars, plants, animals, etc., that they are not veracious, for no one except an impious man or infidel doubts of the veracity of Scripture. (Aug. On Gen. VII., 28.)

The truths of salvation are directly inspired; the other truths are indirectly inspired, on account of their relation to the direct object of inspiration. But in speaking of things of natural science, the Holy Scriptures have not treated them to the end to teach the people science; they have not treated such matters from the scientists viewpoint: Moses condescending to a rude people, spoke of things as they sensibly appeared. (St. Thomas, Summa, I., q. 70.) The sacred writers make use of the common parlance of the people: secundum opinionem populi loquitur Scriptura. (S. Th. 1. 2. 198.) A question of vital importance, in our days, is the relation of Scripture to science. Mens minds have been active ever since the writing of Scripture itself, and have found many things unknown at the time of the writing of the Holy Books. They have delved down deep into the mysterious storehouse of nature, have discovered her treasures, have imprisoned her mighty forces to do their will and serve them in the affairs of their civil and domestic life. They have penetrated the heavens, and investigated the secrets of the vast expanse which men call the firmament. Many truths, and many more or less reasonable hypotheses have been thus found out. But science, proud of her achievements, and restless under restraint, too oft turns her powers against the God-given truths of the Sacred Text, and here the warfare waxes bitter indeed, and many there are who incline too much to the side of science, even of those of the household of faith. Since the time of Galileo, men have conceded that the Scriptures spoke according to the common opinions of the people, and attributed significations to words, which the vulgar speech of the day warranted. For God made use of a human medium to convey his message to man, and he did not startle the people by strange expressions, which would have been unintelligible to all people at that stage of human development. Men speak thus today, and are not accused of inexactness or with combating science. Hence, with this in mind, we can reconcile the assertions of true science with the inspired Word of God, for there can be no combat between truth and truth; for the Author of both human and divine science is the Essential and Infinite Truth. For although faith is above reason, no real discussion, no real conflict can be found between them since both arise from one and the same fount of immutable and eternal truth, the great and good God. (Pius IX., Encyc. of Nov. 9, 1846.) Some hypotheses broached by the incredulous and shallow dabbler in science may conflict with the truths of Scripture, but this imports nothing. The Church blesses scientific research, and fears nothing therefrom. She invites investigation into every field of human thought, and only good to herself can come therefrom. The greatest scientists and historians are her faithful children. The Vatican Council approved of scientific research explicitly, even when all the resources of science were brought to bear to oppose the Church. It leaves science free to use its own methods. Neither does the Church forbid that these sciences should, in their own domain, use their own principles and methods. (Conc. Vat. De Fide, IV.)

Hence we should guard against attributing to a passage of Scripture a signification, which in se it has not, but which may have been given to it by some interpreter. When we find by incontestable evidence that science has demonstrated a truth, which is in seeming opposition to what has by some been held to be the opinion gleaned from the Holy Scriptures, we should seek some other interpretation, which the text must bear, as truth and truth can not conflict, and we can thus reconcile these two truths coming from different sources. In this manner, we may reconcile Gen. 1:14: And God said let there be luminaries in the firmament of heaven.… And God made two great luminaries, a greater luminary to rule the day and a lesser luminary to rule the night, and the stars. Now it would seem from this that the stars were less in magnitude than the moon. As science has indisputably proven the contrary, what must we admit? That the inspired writer spoke according to the appearance of things, and for us the moon is a greater luminary than the stars. Hence, even the sun is not necessarily asserted to be a greater luminary in fact than the stars, but only in appearance.

Two obstacles obstruct the way of harmony between Scripture and science; videlicet, the narrowness of view of many who essay to defend the Scriptures, and the pride and presumption of orientalists and scientists who fail to recognize that there is:

A deep below the deep,

And a height beyond the height;

Our hearing is not hearing,

And our seeing is not sight.

Shallow draughts of science intoxicate the brain; drinking deeply sobers us. The man of large mind will be conscious of his own limitations; conscious that much that passes as science is a congeries of hypotheses, many of which change with the course of time. The exegete must also realize that where the Church has not defined the question one should not so tenaciously adhere to any exposition formerly believed to be true, that he would not abandon it when clearly proven to be false, lest the Scriptures be derided by the unbelieving, and a way to belief be cut off from them (St. Th. 2. Sent. 12.)

At no time in the history of the world have mens ideas of natural science been absolutely correct. In time they never will be absolutely correct. We may know some things better than the ancients; but there are many more which we shall never know. God decreed to use men at certain epochs of history to deliver a body of truths to men. Incidentally they spoke of certain natural phenomena. They used the language of their time, as men have done in every age of the world. They spoke of the material universe as it appeared to men. The language which they employed was scientifically imperfect; but they uttered no falsehood. They used an imperfect medium to convey to man the infallible message of God. The inspired writers conceptions of nature were imperfect, and God did not by a necessary miracle remove this imperfection before making him an instrument to utter a message in which scientific facts are only indirectly contemplated. In these enunciations concerning natural phenomena there is a direct sense and an indirect sense. When it is said that at the voice of Joshua the sun stood still, the direct sense is that the light of day was miraculously prolonged; and that fact is affirmed in the language of the writers time.

A question of paramount importance is now to determine whether we shall apply to history that same latitude that we give to things of natural science; that is whether we shall concede that the inspired historians wrote history according to popular belief. Lagrange and his school affirm this, and make that the cardinal principle of the so-called historical method. Not content with asserting the theory, some of them, with amazing audacity, appeal to the encyclical Providentissimus Deus in support of their hypothesis. It is to set a low value on human intelligence to ascribe such a view to the encyclical. The Holy Father wishes his principles applied to cognate sciences and especially to history; but it is clear that what he means is that we must defend Scripture not only against scientists, but against orientalists and historians, whose methods the Holy Father exposes in the very same paragraph. There is not a word in the whole encyclical favorable to the historical method. The context clearly establishes the pontiffs meaning to be that, as we are to refute scientists when they teach falsely, and as we are to show that what they have proven is not contrary to the Scriptures, so we are to deal with history and other cognate sciences. And the pontiff immediately proceeds to state the errors of historians who wage war on the Holy Scriptures.

It is clear that there is a vast difference between the scientific statements and the historical statements of the Bible. The very essence of history is to narrate facts. We have given a fit place to allegory and parable, lyric poem and drama. Here we speak of history which the writer wrote as history. Every genus of literature which the Bible employs must be true in the mode competent to its nature. Therefore that which is written as history must be true as history. When the Scriptures say: God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, the purpose of the proposition is not to teach men the nature of the heavens, but to assert that God created the heavens, and gave to nature her laws. The truths of Scripture are conceived in a human manner. Nature is spoken of as men contemplated it: in this regard the inspired writer is a child of his time, and his scientific knowledge is not in advance of his epoch. There is truth in his statement, the truth he intended to convey: there is imperfection in the accessory.

But when the Scriptures say that Cain rose against Abel and slew him, or that God rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom, if these events be the creation of folk-lorists, there is no truth in them; they are false beliefs narrated as history. The nature of the narration of such facts and their context take them out of the category of allegory and parable; they are narrated as history, and must be true as history. The object of the writer is to teach men this very history, and to move men to believe it. It may be called primitive history; but it still remains true history. The fact that many myths and fables mingle in the primitive history of other peoples does not necessitate that the history of the origin of the universe as related in the Bible must also have its myths and legends. By the fact of divine inspiration the history narrated in the Bible transcends all other history, for the reason that it is infallibly true. The historical parts of Holy Scripture, and in fact all its parts, are subject to proper hermeneutical laws to determine their sense; but in the last analysis every sentence of the Bible, as it came from the inspired writer, must be true in its proper sense. History according to popular beliefs is false history, and can not be a part of the word of God.

Moreover the historical parts of the Bible are in great part the foundation of our faith. The history of the fall of our first parents bears an essential relation to the doctrine of original sin. The Redemption, the Resurrection of Christ, the foundation of the Church, the descent of the Holy Ghost are historical facts. It is needless to declare how vital these are to faith.

One of the common phrases of the new exegesis is to declare the historical parts of Scripture relatively true. If they wish to assert that the Scriptures are not God, that the Scriptures are not Gods own infinitely perfect utterance, it is well. The Scriptures are Gods message through human utterance by the power of God. They have the impress of their human origin upon them; but they also bear the stamp of their principal Author, and by His power they are true in every part. Wherefore if by the phrase relatively true they mean to say that the Scriptures contain anything that is not objectively true, the statement conflicts with Catholic belief.

It is evident therefore that while we admit fictitious history which has its proper sense of truth, we exclude myth, legend and folk-lore; for these are false narrations in the guise of history. It is an abuse of the relative sense theory to assert that all the wonders related during the forty years in the desert make no necessary claim to be miracles as we define them, i. e., strictly supernatural occurrences. (The Tradition of Scripture, Barry, p. 254) The writer of The Tradition of Scripture falls in with the tendency to pare down the supernatural, and exalt the natural. It is the trend of the age ever since protestants invented a religion that is not religious. If the miracles of the Exodus are in reality only natural phenomena believed by a credulous age to be miracles, the Bible has spoken falsely, for not in one place only does it proclaim these to be true miracles. The tendency that endeavors to eliminate miracles from the Old Testament will not stop there. It will invade the New Testament even to a clever cut at Christ himself. In the Syllabus of Pius IX. this proposition was condemned: The prophecies and miracles set forth in narration in the Sacred Scriptures are the creations of poets, and the mysteries of Christian faith are a synthesis of philosophic investigations: myths are found in both testaments, and Jesus Christ is himself a myth. The Providentissimus Deus most explicitly deplores and condemns the myth and legend theories of the historical method.

We have before explained that when the inspired writer cites a testimony without either explicit or implicit approbation, inspiration does not vouch for the truth of the testimony. In such case it is only inspiredly true that the writer has made such a citation; the matter of the testimony stands on its own merit. But when the writer uses a historical source, and embodies it into his history without sufficient indication that he is relating the words of another without endorsing them, then, by every law of history, the inspired writer confers his own authority to what he writes, and makes it his own. If it were not so, history would become a jugglery of words, and no man could know what to believe.

It can not be denied that many of the sources whence Moses drew his knowledge of the first chapters of Genesis were popular tradition. The form in which facts are handed down by popular tradition differs from the style of written history. In the course down from age to age as a general thing many legends, myths, and superstitions mix in with the stream of truth. The divine agency of inspiration saved the inspired writer from handing down to us any thing false; it allowed him to preserve the popular mode in which the truths were expressed. Abstract principles are expressed as concrete facts. The true historical fact that man was created immediately by God in a state of happiness, was tempted by the devil, and fell through ambitious pride, is expressed in the form of the allegory of the garden scene at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God becomes anthropomorphic, walks in the garden, communes with Himself, descends to see the tower of Babel, etc. The truth of history only demands that there shall be always an objective reality of fact in all these narrations. The fact is historical; the mode in which it reached us through popular tradition is sometimes allegorical.

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